Date of Jyotisa Vedanga

Koenraad Elst koenraad.elst at PANDORA.BE
Thu Mar 23 09:43:16 UTC 2000

 Stephen Hodge <s.hodge at PADMACHOLING.FREESERVE.CO.UK>
 23 maart 2000 1:44

> those blonde
> aryans again ?
    My hypothesis is that the initial PIE speakers were not blond at all, at
least not more than your average Panjabi Sardar, but the first population to
whom they imparted their language, in Central Asia, may well have been
predominantly blond, witness the blond mummies of Xinjiang or the remaining
blond populations in Afghan/Pakistan, like the Kalash Kafirs, this after
millennia of decrease (blondness being a recessive trait).  So, the Yellow
Emperor, bringing civilization from an Indian colony or ex-colony in Central
Asia, may well have been a fair-haired type.
    Incidentally, a recent issue of Discover monthly reports that Oetzi, the
Tiroler iceman of ca. 3000 BC, had tattoos on his body, exactly on the
location of a number of acupuncture points.  Now, the Yellow Emperor was
credited with the invention of Chinese medicine.  Both Oetzi's tribe and the
Yellow Emperor came from somewhere in Central Asia, which in turn was in the
Indian sphere of influence.  And Indian medicine does have a tradition
(likely much older than its first appearance in writing) of acu-points...
    To make matters worse (for opponents of eccentric flights of fancy),
Jean-Pierre Voiret has reported (Asiatische Studien, Bern 1997/4) finds of
quasi-runic inscriptions near Xi'an dated to the 3rd millennium BC, of
undatable quasi-runic inscriptions in the Altai region, and the persistence
of quasi-runic signs in the Lolo alphabet in SW China.  Chang's IE-Chinese
vocabulary (Indo-Platonic Papers 1988) contains many words attested only in
the Celtic or Germanic branches of IE, like ma, "horse", cfr. mare).
Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, while locating the PIE Urheimat in Anatolia, have
the Germanic branch first travel to the Altai region before turning
westward, to account for Altaic rock drawings reminiscent of Germanic
mythology and Germanic-Yeniseian lexical exchanges.  Of course, all this is
easily taken care of in a Central-Asian Urheimat theory, or in a South-Asian
one which takes Central Asia as a secondary centre of dispersal.

> Chinese scholars now date the earliest proto-writing in China to
> around 4000 BCE based on the pottery fragments found at Banpo near
> Xi'an and elsewhere.   A trifle early for Harappa ?

    Yes, but not for the pre-Harappan cultures which developed locally over
millennia.  Writing or proto-writing is considerably older than its
schoolbook genesis in Sumeria 3100 BC, as more and more findings from Vinca
(Serbia) to the Harappan area keep on testifying.  Of course, the older it
gets, the scarcer the traces of such writing; but I guess any
ancient-historian is aware beforehand that what he finds is but a small
fragment of what was originally there.  Which is why I find it amazing that
scholars keep on asserting that writing was unknown in India in the
millennium preceding the Mauryas, when by all accounts sizable states (not
just the Nanda empire, even the Magadha state was already big enough to
require a complex administration) and intellectual works of high complexity
were being created.  The discrepancy between India's civilizational
achievements in the pre-Maurya age and its alleged illiteracy in that
alleged Dark Age is enormous.  At best, it is a tribute to the exceptional
brain capacity of those illiterate Indians.

K. Elst

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