Georg von Simson g.v.simson at EAST.UIO.NO
Tue Mar 14 11:46:54 UTC 2000

 Koenraad Elst wrote:

>Paul Kekai Manansala <kekai at JPS.NET>
>> I don't know of any uncovered culture (archaeologically) in India that
>> could be described as "horse-centered."
>Interesting point.  The implication seems to be that to evaluate the
>importance of the horse in Harappa, the [admittedly meagre] quantity of
>horse evidence should be
>compared with that in Indian sites generally acknowledged as Vedic-Aryan,
>horse-centred, e.g. Hastinapura.  I recall an explanation by Prof.
>Romila Thapar about Hastinapura (in Social Scientist, Delhi, Jan. 1996), to
>the effect that the paucity of horses found there was due to the confinement
>of the use of horses to the
>(necessarily minoritarian) aristocracy.  So there too, the harvest of horse
>bones was disappointing.   Had carbon-14 dating not put the site squarely in
>a period when that part of India is universally acknowledged to have been
>Indo-Aryan-speaking, then it might well have been diagnosed as non-Aryan for
>lack of sufficient horse remains to match the reputed centrality of the
>horse in Aryan culture.

The frequency or paucity of bones is of little relevance for the argument.
An example:  In late medieval and early modern Europe we have thousands of
pictorial representations of the unicorne showing that this animal occupied
an important place in the mind of European people around 1500 CE. How many
unicorne bones have been found? Likewise one could mention eagle and lion
as animals of great symbolic value.
   So what can be compared are pictorial representations of animals in the
IVC with the role of animals in the hymns of the Rgveda. Bones (unless
found on sacrificial grounds) tell us something about the role of animals
as human food, draft animals and other functions within the material
culture, but very little about their symbolic function in a religious
context. To define Vedic culture without taking religion into account would
seem rather odd. The expression "horse centered" apparently means something
else for P. K. Manansala than for most Vedic scholars. As long as we do not
agree what we are talking about, it seems useless to exchange arguments.


Georg v. Simson

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