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Published on Aug 24, 2012

The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE), an unattested but now reconstructed prehistoric language.

Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics. Linguistic reconstruction is fraught with significant uncertainties and room for speculation, and PIE speakers cannot be assumed to have been a single, identifiable people or tribe. Rather, they were a group of loosely related populations ancestral to the later, still partially prehistoric, Bronze Age Indo-Europeans.

The Proto-Indo-Europeans in this sense likely lived during the Copper Age, or roughly the 5th to 4th millennia BC. Mainstream scholarship places them in the general region of the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Some scholars would extend the time depth of PIE or Pre-PIE to the Neolithic or even the last glacial maximum, and suggest alternative location hypotheses.

By the mid-2nd millennium BC offshoots of the Proto-Indo-Europeans had reached Anatolia, the Aegean, Northern India, and likely Western Europe.

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