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The Proto-Indo-Europeans are the postulated people who spoke the Proto-Indo-European or "PIE" language from which the Indo-European language group evolved. There have been many attempts to claim that particular prehistorical cultures can be identified with the PIE-speaking peoples, but all have been speculative. This is because there are no written records of PIE, so the only way to identify an actual people with the language is to match the archeological remains of non-literate peoples to the supposed prehistory of known languages. This depends on reconstructing the early language, and identifying concepts in it that may be associated with particular cultures (such as the use of metals, agriculture or pastoralism, geographically distinctive plants and animals, etc).

The approach is fraught with difficulties. During the nineteenth century the PIEs were typically identified with the Aryan culture of ancient Persia. Later arguments have placed them in Anatolia or the Russian Steppe. The Steppe position is the most widely accepted. It is based on the geographical spread of Indo-European languages, and on the assumption that the PIEs were among the earliest peoples to domesticate horses. The Kurgan culture of Russia is often identified with the Proto-Indo-European people. The alternative claims for Anatolia have, however, been gaining ground. These arguments identify the PIEs as neolithic agriculturalists whose language followed the spread of agriculture into Europe. Nevertheless, the evidence for a match between the PIE language and any archaeologically excavated ancient culture is flimsy.