Post image from Wikipedia: The Behistun Inscription, describing conquests of Darius the Great in Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian languages. These reliefs and texts are engraved in a cliff on Mount Behistun (present Kermanshah Province, Iran).
The Indo-Aryans were a branch of the Indo–European language family, which originated in the Kurgan culture of the Central Asian steppes. Indo-European languages originate ca. 3500 BC to the (Kurgan burial mound culture). The ‘Yamna culture’ was localized in the lands NE of the Black Sea, North of the Caucasus. The cradle of Indo-Aryan people originated between Maikop in the South to Cucteru in the NW of the Black Sea region. From here, the languages and customs spread W (beaker culture) and NW into Europe and E into the areas N of the Caspian Sea (Andronovo) ca. 2500 BC, other languages becoming identifiable. The origins of Sumerian legend can plausibly be traced to this central region.
The central Indo-European tongue remained in the Northern Caucasus area N of the Back Sea as other languages developed W and E, a development spreading W into present day Germany and N into Scandinavia (Denmark and S. Sweden) and SE into India through Sumer 2000-1500 BC. (from Bactria-Margiania, Indo-Aryan Rigvedic tribe c. 1750 BC and spread of the chariot culture 2000 – 1500 BC).
By 500 BC the Indo-European language group had occupied all of Europe in different languages and cultures, other than most of present day Sweden, Norway, Finland and N. Russia, occupying Indo-Aryan languages in N. India, Iranian languages to the Celtic languages in the W of Europe. By 500 AD the original language was limited to the lands of Armenia and Turkic in Tocharian tongues. The animated GIF image (copied from Wikipedia) shows how the culture spread.
The Rigveda is India’s oldest text, while the archaeological record has an unbroken continuity going back to about 7500 BC, and there is a rock art tradition that is even older. The setting for the hymns of the Rigveda is the area of Sapta Saindhava, the region bounded by the Sindh and Ganga rivers although lands beyond this heartland are also mentioned. The Rigveda describes the Sarasvati to be the greatest of the rivers that goes from the mountains to the sea. The archaeological record, suggesting that this river had turned dry by 1900 BC, indicates that the Rigveda was prior to this epoch.
Nasadiya Sukta (Hymn of non-Eternity, origin of universe):
There was neither non-existence nor existence then;
Neither the realm of space, nor the sky which is beyond;
What stirred? Where? In whose protection?
There was neither death nor immortality then;
No distinguishing sign of night nor of day;
That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse;
Other than that there was nothing beyond.
Darkness there was at first, by darkness hidden;
Without distinctive marks, this all was water;
That which, becoming, by the void was covered;
That One by force of heat came into being;
Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
Gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?
Whether God’s will created it, or whether He was mute;
Perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not;
Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,
Only He knows, or perhaps He does not know.
—Rigveda 10.129 (Abridged, Tr: Kramer / Christian)
You can follow Mark David on Twitter @authorMarkDavid.