Graeco-Aryan, or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan, is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family that would be the ancestor of Hellenic, Armenian, and the Indo-Iranian languages, which spans Southern Europe, Armenian highlands and Southern Asian regions of Eurasia.

Southern Europe, South, Central, West Asia and the Caucasus
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
  • Graeco-Aryan

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 and moved respectively westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe.[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, 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.[citation needed]

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]

One controversial hypothesis[5][6] 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]


  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. S2CID 231923312. 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". Archived from the original on 2018-05-14. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  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. Winter. 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.

Further reading