Tampering with history

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Sat Jun 20 09:58:02 UTC 1998

Sn Subrahmania wrote:

>>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 very debatable. It is not right to say that India does not have
>linguistic diversity !!. The range of languages in India is mind boggling.

No one is denying that. I was talking about Indo-European languages.

>Actually, the presence of Kentum traces in some of the Indian languages,
>that has been suggested by Zoller isnt much of a surprise to Indigenists.
>Also, it wouldnt be surprising at all if more Kentum traces are found in
>the Dardic, Kafir and other languages in N.India.
>From Tarim Basin to Baluchistan you find tremendous variety of languages -
>Tocharian, Dardic,so called "Kafir", Bangani, Brahui etc...

The status of Bangani is so far debatable. As for Brahui, it is Dravidian,
not Indo-European. There is a debate on whether Brahui is the descendant of
the people that inhabited the Harappa region, or whether it was introduced
in its present place in medieval times through a migration.

>Also migrationists typically tend to regard the language of the Rgveda as
>indicative of all Arya presence in the subcontinent. This is not correct.
>The Rgveda mostly represents a Puru dialect. There were most definitely
>other people in the area who  considered themselves "Arya" as well.

I think it is clear from Prakrit languages that the dialect situation was
more complex than the written testimonies would seem to imply. But linguists
are aware of that.

>>Retroflexion may be both. Modern Norwegian and Swedish both have
>>retroflexion, which developed quite independently of Dravidian languages!
>You are right. That is why it is not correct to say that migration into
>India caused the development of retroflexion.

Retroflexion in Sanskrit may be caused by contact with non-IE languages, or
it may be something that developed in Sanskrit for internal reasons. But
there is far more than retroflexion to indicate a migration.

>>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
>Witzels reconstruction of Vedic Textual history demands all kinds
>of reminiscences !!.  Let us not get into that again.
>None of the archeologists seem to think that there is any evidence
>of a migration.

Not true. Mallory is an archaeologist, and he doesn't seem to mind the
migration theory at all. The fact is that in the West, very few people in
Academia, whether linguists or archaeologists, disagree with the migration
theory. The ones that reject it, do so because there is little *material*
evidence that a migration took place. But this implies that all migrations
would have to be characterised by material evidence. This, however, is not
necessarily the case. Witzel has already given a couple of examples of this.

>As for the genetic evidence, let us wait for the book.
>>>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.
>Please give details, as to what has not been discarded and what the new
>evidence is.

As far as I can see, details have been given several times over, often by
Witzel. E.g.: The idea that India was "invaded" by a military force of
Indo-Aryans that proceeded to destroy the Indus culture, has been rejected.
Apart from that, I refer to the lists presented by Witzel.

>>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.
>You make an excellent point here !..Is central asia been capable of producing
>the population needed to go all around Asia and Europe to make such an impact
>as the Indo-Europeans have done. Nomads who generally do not have such surplus
>food cannot be expected to produce the population needed to colonize such a
>large area !!. Is Ukraine capable of producing the population neeeded to go
out and
>populate the whole area form India to Ireland so thorougly as the
>Indo-Europeans have ?

You seem to forget a few details here. The Indo-European expansion took
place over a period of 2-3000 years. Not all Indo-Europeans left Ukraina
directly. Based on genetic evidence, it seems more probable that they would
stay in a place for some centuries, then some of them would move on (a
multi-centre model). Basically the pattern you find among the Greeks and
their colonies in the Mediterranean in ancient times. It is also very
probable that Indo-Europeans mixed with the local populations they came to
dominate, so that the genetic basis of the Indo-Europeans was rather mixed
both in Europe and elsewhere. As for South Asia, the genetic evidence would,
according to Cavalli-Sforza, be compatible with a migration of people from
Anatolia, which would imply that the Indo-Aryans spent some time in that
area, and that Anatolians were part of the "genetic make-up" of the Aryans
that entered Anatolia in the second millenium B.C.E.

>>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.
>Wrong!. First you have to prove that whatever area in Central Asia could
>the population needed to overwhelm all of North India and impose its own
>and language on a more advanced civilization.

I do not have to prove anything of the sort. If the Aryans were a mixed lot
of people, linguistically unified, but genetically diverse, and if there was
a substantial component of Anatolians among them, there is no reason to
doubt that there would be enough people to "fill up" parts of India with
Indo-Aryans. Anyway, we have to define what "many" is supposed to mean.
Since we do not have censuses for the period, we can only work on the basis
of models. In other words, we must look at what happened in other places in
the ancient world. And if we do, there is really little reason to doubt a
migration theory.

>>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

>I am willing to discuss the methodical problem - but did not want to
>get into a rhetoric match.

I am afraid that we are in a rhetorical match no matter what we do :-)!

But I really think it is high time that we start to look at what we mean
when we use such words as "proof" and "evidence". What I tried to show with
my statistical story in my last posting, is that even very strong evidence
still does not constitute proof in the mathematical sense of the word. It is
a thread which deserves a follow-up.

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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