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Lecture by geneticist David Reich about the spread of the Indo-European languages

Tuesday 6 September 2022
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

David Emil Reich is a leading American geneticist leading known for his research into the population genetics of ancient humans, including their migrations and the mixing of populations. He is professor in the department of genetics at the Harvard Medical School. In 2018, he authored the bestseller “Who We Are and How We Got Here”, published by Oxford University Press. On September 6, he will be visiting Leiden University to present new findings on questions related to the prehistoric dispersals of the Indo-European languages in East and Southeast Europe.

The genetic history of the Southern Arc: a bridge between West Asia and Europe

By sequencing 727 ancient individuals from the Southern Arc (Anatolia and  neighbors in Southeastern Europe and West Asia) over 10,000 years, we contextualize its Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages (~5000-1000 BCE), when extensive  gene flow entangled it with the Eurasian steppe. At least two streams of migration transmitted Caucasus and Anatolian/Levantine ancestry northward, contributing  to Yamnaya steppe pastoralists who then spread southwards: into the Balkans, and  across the Caucasus into Armenia, where they left numerous patrilineal descendants. Anatolia was transformed by intra-West Asian gene flow, with  negligible impact of the later Yamnaya migrations. This contrasts with all other regions where Indo-European languages were spoken, suggesting that the homeland of the Indo-Anatolian language family was in West Asia, with only  secondary dispersals of non-Anatolian Indo-Europeans from the steppe.

David Reich: Photo by Kayana Szymczak / The New York Times

This lecture is given as part of the conference 'The Secondary Homelands of the Indo-European Languages' (IG-AT2022) organized by the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. Admission to the lecture by David Reich is free of cost. For online access, tickets are available through the conference event page.

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