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The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland.
It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario. The phonological peculiarities proposed in the Glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation. The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC, closely associating Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (viz., Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).
The Armenian hypothesis was proposed by Russian linguists T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov in 1985, presenting it first in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov argue that IE spread out from Armenia into the Pontic steppe, from which it expanded - as per the Kurgan hypothesis - into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland.
The Armenian hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (sans Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. In this, it figures as an opposite to the Anatolian hypothesis, in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten, diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.
Robert Drews, commenting on the hypothesis, says that "most of the chronological and historical arguments seem fragile at best, and of those that I am able to judge, some are evidently wrong". However, he argues that it is far more powerful as a linguistic model, providing insights into the relationship between Indo-European and the Semitic and Kartvelian languages. He continues to say "It is certain that the inhabitants of the forested areas of Armenia very early became accomplished woodworkers, and it now appears that in the second millennium they produced spoked-wheel vehicles that served as models as far away as China. And we have long known that from the second millennium onward, Armenia was important for the breeding of horses. It is thus not surprising to find that what clues we have suggest that chariot warfare was pioneered in eastern Anatolia. Finally, our picture of what the PIE speakers did, and when, owes much to the recently proposed hypothesis that the homeland of the PIE speakers was Armenia." J. Grepin, reviewing Gamkrelidze and Ivanov's book, wrote that their model of linguistic relationships is "the most complex, far reaching and fully supported of this century."
- Drews, Robert, The Coming of the Greeks: Indo-European Conquests in the Aegean and the Near East, Princeton University Press, 1994, pp.33ff
- J. Grepin, Times Literary Supplement, March 14, 1986, p.278.
- T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, The Early History of Indo-European Languages, Scientific American, March 1990
- I.M. Diakonoff, The Prehistory of the Armenian People (1984).
- Robert Drews, The Coming of the Greeks (1988), argues for late Greek arrival in the framework of the Armenian hypothesis.
- Martiros Kavoukjian, Armenia, Subartu, and Sumer : the Indo-European homeland and ancient Mesopotamia, trans. N. Ouzounian, Montreal (1987), ISBN 0-921885-00-8.
- Indo-European family tree, showing Indo-European languages and sub branches
- Image of Indo-European migrations from the Armenian Highlands