The location of the cradle of the Indo-European peoples is a matter of academic dispute. Based on a mix of archaeology and linguistic analysis, Anatolia, Armenia and the Zagros Mountains each have their proponents, but the consensus has favoured the ‘Kurgan Hypothesis. This places the zone of origin in the Pontic Steppes north of the Black, Caspian and Aral Seas. The Kurgan (‘burial mound’) culture comprised pastoral nomads who domesticated the horse around 8,000 years ago. It is believed that their language and culture was transmitted by conquest, with the proto Indian Europeans sweeping aside or subduing aboriginal populations, and imposing their culture. The archaeologist Colin Renfrew, who supports an Anatolian genesis, favours a gentler mode of transmission, with the language diffusing with the spread of agriculture. Wherever they originated, by 900 BCE Indo-Europeans had colonized the whole of Europe and the bulk of the Asian continent.
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