Rv/Mittani

Bjarte Kaldhol bjartekal at AH.TELIA.NO
Tue Nov 7 06:51:14 EST 2000


Dear listmembers,

This is an obvious mixture of facts and fiction, and I would need weeks to
correct even parts of it on the basis of my limited knowledge. First of
all, those who want to write about Syro-Mesopotamia should learn languages
like Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, Urartean, Hittite, Hebrew, Kassite (!),
and keep themselves updated on the thousands of archaeological reports from
Syro-Mesopotamian sites. Let us find the facts first, let us sort out the
"hard" facts, let us respect them, and then discuss if any conclusions can
be drawn. Most important in this respect is that except for the few
possibly IA names (mostly so garbled that many etymologies are possible)
and a very few appellatives, there are as yet no archaeological traces,
such as temples, images of gods etc., of an Indo-Aryan presence in the
Mittani heartland, and probably no genuine IA place names anywhere near
Syro-Mesopotamia (more about this another time) until Iranian times. The
Mittani temple excavated at Tell Brak is Syrian, Sau$tattar's seal, as well
as other royal seals, is Syrian, written in Sumerian (DUMU for "son of")
with Syrian religious symbols. The Hurrian, Sumerian, Akkadian and Hebrew
names of the horse were not borrowed from Indo-Aryan. If anything is an old
canard, this must be it. The Luwianized word a$$o$$anni is, as far as I can
see, a Hurrian word made from Hurrian e$$e, with Luwian a- for Hurrian e-,
(= horse, pronounced "ethe") plus a morpheme -(o)$$e- denoting collectivity
or "place where", plus the Hurrian nominalizer -(a)nni, here denoting a
profession. It would mean something like "person in charge of the horses,
or, of the "horse place", "stable". (See also Ivanov's article about "Horse
Symbols and the Name of the Horse in Hurrian" in BIBLIOTHECA MESOPOTAMICA,
Vol. 26, valuable, though speculative in some respects). For Kassite names,
see Annelies Kammenhuber, DIE ARIER IM VORDEREN ORIENT.

Best wishes
Bjarte Kaldhol,
Oslo

----------
> From: Subrahmanya S. <subrahmanyas at HOTMAIL.COM>
> To: INDOLOGY at LISTSERV.LIV.AC.UK
> Subject: Re: Rv/Mittani
> Date: 7. november 2000 07:47
>
> This message was posted on Indology more than 2 years ago -
> Here are some excerpts from
> "The Emergence of the Indo-Iranians: The Indo-Iranian
> languages." Harmatta, In History of Civilizations of Central Asia.
> Ed: A.H.Dani and V.M.Masson
>
> Harmatta writes {begin quote}"
> In the scanty linguistic material of the Kassites three important
> terms denoting deities occur: Suriyas,Maruttas and Bugas corresponding
> to the Old Indian names Surya, Marut and Bhaga. Surya and Marut are
unknown
> in Old Iranian; this fact clearly points to the borrowing by the Kassites
> of these names from the Proto-Indian. Thus, linguistic evidence speaks
> clearly for the assumption that the people of war-charioteers, which had
> induced the Kassites to invade Babylonia, belonged to the Proto-Indians."
> .........
> "...Proto-Indian linguistic influence was considerable on the vocabulary
> of horse breeding, horse training, social life and training as shown by
> the following list of Proto-Indian terms borrowed by the Hurrians and
> other peoples of Western Asia.
> Horse breeding and horse training:
>     azvani 'horse driver';azva 'horse'. This term was borrowed by
>     Heiroglyphic Hittite in the form azuwa, by Hebrew in the form of the
>     radical s-w-s(<*azvas) becoming sus and by Akkadian with metathesis
>     *azvas s-w-s > s-s-w giving sisu.
>     *vazhanasya Gen.'ground', vartani 'round', babhru 'brown', palita
'grey'
>     pingala 'red', *aika -'one', tri 'three', panca 'five', sapta
'seven',
>     nava 'nine', vart 'to turn', rathya 'part of the chariot'
> Social life:
>     marya 'member of the charioteer aristocracy', *mizdha 'wage',
>     magha 'gift,present', mani 'necklace', rukma 'jewel', khadi
'bracelet'
> Religion:
>     Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya, Agni (in Hittite ritual texts)
>     'names of gods'
> (Phonetic forms which are earlier than Vedic Indian are marked with an *)
>
> Also many personal names are known; they enlarge considerably our
knowledge
> of the Proto-Indian vocabulary. There were heated debates to the extent
> and importance of the Proto-Indian ethnic elements in Mesopotamia. In the
> present writers opinion recent research tends to underestimate or even
> to deny the role played by the Proto-Indians in Mesopotamia in general
> and in the Mittani kingdom in particular." {end quote}
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