Tampering with history I

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Jun 19 13:18:01 UTC 1998

I really do not have the time now, but since I have been quoted... my (for
the time being) final answer.  And then, I have to divert to other
pursuits... (Answer in 2 parts):

On Thu, 18 Jun 1998, Sn. Subrahmanya wrote:

> Please provide references to linguistic evidence (collected since
> 150 years! ) that has conclusively proved a migration.

I provided a list of items from the spiritual and material culture
etc. of the Rgveda last week and invited members to show that these
items could have developed in South Asia and could have spread from there
to Iran, Turkey, Europe..

Interestingly, nobody has tried so far....

On the contrary, the evidence for language, concepts, plants, animals,
spiritual and material culture "foreign" to the subcontinent is a long
one, I will just mention a few selected examples here.

(Such items have been added to, of course, by local South Asian ("Indian"
for short) items, as hapens everywhere: American English has words
such as squaw, papoose, tipi, moose, woodchuck, etc. which everyone will
immediately recognize as non_Anglo_Saxon; though I could imagine some
zelots who would find an Anglo-Saxon etymology even for them...But the
British immigrants here still called a squirrel a squirrel as it is the
same animal, reddish in Europe, gray here in N. America... Compare this
well recognized procedure with the items below)

Some items:

1. Linguistics. How can even the oldest hymns of the Rgveda (1500, 4000,
8000 BC???) have the absolutive (ga-tvaa, samgam-ya etc)  but none of the
other Indo-European languages (not even the closely related dialects of
Old Iranian)??
If Early Sanskrit had spread from the Panjab westwards and become IE
elsewhere why did the emigrants forget their absolutives as soon as the
crossed the Khyber or Bolan passes?
(many more exx.)
If the absolutive is a local Panjab invention (as linguists think),
why did it develop there as a clear INNOVATION based on older IE materials
(the archaic  -tu stem!) and why not before?

2. Religion. Why does India have the clearly archaic "FATHER HEAVEN" DYAUS
PITAA(R) (e.g. 'wrong' accusative dyAm, Greek zEn etc.) who is found in
Greek, Latin etc. but lost as an "active" deity almost immediately after
the Rgveda; he survived into historical times in Rome, Greece, Sweden etc.
(and Engl. "Tues-day). Where is the Indian source for that concept (and of
mother earth) in Dravidian, Burushaski, Munda, the Indus Seals etc etc.?

3. Ritual. Horse sacrifice is widely spread from Ireland to Waragaean
Russia (and, yes, to the Sintashta burials East of the Urals) but it is
also found with the neighboring Turkic peoples ( I think down to be start
of this century in the Altai Mountains). But where is the Indian source of
this (before, let us be modest, the Swat Valley sites in the middle of the
2nd millennium BC.)
The central role of fire rituals?
Even nicer: the origin of the ancestor rituals, such as zraaddha &

4.Domesticated Animals. Why do the Indo-Aryans (in the Rgveda) use
non-Indian (+ IE) terms for domesticated cows (same archaic accusative
forms as in Dyaus Pitaa), sheep, goat, -- all of which had been found
there since 7000 BC or so; (and of course for the horse which has not
conclusively been attested in S.  Asia before 1700 BC). Why not local
words such as Dravidian, Munda etc.???

5. Wild animals. Why do they also do so for *colder* climate animals such
as the wolf, beaver etc.? And conversely, why do the "emigrant'
Indo_Euro[peans in Iran and Europe do not use ANY linguistically local
Indian words for tropical animals such as tiger (pundarika), lion (simha)
etc. but OTHER, non_Indian words (tiger, leo(n)/lis/sher) ??  Again
collective amnesia the moment they crossed the Khyber into Iran??  (The
Gypsies who came from NW India *DO* remember: pani, churi...; "I/you..
do": karav, karas, karal...)

6. Plants. Why do some colder climate plants survive in Sanskrit but not
vice versa, Indian words in Iran/Europe? Bhuurja "birch tree", probably
the willow, but not: pipal tree, lotos flower (which is found in Iran, and
in a smaller variety even in Europe (though I do not know since when),etc.

7. Family. Why does IE family structure (patrilinear etc., Omaha type )
and the designation for it agree with the Vedic one but not with the
Dravidian and Munda one?

8. Society. Why does the structure of society (even without Dumezil) agree
with the IE one, including the role of "kings" and poets/priests? What
about the role of the poets, their training, maybe their several "levels
of status"?

9. Poetry. Why is early Dravidian poetry in concept and form so different
from the Rgvedic one, which shares many items with the Iranian and IE
poetry in general? Including the Vedic/Iranian/Greek 11-syllable meter?
The two level poetic language (sacred/non-sacred; gods: adversaries). And
why no export of the Tamil model westwards? What about IE sorcery spells
(Atharvaveda-Old High German, AV - Hittite, etc.)?

10. Technology. Why does Vedic share technological terms with Iran/Europe
(wheel, axle, axe, carpenter, etc.) but not with India?  (akSa > accu,
aaNi are early loans into Tamil).

(CONTD, in PART 2)
Michael Witzel                       witzel at fas.harvard.edu

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