method of dating RV, III

George Thompson thompson at JLC.NET
Wed Oct 21 16:10:46 UTC 1998

I appreciate very much Yaroslav Vassilkov's well-informed and reasonable
objections to my claims re the name kAnIta', and to my general remarks
about Scythians. It is gratifying to know that it is still possible to
disagree about such matters without impugning the motives of our rivals
[aside to Bijoy Misra: no, my views have nothing at all to do with
"nationalistic research" -- I am not involved at all, politically,
ethnically, or religiously, with *any* of the relevant groups].

The interesting thing about the name *kAnIta'* is in fact its extreme
isolation. Not only is it not attested in later Indic [except for the
quotation already mentioned]. It is not attested in Iranian either, except
for the reference [I still need to track down this exact reference] to a
Scythian Kanites in a Greek source [presumably Herodotos]. The reason why I
find Thieme's analysis of this name unconvincing is this very isolation of
the term [besides the fact that the suffix -ta- is rare]. As far as I can
tell, the only evidence that *kAnIta'* is Iranian is the refermnce to
Kanites, a Scythian.

It is the very isolation of the term that makes it likely that the term is
a borrowing from another language, rather than an internal development [as
Thieme's analysis of *kanIta, 'durch eine Jungfrau charakerisiert',
argues]. Admittedly, I am not certain that the Vedic name *kAnIta'* is a
Scythian name. But if the ONLY evidence that is available to us is a
certain similiarity with a Scythian name, then it may well be more precise
to say that the name may be Scythian, rather than vaguely Iranian.

As for the more general comments: of course the horse is by far the most
significant of pazus for the Scyths. But camels were not totally absent.
According to Sulimirski [cited previously, p.195], camels bones have been
found at Kamyamka, and a full skeleton "was excavated in the princely
burial at Novosiolka near Lipovets."

I have just received V.V.'s recent post about Indian and Iranian dress. I
agree about the trousers. But I think that leather [skins of various sorts]
was rather more commonly worn by Vedic than by Epic peoples.

Horse-back riding was known in the RV [cf 1.162.17 & 1.163.9]. See also the
non-RV term azvasAdin. When so engaged, a Vedic person might well have been
wearing carman-mlAta [= Avestan car^man mrAta], i.e., tanned skins [cf.
also RV carmamna'H, where the form mna- shows dissimilation of the -r-].

Forms like suvasana and surabhi might refer to tight-fitting clothing,
though not trousers.

Admittedly, however, we don't have a clear picture of Vedic dress in general.

Having pointed out important differences in dress, etc., between Scythian
and Vedic culture, perhaps V.V. could comment on what appear to me to be
important similarities? I would be very interested to hear.


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