Sarasvati (texts & arch.II)

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri May 29 23:09:42 UTC 1998

P. Manasala wrote:

> >From this point, you give mostly explanations as to why we don't find
> what we would expect to find.  Quite a bit different from the Hun
> comparison, where we can find nearly exact matches between the texts
> and the archaeological evidence.

I CLEARLY said that was preliminary, just what I had in hand at home.
(more separately). I give all the data not just the ones favorable to my
position. More on PGW separately.

Nothing to do with the Huns, whom I mentioned in quite a different
context. I said many times that the RV does not support INVASION on
chariots (Manansala's Mantra) but gradual trickling in of clans and

the present correspondent.  We have to stay with the direction of the
discussion here and must not open up, in true old *vivAda* technique, a
new front each time to divert the attention when one issue is close to
being settled.

Such as:

> Another important question is whether the IE migration/invasion is
> linked with a biological intrusion. Were the IE peoples physically
> similar to ancient Persians.  A pertinent question considering
> Kennedy's statement in _Eastern Anthropologist_ that no biological
> "Aryan" series has been discovered at the ancient sites.

A NEW front again. Needs separate argument. A few points here:

What are "Aryan skeletons"? And what are "Dravidian skeletons"?
(Brahuis, Todas and Tamils do not exactly look the same...) There
never was a "pure Indo-Aryan,Indo-Iranian,Indo_European" skeleton (or

It is the texts, IA language, IA material and spiritual culture that
counts not the shapes of the bodies that their speakers had.

Such data will have to be evaluated against genetic testing, now becoming
possible for ancient burials. I will glady wait for that, and I predict
quite a few "foreign traits". That is a number of human remains with
non-South Asian strains. Their number is not important (in the light of
"trickling in", not "invasion").

Only the fact that a "foreign", IE > Indo-Iranian > Indo_Aryan language
ALONG with its new material and spiritual culture has been imported, --
that is important -- by whoever, of whatever biological/genetical make-up
and from wherever outside the subcontinent.

Quite apart from that, on an *impressionistic* level:  Well, Kashmiris and
other Dardic groups such as THOSE in Swat (all speakers of northern IA),
as well as the 3rd IIr group, the Nuristanis (Kafirs), look a lot like
"Persians"  and not like the "Indus/Ganges plain" people from the
Panjab/Sindh, UP.  etc.  But all of these represent just *two* strains of
IA/IIr speakers.

With regard to still *another* strain in IA speakers: What about Mr.
Hiranyakesin, a Sutra author? (I do not quote data about gods, of
course: lots of hiranya there).

Or what about Patanjali, Mahabhasya 5.1.115 at 150 BC (probably at
Mathura):  ad Panini 5.1.115: II.363.11 sqq:
brAhmaNakArakam ...
gauraH zucyAcAraH piGgalaH kapilakeSa iti

"What makes a Brahmin?  ...
white/yellowish,  of pure behavior, tawny, with red hair"  (cf.Manu 3.8)
<Other translations?>

(Personally, to be clear, I *could not care less* if the first speakers of
Indo_Aryan in the subcontinent were blue in the face and had sprouted 6

Only their cultural innovations & heritage is of importance. Clearly they
are no longer the same people who lived in the BMAC or earlier Central
Asian cultures. Who cares? Their language, their material and spiritual
culture count.

To be clear: all people living in the present US, speaking
English and following US cultural "norms" = Indo-Europeans, what
ever their origin, family customs etc....  Apply that to Rgvedic India...
and you have your "Arya" who look down on their various neighbors.

Michael Witzel                       witzel at

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