The Aryan Land Of Europe

On one point--and that is for our purpose the most important one--the

advocates of both hypotheses have approached each other. The leaders of

the defenders of the Asiatic hypothesis have ceased to regard Asia as

the cradle of all the dialects into which the ancient Aryan tongue has

been divided. While they cling to the theory that the Aryan inhabitants

of Europe have immigrated from Asia, they have well-nigh entirely ceased

to claim that these peoples, already before their departure from their

Eastern home, were so distinctly divided linguistically that it was

necessary to imagine certain branches of the race speaking Celtic,

others Teutonic, others, again, Greco-Italian, even before they came to

Europe. The prevailing opinion among the advocates of the Asiatic

hypothesis now doubtless is, that the Aryans who immigrated to Europe

formed one homogeneous mass, which gradually on our continent divided

itself definitely into Celts, Teutons, Slavs, and Greco-Italians. The

adherents of both hypotheses have thus been able to agree that there has

been a European-Aryan country. And the question as to where it was

located is of the most vital importance, as it is closely connected with

the question of the original home of the Teutons, since the ancestors

of the Teutons must have inhabited this ancient European-Aryan country.

Philology has attempted to answer the former question by comparing all

the words of all the Aryan-European languages. The attempt has many

obstacles to overcome; for, as Schrader has remarked, the ancient words

which to-day are common to all or several of these languages are

presumably a mere remnant of the ancient European-Aryan vocabulary.

Nevertheless, it is possible to arrive at important results in this

manner, if we draw conclusions from the words that remain, but take care

not to draw conclusions from what is wanting.

The view gained in this manner is, briefly stated, as follows:

The Aryan country of Europe has been situated in latitudes where snow

and ice are common phenomena. The people who have emigrated thence to

more southern climes have not forgotten either the one or the other name

of those phenomena. To a comparatively northern latitude points also the

circumstance that the ancient European Aryans recognised only three

seasons--winter, spring, and summer. This division of the year continued

among the Teutons even in the days of Tacitus. For autumn they had no


Many words for mountains, valley, streams, and brooks common to all the

languages show that the European-Aryan land was not wanting in

elevations, rocks, and flowing waters. Nor has it been a treeless plain.

This is proven by many names of trees. The trees are fir, birch, willow,

elm, elder, hazel, and a beech called bhaga, which means a tree with

eatable fruit. From this word bhaga is derived the Greek phegos, the

Latin fagus, the German Buche, and the Swedish bok. But it is a

remarkable fact that the Greeks did not call the beech but the oak

phegos, while the Romans called the beech fagus. From this we

conclude that the European Aryans applied the word bhaga both to the

beech and the oak, since both bear similar fruit; but in some parts of

the country the name was particularly applied to the beech, in others to

the oak. The beech is a species of tree which gradually approaches the

north. On the European continent it is not found east of a line drawn

from Koenigsberg across Poland and Podolia to Crimea. This leads to the

conclusion that the Aryan country of Europe must to a great extent have

been situated west of this line, and that the regions inhabited by the

ancestors of the Romans, and north of them by the progenitors of the

Teutons, must be looked for west of this botanical line, and between the

Alps and the North Sea.

Linguistic comparisons also show that the Aryan territory of Europe was

situated near an ocean or large body of water. Scandinavians, Germans,

Celts, and Romans have preserved a common name for the ocean--the Old

Norse mar, the Old High German mari, the Latin mare. The names of

certain sea-animals are also common to various Aryan languages. The

Swedish hummer (lobster) corresponds to the Greek kamaros, and the

Swedish sael (seal) to the Greek selachos.

In the Aryan country of Europe there were domestic animals--cows, sheep,

and goats. The horse was also known, but it is uncertain whether it was

used for riding or driving, or simply valued on account of its flesh

and milk. On the other hand, the ass was not known, its domain being

particularly the plains of Central Asia.

The bear, wolf, otter, and beaver certainly belonged to the fauna of

Aryan Europe.

The European Aryans must have cultivated at least one, perhaps two kinds

of grain; also flax, the name of which is preserved in the Greek linon

(linen), the Latin linum, and in other languages.

The Aryans knew the art of brewing mead from honey. That they also

understood the art of drinking it even to excess may be taken for

granted. This drink was dear to the hearts of the ancient Aryans, and

its name has been faithfully preserved both by the tribes that settled

near the Ganges, and by those who emigrated to Great Britain. The

Brahmin by the Ganges still knows this beverage as madhu, the Welchman

has known it as medu, the Lithuanian as medus; and when the Greek

Aryans came to Southern Europe and became acquainted with wine, they

gave it the name of mead (methu).

It is not probable that the European Aryans knew bronze or iron, or, if

they did know any of the metals, had any large quantity or made any

daily use of them, so long as they linguistically formed one homogeneous

body, and lived in that part of Europe which we here call the Aryan

domain. The only common name for metal is that which we find in the

Latin aes (copper), in the Gothic aiz, and in the Hindooic ayas.

As is known, the Latin aes, like the Gothic aiz, means both copper

and bronze. That the word originally meant copper, and afterwards came

to signify bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin, seems to be a

matter of course, and that it was applied only to copper and not to

bronze among the ancient Aryans seems clear not only because a common

name for tin is wanting, but also for the far better and remarkable

reason particularly pointed out by Schrader, that all the Aryan European

languages, even those which are nearest akin to each other and are each

other's neighbours, lack a common word for the tools of a smith and the

inventory of a forge, and also for the various kinds of weapons of

defence and attack. Most of all does it astonish us, that in respect to

weapons the dissimilarity of names is so complete in the Greek and Roman

tongues. Despite this fact, the ancient Aryans have certainly used

various kinds of weapons--the club, the hammer, the axe, the knife, the

spear, and the crossbow. All these weapons are of such a character that

they could be made of stone, wood, and horn. Things more easily change

names when the older materials of which they were made give place to new

hitherto unknown materials. It is, therefore, probable that the European

Aryans were in the stone age, and at best were acquainted with copper

before and during the period when their language was divided into

several dialects.

Where, then, on our continent was the home of this Aryan European people

in the stone age? Southern Europe, with its peninsulas extending into

the Mediterranean, must doubtless have been outside of the boundaries of

the Aryan land of Europe. The Greek Aryans have immigrated to Hellas,

and the Italian Aryans are immigrants to the Italian peninsula. Spain

has even within historical times been inhabited by Iberians and

Basques, and Basques dwell there at present: If, as the linguistic

monuments seem to prove, the European Aryans lived near an ocean, this

cannot have been the Mediterranean Sea. There remain the Black and

Caspian Sea on the one hand, the Baltic and the North Sea on the other.

But if, as the linguistic monuments likewise seem to prove, the European

Aryans for a great part, at least, lived west of a botanical line

indicated by the beech in a country producing fir, oak, elm, and elder,

then they could not have been limited to the treeless plains which

extend along the Black Sea from the mouth of the Danube, through

Dobrudscha, Bessarabia, and Cherson, past the Crimea. Students of early

Greek history do not any longer assume that the Hellenic immigrants

found their way through these countries to Greece, but that they came

from the north-west and followed the Adriatic down to Epirus; in other

words, they came the same way as the Visigoths under Alarik, and the

Eastgoths under Theodoric in later times. Even the Latin tribes came

from the north. The migrations of the Celts, so far as history sheds any

light on the subject, were from the north and west toward the south and

east. The movements of the Teutonic races were from north to south, and

they migrated both eastward and westward. Both prehistoric and historic

facts thus tend to establish the theory that the Aryan domain of Europe,

within undefinable limits, comprised the central and north part of

Europe; and as one or more seas were known to these Aryans, we cannot

exclude from the limits of this knowledge the ocean penetrating the

north of Europe from the west.

On account of their undeveloped agriculture, which compelled them to

depend chiefly on cattle for their support, the European Aryans must

have occupied an extensive territory. Of the mutual position and of the

movements of the various tribes within this territory nothing can be

stated, except that sooner or later, but already away back in

prehistoric times, they must have occupied precisely the position in

which we find them at the dawn of history and which they now hold. The

Aryan tribes which first entered Gaul must have lived west of those

tribes which became the progenitors of the Teutons, and the latter must

have lived west of those who spread an Aryan language over Russia. South

of this line, but still in Central Europe, there must have dwelt another

body of Aryans, the ancestors of the Greeks and Romans, the latter west

of the former. Farthest to the north of all these tribes must have dwelt

those people who afterwards produced the Teutonic tongue.

The Aryan Family Of Languages The Ass And His Masters facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail