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Wednesday 30 December 2015

Rakhigarhi: Indian town could unlock mystery of Indus civilisation

Some news on the aDNA which will probably decide the Indo-European History of India.

Rakhigarhi: Indian town could unlock mystery of Indus civilisation

Archaeologists hope DNA from four skeletons will shed light on bronze age settlement as locals see chance to develop more than just site’s ancient heritage

Jason Burke  in Rakhigarhi
Wednesday 30 December 2015 11.29 GMT

Visitors at the archeological site of Mohenjo-daro in Sindh province, Pakistan
 Visitors at the archeological site of Mohenjo-daro in Sindh province, Pakistan, one of the main centres of the Indus civilisation. Photograph: Waqar Hussain/EPA

 Wazir Chand is explaining life 4,000 years ago. He points to the rocky mounds looming over a huddle of brick houses, a herd of black buffalo and a few stunted trees. The rising sun burns off a chill mist over the north-west Indian plains.

A low rise was a fortification, Chand says, and a darker patch of red earth hides the site of an altar. Nimbly stepping around piles of buffalo dung, he points to a slight depression. This, apparently, was a pit that may have been a reservoir.

To the casual onlooker, Rakhigarhi is unimpressive. Yet the rubbish-strewn mounds and fields around and under this Indian village are set to deliver the answer to one of the deepest secrets of ancient times.

Rakhigarhi is a key site in the Indus Valley civilisation, which ruled a more than 1m sq km swath of the Asian subcontinent during the bronze age and was as advanced and powerful as its better known contemporary counterparts in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Archaeologists have learned much about the civilisation since it was discovered along the Indus river in present day Pakistan about a century ago. Excavations have since uncovered huge carefully designed cities with massive grain stores, metal workshops, public baths, dockyards and household plumbing, as well as stunning distinctive seals. But many perplexing questions remain unanswered.

One has stood out: who exactly were the people of the Indus civilisation? A response may come within weeks.

“Our research will most definitely provide an answer. This will be a major breakthrough. I am very excited,” said Vasant Shinde, an Indian archaeologist leading current excavations at Rakhigarhi, which was discovered in 1965.

Shinde’s conclusions will be published in the new year. They are based on DNA sequences derived from four skeletons – of two men, a woman and a child – excavated eight months ago and checked against DNA data from tens of thousands of people from all across the subcontinent, central Asia and Iran.
“The DNA is likely to be incredibly interesting and it has the potential to address all sorts of challenging questions about the population history of the people of the Indus civilisation,” said Dr Cameron Petrie, an expert in south Asian and Iranian archaeology at the University of Cambridge.

The origins of the people of the Indus Valley civilisation has prompted a long-running argument that has lasted for more than five decades.

Some scholars have suggested that they were originally migrants from upland plateaux to the west. Others have maintained the civilisation was made up of indigenous local groups, while some have said it was a mixture of both, and part of a network of different communities in the region. Experts have also debated whether the civilisation succumbed to a traumatic invasion by so-called “Aryans” whose chariots they were unable to resist, or in fact peaceably assimilated a series of waves of migration over many decades or centuries.

The new data will provide definitive answers, at least for the population of Rakhigarhi.

“There is already evidence of intermarriage and mixing through trade and so forth for a long time and the DNA will tell us for sure,” Shinde said.

The conclusions from the new research on the skeletal DNA sample – though focused on the bronze age – are likely to be controversial in a region riven by religious, ethnic and nationalist tensions.

Hostile neighbours India and Pakistan have fought three wars since winning their independence from the British in 1947, and have long squabbled over the true centre of the Indus civilisation, which straddles the border between the countries.

Shinde said Rakhigarhi was a bigger city than either Mohenjo-daro or Harrapa, two sites in Pakistan previously considered the centre of the Indus civilisation.

Some in India will also be keen to claim any new research supports their belief that the Rig Veda, an ancient text sacred to Hindus compiled shortly after the demise of the Indus Valley civilisation, is reliable as an historical record.

The question of links between today’s inhabitants of the area and those who lived, farmed, and died here millennia ago has also prompted fierce argument.

There are other mysteries too. The Indus Valley civilisation flourished for three thousand years before disappearing suddenly around 1500 BC. Theories range from the drying up of local rivers to an epidemic. Recently, research has focused on climate change undermining the irrigation-based agriculture on which an advanced urban society was ultimately dependent.

Soil samples around the skeletons from which samples were sent for DNA analysis have also been despatched. Traces of parasites may tell archaeologists what the people of the Indus Valley civilisation ate. Three-dimensional modelling technology will also allow a reconstruction of the physical appearance of the dead.

“For the first time we will see the face of these people,” Shinde said.

In Rakhigarhi village, there are mixed emotions about the forthcoming revelations about the site.

Chand, the self-appointed guide and amateur expert, hopes the local government will finally fulfil longstanding promises to build a museum, an auditorium and hotel for tourists there.

“This is a neglected site and now that will change. This place should be as popular as the Taj Mahal. There should be hundreds, thousands of visitors coming,” Chand told the Guardian.

A brief glance at the rubbish strewn middens which the mounds of the ancient city have become, indicates the work to be done before Rakhigarhi becomes a major attraction. The inhabitants of today’s Rakhigarhi lack many of the facilities enjoyed by those who lived there in the bronze age. Raj Bhi Malik, the village head, sees an opportunity to develop more than the site’s ancient heritage.

“We want a museum and all that certainly … but also clean drinking water, proper sanitation, an animal hospital, a clinic too,” Malik said.
Here is a recent post from a well known genome blogger. This only again reflect, the importance of the study, regarding the Indo-European question.

Update II : Here another post on the monumental study.

Saturday 7 November 2015


A very good website for people looking for  high quality researches.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Human Skeletal Remains from Ancient Burial Sites in India: With Special Reference to Harappan Civilization

Astha Dibyopama,1 Yong Jun Kim,1 Chang Seok Oh,2 Dong Hoon Shin,2 and Vasant Shinde1
1Department of Archaeology, Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, India.
2Department of Anatomy, Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University, Korea. Correspondence to: Vasant Shinde. (Deccan College, Post-Graduate & Research Institute (Deemed University)

Harappan Civilization is well known for highly sophisticated urban society, having been flourished in extensive regions of northwestern part of Pakistan and northeastern part of Afghanistan as its heyday around 4500 years ago. Most archaeologists agree on the periodization of this civilization as three different phases (Early, Mature and Late), which represent its cultural process of origin, development and decline. From the Harappan sites, one can note that there were about more than fifty burial sites discovered so far related with the civilization. In this article, we are trying to introduce the brief picture of the Harappan burials from the archaeological as well as anthropological perspectives.
Debates on Harappan People
From the perspective of anthropology, nothing is more important than studies on who were the inhabitants of Harappan civilization. Therefore, concerning biological affinities of the Indus valley inhabitants during Harappan period , we must note that there have been very hot debates among the related archaeologists and anthropologists. By anthropological researches over skeletal remains, some researchers claimed that two to four races might have been co-present in Harappan society. Any variation from these idealized types of races was explained as the result of admixture between pure races.  
However, we could not make an easy conclusion on this hypothesis because researchers like Brian Hemphil and J. R. Lukacs thought differently. By research on cranial features of the skeletons from Harappan burial sites, they tried to assess the biological continuity or discontinuity among the peoples in regions. About the subject, they can give following speculation: early chalcolithic inhabitants of Mehrgarh and late Harappan inhabitants of Cemetery H in Harappa share close biological affinity. In fact, they could not deny the long period of in situ continuity of Harappan peoples' biological traits .
Although we agree the viewpoint of Hemphil and Lukacs in general, it could not be easily denied that the biological continuity also coupled with the occasional pulses of genetic input from outside either. We speculate that the genetic input might have been conditioned by frequent trade of India, which could be further cemented by marriage alliances between the peoples in different areas. The first genetic exchange must have occurred from Neolithic period, between the Indus valley and the Iranian Plateau. During the 1st millennium B.C., the secondary genetic exchange based on seaborne trade could be identified. The trade routes appear to have shifted to a gradual introduction of new genes into the Indus valley and then neighboring lands . In fact, the origin and continuity of ancient Indian people has been the one of the main subjects anthropologists worldwide have discussed about; and it will remain as such, for the time being in the future.
 Burials in different Harappan sites. (A) and (B) Burials at Mehrgarh site. (A) Burial in clay box (B) Mehrgarh burials, pit with side chamber closed up with mud bricks. (C) and (D) Burials found at Kalibangan site. (C) Pot Burial without Skeleton. (D) Kalibangan brick-lined grave. (E) A burial at Lothal site. A double burial inside brick lined grave.

In this article, we attempted to project brief picture of burial tradition followed by the health and diet of the people of Harappan civilization. In fact, excavated Harappan burials are scanty in India and not much in-depth scientific research has been carried out on them, comparing with the Harappan habitation site. But still the data available to us till date about the Harappan burial practices is quite helpful in reconstructing the different aspects of Harappan population, their life style, socio economic status etc.
We note that the evidence of human remains and burials of Harappan civilization provided substantial amount of information about the society. And forthcoming studies on human remains from Harappan sites will provide invaluable information on the health and disease status of the people from one of the oldest ancient civilizations around the world. In fact, considering that archaeological and anthropological information was always significant to each other, for getting the comprehensive knowledge about the ancient Harappan society, interdisciplinary collaboration between two research fields would be still necessary in the future.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Ancient Iron Works From South India

I came to know about the discovery from this website ,it also reminds me the case of  Hallur Horse.

Rare discovery pushes back Iron Age in India

Siddharth Tadepalli 

HYDERABAD: Iron Age may have come into existence in Telangana much before the rest of the world. At least that's the conclusion reached by archaeologists excavating the University of Hyderabad campus who found iron artefacts dating back to roughly 2,200 BCE.

The team of archaeologists, led by professor KP Rao, has found several artefacts, including small knives and blades besides earthen pots. "The implements that were found were tested at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) using a method called Optically Simulated Luminescence (OSL). The metal objects were dated to anywhere between 1800 BC and 2,400 BCE. So we are assuming they were made during 2200 BC," Prof KP Rao told TOI.

This, he said, predates the existing understanding about the advent of the Iron Age in the country. Worldwide, experts have put the dawn of the age around 1200 BC, marking the time when humans started exploiting metals to make basic tools.

"In India, it was understood that the Iron Age came into being around 1,800 BC in the Lahuradeva site in Uttar Pradesh. But this latest development shows that the Iron Age started much before that, at least in our country," Rao said.

"It only goes to show that our ancestors had a rudimentary yet good knowledge about wielding weapons made of metals. We had estimated that the only metal that was moulded was copper, but due to its scarce nature it was not a feasible option. The idea of using abundant iron ore for tools and weapons is a landmark achievement," he added.

The idea of using iron has only come to lead to more and more developments. "It is because of their advancements did we reach the space-age," he said.

Currently, archaeologists have excavated 25 burial sites in the UOH area and the samples have been subjected to DNA analysis.
Related News-

Sunday 3 May 2015

Evidence for Patterns of Selective Urban Migration in the Greater Indus Valley (2600-1900 BC): A Lead and Strontium Isotope Mortuary Analysis

  •  Benjamin Valentine,George D. Kamenov,,
  • Jonathan Mark Kenoyer,,
  • Vasant Shinde,
  • ,Veena Mushrif-Tripathy,
  •  Erik Otarola-Castillo,
  • ,John Krigbaum


Just as modern nation-states struggle to manage the cultural and economic impacts of migration, ancient civilizations dealt with similar external pressures and set policies to regulate people’s movements. In one of the earliest urban societies, the Indus Civilization, mechanisms linking city populations to hinterland groups remain enigmatic in the absence of written documents. However, isotopic data from human tooth enamel associated with Harappa Phase (2600-1900 BC) cemetery burials at Harappa (Pakistan) and Farmana (India) provide individual biogeochemical life histories of migration. Strontium and lead isotope ratios allow us to reinterpret the Indus tradition of cemetery inhumation as part of a specific and highly regulated institution of migration. Intra-individual isotopic shifts are consistent with immigration from resource-rich hinterlands during childhood. Furthermore, mortuary populations formed over hundreds of years and composed almost entirely of first-generation immigrants suggest that inhumation was the final step in a process linking certain urban Indus communities to diverse hinterland groups. Additional multi disciplinary analyses are warranted to confirm inferred patterns of Indus mobility, but the available isotopic data suggest that efforts to classify and regulate human movement in the ancient Indus region likely helped structure socioeconomic integration across an ethnically diverse landscape.
Fig 1.  Map of the Indus Civilization culture area with locations mentioned in the text.

From The Conclusion-
A consideration of the isotopic data and their bioarchaeological context allows certain inferences to be made about the proposed Indus institution. Isotopic [12] and osteological [13] distinctions between males and females at Harappa and the timing of migration at Farmana suggest certain hinterland individuals from distinct genetic populations took up residence with new corporate groups at a very young age. The inclusion of modest burial wealth may indicate they were treated with respect by local groups, whereas sex-based distinctions in provenience suggest migrants were selected according to the preferences of their natal groups rather than the whims of Indus urbanites. Thus the Indus institution of immigration was integrative, accommodating various ethnic or cultural groups within a standardized set of practices reserved exclusively for a class of first generation immigrant. Furthermore, the scarcity of cemetery inhumations and their potential association with resource-rich regions suggests the institution may have been limited in scope to the economic interests of specific mercantile groups rather than all segments of society. Ethnography from the nearby Hindu Kush Range suggests one possible analogy for the Indus institution. Asymmetric systems of fosterage employed by fractious historical kingdoms to build hierarchical political alliances [86] may be broadly comparable to Indus practices, such that fostered individuals literally embodied the relationships between urban and hinterland groups. Whether or not this particular model is borne out by additional multi-disciplinary analyses, however, our isotopic inferences of migration define key parameters in any future investigation of Indus Civilization inter regional interaction. 

Monday 16 March 2015

Nurture my tongue: A linguist’s quest to preserve an endangered language

Written by Amruta Lakhe | Published on:October 19, 2014 1:00 am

Jalgaon Jamod is a sleepy tehsil tucked away in the Satpura ranges of the Buldhana district on the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border. While Jalgaon means water village, the name Jamod possibly dates back to the 17th century. Mughal empress Mumtaz Mahal, while travelling to Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh, with Emperor Shah Jahan, died during childbirth near Jamod, giving rise to the name, “Ja-e-Maut” or “place of death”. Over the last few decades, Jalgoan Jamod finds itself witness to a slow death: of its rich and ancient language, Nihali. Spoken by the locals for centuries, the language now has only 2,500-odd speakers and has recently found itself in Unesco’s list of critically endangered languages.
The urgency of this vanishing language was not lost on Dr Shailendra Mohan, associate professor in Austro-Asiatic linguistics at Pune’s Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute. Five years ago, the linguist began his search for the language’s origins, digging at its roots by treading the dusty paths of Jalgaon Jamod.
Even for an endangered language, Nihali is special. “Nihali is a language isolate. This means that it is not related to any other family of languages,” says Mohan. Like, he explains, hand in Marathi is haath and in Punjabi is hatha. “These regions are miles away from each other, yet their lexicon is derived from one family of language: Indo Aryan. But Nihali does not belong to any of the four Indian language families.” One theory is that it is the relic of some ancient pre-Indo Aryan, pre-Dravidian, pre-Tibeto-Burman and pre-Austroasiatic lost language, with possible links to other language groups such as Nostratic, Kusunda, a language spoken in Nepal, and with Ainu in Japan. “But we still don’t know for sure where it originated, which makes it extremely rare and precious.”
Shailendra Mohan interacts with a villager in Jalgaon.
Shailendra Mohan interacts with a villager in Jalgaon.
Mohan had been studying the language for years ever since it became a part of his research while studying at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. He was awarded a grant from the Endangered Languages Project by the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, last year to begin the first documentation of Nihali. “There is no government support in Jalgaon Jamod, nor is there an academic body that supports this kind of study. So establishing trust and building contact with the locals was crucial,” he says. Over repeated trips, Mohan visited schools, town offices, attended the panchayat meetings and asked for help from the sarpanch. Two years later, when he was confident that he had built a good rapport with the locals, he began work.
He would listen to village elders render folk stories and songs in broken Nihali and soon came to realise how rich their history and mythology was. “For instance, Nihalis sing songs of the Ramayana, but they also worship Ravana as their hero,” he says. As the locals spoke, Mohan took photographs, shot hours of video footage and wrote extensive notes which he would translate word for word later. Nihali has a unique sound pattern: water is joppo, to eat is ti and drink is delen. Surrounded by forests, the locals have their own version of Panchatantra or fables with animals at its centre.
When the locals became aware of Mohan’s quest, they appreciated someone recording their songs, stories and their lifestyle. “Language changes unconsciously, we do not realise it during every day use. But the documentation programme has inculcated a sensitivity towards their language. They are now aware that their language is different from other communities and that there are less number of speakers,” he says.
Though Mohan’s project is just about documenting the language, he is also looking at why Nihali is nearing extinction. “The locals have inter-married the language with Marathi, Korku and Hindi. Even if a child speaks Nihali at home, once he enters a classroom, he instantly switches to Marathi. A language stays alive only when parents speak the mother tongue with their children. I don’t see that happening with Nihali. When the next two generations pass by, the language might vanish with them,” he says. That there is no defined script for Nihali adds to the problem.
In the final phase of his project, Mohan is collating more than 20 hours of archival video, audio recordings and thousands of photographs of the locals to come up with a basic text on Nihali grammar. He will soon publish the first trilingual dictionary of Nihali-English-Hindi with 2,000 words. While Mohan’s search continues, Nihali’s struggle for survival has just begun.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Bangani The Kentum In India
Anvita Abbi
An old debate on Bangani being related to Kentum group of languages or not (Zoller 1988, 1989, 1993, Beekes 1995 and van Driem and Sharma 1996) is worth investigating into the lexicon, specially those words that belong to the 'basic word list' known to be typically most resistant to change. The author conducted a couple of field trips personally to investigate the phenomenon. The paper discusses the results of this investigation.
As RUKI rule is claimed to be inoperative in many Bangani words, the author has investigated, among others, words that should have gone through the Rule but do not. The author, surprisingly, confirms the existence of most, if not all, the words listed in Zoller (1988) with specified meanings. Some semantic variations was noticed though not totally disturbing the original thesis. It is observed that near total multilingualism due to language contact with Himachali and Hindi, (the languages of the vicinity) at times, motivatesinformants to oscillate between one form and other. The paper is descriptive and not historical in nature and thus avoids to attempt to establish the archaism of the disputed words. At best, it expresses the multilayered lexicon of the language indicative of long and stable multilingual communities in close contact.

The van Driem Enigma
Or: In search of instant facts

Claus-Peter Zoller
George van Driem and Suhnu R. Sharma published in the last issue of the Indogermanische Forschungen the first part of an article ("In Search of Kentum Indo-Europeans in the Himalayas"; IF 101:107-146) which not only tries to refute my claims on archaic words in Bangani but moreover attempts to discredit my character. The gist of their article - if I understand correctly what is said more or less overtly as well as between the lines - is (1) that I manipulated the Banganis with the help of alcohol in order to get pseudodata with which I tried to lead scholars up the garden path. Besides, they claim that I am not a qualified field researcher and that I "misheard" the crucial words in the examples quoted by me. Since all the words I "misheard" are - with a few exceptions - those for which I have suggested exceptional antiquity, their suggestion that I "misheard" them intentionally is more than obvious. (2) Since my claims could have fairly far-reaching scientific consequences, they felt it was their mission to verify them. Thus, they decided - at least this is what they say - to go to Bangan and conduct an objective and independent examination of my data. Since they describe themselves as qualified field-workers - in contradistinction to me - they imply that their "findings" must have authoritative status. Moreover, they contend in a very self-congratulatory tone, that they were able to procure enough evidence to show that I have published false data and that consequently all my claims are unfounded.
In response to all these accusations I allege that all their claims are wrong and baseless, and that their article is a collection of untruthful statements. Moreover, I allege that both van Driem and Sharma display in their article a lack of knowledge of even the most basic and elementary facts of Indo-Aryan, especially Pahari linguistics. Since the editor of Indogermanische Forschungen has accepted a detailed rejoinder from my side I will concentrate here only on some of the most crucial points and will not, for instance, elaborate at this moment on the question why their article only partially tries to maintain a scientific tone and frequently lapses into a language of hatred.
Of course, I cannot produce here counterproofs against the "counterproofs" of the two authors, but can only refer to the elaborate and serious fieldwork on Bangani conducted by Professor Abbi from the Jawahar Lal Nehru University in New Delhi. A short description of her work can be found at this webpage. What I can do, however, is to point out some of the crassest untruths, manipulations, and distortions produced by the two. Unlike the archaisms, for which I still claim - even if I may be again accused of mystification - that some of them cannot be verified without a certain investment of time and effort, I maintain that all the following points can easily be examined by everybody who wishes to.
Is Bangani a V2 language?
Claus Peter Zoller
 The West Pahari language Bangani, spoken in the western Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand between the rivers Tons and Pabar, has been a topic of controversy (see Zoller 1999). The controversy relates mainly to the question of whether Bangani contains Indo-European but non-IndoAryan vocabulary or not. I would like to continue the discussion on remarkable aspects of Bangani with two more articles. This first one discusses a central aspect of Bangani syntax, namely the relatively common occurrence of the predicate in verb-second sentence position. The article thus tries to answer the question: is Bangani a V2 language?.
Bangani Page.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Real pride of ancient Indian science by Sunita Narain

 Sunita Narain

I write this with considerable impatience and one question. Do we really have the time to waste on controversies like what ancient India did or did not achieve by way of scientific discoveries? This is when there is the huge unfinished agenda to use the best of to tackle current challenges and crises.

At the recently concluded annual ritual of the Indian Science Congress, the Union science and technology minister drew solace from the fact that ancient India had mathematical prowess - we gifted the Pythagoras theorem and algebra to the world. There is truth in this, no doubt. But all this is about the past. At best, it tells us to be proud of our legacy. But what does it tell us about what needs to be done to innovate for our needs?

There is no doubt that Indian science is losing ground; every indicator shows this. The ranking of our top scientific educational institutions is consistently falling and our achievements are fewer by the day. Most importantly, Indian scientists are nowhere to be seen in the world you and I inhabit. This is when our modern world requires science to be integrated into every aspect of daily life.

This is also the problem I have with the current controversy about Vedic science - whether we flew aircraft or mastered plastic surgery is immaterial for modern India. What matters is if ancient Indians understood the science and art of settlement planning, architecture and governance of natural resources. This is the history we need to learn because it tells us what we must do right. These are the real symbols of ancient India's scientific prowess.

Take water, for instance. Traditionally, we built highly sophisticated systems, which varied to suit different ecosystems, for harvesting every drop of water. Archaeological excavations near Allahabad have found evidence of early Indian hydraulic engineering. Dating back to the end of first century BC, the Sringaverapura tank is a remarkable system to take the floodwater of Ganga into a set of desilting chambers, including water weirs, to clean the water for drinking. It can be a matter of belief that Lord Ram drank water from this tank. But it is a fact that the technological system is so evolved that it would put to shame all public works engineers of today's India.

Dholavira, a settlement off the coast of Gujarat, dates back to the Indus Valley civilisation. Archaeologists have found this desert city had built lakes to collect run-off, bunds and inlet channels to divert water, and intricate drainage system for storm water, drinking water and waste. Today, we cannot even build city roads that do not get flooded each monsoon, or protect lakes for storing rainwater.

Till the time the British came to India, the water traditions were in vogue. British gazettes speak of these systems, at times with awe, calling us a hydraulic society. Sir William Willcocks, a British irrigation engineer, who was called in 1920 to advise the administration on how to handle famines, said the best answer was to go back to the ingenious system of flood management of Bengal. This was never done, of course.

Ancient Indians also understood the art of water governance. Kautilya's Arthasastra, written around 300 BC, has details of how tanks and canals are to be built and managed. The key was to clarify the enabling role of the state - the king - and the management role of local communities. The kings did not have armies of public works engineers; they provided fiscal incentives to communities and individuals who built water systems. The British changed all this, by vesting the resource with the state and creating large bureaucracies for management.

The British rulers also changed the tax system; collection of revenue became paramount, even during droughts. There was little then to invest in community assets. The decline came quickly and was cemented by polices of independent India. This is the history of resource management we need to learn.

But if we must be proud of our water heritage and relearn its art and science, then we must also reject its ills - the focus on rituals and the evils of the caste system. We are such a dirty nation today - look at the untreated sewage in our rivers and garbage in our streets - because we come from a society where waste is an "untouchable" business. As long as we can live with the idea of manual scavenging - somebody from a "lower" caste will carry our excreta away - we will never get a clean India.

If we must glorify the past, we must be proud of our present. This is what we need to learn. Quickly.

Sunday 18 January 2015

The Sindhu Civilization Effect: Oman and Bahrain
Excavation in Oman finds link to Indus Valley civilisation
Archaeologists in Oman's southern Sinaw region have discovered a site that could reveal Indus Valley civilisation's influence on the Omani society 2,300 years ago, officials said.
The tomb of a buried man with sword and daggers made of iron and steel was unearthed during an excavation and it has been scientifically proved that iron and steel arms were made in the Indus Valley civilisation first time ever, said Sultan Bensaif Al Bakri, director of Excavations and Archaeological Studies of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture Oman.
This finding may prove the influence of the Indian civilisation on Oman during that period, he was quoted as saying by the Times of Oman.
A 2,300-year-old underground chamber was found during rescue excavations 22km south of Sinaw.
This was the burial chamber of the man in his 50's, buried along with his personal arms. Near his grave, two male and female camels were also buried. They were slaughtered after the death of the man, he said.
According to the descriptions provided by the archaeologists, the sword and daggers were made of iron and steel which was first made in the Indian civilisation from where it spread to the neighbouring civilisations, including Oman, he said.
The ministry will restore these arms and will display these models in the proposed national museum scheduled to open at the end of this year, he said.
2. Bahrain
From This Old But Significant Post Of Giacomo Benedetti's New Indology Blog We Find :
''Another interesting paper was that of R.S. Bisht, read by Kenoyer, because unfortunately the Indian archaeologist was absent. It was about some particular hemispherical tumuli in the cemetery of Dholavira, which resemble some structures found in Bahrain (2200-2000 BC, or more precisely 2050-2000 BC) and also the historical Buddhist Stūpas! Particularly, Tumulus 1 .... has ten radial walls forming a kind of wheel-structure, which are found also in Bahrain, and in Stūpas (see below the Sanghol Stūpa). So, it seems that Bisht is going to assert that also the Stūpas have their roots in the Harappan civilization. About Bahrain, we can suppose that these tumuli are  connected there with the merchants from Gujarat: 2200-2000 BC is the same period of the seals found in Bahrain of clear 'Indus' character. But for which kind of people where these tumuli used? Maybe for religious men, like the Buddhist Stūpas? And are there other traces of Stūpas in India before the Buddhist period? According to Buddhist tradition, they were normally used before Buddha Gautama for the Pratyekabuddhas, who were wandering ascetics, and also Jains used to erect Stūpas.
 Tumulus 1
 Sanghol Stūpa
What is also interesting is that apparently the symbol of the spoked wheel was present not only in the script, but also in funerary architecture: another possible sign of the importance of the spoked wheel in the Indian ideology. And the presence of this structure also in Bahrain could show the diffusion from India to the Middle East of (at least the idea of) the spoked wheel already at the end of the 2nd millennium BC.''

See also :
New Indus Finds in Salut, Oman
Symbols of Dilmun's royal house – a primitive system of communication adopted from the late Indus world?

Sunday 11 January 2015

A critical approach to theories on ancient India

NATION FIRST — Essays in the Politics of Ancient Indian Studies: Dilip K. Chakrabarti; Aryan Book International, Pooja Apartments, 4-B, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002. Rs. 695.
History writing in India has become a sensitive initiative, carrying ideological leanings and authors’ personal views rather than integrating new findings into an ever-growing perspective. In fact, available archaeological evidence places Indian civilization as a manifestation different from how it is familiar in the rest of the world. Indian history so far available is squeezed into a western-centric framework through artificial and alien terminology: barbarism, feudalism, Aryanisation and class war.
It is in this background that Rabindranath Tagore affirmed that the present brand of Indian history is a nightmarish account of India. On reading it and looking at the archaeological material, one feels that historians are rather commanded by the comforts of conforming. The book under review analytically brings out recent trends in historical research and puts forth perspectives through a collection of seven articles by the author and eight reviews of books published on related subjects.
It begins with an introduction that there is no sense of national pride in the intellectual horizon of the Indian historians, who blindly follow the colonial version of Indian history. They projected Ancient India as virtual utopia, starting with the Vedic Age where the people were cattle-herders looking for good pastures, without familiarity with agriculture and grains like rice. Besides Vedic references on ploughmen and agriculture, many archaeological sites including Jhusi near Allahabad have yielded proof of rice cultivation in the region during the Neolithic phase, possibly as far as back as 9000 BCE., much earlier than the dates fixed by these historians for the Vedic period.
In the next phase, the author projects Indus Valley civilisation as the origin of many cultures of India. Archaeological sites have yielded many artefacts that evidence a cultural continuity with later Indian civilization. The discovery of ornaments, gaming materials, use of conch for libations as well as trumpeting, the ritual use of water for purification, important mode of worship such as the mother goddess and linga indicate the long connection between these cultures. In all respects the author tries to show that Indus civilisation is so characteristically Indian and all later cultures owe something to it. In fact, many of them reflect that there was no significant break or hiatus.
On the notion of Aryanisation of India on the basis of introduction of iron, the use of horses, and knowledge of spoked wheels, ample material is provided by him to shatter the theory. The beginning of the use of iron was previously dated to 1000-1200 BCE and attributed to the contribution and eastward migration of the imaginary Aryans. Now, recent archaeological excavations push back the use of iron to 1800 BCE (type site Malharin, U.P.). This fact corroborates the early use of iron in India and attests that India was indeed an independent centre for the development of the working of iron. According to Rakesh Tiwari, the present Director General, ASI, it overlaps the late Harappan stage, bridging the bronze-iron ages.
Among the faunal remains of the Mature Indus civilisation levels of Harappa, Lothal, Surkotada and Kalibangan horse bones have been identified by a number of scholars and attested by the Zoological Survey of India. Equally revealing discovery is the presence of spoked wheels in the mature Indus civilisation levels in Rakhigardi and Banawali (Haryana). The Aryan myth was introduced to demonstrate that the present cultural assemblage of India is not an inherent product of Indian soil, but brought by Indo-Aryans. Such scholars/historians are unaware of the socio-political implication of the premise as it divided the population into two major groups Aryans and Dravidians. On another issue raised by J.M. Kenoyer and Kimbly Heuston over the human occupation of the Yamuna-Ganga river valley by Aryans only during 2000BCE, he points out the earliest level of Alamgirpur as datable to the middle of third millennium BCE and hence rules out settlement by new communities.
Focussing on India’s cultural unity, the author takes up the distribution of Northern Black Polished Pottery (NBP), a distinctive Ganga plain pottery of 800 BCE, as an important chronological marker and calibrates the date of Korkkai and Alankulam in Tamil Nadu around 500 BCE almost contemporary with that in Ganga plain. He corroborates this date with the sherds with Tamil - Brahmi unearthed in Porunthal near Palani and accepts the early date for Tamil-Brahmi. In fact, this can be considered as the turning point in accepting early date for Tamil-Brahmi script.
One clear unity that India possessed throughout history has been geographical and with the help of pottery, he traces various ancient Indian dense routes giving material expression to the inter-connection between different areas and the growth of a shared culture.
Reviewing Dr. Upender Singh’s book Rethinking Early Medieval India — A Reader, he refutes the theory of ancient Indian governance as a feudal set-up on the grounds of increased number of land grant inscriptions to the privileged select few. Numerically such inscriptions constitute only a very small percentage and other archaeological evidence of material remains of life on agriculture, settlements, technology, art and trade of the period bring out a different scenario.
Evaluating the present trend in the functioning of various institutions under the Union Department of Culture, the CAG’s report is analysed critically; and, on the functioning of the ASI, the author laments the non-publication of many archaeological excavation reports and points out that Indian archaeology lacks scientific support for academic interpretations. Nevertheless, the author is silent on the fact that ASI was headed by non-technical bureaucrats for more than a decade.
One central focus throughout the volume is the role of Indian archaeologists hankering after so-called international recognition and accepting their lesser role without demur and unfailing in their praise of the work done by their Euro-American colleagues. Their devotion to the western world’s recognition paves the way for an unholy conglomeration of various interest groups to exploit Indian archaeological materials for misinterpretations. On the same grounds the Pattinam excavation in Kerala was hijacked by the western world while Indian archaeologists were mere spectators. He concludes that the Government of India should resort to remedial measures.
Besides its critical approach, the volume provides updated archaeological material on climate in Indus valley, on the trail of Sarasvati, the lost river, urbanisation in the Ancient Indus Valley, decline of Buddhism in India, the status of State religion in Ancient India, all of which would be useful for research scholars in Archaeology and History. In fine it is a welcome addition.

The Indus Valley Civilization: An 

ornamented past, revealed in 5,000-year-

old artifacts and jewelry  

Indus Valley Civilization artifact

The Indus Valley Civilization was rich with culture and tradition, revealed in its wealth of beautiful, intricate, and elaborate ornaments, jewelry and artifacts. These items and more are on exhibit at India’s Jewellery Gallery of the National Museum in Delhi. According to DNA India, the display represents the high aesthetic sense of the craftsmen of Old World civilization, and the connection between culture then and now through art, jewelry, coins and pottery. The National Museum exhibit is entitled Alamkara – The Beauty of Ornament. The museum describes the nature of the collection and the influence of adornment on humanity, observing, “Once decorated with beautiful ornaments, the body assumes form, becomes visible, attractive and perfect.” “Painstakingly wrought by anonymous goldsmiths in ateliers and workshops across the country, the national museum collection celebrates the great variety of forms, the beauty of Indian design and the genius of Indian craftsmanship,” FirstPost reports.

Royal earrings from India, 1st Century BC

Royal earrings from India, 1st Century BC. Wikimedia, CC - See more at:

More than 200 ornaments are on display collected from 3,300 BC to the 19th and 20th centuries, including a 5,000 year old necklace, created of steatite and gold beads all capped in gold, with pendants of agate and jade.
Beaded necklace of the Indus Valley, Mohenjodaro circa 2,600 – 1,900 BCE

Beaded necklace of the Indus Valley, Mohenjodaro circa 2,600 – 1,900 BCE. Credit: National Museum - See more at:

Guest curator and jewelry historian Usha Balakrishna told DNA India, “"India was the largest manufacturer and exporter of beads to the world at that time. […]They had the skill of tumbling beads, of cutting semi-precious hardstones, of shaping the beads. India was also home to the diamond and invented the diamond drill, which was then taught to the Romans." The ancient auspicious image of the swastika can be found on other items featured in the exhibit at the museum. Two square amulets feature lucky swastika symbolism, and Balakrishna says they are "the earliest known representations of swastika in gold known to us.” Other motifs decorating the artifacts are lions, fish, and the 'poorna ghat', known as a vase of plenty in religious ceremonies. The Indus Valley civilization (also called the Harappan era) was one of the earliest known cultures of the Old World, dating from approximately 3,300 to 1,900 BCE, and spanning widely across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, covering 1.25 million km2 at its height. Wikipedia notes that the engineering skills of the people were “remarkable”, with great achievements in measurement accuracy and craftsmanship. The subcontinent boasts the longest history of jewelry making in the world, stemming back 5,000 years. These first jewelers created gold earrings, necklaces, beads and bangles, and the wares would be used in trade, and worn mostly by females.
Ancient Harappan weight scales
Ancient Harappan weight scales. Wikimedia, CC
Sir John Marshall of the Archaeological Survey of India is to have been shocked at seeing samples of ancient Indus Valley bronze work in the early 1900s: “When I first saw them I found it difficult to believe that they were prehistoric; they seemed to completely upset all established ideas about early art, and culture. Modeling such as this was unknown in the ancient world up to the Hellenistic age of Greece, and I thought, therefore, that some mistake must surely have been made... ''
Replica of the prehistoric “Dancing Girl of Mohenjo Daro” circa 2,500 BC
Replica of the prehistoric “Dancing Girl of Mohenjo Daro” circa 2,500 BC, Wikimedia, CC.
The showcasing of the art, skills and craftsmanship of the Indus Valley civilization and their descendants is hoped to help fill in some of the gaps in understanding of the history and rich culture of ancient India. Featured Image: Artifact on display at the National Museum in Delhi featuring jewelry and adornment of the Indus Valley Civilization. Credit: National Museum.

4,000-Year-Old Copper Crown Found in India

Indian archaeologists uncovered a 4,000-year-old copper crown in the village of Chandayan, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh last week, from what they believe was the late Indus Valley civilization.
According to Dr. Rakesh Tewari, the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), this is only the second crown discovered at an Indus Valley site in either India or Pakistan. Earlier, a silver crown was found at another late Indus Valley site in what is now the Fatehabad district of Haryana state in northeast India.
“The person wearing the crown could be an important person of the society,” said Dr. A.K. Pandey, the director of the excavation at Chandayan and a superintending archaeologist at ASI.
Tewari said it was too early to tell if it belonged to a ruler in the region.
“It is not known if in those days, people used it as a crown or just as a head gear,” he said.
The copper crown, decorated with a Carnelian and a Fiance bead [both precious stones], was found on a skull and exposed by laborers while they extracting clay to make bricks in August. Word of the discovery spread around India, and caught the attention of the ASI, which started excavating the site in early December.
“Our objective was to undertake a salvage operation, just to look into what could be found around the site of the skeletal remain,” Tewari said.
 Earthen pots found at a burial site from the late Indus Valley civilization period in the village of Chandayan, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Earthen pots found at a burial site from the late Indus Valley civilization period in the village of Chandayan, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (A.K. Pandey/Archaeological Survey of India)  
More Discoveries During excavation, Pandey also found animal bones and mud pots at the same excavation depth as the burial site, but about 65 feet away. This suggests that an animal was sacrificed during a funeral ceremony for the person whose remains were found. “This was a practice in those days,” Pandey said. According to Pandey, another piece of the same crown, a pelvic bone, and femur of the left leg of the person was unearthed along with 21 earthen pots. One hundred and fifty feet away from the burial site, archaeologists also dug up a habitation site of the same period and found a compact floor, mud walls, and holes for fence posts. According to Pandey, the discovery is important because this is the first time evidence of a late Indus Civilization habitation was found so far east 
The remnants of a 4,000-year-old copper crown found on a skull from the late Indus Valley civilization period found at village of Chandayan
The remnants of a 4,000-year-old copper crown found on a skull from the late Indus Valley civilization period found at village of Chandayan, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (A.K. Pandey/Archaeological Survey of India).
I also found this related data.
4,000-year-old house found at Baghpat village offers rare clue to Harappan habitation
MEERUT: Here's something for history buffs to get excited about. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in excavations carried out at Chandyan village in Baghpat, have found remnants of a house that corresponds to the late Harappan period. The discovery is important since, according to archaeologists, this is the first time evidence of habitation pertaining to that period has been found in the Upper Doab region between Ganga and Yamuna.

The late Harappan phase pertains to the period starting around 1900-1800 BC when the Indus Valley Civilization, popularly known as the Harappan Culture, began to decline. The civilization, which is known for its superior urban planning, is believed to have flourished in the period between 3300 BC to 1300 BC in what is today Pakistan, northwest India and parts of Afghanistan and Balochistan.

Earlier in August, a human skull with a copper crown corresponding to the late Harappan period, was accidentally discovered at a brick kiln site in the village. The ASI started excavating the area on November 27 and found, to its delight, a number of items that pertained to the 4,000-yr-old era. "Till date, we have excavated around 20 burial pots, a pelvic bone of the same man whose skull we had found with a copper crown and a few beads like carnelian, faience and agate. However, the most interesting development, undoubtedly, is the evidence of habitation which was found for the first time. We excavated a mud wall with post holes where wooden pillars were probably fixed to support thatched roofs. We also found multi-level foundations that supported structures in different times," said AK Pandey, superintending archaeologist, ASI.