centers of agriculture. In some cases a single center spawned several different language families, they suggest. Presumably this could have happened if an agricultural center covered several highly diversified languages in a mosaic zone, all of whose populations were amplified by the new farming technology.

Diamond and Bellwood propose that the center of agriculture in the Near East was the source of at least two major language families. One was the Indo-European family of languages. Another was Afroasiatic, which they say spread southwest into Africa. A third could have been Dravidian which, even before Indo-European, had expanded in a southeasterly direction into India. (Dravidian is distantly related to Elamite, an ancient language spoken in southwestern Iran; the eastern branch of Indo-European presumably arrived in India later, pushing the Dravidian-speakers southward.)

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