method of dating RV, I (was: Indo-Aryan im-/e-migration discussion and beyond . . . )

Wed Jun 3 16:17:01 UTC 1998

So we come back to 'method'.

And I turn to Michael Witzel's reaction to my suggestion on "how to proceed the
discussion and to make it more fruitful"

(1 Jun 1998,  Michael Witzel on Indo-Aryan im-/e-migration discussion and

I wrote:
>> The two periods of urbanization are now
>> archeologically well established,  ...
>> Aryans must have been around in the north of the Indian subcontinent.

Michael Witzel wrote:
> Your statement about internal chronology (RV ---> YV  and no rice --->
> rice)  are indeed staple food for Vedicists.

Yes, but now we proceed to apply the "indexing" as suggested in my post:
"Each statement . . . should probably be indexed according to the evidence and
estimates on which it is based."

Such indexing
- will reduce the risk of accidental mixing up of personal guesses in which one
strongly beliefs with statements which can really be backed up with solid
- attracts attention of colleagues to weaker points where improvements are
still to be made;
- allows for more fruitful cooperation between archeologists, linguists, and
specialists in other disciplines
- will be more fair to a general public which may tend to take any statement by
a scholar as a result of scientific research, and hence to accept either all or
none of them;
- can stimulate a shift from personal judgements to the arguments in support of
them, hence something of the individualism regretted by L.M. Fosse can perhaps
be avoided (although lonely hours with the texts will remain necessary).

Let us make a start:
The two periods of urbanization are archeologically well established. What is
the methodological status of this statement? How strong are the data and
arguments in support of it? Ideally, we should distinguish several parameters:
(1) numerical strength of pieces of evidence (f.i. many sites show increasing
urbanization in certain period);
(2) individual qualitative strength of pieces of evidence (e.g. how clear are
the remains of houses, city plans, etc);
(3) mutual indepence of pieces of evidence (the more independent the better).
(4) strength of the additional arguments needed to arrive at final conclusion
(can we be sure that finding an increasing number of house-remains points to
increasing urbanization? perhaps the people changed from tent cities to cities
with houses, etc.)
For the sake of convenience we take the average of these parameters on a scale
of, say, 0-100. (100 only for well-documented recent events, such as, sorry for
the example, the nuclear explosions in India and Pakistan; but actually, were
there really five in Pakistan?)

The Gangetic urbanization from 6th century BCE onward can than be rated at,
say, 80: it is quite certain that there was such a thing.
The Sarasvati-Indus urbanization 3000-2000 BCE can be rated with as much
certainty at 80.

More in my next posting.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list