In the Steppes of a Mesolithic Migration

The following represents just my set of theories, born out of various other theories, concerning the expansion and formation of the Indo-European Group of people’s that dominate the North Eastern ranges of Europe and the British Isles, and into the Nordic regions.

Map diagramming the expansion of Kurgan Culture
IMAGE: Wikipedia Commons

Of particular interest is the Haplo Group R1a1a. Basically, this language group and people, across thousands of years, intermingling, co-mingling and creating a definable people – with blue eye/green eyes, fair skin & hair. A people who then go on to intermingle with a dark-eyed, dark-haired people’s, as the groups traverse the Northernmost regions of Europe, along with the receding icy wall.

This theory has built itself upon the bones of other collected bits and scraps of knowledge that I’ve perused over the last couple decades.

Migration and integration are always fascinating to family historians. These patterns often make their way throughout our genealogies, as we strive to understand our foundational nature or persona – perhaps even “family meme” – these early migrations sometimes remain in ghostly form within our collective characters.

English: Levallois flake obtained by the prefe...
English: Levallois flake obtained by the preferential Levallois method. Español: Lasca Levallois obtenidoa mor el método Levallois Preferencial. Français : Éclat Levallois débité selon la méthode Levallois préférentielle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest reading journey points to a group that trekked their way across the barren tundra after the ice from the last ice age had receded, and all that remains are mounds and the Indo-European language group.

These mounds are built atop the remnants, I believe, of a culture that migrated their way across Northern Europe 20,000 years ago, after the last ice age stopped its advancement.

“Roughly 20,000 years ago the great ice sheets, that covered much of Asia, Europe, and North America stopped their creeping advance. Within a few hundred years sea levels in some places had risen by as much as 10 meters. This freshwater flood filled the North Atlantic and also shut down the ocean currents that conveyed warmer water from equatorial regions Northward.”
[ published April 25, 2012 ONLINE ]

Around 18,000 years ago or so, people have transversed this icy shelf of ice and settled in the areas of present-day France & Germany. This group then disappears, and the few stone tool remnants within that French/Germanic region are all that remain – small flint-knapping artifacts intermingled with the bones of their prey. These small caches of stone tool deposits that dot this landscape, point to a second migration up and out across to Britain.

Over time, this group had established temporary settlements around Quartz crystal quarries that litter many regions across Europe, once more ice had melted and opened up larger swaths of territory [see: Dr. Dennis Standford lectures ].

The late Mesolithic, through to the Bronze Age mounds I believe are built upon the stony ghosts of these forgotten early group of humans. Dotting a path towards the British Isles, these quarried mines were later turned over to the next wave of people’s that swamped the landscape, just after the Holocene warming period around 11,660BP.  I see these migrations representing the highly adaptable characteristics that defined this early group of Nomadic Pastoralists of these Northern climes of the Mesolithic landscape.

Later the Mediterranean and Thessalian people’s, around 11,400 years ago, migrated up in a second wave and found these stony mounds all over their new homeland. This process of adaptability and a predominant desire to mould our beliefs onto our landscapes reminds us of the skills one would have needed to survive within one of the harshest environments on earth.

These mysterious mounds were thought of as sacred, therefore, as they were the remains of stories that became creation myths – and as such holy ground, or a sanctuary. These mounds are the artifacts left behind, the knapping piles of flint surrounding quartz quarries, of these nomadic people’s of the stone.


During this epoch of ice, a people migrated across the grassy lands at the edge of that icy shelf that dominated still the Northern Hemisphere. This ridge, during the last ice age, opened up new pasture lands, and large, roaming groups of mammals ranged, and the people of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe people ranged after them, from a rock quarry to rock quarry.

They ranged across these open grasslands, and picked up straggler people’s that had been pushed up, and out from the flooding that had begun in many areas surrounding the southern seas, lakes and rivers that began to dominate the Mediterranean and Thessalian-Turkish region. At some point, this raggle-taggle group of people’s come into contact with a third, darker group of seafarers out of Africa, pushed out of THEIR regions for much the same reasons, I would imagine, flooding taking place along the North African coast.

Even still, laying within even the cuisines of the people’s they became, is the ingredients for a mighty stew, filled with all the fodder of the harvest times of fall.


This theory is born out of DNA, cultural practices, artifacts, burial practices, plus, the very remnants of their primary industry – FLINT KNAPPING.

These were a highly skilled group of toolmakers, with skills unmatched anywhere at that time in the ancient world. They were nomadic hunters, and navigators; becoming later on early pastoralists, who understood the balance between DEATH and BIRTH. They saw the landscape dotted with stony quartz stones as the bones of the earth, and caves as allusions of the womb of the earth where their tools were born – this is where they find the Mother, and through the passage, meet with the Father in his guise as the Sun.

Bringing the two together, the lovers meet up in the spring during the melting land of fertility, with fodder aplenty.

The seeding of the spring brings on the summer celebration of “ring around the rosy“…a spiral dance remaining as a ghost of these forgotten people’s remembrance of a time before. As the winds of change lashed against their icy cheeks, those swirling, twirling, shifting people’s danced their way across the seas in skin boats – from hunting grounds, on towards new lands, and more places of stone.

After the ice receded, dotting their new landscape they would have found lodged in the skin of the earth, giant rocks wedged vertically. They would have easily understood, that here lay remnants attesting to the crevices descent within the mortars of where two icy shelves met…and thus a rock gets lodged. Symbolic of both birth, and death.

I see perhaps complexes such as at MaesHowe/Skara Brae of Orkney and Stonehenge/Woodhenge area along the Avon, represent large maps passing on ancient migrations and important hunting grounds, are but now wisps of knowledge left behind by that ancient group of nomadic pastoralist people’s of so long ago.

Stonehenge itself, to my mind always looked like the skeleton of a group standing round the campfire of the setting sun at Winter Solstice, on that longest night, a group, maybe representing the ancestors, honouring the dead. The larger henge stones reminding be both of a roundhouse, and those who may be ringed round the fire made from the setting sun over the wintery horizon.

Maybe marking the ghosts of some early story about these ancient ancestors who roamed the land long, long ago.

Anyways, now quartz rock, in its various incantations, is littered throughout early areas known to have early Indo-European peoples present.

Essential constituent of granite and other fesic igneous rocks. Common in sedimentary rocks, such as SANDSTONE and SHALE + Metamorphic Rock.

This rock would be especially valuable since it is resistant to weathering, which makes it ideal for making stone hunting tools. These tools were ideal for killing large mammals and were versatile used deftly for their skinning, and then as stone markers left on the ground as sacrifices to the earth. In communication with their ancestors, across the long distances of time, a culture grew and ranged.

QUARZ – this word is of perhaps Slavic origin, though also attributed to the Saxon word QUERKUFTERTZ, meaning cross-vein ore. This stone is also found in passage tomb cemeteries’ across Europe in burial context – aligned to the rising sun at the Winter solstice, which in turn were aligned towards certain important passage points with their landscape – such as where mountain paths were traversable, or seas calmer [ see: Wikipedia ].


At the same time as this movement of Northern people’s was taking place at the end of the last ice age, so too were large drifts of wood beginning to wash up on shores, all the way up into some areas of Denmark, down the West coast of Europe, and as far south as Spain. Large caches of driftwood lining the beaches across the late winter, early spring landscape of the Mesolithic. Inspired by warmed waters of the spiralling current that began to form in the Atlantic, they were carried across large swathes of hunting grounds, as kindling for summer fires.

What started me on this path towards a greater understanding of the movements of people’s, is the simple knowledge brought about by the pigmentation of my Mothers gums. It was rare, only found in people of either African or Spanish descent. Nowhere else. I guess of special interest to many dentistry students up to University Hospital, here in London, ON.

See, I get my lousy teeth from my mother. Then I found myself off on an ancient historical hunt for the various cultures and earliest people’s that have defined both my genealogical, and psychological geology.

I see these migrations, although not always peaceful, as a simple meeting of “the other”is often fraught with danger, these people’s would have slowly drifted together, in a cultural dance of intermingled ideas, theories and daily life. A rich stew of stone tools, and navigational notions, of fodder for the fires, and where to find safe passage on a cold night. Simple, daily living was defined by long stretches of time spent huddled under dry skin hulls, in the search of their new-found quarried love of stone.

Across vast stretches of time, these hardy nomadic stone flinters, swirled their labyrinthine dance across Europe, gathering here or there the disparate groups that straggled up from the flooded Mediterranean seas. I can almost now see the origins of many stories that permeate the Northern storytelling themes.

Cycles of this and that, myths of secret mounds and lost, abandoned places and people’s out of the mists of time, could there still be tendrils of them swirling their Mesolithic dance within my blood?

Other Sources:
BBC DOCUMENTARY: Tracking The First Americans c2000
BBC DOCUMENTARY: How Art Made The World | 5 Part Series c2005

Featured Image: Wikipedia Commons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.