method of dating RV, III

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Tue Jun 23 21:52:08 UTC 1998

In a message dated 98-06-11 07:34:02 EDT, JHOUBEN at RULLET.LEIDENUNIV.NL writes:

<< Further remarks on Michael Witzel, who wrote on Wed, 10 Jun 1998:

 >> Quite another thing which must have been around but was not referred to
 >> is the iSTakA or brick (or is there another RV-ic word referring to
 >> it?).

 >But there is alrady Iranian (Avest.) is'tiia, from the same root...
 >Apparently they knew of bricks, maybe learned it from the (pre-)BMAC
 >cultures, before c.  2000 BC. at the northern fringes of Iran/Afghanistan.
 >Note the two separate formations (perhaps, also cf. Tocharian izcem).

 In any case, the Rgvedic poets did - apparently - not refer to a brick,
 one for daily use, nor one for ritual purposes. Only the latter 'omission'
 could perhaps be explained with reference to their association with the Hotr-
 As for word-history and etymology, is'tiia occurs only in young Avestan
 (according to both Bartholomae and Mayrhofer) and in "altpersisch" (according
 to Mayrhofer), i.e. in the cuneiform inscriptions from ca. 520 B.C. onwards.
 Ritualistic, intra-vedic etymology of the Yajurvedic iSTikA/iSTakA seems
 perspicuous, but Iranian terms are difficult to fit in, point to an older
 with a different but problematic etymology. Primacy of ritualistic term of
 Yajurveda is of course also problematic: why would the Iranians borrow it in
 time when they must already have been acquainted with the object?

 >> But an iSTakA having technical
 >> links with the Harappan culture appears soon after the RV in the YVic
 >> texts and was used in the Agnicayana (cf. Romila Thapar in Staal's Agni,
 >> vol. 2).

 >They did not take the closely related Iranian evidence into account...
 >Not everything must come from Harappa... (Staal now has a paper, forthc.,
 >which takes note of the Avestan evidence).

 Interesting. But, whatever the Iranian connections, the Harappan ruins were
 still around (perhaps directly referred to by the RV poets), and presumably
 also some local people who had not yet forgotten the technique of burning
 bricks (cf. the acculturation), though they apparently could not get
 any more to build monumental constructions like in the Sarasvati-Indus civ.

 JH >>

If my understanding of Jan Houben's position is correct, there does not seem
to be a consenus on the etymology of iSTaka. I would appreciate if the experts
discuss what relationship, if any, the word for brick has to do with the word
iSTi and its etymology.

S. Palaniappan

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