The Indo-European Peoples
The Ambrosia Society interest in the Indo-European people stems from the simple fact that the words Soma, Ambrosia, Nectar are extremely ancient Indo-European words, pointing to the Sacramental use of Soma by the Indo-European peoples from an ancient date. Variations of the words Soma, Ambrosia and Nectar are found in all the remaining branches of the Indo-European languages. The ancient expansion of the Indo-European peoples provides the vehicle that carried the Sacramental use of Soma over a large area of Eurasia and is the simplest explanation why variations of the ancestral Soma cult are found from Ireland and Norway to India and even China.
Map above shows the Indo-European expansion from 4000BCE to 1000 BCE.
Map below shows the stages of expansion in color
from 4000 BCE to about 1000BCE
There are several competing theories as to the spread of the pre historic proto-Indo-European peoples and languages. Since, these theories all propose a homeland within a few hundred miles of the proposed homeland shown on the maps above, the geophysical differences in the theories are really not that important. The competing theories mainly differ in the time scale used to explain the spread of this language family. Linguistic science predicts that the dispersion of proto Indo-European had to happen within a certain time frame. It is fairly simple, if the dispersion happened too long ago the current living IE languages would not resemble each other as much as they do, and if the dispersion happened much later in time, the current IE languages would not differ as much as they do now. Thus any theory that places the beginning of the spread of PIE before 7000 years before the present or later than 4000 years before the present day would seem to be invalided by the living IE languages themselves.
The Indo-European Language Family
Nineteenth century comparisons of older languages such as Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, and Gothic showed that similarities among word forms with similar meanings were so systematic as to rule out chance or borrowing as an explanation. Such systematic similarities, it was argued, could only have resulted if the speakers of these languages once formed a community that then broke up as groups of its speakers migrated to different places. Because these languages ranged geographically from India to Europe, their unknown prehistoric ancestor was called (Proto-)Indo-European or, in German, (Ur-)Indogermanisch. The Indo-European (IE) Languages are divided into families, which are traditional groupings of the languages for which IE Texts survive.
The Indo-European Family Tree is divided into twelve branches, ten of which contain existing languages, while two branches are now extinct. Two of the living branches, the Italic and the Germanic, have become world wide languages spoken over a vast area of the Earth.
The progression in the list below is from West to East.
1. Celtic, with languages spoken in the British Isles, in Spain and across southern Europe to central Turkey. Before the Roman Empire expanded, Celtic languages were spread over a vast area of Europe from Spain into central Turkey.
2. Germanic, with languages spoken in England and throughout Scandinavia & central Europe to Crimea. The Germanic language family has undergone a dramatic territorial expansion beginning about 500BC resulting in the collapse of the Roman Empire by 500AD and lasting until the end of the Viking age circa 1100AD. The later expansion of the Germanic language family into N. America, Australia, Africa and Asia over the last 500 years has created a world wide Indo-European language family.
3. Italic, with languages spoken in Italy and, later, throughout the Roman Empire including modern-day Portugal, Spain, France, and Romania. The expansion of French, Spainish, and Portugese over the last 500 years created another world wide Indo-European language family.
4. Baltic, with Baltic languages spoken in Latvia & Lithuania
5. Slavic, spoken throughout eastern Europe plus Belarus & the Ukraine & Russia. Some classifications combine the Baltic and Slavic families into a Balto-Slavic family.
6. Hellenic, spoken in Greece and the Aegean Islands, later expanding in other areas conquered by Alexander the Great and along the Mediterranean basin trade routes.
7. Illyric, a language branch with a single living language, Albanian.
8. Anatolian, languages spoken in ancient Anatolia, i.e. modern Turkey, all languages in this family are extinct. Hittite, was a completely unknown language, until a library of clay tablets written in cuneiform Hittite were discovered, decoded and found to be an archaic Indo-European language.
9. Armenian, another language branch with a single living language, Armenian, spoken in Armenia and nearby areas including eastern Turkey.
10. Iranian, with languages spoken from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iran and Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey. Historically vast areas of the Eurasian steppe were occupied by nomadic tribes of which the Scythian, and later the Alans as examples, spoke East Iranian languages, all of which are now extinct.
11. Indic, largest family of languages, spoken across India into S.E. Asia. Some classifications combine the Indic and Iranian families into an Indo-Iranian branch.
12. Tocharian, spoken in the Tarim Basin of Xinjiang, in far western China, believed to have gone extinct between 600-800 AD, known only from texts. A very interesting branch of the family tree, in that it was found in western China, yet resembles some of the old European languages more than it does any of the intervening Iranian languages. Leading to speculation that the ancestor of the Tocharian languages proceeded East about 4000BC, at the same time other IE speakers using basically the same language headed west into prehistoric Europe. About 2500BC the huge expansion of the Indo-Iranian branch of the family tree across the Eurasian steppe, isolated the Tocharian branch from the closely related languages much farther west.
The extreme eastern position of the Tocharian language, implies that knowledge of the Soma ceremony was present on the very doorstep of China as far back as 3000BC.
Wikipedia Proto-Indo-European religion
UT at Austin Center for Indo-European Language and Culture
UC Berkeley Indo-European
PaganWiki Proto-Indo-European religion