Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Still no trace of an Aryan invasion

Last night, 1 March 2011, I attended a lecture by Cambridge (UK) archaeologist Cameron Petrie on the state of the art in Harappan excavations and the emerging picture of the "Indus" civilization. Interesting, but no real news.

Just a few highlights in this modest blog report. Petrie showed a map of excavation sites used by Michel Danino in "a popular book" on the Indus-Saraswati civilization, next to his own map. Danino's map shows a high concentration of sites along the Ghaggar river, i.e. the remains of the once-mighty Saraswati; but Petrie's map shows a paucity of sites in the same region. That looks serious. But the very next item in his talk reversed this impression. He reported on a survey of Haryana by a Ph.D. candidate from Rohtak who during 2008-10 identified hundreds of as yet unexcavated Harappan sites. His map showed a concentration of "new" sites precisely in the "empty" Ghaggar region... So, this seems to confirm that the Saraswati was an important centre of Harappan civilization after all.

Incidentally, for the most common chronology proposed by the non-invasionist school, a non-urbanized Saraswati basin would not be such a problem. People like K.D. Sethna and Nicholas Kazanas date the Rg-Vedic age to the early Harappan and even pre-Harappan age, in conformity with the lack of an urban setting in the Rg-Veda. But the latter information could also be matched to a Harappan date but in a non-urbanised border region of the Harappan area, as Shrikant Talageri opines. The latter also points out that the Asuras, a term apparently referring in that context to the Iranians, the Vedic Indians' westerly neighbours, are often described as more advanced in material culture. So, locating the Vedic tribes outside the metropolitan area could make sense. And the impression of a west-to-east gradient in Harappan development, confirmed once more by Petrie, would therefore not be a problem for Talageri's position. But many scenarios remain possible.

Petrie purposely avoided the topic of the alleged Aryan invasion. His survey of Harappan history at no point necessitated such a hypothesis, for the story could apparently be told with reference only to purely internal developments. He only agreed to discuss it when asked by the chairman in question time, but remained non-committal. He said the question was so complicated that it would perhaps never be decided.

At that point I proposed to narrow the question down to a degree of simplicity where a field archaeologist would definitely be able to answer. He agreed that Prof. B.B. Lal had made his name in the 1950s and 60s by detailing our knowledge of the Painted Grey Ware and identifying it as characteristic of the invading Aryans moving eastwards, deeper into India; and that Lal had later repudiated any claims of an Aryan invasion and is now a leading light of the non-invasionist school. Lal now says that no archaeological trace of an Aryan invasion has ever been found or identified. Petrie also conceded that Harvard Sanskritist Prof. Michael Witzel had likewise admitted that "as yet" no such arcaheological evidence of an Aryan invasion has been discovered. So, a very simple question would be: did Cameron Petrie, as a field archaeologist fresh from the recentmost excavation, ever come across actual pieces of evidence for an Aryan invasion. He smiled and agreed that he too had no such sensational discovery to announce. So: as of 2011, after many decades of being the official and much-funded hypothesis, the Aryan Invasion Theory has still not been confirmed by even a single piece of archaeological evidence.


Apuleius Platonicus said...

Seek and ye shall find. Unless, of course, it just ain't there to be found.

CHAKRAM said...

On this Shivaraatri, I pray to Shiva to give Gyaan to pro-invasionist school people.

eggheadedram said...

As long as the dishonest historians who are bent on manipulating the history to meet their vested interests like Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib get the support from mainstream media the truth would not come out. Truth would remain engulfed by the smoke. JNU is the center of all these rogues. This is all the propaganda carried out by Communists and the Khangress leader to create rift between the Hindus by dividing them as Dravidians and Aryans. It is a political conspiracy. But much ever you try to conceal one day it would manifest itself. Truth along triumphs.

punjini said...

To move away from the topic of Aryans, I'd be interested to know about Dravidians - do they exist? If not, how did the concept come into being?

kushagra dixit said...

recently a Statue of Lord Vishnu was found in Russia.... what would you say about that??

Julian said...

"recently a Statue of Lord Vishnu was found in Russia.... what would you say about that??"

The statue was dated to the sometime after the CE and has no relevance to the topic at hand which is the hypothetical aryan invasion which was supposed to have taken place around 1500 bce.

The statue in Russia points to Hindu influence there just like there was Hindu influence throughout South East Asia.

For said...

it was a manufactured term similar to AIT
see the book "breaking India: western influences in dravidian and dalit faultlines"

Ashok Thakwani said...

Please rebut your criticism on the following website

Ashok Thakwani said...

Please respond to the criticisms on the above website

nilaendra.baradiaar said...

I do not understand what people understand by "JNU"? I am doing PhD in modern and contemporary history from there and since MA I have pursued my education and research from JNU and I do not subscribe to many of the ideas which are tagged as "JNU" and no one could ever force me to subscribe to them either!

Nilesh Oak said...


May be you have not pushed them enough where their chairs start wobbling (like the throne of Indra).

Lean Jedi

Jijith said...

Dear Dr Elst

What will be the impact of these studied on the AIT / AMT theory, especially on their linguistic arguments?

Below is the link and the summary:-

A researcher analyzing the sounds in languages spoken around the world has detected an ancient signal that points to southern Africa as the place where modern human language originated. Because words change so rapidly, many linguists think that languages cannot be traced very far back in time. The oldest language tree so far reconstructed, that of the Indo-European family, which includes English, goes back 9,000 years at most. Quentin D. Atkinson, a biologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, has shattered this time barrier.

Language is at least 50,000 years old, the date that modern humans dispersed from Africa, and some experts say it is at least 100,000 years old. Dr. Atkinson, is picking up a distant echo from this far back in time. Linguists tend to dismiss any claims to have found traces of language older than 10,000 years.

In 2003 Dr. Atkinson and Russell Gray, another biologist at the University of Auckland, reconstructed the tree of Indo-European languages with a DNA tree-drawing method called Bayesian phylogeny. The tree indicated that Indo-European was much older than historical linguists had estimated and hence favored the theory that the language family had diversified with the spread of agriculture some 10,000 years ago, not with a military invasion by steppe people some 6,000 years ago, as believed by most historical linguists.

Jijith said...

The links are missed, here they are:-

African origin of Language; Indo-European spread through agriculture 10,000 years ago:-

Piyush said...

Sanatan Dharma is the oldest culture in the world, and there was a time when it was spread throughout the world. People can find swastika in every culture like the American Indians, Greece, troy, Italy, Russia and many other countries have this symbol. Look at the 108 symbols of god in Sanatan Dharma and their origin. Things will become very clear about the origin of humanity in this world. It is time to free ourselves from the lies and deception spread throughout the world about our culture.

Dont forget, even today in Sanskrit and Hindi the words for Divorce and any other abusive words do not exist. Yet it contains words like Yantra ( machine) and Vimana ( air-craft), which existed far before the western civilization constructed aircraft themselves.

Unknown said...

Its official climate change brought about the demise of indus valley. . i think this effectively ends all speculation of aryans conquering and those skeletons being evidence of it. only the language theory remains.

Unknown said...

Human history of evolution and migration out of Africa has been proved to happen around 60,000yrs. If we accept the theory of Aryan Invasion, great eastern civilization started in 1500BC and prior to that we have only 3-4 thousand years of Human history. What so called intelligent human did for 56-57,000 years after coming out of Africa?