Tampering with history

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Fri Jun 19 08:49:00 UTC 1998

Sn Subrahmania wrote:

At 16:44 18.06.98 -0500, you wrote:
>Let me make a point clear:
>When I say "retrofitting" - I am questioning the methodology of
>the migrationists - i.e first assuming that a migration happened
>and then trying to interpret data accordingly.

You do it again. You ascribe an assumption to the migrationists and then
accuse them of chosing data selectively to support their theory. Which is
exactly what your side could be accused of. However, historically, the
original assumption was NOT that the aryans came from Eurasia. (Mallory
gives an historical description here of the course of theoretical
development here). The reason for the "removal" of the Aryans from India to
Europe, was the insight that there were far more Indo-European languages in
Europe than in India, which, among other things, would suggest that Europe
or Eurasia would be the starting point of the Indo-European expansion. Thus,
your retrofitting hypothesis does not really stick.

>This is crucial, especially when equally valid other options/interpretations
>are avaliable - for eg: Retroflexion - is it because of migration or
>is it an internal  development ?
>If one chooses migration -  what evidence is there to choose it ?.
>If one calls it internal development - then what is the available evidence ?.

Retroflexion may be both. Modern Norwegian and Swedish both have
retroflexion, which developed quite independently of Dravidian languages!

>I would pick internal development, because there is no evidence of
>any migration  from evidences like archeology, textual or genetic.

Archaeology: There is some evidence (see Parpola). Textual: See Witzel's
reconstruction of early Indo-Aryan history based on Vedic. Genetic:
According to the genetic studies I have read, there is genetic evidence. I
believe a book on the subject is forthcoming in India with a contribution by

>If one notices, the original evidence for a invasion/migration
>i.e textual (racist interpretations like dasa,anaasa etc) and archeological
>(Harappa was destroyed by invading aryans..) are no longer valid.

That is perfectly true. A very good deconstruction of the racist theory is
given by Trautmann in his book on the Ayans and the British. And Indologists
ceased believing in the alleged Aryan destruction of the Harappan culture
many years ago. I think since Wilhelm Rau wrote about the forts that the
Aryans destroyed, which was in the early seventies.

>Thus the original evidence on which invasion/migration was postulated
>doesnt exist !...So - the linguistic evidence  which relied on such
>archeological confirmation is also suspect !!.

Not true. SOME of the supposed evidence has been discarded. But certainly
not all. And new evidence has emerged.

>The bottom line is - when linguistic evidence is proposed - corroborative
>evidence from other sources should be available. Proceeding with an
>initial assumption of a migration, interpreting linguistic data accordingly
>and then asserting that there is linguistic evidence of a migration is
>example of a "circular" evidence.

Corroborative evidence is always an advantage. But I know of no historical
example where a language family has spread over a large part of a continent
simply by dint of example. If the Aryan languages didn't come from India,
they would have to have entered the subcontinent, and to be carried there by
a group of people large enough to make a real impact. I suspect that by the
year 1000 BCE, Northern India was a bit like Latin America 300 years ago:
Lots of Europeans streaming in, mostly Spanish speaking, and confronting the
local populations.

>For the rest, I guess we should agree to diagree and leave it at that.

I am afraid you are right. It is a bit sad that you don't want to discuss
the methodical problems involved in the study of ancient history. Discussing
proofs when we don't even agree upon what would constitute a proof is a bit

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo

Tel: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at online.no
Mobile phone: 90 91 91 45

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