Saras.. (Painted Grey Ware)

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sat May 30 14:22:41 UTC 1998

 On Wed, 27 May 1998, Paul K. Manansala wrote

> > I find the above statements biased.. While one could argue
> > that IVC is not particularly Vedic, neither is PGW. The latter was
> > primarily a pig and rice culture. The people were sendentary and
> > lived in mud huts. They made very little use of the horse, and I'm
> > not aware of any chariots associated with them.  They used wheel-made
> > pottery, associated with Asuras,  instead of the "Aryan" handmade
> > variety.

I think the best is to quote a clear opponent to the Aryan immigration
theory, George Erdosy. For his credentials in casu, read the following:

        "...the emergence of the aarya ideology can be traced just as
        confidentally to the geographical milieu of the Rgvedic hymns,
        to the spread of Indo-Aryan languages. ....the [RV] hymns neither use
        language or race as markers of ethnic affiliation, nor refer
        bounded by the Indus and Sarasvati rivers, and need not be linked
        language or race as markers of ethnic affiliation, nor refer
        (explicitly)  to a home outside South Asia. ... the inescapable
        conclusion is that while Indo-Aryan languages have an external
        origin, the aaryas of the Rgveda were not their carriers into
        South Asia...  "

(from Erdosy, The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, Berlin/NY 1995,
p.3-4; similar statement in the book quoted below, p. 89sq.: "aaryas
racial or linguistic groups originating outside South Asia is
questionable.... RV ... preserved no memory of a foreign country... )

The same G. Erdosy has the following to say about the Painted Gray Ware
culture of the Gangetic doab:

"... few advances occur in material culture. Rice, wheat barley, sesame,
gram and cotton had  already been known... and continue to be cultivated.
... The horse is the only significant addition to the range of
domesticated animals which from Neolithic times onwards, had included
cattle, sheeps, goats and pig...."

A pig and rice culture??? And compare the texts I provided last time. He

"...ground stone and microlithic tools.... those fashioned from bone;
copper is employed mainly in ornaments, iron in weapons."

Again fits the texts exactly.

(all from Erdosy, in: F.R. Allchin, The archaeology of early historic
South Asia, Cambridge 1995, p. 82)

He then includes a lengthy discussion of PGW based on the middle Vedic
texts (Yajurveda Samhita prose texts: Katha,  Maitrayani, Taittiriya
Samhitas, and the  various Brahmanas), assuming that they belong to the
same period and geographical area  (p. 85 sqq.)

About settlements:

"Individual houses continue to be made of wattle and daub, .... a single
elaborate structure of mud brick at Bhagawanpura ... has been cited as an
example of elite residence but since it is the only (!) houseplan as yet
available for this period, such an interpretation is hazardous" (p. 82-83)

He also has the "modest nature of central places confirmed by the late
appearance (TA 1.1.18) of the term nagara... wide belts of rural settement
still acted as buffers between evolving polities" p. 86

He also has PGW as table ware of the elite (p. 96).

Most interestingly, he has now included a statement about regional
differences in paintings on PGW pottery, - a point he and I had
discussed earlier --and which in my view reflect the differences between
the Kuru (Haryana, W. Uttar Pradesh) and their rivals, the Pancala
(Eastern U.P.):

"wide reprertoire of painted designs on PGW".... (p.83)
"the diversity of designs from site to site ... Hastinapura ... and
Atranjikhera: ....

On the one hand common use of simple geometrical designs, ... on the other
hand, many of the more elaborate decorative motifs have limited

... tridents, three-armed swastikas and trefoils are common at
Atranjikhera and absent at Hastinapura, while concentric rings recalling
solar or floral designs have the opposite distribution. ...
...interiors of  bowls and dishes... : at Atranjikhera ... three sets of
parallel lines converging and occasionally intersecting at the at the
centre... while Hastinapura concentric rings at the centre...

the restriction of more complex designs to individual sites may be taken
as indications of the diverse ethnical affiliations of the people who
subscribed to it."  (p.95-6)

Why the stress of "3"  with tridents/ even three-armed swastikas/ triple

The Pancalas (Atranjikhera) are expressively said to have had 3
subtribes originally, not 5 as scholars always assumed because of the
appearance of their name. In fact, later on (Brahm., period) they had 6
subtribes. (Witzel, Early Sanskritization. Origins and development of the
Kuru State. in: B. Klver (ed.), Recht, Staat und Verwaltung im klassischen
Indien. The state, the Law, and Administration in Classical India. Mnchen
: R. Oldenbourg 1997, 27-52)

I think this should do it. Texts and archaeological evidence, time period
and geographical spread of Middle Vedic and PGW overlap to a large degree.

And that concludes my contributions to this problem.


Michael Witzel                       witzel at

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