Events / LDC/ILST Joint Talk: Paul Heggarty

LDC/ILST Joint Talk: Paul Heggarty

September 6, 2023
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Hybrid event – see listing for details

Paul Heggarty
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History


LDC Conference Room (Room 135)
3600 Market Street, Suite 810


For the Zoom link, please email:


A New Database, Family Tree and Origins Hypothesis for the Indo-European Language Family


A recent article in Science* presents a new language database and family tree analysis of the Indo-European languages, and a new hypothesis on their origins and expansion. Indo-European is dated to some 8100 years ago, as a central estimate of when it began to spread and diverge. This date, and the family tree structure, fit with neither the Steppe nor the farming hypothesis for Indo-European origins. Instead, separate aspects of each combine into a new ‘hybrid’ hypothesis: Indo-European did not originate on the Steppe, but in the northern arc of the Fertile Crescent, and only some of its main branches in Europe came through the Steppe, as a secondary staging-post.

This talk sets out all aspects of this wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary research. It covers key issues in Indo-European studies; in cognacy databases, hence the new online; in methodology for Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of language families; and in how the ancient DNA record fits with a hybrid hypothesis of Indo-European origins.

* To download the Science paper free, use the link at:

Dr. Paul Heggarty is a historical linguist with a focus on how our languages open up a window on our past, to complement the perspectives from genetics, archaeology and history. He has long experience and co-authorship in all those disciplines, aimed at gaining a more coherent, holistic understanding of (pre)history. His interests range worldwide, but focus especially on the Indo-European language family in Eurasia, and on the prehistory of South America, where he is currently an associate researcher at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima.