A clear spatial picture
“Finally we have a clear spatial picture,” says Colin Renfrew at the University of Cambridge, UK, who originally proposed Anatolia as the source of the Indo-European language family. But he predicts that many historical linguists will be slow to accept the evidence. “The structure of 'Indo-European studies' has been founded for so long on the myth of mounted Kurgan warrior horsemen riding down from the Russian steppes that it will take scholars a while to recover,” he says.
Indeed, many linguists and archaeologists still favor the Kurgan hypothesis. Andrew Garrett, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley, considers the new methods innovative, but he remains unconvinced. “There is bias in the underlying data that leads to an erroneous conclusion, and strong evidence that is ignored which still strongly supports the Kurgan hypothesis,” he says. David Anthony, an archaeologist at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, says this type of model doesn't match the complex linguistic and archaeological evidence. “The study is an example of retrofitting evidence to a model, but the results of such a model are only as useful as the underlying data and assumptions,” he says.
But Atkinson says the new models are slowly becoming more accepted in the field. “Ten years ago, responses to this work were very different. I have noticed a real shift in attitudes towards computational-modeling approaches in historical linguistics, from being just an odd sideshow to a clear focus of attention.”