Chariots (was horse argument) 2/2

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Jun 8 12:33:14 UTC 1998

On Fri, 5 Jun 1998, Vidhyanath Rao wrote:

> I guess I am totally ignorant. What PIE words are unquestionably
> connected to chariotry? [Let us concentrate on chariots in this
> thread.]

I think I gave a few last time and detailed the difficulties with them.

> A minor point: Kikkuli was a Hurrian, as were the young men recruited
> into the mariannu (and according to Diakonoff, that word has a
> satifactory Near Eastern etymology.

Yes as I have been saying all along : the MItanni had been in PRIOR
contact with some (Proto-)Indo_aryans.

Maria-nnu is a separate problem, as -nnu is a common Mitanni (Hurrite)
suffix. cf. babhru 'brown' (horse) and Mitanni babru-nnu. That leaves
maria- and that can be connected with Avestan mairiia [marya] 'scoundrel'
and Vedic marya 'young man, young warrior', etc. etc.  The case as been
under discussion for many decades.  No definite solution in sight.  (most
materials in M.  Mayrhofer, Etym. Woerterbuch, 1996 p. 330)

> The point is that we have fragments of other texts on horses and
> period<, almost 300 years before Kikkuli.

Fine, but the question remains. Why Kikkuli at all? The Hittite texts are
from a State Archive. You do not copy 'official' texts just "to have the
book". They all (including myths) have  their purpose.

> And what is the evidence for claiming that Mitannis' methods were
> better?

Better? Did I say so? -- maybe different, maybe better for certain
training situations, I vaguely remember some study to that effect:
When I get the time I will inform on recent studies of the Kikkuli text

> >The turn (vartana) is around the pole at the end of the track. [...]
> >Yes, but there also is 1 turn only:

> I did not know that only the turn at the end was counted. I will
> appreciate textual citations that prove this

Will have to search in my office...
At any rate, Avestan has (1) the normal case:

Yast 13.8: "they drive to the distant turning point (dUraE-uruuaEsa-) of
the path, to reach the turning point (uruuaesa)...

Zoroaster himself likes to use this ONE turning point (as may racing
terms) in his 'theology": 'at the furthest turning point of life (death)'
(usteme uruuaEse gaiiehe), Yasna 43.5 etc., "at the final aim of creation"
(from where the Christian' final judgement'): apEmE anghEus uruuaEsE,
(Vistasp Yast 51.6) , i.e. the decisive moment where you crash or not, in
his terms: go to 'heaven' or to fall into molten metal...

But (2), Avestan also has: races with not just one turn (Mitanni
aika-vartana) in a race but more (Mit. tri-, panza-, satta-, nava-vartana)
are also reflected, then of course requiring TWO turning points: "like
horses wanting to reach the turning point in front (fratara- uruaEsa-)
from the one in the back (apara- uruuaEsa-)." Vistasp Yast 29

> >(if imported from the Near East you would use the Near Eastern
> >term,like gilgul 'wheel': see below).

> Not always. People use loan translations too.

Yes, indeed, or rather also NEW (descriptive) formations imitating, before
their time, Engl. slang "my wheels" = my car, Latin currus etc.; -- but to
turn the table:  as may be the case in the Greek etc. words for

In such cases we need other, corroborative evidence.

Michael Witzel                       witzel at

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