Horses/Indus seals

Edwin Bryant ebryant at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sun May 17 19:03:06 UTC 1998

On Sun, 17 May 1998, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:

> I believe the point here is that the horse plays a central role in
> Indo-European ritual, which is why we would expect to find it on the seals.
> The reason why the bull is frequently represented on the seals may be that
> it played a role in the Indus culture which it didn't play in Indo-European
> culture. The camel may have played no significant part in the culture apart
> from performing menial work.

The point, as I understand it, is that irrespective of the debate
concerning the findings of horse *bones*, if the horse (and by
extension the I-A's) were present in the IVC, the horse would be
represented figuratively on the seals given its prominence in I-A culture.
Therefore neither the horse nor the I-A's were significantly present in
the IVC (and the residents of the IVC may have been culturally partial to
the bull, etc).

To reiterate the counter point that is offered by Indigenous Aryanists, the
cow is also very prominent in I-A culture (even if camel and other animals
are not), but this bovine also does not appear on the seals -- and there
is no doubt that cow bones have been found in large quantities.  From
this perspective (which is open to considering that the I-A's may have had
some significant presence in the IVC), the significance of an animal
culturally (or, more specifically, its significance in I-A culture) may
not be reflected by its occurrence or absence on the seals -- there may
have been other factors at work regarding which animals commanded the
artistic attention of the seal makers.  The horse seal lacuna,
accordingly,  cannot therefore be a decisive factor in determining the
linguistic identity of the inhabitants of the IVC.

        As you note, and as is the case with all the 'evidence' in this
whole debate, here we have another example of how the same data is read
very differently when viewed through different predispositions or
perspectives.   Regards,  Edwin Bryant

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