a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Early life and going to see The Agamemnon


Visiting Turkmenistan
Colin Renfrew Archaeologist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments
Another such opportunity came to me very recently when Victor Sarianidi, the excavator of this amazing, effectively new civilisation, newly discovered civilisation in Turkmenistan invited me to go to a conference there and to his site at Gonurtepe and it is all together extraordinary that, whole new cities have been discovered, dating from more or less the same time as the Indus civilisation, but in a part of the world where really very little had been known before. Sometimes we'd been called Bactria Matgiana Archaeological Complex, which is rather a mouthful. And I think the reason I was invited was because there's some speculation that these places might be relevant to the arrival of Indo-European speakers in India. Because one of the great problems in the Indo-European story, we were rather focusing on Europe in our earlier Discussion, but it's agreed that the people on the steps in the late Bronze Age and Iron Age were probably Indo-European speakers, indeed we know the Scythians were Indo-European speakers, but it's all together unclear how people speaking Indo-European languages got down to India and Pakistan and spoke languages that were ancestral to Sanskrit? Indeed of course there are many in India, especially some of the Hindu fundamentalist who insist that it all began there and that made for rather quarrelsome sessions at the World Archaeological Congress in New Delhi a few years ago. But, certainly that's a very fascinating question as how and when did Indo-European speech reach India and I think nobody has any very clear explanation of it. So those cities, or very major sites in Turkmenistan around 2000 BC or a little later, might be relevant to the story although, it's not really clear how we shall know. There are no written materials and so one has to work from the material culture, from the decorative elements and so on, and I suppose one would be looking for clear evidence of some movement of population, from one place to another, but one really doesn't seem to find that evidence at the moment. But anyway, it's only by going to places like that and keeping up with what's going on in such places, that one has any hope, I think, of having a perspective on these things. So it's great fun being a world archaeologist but as I was saying so far, I don't think much of any great good sense has emerged from the experience.

Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn is a British archaeologist known for his work on the dispersal of the Proto-Indo-Europeans and the prehistory of PIE languages. He has been Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge as well as Master of Jesus College and Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

Listeners: Paul Bahn

Paul Bahn studied archaeology at Cambridge where he did his doctoral thesis on the prehistory of the French Pyrenees. He is now Britain's foremost specialist on Ice Age art and on Easter Island, and led the team which discovered Britain's first Ice Age cave art at Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire, in 2003. He has authored and edited numerous books, including Journey Through the Ice Age, The Enigmas of Easter Island, Mammoths, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art, and, with Colin Renfrew, Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice which was published in its 5th edition in 2008.

Duration: 2 minutes, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 14 May 2009