method of dating RV, III

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YV1041.SPB.EDU
Mon Oct 19 08:50:36 UTC 1998

>From yavass Mon Oct 19 12:48:54 MSD 1998
George Thompson wrote (19 Oct.):

>In response to the recent remarks of Yaroslav Vassilkov:

>I think that a couple of assumptions are being made here which need to be

> To say that the Scyths
>"emerged" in the 8th cent BCE means only that somebody started to notice
>them at that point. I see no reason to assume that the Scythian language,
>like proto-Latin and proto-German, did not exist during the Vedic period.
>Of course it did, even if we have no direct record of it. The same applies
>to the culture. Perhaps I should have said that certain "proto-Scythians"
>were contemporaries of our RV poets. Okay. But my point, I think, stands.

        I doubt it. I am very much interested in your attempts to trace
in the RV evidence of some Indo-Iranian interaction (though I would refer
this evidence not to the period of the original Indo-Iranian community,
but to the "second Indo-Iranian period", when Eastern Iranians and
Proto-Indo-Aryans met again on the territory of BMAC). But I can not agree
when you use the term "Scythian" for the Eastern Iranian element in the RV.
We designate by the name "Scyths / Scythians" only those specific people
of the Eurasian steppes who used very distinctive sets of metal weapons
and horse harness and developed the Animal style. The "Scythian language"
known to us mostly due to proper names preserved by the Greek records,
was one of the dialects (a northern one) of the Ancient Eastern Iranian.
But the Scyths or Scythian culture did not exist before 8th cent. BC.
We know very well that this culture "emerged" , though in a somewhat
revolutionary way, out of the related preceeding cultures, such as Timber
Grave and Andronovo: but nobody would ever suggest that the people of these
ancient cultures spoke "Scythian" or even "Proto-Scythian" language.
It would be much more reasonable to suggest that their language was rather
some early dialect of Ancient Eastern Iranian. And there are even less
reasons to call "Scythian" the dialects spoken by those Eastern Iranian
tribes that had moved southwards, to the borders of India, and had come
there into contact with Indo-Aryans some centuries before the Scythian culture
came into being.

>The name 'kanIta' seems to have stronger ties with Iranian than with Indic.
>It is a hapax legomenon in the RV, and utterly disappears thereafter
>[except for a quotation in a zrauta sUtra]. On the other hand, we have the
>name of a Scythian prince, Kanites. Why should we doubt an historical [or
>prehistorical] connection between the Vedic and the Scythian names?

        There is no doubt in the Iranian origin of the name 'kanIta'. But
why should we consider it to be a specifically Scythian name, and not
Eastern Iranian in general?

>Given the presence of camels, mathra horses, dogs, etc, in RV 8.46, I think
>it is reasonable to suppose that the Vedic prince pRthuzravas, son of a
>certain kanIta, was a descendent of a proto-Scythian....

        As far as I know the Scyths proper (contrary to the Central Asian
Eastern Iranians) were natural horsemen (but not charioters) and did not
use camels.

>When I close my eyes and imagine what this ancestor of pRthuzravas actually
>might have looked like, given the scanty description in RV 8.46, I see a
>cultural figure that is closer in form [dress, customs, cultural outlook,
>etc.] to Scythian than to, say, Gangetic. Perhaps my imagination is wrong.
>But what I know of Scythian culture is frequently reminiscent of what I
>know of Vedic. This would be worth talking about some more.

        If the person which you see in your meditations were Scythian, then
it should wear a conical hat, leather trousers and some other very specific
dress items, which, as is well known, came to India only with the SAka invaders
in the 1st century BC.

Best wishes,

                Yaroslav Vassilkov

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