According to Marija Gimbutas, "The Balts", in times before 1200 BC settlement area of West Balts extended as far west as the Oder River: However, 1200 BC could well be before the West Balts even emerged as a separate ethnos. Since the split of Balto-Slavs into western Balts (West Balts), Slavs and East Balts is dated 1500 - 500 BC. Therefore, those could be undifferentiated Balto-Slavs who lived at the Oder River before 1200 BC, rather than West Balts. It is not a mystery that Balto-Slavic was more similar to Baltic than to Slavic (i.e. Slavic is the result of more linguistic changes). But this is irrelevant, since Balto-Slavs are equally ancestors of Slavs as they are ancestors of Balts - even though Slavic languages evolved / changed more than Baltic. However, of course not all groups of Balto-Slavs are ancestors of Slavs. Slavic languages emerged only from one, certain part of Balto-Slavic speakers. Now question is - in which part of Barto-Slavic linguistic area did Proto-Slavic linguistic area emerge, and why? Why? Probably due to mixing with some other group or groups, which was / were not Balto-Slavic. ================================== BTW - when it comes to archaeology, among cultures which are often proposed to represent Proto-Slavs, is the Zarubintsy culture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zarubintsy_culture The Zarubintsy culture most probably emerged as a merger of a few earlier cultures. Perhaps Milograd culture (local), Pomeranian culture (immigration from the west), and maybe also the the Gubin group of the Jastorf culture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milograd_culture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomeranian_culture According to this article (in Russian), people of the Gubin group migrated to what is now Moldova, and contributed to the emergence of the Zarubintsy culture: http://www.archaeology.ru/Download/Liachin/Lyakhin_2010_K_voprosu.pdf It claims that the Gubin group of the Jastorf culture was represented by the Bastarnae (Peucini), who were a mixture of mostly Germanic-Celtic origin. =========================================== When it comes to Iranian loanwords (perhaps more ancient?) and Germanic (perhaps less ancient?): Scythians frequently attacked (and ultimately perhaps destroyed) the Bronze Age Lusatian culture. In Ukraine Scythians ultimately got conquered by Sarmatians. Sarmatians, on the other hand, probably conquered the Zarubintsy culture by the end of the 1st century AD. Later those Sarmatians (as well as the Sarmatian-influenced Zarubintsy culture) perhaps got invaded by Goths. Gothic reign could possibly be represented by the Chernyakhov culture, of which Zarubintsy people became part. Jordanes in his account claims that Slavs (as well as Balts - the Aesti) used to be under Gothic rule, but later took the upper hand: Jordanes, book XXIII, 119-120: "(119) After the slaughter of the Heruli, Hermanaric also took arms against the Venethi. This people, though despised in war, was strong in numbers and tried to resist him. But a multitude of cowards is of no avail, particularly when God permits an armed multitude to attack them. These people, as we started to say at the beginning of our account or catalogue of nations, though off-shoots from one stock, have now three names, that is, Venethi, Antes and Sclaveni. Though they now rage in war far and wide, in punishment for our sins, yet at that time they were all obedient to Hermanaric's commands. (120) This ruler also subdued by his wisdom and might the race of the Aesti, who dwell on the farthest shore of the German Ocean, and ruled all the nations of Scythia and Germany by his own prowess alone." In Latin: "(119) Post Erulorum caedem idem Ermanaricus in Venetos arma commovit; qui quamvis armis desperiti, sed numerositate pollentes, primo resistere conabantur. Sed nihil valet multitudo in bello, praesertim ubi et multitudo armata advenerit : nam hi, ut initio expositionis, vel catalogo gentium dicere coepimus, ab una stirpe exorti, tria nunc nomina reddidere, id est, Veneti, Antes, Sclavi; qui quamvis nunc, ita facientibus peccatis nostris, ubique desaeviunt; tamen tune omnes Ermanarici imperiis serviere. (120) Aestorum quoque similiter nationem, qui longissima ripa Oceani Germanici insident, idem ipse prudentiae virtute subegit, omnibusque Scythiae, et Germaniae nationibus ac si propriis laboribus imperavit." And then he describes in more details Gothic fight against one of Slavic branches - the Antes: Jordanes, book XLVIII, 247-249: "(247) He rivalled the valor of his grandfather Vultuulf, although he had not the good fortune of Hermanaric. But disliking to remain under the rule of the Huns, he withdrew a little from them and strove to show his courage by moving his forces against the country of the Antes. When he attacked them, he was beaten in the first encounter. Thereafter he did valiantly and, as a terrible example, crucified their king, named Boz, together with his sons and seventy nobles, and left their bodies hanging there to double the fear of those who had surrendered. (248) When he had ruled with such license for barely a year, Balamber, king of the Huns, would no longer endure it, but sent for Gesimund, son of Hunimund the Great. Now Gesimund, together with a great part of the Goths, remained under the rule of the Huns, being mindful of his oath of fidelity. Balamber renewed his alliance with him and led his army up against Vinitharius. After a long contest, Vinitharius prevailed in the first and in the second conflict, nor can any say how great a slaughter he made of the army of the Huns. (249) But in the third battle, when they met each other unexpectedly at the river named Erac, Balamber shot an arrow and wounded Vinitharius in the head, so that he died. Then Balamber took to himself in marriage Vadamerca, the grand-daughter of Vinitharius, and finally ruled all the people of the Goths as his peaceful subjects, but in such a way that one ruler of their own number always held the power over the Gothic race, though subject to the Huns." In Latin: "(247) Qui avi Ataulfi virtutem imitatus, quamvis Ermanarici felicitate inferior, tamen moleste ferens Hunnorum imperio subiacere, paululum se subtrahebat ab illis, suamque dum nititur ostendere virtutem, in Antarum fines movit procinctum, eosque dum aggreditur, prima congressione superatus : deinde fortiter egit, regemque eorum Box nomine cum filiis suis et LXX primatibus in exemplo terroris cruci adfixit, ut dediticiis metum cadavera pendentium geminarent. (248) Sed quum tali libertate vix anni spatio imperasset, non est passus Balamber, rex Hunnorum, sed ascito ad se Sigismundo, Hunimundi magni filio, qui iuramenti sui et fidei memor cum ampla parte Gothorum Hunnorum imperio subiacebat, renovatoque cum eo foedere, super Winitharium duxit exercitum; diuque certantibus, primo et secundo certamine Winitharius vincit. Nec valet aliquis commemorare quantam stragem de Hunnorum Winitharius fecit exercitu. (249) Tertio vero proelio subreptionis auxilio ad fluvium nomine Erac, dum uterque ad se venissent, Balamber sagitta missa caput Winitharii saucians, interemit; neptemque eius Waladamarcam sibi in coniugio copulans, iam omnem in pace Gothorum populum subactum possedit : ita tamen, ut genti Gothorum semper unus proprius regulus, quamvis Hunnorum consilio, imperaret." ============================== There is no indication in Jordanes' text on where those events were taking place. They seem to be taking place between the Baltic Sea (since the Aesti - or Balts - lived at the Baltic Sea) and Ukraine. But where did those fights of Goths against Slavs - including the Antes - take place ???