Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More On Uralics Part 1

[Say twenty years ago I started out theories along a similar line and so I already hasd many of the facts at my disposal that Paabo uses to bolster his arguments. Since I also have the added advantage of my own separate research, I shall be providing my own comments and arguments at the end. --DD]

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UI-RA-LA: The Ancient World of Boat Peoples, by Andres Pääbo


NEW: SEEMING CONFIRMATION OF THIS BOAT PEOPLE THEORY IN POPULATION GENETICS STUDIES - SEE A.PÄÄBO INTERPRETATIONS OF "Signature of recent historical events in the European Y-chromosomal STR haplotype distribution" by Lutz Roewer, Peter J.P Croucher, et al. , 2005


Basic Introduction To The Theory of a Worldwide Expansion of Boat-peoples From Northern Europe


Although humans were smart enough to devise rafts to cross bodies of water we are not by nature water-creatures; thus the evolution of a part of humanity into a life using boats and getting around on water could not have occurred spontaneously just anywhere. It had to have occurred in a place where there was no other alternative where survival depended on it. Through natural selection those groups who devised the best ways of dealing with the watery environment were the ones who produced the largest populations and flourished. The following presents the basic theory by Andres Pääbo about the appearance and expansions of a boat-oriented way of life that marks an early stage in the evolution of Europe after the Ice Age. This side of the European past has never before been told, because traditionally scholars have focussed on the evolution of farming and sedentary civilizations particularly in the Indo-European tradition. The focus here is on the Atlantic side, including likely North Atlantic crossings, but there is evidence that peoples from the same origins entered Siberia and the Pacific.

The Reindeer People and the Water People

The story begins at the height of the Ice Age, when glaciers cover the entire north part of Europe. In southern Europe there were people who lived in caves and hunted bison, horses, reindeer and other large animals who lived in plentiful grasslands.

Map 1. The Ice Sheet over the north of Europe. Humans who followed Reindeer, Bison, Horses, and other migrating herds were distributed according to the migration patterns of these herds. As the Ice Sheet withdrew and humans began expanding northward, the first split was between the reindeer hunters who occupied the tundra of the North European Plain, and the descendants of the Bison hunters who were forced to adjust to the disappearance of grassy plains and plains herds. The second split came later, from about 10,000 BC when the reindeer hunters continued into the north, following the reindeer herds, while others stayed behind and were forced to deal with a land filled with water. This later split is the one that linguistically caused the "Uralic" language to split between "Samoyed" and "Finno-Ugric" (See next map - Map 2.)
But when the Ice Age came to an end, the climate warmed, and the southern parts of Europe became increasingly forested. Grasslands vanished, and brought an end to herds of many of the animals. But reindeer were animals who lived on the tundra plain north of the tree line. Forests could not swallow up tundra in the same way they could swallow up grassland, because trees could not grow in arctic conditions. Thus there was always a northern limit to trees, and beyond that a tundra plain which could be inhabited by reindeer. Those humans who sought to continue the way of life of the Ice Age, needed only to shift north with the reindeer and the reindeer kept north of the tree line.
Archeology reveals that the latest reindeer hunters in continental Europe were in the region of Poland. These were about 90% dependent on reindeer, and therefore needed to follow the reindeer north as the climate warmed. Such reindeer hunters would have moved northward as a very sparse people, throughout the eastern part of Greater Europe, over many thousands of years. Staying in arctic conditions they continued to develop increasingly pronounced mongoloid features, which are considered adaptations to the arctic. (Eye squint against glare of snow, flat face to prevent wind flowing over the face, squat body to reduce heat loss, etc). Being separated from the cousins that stayed behind in continental Europe, their appearance after many thousands of years changed dramatically. Also, according to modern genetic analysis, they developed enough genetic mutations to become quite distinct from the original Europeans in their genes as well.
The modern peoples with highly arctic mongoloid features and traditions of reindeer hunting/herding are the Samoyeds of arctic Russia; however the fact that Norway's Saami (formerly "Lapps") show much genetic mutation in their mtDNA relative to Europeans, suggests that in spite of their Europeanized outward appearances, and their Finno-Ugricized languages, the Saami too originated, at least maternally from these original reindeer people. As you will see later, when the glaciers shrunk over Scandinavia, the northern part was exposed first and it would have been at that time that the Reindeer-Saami ancestors entered. The Finno-Ugric influences came later as a result of northward expansion of boat peoples to exploit the rich sea life in the waters of arctic Scandinavia.
Although both the Finno-Ugric and Samoyed languages are considered part of the larger "Uralic" family, the two groupings of peoples are very different from one another. The speakers of "Samoyed" who were today located in the treeless arctic parts of northern Russia, have traditions that are entirely about reindeer hunting, thus suggesting origins in the abovementioned reindeer-hunters. By contrast the traditions of the "Finno-Ugrian" speakers are about boats, forests, waterfowl, fish, etc. making them the obvious descendants of the boat-using hunter-fisher gatherers. And the "Samoyeds" are also racially arctic mongoloid, while Finno-Ugrians are basically racially European and - excluding mixed races like the Khanti - at most show mild mongoloid features. This, as well as the new mtDNA genetics, suggests that the original assumption that the Uralic family divided in the region of today's Russia somewhere must be WRONG! The only way to explain the strong differences is that the separation occurred already in Europe well before 10,000BC. The reindeer hunters left Europe first, and the boat-peoples remained for millenia south of the glaciers as they developed their new boat-oriented way of life. They did not expand eastward until their boat-oriented way of life was mastered and became successful.
Early interpretations about the Uralic languages appear also to have been wrong about the subdividion of Finno-Ugric languages, portraying a series of migrations which was fashionable among linguists in those days. The better explanation is simple--the boat peoples expanded throughout the Finno-Ugric range (and into areas where the original languages have become extinct) and then subdivided according to distance and communication barriers, which for boat peoples, was according to water system boundaries.
In the new theory, that suits the data better, the the Finno-Ugrians can be viewed as the speakers of languages of people who broke away from the reindeer hunters and stayed behind in continental Europe while the reindeer hunters - who became the Samoyeds and Saami - continued into the north. Such a scenario would produce the long time of separation required by the racial, folkloric, and genetic data, while still preserving the evidence of a relationship between "Finno-Ugric" and "Samoyed" under the "Uralic" heading. Then the expanded Proto-Finno-Ugric boat peoples simply differentiated dialectically over millenia into the four linguistic families (Baltic, Volgic, Permian, and Ugrian) according to water basins, and then differentiated further as a result of settling down with agriculture.
-How difficult it is to correct a wrong theory that has become entrenched-
Much has been written about the "Uralic" languages of western Eurasia, which have a basic subdivision between the "Samoyeds" and "Finno-Ugrians". The former refer to peoples in the high arctic, originally reindeer hunters, now herding them, who have strong arctic mongoloid racial features.
The original linguistic studies of the late 1800's concluded from only linguistic distances, that an original "Uralic" language family split into the "Samoyed" language family and the "Finno-Ugric" language family in the vicinity of the Ural Mountains around 6000BC, and then the original parental "Finno-Ugric" language started to subdivide and subdivide, with each breakaway group migrating elsewhere. The problems with this theory are countless, notably, when one takes into account the far-ranging nature of boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers such as found in Canada in around 1600, the theory of splitting and migrating does not make sense, since these peoples were migrating annually through entire river systems.
In the history of this subject, it appears only one contemporary linguist was intelligent enough to realize something was wrong. In 1907 Heikki Ojansuu expressed the view that "the F-U peoples once occupied a broad zone extending somewhere from the region of Ilmajärvi, then along the Volga and its tributaries to the region of the Kama and the Urals" He believed that hunters and fishermen needed large areas for their activities (Heikki Ojansuu, Oma Maa, 1 (1920), 318-328). Later another Finn, Paavo Ravila noted, but did not realize the solution of simple dialectic differentiation, that the geographical distribution of the F-U languages closely reflected their relationship. Later, another Finn, Erkki Itkonen, proposed the conflicts the original linguists' theory had with archeology (that found no evidence of migrations) could be reduced by assuming the F-U peoples occupied the entire area from the Urals and the Baltic from time immemorial. (Itkonen, Oma Maa, 1958) Toivo Vuorela summed this line of thinking as follows (Vuorela, The Finno-Ugric Peoples Eng. trans. J. Atkinson, 1964) "In this sense [Itkonen] refers to Ojansuu's idea of an 'unbroken zone of peoples' from Ilmajärvi to the Urals, and to Ravila's view that the geographical distribution of the F-U languages reflects their relationship. When the once food-gathering peoples, who had needed wide areas in which to move about, became agriculturalists and so were more inclined to stay in one area, 'the various groups that were accustomed to live together became virtually frozen to the spot in their former hunting grounds' -- and thus dialects became more and more separate and over centuries and millenia developed into separate languages.
The idea of hunting people 'being frozen to their former hunting grounds' is interesting from the point of view of the Estonian and Finnish words for 'family' pere/perhe . It is possible that this word originates from PEO-RA (ie, pida + rada) meaning 'hunting,trapping, catching + trail, way, road' suggesting that each clan had their own hunting territory of trails, something confirmed among Canada's Algonquian Indian past; so that when they had to settle down, the hunting trails disappeared so that all that was left was the clan, the family, the PEO-RA, or pere/perhe.
Another issue was whether Finno-Ugric languages existed to the west of the Baltic, since no Finno-Ugric languages survived there. Had there been even one Finno-Ugric language alive in the west Baltic, all the thinking would have taken another route. Nonetheless the German Gustaf Kossinna tried to place the F-U homeland in North Germany and Scandinavia (Mannus, I-II Mannus Bibl. 26 (1909-1911)) Interestingly, there is a suggestion in the Estonian folk epic Kalevipoeg that (assuming the part I will refer to is from original folklore and not invented by the compiler) there was, perhaps back in the Viking Age, Finno-Uric speakers in Norway. In the story, Kalev has three sons, one becoming Kalevipoeg, the hero of Estonian and Finnish folklore, another going to Russia to become a merchant (referring probably to the Votes and others who carried on trade to the Dneiper and Volga) and the third to Norway to become a warrior. It is clear that the intent was to acknowledge all known peoples obviously related to the originator of the legend. This last Norwegian warrior character is interesting because it was during 800-1000AD that Danish kings were on a campaign to bring Norway into their kingdoms. Thus for two centuries southern Norway and up its coast was a region of conflict, requiring soldier assistance. Thus around 800-1000AD, Estonians would have perceived there to be a related people always at war with the Danish armies, and hence the legend-maker included a son of Kalev who was a warrior/soldier in Norway, in order to give an origin to the related people in southern Norway. Since archeology indicates trade connections between Norway and northern Britain (ie the Picts), we can extend the Finno-Ugrians even to the Picts, at least those of the east side. The connection between the trader-Picts and the east Baltic is affirmed by the Anglo-Saxon scholar monk Venerable Bede who wrote that the Picts had come in longboats "from Scythia". In that day, "Scythia" was the region from the east Baltic eastward. Clearly traders from Greater Estonia were arriving on the British east coast, and were witnessed to speak a language similar to that of the Picts who recieved them.
If we begin to view the Finno-Ugrians as the result of water-people expansions, then that opens the possibility of including still other groups, far and wide, into the family.

The probably correct interpretation is simply expressed follows: Since they are by tradition a boat-people, we can propose origins for the "Finno-Ugrians" in the boat-people who developed in the flooded lands under the glaciers. If the original language of the reindeer hunters was the common ancestral one, then the "Finno-Ugrians" can be viewed as the speakers of languages of people who broke away from the reindeer hunters and stayed behind in continental Europe while the reindeer hunters - who became the "Samoyeds" - continued into the north. Such a scenario would produce the long time of separation required by the racial, folkloric, and genetic data, while still preserving the evidence of a relationship between "Finno-Ugric" and "Samoyed" under the "Uralic" heading. Then the expanded boat peoples simply differentiated dialectically over millenia into the four linguistic families (Baltic, Volgic, Permian, and Ugrian) according to water basins, and then differenatiated further as a result of settling down with agriculture.
The word "Uralic" comes from the "Ural Mountains" and was chosen by the early linguists because they originally thought the Finno-Ugrians and Samoyeds split from each other near the Ural Mountains. The name "Ural" is probably Finno-Ugric, making reference to the water-filled lands on both sides of the Urals, but especially to the east in the Ob River basin. In any event, as explained later, I generate the word UI-RA-LA to describe the early world of boat people who moved about in such a watery universe. (In Estonian ujuda, in Finnish uida mean 'to swim, float'.) The peoples under this new heading, as you will see, will exclude the "Samoyed" because they are not boat-people, but could include more peoples than the "Finno-Ugrians", such as the Basques. The Basque word for 'water' is ur, and it is possible that it may be an abbreviation of UI-RA 'the floating-path' . We discuss this further, below.
The following sets out to generally describe the ancient boat-people, how they came to be, and how they expanded far and wide, in a completely new way not found in any other literature. The source of the insights lie in Canada, in the nature of the Inuit and Algonquian native peoples, who were also boat-peoples in a similar setting.

The Emergence and Expansion of Water People

We begin with the idea that while humans were always able to devise ways to cross bodies of water, they were basically creatures of the land, and therefore were not inclined to a life in a watery landscape constantly using boats for hunting and travel. This being the case, a boat-dependent way of life needed severe natural pressures to cause it to evolve. I propose that the only place in the world where this pressure existed, where the humans there could not escape, was in the north of Europe below the melting glaciers, in the late stages of the Ice Age. We know for example that there was land in the North Sea, which became submerged when the sea level rose. What if the sea rose gradually enough to allow an evolution of a boat-using way of life, instead of suddenly drowing everyone. We have to stress that a way of life in boats is not natural, and needs both environmental pressure and a period of acculturalization.
At the peak of the Ice Age, the glaciers descended to the central part of continental Europe. Geologists tell us that as the glaciers developed they drew water out of the oceans and lowered the sea level. When the climate began to warm, when the Ice Age receded, when the glaciers melted, the sea level did not rise immediately because the glacial meltwater first spilled into the land and inland seas and it would take some time for the water to flow to the sea and raise its level. Thus there was a period of time during which the lands below the glaciers were inundated, and any hunters found there would have no choice but to develop ways to travel on water. Gradually they adapted and soon they had access to a rich bounty of fish, sea-mammals, and waterfowl, not to mention animals that like water like the "moose" (American English) or "elk" (British English).
Geologists tell us additionally that the Ice Age receded initially slowly, and then accelerated. For 10,000 years climatic change was barely perceptible, but then around 10,000-6000BC the warming was very fast. The reason for this is that when most of Europe was covered with glaciers, its white color reflected the sun's rays back into space. But as the melting progressed and the dark colors of the earth were exposed, less sunlight was reflected back into space, and the heat gain of the earth accelerated, causing the glaciers to melt faster and faster until in the very last stages everywhere the land was warming and the glaciers were depositing their water. Water was being dumped far more quickly than it could drain to the oceans. It was a very wet land, but the boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers flourished, probably more than any other people. It an be argued that the boat-people became the dominant group in Europe. I call their watery world UI-RA-LA. It's peak of expansion was probably at about 6000BC. Then climatic warming slowed down again and things stabilized at the state reached by then.
INSPIRATION FOR "UI-RA-LA" USED IN THIS PROJECT The UI- is inspired first by Estonian/Finnish elements uj-/ui- 'pertaining to swimming, floating'. Secondly is the fact that the major tribe of the Aquitani in Roman times was called Uiteriges which interprets via Est/Finn as 'floating nation' (uide-riigi). the -RA- is inspired by the apparent presence of the "RA" element in the ancient names of major trade rivers. For example the Loire was Ligera, the Volga is shown by Ptolemy as Rha (Roman "rh" meant trilled "r"), and indeed the original names of the Rhine and Rhone. In addition Basque uses -RA as the ending meaning 'directed towards', and RA in ancient pre-Indo-European languages like Sumerian has the meaning 'route'. It exists also in Finno-Ugrian, incorporated into words. In Estonian for example rada 'trail, path'. Finally the -LA ending similarly has an ancient presence, although sometimes losing the -A. In Est/Finn it is the ending meaning 'place of, territory of' and it exists in Basque as ola. Overall, the construction "UI-RA" would mean 'the floating, sailing, way' and it could be the origin of the Basque word for 'water' ur. The full construction "UI-RA-LA" might lie behind the word "Ural Mountains" and refer to the vast areas of marshland adjoining them particularly to the east. (But this is supposition. I hope someone can confirm this.) Last but not least, the UI construction appears in the Inuit language of the Canadian arctic (the Inuit were an arctic boat-people) in relation to the behaviour of water (example: uijjaqtuq 'water spins'). In general, it is possible to account for the words Finni, Vene, and Venedi by a word of the form "UI-NI", which would mean '(people, person) of the water'. The form Finni can arise directly from "UI-NI" while the form Vene requires a dialect with a slightly lower vowel-"UE-NE". The form Venedi is nothing more than a plural of "UE-NE" that is "UE-NE-TI". By the same token the original "UI-NI" too can be pluralized to arrive at "UI-NI-T" which is remarkably close to arctic North America's Inuit. For a complete study of the name of the boat-people, see the associated article "UINI": QUEST FOR THE ORIGINAL NAME OF THE BOAT-PEOPLES

These people would have identified themselves as 'water-people', which was probably something like UINI, arising from the psychologically natural sound "UUU" which seems to describe 'flowing'. We discuss the matter of name elsewhere.
Since the warming climate was causing the populations of wildlife to increase, and new way of life using boats was successful, the boat-people populations began to increase in parallel to the wildlife. Bands and tribes grew large, and daughter tribes split off from mother tribes, and migrated far enough away to establish a new hunting-fishing-gathering territory. By nature, humans form bands, extended families of brothers and sisters, children and elders, moving together through a territory. But bands can meet up with bands, to form tribes. Evidence suggests that an average natural tribe had about 5-7 bands. The pattern of life of nomadic hunter-fisher-gatherers is that every band moved around in their band territory throughout the year, but annually 5-7 bands would meet at a central location to socialize, trade, mate, and generally reaffirm a larger tribal social order. Thus the region of linguistic and cultural uniformity extended over the total area of the movements of all the clans of the tribe. Furthermore, sometimes two or three neighbouring tribes would congregate in larger festivals, and that would counteract the development of dialects between one tribe and the next. If the territory covered by a band of boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers was large, then areas of linguistic and cultural uniformity could be very large, much larger than is commonly assumed.
The most important and least recognized aspect of the boat-peoples is that with boats, boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers could travel over five times faster and farther than the earlier hunters that moved on foot over clear open land. That means boat-using hunting-fishing-gathering territories could be over five times larger than that of the earlier big animal hunters, like the reindeer hunters. For example, if a reindeer hunter band covered a territory 100km in diameter, the boat-users could cover a territory of 500km in diameter. Furthermore, since boat-use was determined by the nature of the waterways, their territories would be stretched in various ways. A linear territory could assume the form of travelling 1500km up and down a river, or along a coast.
Thus it is clear that as the populations grew, breakaway bands and then tribes would have to travel a great distance to remove themselves from the territories claimed by the parent band. If families were having three children, then a breakway tribe would form every 50 years or less, and move about 500km away. They could expand 1000km in every century. The most recent example of rapid expansion of a boat-people is that of the Canadian arctic "Thule" culture from Alaska to Greenland in only about 500 years.
It is important to note that the expansion of the original populations was unopposed. Before the boat peoples there were no previous peoples across the subarctic forest zone of Europea. Archeology reveals that before the evolution of boat-peoples the water-filled forests south of the tundra were unoccupied. The only people to be found there before the expansion of boat people would have been the reindeer-hunters. But the reindeer hunters were above the tree line and moved around on foot, therefore they were rarely found in the niche into which the boat-people expanded. In a sentence--the boat-peoples were unopposed! They did not have to displace any earlier peoples. They did not have to battle with people already there.



Fig 1
Figure 1.

Humans are territorial creatures, and one clan or band could not steal resources from the territory of another, without causing a fight. Thus each clan assumed their own territory, and passed it down within the clan, patrilineally among hunters since men were most involved with hunting territory. Early farmers, however passed down farmlands matrilineally since traditionally women took care of villages, collecting plant foods, and processing. (Recent example: Iroquoian farmers of America). Later farmer-herders, starting with Indo-Europeans, were patrilineal again because the male role of defender of territory against enemies took precedence and rule returned to the male.
The accompanying illustrations shows the typical manner in which a boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherer tribe would occupy a river, with each clan claiming a tributary. Annually they would all ride down the river to a tribal meeting place near the mouth. (Examples are found in recent Canada). In addition, I show the clans of nomadic hunters that move on foot, such as ancient reindeer hunters. Here too, each clan would have their own territory, but not as far apart from the others since it had to be walked. Annually or so, the clans would come together. Reindeer hunters might meet at a place they all ambush reindeer on their migrations. Thirdly there are the settlers who don't move, because they are tied to farmlands, and cannot abandon the farmlands for long. In this diagram I also happen to place the pedestrian hunters and settled peoples within the geographical area of the river-people. This illustrates that territory is not only about land area, but also nature of the activity and resources. Reindeer hunters and boat-people were not in territorial conflict because boats could not travel where the reindeer were. Settlers and boat people were not in territorial conflict because settlers grew their own food and did not hunt the wild. Of course this is not absolutely true. Boat-people probably tried to steal a reindeer now and then, and settled people might occasionally fetch something from the wilderness. Boat people might kill a reindeer or throw seeds on a clearing of land, or keep a domestic animal. That's when conflicts occurred. But usually they got along and they could co-exist in the same landscape.

Fig 2
Figure 2.
While it is easy to picture bands located on the tributaries of a large river (like the Oder) travelling up and down their rivers from one campsite to the next, perhaps 5 locations in a year, it is not as easy to determine how hunters would have behaved on the sea. Obviously in the Baltic (such as the "Kunda" culture) they probably kept close to the shore, avoiding the high waves of the sea, but in the arctic ocean, it was probably beneficial to move with the ocean current, expecially since this current had warm water in which sea life was abundant. The adjoining diagram is my suggestion as to how arctic Norwegian oceanic hunters probably moved from site to site with the ocean currents, at least to avoid paddling against the current.

Fig 3
Figure 3.

Linguists have observed how arctic languages seem to span entire continents. Why? The reason is that food density (the concentration of food animals and plants) in the arctic is low. The hunter-gatherer was forced to travel over much greater areas than he might otherwise have wanted (We are all naturally lazy), going from one choice place to another, in order to survive. But when we look at languages in the south, such as in a jungle (New Guinea for example), we find many languages all having come the same parent language, because food density was high in the jungle. Farming settlements too created situations in which food density was high. Such situations caused tribes to remain in the small geographical region and defend small regions from intrusion by neighbours. From polarizing with neighbours they developed in their own way in their language, customs, etc. so that soon there were many ethnicities and languages in a small geographical area. This differenatiation according to food supply is also the reason southern jungles have such a diversity of species and ecological niches (territories). While low food density and spreading out of people is usually attributed to the arctic, it can also be applied to desert areas. Here too, a pedestrian nomadic people's language can end up covering a larger geographical area

Boat use has its greatest advantage in making it easier for hunter-peoples to live in environments in which food supply was sparse. While the reindeer hunter had no problem since staying in touch with a reindeer herd ensured a concentrated supply of food, the boat-using hunter who hunted a wide variety of animals - whatever could be found - had to travel and travel to find the food. The boat, the canoe, in extending the range at least five times, made it possible to survive in subarctic forests where previously it would not have been possible to find enough food on foot.
There is no need to debate these ideas to any great extent, because proof can be found in the traditions of boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers of Canada. The further north the people live, the lower the food density in the land, and the further they had to travel to secure their food. Thus for example the Cree around forested part of the the lower Hudson Bay, covered a territory as much as 3000km wide, their far-ranging movements keeping the language from breaking into many separate languages over that entire area. (Europeans did however note three dialects). North of them, the arctic ocean boat-oriented Inuit had established a single language, with about three dialects from Alaska all the way to Greenland.
Towards the south, where food density was greater, people did not have to travel as far. Shorter-range interaction between peoples caused dialects to develop into distinct languages. For example in Canada, the Ojibwa boat-people lived throughout the Great Lakes water basin, the Algonquins in the Ottawa River water basin, the Montagnais Innu in the Saguenay River water basin, the Labrador Innu in the Churchill River water basin. Note how water basins defined the regions, since boat-use was generally confined to the water basin.
The large territory of boat-using peoples can also be seen in the traditions of the Ob-Ugrians of the Ob River. It has been noted that the Khanti occupied a territory as large as all of eastern Europe. At an early time there would have been similar situations in the Vistula, Dneiper, Oder, Rhine, Volga, etc. where one boat-people dominated an entire water basin. The modern Finno-Ugric language subdivisions are in fact defined over water basins : Balto-Finnic in the Baltic water basin, Volgic in the Volga, etc. This is proof that the early stages of the Finno-Ugrians were similar to that of the recent Algonquian natives of Canada. As we might expect, the linguistic boundaries of boat-peoples, corresponded with where boats could easily travel.
As already noted, because the territories of boat people were large, when populations grew and tribes formed out of parent tribes, the new tribes needed to travel far enough away so as not to overlap the parental territory. That meant moving out of the parental water basin into a new one. The entire region between Britain and the Urals could have been filled in less than 1000 years. Thereafter there would have been internal dynamics until territorial stability was achieved -- everyone knew what regions belonged to what clans and tribes.
A natural human tribe consists of 5-7 bands (extended families of brothers and sisters, their children and elders). (Larger tribes require political organization, government, to remain as one.) From the Canadian evidence, the most common pattern among boat-peoples is that the 5-7 bands each owned one of the water basins of the tributaries of a large river so that the tribe as a whole owned the entire river water basin. The bands travelled through their large territories on their own for most of the year, and then they all came together once a year to socialize, find mates, trade, exchange news. The tribal meeting place was usually near the mouth of a river.
In the case of peoples who fished and hunted sea coasts, perhaps a tribe was distributed along the coast, each band claiming a part of the coast. Archeology shows that there was a cultural unity along the south Baltic which they have named "Maglemose". If the bands of this tribe travelled the coast, the central location where the bands got together would have been at the mouth of the Oder as it would be a central location. And on the east Baltic the bands of the tribe archeologists have called "Kunda" would probably have met at the Dvina (Daugava, Väina) at the Gulf of Riga. The mouth of the Vistula would have been the gathering place of bands who travelled the Vistula. If the three tribes wanted to meet in a large gathering, the mouth of the Vistula was a good place. Archeology has found overlapping of archeological cultures there. Another location where it appears two or three tribes came together is Lake Onega.

Fig 4
Figure 4.

The adjacent map is developed from a learned text on the archeology of northern Europe, that depicts the detectable archeological groupings found in the archeological artifacts. As my theory goes, there was at first a rapid expansions, and then as the Ice Age came to an end, and the environment stablized, so did human populations. Each geographical area had its own special characteristics that influenced the boat-peoples within them to adopt ways of life a little different from those of other geographical areas; but we have no reason to believe that language change with material culture, since it was independent of geographical circumstances. At this early stage, all the archeological cultures shown could have easily spoken the same language, with only dialectic variation. Thus as the various bands/clans had settled in annual circuits of travel and nature-harvesting, they guarded each their own territory, so that it was difficult for another hunter people to enter any part of the north without getting into serious conflict with the established peoples. Insofar as each tribe consisted of several clans/bands, the tribe's territory was the total of the territories of the individual bands/clans. Because bands/clans associated with each other, they would have had the same material culture, and therefore there is no question that each archeological culture represents the territory of only one or two tribes, each with 5 to 7 clans/bands/extended families.

THE OCEANIC TRIBES. The patterns followed by oceanic hunters are more mysterious. They may not even have had annual cycles, only meeting other bands every five years or so. The Shetland Islands lore speaks of a people they called Finni who were estabished for a few years on its northern islands, and then disappeared.

Existing Shetland traditions speak of a people called Finns who inhabited Fetlar and northwest Unst for some time after the Norse occupied Shetland. This name is identical with the one by which the Norse knew the aboriginals of northern Scandinavia. It was aso the name given by Shetlanders (of Norse lineage) to a scattering of Inuit [?] who, in kayaks, materialized amongst the Northern Isles during the eighteenth century. . . .In any event, Shetlanders used the same name for these small-statured, dark skinned strangers that their ancestors had given to the people who preceded the Norse in Shetland. (F. Mowat, Farfarers, Toronto 1998)

Farley Mowat, quoted above advanced a theory that original British who he called "Albans" endured in the Northern Isles, and hunted walrus, travelling all the way to the coast of Canada. In my theory there were always two types of boat-peoples in the British Isles, the original dugout-using interior hunter-gatherers who were orientated towards the east, became traders, and the skin-boat oceanic hunters that came down at an early time from the arctic Norwegian coast, and always remained sea-hunters, much like the Basques further south.
If there was a circling ocean current, like there was north of arctic Norway, and also between Norway, Greenland, and Iceland, the movements of the oceanic hunters might have gone with the current. The collective tribal meeting place would be in the mid-point somewhere. For example the location where the "Komsa" culture settlement was found, in north central Norway, would be on the edge of a cycling current.
Thus we see that the regions covered by a tribe of bands keeping contact with one another, could be very large. That means when the populations were growing, a new tribe had to roam a considerable distance to find fresh territory. Rapid expansion over vast areas during prehistoric times when the lands and seas were relatively empty, had to be the norm.
In the prehistoric period, populations would have continued to grow as long as the climate was warming. When the glacier, which was centered on the mountains of Norway became small, climate change had slowed down. The populations of boat peoples stabilized. They had expanded as far as nature allowed, and now they settled each into their water basins, and each tribe started to dialectically change within their territories because there was little communication across water basins. These small changes are reflected in archeology.
We know that boat people went into the Volga, because three of the Finno-Ugric language families are accessed by getting onto the Volga. What is unknown is the situation in the Dneiper and other rivers draining to the Black Sea from the Baltic direction. Languages originally there have vanished.

Map 2
Map 2. This map speculates on the distribution of different tribes of boat-using hunter gatherers. This speculation is, based on the water basins and the direction of the drainage. Note that this map does NOT show the continuing land-based people in the dry interior regions. They were obviously there and archeology has found evidence of them, and their expansions. The reader should bear in mind that , aside from identifying the Reindeer people, our focus here is on the boat people. If there were large areas of high, dry, passable ground that could be inhabitated by pedestrian peoples, then certainly there would have been pedestrian peoples there, in the very same geographical regions

The Northern Algonquian Situation in Recent Canada as a Model For the Early Finno-Ugric

As I said above, while humans could devise a raft of some kind probably even 50,000 years ago, they were basically land-people and the development of the design of the boat, the manner in which one travelled and hunted, etc had to be a slow process. It may have taken 1000 years or more to refine the dugout boat, determine what to hunt and fish, develop new tools and techniques, etc. Those that had better ideas were more successful. It was thus Nature that gradually selected the people and methods that worked best. More successful methods resulted in more children, more population growth, more expansion. We must not picture a sudden invention of boat use, and a sudden expansion. It could have, by chance, happened only in one place, and expanded from there.
Those who cannot grasp the idea that some activity that is not innate to humans takes special circumstances and time to develop can also look at horseback riding. Humans were always able to leap onto the back of a horse and ride around for amusement. But it took a long time to integrate such activity into the way of life of a society. But once the activity has become established it is easy to copy. After the North American Indians had seen Spaniards riding horses and captured horses that had escaped to the wild, within a century all the Indians of the North American plains were riding around on horses. In the last century, our use of the automobile was made possible by the prior establishing of precedents in horse-drawn wagons and carriages. The auto engine simply replaced the horse. Thus we can argue that it took 1000 years to create our modern society based on automobile use. First we had to establish all uses of the automobile first with the horse.
Thus it is never a question of whether a human can make and ride a boat or not, but that the boat use becomes integral to the way of life. It takes a long time of interraction between a society and the environment for this new way of life to evolve.
Thus, the new culture involving boat-use did not happen overnight, but once it was matured, it could be easily imitated. The population growth in the beginning when the people had not figured out their new boat-oriented way of life was probably nil, then as their methods improved there was slow population growth and then a faster one, until the boat-culture had reached its final optimum form. For example early dugout canoes were probably crude cavities in logs, but in the end they were the sleek, thin-hulled, designs such as are still created by the Khanti on the Ob River. Once the boat was developed, it could endure by imitation. It is far easier to imitate than originate. (In the world of art, any capable artist can make a copy of the Mona Lisa, but only Leonardo da Vinci created the original.)
It would have been a process that took at least 1000 years, probably 2000. Perhaps the crudest boat people, making only a hole in a log, and stumbling about as best they could, began in 10,000BC. Perhaps it wasn't until about 8,000BC that the new way of life in a watery landscape had reached maturity and dramatic expansion began.
The idea that a boat-culture does not happen unless Nature imposes pressures forcing humans to make it happen, or that it does not happen overnight, leads us to ask whether boat peoples in other parts of the world were independent evolutions, or whether they all acquired the basic culture from the boat people under the north European glaciers.
I have referred to the Inuit (Eskimo) of arctic Canada. Their boats were made of skins and included a one-person craft called a kayak and the other a large vessel that would carry an entire clan, called an umiak. To their south in the subarctic forests there were the Algonquian boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers who travelled up and down the rivers. They included Cree, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Montagnais, Innu, etc. Their boats were made by covering a frame with birch bark. The birch bark canoe can be viewed as a form of skin boat. Algonquian peoples towards the south along the Atlantic coast also demonstrated dugout canoes and skin boats using moose-hide. Were these boats independently developed or did the prototypes come across the North Atlantic? There are many similarities between the culture of the Algonquians and what is found in Finno-Ugrians. One of the most mysterious is the similarities in rock paintings made from boats on cliffs beside water, found both in central Canada and in Finland. Both are made from boats with red ochre. There are rock paintings in Siberia too. How much coincidence do we need before we decide on there having been a connection? That is a question for another time.


If we look at a map of Europe and North America side by side, as in the illustration below, and then notice the long range of the distribution of some northern language/ethnic families in North America, it is obvious that early Europe, was similar in having a single language or ethnicity spanning an enormous range purely from the factors of low-food-density and long-range boat-travel . Such a large distribution can only come about in the ancient northern world, before wars and refugees and so on, if there is a rapid expansion of a people through a land, unopposed by other people already there with similar economic ways. Rapid expansion only occurs when the expanding people 1) come into possession of something that caused their populations to multiply, and 2) their expansion was unopposed (they entered an empty economic niche). The warming climate promoted the first, and the lack of previous people in the freed (from ice) forests and marshes ensured the second.
Fig 5
Fig 5
The first illustration shows the areas of the world that were covered by ice at the height of the Ice Age. When the ice melted all the wet lands were free to be entered, not by people on foot who would have had difficulty there, but by people with boats. In other words, the regions under the glaciers were to be properly inhabited first by boat peoples who could successfully live in such a landscape crisscrossed with lakes, rivers, and marshes.
Fig 6
Fig 6

The second illustration shows the real situation in North America not long ago, and a probable European situation around 2500BC. The white lines show boundaries. Non-white text indicates people not boat-people, and light blue arrows suggest trans Atlantic expansions. The names in white are popular modern ones. But I also show, in cyan blue capitals, variations on names beginning with "UI-" that appear to be precedents for modern words like "Finnic" and "Venetic" and "Inuit". For a detailed investigation of the question of the original name of the boat-peoples see the next article "UINI": QUEST FOR THE ORIGINAL NAME OF THE BOAT-PEOPLES Did a boat people emerge also under the melting glaciers in North America? That is an interesting question. Did the boat-using way of life come from northern Europe or was it an independent development? Note that it doesn't take much because human can copy a way of life much more quickly than evolving it. If so, the fact that European settlers to northeastern North America still found skin boats, birch-bark boats, and dugouts, suggests it didn't develop as early as in Europe where boat culture was already highly developed 1000BC. The full story of boat peoples evolution in northern North America and Siberia is left for another time.
Note also in the illustration that the "Algonquian" language family of North America is located in the forested area, as if these people were accustomed to being boat-using forest people, previous to a rapid expansion into an empty region. The "Athabascan" family is located in the prairies, but . these were not a boat people; they came by way of the Bering Strait and we can presume that they maintained a language family over a large region by being nomadic buffalo-hunters. Furthermore, by 1600 the plains peoples had horses.
North of both, were the Inuit, formerly called "Eskimo". The Inuit were specialized arctic boat people. But before them were an archeological "Dorset" culture. Inland from the coast there were a reindeer (caribou) hunting people too that has now vanished.
North America presents interesting problems that need their own separate focus.
On the right side of the map we show how the boat people distribution might have been around 2500BC, using what is known from archeology and linguistics as a guide. It is not a final definitive description (and may not exactly agree with other maps on this page). The purpose is to merely construct something parallel to 1600 AD North America, using Europe's geography of water bodies and river flow directions as a guide. The intention is to demonstrate that the ancestors of the Finno-Ugrians were not localized in the way that has been assumed, and that their territories were defined by where they could travel by boats, far more than where they could travel on foot. This connection to boat-use and the water-geography, has never been considered previously

Skin Boats and the Oceanic Boat People

Since humans were not naturally inclined to live on water, I believe that peoples who sailed into the oceans and seas developed a little later. For example evidence of boat-people off the coasts of arctic Norway, does not really appear until about 4000BC. Currently archeologists have rationalized that they came there by coming up the Norwegian coast. By why would they travel north in ocean waves along a forbidding shore with glaciers in the distance, when there were plenty better places to go? This and other similar common sense arguments suggest that the original sea-hunters of the Norwegian coast came from the east, via arctic Norway. Once the sea-hunters were estabished, approaches were possible from the south. We are here interested in the beginnings. If we consider the beginnings, that is the first boat-peoples in the Norwegian arctic, then we cannot ignore the fact that the glaciers covered the entire southern part of Norway, so that anyone coming up from the south would have to follow the edge of glaciers and open seas devoid of sea-life. On the other hand at the very same time the northeast coast of Scandinavia was ice-free. Humans are more likely to have found an actual coast there, and wildlife along it to draw them forward.
There are other reasons to believe that oceanic hunters originated from the east. Humans do not adapt to something that is unnatural to humans easily. There had to be strong pressures forcing boat people to take into open ocean waves. Such pressures would have existed in the north where food density was low. The best proof that the oceanic hunters originated in the arctic comes from the fact that the northern boats were skin boats. It was only necessary to invent the skin boat if a people's most southerly location lacked any trees with large enough trunks.
Thus, I believe that the original boat-people on the coast of arctic Norway came by way of the White Sea in skin boats. Rock carvings found at the Norwegian island of Sørøya, show images of a light dugout, too small for ocean waves, but also a high-prowed vessel with a moose-head prow ("moose" is an American word of Algonquian origin for what is "elk" in British English). I believe that this moose-head boat was a skin boat made from the full hide of a moose, slit along the back, frame inserted, leaving the head attached for spiritual reasons. These people obviousy also had dugouts, but, like the Khanti dugouts, were too small to navigate in open seas. Possibly the Inuit kayak (Connection to Estonian käi 'go' ??), which enclosed the top to allow waves to break over the top, was in effect an adaptation of the tiny one-person northern dugout to high waves.
If the boat was made of a moose hide, it meant the people had to winter in a place with moose, in the forested zone. Since the arctic was cold and dark in the winter, early visitors to the arctic did not stay there through the dark winter. They all returned to a more southern place. Lake Onega was an ideal wintering place for boat people dealing with the White Sea and beyond. It was also a place to hunt moose and make more boats.
It is therefore significant that rock carvings of the very same small-size moose-head boat that was found in arctic Norway at the island of Sørøya has been known for a long time at the famous carvings at Lake Onega.

Fig 7
Figure 7.
A representation of an image found at the rock carvings at Russia's Lake Onega. There are larger boats depicted but we are interested in the smaller version that appears to be able to hold a maximum of three men, and the moose head size relative to the humans suggests a real moose head.

Fig 7A
Figure 7a.
The photo from which the above illustration is made. It is taken from a frame of the film "Kalevala" by Lennart Meri, as shown on Finnish and Estonian TV.
Fig 8
Figure 8.
A representation of a similar image found on Norway's arctic island of Sørøya where ancient visitors appeared to have hunting the sea-life of the warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift. The carvings also depict a rather small and thin dugout. Both suggest that the people came from a place with moose (Brit. "elk", Est. "põder") and reasonable size trees.

Fig 8A

Figure 8a
The photo of Sørøya rock from which image taken

Furthermore some of the images at Lake Onega show sea-harvesting activity that would only occur in the arctic ocean, not at Lake Onega, as if they were picturing last summer's activities. One image, for example shows the catching of a whale. By contrast, the Sørøya carvings show images of forest animals, as if when there, the reminisced about their other home, their winter home.
Thus there is a strong possibility that a boat-people made annual journeys to the White Sea and on to arctic Norway to harvest sea-life in the warm waters there.
In the annual cycle of nomadic hunters, entire bands, including women and children, moved together from camp to camp and they did not have to return to the same place until the next year (or whatever the length of their nomadic circuit.) Thus they could all move six months away from their wintering location, and six months back. In actual fact, the time distance from Lake Onega to the warm waters of the Atlantic Drift, was about a month or so. We cannot underestimate the distances humans will travel on the ocean, considering that in the 16th century Basque whalers were regularly crossing the Atlantic in sailing ships to harvest whales off the Canadian coast.
After a time, some of these visitors to the Norwegian arctic decided to stay in the north through the winter darkness . Lacking moose in their environment, they now made skin boats from reindeer or walrus hides. No longer returning to the White Sea or Lake Onega area, they were able to migrate further in search of new sea-hunting places. With population growth it was necessary for daughter bands to find such new locations. They migrated south to the outer islands of Britain becoming ancestral to the "Picts" who history records having skin boats. The eastern and interior parts of Britain would already have been established with the original dugout-boat peoples and traditions, but the seas had until that time been an empty niche. Then after spreading through the outer and western parts of Britain, perhaps some migrated further south, possibly ending up as far south as Portugal, possibly inspiring the legends of "Atlantis". They would have become the founders of the Atlantic "Megalithic" culture, a culture that built hill-tombs and alignments of large rocks not far from the coast (meaning they were a people who followed coasts). The "Megalithic" culture, as some scholars have called it, gradually spread up the western European rivers establishing the culture throughout western Europe.
Others of the arctic Norwegian sea-hunter traditions, migrated across to Greenland and Iceland and further, becoming the archeological "Dorset" culture of the Canadian east arctic. Canadian archeology reveals the "Dorset" culture has affinities with northern Norway archeological culture, and had expanded east-to-west across the Canadian arctic reaching the location where later a "Thule" culture started coming back the other way. (Was "Thule" ethnically a daughter to "Dorset" or the original White Sea culture coming to the Canadian arctic having travelled in the other direction over top of Siberia?) The "Dorset" culture appeared around 3500 BC, which coincides with the "Komsa" culture that stayed in the Norwegian north instead of migrating north-south.
Fig 9
Fig 9

If we look at a map of the world's ocean currents, it becomes very clear what happened. Considering that the early oceanic boat people had small skin boats and were probably not particularly evolved in the use of sails, they must have simply followed the currents. A map of the world's ocean currents can give us a good idea where early ocean-travellers without navigation skills or sails might have travelled. Below we look only at the North Atlantic.
The above map shows how the Gulf Stream, also known as the North Atlantic Drift, crosses the open part of the ocean from the American coast below Newfoundland, and heads to the waters of arctic Norway, then the currents turn in counter-clockwise circles. These circles could be exploited by oceanic hunters, to create a circuit to follow annually or over a longer period. The main circuits are given above by letters A, B, and C. The first oceanic boat people, those coming to the White Sea with moose-skin boats, could have travelled in circuit A, because such a circuit would have brought them to the region of Sørøya where moose-head boat images are carved. The archeological "Komsa" culture too lay on the edge of circuit A. Significantly, the regions of the Norwegian coast where some 3000 images have been found carved on rock, at Alta, Norway, and which has since 1985 been declared a World Heritage Site, lies close to the junction of circuits A and B. Furthermore Alta lies at the mouth of a river that extends inland--meaning all interior boat peoples could travel there too.
If the culture in circuit A was successful, its population would have grown, and a break-off group would have wandered out of circuit A in the direction of Greenland and soon found themselves in circuit B. The home base for this circuit was perhaps the Lofoten Islands area. Circuit B would also have had a camp at the east end of Iceland. Note that, although the British Isles are somewhat towards the south, history shows that seagoing "Finns" appeared at the north end of the Shetland Island. Clearly they would have belonged to circuit B. Such people stayed several years, suggesting the tribe did not meet annually but over longer periods of time, so that the bands would not need to travel this large circuit within a year.
Finally, by breaking out of circuit B towards Greenland, groups could have travelled towards Davis Strait, and found themselves in circuit C. Evidence suggests that Greenland Inuit whalers of the 16th century did indeed follow this circuit. Earlier, the "Dorset" culture may have travelled in circuit C. But note that while circuit B will allow return to th Norwegian coast, once groups reach circuit C, they cannot easily go back, except by paddling against the current near Greenland, or by travelling for a month across the open Atlantic. This need to travel for a month or more through the open Atlantic meant that IF boat-people had arisen in North America, it is unlikely anyone who got caught in the Gulf Stream would have been prepared with adequate food and fresh water to survive the trip. For that reason, we have to view North America being visited by people across the North Atlantic, not the opposite.

Fig 10
Fig 10
The rock carvings at Alta, Norway, were pecked into granite, from 7000 to 2000 years ago, and much of it portrays inland animals that could be accessed by heading inland. At this latitude there is a river from the interior and no mountain barrier. It could have brought Finnic forest boat-peoples to the coast in summers.

Fig 11
Fig 11

As at Lake Onega, there are many depictions of boats, large and small, and the act of fishing, sealing, etc.The earliest moosehead boat is shown. Compare with the moosheadboatimages above. What is evident is that in due course the Alta area was perhaps settled and so moosehead boats were replaced by reindeerhead boats.
fig 12
Fig 12

fig 13
Fig 13

People often fail to notice the reindeer head. This is very important as it is the origin of all traditions of an animal-head (sometimes seen as a "Dragon-head") at the prow, including those in Japan where it must have arrived via the Ainu aboriginals of Japan.
The tradition of a skin boat honouring the head of the animal, apparently in earlier times was carried on even when the animal was walrus. Many Inuit walrus-skin umiaks had the walrus head at the prow. The tradition was apparent even in the 18th century in the British outer islands in the boat the Irish called curragh The adjacent image reproduces a section of a drawing of such a boat. By that time, skin boats were made of ox-hide, and so as we would expect, there is an ox head on the prow.The significance of the curragh having the head at the prow is that the sea-harvesters around the British Isles, were part of the same cultural and probably linguistic milieu as all the other skin boat peoples, and thus the original language and culture around Britain was of a Finnic type, ie derived from boat peoples rather than land-based Europeans.
Fig 14
Fig 14
When we consider Alta in relation to the ocean currents, it is clear that there must have been, by accident or design, north Atlantic crossings through the millenia, basically taking the same route as the Icelandic Norse did--going with the currents and winds, and preferably keeping land (ie Greenland coast) in sight. If there were Atlantic crossings that contributed to the Inuit or Algonquian cultures of northern North America, this Alta region, could very well have been the origin of the voyagers. The map above, thus includes the location of Alta, to show how logical it is to propose that there has always been a trickle of ocean crossings for 7000 years.
If this is so, then images of skin boats, with their characteristic animalhead thing at the prow, should appear in rock art in the Algonquian region of Canada. Although some of the images can be argued to depict recent rock paintings of recent European boats, there are some images that are quite old and have the required characteristics of a north Norwegian skin boat -- prow has a head and goes straight down, instead of being curved like a wooden boat.

Fig 15
Fig 15

It is possible that people arrived in skin boats and then changed to dugouts (or invented the birchbark canoe) for going into the interior. The adjacent image from one of the older Canadian rock painting sites at Bon Echo appears to depict a skin boat with an animal head. Not the shape of the boat is consistent with skin boats at Alta, that is, the bow goes straight down. There is no question this is an Alta type skin boat much like the one shown in one of the illustrations above.

It is reasonable to assume that the earliest migrations were current-dependent. Reading the currents would let them navigate well. Knowing the currents, if they did nothing but drift, they would end up back in familiar territory. Later use of sails complicated matters, because the sailors were now departing from the rock solid patterns of ocean current, and dealing with less certain behaviours of the wind. For that it was necessary to develop navigations skills that ascertained position with the help of counting the days and looking at the sky. That came later. The following map shows the manner in which oceanic peoples would have spread from the White Sea area, westward over top of Scandinavia and then, with success, continuing into empty niches in the ocean. As in the case of the expansion of the original dugout boats, we assume that initially the oceanic environment originally has no humans, so that expansion from the arctic Norway region is unopposed.
The evidence that the main base for the expansion of oceanic boat peoples was at Alta, Norway, where a great abundance of rock carvings have been found including images of men harvesting the sea in boats with both moose heads and reindeer heads. There are also images of hunting reindeer from boats as they cross water. This region of Norway has been the traditional home of the "Finns" and northern Norway was called "Finnmark" (just as the region Sweden claimed that was inhabited still by natives, was called "Finnlanda") The term "Finn" used in the Germanic languages of historic Norway and Sweden, was a term that generally referred to the aboriginal peoples of Scandinavia. This included people who hunted in forests, harvested the seas, and tended to reindeer herds. The first two - the seacoast people and the interior hunters - were truly of boat-people traditions. The third group, the one who tended to reindeer herds and who today refer to themselves as Saami are and were a little different, in that they were not boat peoples. Indeed their reindeer-dependent culture obviously originated from the same ancestal reindeer people as the Samoyeds towards the east in arctic Russia. What happened? I think it is a very simple matter. Originally arctic Scandinavia only had the reindeer people in the interior, following their reindeer herds. And then around 4000BC, with the development of the skin boat, and the discovery of harvesting the ocean off arctic Norway, boat people moved in, first staying seasonally, and then staying permanently (ie Komsa Culture). A situation developed (looking at the Komsa situation), in which sea-harvesting skin-boat people, were found along the coast, and reindeer people in the interior. Because they each had different ways of life, they were not competitive, and contacts would have developed between the boat people and reindeer people. In the large spans of time, the two groups would have merged through intermarriage, resulting in the Saami. The modern Saami clearly reflect their mixed origins. On the one hand they maintain reindeer-management traditions that are very ancient, and on the other hand, their appearance is quite European now, and their language is so Finnic in character that it has been included in the Finnic languages.
Unlike some people, I don't find the origins of the Saami to be a particularly complicated problem. Common sense says that originally there must have been reindeer hunters following reindeer herds, who originated from the same stock as the Samoyeds to the east who also still maintain reindeer. And then Finnic boat peoples came up from the south, and eventually many stayed there, to intermarry with reindeer hunters. This did not happen towards the east, in arctic Russia, because the expansion of the Finnic skin-boat peoples was biased in the westerly direction where the warming Atlantic current nurtured an abundance of sea life.

Map 3Fig 16
Map 3. The map above develops further from the previous map which depicted the initial expansion of the dugout boat peoples. This map primarily adds the expansion of oceanic people using seaworthy skin boats (lighter blue). It also proposes some specific zones of the original boat peoples. Some explanation is needed: "Brito-Belgic" refers to boat peoples around the coast of the North Sea and into the Rhine. The gathering place for this tribe would have been the Rhine; "Suevo-Aestic" refers to the south Baltic zone, that in later history was occupied by the tribes the Romans called Suebi or Suevi, and the Aestii of the eastern coast (both of which were originally Finnic). Their major congregating site was at the mouth of the Vistula. Archeologically speaking, the Magelemose culture, associated with the earliest boat peoples, would include both the "Brito-Belgic" and "Suevo-Aestic" zones. Archeological study would also identify a "Volgic" group, whose extent reached up to Lake Onega, and interracted with the Finnic groups at Lake Onega. (Interraction of several cultures is evidences by overlap of artifacts in the same area.) Archeology has also confirmed a "Megalithic" culture that went from Portugal, up to the British Isles and by 2000BC also across to northern Denmark. The only speculative detail in the map is the choice of calling the people who occupied rivers that drained from the north down into the Black Sea as "Venedic". See the next section for some comments about "Venetic" traders that developed from boat people exploiting their familiarity with boat travel for trading purposes.

Note, as always: a)Boat people are not in territorial conflict with land-based people such as farmers. Because the boat people lived in watery areas, and farmers sought high, open, ground, they would not often come into contact. b)These maps do not deal with the land-based peoples partly because land-based peoples are amply covered in other scholarly literature, and partly because land-based cultures can exist in the same regions as the water based cultures and showing both on the same map would complicate matters. This study is about boat-people, a highly neglected subject to date.

The Boat-People And Farmer/Herders

During the great expansion of boat peoples, all the rivers that emptied into the northern seas were highways that the could be used to travel into the interior of Europe. As the boat peoples paddled up the rivers, the waterways became smaller, and soon they were prevented from continuing where the creeks and springs were too small for boats. Unless they wanted to drag heavy dugouts through the forest to the next water system, they did not go further. However there were some places where entering another water system that drained south was easily done from the northern water basins. One example might be the transfer from the Rhine to the Danube. As already mentioned, the original boat-people expansion entered the Volga, and eventually produced the Volgic subdivision of the Finno-Ugrian family.
But the easiest southward flowing waterway to enter from the north was probably the Dneiper. Rivers draining into the Baltic and rivers draining into the Black Sea seem to have shared source waters, the same marsh areas. Thus it is valid to propose that the boat people originally occupied the entire region from the Baltic to the Black Sea (shown in Map 3 as "Venetic") Note that the Dneiper and rivers like the Bug and Dneister, all flowed to the Black Sea. One of the implications of this is that boat-people on these rivers were most inclined of all of the boat people to make contact with the farmer-herder peoples and their civilizations in the south around the Black Sea. For this reason, I believe that they were the origins of the Venedi/Veneti who appear in Homer's Iliad as the "Eneti of Paphlagonia", the region on the south coast of the Black Sea, on the west side. They came to the aid of Troy. Troy's location at the entry to the ancient Hellespont by which ships sailed from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, is good reason for coming to its aid, if the Eneti were traders.
It is because boat-people in the Dneiper, Bug, and Dneister had easy access to the Black Sea area and the developing farming civilizations there, that I have covered these river water basins with the "Venedi" designation in the above map. Volga too was used for trade: the Volga flowed into the Caspian Sea but one could get from the Volga to the Black Sea. as well.
Obviously, southward travelling boat people encountered land-people in the south engaged in farming activities. But there would not have been any conflict in their meeting. It is important to bear in mind that boat-people and land-people can co-exist because they live in different environments and economic activities . On the other hand. hunting people fought hunting people over hunting territories. Farmers fought farmers over farmland. Fisher-people fought fisher-people over fishing ground. Reindeer people fought other reindeer people who attempted to take an animal from their herd. But people in different circumstances from one another had no basis for quarreling. Instead they would interact. (If one group eventually became dominant with respect to the other, it would occur in passive, not active, ways. In North America, the native hunter-fisher-gatherers of the wilderness were never directly in conflict with the European settlers. Still, they came to an end passively by the settlers cutting down the wilderness when they made farmland.)
Scholars constantly make the serious error of assuming that the presence of one people in a region excludes the presence of another. It is true if both peoples are of a similar nature, but not true if they represent two different ways of life that do not conflict with one another. Growing your own food did not conflict with catching food from the wild, hunting reindeer did not conflict with harvesting the sea, and so on.
Thus it was possible for farmers or herders to develop in the lands between the rivers of Europe that were dominated by boat-peoples, if these interior lands were suitable for farming or herding. This was the case of the region north of the Black Sea. This region, moreover, had grasslands where horses could flourish. It was a location where nomadic horse-hunters could evolve.
Moving from the Black Sea towards the Vistula it was a very marshy landscape, not very attractive to farming. But going north beside the Dneiper one found high ground. It was over such high ground that farmer-herders moved and settled, in several waves, the last wave being Slavs pushing out the Balts. Other expansions followed the central European highlands towards the region now Germany, as well as south into the Alps.
Thus peoples living in their separate economic niches, co-existed. They did not need to dominate the other as would be the case if the two had been similar, trying to claim the same economic niche. But in the long run, after many generations, the two dissimilar peoples could combine the best of their two cultures and produce a new one that was superior to the original two. (I have already discussed above the obvious merging on boat peoples and reindeer peoples in arctic Scandinavia, giving rise to the reindeer Saami.) But it would only develop if the combined culture was better than the original ones in their pure form. The resulting mixed culture, if it were more successful, would produce more offspring and crowd out the older distinctive cultures. The ethnicity, the language, of this mixed culture would depend on which tradition was the most important in the way of life, forming the core of the mixed culture. In the north Baltic area, for example, the successful result was a combination of hunting-gathering-fishing plus a settlement with limited farming, plus trading. A little of everything. Other ways of life faded out of existence since the most successful ones produced the larger populations.
In other instances, the pure original culture was the best, and two different peoples would endure side by side. An example would be the boat-oriented trader whose nomadic life on water, was so opposite to that of the farmer, that any compromise would reduce the ability of either to do their job well. It may be the reason the Basques endured. They were too much out in the ocean to merge with Indo-European agricultural ways.

Proposed New Structure of the Family Tree of Reindeer and Boat People

In the above study, we propose that the original "Uralic" language defined by the linguists, was actually the proto-language of northern Europe in the late Ice Age, and that one group, the reindeer hunters continued with the reindeer into the north, becoming the "Samoyeds" and the other group stayed in the marshlands of the Baltic and North Seas for a while - until they had developed a new boat-oriented way of life - becoming the "Finno-Ugrians". The "Samoyeds" then settled in the arctic above the tree line with their reindeer herds, while the "Finno-Ugrians" expanded rapidly from Britain to the Urals, with their new boat-oriented way of life. Subsequently the "Finno-Ugrians" settled into the various water systems, and their languages began to diverge from one another according to geographical separation, leading the the modern Finno-Ugric linguistic divisions which correspond with water systems. (Ob-Ugrians in the Ob River; Permians in the Kama River; Volga-Finns in the Volga River; Balto-Finns around the Gulf of Finland basin).
The original linguists' theory started with the "Uralic" family, and showed it dividing between Samoyeds and Finno-Ugrians.That is still fundamentally true, except it probably occurred in Northern Europe and perhaps as early as 12000 years ago. The following tree, in attempting to make the separation between them more like 12000 years or more, proposes the split occurred aready back in continental Europe when people who eventually became boat-people stayed behind while the reindeer people continued north with the herds.

Fig 16Fig 16
THE ABOVE TREE DIAGRAM WAS DESIGNED PURELY FROM ALL THE ARCHEOLOGICAL AND LINGUISTICS etc DATA IN 2002, BUT NOTE HOW CLOSELY IT CORRESPONDS TO THE Y-STY CHROMOSOME CHART IN "Signature of recent historical events in the European Y-chromosomal STR haplotype distribution" by Lutz Roewer, Peter J.P Croucher, et al. , 2005. SEE MY Noc 2010 PAPER
Y-STR-PAABO.pdf WHERE YOU WILL FIND MY INTERPRETATION OF THE BOAT PEOPLE STORY SUPERIMPOSED ONTO THE CHART DEVELOPED BY THE STUDY. SEE BELOW FOR A SUMMARY.(some of the differences include that "URALIC LANGUAGES" should be only the Boat people languages, leaving the Reindeer people separate, and that it seems "MIDDLE FINNIC" and "EAST FINNIC" should be one group, which then splits between east and west side of the Baltic - which makes more sense. The above map is in the light of the Y-STR analysis a little rough, and I will develop a new one shortly. The tree superimposed on the black genetics tree chart makes much more sense in many respects) - A.P. Nov 2010

The above diagram includes boat-peoples not yet acknowledged to be connected to the Finno-Ugrians, and excludes others we may bring into the tree from Siberia and the Pacific side of the world. In general the diagram describes how peoples who became boat-peoples separated from the main body of reindeer hunters, then subdivided and travelled in numerous directions as suggested by the complexity of the tree under the boat-people branch.
Note how the reindeer hunters remained more or less where they were without any dramatic changes . The reason the reindeer hunters did not produce dramatic migrations or expansions is that they were tied to their reindeer herds and so could not go anywhere else than the reindeer herds. The wild reindeer herd populations in turn were regulated by nature and geography. All they could do was to domesticate their herd to make them more productive to support a larger population of humans. But they could not move away from their herds.
On the other hand, the boat peoples were free to travel quickly over water, anywhere water would carry them; and they could hunt and fish whatever they could find. That gave them enormous freedom to expand and travel. That is why they soon expanded world-wide. My diagram suggests that they reached North America.
Missing from the diagram are their travels into Siberia and beyond: the Ainu of Japan, sea peoples of the Pacific, etc. Can we find evidence of an ultimate origin for them in northern Europe? One institution that appears to have begun in northern Europe is the animal head on the prow of a boat. This practice has continued down through the ages in the various 'Dragon Boats' and finally we see it as an ornament on the hood of an automobile. The practice may date back to the very first skin boat, made of a single moose hide with head left attached, situated on the prow. Images of these boats are found in the European arctic, carved in rocks, and date to as early as 6000 years ago.. I discuss this separately elsewhere.
Note that the reindeer hunters, not being water-people, would not be included in a tree of UI-RA-LA,but the reindeer hunters without doubt were the parents to UI-RA-LA boat peoples.

Extent of Expansion of Boat People

So far we have been looking at Europe and the north Atlantic. There is no question that the boat-peoples expanded everywhere that their boats woud take them.

Fig 17

Fig 17

The most interesting observation that can be made of the above current map, is that once there were boat capable of ocean waves - and the arctic skin boats fit that requirement - migrations throughout arctic waters was easy as land was close together. The notion that there were contacts by boat, between Europe and North America via the North Atlantic, or between east Asia and North America via the North Pacific, at the earliest times, is so obvious that one wonders why it has to be debated. If we show that there are certain words in common between Finnic languages and Inuit language, should we be surprised? And yet, scholars feel it needs to be debated. This theory, as presented here, should not even need to be a large issue. It is so obvious. All we need to do is to establish that there were seaworthy skin boats in arctic Norway some 6000 years ago - and this is clearly evidenced in rock carvings; that there were people who harvested the sea; and that there were sea currents that would have helped men in such boats to venture towards North America into the North American arctic and down the Labrador coast. Every requirement is present.
It is true there may be a need to debate crossings through the centers of the oceans. Those journeys would required plenty of fresh water on board, as well as food. Did Polynesians cross the middle of the Pacific? Did sea peoples from the Iberian coast cross the middle of the Atlantic to visit the Bahamas? Were the latter Atlantians. There is plenty to debate when we consider crossings through large spans of open water. But there is no reason to debate the prospect of seaworthy skin boats following the edge of sea ice, the coast of Greenland, and allowing ocean currents to carry them.
But not in the north. There was plenty of places to land, to fetch fresh water (or freshwater snow), and to procure food along the way. There was NOTHING to prevent circumpolar adventures if there were men with an adventurous spirit (or indeed, men who got lost, but were still able to survive off the land and sea.) The idea that ALL original arctic peoples were basically the same people, from the same origin, should be an established obvious fact in our body of knowledge.
We have focussed on the evolution of boat peoples in northern Europe and their expansions, including by sea across the North Atlantic. However, they certainly also travelled across the top of Siberia, and down various rivers that drained into the arctic. We need to look closely at the large rivers that feed into the Arctic Ocean. The Ob River system still has Finno-Ugrian water people on them - the Khanti. They still have dugouts, and their traditions speak of long trade journeys into Mongolia and northern India. The Hungarian language is closest to them, but how the Hungarian language came south to where is is now has not been considered to any great extent. Then there are the historic "Huns". Hungarians claim they had nothing to do with "Huns" and that they originate from "Magyars". But what if the Magyars are nothing more than a community of Huns who settled north of the Black Sea. Meanwhile history tells us that the Huns who fought the Romans also settled in the region now Hungary, and indeed that is the source of the name. The name "Hun" is so close to "Khanti", that it seems to me the "Huns" may have evolved from a trade colony of Khanti, established at the upper reaches of the Ob River system.
To the east of the Ob, is a similarly large water system, the Yenisey. Together the Ob and Yenisey hold a vast region of swamp where water-people could have flourished.
The third major northward-flowing river is the Lena. It reaches south to the vicinity of Lake Baikal. Also, at the curve of the Lena, the tributaries are such that it would not be very difficult to cross over to the Pacific, if a water people every tried it. The Lena River has produced interesting rock carvings and paintings depicting people in boats who were very interested in moose (British "elk"). This too is a subject for further study, especially since the rock carvings and paintings bear similarities to ones already described, in Alta, Norway, and on rock walls in northern North America..


The preceding has been a general introduction to the theory and concept of a special branch of humanity who left land and took to the seas. Being five times more mobile than people on foot, and finding the water-world to be uninhabited by humans, they expanded everywhere that boats could go, and UI-RA-LA describes this world of original water-peoples of about 6000-4000 years ago, who may have passively spread everywhere in their following of coasts. 


Because most of the theory is based mostly on commonly accepted information, most of the information for which references are not given in the text, come from most textbooks, etc. One book as being very important: Eesti Esiajalugu, Jaanits et al, 1982, Tallinn. Other special sources of data, pictures, quotes are given immediately within the text.

THIS UPDATE - Nov 2009

© A. Pääbo 2002-2006

In the case of references, the practice of this Blog and all my Blogs in general has been to default to the English Wikipedia. Since I know where Paabo is is coming from, I personally do not find fault with the statement "most of the information for which references are not given in the text, come from most textbooks, etc" BUT I realise that many readers WILL object to such a statement and demand more references. Therefore I shall amplify where possible.

Under the main entry "Uralic Languages" comes a series of suggested continuities with other language families and hypothetical Superfamilies:
Possible relations with other families
Many relationships between Uralic and other language families have been suggested, but none of these are generally accepted by linguists at the present time.


Theories proposing a close relationship with the Altaic languages were formerly popular, based on similarities in vocabulary as well as in grammatical and phonological features, in particular the similarities in the Uralic and Altaic pronouns and the presence of agglutination in both sets of languages, as well as vowel harmony in some. For example, the word for "language" is similar in Estonian (keel) and Mongolian (хэл (hel)). These theories are now generally rejected[15] and most such similarities are attributed to coincidence or language contact, and a few to possible relationship at a deeper genetic level.


The Indo-Uralic (or Uralo-Indo-European) theory suggests that Uralic and Indo-European are related at a fairly close level or, in its stronger form, that they are more closely related than either is to any other language family. It is viewed as certain by a few linguists and as possible by a larger number.


The Uralic–Yukaghir theory identifies Uralic and Yukaghir as independent members of a single language family. It is currently widely accepted that the similarities between Uralic and Yukaghir languages are due to ancient contacts.[16] Regardless, the theory is accepted by a few linguists and viewed as attractive by a somewhat larger number.


The Eskimo–Uralic theory associates Uralic with the Eskimo–Aleut languages. This is an old thesis whose antecedents go back to the 18th century. An important restatement of it is Bergsland 1959.


Uralo-Siberian is an expanded form of the Eskimo–Uralic hypothesis. It associates Uralic with Yukaghir, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, and Eskimo–Aleut. It was propounded by Michael Fortescue in 1998.


Nostratic associates Uralic, Indo-European, Altaic, and various other language families of Asia. The Nostratic theory was first propounded by Holger Pedersen in 1903 and subsequently revived by Vladislav Illich-Svitych and Aharon Dolgopolsky in the 1960s.


Eurasiatic resembles Nostratic in including Uralic, Indo-European, and Altaic, but differs from it in excluding the South Caucasian languages, Dravidian, and Afroasiatic and including Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Nivkh, Ainu, and Eskimo–Aleut. It was propounded by Joseph Greenberg in 2000–2002. Similar ideas had earlier been expressed by Björn Collinder (1965:30–34).


The theory that the Dravidian languages display similarities with the Uralic language group, suggesting a prolonged period of contact in the past,[17] is popular amongst Dravidian linguists and has been supported by a number of scholars, including Robert Caldwell,[18] Thomas Burrow,[19] Kamil Zvelebil,[20] and Mikhail Andronov.[21] This theory has, however, been rejected by some specialists in Uralic languages,[22] and has in recent times also been criticised by other Dravidian linguists such as Bhadriraju Krishnamurti.[23]

All of these theories are minority views at the present time in Uralic studies.

 Other theories

Various unorthodox comparisons have been advanced such as Finno-Basque and Hungaro-Sumerian. These are considered spurious by specialists.[24]

[See also Dene-Caucasian languages:  Wikipedia_Dene_Caucasian_languages ]
["Considered spurious" does not discount the relationships as  possible under larger headings such as the Nostratic, which would encompass the smaller groups such as Hungarian (Magyar) and Sumerian without quibbling. In this case it is necessary to make note of all of these hypothetical connections because Paabo shall be citing most of them.   Best Wishes, Dale D.]


  1. Between the ancient ice sheet and the Italian Alps a narrow corridor would have existed explaining the similarities of Magyar and Finnish. I have been fortunate enough to visit Budapest a couple of times, anyone whose heard Hungarian can relate, it just sounds ancient.

  2. It means thank you and is pronounced "couw-soo-noom"

  3. BTWm, the theory had gone that the CroMagnons making the Solutrean Crossing into America were using hide boats like umiaks.

    And in case you are wondering, I definitely relate the "Venedic" peoples of Eastern Russia to the VEDAS.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  4. Thanks for the great articles, Farley Mowat is a brave man to venture into even mentioning an european presence in Canada, please don't diss our national hero, yes I am Canadian and I've lived amongst the Inuit.

    Food for thought...the inuit have a verbal history of little people who previously occupied the north...I would love your thoughts on that one.

    in a nutshell, I think these pygmyesque people predated the influx of people from siberia, potentially the original settlers of North America came from Europe?

    in simple terms, these little people were destroyed by the newcomers from Siberia, aboriginal peoples in Canada believe that they have always been here, it would be an absolute upset if it were shown that the people who came thousands of years later (europeans), were actually following in the footsteps of thier ancestors, the original settlers of NA.

    Farley is brave in the way that his thoughts may be interpreted by aboriginal peoples in Canada, not only pride, but land claims, monetarial settlements for displacement and other issues of psuedo-nationalism within the Canadian content are at risk of being upset with this train of thought. Caucasian skeletons have disappeared, beacons have been torn down, long house foundations destroyed on spec that there may be some validity to these claims.

    obviously Mr. Mowat has had to fill in some gaps, I think it would be worth working with his thoughts rather than against them. Consider him as a pioneer, and yourselves as well in this field, work together to fill the voids, I'm sure there are some fascinating discoverys awaiting that will completely change the way we look at the spread of people throughout the north.

    Thanks again, really enjoyed reading your articles.

    GJN Physical Geographer, Concordia University, Montreal

  5. Not strictly "The original" but "Among the original" colonists of North America. It seems fairly certain that other more primitive people s preceeded them, and we have various indicators that Neanderthaloids were first ie, the earliest colonists were "prehuman" as we generally understand the term). But while making that allowance your comments are certainly both useful and pertinent.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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