Indo-Aryan invasion

Erik Seldeslachts erik.seldeslachts at RUG.AC.BE
Fri Feb 27 10:49:24 UTC 1998

Lars Martin Fosse wrote:

> I suspect that the Aryan "invasion" occurred because
> the Indus culture became weakened by the ecological catastrophy that seems
> to have hit it and was unable to fend off intruders. Compare the influx of
> Germanic tribes in the Western Roman empire in the fifth and sixth centuries
> CE. Germans had been present in Rome for centuries before they were able to
> ravage the area.

Why should the Indo-Aryans have been so keen on entering an ecologically and
economically ruined but still overcrowded country like that of the
Sindhu/Sarasvati? In this there is no comparison with the Roman empire of the
fifth and sixth centuries, which was still economically attractive to all kinds of
More likely, the local population would have migrated away in several directions.
In that way there is ample scope for an out of India model, not of Indo-Europeans
of course, but of the Indo-Aryan population of the Sarasvati area. The Indo-Aryans
of the ancient Near-East are the first and most clearly attested of those
emigrants from India, but they are not the only ones. By the way, there are still
out-of-India people living among us, viz. the Gypsies. Of course there migration
started much later, but under the comparable conditions of the economic crisis of
the 5th-6th century A.D.
On the other hand it is perfectly possible to reconcile this picture with an
into-India model, which in any case seems also inevitable on linguistic and other
grounds. The reason why archeologically and genetically nothing is found of an
intrusion of Indo-Aryans in India may simply be that one is not looking in the
right period. I believe - and this is also what Renfrew proposes - the intrusion
of Indo-Aryans has to be pushed much further back in time, at least to the 4th
millennium BC, but possibly even much further back.
The weakness of the traditional Indo-Aryan invasion model lies precisely in the
fact that the arguments are maybe partially right in se but do not tally with a
number of findings about the period envisaged for that invasion. I have the
impression that more and more researchers, also in the West, begin to feel very
uneasy about the fact that every fact known about ancient India is pressed into
the straitjacket of a theory that has brought no new insights in the past century.

Erik Seldeslachts
Universiteit Gent
Gent    Belgium

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