Horse & BMAC

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Mar 20 03:16:30 UTC 2000

Mijn - heer  Elst wrote some time ago:

>Seems I ought to join Herr Witzel's fan club.

(Mijnheer Elst, dit soort stomme grapjes behooren toch niet in deze lijst.
Ten minste niet van iemand, die denkt een serieuse onderzoeker te wezen. Ik
noem U toch niet, met Uw norderlijke vrienden, een stomme  Belg, of iets

>I never studied the BMAC
>... I never questioned the widespread assumption that it
>was a "horse-centred" culture, implied in Bernard Sergent's thesis that the
>BMAC was the Indo-Iranians poised to invade India.  But now I read:

>> Sorry, no horses there, so far. So, no horse
>> riding/chariot riding BMAC Aryans.

There are two or three doubtful items. No horse bones or chariot parts:

A picture on a seal of a spoke-wheel chariot drawn by an equid, from Tepe
Hissar IIIB,  N.Iran.
A copper axe from Bactria, with something that looks indeed  like a horse.
And a mace, ditto. No dates.
And, later,  from Pirak/Baluchistan: A clay figure of a horse/half-ass or
whatever, onto which the figure of a person(?) with bird face, with spread
legs, MIGHT fit.

All in Parpola, The Coming of the Aryans to India and Iran. Studia
Orientalia vol. 64, 1988, p. 295, 285, 288.

>If that were true, it would change the picture concerning the horse evidence
>completely.  If the absence of horses in the BMAC doesn't disprove its being

I DID NOT SAY THAT. We simply do not have any indication yet that it was
INDO-IRANIAN or INDO-Aryan, not even real horses and chariots. The Central
Asian loan words in Iranian and Vedic (EJVS 5.1) actually argue AGAINST an
"Aryan" BMAC.

We have to go where our evidence takes us.

>the near-absence of horses in Harappa need not disprove its being
>Aryan either.

Non sequitur. Take a look at the substrate words. Any "Aryan" word in Vedic
for  city, trade, script, "priest-king", "great bath", "granary", cube
dice, etc. etc. etc. ??

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list