Horse argument revisited

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Sun May 10 18:34:15 UTC 1998

It is deja vu all over again!

I don't want to repeat every thing I said during the previous round,
which was about a month ago. I have verified that these are in the
Indology archives. I will simply repeat the two questions I asked then,
questions which nobody answered. [For more detailed references, see the
list posted then or descend recursively into their references.]

Firstly, the similarities in the rituals cannot be taken as proof that
the rituals go back to PIE days. True chariots cannot be dated back before
1800 BCE. [the Shintasha vehicle cannot have been very maneuverable:
See Littauer and Crouell, Antiquity '96]. So the similarities in how
chariot races were integrated into rituals cannot go back to PIE days,
but must instead be ascribed to diffusion or parallel evolution. Why
should other details related to horses be any different? Without addressing
this question, the argument as put forth by Georg von Simson can only
prove that the Vedic culture is post mature phase Harappan, not that
horse was not brought in trade contacts.

Second: David Anthony is certain that Sredny Stog (sp?) culture used
bits to control horses, based on evidence of tooth wear from a horse
found there. However, Arrian and other Hellenistic sources clearly that
the bit was unknown in India at the time of Alexander. Their description
of Indian horse control mechanism indicates the use of a dropped nose
band. This is supported by references to `nasor yama.h' [note the dual:
nasor must mean `at the >nostrils<'] and horses bound at the nose [for
true bits, the band(s) would be higher up.] This is known from 2nd
millennium BCE Near East for horses and 3rd for asses/hemiones. If
Indo-Aryans and their ancestors had unbroken association with
domesticated horse, why did they give up the bit for the inferior
nose band control? Without answering this question, the argument
based on a"sva as put forth by M. Vidal  cannot be conclusive.

Without satisfactory answers to these questions, it would be simpler to
assume that the domesticated horse came to India via contact with Near
East rather than via migrants from the Pontic area. Already in 1968,
Littauer drew attention to the fact that, according to Herodotus,
Indians on occassion used hemiones to draw chariots at the time of
Darius (see also AA 3.2.4). Such use is known from Ancient Near East,
but not in the Ist millennium. This might be relevant inv view of
theories that have been proposed based on the Sangam Tamil ivuli
(I think I got that right, but I will need to check this).

BTW, I remember Lehman saying somewhere in ``Theoretical Bases of
Indo-European'' that `ek'uo' cannot be pre-IE and might be a loan! This
is apparently a consequence of his views on the history of velars (or
tectals) in IE. In particular, he gave the impression that he considers
the sequence k'u strange. [What about the word for dog?]. I don't really
understand `internal reconstruction', and would appreciate any comments
of this `heresy' of Lehman. [Of course, the Greek hipppos is strange
from the viewpoint of IE history, and the i is already there in Myc.]

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