Home    Number 4, 2021

Asia or Africa? Localizing the Afroasiatic Homeland

[Aziia ili Afrika? O lokalizatsii afraziiskoi prarodiny]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150016696-5

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 01.02.2021

Accepted: 22.05.2021

About author(s)

Alexander Kozintsev | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0165-8109 | agkozintsev@gmail.com | Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences (3 University Emb., St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia)


Lexicostatistics, Afroasiatic languages, Semitic languages, Middle Egyptian, Berber languages, Chadic languages, Cushitic languages, Omotic languages, dental anthropology, archaeology, population genetics


To test the competing theories of Afroasiatic homeland, the matrix of pairwise lexical matches between 58 Afroasiatic languages based on short (50-item) wordlists from The Tower of Babel: The Global Lexicostatistical Database, compiled by G.S. Starostin, A.S. Kassian, and M.A. Zhivlov, was subjected to several multivariate analyses. Rooted and unrooted networks were constructed, and the quasi-spatial model, which had rarely been used in lexicostatistics, was applied. A gradual relaxation of requirements to classification (from a rooted to an unrooted network, and from a hierarchical to a non-hierarchical ordering) reveals a southern cluster consisting of two families – Cushitic and Omotic. Under a more stringent approach there is no such cluster because Omotic proves the earliest branch of Afroasiatic, strengthening the African homeland theory. However, a comparison with dental, archaeological, and population genetic data tilts the balance somewhat in favor of Alexander Militarev’s Natufian scenario.


Kozintsev, A.G. 2021. Asia or Africa? Localizing the Afroasiatic Homeland [Aziia ili Afrika? O lokalizatsii afraziiskoi prarodiny]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 4: 24–41. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150016696-5

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