Baltic Languages as the closest living languages to Proto-Indo-European:
"The Baltic languages are said to be the closest of the living Indo-European languages to Proto-Indo-European - the original parent of all the Indo-European tongues - both phonologically and grammatically."citing to T. F. Magner and W. R. Schmalstieg, ed., Baltic Linguistics (1970) and The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2004, Columbia University Press.
Indo-Europeans in the Eastern Baltic
[The text now in brackets here is new material added in the year 2010 because the original links to the works of Ilze Loze and Raisa Denisova are no longer accessible:
According to the The History of the Baltic Countries, by Zigmantas Kiaup, Ain Mäesalu, Ago Pajur, and Gvido Straube, published in 1999 by Avita in Estonia as a European Union funded project (hereafter "HOBC")]:
The first settlers to present-day Latvia appeared in the aftermath of the receding Ice Age in the 9th millennium BCE (Paleolithic viz. Early Stone Age). One group came from the west. These were the bearers of the Madalen-Ahrensburgian Culture (e.g. this culture includes the cave painters of Lascaux). The other group came from the south. These were the bearers of the Swidrian Culture
They write that: "The first settlers in the Baltic are believed to have been the representatives of the two related Paleolithic Central European cultures, Ahrensburgian and Swidrian". (HOBC, p.17) At the time of the receding glaciers, inhabitants to the Baltic arrived from two different directions - from the West (The Magdalenian / Ahrensburgian Culture = the cave painters of Altamira, Lascaux, etc.) and from the South (The Swidrian culture). (HOBC, p.14)
The arrival of the Magdalenian culture in the Baltic coincided with the end of that culture in Western Europe. Perhaps there is a reason that French tu es "you are" is the same as Latvian tu esi "you are". There is then a significant dispute in the literature about whether these first Baltic inhabitants are then "original" at this time to the Indo-European pantheon or whether the Indo-Europeans arrived later.
The HOBC writes further that "Mesolithic graves [Middle Stone Age, 9th millennium] have yielded the remains of what is called the European race.... [so also at Zvejnieki]" (HOBC, p. 20) Except for earlier dated finds [11th - 9th millennium BC] of reindeer hunters in Lithuania and Latvia [none in Estonia], the largest Stone Age "communities" of 20-40 people in the Baltic are found "on the plain of Lubana in eastern Latvia ... [where] more than 25 Stone Age settlements have been discovered." (HOBC, p. 15)
Raisa Denisova in her online article The Most Ancient Population of Latvia discusses the whole North and Central European region in prehistoric times. It is interesting to see from this article that the most ancient human skulls found thus far in the Baltic are dated to 6300 BC and have also been found only in Latvia - not in Lithuania - in spite of erroneous contrary interpretations about ancient Baltic population centers by the uninformed mainstream linguists. These finds were made at the site of Zvejnieki on the Burtnieku Ezers (Lake of the Letterers).
Denisova writes that Latvia's most ancient inhabitants were large in size, had large oblong skulls, broad high faces and protruding noses. Similar Mesolithic populations were found 8130 - 8000 BC in the Middle Dnieper River and later also in Scandinavia. During the following Neolithic period, similar anthropological types populated the Upper Volga, the Upper Oka, and were found in the Dnieper / Donetz culture of the Ukraine. Denisova writes that "The morphological type described here is quite unique and is easily distinguished from any other type.... but in Latvia, this complex of anthropological characteristics remained characteristic in other times, too." To put it differently, this particular type appeared to be at home in the Baltic and also remained there over time. Anthropologically similar peoples also inhabited Normandy and the Middle European lowlands in the Mesolithic period. Denisova writes: "The most ancient similar morphological form was prevalent among inhabitants of France's Madlein [Magdalenian] culture." So, the Latvians appear to be the descendants of the cave painters of Lascaux and of the hunters of the German Ahrensburgian Culture (near Hamburg).
Ilze Loze has an article online about the ancient Balts which further points to the very strong Baltic connection to the Middle Dnieper rapids region in the Mesolithic Period. She writes: "The fact that the center of Neolithization moved to the Dnieper rapids region means that we must devote far more attention to the Dnieper river than has been done until now. The fact that regions of the Middle Dnieper and the Upper Dnieper were subjected to processes of Indo-europeanization has been discussed in the literature extensively, but the question remains whether the process perhaps did not occur only by way of central Europe, instead coming directly up the Dnieper river." In other words, the direction of cultural migration may be north to south and not vice-versa.]
Sudovians (Yatvingians = Latvians through L//Y shift)
... [links not accessible]
The Relation of the Finns and Ests to Baltic
in Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura
by Riho Grünthal
Livvistä liiviin. Itämerensuomalaiset etnonyymit
Abstract: THE FINNIC ETHNONYMS
A very nice discussion but lacking in accuracy due in part to reliance upon ignorant mainstream linguistic sources. I will have more to post on this article in the near future since it goes into the origin of the name, e.g. of the Finns and the Ests and we will show that there are better explanations than those presented there.