How Original European Peoples Splintered into Distinct Ethno-Groups (i.e. Nations)


How Original European Peoples Splintered into Distinct Ethno-Groups
(i.e. Nations)


Lingual Differences

Ancient European
peoples formed into “ethno groups” or “nations” primarily according to
language differences. Most European languages trace their roots back to
a common base language, known as Proto-Indo-European. This theoretical
language originated in the Ural Mountain region in Russia (the divide
between Asia and Europe) around 5000 BC. It spread westward throughout
Europe, branching off into descendant languages due to variations which
occurred as people became separated by time, space and geographical
barriers.

(Continued Below)


Proto-Indo-European
is theoretical in that linguistic experts have been able to find markers
in most European languages showing strong evidence of a common base
language. The variances in lingual characteristics increased among
ancient peoples the farther out they settled from the theoretical
epicenter of the Ural Mountains over time.

At the onset of
this era of language dissemination, the more mutually intelligible
(understood) a tribe’s language was with a neighboring tribe, the more
likely they were to share a common “national” identity, although ancient
peoples during this time did not have the same vision of nationality as
we do today.


Variation Over Distance

For example, the
Proto-Baltic-Slav people were a single, homogenous nation, with a common
language, existing between about 3000 to 1000 BC, and inhabiting the
southeastern coastlines of the Baltic Sea. As they naturally sprawled
southward, deeper into the agriculturally-productive lands of
continental Europe, variations in language developed among this nation
of people, even though they were largely contiguous, without a
pronounced geographical barrier to naturally divide them into separate
nations. By 1000 BC, the language of those to the southern extremities
of the area covered by Proto-Baltic-Slav peoples had diverged just
enough that it was no longer mutually intelligible with the core group.

This division in
language precipitated cultural differences as well, in terms of
religious practice, art, etc. As a result, the core group became the
Baltic “nation”, while the group that had expanded furthest to the south
became the “Slav” nation. Even though there was not a distinct
geographical barrier that separated the two new nations, just the fact
that the languages were now different caused the people in these two
successor nations to identify more with those that spoke their same (or
close to the same) language, and consequently exhibited similar cultural
characteristics. The Baltic people would go on to become ancestors to
modern Lithuanians, while the Slavs would sub-divide several more times
throughout history, becoming ancestors to modern Russians, Poles, Serbs,
Czechs, Ukrainians, etc.

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This is similar how
other peoples divided into distinct nations during ancient times. In a
similar situation, the Finnic people in northern modern Russia migrated
west to the eastern edge of the Gulf of Finland. Those that spread north
remained part of the Finnic nation, while those that migrated south
became a separate Finnic nation, later known as Estonian (forefathers to
modern nation of Estonia). In this case, a geographical feature (aside
from mere “space/distance”) did play a role. The Gulf of Finland served
as a barrier between the northern and southern groups. Throughout time,
other nations would physically severe the two groups from one another,
by conquering the eastern shores of the Gulf of Finland.


Migrations

In other cases, a
distinct nation (typically in the form of a federation of
loosely-organized tribes that happened to speak the same language and
share common cultural traits) might migrate to a new homeland from a
far-away place of origin. This could happen for a variety of reasons,
including famine or military attacks from a rival group. The Magyars,
for example, were migrated south as a group from the Ural Mountains to
the northern shores of the Caspian Seas. They would eventually be pushed
westward by nomadic Asian barbaric peoples (such as the Huns),
ultimately landing in modern Hungary, at which point they would become
known as Hungarians, founders of the modern nation of Hungary.

The Etruscans are another group that
traveled a great distance to their newfound “homeland”. They were a West
Asian group (likely originating in modern Turkey) that found there way
to the Italian peninsula under unknown circumstances. They would
eventually mix with the other diverse groups that found themselves on
the peninsula (such as Celts migrating from the north, and Greek
colonists from the southern coasts), forming the basis for the “Italian”
ethno-group.

After the era of initial migrations,
military conflict and expansionist ambitions would begin to play a role.
The Roman Empire would absorb the Celts, while the Germanic people would
resist, ending the “Celt nation”, while cementing the survival of a
cohesive “German nation”.

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