Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Scott MacEachern

Second Advisor

Susan Kaplan


This project investigates strategies for learning about prehistoric languages that have left no written records. It focuses upon the origins and expansion of the Indo-European language family (the world’s largest by total speaking population, today including most of the languages between Iceland and India) and its associated speakers, who likely emerged during the Neolithic from someplace in eastern Europe or western Asia. There are two primary hypotheses regarding the origins of these languages and the so-called Indo-Europeans themselves. In one, it is argued that they arose via the expansion of agriculture out of Anatolia and into Europe, c. 5000 BC. The other, and leading, hypothesis suggests instead that the languages spread through migrations of highly mobile pastoralists outward from the Black Sea steppes at the end of the Neolithic, c. 3000 BC. This project will explore the developing interface between archaeology, genetics, and linguistics in prehistoric resarch. There are three main chapters: (1) some background and historical context about Indo-European studies; (2) an examination of methodological interaction among archaeology, linguistics, and genetics; and (3) a survey of various archaeological, genetic, and linguistic data as they pertain to the Indo-Europeans and the above two hypotheses of their origins.