Proto-Indo-European society

Proto-Indo-European society is the hypothesized culture of the ancient speakers of Proto-Indo-European, ancestors of all modern Indo–European ethnic groups who are speakers of Indo-European languages.

Theories about the culture are based primarily on linguistics and not ethnic, social, or cultural study, as the origin of Indo–European and their urheimat is still debated. There is no direct evidence of the nature of a "Proto-Indo-European society", as such. Any conclusions in this article or otherwise are only purely linguistic inferences, and not established facts.

Scientific approaches

Much of our modern ideas in this field involve the unsettled Indo-European homeland debate about the precise origins of the language itself. There are three main approaches researchers have employed in their attempts to study this culture, but all are subject to resolution of the debate and all are the subject of criticism:

  • Archeology: Interpretations that are based on archaeological evidence.
  • Comparative linguistics: Interpretations that are based on the comparative analysis of the languages of historically known societies (see Trifunctional hypothesis).
  • Linguistic reconstruction: Interpretations that are based on the reconstruction and identification of words (those cited *thus on this page, with a preceding asterisk) which formed part of the vocabulary of the Proto-Indo-European language. These are reconstructed on the basis of sounds, not meaning. Exactly what these terms may have referred to at the stage of Proto-Indo-European is therefore less certain. The technique of inferring culture from such reconstructions is known as linguistic palaeontology.

What follows in this page are interpretations based only on the assumption of the Kurgan hypothesis of Indo-European origins, and are by no means universally accepted.