Hugo Winckler's 1907 History of Babylon and Assyria, says something along these lines: Semitic people originated in the Arabian Peninsula. All Semitic migrations were caused by overpopulation. Syria was the only place for them to migrate to, so they always appeared here. This included Kish, Amorites, and Aramaeans. He also describes a "last phase" of migrations, continuing from the 7th century B.C. to Islam.

How wrong was he? Could all these people have come from Arabia?

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    At this point, DNA evidence for human migrations has entirely overtaken any prior theories. I'm not sure if he's right, but there's really not much point in paying attention to anything before the days of genetic analyses. Oct 28, 2017 at 2:24
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    I don't have time to dig into it, but this probably has more than enough information to answer the question. My quick skimming says "no". Oct 28, 2017 at 2:27
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    has entirely overtaken... except for the ones that were right.
    – John Dee
    Oct 28, 2017 at 2:32

1 Answer 1


This idea developed into the Winckler-Caetini Theory. It was also called the Desiccant theory. It supposed that Arabia was a fertile region as recently as neolithic times. Desertification caused these waves of emigration, Winckler says at roughly 1000 year intervals (Winckler, 1907). This would be Kish, Amorites, Aramaeans, Israelites, and Islam. The theory was kicked around until it was disproven by modern climatological models. The peninsula had become a desert by 8,000 B.C.

The newest theory is by Juris Zarins. In this, pastoral nomadism was invented by a fusion of Harifian hunter gatherers and Pre Pottery Neolithic B settlers, in the Sinai and Negev deserts. The result was a Circum Arabian Nomadic Complex, out of which came the Proto semites.

With less renown, he has done biblical scholarship which places Eden in Dilmun. In this, the Genesis is a Sumerian recollection of Hunter Gatherers from Eastern Arabia who encountered agriculture in southern Mesopotamia. The major point of this theory is the placing of the two other rivers in Genesis as the Wadi al-Rummah in Saudi Arabia, and the Gihon in Iran. The main issue with this is that the Gihon is described proximal to Aethiopia in the bible. Aethiopia was translated from Kush in the King James Bible; he says this may have been a corruption of Kassites.

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