Advances in Anthropology
2012. Vol.2, No.2, 64-79
Published Online May 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
The Origin of Kurds
Ferdinand Hennerbichler
Szellörózsa ut 45, Mosonmagyaróvár, Hungary
Received February 28th, 2012; revised March 30th, 2012; accepted April 12th, 2012
Kurds are traditionally regarded as Iranians and of Iranian origin, and therefore as Indo-Europeans,
mainly, because they speak Iranian. This hypothesis is largely based on linguistic considerations and was
predominantly developed by linguists. In contrast to such believes, newest DNA-research of advanced
Human Anthropology indicates, that in earliest traceable origins, forefathers of Kurds were obviously de-
scendants of indigenous (first) Neolithic Northern Fertile Crescent aborigines, geographically mainly
from outside and northwest of what is Iran of today in Near East and Eurasia. Oldest ancestral forefathers
of Kurds were millennia later linguistically Iranianized in several waves by militarily organized elites of
(R1a1) immigrants from Central Asia. These new findings lead to the understanding, that neither were
aborigine Northern Fertile Crescent Eurasian Kurds and ancient Old-Iranian speaker (R1a1) immigrants
from Asia one and the same people, nor represent the later, R1a1 dominated migrating early Old-Iranian-
speaker elites from Asia, oldest traceable ancestors of Kurds. Rather, constitute both historically com-
pletely different populations and layers of Kurdish forefathers, each with own distinct genetic, ethnical,
linguistic and cultural backgrounds. These new insights indicate first inter-disciplinary findings in co-op-
eration with two international leading experts in their disciplines, Iranologist Gernot L. Windfuhr, Ann
Arbor, and DNA Genealogist Anatole A. Klyosov, Boston, USA.
Keywords: Kurds; Kurdistan; Ancient Mesopotamia; Old-Iranian; Methods of Inter-Disciplinary Research
within Science of History
Studies in the origin of Kurds were pioneered twice by Ital-
ians: in the late 18th century by two Italian catholic missionaries,
Maurizio Garzoni (1734-1804) and Giuseppe Campanile (1762-
1835), both members of the Order of Black Friars, who were
sent by the Vatican to Christianize Kurdistan and carried out
earliest studies on Kurdish language and civilization. And in the
beginning of the 1990s by Italian (*1922 Genoa) born Luigi
Luca Cavalli-Sforza and Italian collaborators in the monumen-
tal study “The History and Geography of Human Genes (ed.
1994, based on earlier findings). LL Cavalli-Sforza et al. (1994)
offered for the first time also new insights of modern Human
Anthropology in the origin, migrations and genetic alignments
of Kurds, and introduced a completely new understanding of
their beginnings. Details will be discussed later. Previously,
linguists developed quite a good number of pretty much con-
flicting origin-theories of Kurds, geographically ranging from
the East to the North-West and the South-West of Iran of today.
Northwest-Iranian origin theory: Tries to explain Kurds
mainly as descendants of Old Iranian speakers like Medes be-
cause of assumed language similarities. Those are, however,
still not established. Until today, only a few authentic Median
words are documented, and are regarded as far too few for any
sweeping assumption. This traditional out-of-Medes Hypothe-
sis of the Kurds is rooted way back in the first half of the 19th
century, where leading scholars of their time like e.g. Barthold
Georg Niebuhr (1776-1831), German historian of Ancient
Rome, described Kurds in “Vorträge über alte Geschichte
(Berlin 1847) as “half Aramaeic and half Median-Persian peo-
ple” (“Kurden ein halb aramäisches und halb medisch-per-
sisches Volk”). Later, the out-of-Medes theory of the Kurds was
made popular worldwide by the Russian Orientalist Vladimir
Fedorovich Minorsky (1877-1966).
Northeast-Iranian origin theory: Vindicated as early as 1903
e.g. by the Swiss born Orientalist Albert Socin (1844-1899) in
the prestigious “Grundriss der Iranischen Philologie” (Strass-
burg 1903), where he considered immigration of the Kurds
from the East conceivable (“Einwanderung vom Osten her
denkbar”), who later shifted from Media to the West (“von
Medien aus einzelne iranische Stämme sich nach Westen hin
Southwest-Iranian origin theory: Based on language simi-
larities between Persian, Balochi and Kurdish in “Middle Ira-
nian” (ca. 4th century BC to 9th century AD), and out of claims,
that therefore, 1) Persian, Balochi, and Kurds, must also be of
closely related ethnic origin, presumably from Southwest of
what is Iran of today, and that 2) hence, Kurds must have a
linguistic and ethnic origin in the Southwest of Iran. This dis-
puted theory has been repeated recently 2009 in an analysis,
pillowed mainly on linguistic hypotheses, by Teheran born
(*1953) Armenian Garnik Asatrian, who moved to Yerevan in
1968. Against cited decisive objections by international leading
Iranologist Gernot Windfuhr (“there is no evidence that there
was at any time […] a wide-spread Kurdish-speaking area near
Fars”) Garnik Asatrian maintained 2009: “Kurdish […] has
been shaped in a South-Western environment […]; the most
probable option for an ethnic territory of the speakers of Kurd-
ish remains the northern areas of Fars in Iran” (source: Iran
and the Caucasus 13 [Brill: Leiden, 2009] 1-58, 38). In addition
to origin-theories dominated by linguistic considerations, there
exist, also deep rooted in the early 19th century, until today an
extended attempt to explain origins of the Kurds out of as-
sumed correlations (equations) between language, ethnicity and
an alleged existence of “race” as classification of humans,
firmly rejected, though, several times foremost by the American
Anthropological Association (e.g. American Journal of Physical
Anthropology, vol. 101 [1996] 569-570). Since virtually all
published experiments to try to prove and describe a common
Kurdish “race” did not produce any result at all, let alone
credible and convincing ones, these are therefore not taken up
further in this analysis. To roundup this brief introductory re-
marks on relevant scientific research, there had also been in the
past a few and rare examples of leading linguists of their time,
who suggested an autochthonous, pre-IE origin of the Kurds in
their ancestral homelands. Proponents of such a pre- and non-
Indo-European (pre-non-Iranian) origin of the Kurds were no-
tably Georgia-born linguist and historian Nikolaĭ Yakovlevich
Marr (1864-1934), and Ephraim Avigdor Speiser (1902-1965),
Galicia-born Orientalist, and long-time Chairman of the De-
partment of Oriental Studies (1947-1965) at the University of
Pennsylvania, USA. Both explained Kurds as descendants of
the Guti (and Lulubi), which they considered as indigenous,
autochthonous (Zagros) people (Speiser, Mesopotamian Ori-
gins, 1930, 110-119).
Interdisciplinary Approaches
Obvious difficulties and limitations in trying to explain the
ethnic origin of Kurds predominantly with methods of com-
parative linguistics led the late British Iranist David Neil
MacKenzie (1926-2001), Prof. of Iranology at the University of
Göttingen (1975-1994) in Germany, already in early years of
his research into Kurdish in the beginning of the 1960s to the
conviction: “for a solution of this problem it is necessary to
look outside the linguistic evidence” (The Origins of Kurdish.
Transactions of the Philological Society, 1961: p. 86). Three
decades later provided LL Cavalli-Sforza et al. an inter-disci-
plinary breakthrough, at least to a new insight into “the prob-
lem”, in the already mentioned comprehensive study “The His-
tory and Geography of Human Genes” (Princeton, 1994). It
includes a section on the genetic distance of 18 examined
populations in West Asia (Eurasia). This early data indicated an
overall genetic similarity of Kurds with other Middle Eastern
populations, “in spite of the complex history [...] as well as the
mosaic of cultures and languages”, as the authors noted. A few
years later, Gernot Windfuhr, leading Ira- nologist of our time,
Prof. Emeritus at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor,
USA, discussed in an article of 2006 the exceptional DNA po-
sition of speakers of the “Kurdish Complex” as they were ex-
plained by LL Cavalli-Sforza et al. Windfuhr sees “the most
striking result”, “regarding the Iranian-speaking groups”, in
the separation of Iranian-speakers into three genetically distinct
clusters: “1) Kurdish and Caspian in the west; 2) Iranian (all
others in Iran) in the Center; 3) Hazāra Tajik (Persian-speak-
ers) and Pashtun (Pashto-speakers) in the east” (source cited:
Hennerbichler [2011] 324-326). Kurds were presented by LL
Cavalli-Sforza et al. (1994) as integral Near East (Eurasia) sub-
stratum aborigines, speakers of a Northern Iranian language
continuum, and genetically closer aligned to Caspian speakers
in the West than to Iranian in the Center and in the East. Such a
ground-breaking early inter-disciplinary origin-explanation at-
tempt of Kurds was never published before 1994. It went far
beyond traditional, conflicting origin-hypotheses, including geo-
graphic ones, based predominantly on linguistic considerations,
and aimed at a new integral understanding of people like Kurds,
deep rooted in a wider multi-ethno-cultural substratum (north-
west) Eurasian (West Asia) genesis, and distinct away from the
Center and East of Iran, notably including the Southwest.
Overview mtDNA and Y-DNA Studies in Kurds
Early findings by LL Cavalli-Sforza and collaborators initi-
ated since 1994 a number of international follow up research
studies into the genetic genesis and profile of Kurds. Three of
them, published 2000-2004, concentrated on mtDNA Sequence
Analyses: Comas et al. (2000), Richards et al. (2000) and
Quintana-Murci et al. (2004). One early comprehensive study
on patrilineal Y-DNA of Wells et al. (2001) incorporated sam-
ples from “Kurds Turkmenistan” into the survey “The Eurasian
Heartland: A continental perspective on Y-chromosome diver-
sity”. Nebel et al. came out 2001 and 2007 with two ground-
breaking examinations describing close genetic affiliations
between Jews and Kurds. Nasidze et al. from the Max Planck
Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany,
introduced 2005 the first main genetic study in Kurds only:
MtDNA and Y-chromosome Variation in Kurdish Groups”.
Five years later, the author of this brief survey, submitted the
first inter-disciplinary paper aiming on new insights in the ori-
gin of the Kurds. This research is being continued, supported,
and backed up by Gernot Windfuhr, Ann Arbor, and Anatole
Klyosov, Boston, USA. Klyosov provided above all most sig-
nificant newest data on assumed origin and migrations of R1a1
clans from Asia as well as a critical comprehensive evaluation
of genetic findings regarding Kurds on the state of the art.
Main Aim of the Study
To try to prove with inter-disciplinary scientific methods ex-
plained, that indigenous aborigine forefathers of Kurds (speak-
ers of the “Kurdish Complex”) existed already B.C.E. and had a
prehistory in their ancestral homeland (mainly outside and
northwest of Iran of today).
Current state of research based on inter-disciplinary findings
of Palaeo/Archaeo-genetic evidence (mainly DNA research on
skeletons), Evolutionary Anthropology—DNA Genealogy (of
people living today), Historical Terminology—(mainly cunei-
form) Onomasticon, Linguistics (in particular reconstruction of
Old-Iranian using the example of ergative), and Science of
History. As for the relevance and significance of human DNA
data within the framework of Science of History: All DNA data
quoted in this inter-disciplinary study have been used in a two-
fold counterchecked way, where as a matter of principle DNA
findings (palaeo-genetic evidence) from archaeological sources
including skeletons of dead people formed the basis and were
only later linked to specific typical modal DNA genealogy
profiles of people (and speakers of the “Kurdish Complex”)
living today. In no way were interpretations and conclusions of
the DNA research data presented in this study based exclu-
sively on people living today without correlation to available
DNA findings from ancient archaeological sources. Therefore,
no attempt was made in this inter-disciplinary study to try to
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 65
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
speakers and members of the “Kurdish Complex” (shown in
Figure 1) according to the following definition by Prof. Gernot
Windfuhr (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 12): “1) Kurdish: a) North
Kurdish, b) Central Kurdish, c) Southeast Kurdish, including
the Perside Lori, Bakhtiari, Boir-Ahmadi, Kuhgiluye etc. in
southern Zagros; 2) Zaza; 3) Gorani: a) Hawram(an)i and b)
additional Gorani dialects in areas north of Kermanshah, c)
Bajelani east of Mosul.” This concept is methodically integrat-
ing and comprises a whole range of distinct related Iranian
languages under one compound umbrella label as “Kurdish
(“Kurdish Complex”).
prove history of the past (exclusively) with data of the present.
Rather, DNA genealogy profiles of people living today were
only used and interpreted as indications for historical processes
within the framework of available basic ancient data including
archaeological ones. In this regard, Human Haplo-Groups/Types
were used indicating not only (ethno-) genetic, but at the same
time also historic mutations of social groups and societies. At-
tempts to search for a “Kurdish race” were not taken up in de-
tail, following various scientific explanations by the American
Anthropological Association (AAA), that “race” as classifica-
tion of humans would scientifically not be possible, because
pure human race never existed (see References). Therefore, the
inter-disciplinary methods the author follows are based without
exceptions on traditional values and methods of Science of
History, can be repeated and re-checked for their findings at
any time, again and again, and never intend to leave acknowl-
edged frameworks of historic science. By that indicating, that
Science of History comprises a broad spectrum of disciplines
spanning from archaeology and human anthropology to con-
temporary history.
Main Findings: DNA Research
Available data for indigenous aborigine Northern Fertile
Crescent Kurdish ancestors:
Matrilineal Ancestors of Kurds: Mitochondrial DNA
Number of samples used: Comas et al. (2000): 29 from Geor-
gia; Richards et al. (2000): 53 from eastern Turkey; Quintana-
Murci et al. (2004): 20 from West-Iran and 32 from Turkmeni-
stan; in all 134 matrilineal Kurdish mtDNA samples were pub-
The term “Kurd” is used in this inter-disciplinary study for
Figure 1.
Habitat of speakers of the “Kurdish Complex” today (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 56).
Findings: MtDNA Kurds matrilineal aboriginals represent
mother-clans, who substantially co-founded Near East (Eurasia/
West Asia) and Europe. Comas et al. 2000 summarized: “Al-
most all Kurdish sequences belong to the quite homogeneous
European/West Asian mtDNA sequence pool”. Richards et al.
(2000) detected very old “U5 lineages, although rare elsewhere
in the Near East, […] especially concentrated in the Kurds,
Armenians, and Azeris as well as substantial back-migration
from Europe into the Near East of mtDNA lineages. Comas et
al. (2000) concluded: They [Kurds] may represent the descen-
dants of the first shepherds that occupied the Kurdistan high-
lands since the first Neolithic.
Patrilineal Ancestors of Kurds: Y-DNA Lineages
Number of samples analysed: Wells et al. (2001): 17 “Kurds
Turkmenistan” (Ku-Tm); Nebel et al. (2001, 2007): 95 “Muslim
Kurds, mainly North Iraq” (MK); Nasidze et al. (2005): 139
(plus 17 cited of Wells et al. 2001), thereof: 87 Kurmanji-Speaker
Turkey, “Kurmanji-T” (Ku-Tk), 27 Zazaki-Speaker Turkey, “Za-
zaki-T” (Za-Tk ), and 25 Kurmanji-Speaker Georgia, “Kurmanji-
G” (Ku-G); in all were 251 patrilineal Kurdish Y-DNA exam-
ined (see Table 1 and Figure 2, including corrections to R1a1
by Anatole Klyosov).
Paleo/Archaeo-Genetic Timespan Calculations to
Common Ancestors
Citing R. Spencer Wells, The Genographic Project, accessed
7 January 2012: C-M130 (first appeared 50,000 years ago),
E-M96 (30,000 to 40,000 YBP), F-M89 (45,000 YBP), G-M201
(30,000 YBP), I-M170 (20,000 YBP), J1-M267 (about 10,000
YBP)**, J2-M172 (15,000 to 10,000 YBP), K-M9 (40,000
YBP), P-M45 (35,000 to 40,000 YBP), R1-M173 (35,000
YBP), “R1A-M17” (10,000 YBP)***, R2 (former P1)-M124
(about 25,000 YBP).
DNA-Data Evaluation by Anatole Klyosov
*I-M170: Klyosov questions published data for “I” by Na-
sidze [et al.] and points out, that earlier data by Nasidze [et al.]
on “I in the Caucasus and in Iran have not been confirmed.
There are very few “I outside of Europe, and some “I in the
Middle East, but their haplotypes are identical to, e.g., the
Scandinavians, and they are “young”. This means that they are
tourists there, and of course, there always can be some iso-
lated “I (or anything else) as “tourists again.
**J1-M267: The published data are incorrect. J[1] is much
older. I have lineages of J1 of 19,000 years old.
***R1a1-M17: There are newest data on R1a1 available.
Some of earlier works published 2000-2003 particularly on
R1a1 are in the meantime quite obsolete and should have been
Figure 2.
Y-DNA profile of speakers of the “Kurdish Complex” (Hennerbichler,
2011: p. 33).
Table 1.
Results: Nasidze et al. 2005; Wells et al. 2001; Nebel et al. 2001 (2007): 12 patrilineal Y-DNA Haplogroups & subclades found in Kurds living today.
Haplogroup & subclade Kurmanji-Speaker
Turkey Ku-Tk
Turkey Za-Tk
Georgia Ku-G
Kurds Turkmenistan
Muslim Kurds, mainly
North Iraq MK
C-RPS4Y-M130 1.1% Ku-Tk 3.7% Za-Tk not found/reported not found/reported not found/reported
E-YAP-M96 11.5% Ku-Tk 11.1% Za-Tk not found/reported not found/reported 7.4% MK Iraq
F-M89 11.5% Ku-Tk 7.4% Za-Tk 12.0% Ku-G 41.0% Ku-Tm not found/reported
G-M201 2.3% Ku-Tk 3.7% Za-Tk not found/reported not found/reported not found/reported
I-M170* 16.1% Ku-Tk 33.3% Za-Tk not found/reported not found/reported 11.6% MK Iraq
J1-M267** not found/reported not found/reported not found/reported not found/reported 11.6% MK Iraq
J2-M172 13.8% Ku-Tk not found/reported 32.0% Ku-G 18% Ku-Tm 28.4% MK Iraq
K-M9 12.7% Ku-Tk not found/reported 8% Ku-G not found/reported not found/reported
P-M45 5.7% Ku-Tk 3.7% Za-Tk 4% Ku-G not found/reported not found/reported
R1-M173 4.6% Ku-Tk 11.1% Za-Tk not found/reported 29.0% Ku-Tm 16.8% MK Iraq
R1a1-M17*** 12.7% Ku-Tk 25.9% Za-Tk not found/reported 12.0% Ku-Tm 11.6% MK Iraq
R2 (former P1)-M124**** 8.0% Ku-Tk not found/reported 44.0% Ku-G not found/reported not found/reported
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 67
oist likely o
ells/Nebel et al. 2001-2007
Genetic Nortm
ted Y
04): Highest percentage meas-
al. 2001).NortJ2
u-Tm), R1a1-M17 (Figure 5) up to
ultaneous Presence of Kurdish Ancestors
The Kurds
withdrawn. The focal pnt for the morigin of R1a1 is
the Uygur-Xinjiang province of China “behind India, to the
East, between Mongolia, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and China, 21,000
ybp, and not in the Ukraine or South Russia 15 or 10 thousand
years ago (Figure 3).
****R2 (former P1)-M124: There are neither data whatsoever
on possible “Indo-Europeinization by R2 haplogroup nor on
R2 in the Andronovo culture. Evaluation A. A. Klyosov quoted
from: Hennerbichler (2011) 15, 46, 60, 75, 89 - 90, 92, 114 -
118, 139 - 142, 188, 334.
Results Nasidze/W
Interpretation Summary
hern Fertile Crescent Substratu
Documented by partly very old but in % minor represen
NA clans like C-RPS4Y = M130 (1.1% - 3.7%), E-YAP =
M96 (11.1% - 11.5%), F-M89 (7.4% - 12.0%, exception: 41.0%
Ku-Tm), G-M201 (2.3% - 3.7%). Quoted exceptions are neither
proper explained nor explored in detail. I-M170 from Caucasus
to (northern) Iran is disputed.
Dominating J-Lines
(Figure 4; Paragroup J Now M3
ed so far in Zagros areas 59% J1 + J2 from J-p12f2 (Quinta-
na-Murci et (Muslim) Kurds h Iraq: 40% J1 +
(Nebel et al. 2001, 2007). 40% J2-M172 for Eastern Anatolia
(Semino et al. 2000). 32% J2-M172 Ku-G (Nasidze et al. 2005).
J-men ancestors point to (first) Neolithic Northern Fertile Cres-
cent farmers and shepherds forefathers of Kurds, and at the
same time indicate the closest genetic relationship between
Kurds, and Jews (and in a wider range also including Armeni-
ans) ever measured so far. Details will be discussed later.
Substantial R-Lines
R1-M173 up to 29% (K
.9% (Za-TK), R2-(former P1) M124 up to 44% (Ku-G). All
are representing immigrants from Asia. However, outstanding
% of R1-M173 in Ku-Tm, and of R2-M124 in Ku-G are not
fully explained. Suggested involvements of R2-M124 in the
Andronovo culture and in a possible “Indo-Europeinization
are disputed (Anatole Klyosov). Even so, the role of R1a1 in
linguistic “Indo-Europeinization” processes of indigenous Eu-
rasian Northern Fertile Crescent Kurds are interpreted as cru-
from Eastern Anatolia to Zagros East
available DNA-data suggest that forefathers of
Figure 3.
Assumed Origin & Dissemination of R1a1 according to A. A. Klyosov (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 117).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Figure 4.
Dominating J-lines in indigenous Kurdish ancestors Near-East & Eurasia (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 86).
s (mountaineers) in the far North and
oped on subclade J2-M172 an own typical ge-
netic profile called “Modal Kurdish Haplotype” (KMH or
MKMH for Mci: 14-15-23-
10-11-12 (quoted according
fers in 6 attestedy one number:
16/15 (on 2ndwish “Cohen
have obviously existed from very beginnings simultaneously at tain dweller population
the same time in the far North (E-Anatolia, N-Mesopotamia)
and the far North-East (Zagros and eastern plains of NW Iran of
today). There are (ethno-) genetically no indications published
that Kurds would have originated either in Anatolia or in Za-
gros regions (stretching east into NW of Iran of today), and
would only later have moved in opposite directions. This par-
ticular finding of a simultaneous presence of Kurdish ancestors
from eastern Anatolia to Zagros east seems above all convinc-
ingly best documented and backed up by substratum Eurasian
J-clans in Kurdish ancestors. Further more, Kurds can’t have
descended from one particular single man, pair or tribe, even if
special single linguistic terms would insinuate that. Nor can
Kurds have originated geographically from one particular sin-
gle place, area or region only. These findings are in contrast to
assumptions of linguists like e.g. Rüdiger Schmitt (see Kár-
dakes) or Muhammad Dandamayev (see Carduchi), both in EIr
online. Last but not least, the ancient habitat of Kurdish ances-
tors show especially in documented distributions of J-clan-fore-
fathers distinct geographic characters of hilly and mountain
areas, which apparently motivated ancient Mesopotamian (cu-
neiform) scribes to a common term label denominator: they
characterized them predominantly and in a long standing ter-
minological tradition as (Anatolia/N-Mesopotamia/Zagros) moun-
Modal Kurdish Haplotype
Kurds devel
uslim Kurds) with the following lo
to the 6 marker of the Jewish
Cohen CMH [CMH-6]). The Kurdish J2-M172 KMH is also
found in Jews and Armenians. The highest % have been meas-
ured so far in Yezidis in Armenia and in (Muslim) Kurds from
Northern Iraq (MKMH): Yezidis (in Armenia): 11.9%, MK =
Muslim Kurds (N-Iraq): 9.5%, Armenians: Frc/Ø: 5.7%, max.:
7.4%, SJ = Sephardic Jews: 2.6%, KJ = Kurdish Jews: 2.0%,
PA = Palestinian Arabs: 1.4%, AJ = Ashkenazi Jews: 1.3%.
Sources: Nebel et al. 2001, 2007; Yepiskoposyan, L[evon] 2007
(provided passim unpublished data), citing Weale et al. 2001.
Jewish Modal Haplotypes
The Kurdish modal haplotype KMH: 14-15-23-10-11-12 dif
micro-satellite loci only in one b
position), compared with the Je
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 69
Figure 5.
Substantial R-lines immigrants from Asia (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 116).
(2010), 247-260.
Palaeo/Archaeo-Genetic Evidence
scholars like Cadening two migration
of Kurdish forefathers
(NW Iran of
of R1a1 to North-Western Iran from the
dal Haplotype” CMH: 14-16-23-10-11-12, developed on
J1e P58. The CMH is associated with the Jewish priestly caste
of the Bible known as C(K)ohanim (singular “Kohen”, “Cohen”,
or Kohane). A common ancestor of J1e* CMH lived 1,075 ±
130 YBP. There is also a newly detected Jewish Modal Haplo-
type on J2-M172 (J2a4*) with exactly the same 6 marker hap-
lotype as that in haplogroup J1, but this according to Anatole
Klyosov has nothing to do with the Cohens and is just a
blind coincidence”; see for details Hennerbichler (2011) 92.
The J1e*P58 CMH is also found in non-Jewish populations
like Kurds and Armenians: KJ =Kurdish Jews: 10.1%, AJ =
Ashkenazi Jews: 7.6%, SJ = Sephardic Jews: 6.4%, Armenians:
Frc/Ø: 2%, max.: 3%, PA = Palestinian Arabs: 2.1%, MK =
Muslim Kurds: 1.1%. Sources: Nebel et al. 2001, 2007; Weale
et al. 2001.
Conclusions of cited authors: Nebel et al. (2001): “Jews were
found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the
ertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their
Arab neighbours. [Turks = Anatolians in Turkey of today].
The Armenian DNA Genealogist Levon Yepiskoposyan agrees:
Our data confirm the results of other researchers and indicate
that Jews, Armenians, and Kurds belong to indigenous Near
East and Anatolian populations who were the founders of the
European and Middle East civilisations.” (mail conversation to
the author May 2007; for further references see Hennerbichler
R1a1 and the “Indo-Europeanization” of
Kurdish Ancstors
atole A. Klyosov (2008 & 2009), passim quoting ot
as et al. (2009), is record
waves of R1a1 into ancestral homelands
in E-Anatolia/N-Mesopotamia and Zagros/East
South Russia-Anatolia-Arabia (see Figure 6): Klyosov cal-
culates the timeframe for migrating R1a1 tribes from areas of
South Russia southwards via Armenia, to Anatolia, (partly NW
Iran), and Arabia between some 4000 - 3600 years ago (2000-
00 B.C.), maybe 4200 - 3300 ybp (2200-1300 B.C.). Ac-
cording to this timespan calculations, R1a1 men (Klyosov:
Aryan”) populated Ukraine/South Russia 4750 ± 500 ybp =
3240-2190 B.C., Anatolia 3700 ± 550 ybp = 2240-1140 B.C.,
and the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar & Arab Emirates 3750 ± 825
ybp = 2565-915 B.C.
Northwest Iran: The first and minor wave of R1a1 from the
North to North-West Iran was according to Klyosov 4200/
4000-3600 years before present (2200/2000-1600 B.C.); the
second, principal move
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Figure 6.
Early “Aryan” (“Indo-European”) R1a1 influence on Kurdish ancestors (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 344).
spreading there from the Iranian Plateau as Old-Iranian speak-
peaker 25.90%,
n linguistic processes of Indo-Euro-
peanizations in ancient Anatolia and Hurri-Mitanni areas as
compound expression Ummān-
manda obviously confirms the historic existence of migrating
military groups ast CE B.C. to ca.
d from Ak-
nian Plateau only around 800-700-600 B.C.; R1a1 were men were also involved i
ers in areas of NW Iran (of today) like Media (and Parsua)
since the 9th century B.C., and also from the North as part of
Scythians during the 8/7th centuries B.C.; but “this was AFTER
the Aryans migrated to North-Eastern Iran ca. 3500 ybp (1500
B.C.) and settled there”, stresses Klyosov. Cited sources: Hen-
nerbichler (2011) 112 - 118, 121, 134 - 138, 287, 340 - 341,
344 - 346.
DNA Genealogy of Kurds Living Today
Distribution of Y-DNA R1a1 Near East & Eurasia: Used
published data: “Ukrainians” 50% - 65%, Zaza-S
urmanji-Speaker Turkey 12.70%, Muslim Kurds N-Iraq 11.60%,
Armenia” 9%, “Tehran” 2% - 4%, “Syrian” 10%, “Lebanese
9.7%, Ashkenazi Jews 12.70%, Bedouin 9.40%. Data are quoted
from: Semino et al. (2000), Wells et al. (2001), Nebel et al.
(2001, 2007), Al-Zahery et al. (2003), Cinnioglu et al. (2004),
Nasidze et al. (2004, 2005), Underhill et al. (2009); see for
detailed references Hennerbichler (2010) 247-260.
This data indicate, that Kurdish descendants (speakers of the
Kurdish Complex”), who are still living in large numbers on
ancient Hurrian-Mitanni soil, show the highest ever measured
ethno-genetic percentages of R1a1 men ancestors in Eurasia. If
it holds, that migrating (militarily organized) elites of R1a1 clan
early as 2240-1140 B.C. from South Russia, ancestors of Kurds
(speakers of the “Kurdish Complex”) could have been substan-
tially involved.
Historic Terminology
Ummān-Manda 21st CE B.C. - ca. 500 B.C.
The ancient Mesopotamian
nd elites of various origins 21
500 B.C. (shown in Figure 7). Ummān is explaine
kadian for ERÍN (.MEŠ) meaning “army troops
here is no consensus for the second component “manda”, e.g.
from Old Babylonian “mandum” = soldier; or Sumerian “ma-
(n)du(m)” for terrain = distant mountain lands in the (far) east;
also for many, numerous (questioned). Ummān-manda was
used as generic term that could describe any ethnic group and
denote various military entities and/or foreign popula-
tions/peoples in ancient Eurasia and Near East. In all are 51
sources between 21st - 7/6th centuries B.C. documented, that is
from the time of Išbi-Irra, founder of the dynasty of Isin (2017-
1985 B.C.), to the “Spartoli Tablets of the Persian Achaem-
enid period (6th - 4th centuries B.C.). Main recent source of
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 71
Figure 7.
Ummān-manda documented mainly on Hittitian, Hurrian-Mitanni & Semitic soil in N&NW&W and in NW Iran of today (Hen-
nerbichler, 2011: p. 185).
Adali (Uignificance in the First Millen-
nium B.C.), 2009, at the University of Sidney. 28 of the 51
r (2011)
151 cf.
ble Ummān-manda sources is concentrated in the
, where speakers of the
herited the highest per-
e is the Thesis of young Turkish scholar Selim Ferruh
mmān-manda and its S
tioned between Gutium and Anšan. See Hennerbichle
sources, recorded by Adali, are part of Mesopotamian mytho-
logical literature, 23 can be regarded in a narrower sense as
historical texts between 18th - 6th centuries B.C. Within that
timeframe, Ummān-manda are portrayed as migrating military
organized “lords”/tribes/groups/units/mercennaries of various
origin, identity, and background. Historically, the term Um-
mān-manda was used in the North/West during the 18th/17th
centuries B.C. mainly for Semites (including Semitic Akkadian/
Amorite? [Mandu-] soldiers [mercenaries?] in NW Iran Korde-
stan of today), in Hittite texts of the 17th century B.C. for mi-
grating military elites from peripheral provincial areas of un-
clear origin (Hurrian background, possibly Indo-European ele-
ments), in the 15th century B.C. on Hurri-Mitanni soil, and in
the 13th century B.C. in Ugarit-Amurru. In the North-East Neo-
Assyrians (Esarhaddon 680-669 B.C., Assurbanipal (669-626
B.C.) labelled (exclusively) Kings of Cimmerians (of unclear
origin) as Ummān-manda, Neo-Babylonians (like the last Baby-
lonian king Nabonidus 556-539 B.C.) characterized for the first
time and none but Old Iranians like Kings of Medes as Um-
mān-manda. Finally, on the cylinder of Achaemenid king Cyrus
(559-530 B.C.) are Ummān-manda (of unclear identity) men-
Ummān-Manda and R1a1/R1b1
Areas in Eurasia, where Ummān-manda are documented,
show geographically two distinct mainstreams with correlations
to various forefathers of Kurds: the content of the vast majority
of availa
North and North-West of Mesopotamia
Kurdish Complex” have genetically in
ntages of R1a1 ancestors, and in a comparatively smaller
number in the North-East, where the presence of foreign
mandu”-soldiers from Der in the South of Mesopotamia af-
firms also a tradition of Semitic migrating warrior elites into
Zagros-mountain regions of ancient Guti lands. The historic
cuneiform Ummān-manda sources are endorsing genetic time-
span-calculations for R1a1 (see, however, below an alternative
suggestion related to R1b) dispersal in Eurasian territories pre-
sented by Anatole Klyosov. He draws two principal conclu-
sions out of them: 1st (see Figure 8): Ummān-manda seem to
confirm (im)migrating R1a1 elites: “The timeframe for migrat-
ing R1a1 tribes from areas of South Russia southwards via
Armenia, to Anatolia, (NW Iran?) and Arabia seems to fit into a
nearly identical timeframe for ancient term label sources like
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Figure 8.
Anatole Klyosov: Ummān-manda seem to confirm migrating R1a1 elites and possibly also a Sumerian origin (R1b) from the North
(Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 188).
nda at the same time cuneiform
evidence documented for possible origins of Sumerians from
fits to R1b popula-
Background Sumerian and Basque
ity. “There are no data on Sumerian haplotypes at all”, Klyosov
s is that Basques are
almost to
ān-manda, as documented here. Some 4000 - 3600 years
(2000-1600 B.C.), maybe 4200 - 3300 ybp (2200-1300
”, Klyosov summarises.
source in print, pre-copy courtesy to the author February 2012)
Sumerian Origins from the North?
And 2nd, he sees in Umān-ma
the North, and outlines: “However, it also
, which migrated to Europe through Asia Minor from
Caucasus and may be (but less likely) from Iran to arrive to
Europe about 4500 years before present. They were in the
Caucasus 6000 ybp. in Middle East (possibly Sumers, and in
Lebanon) 5500 ybp, and in Asia Minor about the same time,
6000-5500-5000-4500 ybp. Their major forces were supposed
to move through Asia Minor by 4000 - 3600 ybp, but some
might have left” (Hennerbichler (2011) 188, 348). In a newest
study (in print: “Ancient History of the Arbins…”, AA 2012, Vol.
2, No. *, **-**) Klyosov enlarges upon these previous indications,
and characterizes Sumerians more specifically as “Arbins”,
bearers of R1b haplogroup, who arose ~16,000 ybp from re-
gions in South Siberia/Central Asia, and who along their migra-
tion route to the Middle East and South Mesopotamia appar-
ently established the Sumer culture (and state). Sumers are the
likely bearers of R1b1a2 haplogroup, Klyosov suggests, and
Assyrians one of their oldest surviving descendants (note:
Anatole Klyosov bases his hypothesis of a possible R1b(1a2)
origin of (died out) Sumerians mainly on assumed (ethno-)
genetic relations with Basques (living in West Europe now),
who “are almost totally R1b1b2”, as he defines, and on estab-
lished linguistic similarities, including special forms of ergativ-
concedes, “however, basis of my hypothesi
tally R1b1b2, that their language is unclassified’,
some linguists place it into Sino-Caucasian. The Sumerian
language is apparently also unclassified’, and placed also by
some linguists into Sino-Caucasian. Therefore, Sumerians
themselves could have been R1b1a2, and migrated from Anato-
lia where they had arrived from Central Asia westward and
then South via the Caucasus”, Klyosov sums up. In essence, he
suggests, that Sumerians and Basques were descendants of R1b
populations, who originated ~16,000 ybp in South Siberia/
Central Asia, and later diverged into different separate sub-
groups, Basques in R1b1b2 moving westwards to Europe, and
Sumerians possibly in R1b1a2, heading first to the Caucasus
und then to Anatolia and Mesopotamia. In order to counter-
check this new explanation attempt on an inter-disciplinary
basis, it could be helpful, if experts in Sumerian would in a next
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 73
step identify at least one archaeological skeleton find as pre-
sumably belonging to a deceased Sumerian, so that than in the
process, a palaeo/archaeo-genetic examination of such a skele-
ton would give further indications to the genetic profile of its
bearer and the possible origin.
Ummān-Manda and Sumer
Since inter-disciplinary research in Sumerian origins is still
in earlier stages, further investigation will be needed to get a
deeper insight. As far as cited cuneiform sources are concerned,
there are none documented indicating Sumerian Ummān-manda.
Still, at least in one mythical story with a moral, “The Cutha
Legend”, a fictional autobiography of Akkadian Naram-Sin (ca.
ading Sumerian, king Enmer-
opotamia, is mentioned as bad
indeed Mesopo-
or oldest traceable linguistic roots
guage features like ergativity.
2273-2219 B.C., mi. chron.), a le
kar, builder of Uruk in south Mes
d punished example for not to combat Ummān-manda. They
were created by the gods as the enemy of civilization for some
work of destruction, came from eastern Anatolia, entered the
far North of Mesopotamia via the eastern Upper Khabur, later
destroyed Gutium and Elam, and at the end were defeated by
the gods themselves (Figure 9). Human beings are said to be
powerless, should not interfere and obey the will of the gods.
The Sumerian Enmerkar did not and was punished. The Ak-
kadian Naram-Sin first ignored an omen, lost many troops, got
a second chance, did not interfere, virtually doing nothing, and
finally, the will of gods prevented the kingdom to collapse. It is
not clear, whether this (kind of exceptional pacifistic) mytho-
logical creation/origin text with a strong theological basis im-
plies glimpses of real history at all like the (mainly) peaceful
takeover of power in Mesopotamia from Sumer to Akkad or
immigration from the north. It seems to indicate, however, in
the explained limited sense, correlations of Ummān-manda both
to Sumer and Akkad. Further more, if it should hold, that As-
syrians prove to be descendants of Sumerians, as suggested by
A. A. Klyosov, evidence for Ummān-manda particularly in the
North-West of Mesopotamia would have to be rechecked again
for possible Assyrian activities (migration) in the area. Data
published so far indicate no clear picture.
In Search for Ergativity
Nevertheless, there are long-standing efforts notably by lin-
guists to try to find answers to Sumerian and
tamian origins by searching f
and special common ancient lan
his keyword not only indicates a linguistic coherence between
ergativity in both Basque and Sumerian, apparently based on
common ancient roots, but shows also implications to ancestors
of speakers of the “Kurdish Complex”. A brief summary note:
Piotr Michalowski, leading linguistic Sumerian expert, Profes-
sor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the
Figure 9.
The invasion of the mythical Ummān-manda in the Cuthean Legend of Naram-Sin in two interpretations of Piotr Michalowski and
Michael C. Astour (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 163).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, is suggesting a
broad Sumerian language origin hypothesis, based on sweeping
findings of Johanna Nichols, Prof. Emeritus at the Linguistic
Department of the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
According to Michalowski, Sumerian played a key role of an
areal, genetic and linguistic (ergative influenced) continuum of
unclassified”, “isolated” languages (including Basque) in an-
cient West-Asia (Mesopotamia) before the Semitic spreads.
Though, he offers no specific own explanation attempt, who the
Sumerians ethnically were and where they might have origi-
nated from, his hypothesis shows apparent similarities to con-
siderations, e.g. DNA experts like Anatole Klyosov are follow-
ing. Even so, Michalowski’s position to (ethno-) genetic DNA
research remains ambivalent. On the one hand, he mentions
attempts (e.g. ground-breaking ones by LL Cavalli-Sforza, l.c.
ed. 1997) to link the evolution, distribution and diversification
of language(s) with human genetic traits, but distinctly puts a
question mark over it, phrasing: “whatever one might think of
these works”. On the other hand, he praises studies of linguist
Johanna Nichols like “her highly influential book on Linguistic
Diversity in Space and Time” (Chicago University Press 1992)
as “a new way of juggling genetic and areal linguistic history”,
and subsequently uses the term “genetic” himself (next to
areal”) to characterize Sumerian as part of a linguistic contin-
uum in Western Asia before the Semitic spreads. Basically,
Michalowski supports the view, that Sumerian “was one, if not
the major spoken language in Mesopotamia from very early
on”, that “short of a miracle we shall never go back much far-
ther than” Sumerian, and that “we must also accept that there is
at present no evidence at all for any other early language in the
area”. That is why he is (also) dismissing “archaeological sets
of data” as “unrelated”, which are interpreted as indications for
procesign (im)migrating elites in(to) ancient Meso-
next tothree families of the Caucasus”, Elamite, Sumerian, and
Hurro-Urartean in “ancient Near East”, and points out, ergativ-
ity is relatively stable in areal terms, and ergative languages
tend to cluster together. Michalowski seems to agree to the
latter, confirms, that Sumerian had ergativity as special linguis-
tic feature (“ergative argument marking”), but dismisses the
assumption of Nichols, describing Elamite, the dominating
language at the time before the Semitic spreads in the South-
west, also as ergative. Michalowski corrects, Elamite was “not
stativ-activ on an ergative base”, and showed no ergativity.
Indicating at the same time, that Elamite, therefore, belongs to a
(linguistic, areal, and genetic) different language continuum,
not influenced by ergativity, and that a lack of this linguistic
characteristic in Elamite could not back up a Sumerian origin
from the South theory. This latter consecutive assumption
Michalowski does not express verbatim, but characterizes
Sumerian in more general terms as “remnant of a much broader
linguistic continuum, areal if not genetic, that had occupied
much of Western Asia before the Semitic spreads”. Within such
a broader ergative influenced language continuum of “Isolates
in Western Asia before the Semitic spreads, he positions two,
Sumerian and Hatti, occupying “a historical niche” in Eurasia,
analogous to Basque and Etruscan in Europe”, as he con-
cludes. Thereby, he leaves key questions unanswered and open
like possible direct historic connections between Basque and
Sumerian, not only on common linguistic grounds such as erga-
tivity, which he agrees to, but also on other crucial ones as well,
which he explicitly also mentions in his analyses, like areal,
ethnic, and (indeed) genetic (without elaborating).
Ergative in Sumerian and Gorani
Sumerian origin theories along ancient roots of ergativity are
ses of fore
ia (citing Tom Jones, ed., The Sumerian Problem. New
Wiley 1969). Michalowski pillows his dismissal of ar-
illustrated here in some detail, because they are directly
lated to developments of ergativity in Old Iranian, and the
chaeological data possibly indicating a Sumerian immigration
into Mesopotamia arguing, such (im)migration would have
produced at least one other dominating early ancient language
next to Sumerian in Mesopotamia, and (most likely) docu-
mented in writing, which according to him is not the case.
Michalowski dismisses older findings as unfounded, notably by
(Old-) Austro-Silesian born Benno Landsberger (1890-1968), a
leading Assyrologist of his time, who advanced as early as
1943 the theory of a substratum language of people that culti-
vated farming in south Mesopotamia during the early Ubaid
period (ca. 5500-4500 B.C.), possibly deriving out of the Sa-
marra Culture (ca. 5500-4800 B.C.) on the Tigris in northern
Mesopotamia. Landsberger called this assumed substratum
language of Ubaidians “Proto-Euphratian”. Later, end of the
1990s, Gonzalo Rubio showed in an analysis (1999) that spe-
cial names for rivers, cities and specific trades (potter anti cop-
persmith) before Sumerians appeared in south Mesopotamia
would constitute merely linguistic borrowings but not represent
a full fledged pre-Sumerian substratum language called “Proto-
Eurphratian”. This finding is interpreted by Piotr Michalowski
as further indication for arguing against immigration of pre-
Sumerian dominating speakers in Mesopotamia. Michalowski
is following, however, “genetic and areal linguistic traits” laid
out by Johanna Nichols, and is entertaining himself a common
origin explanation attempt for “Isolates” like Sumerian. He
cites “a broad-sweeping statement” of Nichols (1994: p. 74),
where she positions in a chain of ergative languages Basque
provide also valuable insights into ancient roots of Kurdish.
The evolution of ergativity in (Old) Iranian is illustrated au-
thoritatively by leading Iranologist Gernot Windfuhr in the first
German version “Die Herkunft der Kurden” of the author
(Hennerbichler, 2010: pp. 199-208), and recently in the revised
new English edition (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 375). Therein,
Windfuhr describes the ergative as “trans-indoiranian”. All
Iranian languages went through an ergative phase, and had at
one time phases of “full” ergativity, he notes. The origin of
ergativity he assumes in areas of the Bactrian-Margian Ar-
chaeological Complex (BMAC) in south Central Asia. From
there, ergativity diverged in different regional forms (of Ira-
nian). “Tense-split ergative constructions in (some) past tense
forms” were developed only in later times, Windfuhr explains.
Much earlier, the imperfect was formed from the present tense
stem (and remained in the nominative-accusative). There are
only two Iranian languages, which until today did not carry out
the step to tense-split ergative constructions: Gorani (“Kurdish
Complex”) in Eurasia and (“Neo-Scythian”) Yaghnobi in Cen-
tral Asia, Windfuhr explains. Both (Gorani and Yaghnobi),
independent developments”, though, would show common
ancient linguistic roots within a northern (Old) Iranian language
continuum. DNA Genealogist Anatole Klyosov agrees: avail-
able genetic data confirm common R1a1 ancestors for both,
speakers of the “Kurdish Complex” and Yaghnobi (Henner-
bichler, 2011: p. 371).
Discussion: If ergative constructions from the present tense
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 75
stem are historically older than those from past tenses (tense-
split), there are several possibilities for an explanation: a) that
the imperfect from the present tense stem in (Iranian) Gorani
(“Kurdish Complex”) is historically older than the split-ergative
in Sumerian; but then, there is no evidence for an (Old) Iranian
Gorani at the same time of an early ancient Sumerian; b) there-
fore, it seems more likely that this is so in (Old) Iranian, and
that the linguistic tradition in Iranian, forming the imperfect
from the present tense stem like in Gorani (“Kurdish Complex”),
could have originated somewhere else (near the BMAC com-
plex in south Asia?). Meaning, in this case, it couldn’t say any-
thing directly about the development of split-ergativity in Sum-
erian, but it would not exclude the possibility, that the ergative
in Sumerian and Basque could also go back to assumed com-
mon linguistic, and areal, and genetic roots in (south) Central
Asia. And, last but not least, such ancient forms of ergativity in
Gorani and Yaghnobi, seem to confirm (again) indications for a
Northern origin of Old Iranian speaker immigrants into Kurdi-
stan, and not from the South or South-West, which would be
crucial for a proper understanding of the evolvement of Kurd-
Multi-Linguistic Kurdish Ancestors
In linguistic terms, timespan calculations for two major im-
migration waves of R1a1 elites from Asia via areas of South
Russia southwards via Armenia, to Anatolia, 2240-1140 B.C.,
and in minor parts into NW Iran of today, 2200/2000-1600 B.C.,
as calculated by Anatole Klyosov, as well as the second, prin-
cipal move of R1a1 to North-Western Iran from the Iranian
Plateau around 800-700-600 B.C., seem to support findings of
linguists, who are describing different processes of “Indo-Eu-
ropeanizations”, and independently from each other. A full
picture is, however, far from clear. This applies in particular for
traces of linguistic Indo-European elements in West-Asia, ca.
2240-1140 B.C. One of the leading experts in this field, the late
renowned Austrian Indo-Europeanist Manfred Mayrhofer (1926-
2011), documented numerous pieces of evidence of an “Indo-
Aryan in Old West-Asia” (“Indo-Arisch im Alten Vorderasien”)
[“Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen”, Heidel-
l today controversial”,
ces of skepticism and
834 B.C., Scythians 8/7 ce. B.C., and
fuhr detected contact features both with a Northern Old-
Iranian language continuum and preserved rare ancient forms of
nally, an apparently
stan, to name but
berg, 1992-1996]. “The anthology is unti
Mayrhofer conceded, “considerable voi
jection are still faced by representatives of the possibility
(translated from German, l.c. vol II, 330; see also Hennerbichler,
2010: pp. 131-133). Interestingly, earlier in 1965, Mayrhofer dis-
missed in one cited crucial term, the anthroponym mZa-a-lu-d/
ti-iš (Zāludi or Zayaludi), assumed Indo-European elements as
implausible” (without further elaboration). Zalud/tiš is men-
tioned in the so called “Zukraši Text”, a 17th century B.C. Hit-
tite text, attributed to Hattusilis I (1650-1620 B.C.), as leader of
the Ummān-manda and Hurrian troops. While there is still no
consensus on the term mZa-a-lu-d/ti-iš, the obvious correlation
to migrating militarily organized Ummān-manda elites from far
away, and a nearly identical timeframe for the presence of R1a1
in the area, encouraged Anatole Klyosov to offer a new IE
based explanation identifying Zalud/tiš as commander of “from
far away people”: Klyosov suggests: “Zaludi: meaning in Rus-
sian: ‘Beyond people’, = geographically: It is far away, be-
yond where people live”. “Za means beyond, “ludi people. It
must have an IE origin” (source: Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 348).
Klyosov noticed that this is, of course, can be a plain coinci-
dence. That is to say, and taken at this point as an interim result,
linguistic research continues to leave the possibility of
Indo-Europeanization” processes on (Hurrian-) Mitanni soil
during the 2nd millennium B.C. open, and unanswered, but there
is (still) no (undisputed) evidence to prove it one way or the
other. Whereas, there seems to exist largely consensus on oldest
cuneiform documented sources for earliest verifiable influences
of immigrating (R1a1) Old Iranian speakers on an indigenous,
local population in areas of NW Iran of today, including Kurds
(Parsua 843 B.C., Mediath
e later Par-su-aš 691 B.C., but representing obviously a dis-
tinct independent development in the South-West, and unre-
lated to origins of Kurds). Out of available data Gernot Wind-
fuhr draws the following conclusion for earliest traces of an
(Old) Iranian Kurdish: “The first stages of the language of Ira-
nianized Kurds could go back to the pre-Median or pre-Achae-
menid periods” (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 383). To go further
back in history, Windfuhr assumes a Proto-IE also for Kurds
(speakers of the “Kurdish Complex”): “All Iranian-speakers of
today including the Kurds south of the BMAC (Bactrian-Ma-
rgian Archaeological Complex) must have spoken non-Iranian
languages at one time” (Hennerbichler, 2011: p. 313). To round
up available historic evidence: In the 21st century B.C. central
Zagros areas of Kurdistan were attested in cuneiform sources as
multilingual (“many-tongued”, see ETCSL c. Consecu-
tive, from ca. 1000 until ca. 600 B.C. “Kurdistan was domi-
nated by Hurro-Urartian (terms), as Ran Zadok, leading Meso-
potamian cuneiform expert of the University of Tel Aviv, Israel,
documented in an authoritative study (“The ethno-linguistic
character of northwestern Iran and Kurdistan in the neo-As-
syrian period”, Old City of Jaffa 2002). Further more, Gernot
ergative making (Hurrian-Urartian), and, fi
frequent “language shift” over time in Kurdi
the most striking linguistic features. Therefore, in course of
history, forefathers of ethnic Kurds spoke apparently several
languages, starting with an assumed Proto-IE, followed by a
longstanding multi-lingual tradition, attested since the 21st cen-
tury B.C., then by a dominating Hurro-Urartian (terminology),
since the 9th century B.C. showing oldest influences of immi-
grating Old Iranian speakers on indigenous forefathers of Kurds
from NW Iran (of today), and finally, frequently shiftet lan-
guage(s), that is to say, they managed to switch from one (an-
cient) language to another. All in all, confirming that speakers
of the “Kurdish Complex spoke indeed forms of an ancient
languages B.C. like Old Iranian, and as a result, could have
existed already B.C.
KRD: Mesopotamian Terminology
Even more complicated than traces for ancient Kurdish (lan-
guages), are various (waxing and waning) term labels to de-
scribe and understand, with whom Mesopotamians denoted
mountain people of multi-ethno-cultural background in the far
North and North-East. While, on the one hand, this inter-disci-
plinary study backs up observations elsewhere, that it seems not
convincing to try to prove the existence of whole ancient peo-
ple(s) using exclusively cuneiform Mesopotamian terminology,
because for the most part Mesopotamians did not have such a
consistent understanding of foreign neighbours at all. A few
examples, to underpin that Mesopotamian labels like Guti,
Cimmerians or Medes did not denote single people: Guti: Marc
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Van De Mieroop: “Thus the term Gutian has no value as indi-
cation of a specific people and merely suggests uncivilized
people from the Zagros. Any hostile group could be called
Gutian. […] In the first millennium Gutium could be used as a
geographical designator to refer to all or part of the Zagros
region north of Elam, interchangeably with other terms
(Gutians, in EIr-online). Cimmerians: Carola Metzner-Nebel-
sick: She sees no available terminological prove for Cimmeri-
ans as a distinct single people, and defines Cimmerians (“Kim-
merier”) as merely “in Kriegsverbänden organisierte mobile
Gesellschaft(en)”: mobile societies organized in warrior units
(RGA 16 (2000), 504-523, cf. 509-10). Medes have in quoted
ancient Ummān-manda sources simply a meaning of ethnically
and linguistically unspecified inhabitants of Hinterland/provin-
cial areas in the far Northeast (of NW Iran of today). See Hen-
nerbichler (2010) 88-92, Hennerbichler (2011) 184. However,
on the other hand, it is indeed possible to document a long-
standing tradition and sustainable continuity over at least ca.
1700 years (2200-600 B.C.), in which Mesopotamian scribes
showed a fairly common (although heavy politically influenced
waxing and waning) understanding of neighbours from differ-
ent ethnic, linguistic and cultural background in the far North
and North-East as inhabitants of the mountains (mountain
populations/people, mountaineers), and that Mesopotamians
used a good number of different terms (umbrella labels) to
characterize them. Best known are half a dozen. Out of them,
only one terminological compound umbrella label did stand the
test of time and survived over millennia until today: assumed
Sumerian based kur-stem terms (cuneiform KRD) for inhabi-
tants of mountain (land). They show a direct correlation to
forefathers of Kurds in the sense that they are geographically
cumulative firm attested in ancient ancestral heartlands of sub-
stratum J and immigrant R1A1 ancestors of Kurds in (Northern
Fertile Crescent areas of) Eurasia. In most cases they character-
ise vaguely several mountain populations of undefined ethnical
background, respectively coalitions of them, and point only in a
few like the “kur-ti” in the far North (rather vaguely) to a kind
of related (mountain nomad) tribal structures. Main reasons for
the survival of kur-stem terms are: they were based and em-
bedded in a fairly long tradition and continuity of an otherwise
inconsistent cuneiform Mesopotamian terminology, long before
Greek and Roman authors messed them up further, made it in
documented cuneiform sources to sort of a mass popularity,
were easy to understand and pick up, even by the majority of
people, who could not read and write, were neutral in their
massage, and distinct in identifying foreign neighbours in
mountains (hilly areas) of the far North and North-East. Where
as similar terms, possibly based on Akkadian “quardu” for
warlike (mountain) people like “kar-da”, did not prevail, be-
cause they were pejorative burdened and used to degrade
mountain populations in the far North and North-East as un-
civilized, since they were not urban organized like lowland
Mesopotamians. Interestingly, this xenophobian terminological
practice, to label mountain nomads in contrast to urbanite law/
hilly-land Mesopotamians as uncivilised, changed during the 1st
half of the last millennium B.C.E. significantly, when militarily
organized Old Iranian immigrants in “Media” in NW Iran of
today were called “from far away people” and their leaders
lords”. In sharp con-
accepted on a more equal footing as “city
trast, were mountain coalitions in the same region since the 22
century B.C. marked down under the compound label “Guti” as
apelike creatures with canine instinct (feelings)” (c.f. e.g. “The
cursing of Agade”, ETCSL c.2.1.5, lines 151-158). Suggesting,
that Kurd for mountaineers could stem indeed from Sumerian
based compound kur-stem (KRD) label terms. Cuneiform
sources evidence for that:
Kur-Stem Terms Prevailing
Most popular land/mountain label ca. 3000-1000 B.C. are
substantially and authoritative documented by “The Pennsyl-
vania Sumerian Dictionary Project (ePSD)” (online: The listed terms in overview:
Šubartu, Šadû, KI, kalam, mada, Ummān-manda, kur, kurti,
karda. Details: KI is statistically in EPSD with 32,279 instances
most far-reaching used, peak 2500-2000 B.C. with 29,607, and
2000-1500 B.C. with 2433; kur (>kur-ti) ca. 3000-1000 B.C.
with 2494, peak 2000-1500 B.C. with 1231; mada: mainly
2500-1500 B.C. with 1441, peak 2500 B.C. with 1122; kalam:
3000-1500 B.C. with 704 instances, peak 2000-1500 B.C. with
609; further [no statistics published in EPSD for]: Ummān-
manda (ca. 2100-700/500 B.C.) 51 sources (SF Aladi 2009),
and S[Š]ubir/S[Š]ubar[t]u[m] as well as “Šadû” (Akkadian
equivalent for Sumerian “kur”). Indications: KI for land de-
pended as affix attachment on terms, and therefore, was not
suitable as sustaining term itself; mada: was most popular used
during Ur III period. As label for mountain land/people was
mada over time increasingly marginalised by “kur”-stem terms
and mainly applied for Umland/Hinterland/Province (people).
Since the 1st half of the 1st millennium B.C. Mesopotamians
characterised inhabitants of “Media” vaguely as (multi-ethno-
cultural) Hinterland-people in far away terrain in the North-East
(Northwest Iran of today). S[Š]ubir/S[Š]ubar[t]u[m] and “Ša dû
never achieved mass popularity among Mesopotamian scribes
and were not established as dominating terms for mountain
people/land. Ummān-manda did denote militarily organized
elites from far away people but not in particular of special
mountain areas.
Newest available inter-disciplinary data of Palaeo/Archaeo-
Genetics, DNA-Genealogy, Archaeology, Historical Terminol-
ogy, Linguistics and Science of History, presented in this in-
ter-disciplinary analysis provide strong indications that both
ethnic forefathers of Kurds as well as ancestors of linguistic
speakers of the “Kurdish Complex” have existed in their ances-
tral Eurasian homeland already B.C.E. Valuable historic pieces
of information were contributed by findings both of Palaeo/
Archaeo-Genetics and DNA-Genealogy. By that, it was above
all possible to outline a traditional aborigine ancestral habitat of
Kurds (speakers of the “Kurdish Complex”) geographically for
the main parts located in a wider Eurasian Northwest, largely
outside and northwest of Iran of today. Ethno-genetically, it
could be shown, that Kurds derived obviously out of a broader,
pre-IE multi-cultural substratum of the Near East and Eurasia,
and were in early ancient layers predominantly shaped by first
Neolithic Northern Fertile Crescent farmer and shepherd abo-
rigines. Genetically, they seem to be close related to other Near
East and Eurasia substratum aborigines like Jews and Armeni-
ans (Nebel et al. & L. Yepiskoposyan). References for the very
historic existence of Kurds and speakers of the “Kurdish Com-
plex” B.C.E, could also been evidenced linguistically, most
notably by leading Iranologist Gernot Windfuhr, who presented
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 77
various conclusive examples of a reconstruction of earliest
stages of the “Kurdish Complex”, including ergativity, despite
the fact, that “from Old and Middle Iranian times, no prede-
cessors of the Kurdish” language(s) “are yet known” (Ludwig
Paul: Kurdish Language(s), in: EIr-online). Virtually all pre-
sented, available data are pointing to immigration origins of
ancestors, who brought forms of Old Iranian to earliest aborig-
ine Kurds in Eurasia, from the North, practically none from the
South or Southwest, as hypothesized by some linguists. In all
examined crucial terms, —ethno-genetically, linguistically, and
geographically, —Kurds (speakers of the “Kurdish Complex”)
seem to be distinctly multi-composed, and not single-con-
structed. This insight, however, lead on the one hand to the
conclusion, that specific (popular) term-labels like Kurti, Cyr-
tians or Carduchi could neither prove a single-tribe origin of
Complex”) nor an assumed
Österreicher but call (identify)
themselves (as) Austriaurd” seems to derive
from the assumed Sumword stem “kur”, first
Kurds (speakers of the “Kurdish
e geographic one, and on the other hand, do not allow
for explanation attempts, to pinpoint their origins down to a
specific single area, or settlement, nor to a one and only family,
tribe, respectively lineage. Still, it was possible, to docum
evidence for origins of Kurds (speakers of the “Kurdish Com-
plex”) in a much broader (but as a result vaguer) sense, of
multi-ethno-genetic-cultural mountain dweller civilizations,
who contributed essentially to the cultivation of areas from
eastern Anatolia to Zagros east. Not more and not less. Mean-
ing, that these geographically broad pillowed findings of an
ancestral Kurdish habitat leaves room open for interpretation,
where its influence areas might have ended, and who precisely
might have belonged to such Kurdish mountain civilisations
from early origins on. The on-going, contrasting debate will
most likely continue to be influenced by different views on
these questions. A final, conclusive and undisputed Kurdish
origin consensus, all involved disciplines could agree to, seems
not in sight. Nonetheless, the new inter-disciplinary findings
presented here suggest also a new understanding of Kurds
(speakers of the “Kurdish Complex”) similar to that one of
Austrians”: “Österreich(er)” [Austria(ns)] derives from Ostar-
rîchi, first recorded in 996 AD, meaning (ost = east) > “eastern
borderlands” or casually “Ostler” (“easterner”). This umbrella
compound expression comprises a variety of terms. Some sound
similar like “Österreicher”, “Ober-Österreich(er)” (Upper Aus-
trians) or “Nieder-Österreich(er)” (Lower Austrians), others
completely different like “Wien(er)” (Vienna(ese), “Steiermark/
Steirer” (Styria/n), “Kärnten(ner)” (Carynthia/n), “Salzburg(er)”
(Salzburg/ian), “Tiroler” (Tyrolian) or “Vorarlberger” (Vorarl-
bergian). Which explains, that not all Austrians share the family
name (compound term label) “
ns. Similar, “K
erian originated
corded millennia back B.C.E., meaning [kur = mountain/land]
> “inhabitants of the mountains or casually mountaineers
(“Bergler”). The umbrella compound expression “kur-com-
prises also a variety of terms, some sound similar like “kur-ti”,
in a wider sense “kar-da” too, others completely different like
G/K/Quti, Lullubi, Arrapha, Urbilum, Zamua, Mehri or Ba-
banhi, and in addition et aliae translated into Greek and Roman
like Kárdakes, Carduchi, or Cyrtii (Cyrtioi). Which illustrates
as well, that not all Kurds (speakers of the “Kurdish Complex”)
share this family name (compound term label), but obviously
most of them call themselves “Kurd and identify with a com-
mon homeland “Kurdistan” (land of Kurds). Indicating, that
Kurds seem to be descendants of many ancient (substratum)
ancestors in Near-East and Eurasia, who spoke over time vari-
ous languages, the present Iranian being only the last one.
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