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Graeco-Aryan, or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan, is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family that would be the ancestor of Greek, Armenian, and the Indo-Iranian languages.


The Graeco-Armeno-Aryan group supposedly branched off from the parent Indo-European stem by the mid-3rd millennium BC.

Relation to the possible homeland

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Graeco-Aryan is also known as "Late Proto-Indo-European" or "Late Indo-European" to suggest that Graeco-Aryan forms a dialect group, which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively. [1]

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann's law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. However, Grassmann's law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it could not have been inherited directly from a common Graeco-Aryan stage. Rather, it is more likely that an areal feature spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan–speaking area. That would have occurred after early stages of Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased to be in geographic contact.

Scientific discussion

Evidence for the existence of a Graeco-Aryan subclade was given by Wolfram Euler's 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal inflection. [2] Graeco-Aryan is invoked in particular in studies of comparative mythology such as Martin Litchfield West (1999) [3] and Calvert Watkins (2001). [4]

A widely rejected [5] [6] hypothesis has placed Greek in a Graeco-Armenian subclade of Indo-European, [7] though some researchers have integrated both attempts by including also Armenian in a putative Graeco-Armeno-Aryan language family, further divided between Proto-Greek (possibly united with Phrygian) and thus arriving at an Armeno-Aryan subclade, the putative ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian. [8] [9]

Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists who support the Armenian hypothesis, which asserts that the homeland of the Indo-European language family was in the Armenian Highlands. [10] [11] [12]

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Armenian language Indo-European language

Armenian is an Indo-European language, belonging to an independent branch of which it is the only member. It is the official language of Armenia. Historically being spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands, today, Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written in its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by the priest Mesrop Mashtots.

Indo-Iranian languages Language family

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Indo-European languages Large language family originating in Eurasia

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Proto-Indo-Europeans Prehistoric ethnic group

The Proto-Indo-Europeans were a hypothetical prehistoric ethnolinguistic group of Eurasia who spoke Proto-Indo-European (PIE), the ancestor of the Indo-European languages according to linguistic reconstruction.

Aryan race Racial grouping

The Aryan race is a historical race concept which emerged in the late 19th century to describe people of Indo-European heritage as a racial grouping.

Grassmann's law, named after its discoverer Hermann Grassmann, is a dissimilatory phonological process in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit which states that if an aspirated consonant is followed by another aspirated consonant in the next syllable, the first one loses the aspiration. The descriptive version was given for Sanskrit by Pāṇini.

Proto-Indo-European language Ancestor of the Indo-European language family

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-European exists.

Indo-European studies Subfield of linguistics

Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics and an interdisciplinary field of study dealing with Indo-European languages, both current and extinct. The goal of those engaged in these studies is to amass information about the hypothetical proto-language from which all of these languages are descended, a language dubbed Proto-Indo-European (PIE), and its speakers, the Proto-Indo-Europeans, including their society and Proto-Indo-European mythology. The studies cover where the language originated and how it spread. This article also lists Indo-European scholars, centres, journals and book series.


Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, were a group of Indo-European peoples who brought the Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, to major parts of Eurasia in the second part of the 3rd millennium BC. They eventually branched out into Iranian peoples and Indo-Aryan peoples.

Robert S. P. Beekes Dutch linguist

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Proto-Indo-Iranian language

Proto-Indo-Iranian or Proto-Indo-Iranic is the reconstructed proto-language of the Indo-Iranian/Indo-Iranic branch of Indo-European. Its speakers, the hypothetical Proto-Indo-Iranians, are assumed to have lived in the late 3rd millennium BC, and are often connected with the Sintashta culture of the Eurasian Steppe and the early Andronovo archaeological horizon.

Graeco-Armenian is the hypothetical common ancestor of Greek and Armenian that postdates Proto-Indo-European. Its status is somewhat similar to that of the Italo-Celtic grouping: each is widely considered plausible without being accepted as established communis opinio. The hypothetical Proto-Graeco-Armenian stage would need to date to the 3rd millennium BC and would be only barely different from either late Proto-Indo-European or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan.

Anatolian hypothesis historical theory

The Anatolian hypothesis, also known as the Anatolian theory or the sedentary farmer theory, first developed by British archaeologist Colin Renfrew in 1987, proposes that the dispersal of Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in Neolithic Anatolia. It is the main competitor to the Kurgan hypothesis, or steppe theory, the more favoured view academically.

Armenian hypothesis Hypothesis in historical linguistics

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European homeland, proposed by Georgian Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Russian linguist Vyacheslav Ivanov in the early 1980s, suggests that Proto-Indo-European was spoken during the 5th–4th millennia BC in "Armenian Highlands, Northern Mesopotamia".

Proto-Armenian language Reconstructed language

Proto-Armenian is the earlier, unattested stage of the Armenian language which has been reconstructed by linguists. As Armenian is the only known language of its branch of the Indo-European languages, the comparative method cannot be used to reconstruct its earlier stages. Instead, a combination of internal and external reconstruction, by reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European and other branches, has allowed linguists to piece together the earlier history of Armenian.

Proto-Indo-European homeland Prehistoric Urheimat of the Indo-European languages

The Proto-Indo-European homeland was the prehistoric Urheimat of the Indo-European languages – the region where the proposed common ancestor of those languages, the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE), was originally spoken. From this region, its speakers migrated east and west, and went on to form the proto-communities of the different branches of the language family.

Aryan Self-designation used by ancient Indo-Iranian peoples

Aryan is a term which was originally used as a self-designation by Indo-Iranian peoples in ancient times, in contrast to "non-Indo-Aryan" or "non-Iranian" peoples. The idea of being an Aryan was religious, cultural and linguistic, not racial. Although the root *h₂er(y)ós is most likely of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) origin, the use of Arya as an ethno-cultural self-designation is only attested to among Indo-Iranian peoples, and it is not known if PIE speakers had a term to designate themselves as a group.

Indo-European migrations Migrations out of the Pontic-Caspian steppe

The Indo-European migrations were the migrations of Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) speakers, as proposed by contemporary scholarship, and the subsequent migrations of people speaking further developed Indo-European languages, which explains why the Indo-European languages are spoken in a large area in Eurasia, from India and Iran to Europe.

Armeno-Phrygian languages

The name Armeno-Phrygian is used for a hypothetical language branch, which would include the languages spoken by the Phrygians and the Armenians, and would be a branch of the Indo-European language family, or a sub-branch of either the proposed "Graeco-Armeno-Aryan" or "Armeno-Aryan" branches. According to this hypothesis, Proto-Armenian was a language descendant from a common ancestor with Phrygian and was closely related to it. Proto-Armenian differentiated from Phrygian by language evolution over time but also by the Hurro-Urartian language substrate influence. Classification is difficult because little is known of Phrygian, but Proto-Armenian arguably forms a subgroup with Greek and Indo-Iranian.


  1. Martin Litchfield West, Indo-European poetry and myth (2007), p. 7.
  2. Wolfram Euler: Indoiranisch-griechische Gemeinsamkeiten der Nominalbildung und deren indogermanische Grundlagen [= Aryan-Greek Communities in Nominal Morphology and their Indoeuropean Origins]. Innsbruck, 1979 (in German).
  3. Litchfield West, Martin (1999). "The Invention of Homer". Classical Quarterly. 49 (364).
  4. Calvert Watkins (2001), How to Kill a Dragon , Oxford University Press, ISBN   978-0-19-514413-0.
  5. Kim, Ronald (2018). "Greco-Armenian: The persistence of a myth". Indogermanische Forschungen. The University of British Columbia Library. doi:10.1515/if-2018-0009 . Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  6. James Clackson (1995). The Linguistic Relationship Between Armenian and Greek. Publications of the Philological Society.
  7. Gray, Russell D.; Atkinson, Quentin D. (27 November 2003). "Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin" (PDF). Nature. 426 (6965): 435–439. Bibcode:2003Natur.426..435G. doi:10.1038/nature02029. PMID   14647380. S2CID   42340. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2009.
  8. Handbook of Formal Languages (1997), p. 6.
  9. Indo-European tree with Armeno-Aryan, separate from Greek
  10. Renfrew, A. C., 1987, Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins, London: Pimlico. ISBN   0-7126-6612-5; T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, The Early History of Indo-European Languages, Scientific American, March 1990; Renfrew, Colin (2003). "Time Depth, Convergence Theory, and Innovation in Proto-Indo-European". Languages in Prehistoric Europe. ISBN   3-8253-1449-9.
  11. A. Bammesberger in The Cambridge History of the English Language, 1992, ISBN   978-0-521-26474-7, p. 32: the model "still remains the background of much creative work in Indo-European reconstruction" even though it is "by no means uniformly accepted by all scholars."
  12. Mallory, James P. (1997). "Kuro-Araxes Culture". Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture . Fitzroy Dearborn: 341–42.