of the Aryan invasion
4.5. VEDIC ARYANS IN WEST
4.5.1. The Kassite and
anomaly in the AIT is the presence of the Mitanni kings in northern Mesopotamia,
with their Vedic cultural heritage and language, as early as the 15th century
BC, with absolutely no indication that they Were “the Aryans on the way
to India”. In fact, the Vedic memories appearing in the Mitanni texts
were already remote, with only four Vedic gods mentioned amid a long list
of non-Vedic gods. This does not in itself prove that the Mitanni
dynasty was post-Vedic, but it certainly confers the burden of proof on
those who want to declare it pre-Vedic.
language was mature Indo-Aryan, not proto-Indo-Iranian. Satya Swarup
Misra argues that the Mitannic languages already showed early Middle-Indo-Aryan
traits, e.g. the assimilation of dissimilar plosives (sapta > satta),
and the break-up of consonant clusters by interpolation of vowels (anaptyxis,
Indra > Indara).37 This would imply
that Middle-Indo-Aryan had developed a full millennium earlier than hitherto
assumed, which in turn has implications for the chronology of the extant
literature written in Middle-Indo-Aryan.
centuries before the Mitanni texts, there was a Kassite dynasty in Mesopotamia,
from the 18th to the 16th century BC. Linguistically assimilated,
they preserved some purely Vedic names: Shuriash, Maruttash, Inda-Bugash,
i.e. Surya, Marut, Indra-Bhaga (Bhaga meaning effectively “god”,
cfr. Bhag-wAn, Slavic Bog).
and Mitanni peoples were definitely considered as foreign invaders.
They are latecomers in the history of the IE dispersal, appearing at a
time when, leaving India out of the argument, at least the area from Iran
to France was already IE. They have little bearing on the Urheimat
question, but they have all the more relevance for mapping the history
of the Indo-Iranian group.
the Kassite and Mitannic tribes were part of the same migration, with the
latter settling in a peripheral area and thereby retaining their identity
a few centuries longer than the Kassites in the metropolitan area of Babylon.
According to Babylonian sources, the Kassites came from the swampy area
in what is now southern Iraq: unlike the Iranians, who migrated from India
through Afghanistan, the Kassites must have come by sea from Sindh to southern
Mesopotamia. While the Iranians migrated slowly, taking generations
to take control gradually of the fertile areas to the south of the Aral
Lake and of the Caspian Sea, the Kassites seem to have been a warrior group
moving directly from India to Mesopotamia to carry out a planned invasion
which immediately gave them control of the delta area, a bridgehead for
further conquests of the Babylonian heartland. They were a conquering
aristocracy, and having to marry native women, they lost their language
within a few generations, just like the Vikings after their conquest of
earlier Kassite and the later Mitanni people were indeed part of the same
migration, their sudden appearance falls neatly into place if we connect
them with the migration wave caused by the dessiccation of the Saraswati
area in ca. 2000 BC.
connections relevant to the Urheimat question have to be sought in a much
earlier period. Whether the country Aratta of the Sumerian
sources is really to be identified with a part of the Harappan area, is
uncertain; the Sumerian legend Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta (late
3rd millennium BC) mentions that Aratta was the source of silver, gold
and lapis lazuli, in exchange for grain which was transported not by ship
but over land by donkeys; this would rather point to the mining centres
in mountainous Afghanistan, arguably Harappan colonies but not the Harappan
area itself. However, if this Aratta is the same as the Indian AraTTa
(in West Panjab) after all, it has far-reaching implications. AraTTa
is Prakrit for A-rASTra, “without kingdom”. The point here
is not its meaning, but its almost Middle-Indo-Aryan shape. Like
sapta becoming satta in the Mitannic text, it suggest that
this stage of Indo-Aryan is much older than hitherto assumed, viz. earlier
than 2000 BC.
4.5.2. The Sumerian connection
material high tide of the Harappan culture, Mesopotamia had trade contacts
with Magan, the Makran coast west of the Indus delta, with Bad
Imin, “the seven cities”, and with Meluhha, the Indus valley.
The name Meluhha is probably of Dravidian origin: Asko
Parpola derives Meluhha, “to be read in the early documents with
the alternative value as Me-lah-ha”, from Dravidian Met-akam,
“high abode/country” (with mel/melu, “high”,
being the etymon of Sanskrit Meru, the cosmic mountain).38
Meluhha is the origin of Sanskrit Mleccha, Pali Milakkhu,
“barbarian”39: because of the unrefined sounds
of their Prakrit and because of their cultural impurity (whether by borrowing
foreign elements or simply by an indigenous decay of existing cultural
standards), the people of Sindh/Meluhha were considered barbarian by the
elites of Madhyadesh (the Ganga-Yamuna doab) during the Sutra period,
which non-invasionists date to the late 3rd millennium BC, precisely the
period when Mesopotamia had a flourishing trade with Meluhha.
is on for common cultural motifs between the Harappan culture and Sumer.
One element in literature which strikes the observer as meaningful, is
this: according to the account given by the Babylonian priest Berosus,
the Sumerians believed their civilization (writing and astronomy) had been
brought to the Mesopotamian coast by s sages, the first of whom was one
Uana-Adapa, better known through his Greek name Oannes. He
was a messenger of Enki, god of the Abyss, who was worshipped at the oldest
Mesopotamian city of Eridu. Like the Vedic “seven sages”, meaning
both the seven clans of Vedic seers as well as the seven major stars of
Ursa Maior, these seven sages are associated with the starry sky; like
the Matsya incarnation of Vishnu, Oannes’s body is that of a fish.
The myth of the Flood, wherein divine guidance helps the leader of mankind
(Sumerian Ziusudra, Sanskrit Manu, Akkadian Utnapishtim,
Hebrew Noah) to survive, is another well-known common cultural motif.
kings in Sumer are said by Berosus to have ruled for 120 periods of 3,600
years, or 432,000 years; epochs of 3600 years were
in use among Indian astronomers, and the mega-era of 432,000 is equally
familiar in India as the scripturally estimated (inexact) number of syllables
in the Rg Veda, and as the “high” interpretation of the length of the Kali-Yuga
.40 Rather than being a late borrowing, this
number 432,000 may well be part of the common IE heritage. At least
implicitly, it was present in Germanic mythology, which developed separately
from Hindu mythology for several millennia before Berosus (ca. 300 BC):
800 men at each of the 540 gates of Wodan’s palace makes for a total of
432,000. This does not prove any far-fetched claim that “the gods
were cosmonauts” or so, but it does show that early Indo-European had a
world view involving advanced arithmetic (Sanskrit being the first and
for many centuries the only language with terms for “astronomical” numbers),
and that they shared some of it with neighbouring cultures.
be confident that a deeper search, more alert to specifically Indian contributions
than is now common among sumerologists, will reveal more connections.
Through the Hittites, Philistines (i.e. the “Sea Peoples” originating on
the Aegean coasts and settling on the Egyptian and Gaza coasts in ca. 1200
BC), Mitannians and Kassites, elements of IE culture were known throughout
West Asia. Even ancient Israelite culture was culturally much more
Indo-European than certain race theorists would like to believe.
Misra: The Aryan Problem, p.10. Of course, the data are to be handled
with care, for the foreign script in which the Indo-Aryan words were rendered,
may not have been phonologically accurate.
Parpola: “Interpreting the Indus Script”, in A.H. Dani: Indus Civilisation:
New Perspectives, p.117-132, specifically p.121.
Pathak (“Semantics of Arya”, in S.B. Deo & S. Kamath: The
Aryan Problem, p.93) derives the modem ethnic term Baluch from
Bloch (< Blukh < Mlukh) < Meluhha.
This is very unlikely, if only because the Baluchis have immigrated into
this area from Western Iran during the early Muslim period. Before
that, in most of the areas where Pashtu and Baluchi are now spoken, the
language was Indo-Aryan Prakrit.
in Ivan Verheyden: “Het begon met Oannes”, Bres (Antwerp), May 1976.
Strictly, Kali-Yuga is to last for 1,200 years, but since “a year among
men is but a day among the gods”, scribes have magnified the number to
360 x 1,200 = 432,000.
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