horsing around with horse

Paul Kekai Manansala kekai at JPS.NET
Thu Mar 16 17:24:17 UTC 2000

Vijay Shankar wrote:
> The horse problem is not of archaeology but of natural history. We are not
> looking for horse bones in human settlements but for wild horse. The
> following questions are neighing for answer:
> 1.Why is the term for horse the same in Rgveda and Avesta?

There is more than one term for horse in both. One can argue that these
are not related to the European terms, that is against the asva = equus

> 2.What is the scientific name of  Rgvedic asva/ Avestan aspa ?

All are Equus caballus, but as I've said before there are anatomical
differences between horses in South/Southeast Asia and Central Asia,
Europe, etc.

And specialists have attributed these to Equus Sivalensis as much as
this might diminish Yavanacharya Witzel's axle-hole.

> 3.Is India/Iran the natural habitat of horse? Were there wild asva/aspa in
> Indian subcontinent/ Iran ?

Actually, the true native habitat of wild horses is the Western
hemisphere. However, after migrating to Asia they did
come to inhabit India.

> 4.If yes,when was the horse domesticated? If not, where did asva/aspa come
> from?

The horse may have been domesticated more than once.  This is another
weakness of the argument.  Also whereever the horse came from it
did not necessarily include human migrations.

I once argued that if we use that argument then we must account for
human migrations that carried the domesticated chicken from Southeast
Asia to Europe.

The problem with the natural history arguments of the "Aryan" invasion
is that they have always been minimally researched before reaching

For example, it was once argued that the humped cattle of India were
merely the result of selective breeding of Central Asian cattle that
sometimes have small humps.

However, genetic studies reveal that the zebu is not the result
of such selective breeding, but a different species that separated from
taurine breeds long before domestication.

If anything, the small humps sometimes found in Near Eastern cattle come
from introgression of Bos indicus as genetic studies have shown.
Out of India theorists could even use this to bolster their theories, or
variants of such.

Paul Kekai Manansala

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