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Influence of Extreme Environmental Events on Human and Language Evolution in the Ponto-Caspian Region

Abstract. INQUA 501 VII Meeting. 21-28 August 2011, Odessa, Ukraine. pp. 68-70. ISBN 978-966-190-346-2.

Keywords: Pleistocene – Holocene transition, Climatic and Sea Level Oscillation, Extreme Inundation Epoch, Glotto and Ethimochronology, Oldest Languages Diversification.

During last 30 ka many important natural events had place but only some of them influenced on human evolution strong. The most important natural events are: Last (Bryansk) Interstadial (30-22 ka BP), Late Glacial Maximum (LGM, 20-18 ka BP), Late Glacial Deglaciation (LGD, 16-10 ka), Extreme Inundation Epoch (EIE) (16-14 ka). In marine depressions these events were: Khvalynean transgression in the Caspian, Neweuxinean transgression in the Black Sea. Influence of these events on human evolution.

During Last Interstadial continued resent Homo sapiens sapiens development (Late Paleolithic), with any substantional changes.

Next time - LGM characterized by maximal global cooling especially in periglacial area. In North Black Sea area 20-17 ka in Dniester valley (Cosoutcy paleolithic site) periglacial conditions (tundra steppe vegetation with Betula nana and subarctic tundra gleys soils) allterated each 500 years with warming conditions appeared by forest vegetation and pararendzina soils (Haezaerds at al, 2003, 2005). This global cooling not reflected strictly on human evolution.

Just later during LGT (deglaciation), degradation of glacial sheets followed by great flooding and inundations by ocean waters from eustatic transgression and continental waters from inner areas of Eurasia. This time is beginning of the Extreme Inundations Epoch (EIE) event. This coincidence concerns also and area of the oldest language in Eurasia and North America. Our hypothese is: language diversification connected with marine, lake and great rivers water bodies flooding vast territories settled by early man. The territories covered by waters are: marine depressions (Caspian Sea marine depression, more than 1 mln. km²), center of Cascade of Eurasian Basins (Chepalyga, 2005) from Aral Sea to Aegean Sea (more 1.5 mln. km²).

River floods inundated river valleys and flood plain and marine terraces (superfloods). Interfluvials and slopes were also covered by thermokarst lakes. Total flooded area of EIE in Eurasia from Atlantic to Yenisei reached 10 mln. km². This area was spread in perioceanic area by great glacio-eustatic transgression decreased habitant territory on some mln.km². These numerous water basins produced barriers for human communications. For example, Caspian Sea barrier divides Eurasia from North to South on 2000 km, Manych-Kerch strait between Caspian and Black Sea was an effective barrier for Late Palaeolithic culture exchange between East Europe and Middle East – 16-14 ka (Chepalyga, Pirogov at al, 2005). This isolation led to fragmentation of habitat area and form of separate languages and language families.

In North Black Sea region inundations events of EIE appeared to be in shelf’s, rivers (superflood) and on slopes. Black Sea level rised on 40-50 m and Neweuxinean basin flooded northen shelf. River valleys formed underfit channels with abnormal wide in Dniester, Prut and now dry creeks (Kogylnik, Sarata, Kuyalnik, etc). Calculation of ancient river channels demonstrate increasing water discharge for Dniester in 4-5 times and for creeks in 6-8 times more then recent water discharge. Sediments of this channels lie between youngest terrace layers and floodplain with Final Paleolithic – Early Mesolithic sites, which will be demonstrated during the field excursion: Bilolisia, Mirny, Sarata etc.

On slopes flood traces studied in Cosoutsi site as, it represented by sand sediments 4-5 m thick, intercalated with fossil soils and cultural layers of the Late Paleolithic with set of C14 dates 17-14 ka. In Roksolany site slope inundation of EIE appeared in gley (Dofinovka) soil - 17 ka and the youngest loess with palinological and pedological evidences of humidisation (forest elements).

The most substantional changes related to human evolution were discovered during Extreme Inundation Epoch. EIE influenced on early history of the earliest human language of the modern type especially on earliest diversification of languages. Great inundations of EIE can be possible cause of language diversification. The first attempt to find influence of Black Sea flood on language evolution by Johanna Nichols were provided (J. Nichols, 2007), but not successful because the time of Black Sea inundation 7-8 ka was far from real one.

According of modern data of the glottochronology (Swadesh at al, 1972) and ethimochronology (Starostin, 2009) methods the oldest time of language differentiation is dated around 15-17 ka BP. Two extreme natural events initiated early diversification of protolanguage and appearance of first language superfamilies in beginning and termination of EIE.

Paleolinguistic investigation (Hell-Man, 2009) on reconstruction of the ancient protolanguage existed in Northern Hemisphere during Last Glacial Maximum (22-18 Ka) were provided. Natural conditions were uniform, not diversificated, temporal forest belt was absent. “Under those conditions linguistic diversity could have been greatly reduced and it may therefore be the case that all or most of the languages of subsequent times are descended from a single ancestor” (up cit.). It suggests a common origin for all languages (monogenesis) from the speech that survived during the maximal cooling (LGM), 18-20 ka.

The time of the first diversification of the original language near 17-15 ka was calculated by ethimohronological method (Starostin, 2000). This time coincides with beginning of great inundations during EIE. Numerous inner water basins could provocate appearance of water barriers which isolated human communities each other. This isolation led to subsequent division of human communities, resulting in developing of the new languages. The oldest reconstructed language is Borean super-super family spreaded over most territory of Holarctic 17-15 ka (Hell-Man, 2009).

Later about 12 ka from this language were separated on four superfamilies: Eurasiatic (Nostratic), Sino-Caucasian, Afroasiatic and Austric (Nikolaev, 1991).

On Pleistocene – Holocene boundary (10 ka) and Early Holocene Eurasiatic superfamily language was separated on some families: Altaic (8 ka), Indo-European (7 ka) and others. Appearance and wide spread of recent language families coincides with termination of EIE (10 ka) and seems to be as a result of EIE events. The same time first civilization appeared on the base of productive economy: agriculture, construction and sailing and also was triggered by EIE events.

So main human evolution events (first language diversification and productive economy beginning) connected not with climatic extremes (LGM), but much more with inundation events of EIE.

    References
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  3. H.C. Fleming. 1991. A New Taxonomic Hypothesis: Borean or Boralean. Mother Tongue Nesletter (V 14).
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  8. A.L. Chepalyga. 2007. The late glacial Great Flood in the Ponto-Caspian basin. The Black Sea Flood question: changes in coastline, climate and human settlement. Springer. 119-148
  9. A.L. Chepalyga, A.N. Pirogov, T.A. Sadchikova. 2006. Manych Valley - the Most East-ward Llink of the Black Sea - Mediterranean Sea Corridor. In Second Plenary Meeting and Field Trip of Project IGCP 521 “Black Sea-Mediterranean Corridor during last 30 ky: Sea level change and human adaptation”, Odessa, Ukraine, August 20-28, 2006.
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