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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. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid-3rd millennium BC. Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, which would be consistent with the fact that Armenian shares some features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).



Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Armenian hypothesis that the homeland of Indo-European was in the Armenian Highlands.[1][2][3][4] Early and strong evidence was given by Euler's 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.[5]

In tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, Armenian would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, divided between Proto-Greek/Phrygian and "Armeno-Aryan," the ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian.[6][7]


In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as "Late Proto-Indo-European" or "Late Indo-European" to suggest that Greco-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.[8]

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann's law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. However, that 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.


Graeco-Aryan is invoked in particular in studies of comparative mythology such as West (1999)[9] and Watkins (2001).[10]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ Russell D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson, Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin, Nature 426 (27 November 2003) 435-439
  3. ^ Mallory, James P. (1997). "Kuro-Araxes Culture". Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Fitzroy Dearborn: 341–42. 
  4. ^ 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."
  5. ^ Indoiranisch-griechische Gemeinsamkeiten der Nominalbildung und deren indogermanische Grundlagen (= Aryan-Greek Communities in Nominal Morphology and their Indoeuropean Origins; in German) (282 p.), Innsbruck, 1979
  6. ^ Handbook of Formal Languages (1997) p. 6.
  7. ^ Indo-European tree with Armeno-Aryan, exclusion of Greek
  8. ^ Martin Litchfield West, Indo-European poetry and myth (2007), p. 7.
  9. ^ Martin Litchfield West (1999), "The Invention of Homer". Classical Quarterly 49 (364).
  10. ^ Calvert Watkins (2001), How to Kill a Dragon, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-514413-0.