Indo-Aryan im/e-migration: Horse argument

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Thu Mar 19 15:29:32 UTC 1998

"N. Ganesan" <GANESANS at CL.UH.EDU> wrote:

> "Dominique.Thillaud" <thillaud at UNICE.FR> wrote:
> >>         Perhaps a difference between knowing horses and having a cultur
> >> based on them. Do you won't really compare this few remains with the
> >> material of the Scythian graves?
> >Do the remains of horses in India ever reach the levels of Scythian
> >graves, at least before 1000 CE?
> At least, Horses increase in numbers dramatically. Horses
> are allied to positions of power, eg: Bharhut stupa basreliefs.

How were the number of actual horses (not sculptures) estimated?

Representations of horses and chariots in sculptures raise serious
questions. Comparing the discussions of actual functional chariots
by Littauer, Spruytte etc with the representations of chariots at
Sanchi make me wonder if the sculptors of Sanchi had first hand knowledge
chariots. Sanchi sculputres show the yoke rather high on the neck,
and ``girths'' running at angles that would be impossible for ropes
in tension. But there are no representations (or textual evidence for)
yoke saddles that would make this physically possible, even if still
a little implausible. (Yoke saddle would be neccessary for fast
maneuverable chariots with neck yokes. Without yoke saddles and backing
elements, we would have at most carriages useful for parades and straight
line travelling, with turns few and done at a walk.)

As Littauer pointed out once, it is hard to reconcile things like this
with claims of horse loving chariot riding Central Asian nomads
setting up shop. On the other hand, if horses and chariots were
rare items acquired by trade and had only symbolic value, and were
not in routine use, then this would not seem so strange.


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