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Monday, 21 November 2016

Approaching rice domestication in South Asia: New evidence from Indus settlements in northern India

J. Bates a, , , C.A. Petrie a, , R.N. Singh b,
a Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK
b Department of AIHC and Archaeology, Banaras Hindu University, India
Received 17 February 2015, Revised 11 March 2016, Accepted 15 April 2016, Available online 21 November 2016

Open Access funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council


We present new data for rice cultivation in the Indus Civilisation.

These data suggest rice domestication was linked with the east of this civilisation.

Rice domestication and cultivation need to be disentangled as issues.

Results suggest complex rice cultivation systems before c.1500 BCE.
The nature and timing of rice domestication and the development of rice cultivation in South Asia is much debated. In northern South Asia there is presently a significant gap (c.4200 years) between earliest evidence for the exploitation of wild rice (Lahuradewa c.6000 BCE) and earliest dated evidence for the utilisation of fully domesticated rice (Mahagara c.1800 BCE). The Indus Civilisation (c.3000–1500 BCE) developed and declined during the intervening period, and there has been debate about whether rice was adopted and exploited by Indus populations during this ‘gap’. This paper presents new analysis of spikelet bases and weeds collected from three Indus Civilisation settlements in north-west India, which provide insight into the way that rice was exploited. This analysis suggests that starting in the period before the Indus urban phase (Early Harappan) and continuing through the urban (Mature Harappan/Harappan), post-urban (Late Harappan) and on into the post-Indus Painted Grey Ware (PGW) period, there was a progressive increase in the proportion of domesticated-type spikelet bases and a decrease in wild-types. This pattern fits with a model of the slow development of rice exploitation from wild foraging to agriculture involving full cultivation. Importantly, the accompanying weeds show no increased proportions of wetland species during this period. Instead a mix of wetland and dryland species was identified, and although these data are preliminary, they suggest that the development of an independent rice tradition may have been intertwined with the practices of the eastern most Indus peoples. These data also suggest that when fully domesticated Oryza sativa ssp. japonica was introduced around 2000 BCE, it arrived in an area that was already familiar with domesticated rice cultivation and a range of cultivation techniques.
Rice (Oryza sativa); Indus Civilisation; South Asia; Macrobotanical analysis; Cultivation systems


See also :
Farming rice in India much older than thought, used as a ‘summer crop’ by the Indus Civilisation

Bloggers note : Well its out finally ;) . More fascinating researches are also coming on related subjects soon!.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

High spatial dynamics-photoluminescence imaging reveals the metallurgy of the earliest lost-wax cast object

M. Thoury, B. Mille, T. Séverin-Fabiani, L. Robbiola, M. Réfrégiers, J-F Jarrige & L. Bertrand

Photoluminescence spectroscopy is a key method to monitor defects in semiconductors from nanophotonics to solar cell systems. Paradoxically, its great sensitivity to small variations of local environment becomes a handicap for heterogeneous systems, such as are encountered in environmental, medical, ancient materials sciences and engineering. Here we demonstrate that a novel full-field photoluminescence imaging approach allows accessing the spatial distribution of crystal defect fluctuations at the crystallite level across centimetre-wide fields of view. This capacity is illustrated in archaeology and material sciences. The coexistence of two hitherto indistinguishable non-stoichiometric cuprous oxide phases is revealed in a 6,000-year-old amulet from Mehrgarh (Baluchistan, Pakistan), identified as the oldest known artefact made by lost-wax casting and providing a better understanding of this fundamental invention. Low-concentration crystal defect fluctuations are readily mapped within ZnO nanowires. High spatial dynamics-photoluminescence imaging holds great promise for the characterization of bulk heterogeneous systems across multiple disciplines.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Begotten of Corruption? Bioarchaeology and “othering ”of leprosy in South Asia

Gwen Robbins Schug

Associate professor of anthropology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA

Leprosy is strongly stigmatized in South Asia, being regarded as a manifestation of extreme levels of spiritual pollu-tion going back through one or more incarnations of the self. Stigma has significant social consequences, including sur-veillance, exclusion, discipline, control, and punishment; biologically speaking, internalized stigma also compounds the disfigurement and disability resulting from this disease. Stigma results from an othering process whereby difference is recognized, meaning is constituted, and eventually, sufferers may be negatively signified and marked for exclusion. This paper traces the history of leprosys stigmatization in South Asia, using archaeology and an exegesis of  Vedic texts to ex-amine the meaning of this disease from its apparent zero-point — when it first appears but before it was differentiated and signified — in the mature Indus Age. Results suggest that early in the second millennium BCE, leprosy was perceived as treatable and efforts were apparently made to mitigate its impact on the journey to the after world. Ignominy to the point of exclusion does not emerge until the first millennium BCE. This paper uses archaeology to create an effective history of stigma for leprosy, destabilizing what is true about this disease and its sufferers in South Asia today.

See also :
The Center Cannot Hold: A Bioarchaeological Perspective on Environmental Crisis in the Second Millennium BCE , South Asia

Monday, 29 August 2016

Depression, Anxiety, Stress and Spirituality in Yoga Practitioners

Nandeesh Y. D1 *, Deepa Kulkarni 2, Shanmukh V. Kamble 3

The aim of the present study was to focus on the relationship of Spirituality with Depression,Anxiety and Stress of Yoga practitioners. The sample of 40 male and 40 female yoga practitioners from Hubli-Dharwad constituted the sample for study. The DASS and FACIT Spirituality scales were administered. The results revealed a Significant relationship existing between Spirituality and Depression (r=-.54; P<.01), Spirituality and Anxiety ( r=-.28; P<.01) Spirituality and Stress ( r=-57;P<.01). Further Regression analysis revealed the significant contribution of factors like reading journal monthly, marital status and income to Anxiety, journal reading, Marital status, visiting websites of Yoga and income significantly contributed to Depression and finally reading journal, income contributed to Stress of Male and Female Yoga practitioner. The social implications of findings are discussed.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Blogging on Bloggers 2 : The Vedic rituals, their innovative nature and contribution to the early knowledge by throneoftruth

 The throne of truth  is a very good website . It has many good and informative articles , this is one of them :
There are many allegations against the ancient Vedic rituals or yajnas, that they are useless and contain rather primitive contents such as animal sacrifices, obscene fertility rites etc.
Animal sacrifices, fertility rites etc were not unique to the ancient Vedic culture. We could see them in many parts of the ancient world. Before the civilizations evolved, all of humanity lived as primitive hunter gatherers who hunted animals for food and other needs. Vedic rituals dating back to the bronze age and having it’s roots in further antiquity would obviously contain elements which would be considered primitive or trangressive according to modern notions.
For example Ashavmedha or horse sacrifice involved the chief queen copulating (or at least mimicking the copulation) with the sacrificed horse and Purushamedha or human sacrifice would have also originally involved similar rite, with horse replaced by human victim. Few variations of another ritual named Gosava grants sacrificer the right to answer nature’s call anywhere he wishes and also cohabit with any women including his own mother, sister and women from his own clan, which is otherwise strictly forbidden according to Vedic laws.
These may sound bizarre, but if we look at the details of the rituals, it becomes clear that some aspects of these rituals are quite complicated to perform.
For example in Ashvamedha, the horse is sacrificed only after it is safely returned from all the neighboring kingdoms where it roamed for an year representing the king. If any of the neighboring kingdoms capture the horse, then it is a sign of war. But if the horse returned safely from the neighboring kingdoms, then it would mean that the neighboring kingdoms accepted the supremacy of the king represented by the horse. Thus the ritual could only be conducted by powerful kings. After the horse is returned safely to the hosting kingdom, it is offered to deities. It is said that along with horse, many other animals are also offered in the sacrifice. These animals are enumerated in texts like Vajasaneyi Samhita book 24 of Shukla or White Yajur Veda and Taittiriya Samhita 5.5.11-24 of Krshna or Black Yajur Veda. If we look at the animals in the list, we can see that the it includes tiny ones like flies, bees, worms etc to bigger ones like rhinoceroses, tigers, lions, crocodiles, elephants etc! Though the wild animals in the list are to be released later, all of the victims in the list must be tied to the sacrificial posts or Yupa. This huge list of animals are of course next to impossible to be used in rituals.
In similar lines, Purushamedha also follows same theme with horse replaced by human victim. It also has a list of several other victims who are to be tied in sacrificial posts. These victims are not animals as in Ashvamedha, but humans of various castes, tribes, professions, characteristics etc as numerated in Vajasaneyi Samhita book 30. This large list of victims also appears to be impossible to gather just like the Ashvamedha list, and making Purushamedha an extremely complex rite as well. Texts like Satapatha Brahmana already treats Purushamedha as symbolic sacrifice and even certain hymns of Rig Veda like 5.2.7, 1.24.13 etc echoes the tale of Shunashepa or the boy who was chosen as victim of human sacrifice and was later released by the blessings of deities. This story could be viewed as abandonment of human sacrifice in general. But the human sacrifices continued to exist in post Vedic times, though they were extremely rare.
A ritual named Agnichayana or Athiratra also involved burying the heads of several animals and also a human head on the ground before building the fire altar, which was later replaced with replica heads.
In Gosava ritual, the sacrificer must behave like a bovine by kneeling down to eat and drink, graze on grass etc just like bovines. Though this is just one version of Gosava found in texts like Jaiminiya Brahmana 2.113, while other versions found in texts like Panchavimsha Brahmana 19.13 do not mention any transgressive acts. It is possible that the transgressive version is a modification of simpler version or vice versa. It is also said in Jaiminiya Brahmana that the king Janaka refused to perform the transgressive rite and another king Punyakesha after halting the performance of the rite declared the performance of rite as being limited to old men. The trick here was to limit the performance of this transgressive rite as much as possible, since old men won’t have much potency to perform this extremely complicated rite.
Thus these complicated ritual performances would have been extremely rare and would most likely had modifications and or symbolic performances. The ritual interpretations also varied from one Vedic text to another as mentioned above, so this indicates that the different authors modified and interpreted the rituals.
Vedic rituals are open for modifications and exceptions according to circumstances . For example when Vedic culture expanded from its heartland in north-west India into other regions, the original sacred Soma plant used in rituals was replaced with other plants due to unavailability of the original Soma in new regions where the Vedic culture expanded.
Also according to the tradition, the Vedic rituals are only to be conducted in the lands where krshna mrga or blackbucks live as stated in texts like Manu Smriti 2.23. But when Vedic culture historically expanded beyond India into new regions like south-east Asia, the Vedic rituals were also conducted in these regions. Blackbucks do not live in regions like south-east Asia and they are mostly found in India (though they are facing extinction today). Clearly, here the ritualists made exceptions to the rule which is applied in mainland India or Bharatavarsha and performed Vedic rituals in other regions like south-east Asia
In later periods, the animal sacrifices which are part of many Vedic rituals were also substituted by offerings of grain cakes or purodasha. Shatapatha Brahmana narrates a story of how sacrificial essence from humans and animals finally got into grains. Shatapatha Brahmana also states that it is as an animal sacrifice the cake is offered, and Shatapatha Brahmana also associates different characteristics of the cake with that of different parts of animals. Further Taittiriya Brahmana explicitly states that the rice cakes are substitutes of animal victims and Taittiriya Brahmana also associates the cake with the sacrificer himself, hinting at the notion of self sacrifice or the sacrificer offering himself up as the animal victims represented by the cakes.
It is important to note that the method of sacrificing actual animal was also quite sophisticated.
Most of the time It involved suffocating or smothering the victim rather than butchering it as stated in Shatapatha Brahmana Before the victim is sacrificed, the ritualists symbolically asks permission from the victim’s family to sacrifice the victim and makes the victim sacrificially pure as narrated in Shatapatha Brahmana,  Taittiriya Brahmana etc. The language used in ritual is also quite toned down, and the victim is stated to be quieted or passed away instead of being killed. While the victim is being sacrificed, the priests would not look at the process either. The sacrificing is done by an assistant called Shamitar.
Also narrated in Shatapatha Brahmana, that the sacrifice was not considered as killing at all, since the sacrifice which is a divine act could not be equated with death. After the sacrifice, the sacrificed victim would also be symbolically cleansed and revived as said in Shatapatha Brahmana
Thus we see elements of non violence in animal sacrifices, which later led to substitution of animals with cake and other vegetarian offerings. Hence we do not need to view Ahimsa or non violence and vegetarianism as a post Vedic Buddhist or Jain influence, it was a gradual development which happened within the Vedic tradition during later Vedic period. However, many ritualists would have still utilized actual animals in the rituals, while the ones who preferred non violent rituals would have used the substitute offerings.
To sum up, we see an innovation or evolution of practices in the Vedic rituals and modifications or exceptions can be made in the Vedic rituals according to circumstances, but without altering the core performance itself.
Also no matter how primitive may the Vedic rituals may sound, the rituals does have an internal meaning. For example Ashvamedha revolves the sacred horse, who is praised in Rig Veda 1.161-162. This divine horse symbolizes the fertile and ruling power or kshatra and represents the Sun. The queen would embrace the divine horse unto herself as part of the sacrifice and it is clear from texts like Shatapatha Brahmana that this union has a cosmological background since the copulation is said to took place in heaven.
If Ashvamedha revolves about divine horse, then Purushamedha revolves around Purusha Narayana of Purusha Sukta from Rig Veda 10.90. Purusha Narayana represents the whole universe personified and the human victim used in the ritual symbolizes this Purusha.
As for the transgressive rites seen in certain versions of Gosava, these rites technically represents the notion of transcending human limitations, by living like an animal and having total freedom and liberation just like in heaven.
Thus even the so called primitive practices seems to have an internal meaning.
Also in the Vedic sense, the place where the ritual is conducted is viewed as a divine space, for example Rig Veda 1.164.5 states the ritual is the center of the whole world. Whatever done in this divine space which are guided by the Vedic Mantras would be considered as divine, including the so called transgressive acts.
Another thing is that the transgressive practices continued to exist even in post Vedic era when Tantric or Agamic (i.e temple and idol based ) mode of worship evolved. Some of the heterodox Tantric sects practicing the transgressive rites exist even today.
It is also important to note that many of the mainstream orthodox Tantric-Agamic practices are also derived from Vedic ritual practices. For example the pradakshina or parikrama, the circumambulation of temples can be compared to the practice mentioned in Shatapatha Brahmana where the ritualist has to circumambulate the fire altar used in Vedic rituals.
The practice of homa or havana, the offerings made in fire altar which is done in many temples are also obviously derived from ancient Vedic fire rituals. Another practice mentioned in Shatapatha Brahmana in which an object is purified using fire can also be compared with later ritual of Arathi.
So many of the later Tantric-Agamic practices which are still practiced widely can also be traced back to ancient Vedic practices.
Apart from this, the ancient Vedic rituals contributed to many of the early knowledge. The calculation and measurement of bricks to build the fire altars of different shapes gave rise to the ancient geometry and mathematics, the observation of stars and seasons to conduct rituals gave rise to astronomy, the speculations surrounding the sacrificial myths, goals, fruits of sacrifices etc gave rise to ancient philosophy, the strict emphasize on the use of Mantras and chanting in Vedic rituals must have given rise to the early linguistic thoughts, the acts, dialogues, dance, music etc which are part of many rituals like Ashvamedha, Mahavrata etc would have contributed to the growth of early theatrical and artistic tradition, the anatomy of sacrificial victims would have contributed to early medicinal tradition and so on.
So before calling rituals as useless or primitive, one must remember about contribution of rituals to the civilization. These ancient rituals are part of our civilization and they must be practiced to express or celebrate the ancient culture and heritage of our civilization.

Symbols of Dilmun's royal house – a primitive system of communication adopted from the late Indus world?

 Steffen Terp Laursen

 Version of Record online: 22 APR 2016

DOI: 10.1111/aae.12067

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons A/S

This article presents evidence of a system of symbolic markings, which developed in Dilmun between c.1950 and 1500 BC. The symbols predominantly appear on pottery, tokens and seals and may originally have been inspired by similar systems in the post-Indus script period of the Harappan culture. There was a development over time from single symbols on pottery and tokens to more complex sequences on seals that ultimately formed irregular logograms. The system was developed as a means of communication in an illiterate society. Based on the shape of the symbols and related evidence it is argued that they all represent variations on the theme of palm branches, palm trees and altars and that they are connected to the cult of Inzak. From the contexts in which the symbols appear it is demonstrated that the symbols were exclusive to Dilmun's royal house and temple institutions.

See also :
New Indus Finds in Salut, Oman
The Sindhu Civilization Effect: Oman and Bahrain

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

King . Some Observations on an East-West Archaism (Draft)

Michael Weiss
Department of Linguistics, Cornell University

The word for king in Inner-Indo-European *h3rḗĝs was originally
a verbal abstract ‘rule’, reinterpreted as a personal
noun specifically in a “formula of ruling” which finds direct
reflexes in Vedic and Old Irish. The n-stem word for king is
an internal derivative of a delocutive neuter n-stem *h3rēĝ-én
‘in the rule’ (Ved. rājáni). The relationship between the masculine
*h3rḗĝs and the feminine *h3rḗĝnih2 derived from the nstem
was the basis for the creation of the feminine suffix
*-nih2 and thus wherever we have evidence for this morpheme
we must suppose that the pair *h3rḗĝs : *h3rḗĝnih2
once existed.1
 4. Conclusions and Inferences
Finally in this case we can be sure that the intermediate languages
that no longer have this king word, and indeed the whole morphological
complex I have reconstructed. For it is only the pair *h3rḗĝ-s
‘king’ : *h3rḗĝ-nih2 ‘queen’ that provides the model for the additive
feminine *-nih2 seen in Gk. πότνια, OLith. viešpatni, Alb. zonjë ‘lady’
~ zot ‘lord’, Goth. Saurini ‘Syrian-ess’ ~ Saur ‘Syrian’, OCS bogyńi
‘goddess’ ~ bogŭ ‘god’.
7 I know of no evidence for this suffix in
Armenian, but it must have lost it.
On the other hand, TB e-petsa*, obl. sg. e-petso “fiancée”
identified by Pinault 2009:307, which must be at least ProtoTocharian
because it formed the basis for the remodeling of the
masculine in TA pats, could well be an archaism. In order to explain
-petsa* as a innovation one would have to take the form as
remodeled on the masculine, but the markedness relationships
seem to go the other way, at least in the reconstructable history of
In this case we can on the basis of a consideration of the
formal, formulaic, and semantic issues construct a case for a true
East-West archaism that must have been present in the other Inner
IE languages and has only been preserved at the edges of IE world.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Polycephalic Indo-European deities and the famous Pashupati seal

This is small post regarding an important feature of IE deities , Polycephaly  . From a discussion with some friends , I became aware of this interesting topic . It is also worth noting that multi-headed deities with human shape appear only in IE cultures ( E.g. Greek, Roman, Slavic), see here  . In Indian tradition, there are also various examples. One of the well known one is Pashupati . He has five faces, but one is invisible. Also as a friend points, Shiva in Elephanta for instance has three faces, this 'device' was applied often in Indian art and myths  to plastically show different aspects in one deity. But it is indeed  remarkable that it was already present in Harappan art , the famous Pashupati seal . Here an artificial attempt to complete the seal . I found it here .

In Vedas there is Trisiras, three headed son of Tvashtar and Prajapati or ''Proto -Brahma'' also had multiple heads. In a related Facebook post by Baltic Crusades ,we read :
 A key feature of the Indo-European mythology is the Polycephaly, which exists also among the various Slavic peoples.
A ninth century grey limestone sculpture is known as a balwan, an ancient monolith depicting a polycephalic deity. It has been dubbed the Zbruch Idol, or Światowid ze Zbrucza , translated literally as “Worldseer.”
Like the god Svantevit/Svetovid or Triglav, whose idol was represented with four heads suggesting the four cardinal directions and could read the future, so was the god Janus in the Roman mythology, and Typhon and Hecate in the Greek one, Brahma in Hinduism, or the giant Þrúðgelmir in the Scandinavian mythology.
So , this key feature is present in Indian tradition , from the times of Sindhu-Sarasvati Civilization .

UPDATE 24.07.2016 :
We can add the Celtic deity Lugus in the same category . He is depicted as tricephalic. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Lothal Terracotta Dice and Game Board

Lothal Terracotta Dice and Game Board. "Much valuable information about the various indoor games indulged in by the Harappans is available from the gamesmen, game-boards and dices found at the major Indus cities. A game involving the use of dice was very popular in the Harappan and later times, especially in the time of the Mahabharata war. The Pandava prince is said to have lost everything including his kingdom in a game of dice. An ealrier reference to the games is contained in the Rdveda whcih mentions the use of Vibhitika wood for making dice. Lothal has yielded a cubical terracotta dice marked 1 opposite 2, 3 opposite 4, and 5 opposite 6 (Pl. XXXIII C [1]), but normally the Harappan dices are found marked 1 opposite 6, 2 opposite 5, and 3 opposite 4 so as to make the sum of the opposite numbers equal to seven. Although no wooden game-board has been found in the excavation, the brick from Mohenjp-daro makred with squares is presumed to be a model of game-boards. Lothal has also yielded two models, one made of pottery and the other a brick tablet (Pl. XXXII D [2])." S.R. Rao, Lothal, p. 112,…/lothal-and-indus-civilization


See also :
Blogging on Bloggers: some brilliant posts from Sanscrito e civiltà dell'India the Italian Indology blog by Giacomo Benedetti.
An early Prototype of Chess board discovered in Lothal(Gujarat) of erstwhile Indus Valley Civilization(Period 1, c .2300 BCE)

Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Center Cannot Hold: A Bioarchaeological Perspective on Environmental Crisis in the Second Millennium BCE , South Asia

 Gwen Robbins Schug and Kelly Elaine Blevins

Crisis studies are currently on the rise because of angst over climate change and recent global warming; popular media capitalize on this increased interest by focusing on grand narratives of collapse and celebrating pre‐reflexive engagements with reality (e.g., Diamond, 2011). Legends of prehistoric collapse perpetuate myths about “human nature” in the face of crisis and they are particularly problematic when they do not account for the c omplexity of human experience or the contingent reality of decision making.  Archaeology—the discipline principally concerned with human diversity and environ-mental interactions in the past—is uniquely positioned to destabilize these myths and simplistic reconstructions of the past (e.g., McAnany and Yoffee, 2010). Human responses to crisis derive from particular historical, sociocultural circumstances; the concept of resil-ience is not actually distinct from the concept of collapse. This chapter considers the expe-rience of crisis and resilience in two different contexts in South Asian prehistory—the urban to post‐urban transition at Harappa and the rural, agrarian villages of the Jorwe phase of west central India (Map 3). This chapter is part of a long‐term project to examine human–environmental interactions in South Asian prehistory and to understand the long‐term  biocultural consequences of different short‐term strategies for coping with environmental and climate change.


See also :
The Chronology of Puranic Kings and Rigvedic Rishis in Comparison with the Phases of the Sindhu–Sarasvati Civilization
Oxygen isotope in archaeological bioapatites from India: Implications to climate change and decline of Bronze Age Harappan civilization

Agriculture In India: Traversing Through Ancient Indian Literature

Dr. Ajesh TV
Agriculture is a system of life in which humans, plants and animals are interwoven. It has been playing a major role in the economy of India since the pre-Neolithic times. It was considered as an honourable profession and man took this as the principal means of livelihood. The earliest evidence as regards to agriculture comes from Mehrgarh (8000 BCE onward) in the North West and from sites in the Deccan, central India, Kashmir and the northwest [1]. ‘The process of domestication of plants and cereals would have taken a long time. Evidences of cereals can be traced at Mehrgarh and in the Vindhyas in 6,000 BCE. Wild varieties of rice have been found in the Vindhyan region in a Mesolithic context at Chopanimando in Meja Tehsil of Allahabad.’ [2] In later times, the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro proved that there did exit a good system of agriculture [3]. The fabric of Indus agriculture rested undoubtedly on plough cultivation [4] The discovery of the furrows of a ‘ploughed field’ at Kalibangan and the plough explains the really large extend of Indus agriculture, covering the North-West plains and extending into Gujarat [5]. The granaries at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the stack of storage jars at Kalibangan etc. suggest that the people were producing surplus [6] grains [7]. From the early historical period onward, texts and inscriptions in Sanskrit, Pāli, Prakrit and Tamil literature provide occasional descriptions of agricultural practices. Probably all castes and communities of Indian society, rich and poor, male and female were engaged in agricultural activities. They were commonly known as farmers and do not constitute a homogeneous group.
The Vedic literature gives plentiful evidence to agriculture. In Ṛgveda [8] there is abundance of data with regard to agriculture. Agriculture was the significant characteristic of the Ārya community and it was counted as a distinguishing mark of the ‘civilized’ from the ‘barbarians’. It was not confined to the lowest strata of population, but had been the occupation of a class of men who were held an important position in the society [9] According to Ṛgveda, cultivated fields are called kṣētra [10] and fertile ones urvara [11] which might indicate alluvial lands as well. Another term used in connection with agriculture is sītā. The term kṛṣṭi in Ṛgveda which denotes people in general, appear to imply that they were by and large agriculturists [12]. It refers to the preservation of seeds which indicates that agriculture was a regular occupation from year to year (5.53.13). ............


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

New Indus Finds in Salut, Oman

 June 26th, 2016
Exciting new discoveries through 2015 at Salut tower in Oman show how extensive Indus trade and relationships with this area were during the Bronze Age (2500-2000 BCE). The article Bronze Age Salūt (ST1) and the Indus Civilization: recent discoveries and new insights on regional interaction by Denys Frenez, Michele Degli Esposti, Sophie Méry and Jonathan Mark Kenoyer describes and explains the finds in detail. These include include children's toys like a bird whistle, a seal made of chlorite, numerous pottery fragments of types common in places like Harappa, and much else that suggests that Indus traders were active and settled well inside the Omani coast. These recent excavations are led by the Italian Mission to Oman in collaboration with the Office of the Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan for Cultural Affairs.
"This evidence provides support for similar discoveries from excavations of towers and graves in Bāt, and suggests that the interaction between Indus communities and the Omani interior was much more extensive than previously thought," write the authors. Ancient Oman, during what is referred to as the Um al Nair period, is called "Magan" in ancient Mesopotamian texts, was known as a source of copper. The work described in the article below is yet another piece of evidence pointing to the extensive trade that must have once existed among the handful of sophisticated Bronze Age civilizations in the area, supporting wealth generation as well as a the flow of ideologies, beliefs and cultural practices.
Article: Bronze Age Salūt (ST1) and the Indus Civilization: recent discoveries and new insights on regional interactionWbesite: The Salut Museum/Universita di Pisa website

1. Salut archaeological site, Oman.
2. Seal impressed fragment, likely belonging to an Harappan ledge shouldered jar, the impression showing two confronting bulls and some Harappan script (l 3.6 cm, w. 5.5 cm, th. 0.7 cm).
3. This stone square stamp seal is probably the best example of an Indus-inspired seal found so far in Oman.
4. Among the luxury imported objects discovered in Ras al-Jinz, along the Omani coast, there is this beautiful comb made of elephant ivory. As well as pots, beads and a copper stamp seal, the comb comes from Harappa, one of the main sites of the Indus civilization.
5. Fragment, from Salut, can be identified as a hollow clay “toy” in the shape of a bird: this kind of artifact is well known from Harappan sites (l. 8.5 cm, w. 7 cm, h. 5.5 cm).

The researches are available here.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Exploring Indus crop processing: combining phytolith and macrobotanical analyses to consider the organisation of agriculture in northwest India c. 3200–1500 BC

Jennifer Bates1 • Ravindra Nath Singh2 • Cameron A. Petrie1


This paper presents a preliminary study combining
macrobotanical and phytolith analyses to explore
crop processing at archaeological sites in Haryana and
Rajasthan, northwest India. Current understanding of the
agricultural strategies in use by populations associated with
South Asia’s Indus Civilisation (3200–1900 BC) has been
derived from a small number of systematic macrobotanical
studies focusing on a small number of sites, with little use
of multi-proxy analysis. In this study both phytolith and
macrobotanical analyses are used to explore the organisation
of crop processing at five small Indus settlements with
a view to understanding the impact of urban development
and decline on village agriculture. The differing preservation
potential of the two proxies has allowed for greater
insights into the different stages of processing represented
at these sites: with macrobotanical remains allowing for
more species-level specific analysis, though due to poor
chaff presentation the early stages of processing were
missed; however these early stages of processing were
evident in the less highly resolved but better preserved
phytolith remains. The combined analyses suggests that
crop processing aims and organisation differed according 
to the season of cereal growth, contrary to current models
of Indus Civilisation labour organisation that suggest
change over time. The study shows that the agricultural
strategies of these frequently overlooked smaller sites
question the simplistic models that have traditionally been
assumed for the time period, and that both multi-proxy
analysis and rural settlements are deserving of further
Keywords Indus Civilisation  Crop processing
Phytoliths  Plant macro-remains  South Asia  Bronze Age


See also :
Oxygen isotope in archaeological bioapatites from India: Implications to climate change and decline of Bronze Age Harappan civilization

Friday, 27 May 2016

Buddhist Influence on Ka'ba

There are many theories regarding the original cultural background of Muhammad . Recently, I read this  post . Though, I don't support his ideas on Indian History, he makes some good posts in his website. But my aim in this post, is not to focus on Muhammad but on the Ka'ba , the holiest place in Islam. Now, coming to the point , I was reading the book Buddhism in Iran: An Anthropological Approach to Traces and Influences by Mostafa Vaziri. I have to say, that the book is a gem , it unearths many of the Buddhist traits hidden in the cultural sphere of Iran and neighboring nations!. But much to my surprise, in Chapter 6 of the book ,titled  Nawbaha¯r and Stu¯pa-
Like Islamic Shrines from p.94 to p.95, we read :

Various accounts also claim that the paintings on the walls of the Ka‘ba portraying the prophets included Abraham with the portrait of his son, Ismā‘il, facing him on a horse, as well as the portrait of Jesus with his mother Mary; apparently they were well preserved until the Ka‘ba was destroyed in a civil war. 27 Other celestial (or holy) characters were said to have been depicted in the Ka‘ba’s artwork. 28 It seems far-fetched that the pre-Islamic paintings of the Ka‘ba, a shrine whose patrons before the Prophet of Islam were neither Christian nor Jewish, would have contained paintings of biblical characters. The nature of these paintings may have been the remainder of pre-Islamic Hindu-Buddhist art work, if any. The task of giving Islamic identities to these un-tagged or “unknown” paintings and portraits in the Ka‘ba was presumably the work of the Muslim authors. It can be only speculated that the paintings were still preserved after the Ka‘ba was Islamized because the pictorial prohibition in Islam seemed to be imposed based on hadīth transmission only much later.
Further indication to the potential presence of the Buddhists in Arabia is that the thirteenth-century Rashīd al-Dīn Faḍlallāh, in his Jāmi’ al-Tawārīkh, asserts that in pre-Islamic times, the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina and certain Arabs and Persians were adherents of the Buddha Shakyamunī and that statues of the Buddha were kept in the Ka‘ba. 29 This assertion by Rashīd al-Dīn may possibly corroborate with a miniature of the thirteenth century showing the Prophet at Ka‘ba destroying two statues seemingly to be the seated Buddha in a meditational position and one statue of Hanuman (a Hindu deity with the head of a monkey). 30 Other characteristics of the pre-Islamic Arabs that Shahrastānī describes may further corroborate with the Indian beliefs. It is said that before the advent of Islam, the Arabs believed in reincarnation and had rejected the concepts of revelation and prophecy, 31 all of which also correspond with the Buddhist belief.
Moreover, Mas‘udī in his discussion of the Buddha (Budāsef) refers to the Buddha’s followers as communities of idol worshippers whose temples included the Ka‘ba ( bayt al-harām ). 32 He also describes the Quraysh tribe of Mecca as having two gold-plated deer statues, one to be placed at the entrance of the Ka‘ba andthe other to be kept inside. 33 During the flood in Mecca that destroyed the Ka‘ba, one of these golden deer went missing, and the Quraysh tribe therefore decided to remove the other deer. 34 The deer, as discussed in the previous chapter, is a typically Buddhist symbol. In a significant parallel, the statues of two golden deer on either side of the iconic Wheel of Dharma are placed at the entrance gates of Buddhist vihāras to this day.

How could Buddhism have reached Mecca? The sea journeys of Indians to
Yemen, Arabia, and Egypt are somewhat documented. In pre-Islamic times, Mecca was a tolerant polytheistic society as well as a trade center, lying near the Red Sea via the Spice Route and attracting traders and missionaries of different backgrounds via land and sea. The Meccan sanctuary was not only a place for an annual pilgrimage in pre-Islamic times, where no bloodshed was permitted, but was also a place wheremerchants from different lands, including India, would hold a common market fairfor the pilgrims. 35 According to another Islamic tradition, the Brahmans of India traveled to Mecca for worship and paying homage to the idols in pre-Islamic times. 36
Nāsir Khosrau of the eleventh century refers to seeing Indians of Yemen with their particular type of hair dress, beard, and cloth ( lungī ) wrapped around their waist come to Mecca. 37 We can only presume that these Indians who continued coming to Mecca for trade, interestingly, without prohibition may have been a mixture of Hindus and Buddhists, but in medieval times both communities were casually known as Hindus (referring to Indians). Other historical references do point to the link between India and Arabia. The Indian settlements in Arabia, Yemen, Babylonia, and Egypt during the peak of commercial trade are recognized in historical writings. 38 Indians are even believed to have settled in Mecca and Medina, explaining the presence of several Sanskrit words and names of Indian spices in the
Arabic language (e.g., ‘ambar ,mushk ,zenjabil, and kāfur ).39

Given these indications and assertions by certain chroniclers, we can only guess that the Ka‘ba may have possibly been another Buddhist vihāra before Islam. Consider the acts required of Muslim pilgrims on hajj even today that include, in contrast to the Buddhist, anticlockwise circumambulation ( tawāf ) of the Ka‘ba and prostration. In addition, hajj pilgrims are required to shave their head and wear monastic robes (sleeveless and unsewn clothes) and must forbear wearing closed-toe shoes, cutting branches of trees, killing prey, and having sexual intercourse. These injunctions strongly match the rituals of the Buddhist monastic tradition. 40 Yet in the Muslim tradition, these norms are described as temporary states of purity that are performed in the Ka‘ba by the pilgrims and are considered as a substitute for the purity of the Garden of Eden, and circumambulating is explained as being associated with Adam’s sin. 41 Despite these explanations on behalf of Islamic tradition, their similarity to Buddhist rituals is rather remarkable.However,it seems no historical memory remains of Buddhist connections with relation to Mecca.

I believe this was right under our nose . The Idea that Ka'ba is a Shiva Temple, is of course lunatic, propagated by Hindu Nationalist buffoons .But it seems, that there is,an indirect relation with Indic and Buddhist influences.We perhaps can also put the presence of Z-93 in Arabia into this context!.

Also Buddhist presence on the south coast of Arabia (Yemen, Socotra island), is not excluded, a friend of mine , met once a French archaeologist there, who told of ''ruins apparently of a Buddhist vihara with stupas in Yemen''. Also recently, there were Indian temples in Aden , also see here .We do know that, even  from the times of SSVC , there were robust trade relations with those parts of the world.

Goa: Dholavira site has first evidence of tsunami-protection wall in the world, say scientists

The discovery made by a group of Marine Archaeologist of NIO in February this year was based on a scientific probe and preliminary excavation 

Donapaula Published:May 25, 2016, 22:49
Scientific dating of ‘Fortified-walls’ around the Dholavira archaeology site in Kutch, Gujarat dates back to over 6000 years claim scientists from CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography. According to them, earlier misunderstood for reinforced forts to protect the port-town from enemy invasion, was in reality meant to protect the city from tsunami. The discovery, made by a group of Marine Archaeologist of NIO in February this year, was based on a scientific probe and preliminary excavation. Wall measuring thickness about 15-18 metres surrounded Dholavira, which the initial team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) led by R.S. Bisht concluded that the fortified structure was either protection wall or a reservoir, but it could be scientifically explained. 


“It was only recently when we tried to probe using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and basic excavation that realised we discovered that it was far more broader for a enemy retaliation and did not show signs of reservoir,” Dr. Rajiv Nigam, Consultant and former Head of Marine Archaeology Unit said.

According to Nigam, study of Oceanography showed that Makkran coast that was close to Bhuj was a highly tsunami prone area and their research study indicated that the earliest recorded tsunami in the region was about 8000 years old. “So when the Dholavira was raised, the builders who had knowledge about the former catastrophe wanted to secured the walls from Tsunami and storm. The model of the wall is similar to that of 400 kilometre ‘sea-wall’ that Japan is said to have started last year, of course given the use of concrete material these days the width of the sea-wall, we have learnt is 12 metres, but the idea is the same. It means our ancestors were aware of Tsunami and succeeded in creating a defence to it,” he said. For the third-leg of the probe, the NIO team says it has already received the approval from the Archaeological Survey of India for further exploration at Dholavira. However the ambitious ‘discovery’ project has hit a dead-end due to impending financial impetus from Gujarat Council of Science and Technology. “It has been over nine-months since we sent the proposal to Gujarat Council of Science and Technology, but we have not received any update from them. It’s disappointing as we could have fastracked the discovery and probed if the ancient indigenous ‘Tsunami-wall’ was capable in deterring the catastrophe in modern times, since till date no reliable warning system has been found for the deadly ‘seismic sea wave’,” said the NIO team.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Oxygen isotope in archaeological bioapatites from India: Implications to climate change and decline of Bronze Age Harappan civilization

 Anindya Sarkar, Arati Deshpande Mukherjee, M. K. Bera, B. Das, Navin Juyal, P. Morthekai, R. D. Deshpande, V. S. Shinde & L. S. Rao
The antiquity and decline of the Bronze Age Harappan civilization in the Indus-Ghaggar-Hakra river valleys is an enigma in archaeology. Weakening of the monsoon after ~5 ka BP (and droughts throughout the Asia) is a strong contender for the Harappan collapse, although controversy exists about the synchroneity of climate change and collapse of civilization. One reason for this controversy is lack of a continuous record of cultural levels and palaeomonsoon change in close proximity. We report a high resolution oxygen isotope (δ18O) record of animal teeth-bone phosphates from an archaeological trench itself at Bhirrana, NW India, preserving all cultural levels of this civilization. Bhirrana was part of a high concentration of settlements along the dried up mythical Vedic river valley ‘Saraswati’, an extension of Ghaggar river in the Thar desert. Isotope and archaeological data suggest that the pre-Harappans started inhabiting this area along the mighty Ghaggar-Hakra rivers fed by intensified monsoon from 9 to 7 ka BP. The monsoon monotonically declined after 7 ka yet the settlements continued to survive from early to mature Harappan time. Our study suggests that other cause like change in subsistence strategy by shifting crop patterns rather than climate change was responsible for Harappan collapse.
So,   they don't suggest climate as solely responsible for the de-urbanization  , but it had a significant role .

They also suggest:

The study also indicates increasing dependence on summer crops like millet and has been inferred as a direct consequence of lesser rainfall80. Such pattern have also been found elsewhere in Indus valley where the Harappans shifted their crop patterns from the large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the later part of declining monsoon and thereby changed their subsistence strategy16,81. Because these later crops generally have much lower yield, the organized large storage system of mature Harappan period was abandoned giving rise to smaller more individual household based crop processing and storage system and could act as catalyst for the de-urbanisation of the Harappan civilization rather than an abrupt collapse as suggested by many workers82,83,84,85. Our study suggests possibility of a direct connect between climate, agriculture and subsistence pattern during the Harappan civilization.

See also :
Sindhu Civilization Was Indeed Harmed Badly By Climate
Indus era 8,000 years old, not 5,500; ended because of weaker monsoon
Did climate change kill the Indus civilization?

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

New Presentation: Harappan Burial Sites of India: Recent Research Trends

The concluding remarks in that picture , are interesting .  They speak of Neolithic genetic exchange,  from Iranian plateau via trade . That almost certainly is of 4500-3800 BC period , as recorded in archaeology. The second which they link with trade, in the 1st millennium BC, also has archaeological record. But I think rather trade , migration is the way to see it . I am confident , that the first genetic exchange/migration is related to the arrival of IE's.

Harappan civilization flourished mainly in northwestern province of Indian subcontinent, roughly between 4000 to 1500 BCE. There are about more than fifty burial sites of the Harappa Civilization discovered so far. Lothal, Kalibangan, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, Farmana, Sanauli etc are major sites yielding the remains of Harappan burial.
Until the early 1980’s,the study of human skeletal were primarily focused to answer specific questions pertaining to establishing the ethnic or racial identity of the concerned population and was used primarily to complement archaeological hypotheses of cultural migration or diffusion. Recently, however, efforts are made to study diet, health and composition of Harappan population. Some of these issues are tackled by using Stable Isotope and DNA analyses. The aim of present paper is give overview of so far research done on the Harappan burials and to focus on latest scientific research carried out on Harappan burial studies.


UPDATE : A new related post has appeared, It seems to be yet another modification of abstract , see here  :

[New Presentation] 24th Federation Meeting of Korean Basic Medical Scientists 2016

     Harappan Burial Sites in India: A Review Based On the Latest  Anthropological Research Approaches 

          Astha Dibyopama1, Vasant Shinde1, Dong Hoon Shin2 and Nilesh P. Jadhav1
1Department of Archaeology, Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, India
2Department of Anatomy, Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University, Korea
Burial is one of the important evidence to know about our ancestors. Harappan civilization flourished mainly in northwestern province of Indian subcontinent, roughly from between 4000 to 1500 BCE. There are about more than fifty burial sites of the Harappa Civilization discovered so far most of them belonging to a period between 2500-1500 BCE. Lothal, Kalibangan, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, Farmana, Tarkhanwala Dera, Sanauli, Bedwa, Puthi Seman, Bhorgarh, etc. are major sites yielding the remains of Harappan burial. Until the early 1980’s, the study of human skeletal were primarily focused to answer specific questions pertaining to establishing the ethnic or racial identity of the concerned population and was used primarily to complement archaeological hypotheses of cultural migration or diffusion. Recently, however, efforts are shifted to anthropological studies on diet, health and composition of Harappan population. Some of these issues are undertaken by high-end using Stable Isotope and DNA analyses. We intend in this presentation is to focus how these scientific methods which are freshly applied in Harappan burial research are fairly valuable for reconstruction of a variety of aspects of Harappan civilization.
Keywords: Harappan Civilization, Burial sites, Human skeletal remains, Stable Isotope, DNA study

See also :

Rakhigarhi more important than Mohenjo Daro: Data

Upcoming Paper on Sindhu-Sarasvati Valley Civilization

Rakhigarhi: Indian town could unlock mystery of Indus civilisation

J.P. Mallory's Current assessment on Proto-Indo-Europeans

He still favors the Steppe Model , which is natural , he is after all , regarded as one of the most celebrated proponents of the theory. But in recent publications , a clear change is visible . He has now accepted the importance of Agriculture, in the Proto-Indo-European culture . He correctly admits that, this importance of agriculture , is a serious flaw for the steppe argument . But just not for The Kurgan Model, actually, he shows no hesitation when he remarks :

If there are any lessons to be learned, it is that every model of Indo-European origins can be found to reveal serious deficiencies as we increase our scrutiny.
Talk about honesty . That is certainly as best as it can get!.Indeed, time has come when we start forgetting about the theories and start following actual data . There will be of course difficulties, there must be , but at least , we will be under no illusion . Yes, illusion, which is generated by creationism .

Here are the two latest articles by him :

Twenty-first century clouds over Indo-European homelands

The Problem of Tocharian Origins: An Archaeological Perspective 

BTW, recently, I have also found a nice attempt , concerning the Indo-European History of India. I think , that this attempt has the spirit, which is scientific and necessary !.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Missing the mountain in the room

How important were the mountains in the culture of Proto-Indo-Europeans? . The straightforward answer is : very ! . I will now post some related researches on the issue . I have plans to edit the post in the future ,with each new data, that I will find .

In a recent research on PIE and Proto-Altaic Landscapes , Russian scholar Anna Dybo makes the following conclusion :

The article is the first part of a larger work that represents an attempt to systematize our ideas on the natural environment and material culture of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It is based on a more or less complete selection of reconstructed words from the appropriate semantic areas and on their comparison with a similar selection performed for a protolanguage of similar time depth, whose speakers evidently inhabited a territory that was not in contact with the Proto-Indo-European one — Proto-Altaic. In this part, only the words that belong to the semantic field of landscape terms are analyzed. The main conclusion is that the hypothesis of a steppe environment is more applicable for the Proto-Altaic population, whereas for Proto-Indo-Europeans a mountainous region seems more appropriate. As for the water bodies, for Proto-Indo-Europeans we should suppose the existence of a sea (or of a very big lake), and for speakers of Proto-Altaic, the existence of very big rivers with season floods.  
But long before her research as she also refers there,Tamaz Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Ivanov in their well known book Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A reconstruction and historical analysis of a proto-language and a proto-culturemade the following observations,  from page 575:

The ancient lndo-Europeans' conception of high mountains
An essential distinguishing feature of the ancient Indo-European conception ofmountains and cliffs is the image of mountains of great height reaching to thesky. This is what must have given rise to the Proto-Indo-European image of' stone sky ' . In Indo-European the very word for ' stone ' also means ' sky' ,conceived of as a stone vault: Skt. asman- ' rock, cliff', ' stone tool, stone hammer', ' thunder god's stone' , ' sky'; cf. Avest. asman- ' stone; sky ' . Traces of suchusage are preserved in Greek, where the cognate akman ' stone anvil' is also usedin reference to the sky: akmifn ho ouranos. In Homer, Zeus suspends ' twoanvils' (akmonas dUO, Iliad 1 5 . 1 9), i.e. two huge stones, from Hera's feet as shehangs head down from the sky (see Reichelt 1 9 1 3). Cognates meaning ' stone' inother Indo-European languages are used of the ' stones' of the thunder god, whothrows them down to the earth from the skies: Lith. Perkiino akmuif ' stone ofPerkunas ' , Pol. kamien piorunowy ' stone of Perun' . The Balto-Slavic mythicimage of a thunder god who lives in the sky on a high cliff is a reflex of thesesame Proto-Indo-European concepts of a sky made of stone and stony cliffsreaching to the sky.

The connection of mountains and clouds in the perception of the ancientlndo-Europeans
The image of high mountains is further connected with the ancient IndoEuropean
conception of clouds as mountains (Potebnja 1 9 14 : 1 76) and of rain as
sent by a mountain deity. In the Rigveda the Proto-Indo-European words
meaning 'mountain' and ' cliff' , parvata-, girf- , adri-, also have the meanings
' cloud, storm cloud'. In an Old Latvian rainmaking ritual, prayers are offered
to the mountain god Perkons on hills in thick groves (Ivanov and Toporov
1 974:9).
The combination of meanings 'mountain' and 'cloud' in one word is explained
by properties of the actual topography - high mountains literally
reaching to the level of the clouds. A similar polysemy is displayed by PIE
*nebh. ' sky, fog, cloud' , which also reflects physical reality - the fact that the
sky is often cloudy and foggy. Compare Skt. nabhalJ 'cloud; sky; air, space' ,
Latv. debess ' sky, cloud' .
The original polysemy of *nebh. i s transformed i n most daughter languages,
so that only one of the two meanings is preserved. In some dialects, reflexes of
*nebh. mean ' sky ' , while other words are used of clouds; in other dialects,
reflexes of *nebh- mean ' cloud' while special words for ' sky' are innovated:3
' Sky': Hitt. nepis ' sky' (beside alpa- ' cloud'); Avest. nabah- ' sky ' , 'air, space'
(beside awra- ' cloud; rain'); OCS nebo, gen. nebese ' sky ' , Russ. nebo id.
' Cloud' : Gk. nephos ' cloud; fog; mist' ; nephele ' storm cloud' , ' fog' (beside
ouranos ' sky'); Lat. nebula 'fog, cloud' (beside caelum ' sky'), OIr. nel ' cloud,
fog' , OHG nebul (Ger. Nebel) 'fog' , OE nifol 'fog, mist' (beside OHG himil,
Ger. Himmel ' sky ' , OE heofon, Engl. heaven), Lith. debesis ' cloud' (beside
dangus 'sky').
The polysemy of words with the range of meanings ' mountain' , ' cloud' (and
similarly of words meaning ' sky' , ' cloud') reflects the physical reality of the
ancient Indo-Europeans ' topography: the physical fact of clouds building up at
peaks of mountains has left its traces in the semantic links found among these
words throughout early Indo-European traditions.

'Mountain' as 'high' 
Words with the meaning 'mountain' in the ancient Indo-European languages
often combine with attributives derived from *bh(e)q􀄽h. 'high ' , forming a
single lexical phrase. This usage is still well preserved in the Anatolian languages:
Hitt. parku- 'high' in parga(m)us IjUR .SAGMES-u! (acc. pI.) 'high
mountains ' , KUB XXXIII 9 Vs. 11.7, Luw. parrai- 'high' in the collocation
parrayanza IjUR.SAGMES 'high mountains ' , KUB XXXV 45 IT 5 (see Laroche
1 963). In the Rigveda the phrase is constructed with a derivative of the same
Indo-European root, brh-ant- 'high', together with parvata- ' mountain' : brhatas
parvattit (abI. sg.) 'from the high mountain', brhatas parvattin (acc. pI.) 'high
mountains ' , etc.;4 Arm. lerna-berj 'high as a mountain' (beside erkna-berj 'high
as the sky').
This archaic usage of *bhergh. in attributive function 'high ' S in combination
with ' mountain ' frequently leads to substantivation of derivatives of this stem with the specific meaning 'mountain' : 'high mountain' > 'high' > 'height' >
'mountain' . Examples include: Avest. barazant- 'high' (Pers. buland), baraz'
high; height; mountain' (Pers. burz 'mountain'), barazah- 'height' , barasnu'
height; high place; sky ' , Oss. brerzond 'high, heights, mountain' ; Arm. -berj
'height ' , cf. barjr 'high'. Gaul. Brigantes (ethnonym), lit. 'mountaineers' , OIr.
bri 'mountain' , Brigit, female deity (Vendryes 1 948:27 1 , de Vries 1 96 1 :80).
Goth. bairgahei 'mountainous area' , OIcel. bjarg, OHG berg 'mountain' (Ger.
Berg), OE beorh, beorg 'mountain' ; in Germanic these new terms for 'mountain'
displace the lost original term.
The term for 'mountain' , 'heights'
For Indo-European we can postulate an additional word meaning 'mountain' ,
'heights, high place ' , formed from the root *khel-: Hitt. kalmara- 'mountain'6
( * k h \- m o r - o - ), Lat. culmen, co lumen 'peak, top ' , columna 'column'
(* k h ! - m e n - ), collis 'hill' (*khJ- n i - or * kh o l - n i - ) , Mlr. colI 'head'
(*khol-n-), cf. OCS celo 'forehead '; OE hyll, Engl. hill (* kh!-ni-), OIcel.
holmr ' small island' (*khol-m-); Lith. kalnas 'mountain' , Latv. kaTns; Gk.
(Hom.) koldne 'hillock, hill' , kolophdn 'top, peak ' . These cognates include
words from Hittite, Greek, and the Ancient European language group, which
confirms the Proto-Indo-European nature of the derivatives of * khel- 'mountain,
high place' .
The elaborateness of the terminology for mountains in Indo-European
 We have seen that a number of words referring to mountains, rocky cliffs, and
high places can be distinguished in the Proto-Indo-European lexicon. The first
is *pher(kho )u- 'mountain' , 'mountain oak forest' , 'cliff, rock' (see II.4. 1 . 1 .4
above), which appears in a fixed collocation with other terms for 'mountain,
cliff' as an attributive with the meaning 'high, mighty' Gust as the phonetically
related *bhergh- functions as an attributive in the sense 'big, high'). Another
is * H k ' o(e/o)r-, with reflexes in all the main daughter stocks. * k hel- is
preserved in the Ancient European languages, Anatolian, and Greek. Finally,
*(o)nt'- and *mqth- are preserved only in languages of the extreme periphery.
Furthermore, we have seen that mountains were conceived of as a stony mass
reaching to the skies and having a cloud-covered peak.The natural assumption is that such a lexical subsystem could have developed only in a language spoken in a mountainous area.

Then again in p.763 :
The Indo-European proto-homeland as a geographical region with a
mountainous topography
The original territory of the Proto-Indo-European speakers must have been a
geographical region whose ecological, geographical, and culture-historical
characteristics corresponded to the picture of the environment that emerges
from the reconstructed lexicon of the proto  languages.9 The first thing that can
be claimed about the homeland with any reasonable certainty is that it was a
region with a mountainous topography. The most obvious evidence for this is
the great number of lndo-European words denoting high mountains and heights:
see the preceding chapters for *H(e/o)k'o(e/o)r- 'mountaintop' , * on t ' -/ *nt ' '
mountain, cliff, stone', * m(e)n-th- 'mountain, heights ' , * khol- 'heights ',
*bhergh- 'high' (of mountains). This is a landscape where the mountain oak
(* pher-kho-u- 'oak; cliff' , *aik '- 'mountain oak') and other trees and plants
found in regions with high mountains are widespread.
In agreement with this picture is the evidence concerning mountain lakes
(*or-u-o- 'large lake, sea' , cf. *sal- ' sea or lake as salty') and fast, rushing
streams (*Haph- 'river, mountain stream' , *thekho- 'flow swiftly'), and the evidence for a mountain climate with cloudy skies and frequent thunderstorms:
*nebhes- 'cloud, thundercloud, sky' , *Hwenth- 'wind', *Hk'oor- 'mountain
or north wind' , * seu-' * s u - 'rain' , *sneigho- ' snow ' , * gheim- ' winter',
* (y)ek'- and * eis-' *is- 'cold, ice'.
Another set of words connected with climatic phenomena precludes locating
the Indo-European proto-homeland in the northern regions of Eurasia:
*ghoer-m- and *theph- 'heat, warmth' .
This picture of the Proto-Indo-European landscape naturally excludes the plains areas of Europe which lack significant mountain ranges, i.e. the northern part of central Europe and all of eastern Europe, including the northern Black Sea area.

Also Italian Indologist Giacomo Benedetti , in his article on Indo-Iranians made the following observations citing Avesta :

If the Aryans were the nomads from the steppe, the situation in the Avesta and Firdusi should be completely opposite. Not only, in the hymns of the Avesta (e.g. Yt. 5) the ancient Iranian heroes are often associated with mountains, including the progenitor Yima, who is described as offering a sacrifice on the Hukairya mountain, which is probably in Pamir. Whence came these traditions if they came from the northern flatlands?
The Conclusion is obvious , mountains were integral part of the Proto-Indo-European tradition. This tradition can't originate in the hypothetical steppe homeland , the hypothetical homeland must be located in a mountainous area .

There is of course the case of Sea and even Seafaring! , but I will point on that intriguing issue in a next post.


A.A. Semenenko Gymnasium No 2, Voronezh, Russia

 Researchers Conclusion :

This means that even during the latest period of AVSh composition the Sarasvati Valley abounded in dairy and grain-producing products.AVSh and not only its most ancient part must be dated not later than at least 2000 BC. RV with its more archaic language and the material of which AVSh plentifully borrows dates to at least approximately 2500 BC.

But as a couple of significant points that a friend points me :

1.  Sarasvati was still important also after 2000 BC, as attested also by Mahabharata, but its mention in AV shows a Western environment.

2. The frequent mention of barley suggests the same and an ancient agriculture.Hence the period can be the same as the tenth Mandala of RV, around the middle of 2nd mill. BC.

The article is at p.362.


Monday, 2 May 2016

Rakhigarhi more important than Mohenjo Daro: Data


Rakhigarhi more important than Mohenjo Daro: Data
Workers carry out excavation work at Rakhigarhi village in Hisar district. Photo: Sunil Phogat 

Deepender Deswal
Tribune News Service
Rakhigarhi (Hisar), May 2
Archaeological findings and scientific data have indicated that Rakhigarhi had been the more important centre of the Indus Valley Civilisation than the townships of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro located in Pakistan.

The team of archaeologists revealed that the excavation at this site is all set to change the view that Mohenjo Daro was the capital city of the Indus Valley Civilisation. “Instead, the scientific data collected on the basis excavations here have strongly pointed that Rakhigarhi, a metropolis, was perhaps the capital of its times about 5,000 years ago,” said Prof Vasant Shinde, in charge of the excavation and Vice Chancellor of Deccan College, Pune. Deccan College and the Haryana archaeological department have been jointly carrying out the excavation at the site from last three years.

To prove his point, Prof Shinde said this site was spread in over 550 hectares, which is about double than that of the Mohenjo Daro site, which was considered the biggest site till now.
“We have collected evidences of massive manufacturing and trade activities in this town, which revealed the economic organisation and the foreign links of people here. They had trade links with people in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Baluchistan and even Afghanistan. The city flourished during the early Harappan era dating back to around 3,300 BC and existed till 2000 BC,” he said.

Moreover, the DNA samples collected from the skeletons at the cemetery here are set to crack a major mystery surrounding their lives, character, diseases and race of the people who lived here 5,000 years ago.

Scientists have, for the first time ever, succeeded in extracting DNA from the skeletons of the Indus Valley Civilisation. More skeletons have been found during the ongoing excavation season from mound no.2 for further analysis. Three different institutes of world repute are conducting the DNA analysis for a foolproof study, so that there is no scope of any contradiction,” Prof Shinde said.

He said this was the best and most unexplored site related to the Indus Valley Civilisation so far. “So much material is available here that it would take 100 years to complete the study on uninhabited mounds on the outskirts of the village.

Health Minister Anil Vij, who visited the site on Saturday, said since Rakhigarhi was turning out to be the biggest and most crucial Harappan site in the world, the state government had decided to set up a museum, research centre and a hostel for the researchers in the village.


See also :
Rakhigarhi: Indian town could unlock mystery of Indus civilisation
Upcoming Paper on Sindhu-Sarasvati Valley Civilization

Friday, 29 April 2016

Suzanne Sullivan : Some interesting readings

What is the current state of knowledge about Indus Valley Civilization?

The Indus Valley empire stretched from Afghanistan to Bangladesh, in a band across northern south Asia. Despite the failed arguments of nay-sayers Witzel and Farmer, the IVC was a literate culture whose Indus script later developed into Brahmi script, the source  of all non-Arabic south Asian writing systems.

The earliest IVC sites are in Haryana, North India (7380 BC) and Merhgarh, Pakistan (8th millennium BC). The culture declined around 2000 BC, probably as a result of drought and famine caused by changes in monsoonal rain. The largest IVC sites are in north India and include Rakhigarhi.

The Indus Valley empire traded with Sumer and Egypt, and may have been mentioned as Meluhha in Sumerian clay tablets describing ships at Sumerian docks. However, the Sanskrit word mleccha actually means non-Hindu barbarian. There are mentions of a place called 'Aratta' in Sumerian texts, described as full of artisans and fabulous wealth, and the homeland of the goddess Inanna. (Arata is a Sanskrit name for the Punjab, in northwest India/Pakistan.)

There have long been furious on-going arguments as to whether the IVC was Indo-Aryan, Dravidian or something else. There is good linguistic evidence for an Indo-Aryan Indus Valley culture, based on comparison of the Indus script signs with Brahmi script and the few known signs of Linear Elamite. However, some theorists still insist that the speakers of Sanskrit and Prakrit were not indigenous to India and did not live there during the IVC. The whole controversy reminds me of the archeological and linguistic authorities of the period telling Michael Ventris that Linear B could not possibly encode Greek, because the Linear B tablets were 'too old.' (As it turned out, Ventris was right, and he managed to decipher Linear B by identifying repeated strings of Linear B signs as the names of certain towns on Crete.)


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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Ancient Brahmi epigraphic text found ?

An ancient Brahmi inscription found at Mayiladumparain Kannur.
 An ancient Brahmi inscription found at Mayiladumparain Kannur.

An inscription found on a granite rock at Mayiladumpara in Malur panchayat here is said to be an ancient two-line epigraphical text that can be dated back to a period between 3500 and 1700 BC.

The inscription was discovered and deciphered by a team of epigraphy enthusiasts headed by P. Pavithran, former head of the Department of Malayalam Studies of the Kozhikode University, who is currently UGC Emeritus Fellow involved in research of epigraphical texts in Kerala and Sri Lanka. The discovery of this five-letter Indus inscription in an area known for its Adivasi settlement is a continuation of earlier finding and deciphering of such scripts in other parts of the region.

“This ancient Brahmi script is in Sabarpari style as it is written from bottom to top and right to left,” said Dr. Pavithran. He said he deciphered the script as a reference to a resolute ruler. The inscription is believed to be older than the inscription he found in the Maruthom forest area of Kasaragod, which, he said, was Boustrophedon style, and the scripts found at Edakkal in Wayanad.

Dr. Pavithran had earlier deciphered a coin inscription found from Madayipara and a two-line Brahmi inscription found at Makreri Subramanya Temple at Peralassery here. But it is for the first time that the Indus inscription has been found in the district. He says the inscriptions found in the region, especially in the tribal settlements, could be information meant for ancient traders who had used the route. More excavations are required to unravel the history of these ancient inscriptions in the region, he added.

These inscriptions are often mistaken for ancient drawings, he noted.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Upcoming Paper on Sindhu-Sarasvati Valley Civilization

The papers abstract seems fantastic. Unfortunately it is not available yet.

 Harappan Burial Sites in India: Recent Research Trends

Astha Dibyopama1, Vasant Shinde1, Dong Hoon Shin2, Chang Seok Oh2 and Nilesh P. Jadhav1
1Department of Archaeology, Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, India
2Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University, Korea

Harappan civilization flourished mainly in northwestern province of Indian subcontinent, roughly from between 4000 to 1500 BCE. There are about more than fifty burial sites of the Harappa Civilization discovered so far most of them belonging to a period between 2500-1500 BCE. Lothal, Kalibangan, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, Farmana, Tarkhanwala Dera, Sanauli, Bedwa, Puthi Seman, Bhorgarh, etc. are major sites yielding the remains of Harappan burial. Until the early 1980’s, the study of human skeletal were primarily focused to answer specific questions pertaining to establishing the ethnic or racial identity of the concerned population and was used primarily to complement archaeological hypotheses of cultural migration or diffusion. Recently, however, efforts are made to study diet, health and composition of Harappan population. Some of these issues are tackled by using Stable Isotope and DNA analyses. The aim of present paper is to focus how these scientific methods that are recently applied to Harappan burial studies are quite useful for reconstruction of various aspects of Harappan civilization.

UPDATE : 24.03.2016
The papers abstract is modified :

Harappan civilization flourished mainly in northwestern province of Indian subcontinent, roughly between 4000 to 1500 BCE. There are about more than fifty burial sites of the Harappa Civilization discovered so far. Of them, Lothal, Kalibangan, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, Farmana, Tarkhanwala Dera, Sanauli, Bedwa, Puthi Seman, Bhorgarh etc. are major sites yielding the remains of Harappan burial. Until the early 1980’s, the study of human skeletons was primarily focused to answer specific questions pertaining to establishing the ethnic or racial identity of the concerned population and was used primarily to complement archaeological hypotheses of cultural migration or diffusion. Recently, however, more efforts are also made to study diet, health and genetics of Harappan population. The aim of present paper is to show how these scientific methods that are recently applied to Harappan burial studies are useful for the complete reconstruction of Harappan civilization and its people.

UPDATE II : 26.03.2016
Another modification :

Harappan civilization flourished mainly in northwestern province of Indian subcontinent, roughly between 4000 to 1500 BCE. There are about more than fifty burial sites of the Harappa Civilization discovered so far. Among them, Lothal, Kalibangan, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, Farmana etc. are major sites yielding the remains of Harappan burial. Until the early 1980’s, the study of human skeletons was primarily focused to answer specific questions pertaining to establishing the ethnic or racial identity of the concerned population. Recently, however, more efforts are made to study the diet, health and DNA of Harappan population, assuming a new aspect of research trends on this. The aim of present paper is to show how the scientific methods applied to Harappan burials are used for the complete reconstruction of Harappan civilization and its people.Queries about this poster might be sent to A.Dibyopama(, the major author of this study.


See also :
Rakhigarhi: Indian town could unlock mystery of Indus civilisation
Rakhigarhi more important than Mohenjo Daro: Data