Yamnaya culture

archaeological culture

The Yamnaya culture (Russian: Ямная культура, romanized: Yamnaya kul'tura, Ukrainian: Ямна культура, romanized: Yamna kul'tura lit. 'culture of pits'), also known as the Yamnaya Horizon, Yamna culture, Pit Grave culture or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester, and Ural rivers (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3300–2600 BCE. Its name derives from its characteristic burial tradition: Я́мная (romanization: yamnaya) is a Russian adjective that means 'related to pits (yama)', as these people used to bury their dead in tumuli (kurgans) containing simple pit chambers.


  • Less clear is whether all Indo-European languages derive from this group, or whether just a subset do, says Paul Heggarty, a linguist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. He suspects that the Yamnaya spoke a language that later developed into Slavic, Germanic and other northern European tongues, but he doubts that they imported the predecessor of southern European languages such as ancient Greek, or those of eastern Indo-European languages such as Sanskrit.
    • E. Callaway (2015): Ewen Callaway (2015): “European Languages Linked to Migration from the East”, Nature, April (12 Feb.) 2015. Published online [1]
  • Between 5000 and 4000 years ago, the Yamnaya and their descendants colonised swathes of Europe, leaving a genetic legacy that persists to this day. ... “I’ve become increasingly convinced there must have been a kind of genocide,” says Kristian Kristiansen at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • The genetic analysis showed that the Britons who built Stonehenge all-but disappeared within a few generations of the Yamnaya’s arrival.
  • As one of the leading Indo-Europeanists, Paul Heggarty from Leipzig University, said at the German Orientalist conference of 2017: the Pontic Yamna ("pit-grave") culture came too late to be the ultimate Homeland. It was a secondary Homeland, itself already a settlement area for immigrants from elsewhere.
    • P. Heggarty, as quoted from 2017

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