rohan.oberoi at CORNELL.EDU rohan.oberoi at CORNELL.EDU
Thu Apr 12 11:06:28 UTC 2001

What was discredited were claims that Harappan cities showed
unmistakeable archaeological evidence of violent destruction
presumably by invading Aryans (eg. unburied skeletons).  As you
rightly point out, that doesn't constitute positive evidence that
actual invasions did not occur.  The question is quite open (with
historical experience arguing that language transfer was almost
certainly partly mediated by migration, and that migration probably
involved at least some violent conflict).

As you might expect, this is an old question on the list.  See:

An interesting aspect of this question is the way that trends of
fashion within the discipline of archaeology have dovetailed with the
political desire in India to make ancient Indian civilisation
indigenous.  Archaeologists have been so eager to repudiate the
failings of earlier archaeologists, working mostly in Europe (who
tended to proclaim every new kind of pottery shard as evidence of a
new invading culture) that they have gone to the equally unreasonable
extreme of assuming that the absence of archaeological evidence
demonstrates the absence of invasions and migrations - despite the
numerous major migrations documented in the historical record which
have left little or no archaeological trace.

So "invasionist" is as much (and as unreasonably) a swear word to
archaeologists as it is to Hindu nationalists: even Colin Renfrew has
used the term in that sense.  There was a passage posted here --
-- from Kenoyer with an interesting quote: "There is in fact no
archaeological or literary evidence for invasions during the period of
the Indus civilization's decline."

Perhaps remarks about the "discrediting" of invasions, rather than the
discrediting of the interpretation of the Harappan archaeological
record as a fairly clear case (like some layers of Troy) of a city
destroyed by invasion, reflect this "negative archaeological evidence"

-- Rohan.

L.S. Cousins wrote:

>>I noticed a new book by Elst which has the title "Update on the Aryan
>>Invasion Debate".  I'm unaware that there exists such a debate.  Am I
>>alone in thinking this?  I thought that any idea of an invasion as such
>>was discredited thirty years ago.
>Isn't this going a bit far ? Surely, the point is that no-one doubts
>that Vedic is structurally related to other Indo-European languages
>and not to e.g. Dravidian languages. No-one doubts that. Unless you
>think that India was the original homeland of the Indo-European
>languages, there is no doubt that the language was brought there.
>After that , everything is speculation. It used to be thought that
>there was some archaeological evidence for invasion, but that now
>seems doubtful. So we cannot rule out the possibility of a gradual
>spread as the result of peaceful immigration or trade. But it has to
>be the less likely possibility. We know of no other case in which a
>language has become so widespread in that way.
>Of course, that wouldn't in any case necessarily mean that Indians
>are mostly descended from the incomers.
>Or, are you taking the Mick ?
>Lance Cousins
>selwyn at ntlworld.com

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