Horse argument, part 4 (of 4)

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Tue Mar 31 19:07:14 UTC 1998

Absurd assertions on the topic of chariots and horse made by Indologists
abound. I will give two examples below. For now, all I can say is that
statements about horses and chariots made by Indologists and
Indo-Europeanists must be treated with extreme caution.

Facts about horse size and use of onager and onager- donkey crosses,
which can be found in ``Horse Power'' with pointers to more detailed
references, should put to rest the usual nonsense about horse drawn
vehicles being frightening to people of 2nd millennium BCE Near East.
Elementary consideration of military tactics and the construction of
early chariots make it clear that the 2nd m. chariot could not have been
used like a tank. Yet Indologists continue to assert that chariots were
`tanks'. This includes one who, in this forum, complained about how
others make uninformed statements lingusitic matters without bothering
to learn the basics of the subject!

Parpola, quoted by Houben, elsewhere (Deciphering the Indus script, p.
151)asserts that the steppe `chariots' were more sophisticated because
they had more spokes. As both weight and strength increase with the
number of spokes, while the Egyptian chariots were more than adequately
durable [see tests with reconstructed chariots in Spruytte ], it is the
lesser number of spokes that is more advanced. When we take into account
the fact that Egyptian chariots used composite hubs and compound spokes,
this becomes even stronger. It is sheer nonsense to assert that greater
number of spokes indicates greater sophistication. Are we supposed to
believe that Egyptians used only four or six spokes because they
couldn't count any higher?


It is also common to assert that Indo-iranians taught chariotry to
others in the Near East because of the Kikkuli text. But the Hittite
archives contain other texts on horse breeding/management and
chariotry. Some of them are older than the Kikkuli text. References
can be found in ``Wheeled vehicles''.


To summarize, the horse argument, as given by the `usual sources'
has serious problems that are apparent to any one who has taken time to
look read the literature, but which Indologists continue to ignore by
the effective strategem of remaining ignorant of information that
contradicts what they want to believe.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list