[Citation: Priyadarshi, Premendra, 2016, “The Climate Change and the Environmental basis for the Human migrations during Holocene”, Concept Paper presented to the seminar Chronology of Indian Culture since the beginning of Holocene through Scientific Evidence,  organised by Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas (I-SERVE), Delhi on 16 July 2016. ]

The Climate Change and the Environmental basis for the Human migrations during Holocene                                                    Premendra Priyadarshi, MD, FRCP Edin


  1. The Ancient DNA and the New Story of Holocene Migration


  • Up to 6000 BC, Europe was inhabited by dark skinned meat-eating hunters, who were completely ignorant of farming and pastoralism (Olalde 2014; Haak 2015; Bramanti 2009; Der Sarkissian et al, 2013; Fu et al, 2016). They were hunters. Their primary food was meat. Their DNA reflects that they could not digest milk (Olalde 2014; Allentoft 2015). There is formidable new archaeological evidence to suggest that they practiced cannibalism and attacked and predated the newly arriving farmers from Asia (Boulestin 2009; Orschiedt and Haidle 2007; Orschiedt 2008). These dark-skinned people of pre-Neolithic Europe were nearly completely replaced by the arriving light-skinned Asians who brought farming to Europe, and these Asian farmers also carried the gene for digesting milk (Olalde 2014; Allentoft 2015; Haak 2015). The light skin colour later became nearly universal in most of Europe by the process of Natural Selection of a particular gene. Milk digesting gene took longer to become universal in North Europe.


  • The farmers arrived for the first time in Europe between 6000 BC and 5000 BC and they appear in Germany, Hungary and Spain almost simultaneously (Haak 2015). These Asian newcomers in Europe brought farming and pastoralism. They spoke Indo-European language (Haak 2015:Abstract). Their arrival in Europe continued to take place up to 1000 BC. The arrivals were through the north of Black Sea (Ukrainian) corridor, as well as through Anatolia (Turkey) route located to the south of the Black Sea. Both the group of Asians arriving in Europe—those arriving through Anatolian route as well as those coming by the north Black Sea route—spoke Indo-European languages. These new people certainly had a common source of origin to the further east. These people brought the Indo-European language to Europe by both of the routes, the southern as well as the northern. In all probabilities this common location from where both limbs of migration had emerged was in Iran and to the further east.


  • One of the two routes of arrival of the farmers in Europe was through West Asia. It has been clarified by ancient DNA studies that there were three genetically different populations of farmers living in West Asia at early Neolithic. These three populations were located in Anatolia, Fertile Crescent and Iran (Zagros) respectively. It was at a later time, i.e. by the Bronze Age or Late Neolithic that the intermixture of the three populations took place (Surugue 2016; Lazaridis 2016). Lazaridis (2016) made it clear that those farmers who migrated to Egypt and North Africa mainly included the farmers living in the Levant (Israel, Jordan, Syria).


The people who entered Europe during Early Neolithic mainly migrated from Anatolia which is modern Turkey (Lazaridis 2016). However these Anatolian farmers too spoke Indo-European language and had had some Iranian DNAs in significant frequencies, indicating that the Anatolian farming too had been originally catalysed by arrival of some Iranian farmers. The DNAs of Iranian (and Indian) origins which migrated from Anatolia to Europe included mtDNAs X, T and N (vide infra; also see Fig. 1), indicating the prior arrival of these DNAs from Iran to Anatolia. In fact the ancient DNA recovered from the Zagros Neolithic has confirmed that these people were genetically same as the Pakistani or Afghani populations (Broushaki 2016), indicating their arrival to Zagros from northwest India.


But Harvella (2015) found that these early Neolithic Anatolian immigrants do not represent the ancestors of modern European genetically. In fact there was a larger emigration from Anatolia later during late Neolithic and early Bronze Age which laid the actual foundations of the modern population of Europe genetically. This emigration certainly took place after the Zagros-Iran Neolithic farmers had infiltrated Anatolia much thoroughly by the process of demic diffusion.


“On the other hand, populations of the Middle-Late Neolithic (Boian, Zau and Gumelniţa cultures), supposedly a second wave of Neolithic migration from Anatolia, had a much stronger effect on the genetic heritage of the European populations. In contrast, we find a smaller contribution of Late Bronze Age migrations to the genetic composition of Europeans. Based on these findings, we propose that permeation of mtDNA lineages from a second wave of Middle-Late Neolithic migration from North-West Anatolia into the Balkan Peninsula and Central Europe represent an important contribution to the genetic shift between Early and Late Neolithic populations in Europe, and consequently to the genetic make-up of modern European populations.” (Harvella 2015:Abstract).


However the main bulk of the early Neolithic migration ‘out of Iran’ took place into the Caucasus and the steppe, and Central Asia as the result of Iran’s population expansion from the Neolithic practices (see Fig. 1). This happened because the great freeze of the 6250 BC (8.2 Kilo Event) had caused large scale death of the humans in these colder areas, and had left these regions with negligible sparsely scattered human populations. A better climate after 6000 BC preferentially promoted Iranian migration into these relatively vacant areas (vide infra). Iranians who has learned farming and had domesticated goat migrated into the vacant landscape as soon as the improved climate permitted. However, people from East Siberia, China, Tibet, and Hindu Kush etc. too arrived into this vacant inner Asian region (Comas 2004; Lalueza-Fox 2004; Dulik 2011:2 Table1; Berezina 2011; Tarlykov 2013; Haak 2015). All these studies just cited also confirm the presence of Indian DNAs in Central Asia-steppe. A further migration from this region to Europe would bring the Eastern DNAs into Europe which is detectable even today.


Thus the Iranian Neolithic farmers migrated into the steppe i.e. the region north of the Caspian and the Black Seas and the area to the east in large numbers. This has been confirmed by the ancient DNA studies (Surugue 2016; Lazardis 2016). One of the routes of this migration was Caucasus, because ancient goat skeletons have been recovered from South Caucasus (West Azerbaijan) dated 6000 to 5500 BC (calibrated) which prove that the goats in South Caucasus had not been domesticated locally but had been brought from Zagros, Iran (Kadowaki 2016). This migration of ancient Iranians through Caucasus with Neolithic could have been the source of the Iranian language found in the steppe. Presence of Iranian language in the steppe in the remote antiquity has been inferred from the presence of the Iranian (and also Indic) loanwords in modern Russian, Finno-Ugric etc. in many comparative linguistic studies (Burrow 2001; Witzel 2003; Parpola and Carpelan: 2005; Priyadarshi 2013). At that time Burrow had considered it the evidence of Iranian people’s (imagined) original home in the steppe (Volga region). The words were borrowed from Iranian into the steppe-languages, but not the vice-versa. The linguistic flow is unidirectional. In fact the linguistic data produced by these authors only suggest the contact between Iran and the steppe regions and that the contact was probably due to the migration, however in the reverse direction of what was suggested by Burrow etc.


Figure 1. Map showing the migration of the Iranian mtDNA T vertically to the north from South Iran to the Volga region, and also into Arabia, Turkey and South Europe on the basis of two different mtDNA parameters. Courtesy Fernandes et al, 2015.


  • The ancient DNAs from India have not been studied so far. However by comparing the DNAs of the existing people of Iran and India it has been inferred that the Iranian gene pool shares a large percentage of DNAs of Indian origin, particularly mtDNA haplogroup M and its branches like M5. These DNAs which are shared between Iran and India are in fact India specific or “Indian origin” DNAs (Metspalu 2004: Abstract). The Indian mtDNA U7 is present in Iran in about 7% of population. The Indian mtDNA haplogroup M is present in 5.3% of Iranian population (Metspalu 2004:3). There are many more Indian DNAs present in Iranian population. But discussing them all here is beyond the scope of this article.


  • The light skin colour gene, which is the hallmark of the Europeans or the white people today, too originated in India. In fact the original Europeans before 6000 BC were black skinned (vide supra). The European light-skin colour gene is exactly the same as that found in India (both, north and south India; Basu-Mallik 2013). It was not known whether it had originated in India, Iran or Central Asia. However, a recent study makes it clear that this gene appeared for the first time in India. It is from India that it migrated to Europe particularly during the Bronze Age. In this DNA study of the existing populations of Europe and Asia, Canfield found that the oldest or the original of the light-skin-colour gene is found in the Gujarati Indians. Canfield and colleagues noted, “Interestingly, the greatest diversity of B-region haplotypes associated with C11 is found in GIH (89% B6).” (Canfield 2013:2063). The GIH in this study stands for Gujarati-Indian-Hindus. The data obtained from the GIH (the Gujarati Indians included in this study) showed that the light skin colour gene originated in Gujarat (India). So, at the most, the gene must have originate in a region spreading from India to Iran, but not to the further north, the authors concluded (ibid:2059 Abstract). Hence this study settles the issue as to where be the place of origin of the light-skin-colour gene. This gene spread from India to Iran; and from Iran to the steppe, and also to Anatolia and Arabia.


The light skin colour gene came into existence at about 10,000 years back by a genetic mutation.  This happened in India in the form of a new mutation called A111T (Cheng 2014, quoted by Zolfagharifard 2014). It soon spread in Northwest India, Iran and Afghanistan. Later it spread to Central Asia and steppe from Iran. In the northern latitudes of India as well as in Iran and Afghanistan and further north, the light skin colour gene underwent Natural Selection leading to the increase in its frequency. In Central Asian regions like the Tarim Basin, and also in Europe its frequency went on increasing by the process of the Natural Selection until late Bronze Age.


The Natural Selection which was exerted on the light skin colour gene was enforced by farming related vegetarian diet which was poor in Vitamin D, and the lower intensity of sunlight caused the Vitamin D deficiency in the darker skinned people who had reached these northerly regions. The dark-skinned humans were eliminated over time and lighter skinned among them were promoted to survive. This process of Natural Selection was spread over generations over thousands of years, and it happened because the light skin colour helped get more of Vitamin D from the sunlight. Ultimately making the entire population white skinned in North Europe. In South Europe, the sunlight was more powerful than North Europe, and people would have more of Vitamin D. Hence in South Europe some dark-skin gene has survived and is found in the Greek, Spanish and the Latina populations even today.

Figure 2. Origin and Spread of Light Skin colour gene from India. Figure Courtesy Basu-Mallik et al, 2013.


  • The people who lived in northwest India had developed pastoral practices and they had the milk digesting capacity during the adult life, a capacity which is present in the infants, but is lost in most of the people of the world in the adult life. The presence of the milk digesting capacity in the adult life is due to the Lactase Persistence gene (LP Gene). There are quite a few types of LP Genes present in the world. But the particular LP Gene which is shared by the people of North and South India, Arabia and Europe is the same (named as -13910*T). Thus only three places of origin of this gene can be suggested–India, or Arabia or Europe (Romero 2011).


This gene although has been found from the Neolithic Sweden (a single sample) and Spain (Basque Neolithic, 7 out of 26 skeletons) about 5000 BC, it becomes absent from Central Europe for a long period of time. This means that some of the humans who arrived in Europe between 6000 and 5000 BC had originally this LP Gene. But the gene could not survive long because of the lack of adequate pastoral and milk-drinking practices getting firm roots in the European land. The food largely consisted of meat obtained by hunting even after the arrival of Neolithic in Europe, and the meaning of Neolithic often remained restricted to the presence of pottery. Hence later this gene was reintroduced from Asia in late Bronze Age and after.


Some samples from Hungary (Central Europe) from the Medieval period (900-1100 AD) revealed only 33% prevalence of the LP Gene, whereas the modern prevalence there is greater than 60%. Almost from the same period of Germany (950-1200 AD) at village of Dalheim in Nordrhein-Westfalen, the DNA recovered from ancient bones revealed 71% presence of this gene. This frequency is almost the same as the modern prevalence (Kruttli 2014:2). That means in the western part of the Central Europe, the Natural Selection had achieved the modern levels of the LP Gene as late as 1200 AD, however much of Central Europe did not have modern frequencies of this gene even by that time. Hence the European origin of the gene can be ruled out.


Presence of this gene (LP Gene) from 25% of the human skeletons from the Neolithic layer of the Basque country of Spain (dating 5000 BC) is important. This LP Gene was found not in association with cow pastoralism, but with goat pastoralism. No goat had ever been domesticated in Europe, and all the goats of Europe have been imported there after having been domesticated in Asia. Fernandez (2006) reported the DNA of goats from skeletons recovered from an adjoining location in France dating 5000 BC that the goats present there had arrived from two different routes. These goats belonged to two lineages A and C, and had reached Southwest Europe from two different routes. The lineage A had reached from Pakistan through Iran and Anatolia route, and the lineage C which is also found in Central Asia but not in Iran or Anatolia had reached there by the north of Black sea route (Priyadarshi 2014:343).


The Indo-European type of the LP Gene is product of a mutation which is found in high frequency in northwest India, North Europe and Arabia. However it is present in South India in significant frequency, and sometimes in quite high frequency like in about 45% of the members of the Toda tribe of Tamil Nadu (Romero 2011:253). This indicates that the gene actually originated in South India, but it could not get the benefit of Natural Selection in this region, because of the very late arrival of Neolithic in Tamil Nadu at about 1500 BC owing to the desert like conditions of South India because of decline in the Bay of Bengal monsoon before this time. In all probability there was a population expansion in South India leading to the northward migration of the Dravidian speaking people at the onset of the Holocene (vide infra). This took place when the Mehrgarh and Lahuradewa-Koldihwa were flourishing with Neolithic.



  • When people started trying milk as food in Mehrgarh and other parts of North Indian Neolithic culture, this gene was very helpful in digesting milk. Because of this gene people did not develop diarrhoea after drinking milk. The presence of this milk-digesting LP Gene provided a huge survival advantage to those who drank milk as their main or sole food. Milk provided them not only the general nutrition but also Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Not getting diarrhoea after drinking milk provided a distinct advantage to those who possessed this gene. Those who did not have the LP Gene developed diarrhoea and they could not drink milk. In the northern latitudes where milk was essential for survival of the vegetarians, the Natural Selection favoured the LP Gene.


In Arabia it helped digest camel’s milk when camel pastoralism developed in Arabia about 1000 BC. The camel’s milk was the staple food in the Arabian Desert after 1000 BC, leading to Natural Selection of the LP gene in Arabia. Hence we get high frequencies of this gene in Northwest India and Arabia.


Vitamin B12 is found only in milk and meat diet, and for survival man has to take either or the both of the two. Thus adoption of Neolithic non-meat diet without simultaneous adoption of milk in food would result in disease and death. However it did not happen in India miraculously. In India those vegetarians who drank milk, or did not drink milk, both survived equally. And this happens even today in India that many vegetarians who cannot afford milk survive well. This is because, uniquely in the Indians, but in no other population of the world, there lives a commensal bacterium which produces the vitamin B12 in human intestine (Albert 1980).


Because of this reason, when these Neolithic people lived in India, the presence of the vitamin B12 in milk did not provide any additional survival advantage to its drinkers. But because the vitamin B12 is found only in milk and meat at least one of the two is essential for those who live outside India. Hence any vegan (those who take neither milk nor meat) cannot remain healthy outside India where this bacterium is not found. When Indians left India and reached Central Asia and Iran and Arabia, as farmers who no more depended on hunting and meat, the LP Gene provided a survival advantage to those who drank milk. Hence the LP Gene was selected by a strong Natural Selection once people came out of India, and particularly when they reached North Europe. This gene migrated to Central Asia and Europe with migrating farmers. By continued process of the Natural Selection it was not firmly established even by 1000 BC in the north European gene pool where more than 70% of the population possesses it by now (vide supra).


Figure Courtesy Andrew Curry 2013.



  • Correlation of the New History from DNA with available ancient literature

Recently the period of the Rig-Veda das been fixed to between 8000 and 6000 BC by several authors (priyadarshi 2014; Bala and Mishra 2012; Bag 2015). The Rig-Veda mentions at one place, that the daughter of Manu named Parshu, migrated to Persia (in south Iran) and gave birth to 20 children (RV 10.86.23). The Rig Vedic people had contact with the Parsu people (Fars, Iran) and they imported horse from there (RV 8.6.46).


The Baudhayana Srauta Sutra mentions the migration of three people to Iran, Bactria and Armenia (Ararat) respectively during the chalcolithic period (Priyadarshi 2014:119; Kazanas 2012:224; Lal 2009; vide infra). A more extensive examination of literature is required to give us information about what it says regarding the migration from India to Iran and other places during the Holocene.







2/ Some Clinching evidence from existent human DNAs


2.1 The R1a Controversy


Eurocentricism in the studies:

The Y-chromosomal DNA haplogroup R1a was identified by a marker M17. This Y-DNA R1a or M17 is widespread in the living population of Eurasia—from India to Europe through Central Asia. This finding prompted many authors to link it with the Indo-European migration. Wells (2001) claimed that the humans made their first settlement in Central Asia, and that the M17 was born in Central Asia from where it reached India with the Aryan invaders in about 1500 BC. “This pattern of high diversity is consistent with an early settlement of Central Asia by anatomically modern humans, perhaps 40,000–50,000 years ago (see below), followed by subsequent migrations into Europe, America, and India,” (Wells 2001: 10247)


By 2006, another identifying mutation M198 was identified by the scientists for the same DNA, and the particular DNA was given the new name R1a1-M198 (or, R1a1-M17). This is now its preferred name. Regueiro (2006) claimed that the DNA R1a1-M198 had originated in the Kurgan culture of the steppe from where it migrated into India. He noted, “This finding

supports the inferred migration of the Indo-Iranians during the period 3,000 to 1,000 B.C. as proposed by Mallory” (Regueiro 2006:140). However such views were based on the Aryan Invasion Theory; and there was no supporting evidence regarding the direction of migration.



2.2 Later Evidence favouring Indian origin of R1a1


Later on, voluminous DNA evidence emerged which proved that the place of origin of this DNA was India and that it had later migrated into Central Asia, from there to Volga-Ural region and from there to East and then Central Europe. Yet, ironically, in general the authors till date ignore the recent evidence and say that this DNA originated in Ukraine from where migrated to Central Asia, India and Europe. Stephen Oppenheimer too holds this view privately as communicated to me in a meeting held at Lalit Hotel in Delhi.


Several researchers pointed out on the basis of the further analysis that this male lineage of DNA known as R1a1 had not arrived from outside but was indigenous of India (Sahoo 2006; Sengupta 2006; Sharma 2009). These researches also noted the formidable presence of this DNA (R1a1) in the Dravidian speaking South Indians as well as the Austro-Asiatic speaking tribal groups.


Underhill (2010) further examined this DNA and found that the oldest haplotypes of the DNA was present in India and it expanded from India (Indus Valley region) to Central Asia and then to Europe as well as Mongolia (Underhill 2010:Fig.1). He was able to identify two branches within this lineage with the help of two markers. One branch identified by the marker M434 was distributed in West Asia and it also migrated into Arabia. The other branch was identified by the marker M458 and it was restricted to Europe with a particularly high concentration in East Europe like Ukraine. However not a single person belonging to this branch could be found in India or Iran. Thus Underhill ruled out any migration from Ukraine or from the adjoining steppe to India or to any other part of Asia. “Importantly, the virtual absence of M458 chromosomes outside Europe speaks against substantial patrilineal gene flow from East Europe to Asia, including to India, at least since the mid-Holocene.” (Underhill 2010:Abstract)


Pamjav (2012) was able to find finer details about the branches of the R1a1 lineage. He noted that the M458, earlier identified by Underhill, and another branch Z280 were found in Europe, whereas the branch Z93 had split from the main trunk in India. Thus it became clear that the main trunk M198, gave birth to branch Z93 in India from where it spread to Uzbekistan and Mongolia, as well as to Southeast Asia (Pamjav 2012:2). Some members of this Indian branch Z93 also reached up to Hungary independently of any Roma migration (ibid: 3). This means Indians certainly migrated to Mongolia, Central Asia and Hungary after the birth of this branch. And of course they could have migrated before the birth of this lineage in the earlier eras.


The European branches of R1a1 namely M458 and Z280 originated while the main trunk was passing through the Caucasus region and the steppe (Pamjav 2012:Abstract). Then the whole group of people moved forward into Europe through the North Black Sea region. Hence we get M458 and also Z280 in the steppe, East Europe and Central Europe but not in India or Iran. “Inner and Central Asia seem to be the overlap zones for the R1a1-Z280 and R1a1-Z93 chromosomes as both forms were observed at low frequencies.” (ibid:3)


This is because the Indian branch Z93 also migrated into Central Asia along with its parent main trunk M198. But the European branches found in Central Asia and the steppe never came to India. It is big evidence which clarifies the direction of human movement. Hence the Indian branch can be found today in Mongolia, Central Asia and even in Hungary today. But the European branches (M458 and Z280) cannot be found in India. This finding irrefutably fixes the direction of migration as to be from India to Europe, and leaves no room to any further argument in the matter.


Underhill (2015) further worked on this lineage and found that the R1a1 has several branches which can be grouped into two. One set of branches are found in India and Central Asia, where as the other set of branches are found in Europe. Of the European samples of R1a, 96% belonged to Z282, and 98.4% of Indian and Central Asian lineages belonged to the lineage Z93. Underhill (2015) found that one branch M558 originated in Volga-Ural area and migrated with the group further west into East Europe. The branch M458 broke off after that. Only after these, the branches M282 and M284 originated.


The Indian branch Z93 is quite common today in South Siberia, Altai region of Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Iran. The further branches of Z93 lineage are 1. Z2124 found in Pashtun Afghanistan, Caucasus and Iran; 2. M750 in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Himalayas; 3. M560 in Burushaski, Hazara, and Iranian Azeri (Underhill 2015:11).


Underhill in his latest work proposed the place of origin of R1a in Iran (2015:11-12). However it is only conjectural in nature and cannot be accepted on several accounts. This conclusion does not take into the account of the R1a lineages present in the Indian tribes and Dravidian speakers. They were not included by Underhill (2015) in his consideration. The study also did not include the study of R1a present in several eastern regions of India like Bihar, UP, as well as R1a present in Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia etc. The Y-DNAs R1 (M173) and R* (M207) are found in large numbers in Bali (Indonesia) today, and they have migrated there from India (Karafet 2005:Table 1). In fact at least 12% of Balinese male lineages were found to be of Indian origins in this study. These R1 DNAs are ancestral to R1a1. Kusuma (2015) found that R1a lineage has reached Madagascar (Malagasy) also when people of Indonesia migrated to this island. Such findings only prove that R1a1 originated in India and not in Iran.


More truth is revealed by the recovery of the R1a1 samples from the archaeological samples of human remains. One R1a1a has been found from 5100 BC Spain at Els Trocs site (Haak 2015). This is a descendant of R1a1a. This could have migrated there with the goat-pastoralist migration which took place from India to Southwest Europe through Ganj Dareh (Iran) about that time (vide infra). One R1a1 has been found from Oleni Ostrov (Northwest Russia) dated 6,400 BC (Mesolithic Culture; Haak 2015). Before these there was no R1a1 lineage in Europe. Apart from these two examples, the R1a1 did not migrate to Europe in large numbers during the Neolithic period. Its general migration from India and Iran to Central Asia and Europe took place mainly during the Copper, Bronze and the Iron Ages, which was also the time of rise and fall of the Indus Valley Civilization. This shows that this lineage got established in the Indus Valley just before its rise in about fifth millennium BC.


The Tarim Basin mummies recovered from Xinjiang in Central Asia had all males in the R1a1 (M198A) lineage (Li 2010), which is Indian. The date was late Bronze Age to Iron Age. Since the lineage was not present in Europe in such large frequency before this time, its arrival could have been only from India or Iran. The high frequency may be because of the founder effect. Other evidence also shows migration during that period from India/ Iran. Li (2015) further clarified that the Tarim Basin mummies carried Indian maternal DNAs in good frequency.


2.3 The Indian Y DNA L


The Indian male lineage Y-DNA L, which is younger in age than the R1a1 lineage, seems to have established in the Indus Valley just after the peak of R1a1a lineage (Sengupta 2006). From Indus Valley it migrated to Turkey through Iran, to Hindu Kush, Kashmir and Pamir and from there to Central Asia along the Oxus River (see Fig. below). It also migrated to UP, Central India and Nepal, and also to South India. Its branch L1a has been recently recovered from four skeletons from Armenian site (Bird’s Eye Cave) dating 4100 BC to 3700 BC (Lazaridis 2016). This migration could have been the one migration from India to Ararat province of Armenia as has been mentioned in the Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra (Priyadarshi 2014:119; Kazanas 2012:224; Lal 2007). This text belongs to the Yajurveda group of texts which has been dated 5500 to 2500 BC by Priyadarshi (2014), and also mentions migrations from India to Iran and Afghanistan at that time.  It is possibly the time when Chalcolithic Indians migrated to Armenia and then further north in the Caucasus to establish the archaeological Maikop Culture in the north Caucasus which has many of the features of India and Indo-European civilization.


Fig. The male lineage Y-DNA haplogroup L distribution. The dark point marked +25 is the location of the Jammu and Kashmir Neolithic (3000-1000 BC), where many people from the Indus Valley must have migrated following the arrival of the drier period.


2.4. Other Indian Y DNAs

The Y-DNA Q1a3 has been found in the several ancient human remains recovered from the Lake Baikal region (Russian Siberia) dating between 5500 BC and 1700 BC (Moussa 2016). This DNA originated in India (Sharma 2007), and its presence in Lake Baikal region indicates human migration from India to Siberia during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.


Another Indian Y-DNA is F* and its early branches which are frequently found in the Neolithic Europe as well as are present in modern Europe (Sengupta 2006:211; Haak 2015; Szecsenyi-Nagy 2015). The presence of the Indian Y-DNA F*, Q*, R2 and their branches in the Neolithic and extant populations of steppe (Malyarchuk 2011) and Europe is another evidence of Indian migration to the steppe and Europe.


2.4. Indian mtDNA M in Europe

India-specific mitochondrial DNA M5 is widely distributed in Europe, particularly in Romania, Hungary, Slavonia, Poland, Ukraine and Russia, often reaching 3% to 5% of the populations. It is also well distributed in Iran and Iraq. The workers have generally ignored this finding, and considered it a result of later migrations during historical periods. Palanichamy (2014) noted that the general mtDNA pool of Mesopotamia is composed of DNAs of South Indian and northwest Indian origin (Palanichamy 2014:Abstract). The fact was substantiated by finding of Indian mtDNA from ancient Mesopotamian human specimen (Witas 2013; Palanichamy 2014). They found Indian mtDNAs M4b1, M49, M65 and M61 in ancient Mesopotamian samples. There are many more Indian mtDNAs present in extant European as well as the ancient European, Central Asian and Middle Eastern samples, however listing them all here is beyond the scope of this work.












  1. Environment, Ecology and Farming


  • The Likely Places and Times of the Origins of Farming and pastoralism in this part of Eurasian Archaeology


Before 10,000 BC too farming and pastoralism had been experimented at several places in the world at the warmer wetter epochs of climates for the respective region. However, they either ended up as failed experiments or had to eclipse during the subsequent episodes of dry cold spells of glaciations, and the people in general had to return back to the hunter-gatherer mode of subsistence. Yet it is very much plausible that at the warmer latitudes of the world, the earlier evolved, i.e. the Pre-Holocene practices of experiments of animal-herding/  domestication might have survived and continued into the Holocene era.


The putative locations for such continuity of culture to have taken place through the late glacial into the Holocene include Tropical Africa, Tropical India and South-East Asian landmass (which was a single piece of land then due to low sea-level of the times). In fact such continuities in pastoral practices dating back to the Last Glacial Period have been noticed in Central India (G.R. Sharma 1980) and in Afghanistan at Aq Kupruk Neolithic (Perkins 1972; Allchin and Allchin 1982:97; Meadow 1989:25-26, Table 2; Possehl 2002:24).  Rissman noted that India had for the ages in her past, all the wild species of animals and plants required for domestication and the development of farming like cattle, buffalo, elephant, horse, camel, sheep, goat, pig, dog and foul. He strongly and convincingly argues on archaeological and biological grounds that these were domesticated locally in India during the Indian Mesolithic and Neolithic (1989:15).


This assumption that the Indian Neolithic farming culture had evolved locally from the Late Ice Age Mesolithic and associated earlier domestication experiments is supported by many facts and by many arguments. Bellwood and Oxenham find that the population where the Neolithic evolves in situ (i.e. develops locally) take much longer time to grow and to saturate the carrying capacity of the area, whereas the areas where the Neolithic culture arrives in a package as an import from outside show very rapid population expansion (2008).


This is clearly visible at Mehrgarh where we get the sequentially evolving skeletons of domesticates over time, from the wild to the fully domesticated forms, over a period of more than one millennium (Meadow 1981, 1984, 1989, 1993a, 1993b, 1998; Fuller 2006:26; Priyadarshi 2014:339-41). On the other hand such sequences of evolving skeletons towards domestication are absent from the sheep and goat remains recovered from the early Neolithic of the Levant, Anatolia and Zagros (Zeder 2005:126). Clearly this is a sign of import of the Neolithic culture to West Asia from somewhere else at about 7700 BC to 7400 BC (uncalibrated dates 8600 BP and 8300 BP respectively).


Kivisild (2005) found the theory of the West Asian evolution of farming culture unacceptable because farming suddenly appears there in West Asia as a complete “readymade package of culture” as if delivered from somewhere else. He considers India as the most likely source of such package (2005:S18). James and Petraglia too argue by the analysis of the archaeological evidence from India that the source of the West Asian Neolithic cultures was India (James and Petraglia 2005:S46). Dennel (2005) too supports Petraglia’s arguments. Thus there is a body of evidence strongly suggesting the evolution of the West Asian Neolithic by import from India.


Bar-Yosef (2007) rejects the possibility of the West Asian origin of the farming culture. He attributes the new successful technologies observed in the Eurasian Upper Palaeolithic to the “social processes and the economic innovations” by the Middle Palaeolithic of “some particular region” from where it spread as a package to West Asia and to the rest of the world (2007:3-18). Although he is unable to suggest India as the likely source of such innovations, and guesses Africa as such likely source, we can safely infer now, in light of the newer findings from the archaeology of India and the views of the other authors expressed above, that such Neolithic arrivals to the Fertile Crescent had taken place from India at that time of the Holocene (Priyadarshi 2011:30, 2014:339-41). However it was not like a just one wave-front, but was like a continuous process of trickling of arrivals of people and cultural innovations up to the Iron Age.


  • Ecological Considerations


When we talk of evolution of farming, we generally mean the development of farming as a continuous process following the end of the Late Glacial peak at about 9,500 B.C. or say roughly 10,000 B.C. Hawks noted that it is at this time that the rate of the human population growth became fastest–at the end of the last glacial period and the following warmer post-glacial period (Hawks 2007). The rapid population growth forced man to adopt farming and other related technology.


The transformation from hunter-gatherer mode of subsistence to farming was the result of the specific climatic changes necessitating the changes in the mode of subsistence for man. The alterations in the available niche in different micro-ecosystems forced man to change food habits, and to invent and/or adopt new technologies. The complete picture of the climatic change vis-à-vis biotic changes (plants and animal species living in the area) taking place in the ecosystem is important for the proper understanding of the transformation from hunter-gatherer to farmer lifestyle.


The herbivores (like deer, cattle, horse, sheep, goat, elephant, rhinoceros, vegetarian humans; also called primary consumers) in any ecosystem have always almost ten times larger population (actually bio-mass) than the hunter (lion, tiger, wolf, hunter humans; secondary consumers). Hence as soon as a human population changes from hunter to farmer there is a population explosion as the population carrying capacity of the same location rises enormously owing to the change in the consumer status of man from secondary to primary level (Pimentel and Pimentel 2003; Priyadarshi 2011:137-143). A ten times population growth is expected even without farming if man leaves hunter’s meat diet and adopts vegetarian diet in any given place. Farming, by providing a greater yield from the same land, produces a much larger population growth.


This population rise from farming provides the essential input or ingredient for migration which is the large population in the tropical ecosystems. The large population leads to stress and disorder which causes human migration out. The larger is the number of microstates (or, humans in our case) in any macrostate (given geographical ecosystem), the greater is the entropy or disorder—a conclusion which comes from the Laws of Thermodynamics applied to population ecology (Schneider and Kay 1992; also see Georgescu-Roegen 1971). And migration becomes a compulsion because of the intra-specific competition and stress, as per the laws of thermodynamics applied to ecology (see Priyadarshi 2011:139).




  • Our study shows that the Tamil Nadu had a good climate between 9,000 BC and

5500 BC which was better than Northwest India (vide infra), and therefore there must have been a population growth in South India. This population expansion must have led to a population migration to the north India between 6000 and 5000 BC. This is perhaps the reason how we get islands of the Dravidian languages in the north India like Brahui (Balochistan of Pakistan), Kurukh languages viz. Oraon and Kisan (Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand Bengal and Bangladesh), Dhangar language in Nepal and Bhutan, Mal Paharia (Malto) language in West Bengal and North Bangladesh-Assam region, Gondi (Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa), Khond (Orissa and Andhra Pradesh) and Kui, Kuvi, Pengo and Manda (Orissa).


Possibly these people of the Dravidian speaking South arrived in the north India to settle amongst the Neolithic farmers of the north, which were particularly concentrated in Assam, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Central India. The Dravidian linguistic migration seems to be more prominent along the east coast of India reaching up to Bengal, Nepal and Bhutan. This too correlates well with the fact that between 9000 BC and 5500 BC, the Bay of Bengal monsoon was much stronger than the extremely weak western coastal Arabian Sea monsoon (vide infra). The northern (winter) monsoon supplying Nepal, Assam and Bhutan too had been strong. Hence there is a migration of the Dravidian speakers from Bengal into Bhutan, Assam and Nepal. This is the most parsimonious explanation for the presence of the Dravidian languages in the far north and northeast of the sub-continent.


The mtDNA of the southern Indian locations have ultimately spread all over India and have even migrated to Europe during the Iron Age. One such example is the mtDNA hg M5* and M5a, found in the Dravidian speaking tribes of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka the Koya and Chenchu (Sun 2006: Table 2; Kivisild 2003). This mtDNA most probably originated in South India (Sun 2006; Kivisild 2003; Edwin 2002). This is today found in Brahui (Pakistan; Hartmann 2, number 28), Nepal (Fornarino 2009), Iran (Metspalu 2004; Derenko 2013), Russia (Malyarchuk 2002, 2006, 2008), China (Xinjiang-Kazakhstan; Kong 2010:516), Romania, Slovaks and other Slavs and Polish (Malyarchuk 2008) populations outside India.


This DNA can be found today in the people of Iran, Romania and the Slavs of East Europe as well as in the Roma (Gypsy) populations of Europe (M5a in study by Malyarchuk 2008). The mtDNA M35 of the same tribes too are widespread in the Indo-European speaking East Europe (Malyarchuk 2008). Clearly many of the South Indians, who migrated to north and further out of India during later periods, had already undergone language change into Indo-European speakers.


The migration of the mtDNA M5 took place to Central Asia during the Bronze Age along with the Indo-European migration. This is evidenced from the fact that the ancient mtDNA M5 has been recovered from the Bronze Age remains of humans from the Xiaohe Cemetery in the Tarim Basin of the Xinxiang province of Chinese Central Asia dating 2000 to 1500 BC (Li 2015). Other lineages recovered from the Tarim Basin include U7 and U5 mtDNAs (Li 2015: Abstract), which have now been confirmed to be of Indian origin because of their absence of the European samples dating before 6000 BC.


In Southern Europe the frequency of the LP Gene frequency is less (Romero 2011). This gene which is present today in North and Central Europe up to 70 to 90% frequency was found absent from the pre-Neolithic and the Neolithic farmers of Europe (Kruttli 2014:Abstract; Gamba 2014; Burger 2007). In fact more recently Allentoft (2015) found that the LP Gene was not present in Europe even during the Bronze Age (3000-1000 BC). In fact it reached its present frequency at about 1200 AD (Kruttli 2014). Clearly the gene migrated later to Europe, and had Natural Selection applied to it. This LP Gene originated in India (possibly South India) as a random mutation, without any biological advantage to the individual inheriting it in the very beginning.









  1. Evidence Supporting India as Source of West Asian Farming


  • Zagros (West Iran) from where the West Asian Farming evolved


Zeder found in her archaeological study in Syria, that the gazelle hunting was the predominant mode of subsistence for thousands of years before 7308 BC (8300 BP uncalibrated). However the first goat appears there at Abu Hureyra in 7730 BC (8600 BP uncalibrated) which had much resemblance with Dareh Ganj (Zagros, Iran) culling practices. It can be inferred that it had arrived in Syria from Dareh Ganj (Iran). Within the next 400 years, goat became the main food of the archaeological site at Abu Hureyra (Syria) completely replacing the gazelle hunting:


“However, it is also possible that the abrupt increase of goats in the Southern Levant at about 8600 BP uncalibrated marks the introduction of managed but morphologically unchanged goats from somewhere else.  The first appearance of goats in the assemblage from Abu Hureyra in the northern Levant (most securely dated to about 8600 BP uncalibrated) is accompanied by demographic data that suggest a similar culling strategy to that detected at Ganj Dareh (Legge 1996, Legge and Rowley-Conwy 2000). Goats dominate in the assemblage from the site after about 8300 BP uncalibrated, reversing a many millennia emphasis on hunted gazelle.”  (Zeder 2005:142)


Thus the West Asian (Levant and Anatolia) pastoral culture was not local innovation, but had arrived there from West Iran. This leads us to the next question whether the West Iranians and the West Asian (Levant and Anatolia) people were the same people, or the people of West Iran had arrived from somewhere else.


A new technique, the ancient DNA (aDNA) technique is throwing much direct light on the matter. Recently the full genome of a human skeleton (female) from 7900 BC from Ganj Dareh was successfully recovered. Its study examined this DNA and found that these people who were the architects of the Zagros Neolithic were not from Anatolia nor the Levant, or from Europe, steppe or the Caucasus, but were from a southern and eastern location (Gallego-Llorente 2016:Abstract). This cultural package brought to Zagros was later adopted by the Anatolians and the people of the Levant (Israel, Lebenon, Jordan, Syria), who brought the culture to the further west into Southeast Europe and Romania.


On the basis of the DNA recovered it was concluded that the people of Zagros (West Iran) were not the same as the people of West Asia (Gallego-Llorente 2016). In fact, the farmers of Levant, those of Anatolia and those of Iran were there distinct genetic populations (Lazaridis 2016). Gallego-Llorente and the team of scholars concluded in the Abstract of their aDNA-based article that the people “of the Central Zagros were somewhat isolated from other populations of the Fertile Crescent. Runs of homozygosity are of a similar length to those from Neolithic farmers, and shorter than those of Caucasus and Western Hunter-Gatherers, suggesting that the inhabitants of Ganj Dareh did not undergo the large population bottleneck suffered by their northern neighbours. While some degree of cultural diffusion between Anatolia, Western Iran and other neighbouring regions is possible, the genetic dissimilarity between early Anatolian farmers and the inhabitants of Ganj Dareh supports a model in which Neolithic societies in these areas were distinct.” These authors also suggested that the population had arrived to Zagros from somewhere further south and east: “It is possible that the ancestors of the Anatolian and Ganj Dareh farmers spent the LGM in areas further south or east” (Gallego-Llorente 2016:4).


The agricultural package of the Ganj Dareh site too matched the northwest Indian agricultural package found at the Mehrgarh. “The site has been directly dated to 9650–9950 cal BP7, and shows intense occupation over two to three centuries. The economy of the population was that of pastoralists with an emphasis on goat herding. Archaeobotanical evidence is limited but the evidence present is for two-row barley with no evidence for wheat, rye or other domesticates.” (Gallego-Llorente 2016:2) This finding too is consistent with the transfer from the Mehrgarh agricultural package (Jarrige 2008).


We have already seen that archaeologies of Afghanistan and Central India exhibit the oldest evidence of goat-domestication in the world, and that too since before the Holocene period (vide supra).  The wild presence of the goat in Afghanistan and Pakistan adds substance to Priyadarshi’s claim that the goat was first domesticated in northwest India and Afghanistan (Priyadarshi 2014:342-346; Sultana 2003:420-421). Priyadarshi (2014) found on the basis of the information from the genetic studies that the goat was domesticated for the first time in India-Pakistan. In another study, Priyadarshi found on the basis of available DNA research that the sheep too had been domesticated for the first time in India-Pakistan (Priyadarshi 2013:206-211).



  • From where the Zagros Neolithic people came? Ancient Zagros DNA X2.


It became clear from the ancient DNA that the West Asian farmers of Levant (Syria etc) were not the same people genetically who were doing farming and goat domestication at the Zagros site (Gallego-Llorente 2016; Lazaridis 2016). Gallego-Llorente tried to find the source of the Zagros farmers in light of the fact that the Zagros region had become uninhabitable during the late glacial peak, and its farmers must have come from somewhere outside.


The ancient DNA recovered from the single female skeleton (named GD13a) from Neolithic Ganj Dareh (Zagros, west Iran) belongs to the mtDNA haplogroup X2 which is a sister of X1; and both X1 and X2 descended from X haplogroup. Today, the X2, along with X1 is well distributed in Europe, and had been till late considered European or Western Eurasian mtDNA, although wrongly. Many geneticists had claimed that the haplogroup X had originated in Europe about 20,000 years back (Kivisild et al 1999; Quintana-Murci et al 2004; Reidla et al 2003; Shlush et al 2008; Richards et al 2000). These claims had been made on the basis of the presence of this DNA in the modern European population. However the recent studies of the ancient DNAs from Europe revealed that this DNA was not present in Europe before 6000 BC.


Les Groube on the basis of his ecological study declared that any migration would not have been possible from the Fertile Crescent to South or East, because these areas would have been already filled with expanding humans (1996:105). Hence on purely ecological grounds also we know that the people of the Fertile Crescent could move only into Europe or to the steppe.


In South Europe, which was warmer, the earliest sample of X mtDNA has been found from northern Greece at Revenia dating about 6300 BC (Hofmanova 2016). It belonged to the X2b branch. Just at this time we get another sample of mtDNA X of X2m branch from Barcin in West Anatolia (Turkey). Hence we can say that the farmers of the Zagros were gradually moving west through Turkey into Southern Europe via Greece at about 6300 BC.


The mtDNA X (which has two branches X1 and X2) reached Central Europe as a part of the “Neolithic DNA package”, and its earliest presence in Central Europe occurs in the LBK (Linear-Pottery Culture), only about 5600 BC (Brandt 2013:260). This culture most probably arrived to Central Europe from the north Black Sea locations.


However from the south, the Starcevo Cultural grows from the Balkans and expands to Central Europe about the same time. From Starcevo cultural sites in Hungary several people with mtDNA X (belonging to X2 lineage) have been found dating 5615 BC (mean of the radiocarbon date range 5660-5570 BC; Szecsenyi-Nagy 2015).


[Figure showing migration of farming and people from Southeast Europe after having arrived there from Asia through Anatolia. Courtesy: Szecsenyi-Nagy 2015]



Clearly, we can say from the available evidence that the people (and their DNA lineages like X2) were reaching Europe from the Zagros by two routes–one through Anatolia, Bosporus and Romania and the Balkans, and the other through Caucasus, north Black Sea steppe and then to Central Europe, effectively changing the DNA-landscape of the regions they were sweeping. The migration into Europe from north Black Sea, South Siberia and Central Asia has been attested in the ancient DNA studies by Haak (2015).


  • Modern Distribution of X2 and the likely place of origin of X2 lineage


The mtDNA X2 which migrated into Europe with the Neolithic (vide supra) is present in European population till date. However it has been replaced in West Asia by arrival of newer people over time with different DNAs. Hence, the X2 mtDNA is not now that common in the Levant in the general Arab Muslim population. However, it is found in good percentage in the relict minority population Druze living in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The Druze, particularly the ones living in the secluded Galilee area of Israel have maintained an isolated existence, and thus have been able to retain the old genetic material (Shlush 2008). It is to be noted that this community follows a unique system of religious belief which resembles the Hindu beliefs in many ways. These people believe in the series of rebirths ultimately leading the soul to merge in the cosmic reality (Khuri 2004; Dwairy 2006). It is possible that the Druze are the relic descendants of the goat-keeping farmers who reached the Levant from the Zagros bringing the Neolithic practices.


In South Asia, which we consider to be the likely source of the Zagros farmers (vide supra), the mtDNA X2 is found today in the Hazara, Baloch and Makarani relict tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hazara is a relict tribe of Afghanistan. A recent DNA study has shown that the Tajik and the Pashtun speaking people of Afghanistan arrived somewhat later to Afghanistan from India during the early Holocene (Haber 2012:3), and that the Hazara had been in Afghanistan from much older days. This finding contradicts the common folk notion that the Hazaras arrived there with Genghiz Khan’s army from Mongolia.


The Hazara which constitute about 20 per cent population of Afghanistan today and speak Dari (an Indo-Iranian) language are in fact the oldest inhabitants of the Afghan country since the late glacial period. Majority of the Pashtun-speaking males of Afghanistan (51%) have the R1a1a-M17 Y-chromosomal DNA from South Asia. However the frequency of R1a1a-M17 is only 6.6% among the Hazara males. It has been shown recently by Poznic (2016) that the population of the arriving people with technological advantage expands much faster, and that it greatly decimates or replaces the population percentage, particularly of the males, of the original people of the locality (Poznic 2016:6) :


“Using either mutation rate estimate, the lineage expansions seem to have followed innovations that may have elicited increased variance in male reproductive success, innovations such as metallurgy, wheeled transport, or social stratification and organized warfare. In each case, privileged male lineages could undergo preferential amplification for generations. We find that rapid expansions are not confined to extraordinary circumstances and that the Y chromosome resulting from these rapid expansions can predominate on a continental scale and do so in some of the populations most studied by medical geneticists. Inferences incorporating demography may benefit from taking these male–female differences into account.”


This has been the case of the Hazaras vis-à-vis the Pashtun speaking Afghanistani people. The R1a1a-M17, which constitutes the 51% of Pashtun male lineages, was found to have originated in India, expanded in Gujarat and the Indus Valley and then migrated through Afghanistan to Central Asia, Steppe and thence to North Europe (Underhill 2010; Sahoo 2006; Sengupta 2006; Sharma 2009; vide supra). It gave three important branches en route to Europe. Out of these the one R1a-Z93 expanded in the Indus Valley during the late Bronze Age (Poznic 2016:5). It reached the steppe and then to Europe mainly during the Bronze Age. It has been recovered in large numbers from the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age human remains from Central Asia (Tarim Basin) and Europe, but with a much smaller frequencies before that time.


Some authors continued to express doubt over the Indian origin of the R1a1a. However, this particular branch R1a-Z93 which expanded in the Indus Valley is also found in the Malaysian Indians (of Dravidian speaking South Indian ethnicity), as well as the Roma (Gypsy) from Hungary, but not in the other Hungarian population (Pamjav 2012). On this basis Pamjav concluded that this lineage is of Indian origin. This body of genetic evidence only proves that the Pashtun of Afghanistan reached their modern homes from Indus Valley/ North India and largely reduced the percentage of the native Hazara who had been the original people of Afghanistan and who had earlier migrated with the early farming and goat-herding to Zagros at the advent of the Holocene.


One particular branch X2d of the X2 lineage is found in the Roma-Gypsy population of Europe and in none else (Martinez-Cruz 2015). Its other early branch X2a is found in the American tribes only, who possibly migrated to North America crossing the Bering Strait Land-bridge after expanding through Central Asia, Altai and Siberia just before the end of the last glacial period (Fagundes 2008; Reidla 2003).


“Principal Component Analysis” is a technique applied to the statistics generated from the study of the genome or the complete DNA. This was done for this Ganj Dareh DNA too. It was found that the genome recovered from the Ganj Dareh lady was related largely to the Balochi, Makrani and Brahui populations of modern Pakistan (Gallego-Llorente 2016). This fact again supports the Indian origin of the Zagros farmers.


  • Domestication of animals: DNA findings


There is another method of knowing about the evolution of the farming and domestication processes. This is DNA study of the domesticated animals and plants vis-à-vis their wild relatives present today. As a general rule, the genetic diversity is highest at the original place of domestication, because many lineages have survived there. But at a place where the domesticated animal has been brought later on, the genetic diversity is less, because only selected individuals of the breed can be transported, not all members.  Zeder noted that the genetic diversity of the Indian goats and sheep is much higher than that of the Middle Eastern goat and sheep populations (2005).


Zeder (2005) puts it in the following words: “The geographic location of origin can be inferred from the geographic distribution of certain alleles or lineages as follows. In all livestock species, including goats, cattle, buffalo, pigs and sheep, a divergent DNA lineage occurs only in Southern and Eastern Asia. This suggests a possible centre of animal domestication in Southern or Eastern Asia” (p. 300). This fact suggests India (and also China) as the most likely place for domestication of most of these animals.


Mitochondrial DNA variation is an index of the age of a lineage in any area. Zeder wrote “In goats, however, mtDNA variation is not higher in the Fertile Crescent region compared to most other continental region” (2005:300). That means in simple words that the Fertile Crescent was not an early centre of goat (and by implication) domestication”, something which the other scholars have dared not pronounce so far.




  1. Climate Change and its impact on Civilization



  • It is only lately that the Holocene climate change has been understood accurately.

Priyadarshi (2014) gave the detailed sequence of climate change in India and Central Asia during the Holocene. His details match with the general trends of climate change described by Berzenkova (2015) for the Baltic region. Borzenkova found, “The Holocene climate history showed three stages of natural climate oscillations in the Baltic Sea region: short-term cold episodes related to deglaciation during a stable positive temperature trend (11,000–8000 cal year BP); a warm and stable climate with air temperature 1.0–3.5 °C above modern levels (8000–4500 cal year BP), a decreasing temperature trend; and increased climatic instability (last 5000–4500 years).” (Abstract).


Priyadarshi’s study divides the Indian Holocene in three periods, 8000-6000 BC dry a bit cold Indus-Sarasvati region, 6000-5500 BC transition period, 5500-3500 BC wet warm period, 3500-1000 BC dryness increases, becomes very bad after 1900 BC (Priyadarshi 2014, 2015). The same periods behave differently in three different monsoonal regions of India. Thus when Indus is dry, Mehrgarh, Afghanistan and Kashmir are having a wet period. This is because of three different sources of monsoon for different parts of India.


  • Indian Climate: The Three Monsoonal Systems


The Indian Territory receives monsoonal rains or precipitation from three different monsoonal systems. First is the northern ‘Winter Monsoon’ which comes from Siberia and Arctic and supplies the much needed snow to the Himalayan glaciers. It also provides the rains in the winter months to Afghanistan, Punjab, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Nepal, North Bihar, North UP, Arunachal and Assam. This monsoon provides rains/ snowfall to Caucasus, Turkey, Kurdistan, North Iran, Central Asia, Tibet etc.


The second monsoon system comes from the Bay of Bengal and supplies rains to most of the Peninsular India (particularly Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu), Bengal, Meghalaya, Bihar, U.P. and much of Central India. When strong, it provides rains up to East Haryana, East Rajasthan, and West UP.


The third monsoonal system in India is the Arabian Sea monsoon which supplies the western coastal peninsular India, Gujarat, Sind, Pakistan, Iran, Arabia and East Africa. When strong it reaches Afghanistan and southern Central Asia also.


The relative strengths of the three have varied during the Holocene. In general, when the Bay of Bengal Monsoon is strong, the winter monsoon is strong too, but the Arabian Sea monsoon is weak. However when the Arabian Sea monsoon became strong, the winter monsoon became weaker and the Bay of Bengal monsoon became very weak causing decline of the farming cultures over East and South India.


  • Early Holocene Climate 8000-6250 BC


The Tardiglacial (the last 1000 years of the last glacial) was the cold dry period when no farming was possible. Hunting-gathering and to some extent animal husbandry were the only means of subsistence. Northwest India was a cold desert then. The waters were all trapped in the glaciers, and the rivers of the region had scanty waters flowing in them. This, the Late Glacial phase of the Late Pleistocene, ended about 11,500 years BP or roughly about 9,500 BC, after which the period till date is known as the Holocene (Mayewski 2004).


Earlier there was no scientific data or accurate information about the Holocene climate changes. Hence different authors wrote differently on the basis of their assumptions. Thus Misra wrote: “The end of the Pleistocene Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago, saw a sharp increase in rainfall, which stimulated the growth of both plant and animal life and consequently of human population.” (V.N. Misra 2001:525,498). A.K. Gupta also wrote the same (2004:56). However these inferences were not correct. Several geologists were able to show that the rainfall had actually decreased in the western coastal regions during the Early Holocene (Sarkar 2000; Thamban 2001; Staubwasser and Weiss 2006).


The reconstructions of the ancient climates have been done mainly in Europe and North America. Climates behaved varyingly in different regions of Europe (Davis 2003; Mayewski 2004; Magny 2013:2044). Results become different even by the change of method. Out of the several methods used, the one applying the study of the fossil pollens seem to be the most accurate, because it monitors the end result of the climates i.e. the plant life of the region for a particular time.


  • Study of Indian Pollen Data for climatic reconstruction


The pioneer work on Holocene climate change in India was done by Gurdeep Singh which postulated a wet period between 8000 BC and 7500 BC and also 3000 BC and 1800 BC (1971, 1974). However this finding was not correct. He had studied pollens from Sambar, Didwana, Lunkaransar and Pushkar lakes. The results he obtained have not been supported by later works like that of Enzel (1999) done on the fossil pollens recovered from Lunkaransar Lake (Shinde 2001, 2008:78, 2006:66-7).


In fact the different lakes had different micro-climates at any time in the past, because they were having different combinations of the three monsoons as the locations differed. While fossil pollens from Lunkaransar (near Bikaner) located in western Rajasthan reflect more the past climate of Indus-Sarasvati, those from Sambar located to the north and east reflect the climate of Uttar Pradesh (which is fed by the Bay of Bengal monsoon) and also the winter monsoon fed regions (like the Himalayan regions).


Gurdeep Singh went wrong because he tried to formulate single unified conclusions on the basis of those lakes which essentially represented different monsoonal zones. Shinde (2001) describes, for the Sambar Lake, a wet phase for the period 3800 BC to 2200 BC, which obviously is not true for the Indus Valley region. This conclusion from the Sambar Lake can be applicable to western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and not to Mohenjo-Daro or Harappa.


Shinde (2008:79) notes the unreliability of these earlier works in the following words, “Firstly all the earlier studies were carried out only in the north and western parts of Rajasthan and all the data collected for climate reconstruction was from the dried salt lakes in Rajasthan. Such inadequate data cannot be used for drawing meaningful conclusions. The data from lakes do not reveal general climate of the region but provide only limited information such as climatic history of the lake and its catchment areas.”


  • Early Holocene Climate


The later evidence from archaeo-botany, particularly one from palynology, supports a dry cool Early Holocene in the southern part of the Indus Valley region (Priyadarshi 2014) in the Early Holocene. The rainfall increased certainly immediately after the glacial period, yet it did so in the northern and the central regions of Asia where much of the things had been frozen during much part of the year before the Holocene. Mehrgarh was integrated more with Central Asian monsoon. Hence it had a better rainfall during early Holocene.


Although some warm centuries did occur during the first two millennia of the Holocene, on the whole it was a cool period. The climate of the Mediterranean region was cool during 9,700 BC to 5000 BC (Magny 2013:2044). Mayewski (2004:249-250) found that the period between 7000 BC and 6000 BC was quite cool globally and particularly so in the tropics. Bjune (2004:218) found that Dalmutladdo was dry and cool at 7500 BC. Thus Priyadarshi’s  finding that the 8000 BC-6000 BC period in northwest India was dry and cool is consistent with these reports and can be accepted as the working formula (Priyadarshi 2014, 2015)


The glaciers were melting fast, hence the Himalayan rivers were all flooded and had very fast currents (Giosan 2012). As the consequence the sea level was rising. But these rivers were of no use to agriculture. “Wild, untamed rivers once slashed through the heart of the Indus plains. They were so unpredictable and dangerous that no city could take root on their banks.” (Nuwer 2012). However farming was adopted on those flood-plains away from the river currents and which were known to be safer by the people by general experience (Giosan 2012).


“The presence of Harappan and even earlier settlements within these incised valleys (vide infra) also argues for major incision predating the Harappan. During Harappan times, the alluvial landscape in Punjab offered suitable terrain for floodwater farming within incised valleys and important protection against large floods on interfluves.” (Giosan 2012:e1689)


Immediately following the end of the Last Glacial period, the winter monsoon which also supplies Central Asia, steppe and Europe became strong. Thus we get evolution of early Neolithic activities in the northern parts of Pakistan (Mehrgarh and further north) as well as in Ladakh, Tibet and Afghanistan between 8000 and 6000 BC (Jarrige 2008; Miehe 2009; Ganjoo and Ota 2012).


The region just to the north of Mehrgarh was wet from the winter monsoon, and that to the south was drier because of the inadequate Arabian Sea monsoon during this period. Thus Mehrgarh depicts flora and fauna of the wet type as well as the dry type, because it was located at the junction of the dry and wet regions of northwest India for that period.


However the presence of the domestic water buffalo and also elephant at Mehrgarh is an indicator of the good rains received from the northern winter monsoons. Mehrgarh is not in the natural habitat range of the wild water buffalo. Hence the presence of this animal at Mehrgarh makes it obvious that the buffaloes had been domesticated somewhere else in east India and then brought to Mehrgarh.


Between 8000 and 6000 BC, the Arabian Sea monsoon was weak. Hence the Indus Valley proper was devoid of much rain and was a mix of desert and grassland, as well as open forests with scanty shrubs and xerophyte trees. Hence we find that the Indus Valley Civilization (Lothal, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa) did not take off during this period.


The Bay of Bengal Monsoon was strong between 8000 and 6000. Hence the Neolithic activity flourished in Central India including Lahuradewa, Koldihwa, Mahadaha and Mahagara.


During this period, the southern part of the land surrounding Indus and Sarasvati river basins was devoid of much rain, and stayed dependant on the river water system which also supplied the playas through the underground water streams. The playas (or, saras in Sanskrit) were the source of water for the people, animals and plants who inhabited the Indus-Sarasvati region before 6000 BC. The rivers were getting huge amount of waters from melting glaciers. Hence they had torrential flows, which would often cause floods, and would slash the banks and cause avulsions. This was quite unsuitable for any large human settlement coming up over their banks. Thus we can say why Mehrgarh was located not on the bank of any river but quite away from that: “Wild, untamed rivers once slashed through the heart of the Indus plains. They were so unpredictable and dangerous that no city could take root on their banks.” (Giosan’s interview cited by Nuwer 2012).


The human population expansion taking place between 8000 and 6000 BC in the region from Mehrgarh to Afghanistan was eventually forced to migrate to Iran reaching Zagros, and also into Central Asia through the Hindu Kush passes. The northern regions of Iran and Iraq and the Fertile Crescent being supplied by the winter monsoon rains were having good rains between 8000 and 6000 BC as it was a period of strong winter rains. Hence migration out from Mehrgarh and Afghanistan was directed west to these regions. They did not expand towards the south to Sind and Rajasthan, because Sind and Rajasthan were devoid of much rain fall due to weak Arabian Sea monsoon.



  • The 8.2 Kilo-year cooling event of 6250 BC—a brief freezing


At 8,200 BP i.e. about 6,250 BC, there was an extra-ordinary dip in temperature, and this event has been named the 8.2 Kilo-year Event (Staubwasser and Weiss 2006:1). Many people died and many habitation sites were abandoned. This climatic event caused severe reduction in the farming communities in West Asia (Weninger 2006).


There was a severe global freeze just like the glacial period lasting for 60 years, and the total length of cooling was spread over about 150 years. This freeze killed most of the people in the temperate regions. The populations of North Europe, Central Asia and the steppe were decimated, and whoever survived in these regions, hunting only was their subsistence.


Tropical regions too were affected and a decline in the number of human habitation is noted in the archaeology of Indus-Sarasvati region and West Asia. But humanity survived adequately in India, parts of Iran, Southern Europe and SE Asia. As soon as the climate improved about 6,000 BC, the population of northwest India quickly picked up, and so did the populations of the different regions of Iran.


The effects of 8.2 Kilo Event on India have not been ascertained so far in the archaeological studies. We can expect breach in the continuity at many sites, and abandonment of many other Neolithic sites in northwest India. In the new radiocarbon dates for Bhirrana given by Dikshit and Mani (2013:50), the cultural continuity of the period I ends abruptly about 6500 BC. Then we get the onset of the Period II (Transitional Period, 6025-5045 BC). This period is marked by new settlements which correspond to the resettlements taking place following the 8.2 Kilo Cold Event. Clearly there is a break or decline of civilization for about 450 years. Following this cold epoch, when population re-expanded, a better climate ensued in the Indus Valley and Gujarat region as Arabian Sea monsoon started picking up. People migrated to Gujarat and we find new settlements in Gujarat just following 6250 BC event (Dikshit 2013:136). This was again because of the climate change. Most probably people from Central India and South India must have migrated to Gujarat and the Indus Valley region immediately after the improvement of climate.



  • The Climate Change after 6000 BC in India and consequent migrations


By 6000 BC, a newer, warmer climate arrived which provided better availability of food in the Indus Sarasvati region in particular and Eurasia in general. Thus the human population expanded again in different parts of Eurasia. By 5500 BC, the western monsoon i.e. the Arabian Sea monsoon became very strong, and it remained so for two millennia. It brought rains to western coastal India, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Sind, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab. Under better rainfall, the Thar of Rajasthan became a grassland and open forest from its previous desert condition, and its playas started showing lake full stages (Deotare 2004). There is evidence of much nomadic human activity in the Thar at this time.


The Bay of Bengal monsoon or the eastern monsoon became very weak following 5500 BC. This led to a decline in the Neolithic civilizations of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Central India. South India being largely supplied by Bay of Bengal monsoon, became dry. The northern winter monsoon too lost some strength leading to some decline in Kashmir, Ladakh and Mehrgarh.


At this time Central Asia and the steppe show increase in the warmth and climatic recovery from the devastating effects of the 8.2 Kilo-Event (Kremenetski 1997:403). The steppe and Central Asia witness population growth. People arrive in Central Asia from many directions including India, Caucasus, Tibet and eastern Siberia. This demography is reflected in the ancient DNAs recovered from Kazakhstan which show significant numbers of India specific DNA types e.g. mtDNA M* and M4 (Lalueza-Fox 2004:944, 945; also vide supra).


It is likely owing to this sixth millennium BC Neolithic Indo-Kazakh migration, and perhaps also to the Bronze and Iron Age Indo-Kazakh migrations that the Kazakh population till date carries up to 5% Indian specific DNAs (ibid:945). The India specific mtDNAs also reached Eastern Europe, where they are found in a frequency up to 3% in Russians, Poles, Slovac and Romanian populations today (Malyarchuk 2002:Table 1 and 2; Malyarchuk 2008:228, 230).


The mtDNA U*, U5 and U5a mtDNAs found from the ancient human remains of Kazakhstan might have too arrived here about this time. This particular mtDNA U5a was earlier assumed to be of European origin, because of its presence in Europe. However it is now found that it entered Europe from Iran during the early Holocene between 8600 BC and 6000 BC. The U5a moved into Egypt and Caucasus also. When the Neolithic related migration moved into Europe after 6000 BC, the U5a again moved in with the marching farmers (ibid:944).


Thus we see that after 6000 BC, the re-growing northwest Indian population gave rise to migration from India to Iran and Iraq first, and from Iran and Iraq to Caucasus and Central Asia respectively, and from these latter two into the steppe up to Ukraine. From Ukraine, the further migration went even further west into Europe. This was like a relay-race. Hence most of the people who ultimately reached Europe were not those who had started migration from northwest India. The largest number of those who reached Europe with the Neolithic can be traced to Iran where they had arrived and settled during Early Holocene or in the Late Pleistocene.


  • The Reorganization of settlements after 6000 BC in northwest India


Another major geological event took place at about the same time. The Sarasvati River lost two of her strong glacial tributaries. Yamuna turned to East and after joining the Chambal system ultimately joined the Ganga. And the Sutlej left Sarasvati about 6500 BC to join the Indus River. Yet, as the Arabian Sea monsoon became very strong by 5500 BC, the Sarasvati maintained her profile of a large river, although it had become dependent on the monsoons.


When the population regrowth started with improving climate, the settlements started to increase in number. The flow of Sarasvati had lost its slashing power and its banks had become safely habitable by now. A large number of villages and occupations develop on the Sarasvati (Ghaggar-Hakra) River. It may be noted that the monsoon was extremely strong between 5500 and 4500 BC, and it caused almost annual floods due to rains in the lower reaches of the Indus-Sarasvati system. Therefore settlements now developed in the north-east part of this this geographical region, and as the monsoon became less powerful after 4000 BC, cities developed to the further south in the Indus Valley proper. After 1900 BC when the Indus-Sarasvati became dry again, the human population moves to east towards UP which had monsoon supply from Bay of Bengal as well as from northern winter monsoon.






[Figure Settlements on morphological units of the western Indo-Gangetic plain (see Fig. 2 for color conventions and legend). (A) Early and Mature Harappan sites, with names of some major urban centers: D ¼ Dholavira; M ¼ Mohenjo-Daro; G ¼ Ganweriwala; H ¼ Harappa; K ¼ Kalibangan; R ¼

Rakhigarhi. (B) Late Harappan (red) and Painted Gray Ware (white) sites. Courtsey Giosan]


  • Correlation of Climate and Culture in Holocene India


When the grasslands disappeared and forests covered the northwest India region during the Mid-Holocene’s wet-warm period, many grassland-animals of the arid climates which had formed the food of the hunters of the past also disappeared. This was caused by the attendant loss of the habitat for these cursorial (running) grazing animals. Such animals which disappeared after the Early Holocene from northwest India would include antelopes, horse, some other equids, camel, giraffe, bison etc. It has been concluded that the North American horse also became extinct due to growth of forests due to climate change in the early Holocene (Guthrie 2003). By analogy, it can be assumed that the wild horse in general became extinct due to growth of forests in this part of India. Yet there is evidence that the mountain adapted horses survived in the Himalayas and some horse probably managed to survive in the Thar which had become a grassland during the Mid-Holocene period.


At the same time the farming became much easier because of the increased rainfall and warmth. Thus the subsistence shifted from hunting to farming. Besides this, the carnivorous food-chain can support much less number of individuals in any given area. The increasing population (of humans) causing the increased requirement of food forced man to cultivate the plants for food and bring itself down to the herbivore level in the pyramid of food. Owing to more humid climate, rice could now be cultivated in the Ghaggar-Hakra region too, whereas we get rice cultivation only in Central India before this time (Shinde 2008:122). Barley and wheat were too now grown in the Ghaggar-Hakra region (ibid).


The pressure from environmental change (extrinsic cause) and the dynamics of human populations, particularly the pressure from population growth (intrinsic cause) are the principal factors why hunters and gatherers turned to agriculture (MacDonald 2003:518). Added to it, the farming made life easy, and thus it became very economical in terms of thermodynamic energy-economics in comparison to the hunter-gatherer way of life (A.K. Gupta 2004:55).


Yet availability of the appropriate natural factors like rain, temperature and the availability of the domesticable animal and plant species must constitute a pre-requisite for any such transformation of humans from hunters to farmers to take place. The herding and domestication could be done only to some selected species of animals and plants and not to all. South Asia was gifted with such species in the wild and when need forced, the South Asians were able to domesticate these animals (sheep, goat, cow, buffalo) and the plants like wheat, rice, barley, pulses and vegetables (Rissman 1989:15).



  • Northern Monsoon regions in early Holocene: Plant and Animal Life


The type of climate which we get in between 8000 BC and 6000 BC in NW India could sustain semi-arid ecosystems like savannah, Sahel, grasslands, steppes and semi-desert, having grasses, scrubs and scattered xerophyte trees. However contrasting this picture, humidity and forest-cover were present in the Himalayas during this same period, and to some extent in the adjoining plains too, as the result of the good winter monsoon which came from Central Asia during winter months. One of such moister regions adjoining the Hindu Kush range was Mehrgarh (Costantini 2008), where buffalo too could live during the Early Holocene (J-F Jarrige 2008:143). In fact Mehrgarh was located at the transitional zone between the dry and wet climates. From the wetter northern side they had nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), Cervus (a large deer species), swamp deer, boar (Sus scrofa), elephant and water buffalo (bubalus arnee). From the drier plains located to the south they had Equus hemionus and blackbuck (Antelope cervicapra) for game. From the hills they had wild sheep (Ovis orientalis) and wild goats (Capra aegragrus) for domestication and game (Jarrige 2008:143; Costantini 2008:168). On the other hand Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Ladakh within the Himalayas were very humid between 8000 and 6000 BC (Trivedi and Chauhan 2008, 2009; Ganjoo 2004). Humidity in this region during the Early Holocene was in continuity with the humid geography of Central Asia.


The wild animal fauna for the dry-cold ecosystems of western India of Early Holocene would have included lion, wild horse, equids, wild camel, giraffe and ostrich (Mathpal 1984; 1985; Sali 1985, 1989; Wakankar 1985). Sali noted that the ostrich eggshells were present in the Late Upper Palaeolithic but absent from the Mesolithic layer at Patne (Maharashtra, near Goa and Belgaum). At Patne, the ‘Late Upper Palaeolithic’ means Early Holocene and the Mesolithic period at Patne represents Mid-Holocene of that region of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Thus we can say that the Early Holocene was arid in Maharashtra and the Mid-Holocene was wet forest there.


The animals which cannot survive in dry and cold grasslands and deserts, and live in wet climates include buffalo, tiger, rhinoceros, beaver, crocodile, crow, python etc. Wakankar (1985:176), while working in the Patne region noted that the Mesolithic culture (Mid-Holocene) was represented by fowl (chicken), bison, tiger and rhinoceros in that region (Maharashtra). This means that Maharashtra was wet during mid-Holocene, and this gave rise to the Mesolithic culture at that time. In fact buffalo occurs in the western Indian archaeology in the Mid-Holocene, and not before that.


When the Early Holocene arrived, grasslands appeared in north India. The team of archaeologists studying the Early Holocene period at Lahuradewa concluded, “The area around Lahuradewa was largely a grassland with only a few thickets of trees and shrubs, at least since the beginning of Holocene. The proportion of trees and grasses, however, changed with the increase and decrease in rainfall during the fluctuating climatic conditions, in the times to follow.” (Tewari 2008:357).


Saraswat and Srivastava (2000) too found seeds and fruits of several species of grasses at Damdama (Pratapgarh) during the Early Holocene. Thus the north Indian heartland the Uttar Pradesh was a mix of steppe and open forest during the Early Holocene. Similar grasslands with open scattered forest trees must have prevailed in the Central Indian Vindhyan region and further south. Since the rainfall in the Indus –Sarasvati region from the Arabian Sea monsoon was the least at that time, we can guess that this region too was semi-desert and grassland type arid ecosystem.


Adjoining the Indus-Sarasvati region in Rajasthan is the Lake Lunkaransar near Bikaner. Its fossil pollen deposits have been examined. In Lunkaransar, the lake levels were shallow and fluctuating during the Early Holocene. This indicates scanty rainfall which was coming with the winter monsoon. However, the lake level rose abruptly at 6300 C14 BP or 5250 calBC. This we can take as the onset of the strong Arabian Sea monsoon leading to the mid-Holocene wet period for the Indus-Sarasvati region. The lake completely desiccated around 4800 C14 BP or 3570 calBC (Enzel 1999). This point of time must be considered the beginning of the drier climate for the region when the Arabian Sea monsoon became weak as the result of shifting to the Bay of Bengal.


This picture of the climate is consistent with G.R. Sharma’s (1980) finding of the horse bones from the end of the early Holocene Central India dated 6570-4530 BC. The same bones were re-examined by D.K. Chakrabarti who gave a date earlier than about 5000 BC (1999). Clearly the grassland was the natural habitat of wild horse, and no one so far has denied the existence of the wild horses in this region during the Early Holocene. It is important to understand that scientifically the sivalensis and the namadicus described in Indian archaeology were just the local breeds of the same caballus species which existed elsewhere in the world then and today. Another fact not known to many is that the steppe horse Przewalskii belonged to a different species than the domestic caballus horse and had nothing to do with the horse domestication at any stage in history (Ridgeway:1905:425; Jansen 2002; Bowling 2003; Wade 2009; Cai 2009:481; Achilli 2011).


However the Indus-Sarasvati steppe was certainly drier than the Ganga Valley region’s steppe during the Early Holocene. This we can say because no Ficus species grew in northwest Indian plains before 3000 BC (Thiebault 1988), while Ficus glomerata or gular (Hindi) grew in Damdama site in Pratapgarh from the Early Holocene days (Saraswat and Srivastava 2000:24). Similarly, the wild rice (nivara), which requires more water, grew then at Pratapgarh in the Early Holocene (ibid), however it did not grow in northwest India during the same period.




  1. Central Asian Climate


  • Central Asian Climate Better than India during early Holocene.

In fact the climate of the western Himalayas varied in the same pattern as the Central

Asian climate, both being fed by the winter monsoon. Because the climates of Central Asia and the steppe were much more humid than northwest India during the Early Holocene, it was a better place for living. This caused the northwest Indians to migrate through Central India reaching up to East Europe along the northern Caspian and northern Black Sea regions during Early Holocene. This migration was particularly marked just following the 8.2 Kilo event of 6200 BC. This migration has been detected by the study of ancient human DNAs recovered from Central Asia, the steppe and Europe.


The Early Holocene the steppe had a much better climate compared to northwest India. Blyakharchuk found, “The increased moisture and temperature in the steppe was associated with the Atlantic storm systems as well as with insolation-enhanced Asian monsoon.” (Blyakharchuk 2007). He noted that the climate was moist up to 3000 BC, however it started becoming drier slowly over the next 3000 years. Clearly the region underwent afforestation making it unfit for the survival of horse which needs open fields.


  • Climate change in Late Holocene

Apart from this, there is evidence of intense human induced grazing pressure in the steppe which started in the Iron Age leading to permanent deforestation at about 1000 BC in  Karginskaya (Blyakharchuk 2007:529). Many regions within Central Asia converted back to steppe even earlier just after 2000 BC due to degradation by intense human activities (Zhou 2008, cited by Chen F. 2009:3). Such human activities might have resulted from the people arriving into Central Asia from the deserted and desolate Indus Valley. In fact the Himalayas which too were moist with plenty of rains just like Central Asia following 1900 BC, gave refuge to the escaping Indus Valley people. So did the Ganga Valley. “Between 3,900 and 3,000 y ago, there was a proliferation of smaller, village-type settlements (2–4, 6, 18), especially in the Himalayan foothills and the western part of the Ganges basin along the Yamuna River and on the Yamuna-Ganga interfluve (Fig. 3B).” (Giosan:1 early web version). The northern steppes had converted into forest during the Early Holocene. Many areas in them converted back to steppe ecosystem earlier by 5,000 BC (Zhao 2009:249; Jiang 2006).



  • The wet and warm period of Indus-Sarasvati: Mid-Holocene


Following the Early Holocene we get a transitional period and after this, we get the Mid-Holocene period from 5,500 BC to 3000 BC in northwest India. This period is very wet and warm. The Bay of Bengal monsoon shifted to the Arabian Sea (Thamban 2001, 2007; Sarkar 2000; Staubwasser and Weiss 2006), and the region from Arabia, Mesopotamia, Iran and northwest India enjoyed a wet climate over more than two thousand years. The temperature rose world over and this period has been called the Mid-Holocene Temperature Maximum or Optimum. The warmest time was between 5000 and 4000 BC.


It must be anticipated that the torrential rains plagued this region more than was required for settled life. Annual floods from the monsoonal rains must have been the rule for a large part of the period. This is possibly the reason of the Indus Valley Civilization not taking off until drier period with lesser rainfall arrived. Decrease in rainfall has been linked with the development of the Indus Valley Civilization in several recent studies (Shinde 2008:79; Giosan). Thus at 5000 BC the strong western monsoon for northwest India was good for the growth of forests but not suitable, because of floods, for the Indus Valley region to have supported a stable civilization.


In the Indus Sarasvati region, if one moved westward the rains became less. Yet the Ghagghar region of Haryana, which indeed had lesser rains than the Indus Valley region could not develop high civilization during the early periods. The human settlement in the Ghaghhar-Hakra geography it later than that Aq Kupruk of Afghanistan (Possehl 2002:24) and Mehrgarh period 1 (Jarrrige 2008). The habitation was delayed in Sarasvati basin until the tributaries of Sarasvati parted from her to join the Indus and Ganga rivers, relieving the land from the devastating and dangerous floods, perpetually coming from the Sarasvati river which had been gorged with waters from several mighty tributaries like Sutlej, Yamuna etc. It has been found by the geologists that the Sutlej left Sarasvati at about 6500 BC (Clift 2012; Giosan 2012:e1690; Valdiya 2013).


Northwest India changed into a forest during Mid-Holocene. There were water logged areas and swamps in the region because of excessive rains. The Thar Desert largely got replaced by grasslands and open forests. It had a green carpet cover over most of the places at about 3000 BC (Deotare 2004; Meher-Homi and Gupta 1999:221). Because of geo-tectonic movements, the Sarasvati River had lost her connection with the Himalayan glaciers at about 6,500 BC, and had become a rain-fed river (Giosan). The rains in the northwest were very strong after 5,500 BC and the river remained big in spite of losing her supply from the Himalayas in the Mid-Holocene Period. The Sarasvati river started becoming weaker after 3,000 BC, when the monsoon started shifting from the Arabian Sea back to the Bay of Bengal, and became quite weak by 2500 BC drying completely by 1900 BC (Giosan).


The climate of the Mid-Holocene northwest India is the type in which rice, wheat, barley and vegetables would grow well. Agriculture would be successful. Forest trees which can grow well in such climates include the Ficus species, grape-vine (Vitis), poplar, date (Phoenix) etc. Although this climate was appropriate for mango (Mangifera), mango did not grow in the region then because it had not arrived there from East India (Assam and Burma) by that time. Mango arrived in this region sometime about 2600-2200 BC at Farmana when the onset of the draught had about set in and soon the tree would become unfit to grow in the region because of increasing aridity becoming absent again (Kashyap and Weber 2013:178; Kashyap and Weber 2010).


Tiger which hunts from behind the trees in the dense forests singly would be successful in such environment. The swamps would harbour crocodiles. Wild horse, wild camel, giraffe and ostrich would become extinct, because these animals could survive predation by dint of their fast speed only which was not possible in dense forests. In the forests, they lose speed and become easy prey to the large carnivores.  The pythons hanging from the trees would trap and strangulate their prey. As the Thar Desert turned into grassland, human arrival and habitation and nomadic and pastoral activities could take place.


  • The Drying of the Indus Valley Civilization


The time about 4,200 BP (or, 2250 BC) was a very dry time. It has been named the 4.2 Kilo event. It is at this time that the region would face draughts and famines. We find archaeological evidence of the sudden decline in Hakra Wares sites in Sarasvati Delta, Cholistan and Kot Diji areas and other regions in India, and also in Levant in West Asia corresponding to this 4.2 Kilo event draught (Possehl 1997, also 2002:63; Staubwasser and Weiss 2006). These would lead to death and disease, and then desertion of the region. People would be forced to abandon the region and to move out to east and north in search of subsistence. Central Asia’s climate was much better than the Indus-Sarasvati region at about 2200 BC.


Deotare noted that at about 5000 BC, hunter-gatherer people arrived in the Bap-Malar area, District Jodhpur (Rajasthan), and established their camps (Deotare 2004:404). Prosopis cineraria, Acacia sp., Capparis sp., Tamarix sp., Mimosa rubicaulis, Ziziphus sp., Calligonum polygonoides, Syzygium cuminii and sedges grew in the Thar during this period, when the rainfall there was 500 mm more than what it is today (Meher-Homi:221). This must have been caused by improvement in the ecological condition of the Thar region owing to the increased rainfall in the region by 5000 BC. Hence the Thar must have converted into a savannah or grassland in which hunter-gatherers could subsist. The grassland ecosystem is suitable for the hunter-gatherer subsistence and pastoral nomads. In the Thar we get the evidence of nomadic existence too (Deotare 2004:404; 2004b:Abstract).


The Himalayan regions became drier during the Mid-Holocene because of the weakening of the winter monsoon. In Nainital the organic matter became low and carbon contents high-indicating change in climate towards dry conditions (Asha Gupta 2005:44). Thus we find that climate changes were taking place in the direction reverse to that in the Indus region in the western Himalayan regions like Jammu Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh during the Mid-Holocene.


Thereafter, in Late Holocene at Nainital, the organic matter became high again with low carbonate contents, reflecting restoration of humid climate in the region. Contrasting this the Indus-Sarasvati region became dry during the same period of Late Holocene (Asha Gupta 2005:44). Thus the western Himalayas had two wet or favourable periods—one during the Early Holocene and the other in the Late Holocene. This is precisely the reason for a late take off of the Neolithic revolution in the Himalayan regions like Gufkral and Burzahom where the Neolithic revolution took off about 3000 calBC and not earlier (Upinder Singh:114, 111).


  • It is obvious that the western Himalayan region (Jammu and Himachal Pradesh) were

part of the Central Asian rain-system, and they went more along the changes in climate taking place in Central Asia. The fossil pollen studies from Central Asia, South Siberia, Northern and Western China and other steppe zones have shown that the steppes became wet and converted into forests in the Early Holocene (8000-6000 BC). Jiang (2006) found that the inner Mongolian steppe changed into birch-pine (Betula/Pinus) forest at 10,500-7,200 BC period, and evolved into woodland with these two trees dominating at 7,200-4,700 BC period. But the same regions reverted back to the steppe status after 4,700 BC.


Conversion back from forest to the dry steppe and desert ecosystems took place at different times in the different regions of the Inner Asia. Many areas remained forest till as late as 2000 BC. This is because many regions of Inner Asia had other sources of rains in addition to the Siberian winter monsoon. Atlantic and Mediterranean winds supplied rains to the westerly regions of the steppe including even up to the Kazakh steppe. The southwestern Siberian steppe and the Kazakh steppe became birch forest about 5800 BC and converted into Pinus forest between 3800 and 4000 BC. The Pinus forest continued in the region up to 1000 BC (Tarasov 1997, 2012; Maman 2013). Then the climate degradation brought about by human interference led to clearing of the forests in which feral and domestic horse could arrive from outside and live.


The eastwardly regions received rains from the Chinese monsoon too. At Yolin Am steppe (Southern Mongolia), it was found that it was a forest between c. 3600 BC and 2000 BC, and Betula (birch) and Salix (willow) trees dominated (Miehe 2007:156, Table 1). At Bosten Hu, which is located in the Chinese Central Asian province Xinjiang, a lake became established around 6000 BC, and the moisture in the weather of that area increased after 4000 BC.


Contrasting the Indus Valley which became dry in the Late Holocene, there was a wet climate from Mid- to even the Late Holocene period in Bosten Hu (Huang 2008). This site was located not too much away from our route of migration through Central Asia. During the late Holocene period, we can say, when the Indus-Sarasvati was drying, there were regions in Central Asia which were wet and flourishing, and the famous steppe (of Kazakhstan and Ukraine) was in fact a forest during most of the Holocene period.


Certainly the steppe and Central Asia regions had better-than-Indus-Valley climate during the second millennium BC. Another author van Geel noted that between 3000 BC and 1500 AD, the North Mongolia region witnessed transformation into forest and there was a lake level rise (2004, cited in Table 5, Tchebakova et al 2009).


It is because of the dry climate that the barley was the only cereal in Early Holocene Mehrgarh. Wheat requires water, and rice requires much more water. Both, the rice and wheat, were absent from Mehrgarh Period 1. However after 5000 BC, we get both the rice and the wheat in the Hakra-Ghagghar region. This is the result of climate change.


In general, however, after 3000 BC, more and more of Central Asia converted into steppe and desert with the passing time (Zhao 2009; Zhao 2008 cited in F. Chen Editorial 2009:1). There was an abrupt change to arid climate at about 2500 BC (4.2 Kilo Event) in many regions of China (Zhao 2009: Abstract; Chen, W. 2009). Miehe et al noted in their study of the succession of ecologies in the Gobi desert, that birch and willow pollens and charcoal were present in the soil layers before 3000 BC (calibrated radiocarbon date), however birch became extinct from that site after that time (Miehe 2007:163; 156 Table 1).


Trees of the more humid climate like willow, juniper, oak, pine grew in the Kachi plain earlier at least since the seventh millennium BC. This type of flora lasted up to 4000 BC (Costantini 2008); and could have well continued for some centuries more in the fourth millennium (J.-F. Jarrige, 2008). But after 3000 BC willow did not grow in the northwest Indian plains. The tree grew during the Rig-Vedic period and has been mentioned by the name vetasa (Rig-Veda: 4.58.5; Priyadarshi 2014:173-187). However the date 1500 BC, which has been claimed to be the date of the arrival and subsequent settlement of the Aryans, northwest India was climatically quite hot and dry and no ‘wet climate’ tree could have survived there. Hence the received date of arrival as 1500 BC, that of the Rig-Veda as 1200 BC and that of the humid climate text Yajur-Veda 1000 BC, needs to be revised.


The type of vegetation changed everywhere during the Holocene. The western coasts of the Black sea, where we get forest today, were steppe lands up to 5000 BC (Wright 2003:133). East of the Black Sea in the Caucasus region, the climate changed from the steppe to the woodland at 3000 BC (ibid: 133-4), and in the Maykop region the climate changed to moist at about 3500 BC. In the Altai region at the junction of Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and China, the steppe changed into conifer forest at about 6,000 BC (ibid: 134). The “western steppe” to the north of the Black Sea was unforested until a much later date than all these.




7.1. Indian DNAs from Archaeological Remains of Europe: Evidence of Indo-European Migration


The Starcevo male sample from Hungary, immediate pre-Neolithic dating 5565 BC (mean age) had H2 (Y-DNA), which is characteristically Indian (Haak 2015: Extended Data Table 2; Szecsenyi-Nagy 2015). The only likely possibility is its arrival from India through Iran and Armenia where these are found today. It is also found in Sardinia today (Szecsenyi-Nagy 2015:4-5). The same Y-DNA H2 was found from Spain too (El Portalón cave at Sierra de Atapuerca) dating quite later between about 3500 and 5500 BC (Gunther 2015), indicating some Indian migration from India to Hyngary, and later from Hungary to Spain.


The Central Asian farmers brought the farming culture to Central Europe following 5500 BC, and are known to us as the LBK (Linear Pottery Culture) people of Neolithic Central Europe. However the migration was not easy or smooth. The newcomers were hunted and cannibalized by the older population of Europe. These professional hunters attacked the colonies of the arriving farmers, took them captive, brought them to their villages and consumed them as delicious food after properly slaughtering them. The hunters looted the pottery of the farmers too, as it was a novelty to them. Such events took place between 5300 and 4900 BC (Boulestin et al, 2009; Orschiedt and Haidle 2006). Ultimately the hunter-gatherers were eliminated soon, not by the earlier claimed “elite-dominance” but by sheer competition and the survival of the fittest technology. This finding disproved the earlier claims of Colin Renfrew, Peter Bellwood etc. that language change occurred by elite dominance in Europe.


The mtDNA data from the Central European hunter-gatherers comprise exclusively some U lineages (U, U4, U5, and U8) and not even U2e, U3, T and many other lineages found today in Europe, whereas the LBK (i.e. Central Europe after 5500 BC) is characterized by a distinct haplogroup (DNA lineages) profile including N1a, T2, K, J, HV, V, W, and X which are entirely different from the ones found previously. These latter haplogroups can be denoted as a mitochondrial “Neolithic package” and comprise around 79.4% of the diversity in the LBK, whereas the older Europe’s hunter-gatherer lineages are rare (2.9%) in this culture (Brandt 2013:260).


Out of these newer ones, the N1a, T2 and HV most probably originated in Iran. We cannot say anything about the origin of the other Neolithic lineages of the list at the moment, which will only become clear with more research. In addition to these eight lineages, the Carpathian Basin i.e. the region to the south of the Danube River in Romania and Hungary exhibits some more Neolithic DNAs which are not found in the northwardly located LBK culture. These are T1, H, U2, U3, U4 and U5a (Szecsenyi-Nagi 2015:3.). Out of these T1 is Iranian and U2 is Indian. U3 is common in the Roma/Gypsy and is possibly a western Indian lineage of the Iron Age, now not so commonly found in India.


Fig. Picture suggesting likely place of origin of mtDNA T in South Iran and then its migration into the steppe and Arabia. Courtesy Fernandes 2015, PLoS1.



Significantly enough, we find that the Iranian N1a appears in the Neolithic Central Europe (LBK culture) in good numbers (20%) only for a short time and then disappears.  It is very rare in the modern European population—only about 0.2% (Lee 2012:577; Palanichamy 2010:2). This could mean only one of the two possibilities viz.: one, that the Neolithic people had arrived from a place which later did not contribute to the migrations to the steppe/ Europe any more, and two, that the N1a frequency was superseded in the home region by growth of later lineages there and later N1a became less in frequency in the source area itself. Considering the two scenarios, India and Iran either could have been the source of the Neolithic LBK’s N1a DNA.


They took two routes. From Indus, Afghanistan and East Iran, people reached by the route along the Oxus river, while from the west Iran and Iraq people migrated by the Caucasian route to the steppe. From West Asia people also took sea route in the Mediterranean to reach Italy and Greece; and some took the Bosporus route from Anatolian to reach the Balkans and Romania.


This migration entered Europe between 5500 and 5000 BC. Thereafter, people migrated from the steppe to north Europe. North Europe had a scanty hunter gatherer dark-skinned population, which were cannibals also. This population finally gave way to the light skinned people coming from Iran and Iraq through the steppe.





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Vedic Indians in Iraq in 5000 BC and The rise of Sumerian Civilization
by P Priyadaarshi

Sumer was located in South Iraq where the rivers Tigris and Euphrates produce marshland in the region just before the delta. In the sixth millennium BC, the region was dry and hot yet usually got flooded by the end of the harvesting season from the water coming down both the rivers. The catchment area of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were fed by the winter monsoon, usually leaving snow on the mountains to melt at spring season. Hence the floods came just about the end of the winter or beginning of the summer, when barley was due to be harvested. This flood destroyed the crops. This had kept the region in perpetual economic darkness, until some new technology appropriate to the climate arrived here.
Before 5500 BC, the people were hunter-gatherers in this fish, bird and small game rich region. Thereafter people from the east came with newer ideas and technologies. Uruk was one of the oldest cities of Sumer, which suddenly emerged about 4000 BC (radiocarbon-14 date; Crawford 2004:23). [Crawford, Harriet, 2004, Sumer and Sumerians, CUP, Cambridge.].

There is evidence that the Sumerian Civilization took off at this time with the help of an agro-pastoral economy which had arrived from India and which relied heavily on the domestic water-buffaloes for the cultivation of rice in the marshy lands and water logged areas. Aquatic breeds of rice grow well in the water-logged lands of the marshes, and they are harvested in autumn, i.e. much before the winter monsoon. Water-buffaloes are happy to live in the marshes and their bulls pull the ploughs and the carts well.


Figure: A modern Marsh Arab Village (Source: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/Village_of_the_Marsh_Arabs.jpeg)

Indian Buffalo in Sumer

While the linguistic comparisons had not thrown any light on this Indo-Sumerian connection, recent DNA studies have clarified a lot. The three viz. the buffalo, the cattle and rice had migrated to Sumer from northwest India between 5000 BC and 4000 BC, giving rise to a new economy which led the region into the earliest phase of urbanization and subsequently larger state formation. Marshall identified the water-buffalo in many Sumerian pictographs and texts, and also the Indian wild bull Bos gaurus in a tablet (No. 312) excavated from Jemdet Nasr near Kish (Marshall 1996:453). These tablets also clarified that the Sumerians used horse at least since 2600 BC as has been depicted in the pictograms (anšu-kur, the mountain-ass, or ‘Iranian ass’; because mountain = Zagros of Iran in Sumer). Sir John Marshall mentions that the water-buffalo disappeared from Sumer at about 2300 BC, during the period of the King Sargon of Akkad (Marshall 1996:453). This can be expected because there had been a general trend of aridity in the third millennium reaching its peak at 2200 BC (4.2 Kilo Event). Water buffaloes cannot survive dry hot climates.
It is known by now that the water-buffalo was domesticated in India in the eastern part of the country which was kept wetter by the Bay of Bengal monsoon and the winter monsoon during the Early Holocene (Satish Kumar 2007; Pal 2008:275; Thomas 1995:31-2; Groves 2006). In fact there is “evidence that both river and swamp buffaloes decent from one domestication event, probably in the Indian subcontinent.” (Kierstein 2004). It is at the very earliest Neolithic period that the water-buffalo had reached Mehrgarh as domestic animal (Possehl 202:27; J.F. Jarrige 2008:143; Costantini 2008:168). In northwest India, Mehrgarh received most of its rains from northern monsoon called the winter monsoon, which was strong then and hence the buffaloes could thrive at Mehrgarh as evident from the archaeology. In fact the Mehrgarh region was wet enough to support not only the water-buffalo, but also elephant, rhinoceros, swamp-deer and wild pig which prefer to live in the wetlands (Costantini 2008:168).
However at the Early Holocene, areas to the south of Kachi plain in NW India, and southern Iran received only scarce rains from the extremely weak southwest monsoon, which was not good enough for the survival of this water-adapted animal in this area. However subsequent to 5500 BC, when the south-western or the Arabian Sea monsoon built up strong, the southern Indus-Sarasvati region and the western coast of India started getting good rains from the improved south-western monsoon, the buffalo-pastorals arrived in the southern Indus Valley region too. From 5500 calBC onwards we get bones of the hunted water-buffalo from Bagor in southern Rajasthan (Possehl 2002:32), and then the buffalo continues in the Harappan culture becoming very important in the Mature Harappa (Possehl 2002:63).
Archaeological evidence of water buffalo from Harappa region comes in the form of buffalo-horn motif of deities and depiction of this animal in the seals. We get such motifs from a pot recovered from Kot Diji dating to Early Harappan-mature Harappan transition (Possehl 2002:73), and from a broken terracotta cake recovered from Kalibangan dating to mature Harappa period. A Period II pot from Lewan depicts the horns of the water-buffalo (Possehl 2002:142-145). Rojdi too had domesticated buffalo (Possehl 2002:83). Buffalo bones have been found from the Ahar-Banas site of Rajasthan (McIntosh 2008:124).
But when and why the Indian buffalo-farmers migrated to South Iraq’s province of Sumer is the real question. The time between 5000 BC and 4000 BC was full of torrential rains for West India region fed by the southwest monsoon. The sea level had reached higher than today’s at about 5000 BC leading to the sluggish drainage of the rivers (Kumaran:22pdf). This was causing massive flooding and death on annual basis forcing the people of the region to migrate to the further west in search of lesser flooded lands.
The dominant presence of the Indian water buffalo in the Sumerian culture is enough evidence to say that the Indian farmer-pastoralists had led the transformation of this society by elite-dominance. Yet there is no evidence of the language change having taken place by this elite-dominance.
Vedic Influence
However the Sumerian divinity is entirely Vedic, with the gods and goddesses even conserving the Vedic Indo-European names (Whittaker 2009:127-140). Even where the name has been changed the story has stayed the same. In the Sumerian, Kur is the ‘serpent’ and it also means the ‘mountain’, which has stolen all waters in its mouth. The same word kur also means the ‘land’. The serpent way killed by the warrior god to release the waters (Kramer 1961:76-80). This myth is clearly the Rig-Vedic myth of the demon Vṛtra who has stolen the waters within it lying over the mountain range, and is killed by the God Indra to release the trapped waters. This has been considered the metaphoric reminisce of the Himalayan glacial having stolen the nature’s waters and causing draught like conditions during the terminal part of the glacier period (Priyadarshi 2014b; RV 1.32.1-11; 4.28.1; 4.19.1-8; Bhagwan Singh 1987; also see Kazanas 2009). There have been also suggestions that the Sumerian script and astronomy too had been imported from India (Priyadarshi 2007).

Also: http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/sum/sum08.htm

Indian Rice in Sumer
The cultivation of rice in the marshes of southern Iraq, which revolutionized the whole region about 4000 BC has been generally bypassed by the modern historiographers. However more and more people are now becoming aware that the Marsh Arabs which inhabit these marshes have been cultivating rice in Iraq since the rise of Sumer (Vinding 2004:326):

“They traditionally constructed artificial islands, made of layers of reed and mud, on which they constructed their homes using woven reeds. They fed the sprouting reeds to their water buffalo and they used the dung of the water buffaloes for the fuel. They depended on fishing and hunting and they planted rice and tended date palms along the edges of the marshes.” (ibid).


(Source: http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/21/2179/E9TCD00Z/posters/marsh-arab-village-iraq-middle-east.jpg )

This same is true even today of many of the marsh-dwellers of Bihar and Bengal’s Gangetic marshes. Not only that the ancient Mesopotamian buffaloes depicted in the seals have their native home in India.

Bubalus arnee

(Bubalus arnee which lives in the wild in India and is the source for the domestic river as well as the swamp buffaloes)

The ancient Sumerian buffaloes as in seal are in fact from this stock. This has been demonstrated genetically too :

ibni sharrum seal

Although there has been linguistic identification of ‘rice’ from Assyrian cuneiform texts (Thompson 1939), the conclusive evidence of the presence of the Indian rice in Iraq comes from DNA studies. A recent DNA study of the Iraqi rice has clarified that there is exact match of some Iraqi rice DNAs with the Indian rice DNAs proving the migration of the Indian domestic rice to South Iraq. “Also, the SSR marker (RM1) results confirmed that Amber and Daawat were very closely related, which means that the origin of Amber might be come from Indian ancestors the same as Daawat variety.” (Younan 2012). Agrama found in a worldwide sampling that 68% of the Iraqi rice was of the eastern Indian sub-species of rice named Oryza sativa aus. The rest was mainly aromatic which too originated in northwest Indian Himalayas (Agrama 2010:252). The eastern Indian rice O. s. aus grows best in marshes and water-logged areas. xxxx

It has become clear from the DNA studies that India was home of two important sub-species of cultivated rice and one wild semi-cultivated wild breed of rice. These are Oriza sativa indica and O. s. aus and the Oriza sativa nivara respectively (q.v.). It is no more held now that the Indian rice has come from China and the earliest rice-cultivating Pottery Neolithic sites of the world have been found in the Ganga Valley. From the Ganga Valley its cultivation reached northwest India (Hakra-Ghagghar) by 5000 BC or 5500 BC when the weather of NW India became humid enough (Tewari 2008; Shinde; Priyadarshi 2014a, 2014b).
But the Arabian Sea monsoon was very strong up to at least 4000 BC and it is likely that the Indus Valley, particularly the western part of it, was full of perennial floods for about 1000 years or more between about 5000 BC and 4000 BC. It has been even known that the Indus Valley Civilization started growing faster only after the rains had decreased and somewhat safer and drier climate had arrived by 4000 BC in the region. “Harappan urbanism emerged on the face of a prolonged trend towards declining rainfall”, notes Madella and Fuller (2006:Abstract). Giosan also wrote: “adaptation to aridity contributed to social complexity and urbanization” (2012:E1693). Thus the early humid flooded phase was not conducive to high civilization formation, and thus it promoted westward migration of people in search of drier better places to keep their livestock and do farming.

It is during this flood time that many of the Indian farmers and pastoralists from the Indus-Sarasvati region migrated westward to the places like Sumer along with their caravans of buffaloes, cows, bulls, goats and rice to avoid being eliminated by the devastating floods. Sir John Marshall examined the Sumerian seals and tablets. He was able to identify the Indian bison (Bos gaurus) and the Indian water-buffalo depicted on the tablets at Jamdet Nasr (Marshall:453).
Recently a DNA study of the Marsh Arabs, that inhabit the Sumerian region today, was done for the purpose of identifying the Indian connection, if any, of this population of South Iraq. The Marsh Arabs are considered to have arrived there from somewhere else, and some legends suggest India. The DNA study of the Marsh Arabs residing today in the former Sumer region showed that majority of the ethnic group carries the Semitic specific male DNA, yet up to almost 8% can be traced to India. Indian lineages found in the Marsh Arabs included: L-M20xM76 (0.7%); Q-M242 (2.8%); R1-M269 (2.8%) and R2-M124 (1.4%): all together adding up to 7.7% (Al-Zahery 2011:13pdf; also p. 3pdf, Fig. 2). In an earlier study, Al-Zahery had demonstrated the presence of mtDNA U7 in Iraq, which is a marker of past Indian migration to Iraq (Al-Zahery 2003:10pdf).
It may be noted that the R1a-M17 is an Indian Y-DNA haplogroup (Underhill 2010), which is absent from the Marsh Arab DNAs, yet is present up to 8.4% in the Iraqi population (Al-Zahery 2011: Fig 2). In our examination it was inferred that the R1a migration had taken place out from Pakistan in response to the cold-dry weather of the 8.2 Kilo event (6.2 BC). This migration took place along the northern Iran which was wetter then due to good winter monsoon, and reached North Iraq, but did not reach South Iraq. Hence the R1a is absent from the Sumerian region (South Iraq) yet present in the northern Iraq.
In addition to these there is the presence of J2*-M172 at the frequency of 3.5% in the Marsh Arab population. This male DNA lineage originated in the Uttar Pradesh in North India (Sahoo 2006; Priyadarshi 2010). It was associated with the earliest Holocene migration of the Mesolithic/ Neolithic interface era (say about 10,000 BC) out of India which came out with the Mus musculus domesticus species of mouse along the Iranian coast, and on reaching South Iraq split into two, one going north to Iraq and Kurdistan and the other reaching the Levant went further into the Mediterranean islands, Italy and the Balkans (Priyadarshi 2012). The association of J2-M172 with the spread of Neolithic (farming-culture) in the regions with good rainfall in Iraq, and also in the southern Europe, is well attested. “While J2-M172 has been linked to the development and expansion of agriculture in the wetter northern zone and is also considered the Y-chromosome marker for the spread of farming into South East Europe” (Al-Zaheri 2011:10pdf).
Thus we can see that about 8% of the male Marsh Arab population consists of DNAs of Indian origin. When these Indians went there, they were rich with the wealth of cattle and buffalo. They had the bags of rice seeds and the art of cultivating rice. From the female lineage or the mitochondrial DNA side, we find a larger migration from India to Sumer having taken place. Today it is represented in the Marsh Arab population by the presence of the mtDNA U7, R2 and M (Al-Zaheri 2011:12). One particular sample was found to have mtDNA of the type M33a2a (GenBank accession number: JN540042), which is found in the Uttar Pradesh state of India (ibid). Thus the migrations from India were not male exclusive, but they consisted more of the females. This is understandable, because women play a greater role in paddy cultivation as well as buffalo keeping.
Once the Sumer civilization took off with the help of Indian water-buffaloes and rice cultivation in the South Iraq’s marshes, males of some Semitic tribes arrived to live in the area, and married in this community. They could outnumber the original population. This can be noted today by the 72.8% frequency of Hg J-Page08 in the Marsh Arab population in the male lineage side (Y-chromosomal DNA). The scientific examination reveals that this population (J-Page08) expanded in the region at 4.8 years ago, or about 2,800 BC (Al-Zawahri: Table 2 on page 11). They had arrived there from the northwest (Al-Zaheri 2011:Fig 6). We know from the history that a powerful wave of the Semitic speaking people known as the Akkadian arrived in the region and settled just to the north of the Sumerian marshland establishing an empire about the middle of the third millennium. The Hg J-Page08 male DNA could have been the dominant lineage of the Akkadians. Hence we can say that the Semitic arrival, although male alone, was later than the Indian arrival to the region and it outnumbered the original Sumerians genetically and wiped them out linguistically.

See also:

In Quest of the Dates of the Vedas:

 A comprehensive study of the Vedic and the Indo-European flora, fauna and climate over the last 10,000 years in light of the information emerging from the disciplines of archaeology, archaeo-botany, geology, genetics and linguistics

by Premendra Priyadarshi




There has been a perpetual debate about the dates of the Vedas and the origin of the Indo-European speaking people. “Paradigms, especially old ones, die harder than Bruce Willis.” said James Adovasio.[1] There have been explosively new findings in archaeology and genetics, and also in the field of linguistics, having the capacity to rewrite an entirely different history of mankind. But the history as stated in the books and preserved in the minds of the authors has not changed the least.

There is a lot of information in the Vedas which pose the time limits for each of the four Vedic Samhitas. The Rig-Veda does not have wheat, rice, millets, lentil, date-palm (Phoenix). These appear in the Yajur-Veda. From archaeology, we know that wheat and rice both were well cultivated in the Ghaghar-Hakra culture in the fifth millennium BC (Shinde). Thus Rig-Veda must be before that time. Lentil was domesticated in West Asia, but it arrived in India in the Bronze Age. Its absence from the Rig-Veda and presence in the Yajur-Veda speaks a lot about the dates of the two texts. Date-palm arrived in the region in the mid sixth millennium (Costantini). Its absence from the Rig-Veda fixes the date of this text to before the sixth millennium BC.

The finger millet, which came from Africa to India in the late second millennium BC (Fuller) is absent from all the Vedas, clearly indicating that all the Vedas had been edited finally before this time. Contrasting this, the foxtail millet (priyaṅgu), which arrived in India from China during the early Bronze Age has been mentioned in the Yajur-Veda, and not mentioned in the Rig-Veda. This finding would fix the date of the Rig-Veda before the Bronze Age and that of the Yajur-Veda contemporary with the Bronze Age.

The Yajur-Veda corresponds to the wet and warm mid-Holocene (5,500-2500 BC). And this is the reason why we generally get mention of those animals in the Yajur-Veda which lived only in the wet and warm climates, but cannot live in cold dry climates. Such animals are crocodile, tortoise, beaver, rhinoceros etc which are completely absent from the Rig-Veda. Rhinoceros, beaver and crocodile become absent again in the Atharva-Veda indicating change to the dry climate, and placing the Athava-Veda after 1900 BC. However the domestic animals are present in all the periods indicating early domestication of the cow, buffalo, camel and horse.

The period of the Sama-Veda comes to 6000-5,500 BC, which was the transition period between cold-dry Early Holocene and the wet and warm mid-Holocene. The Rig-Veda gets placed in the cold and dry Early Holocene (8000-6000 BC) when the Sarasvati was connected with the Himalayan glaciers.

The DNA of the humans have revealed that once evolved in East Africa, man used the Arabian southern coast as a land-bridge to reach India and then all further human expansion and dispersal took place from there. This has been proved again and again that this was the sole route out of Africa. That the man came out from Africa through the Sinai land-bridge has been ruled out by an infinite number of DNA studies. Yet most of the authors, including even many of the geneticists refer to the out of Africa route as through Sinai to Middle East, and then trifurcating the way one leading to Europe, other to Central Asia and the third to Iran!

The human DNA studies have not been covered in this book, because I have already dwelt on that topic in my previous book The First Civilization of the World. Nor have I discussed here in this book the DNA studies of most of the domestic animals and plants, as they too have been discussed and analyzed in my earlier book as well as some of my journal articles. The conclusion of these DNA studies is that domestic mouse (Mus musculus), black rat (Rattus rattus), Shrew, cow (Bos indicus), pig, buffalo, sheep and goat were domesticated first in India, and then they migrated to the rest of the world. Some of these have been mentioned in this book.

The most powerful blow to the Aryan Invasion Theory came not from the study of the human DNA but from the studies of the horse DNA. The theory had rested on the hypothesis that the steppe was the home of the wild caballus horse Przewalskii, which was domesticated there and with the help of this domesticated horse the countries to the west (Europe) and to the south (India, Iran) were conquered by the Aryans of the steppe. However the DNA examinations of the horses have contradicted this view. They have revealed that the Przewalskii was not a member of the caballus horse species at all, but it was an independent species with two chromosomes more than the true horse–Equus caballus (or Equus ferus f. caballus). Other studies came out with the conclusion that the DNAs recovered from the archaeological remains of the domestic horse found in Central Asia and western steppe were all of the horses originating in China or anywhere else but not in the steppe itself. Frachetti demonstrated that the domestic horse and riding became features of Central Asian nomads in the Common Era, and not before that. Levine clarified that the horse bones recoverd from the steppe and Central Asia belonged to the hunted horses, not the domestic horses.

There is enough evidence generated in literature about origin of the light race horses from the Indian Sivalensis (q.v.). Nearly all of such evidence had been generated by the benevolent generation of the English and other Western scholarship which lived before the Second World War. Current generation of scholars, whether Indian or Western, is more interested in popularity and important positions, and concern for the truth has become uncommon. Thus, whenever DNAs of the domestic horses (or even sheep, goat and camel) of the world have been compared, the Indian samples have been left out.

As such, there is no sound evidence of the origin of the domestic horse from the steppe. Thompson found that either the European wild horse Tarpan or the Mongolian wild horse Przewalskii was the ancestor of the heavier built daft type horse of Europe, and that the lighter race horses of the south like the Arabian horse originated from the Sivalensis. By this time it has become clear that the Tarpan was the ancestor of the European daft horse, not the Przewalskii.

The DNA studies of the living as well as the archaeological horses found that there were centres of local horse domestication in Europe older than the supposed presence of the domestic horse in the steppe. Another development was the collapse of David Anthony’s Dereivka horse of 4200 BC. The claim was retracted by the author himself after the radiocarbon dating of the Dereivka horse’s skull proved him wrong.

The reason why there was a sharp decline in the number of horses after 6000 BC in India is climatic. The mid-Holocene wet climate converted the Indus-Sarasvati region from grassland to a dense forest region making it inhospitable to the wild horse and camel, as well as the ostrich and giraffe. Hence the Indian wild horse Sivalensis became extinct from the wild existence soon after 6000 BC. The regional wild horses either died or migrated to the Thar region in India and also to Iran and South Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Tajikistan). Some of the light Indian horses which had adapted to the high altitudes of the Himalayas too survived this period. But over the time their mares were captured and assimilated into the domestic stock, and they too became extinct from the wild.

During 6000 BC to 2000 BC, and even after that, the Indus-Sarasvati region had only domestic horses, which dwindled greatly in number because of the Vedic ritualistic slaughter of the horse. This is the why we get so less horse bones in the Indus Valley Civilization. But Kazanas pointed out in his lecture delivered in the Patna University in April 2013 that the horse bones do not increase in Indian archaeology even up to 800 BC; and there is no archaeological evidence of any increase in the number of the horse bones in Indian archaeology at about 1500 BC or any time in the second millennium BC. The animal got strongly associated with the burial-ritual and its graphic depiction probably became a taboo. This could be one of the reasons for its not having been depicted in the Indus seals.

When the DNA studies ruled out any human migration from Europe, Central Asia or West Asia to have arrived into India between 8,000 BC and 1000 BC, it was expected that the Aryan Invasion hypothesis would be retracted. However, it did not happen. The argument was changed from “invasion” to “language-conversion”. The languages of North India and Iran were changed under the powerful rule of a handful of invading Aryans who have not left any mark of their genes on India, yet were able to convert the whole of North India into Indo-European speaking within a couple of centuries, at a time when there was no mass media, a very low literacy rate and very restrictive travelling conditions. This is a very far-fetched imagination. This type of language change did not happen in north India during the 600 years of rule by the Persian speaking elite Muslims in India. Nor did it happen in Europe during the period of the Roman Empire or in Spain during the long Arab rule in the country.

Often self-contradictory stands have been taken by people when it comes to the history of India. Thus, Peter Bellwood wrote that the elite-dominance leading to language change cannot operate over a very large population. However when the issue related with India, he supported the hypothesis that the Aryans from Turkey arrived into India with farming, and changed the language of the northern part of India under their dominating farming skills.

There was the need to produce a robust multi-disciplinary work to clarify the confusions, false beliefs and wrong impressions prevailing in the field of Indo-European history. For the purpose, I persuaded and talked with a large number of learned people in India. Failing in my effort, I decided to do the team work alone. By this I mean, I had to myself study the basics of all the disciplines involved and make in-depth examination of the available facts, arguments and possibilities.

The whole philology of the animal and plants having bearing on the homeland issue has been re-examined in this book. It has been established in this book on the basis of philological examination that lion, tiger, mongoose, camel, crab, oyster, conch-snails, carp (fish), snakes (including even the python), frog, tortoise, chameleon and lizard lived in the original home of the Indo-Europeans. These animals are characteristically Indian or southern in distribution and presence of the Indo-European name for these animals proves that the Indo-Europeans lived at a place where these animals were found.

The Lachs Theory of Thieme (1951) has been examined here and it has been found that words lachs etc for “salmon” are actually words from the substrate language of Europe and Central Asia and the cognates are distributed up to Japanese and even North Amerindian languages. Hence, these words are certainly not Indo-European, and the Lachs Theory should not have been launched in the first place. Thus the Lachs Theory can be discarded now onwards in the Indo-European studies.

That the plants mulberry, opium, Calotropis, lotus, Acacia and rose-apple (Indian plum) grew in the homeland has been made evident by the philological survey done in this book. These are typically Indian plants. However there are some European plants which have been claimed by Witzel and the other authors to have been part of the philologically deciphered Indo-European flora. The examination of such claims reveals that there was gross manipulation of facts for achieving such conclusions. The sections on beech and oak demonstrate how scholars have concocted and lied. However attempt has been made in this book to identify the Vedic names of those plants and animals which existed in India in the Early Holocene dry and cold climate but became extinct once the region became wetter and warmer, and are not found in India toady except some of them in the Himalayas.

I have tried not to repeat the arguments of the earlier authors like Nicholas Kazanas, B.B. Lal, S.P. Gupta and Koenraad Elst. However if anything in the argument needed to be explored further that has been done. The fundamental bases of some of the arguments of Parpola, Witzel, Thieme etc have been examined and found to be wrong. Copper toy-chariots have been found from the Indus Valley Civilization (Mackay, Vats), although denied by these authors. There is enormous genetic and cultural evidence of dispersal of Indians in all direction during the Bronze Age, which cannot be accounted for by the hypotheses of the AIT authors.

Although the language used in the Veads is nearly the same, the content covers information of periods separated by thousands of years. Obviously it will have to be accepted that the same contents were given new language as the time changed. Thus the texts were regularly edited for the language change taking place with time within the northwest India’s Indo-European linguistic stock. However it is possible that no further editing has been done after 1300 BC, the date of the last of all the Vedas (Atharva-Veda).

It is easier and better to accept that the language of the texts were changed with time, rather than to say that the two thirds of such a large and populous sub-continent as India changed its language at 1500-1300 BC. Both are assumptions, but which one could have happened more easily is the deciding point—language change of the entire population or the gradual language editing of the sacred texts as time passed. After all it was an oral tradition in which the language changes take place even without being discernible to the speakers.

In this entire book the word “Veda” has been used to imply the respective samhita portions of the four Vedas only. The flora, fauna and climate of the four Vedas are all entirely different from each other as if they describe or pertain to four entirely different periods of time. Such information needed to be correlated with that available from the recent studies in archaeo-biology and geology.

Geology has recently clarified that the Sarasvati River lost her connection with the Himalayan glaciers at about 8900 BP or about 6950 BC. This problem can be only resolved if we date the Rig-Veda to about 6000 to 8000 BC. That was the time when no tiger lived in that region although the lion lived because it was a grassland ecosystem. Consistent with this information we find that there is no mention of the tiger in the Rig-Veda. Historians have ignored the Vedic texts completely while writing about the history of the Vedic period. The Rig-Veda depicts all three modes of life, hunter-gatherer, pastoral and farming. This pertains to the dawn of the Neolithic period.

The reports of the presence or absence of the pollens of the various trees have come out in the last ten years in many scientific journals. They have been thoroughly exhausted here to provide a picture of the different trees or types of ecosystems present during the various eras of the Holocene in India, Iran, Central Asia, the steppe and North and South Europe. This picture explains why some names of certain plants and animals survived in either North Europe or South Europe but not in both.

The survival of the names of the plants and animals depended on the presences of such animals or plants throughout the route of migration as well as at the source and the destination. Such climatic conditions were present in which millennium has been determined in this book on the basis of the recent palynological reports. That gives us the precise date of migration to any particular country or region. This method has been utilized for the first time in this book.

Attempt has been made to identify the some of the animals and plants mentioned in the Rig-Veda or in the later Vedas but which no more exist in India. Or if at all they exist, they exist in the high reaches of the Himalayas and have slipped out of the popular memory. Such plants include the soma, suparṇā, kadru, kuṣṭha, devadāru etc. Such identifications will help the medical field as many of such plants have been mentioned in the Vedas as the cure of some serious diseases like tuberculosis.

Although I believe that the word Aryan has been abused too much, and the phrase ‘original Indo-European speakers’ should be used instead, yet I have used it often because of its brevity and handyness. I do suppose that that was an original language for all mankind, and its relic evidence is printed on all the languages of the world (Bengston and Ruhlen). Thus the family tree of the languages will also emerge parallel to the DNA family trees. Matrilineal trees (mtDNA) would reflect more exactly the language tree. There was a language which was ancestral to all the Indo-European languages, although it was not the same as the suggested PIE forms, but in many ways similar. It cannot be the same because of the limitations of the human minds to visualize the truth. But this language did not come in isolation from the heaven, and it resembled the other languages in its neighbourhood, like the Proto-Munda, Proto-Dravidian etc. In this book, the word Veda has been used to denote the respective Samhita portions only.

email: premendrap@gmail.com

[1] My friend Stephen Oppenheimer had once cited  this, and I owe this quote to him.


Mulberry (Morus)

Mulberry tree

In spite of the claims to the fairness, the European Indo-Europeanists never philologically examined the names of any of the typically Indian trees and herbs for assessment whether these belonged to the Indo-European vocabulary. Often many distortions of facts and wrong assumptions were used as evidence to support the claims which were not correct. The case of the mulberry tree well exemplifies this.

Mulberry is a sub-Himalayan forest tree, which grows mainly in India but also in East China, Japan and the Americas (Suttie). It has spread to Europe as a cultivated tree owing to human activity. In Europe, the oldest pollen of the Morus tree has been found from Belgium dating the Late Bronze Age otherwise the botanical samples of the Morus tree are only known as Roman introductions in nearby regions such as France, Germany and the British Isles (Vanessa 2005).

Girdini (2013) reported finding of the mulberry remains from the historical period of Rome. Carroll (2012) noted the presence of Morus pollens from 400-800 BC in the islands of Malta. Anderson et al noted the presence of the mulberry pollens only during the last 100 years in Spain in their study of the pollens from a period spanning about 11,500 years of Spain (2011:1622). Hence it is safe to conclude that the mulberry tree was not found in North Europe and the Western steppe until quite late. It is as late as the first millennium BC that the tree reached Southeast Europe and was cultivated in significant numbers. However the Bronze Age migrations from India to Europe had probably carried some mulberry trees from India to North Europe (Belgium) by the Late Bronze Age (Vanessa 2005).

Several species of Morus indica are found in India. With the growth of the silk trade the tree has spread to Central Asia, Near East and Europe (Sanchez 2000). It was never grown, or even known, in the steppe. However we note that there are at least two PIE reconstructions possible for the mulberry tree, indicating that the Indo-European home was located at a place where mulberry grew, and thus it was not the steppe nor even Europe but most likely in India. One reconstructed word is *moro (Pokorny:749 &), and the other *brahma (of this author, or * bherem of Pokorny:142).

Mulberry 1: PIE moro- (mulberry , Pokorny:749); Sanskrit madhura-vṛkṣa (mulberry-tree; Pokorny does not list this Sanskrit word, however, the word has been recorded by Turner in CDIAL 14733); Arm. mor, mori, moreni (blackberry); Gk. moron (μόρον, mulberry, blackberry); Welsh merwydden (mulberry); Lat. mōrum (mulberry, blackberry; Valpi:271), mōrus (mulberry, Valpi:271); Spanish morera (mulberry), French murier (mulberry); O.H.G. mūr-, mōrbere, M.H.G. mūlber (mulberry); Lith. mõras (mulberry). Cognates of *moro are absent from the IE language of the steppe i.e. Ukrainian, where the mulberry is called shovkoveetsya. This indicates that the steppe was not the source of the PIE word for the mulberry.

A wild mulberry tree Artocarpus lacucha (within the mulberry family Moraceae) has identical fruits and leaves to the mulberry, and has been named madar in Assamese and Bengali languages (CDIAL 9849; madhura>madāra). These words must have migrated with the tree itself when the human contact brought the mulberry tree to Europe during the Bronze Age. Hence there is no identification problem or confusion with the names of other plants and trees. However this contact was not the Indo-European migration which had already taken place many millennia ago in our study.


Mulberry 2: Sanskrit brahma-niṣṭha, brahma-bīja, brahma-bhāga, brahma-sthana, brahmaṇya, brāhmaṇya (all meaning ‘mulberry’, q.v. MWD). The common part is brahma. The mulberry does not grow in the wild in North Europe. Yet, the cognate words of its name have travelled into the Nordic territory and are well represented in the Germanic languages as words which mean the “blackberry”. The migration of this set of cognates must have taken place with the original Indo-European migration. The mulberry did not grow in Europe then, hence the name got applied to blackberry which has similar fruits. These words are:

Proto-Germanic *brāmil, English “broom”, O.E. brōm (broom brush), M.L.G. brām (blackberry bush), O.H.G. brāmo, brāma (blackberry bush), brāmberi (PIE *bherem, Pokorny:142). Other cognates are: Ger. Brombeere, O.E. brēmel, Eng. bramble all meaning the “blackberry”.

The Gothic word bagms (tree) as in baíra-bagms (mulberry tree, Lehmann: 55 note B5) may too be a cognate of the Sanskrit word brahma. Central Indian archaic language Nihali which is not related to the IE, has the word baru (mulberry; Witzel Fulltext:21) which may be an early borrowing of the Indo-European brahma. These cognates probably migrated along with the first post-glacial migration from India to Europe taking place at the early Holocene as R1a1a migration.

It may be noted that although the bramble or the blackberry is a bush, and mulberry is a huge tree, yet the fruits of both look alike, and in the absence of mulberry, the words were rightly applied to the blackberry in North Europe. Just as the cognates of morus, the cognates of brahma- etc too are absent from the modern steppe’s IE languages like Ukrainian, where the bramble is called ozheena.

Source: In Quest of the Dates of the Vedas, pp. 273-276.

SKU-000680286_COVER (1)

Publishers: Partridge Publishers

Important retailers:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Quest-Dates-Vedas-Comprehensive-Indo-European/dp/1482834251

and Flipcart.

Book is the result of a multidisciplinary examination of materials on the topics of Indo-European migration and the dates of the Vedas, available in the fields of archaeology, geology, archaeo-botany, philology, ecology, genetics and the Vedic Samhita texts by a single person so as to make meaningful conclusions about the Aryan issue and the Vedic dates.

There is a lot of information in the Vedas which pose the time limits for each of the four Vedic Samhitas. The Rig-Veda does not have wheat, rice, millets, lentil, date-palm (Phoenix) and sesamum. These appear in the Yajur-Veda. From recent works in archaeology, we know that wheat and rice both were well cultivated in the Ghaghar-Hakra (Sarasvati) culture in the fifth millennium BC. Thus Rig-Veda must be before that time. Lentil was domesticated in West Asia, but arrived in India in the Bronze Age. Its absence from the Rig-Veda and presence in the Yajur-Veda speaks a lot about the dates of the two texts. Date-palm arrived in the region in the mid sixth millennium BC, as we can infer from the seed found from sixth century BC Mehrgarh. Date (kharjura) has not been mentioned in the Rig-Veda and has been mentioned in the Yajur-Veda. Willow and akva grass, the plants of watery climates were not there in Rig-Veda, but occur in the Yajur-Veda.

On the other hand there are trees and animals in thr Rig-Veda which do not occur in more humid climates and they are absent from the Yajur-Veda. This type of evidence constitutes one group of evidence to demonstrate that the Rig-Veda must have been composed between 8000 BC and 6000 BC, or the latest 5500 BC.

Similarly, the animals mentioned in the Rig-Veda and the Yajur-Veda are quite different. While lion, a grassland animal is present in the Rig-Veda, tiger which lives in dense forests has not been mentioned in the Rig-Veda. Tiger could have lived in northwest India only during the 5500 to 2500 BC period, the wettest time period for the region. Thus tiger has been depicted in the Harappan seals but not the lion, which must have become extinct from the forests of the region during this period. Tiger is mentioned in the Yajur-Veda as are crocodile, rhinoceros, tortoise and ajagara (Python) which can survive only in humid warm climates. However the lion continues to be mentioned in the Yajur-Veda. Probably it existed in the folk memory even after its extinction. Lion considered a glorious animal has been retained in the folklore etc even in South India where it never existed.

The book re-examines the philological exercises done by the linguists and detects the fatal flaws in them.

Witzel and others say that USTra is a Munda word which entered into Sanskrit after the arrival of the Indo-Aryans into India. They say so because they can find no cognate word of USTra in the European languages. But on re-examination this claim is not found to be true. A large number of cognates of USTra exist in the European languages applied to other animals examples being ostrich, avestuz etc. Similarly, Sanskrit dhumra (camel) is a cognate of Latin drŏmas (camel) and Portuguese dromedario (camel). This clearly proves that the homeland had the camel.

Similar exercises have been dome for pearl, oyster, conch, crab (cancer), tortoise, turtle, frog, toad, lizard, chameleon, otter, beaver, mongoose, mouse, hedge-hog, porcupine, shrew (sorex), crocodile, carp (fish, shafara), goat, sheep, pig, cow, horse, donkey, onegar, snake, papiha, shuka (parrot), pika, tittira, lion (keshari, simha, lahu), panther, leopard, wolf, fox, jackal, mosquito, fly, bee, wasp etc.

The published DNA studies for the domestication of cattle, goat, sheep, pig, horse, camel and domestic mouse have been presented in summarized forms which show that all of these had been actually domesticated in India.

Similar exercises in philology as well as archaeology and DNA studies have been presented for barley, millet, rice, wheat, etc. The forest trees have been too examined archaeologically and philologically as well as for their presence or absence in particular Veda. The plants studied include reed, willow, sugarcane, juniper, cedar, pine, Ficus species, oak, beech, birch, fraxinus, poplar, aspen, jamun (rose-apple), amla, apple, lotus, sesame, ber (jujube), date-palm, nard, Artemis, akva grass, etc have been done. They all indicate the time period for Rig-Veda as 8000-6000 BC, for Sama Veda 6000-5500 BC, for Yajur-Veda 5000-2500 BC and for the Atharva-Veda 1500-1300 BC.

Difficulties posed by mention of iron in Yajur-Veda and the presence of copper and horse in Rig-Veda have been sorted out by latest archaeological evidence as well as DNA studies for horse.

The Sarasvati river lost her connection with the Himalayan glaciers about 6500 BC. This aspect has has been well examined in the Vedic text itself. Although the Rig-Veda mentions the river as the largest and very powerful river, the Yajur-Veda mentions it simply as a great river. The Atharva-Veda mentions her as a goddess living in the heaven, and there is no mention of her river existence. Moreover the Rig-Veda clearly mentions that an earthquake shook the Himalayas leading to flooding of the desert region. This desert was clearly the Thar through which the Sarasvati passed. This fact establishes that Sarasvati was connected with the Himalayas in the Rig-Vedic period.

List of contents:

Chapter 1 Human Migration at the end of Glacial Period: The DNA studies ………..19
Chapter 2 Climate Change during the Early Post Glacial Period …23
Chapter 3 The Climate of the Rig-Veda ………………………………………27
Chapter 4 Periodization of the Rig and Yajur Vedas on the basis of some other features
Chapter 5 A General Account of the minor Flora of the Vedas
reflecting climate ……………………………………………………….49
Chapter 6 A General Account of the Forest Trees of the Vedas with understanding of the ecology of the respective periods ………………………………………….67
Chapter 7 Climatic Information Contained in the Sama-Veda ……78
Chapter 8 Fauna of the Yajur-Veda and their concordance in Harappa ……………81
Chapter 9 Athrva Veda and the arid Second Millennium BC of Indus-Sarasvati region
Chapter 10 Evidence of the Bronze Age Migrations Out of India …..96
Chapter 11 Indian Migrations to Central Asia and the Steppe during Bronze Age: Linguistic and Archeological Considerations ……………………………………….102
Chapter 12 Indian Migrations to West Asia during Bronze Age ….116
Chapter 13 Anatolian Origin Claim………………………………………….128
Chapter 14 The Homeland Debate and the Horse ………………………. 134
Chapter 15 The Golden Willow an extinct ancient Indian tree: References in the Vedic texts
Chapter 16 Kustha, Kutsa and Nard (nalada) plants ……………………189
Chapter 17 Birch (Betula species) ……………………………………………….195
Chapter 18 Oak (Quercus) …………………………………………………….202
Chapter 19 Beech (Fagus sylvestica) ………………………………………….223
Chapter 20 Juniper, the Gymnosperm plant of the Indus Valley region before 3000 BC
………………………… 230
Chapter 21 Pine (Pinus) and Ash (Fraxinus) ………………………………..242
Chapter 22 Aspen and poplar in Indian archaeology and Vedic texts
Chapter 23 The Indian names of the Ficus Trees …………………………263
Chapter 24 Some Typical Indian Plants ………………………………………273
Chapter 25 Farming related flora …………………………………………… 284
Chapter 26 Aquatic and Semi-aquatic animals …………………………..291
Chapter 27 Smaller mammals, reptiles and birds ……………………… 309
Chapter 28 The Carnivores and other forest mammals ………………317
Chapter 29 Mosquitoes and Flies …………………………………………………326
Chapter 30 Domestic Animals …………………………………………………….328
Chapter 31 Camel (uṣṭra) ……………………………………………………355
Abbreviations ………………………………………………………….387
Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………389
Index ………………………………………………………………….. 445


Priyadarshi, P., 2013, Evidence of Indo-European origins from the Early Holocene pollen studies, linguistics and climatology, Dialogue, July-Sept 2013, Vol 15, No. 1.



Evidence of Indo-European origins from the Early Holocene pollen studies, linguistics and climatology


by P. Priyadarshi




Recent DNA studies have thrown remarkable light on the human migration history over the last 15,000 years. It has revealed that not only man, but animals dependant on man like the domestic mouse, rat, shrew, cow, goat and sheep too have migrated out from India over the last 15,000 years (Priyadarshi 2011, 2012, 2013). No evidence of human arrival into India through the northwest corridor between 13,000 BC and 1,000 BC could be detected from the DNA studies (Sahoo 2006:847).


The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 20,000 BC-16,000 BC) was the time when the earth saw a four thousand years long freeze of the northern temperate regions. Human life remained restricted to the tropical regions like India, Southeast Asia and tropical Africa. Beyond this, man survived in the cold refugia in some places. Some population survived in Southeast Tibet, some parts of China, Franco-Cantabrian refugia, the Balkans, north east of the Black Sea and eastern Central Asia. Thus most of Europe and Asia had become denuded of human population.


Between 16,000 BC and 14,000 BC, climate started improving and human population increased. Better climate promoted better growth of vegetations which constituted the food for man and herbivores both. Rise in herbivore population cased increased availability of pray for hunting, and that too increased the food availability leading to increase in the human population in India just following the LGM (Priyadarshi 2011:137-43).


This population growth of India resulted in a pressure on land resulting in early experiments with food production, ultimately leading to development of farming (Priyadarshi2011:66-90). However, capturing the animals live and keeping them for future food requirement must have started before the onset of the LGM. In India we get concrete evidence of cattle, goat and sheep rearing since the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (Priyadarshi 2013).


Because of all these factors, Indian population soon got saturated after the LGM and a migration was forced by ecological constraints. The first emigrants out of India through the northwest corridor of India have been identified to have carried with them the Y-Chromosomal haplogroup R1a1a and J2b (Underhill 2009; Sahoo 2006; Sengupta 2006; Priyadarshi 2011:91-105; 2012:336-42, 337-Table 1). The J2b seems to have started earlier then the R1a1. It followed a south route and reached Anatolia (Turkey) and from there to Europe. However an important section of these preferred to venture through the sea from the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. The R1a1 started from the Gujarat region at about 14,000 BC, yet its expansion suddenly ceased because of another short 1000 year long mini-glacial period which we know today as the Teleglacial.


Holocene India: Inferences from archaeo-botany, climatology and analysis of the botanical material contained in the Vedas


The human migrations around the start of Holocene (10,000 years back) taking place out of India also carried with it farming and the Indo-European languages (Priyadarshi 2011:43-65). However no re-examination and re-interpretation of the Vedic texts as well as philological material have so far been done systematically to uncover the history of the early and middle Holocene India.  


In the Vedas, particularly the Rig-Veda, we get description of the plants and animals most of which are today characteristically found in the colder regions of the world, particularly Europe. This fact has been considered evidence favouring an Aryan arrival into India from outside (Bhargawa). However it has been wrongly assumed by many authors that the climates of India and Europe have remained the same as they are today, and that the same plants have always grown in the two regions throughout the Holocene. We will examine how far such  views are correct.


Willow (Salix sp; Sanskrit vetasa)


We find in the Vedas, a rich description of the willow tree, which was known then by the Vedic/Sanskrit word vetasa, the Sanskrit cognate word for ‘willow’. The Vedas mention the habitat, the colour (of the golden willow Salix alba), the branching and the medicinal properties of the plant. The plant was used mainly to treat fever and pain. Such description confirms that the Vedic plant vetasa is nothing other than the willow tree (Salix) which contains in it the salicylic acid which is a well-known fever-lowering and pain-relieving drug.


From Mehrgarh sites of the Indus plain, willow pollen has been found in abundance from about the tenth millennium BC up to the fourth millennium BC. Absence of willow pollen beyond that time means that the tree became either extremely rare or extinct from the Indus Valley after the early Harappa period. However the willow species continued to grow in the Himalayan altitudes like Nepal, Kashmir and higher reaches of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  


Willow, although a temperate region plant, has many species which grow only in the tropics (e.g. Salix tetraspermia)[1]. Willows characteristically require wetlands, particularly the alluvial or riparian situations. Such climatic features being absent from the steppes, the willows are not found in the steppe, and were in all likelihood not found there during the Bronze Age or even earlier. This fact gravely frustrates the possibility of the steppe being the homeland of the Indo-European speakers.


Golden willow (Salix alba), a plant mentioned in the Vedic literature (hirayamaya vetasa) and found even today in South Asia (Pakistan) requires a soil of the type “deep, moist loams”, usually located along stream beds and wetlands and cannot tolerate prolonged drought.[2] The loam retains moisture and is a mixture of sand, silt and clay, which is the characteristic soil type of the wetter regions of the Indus-Sarasvati valley civilisation, not a feature of the steppe or the Central Asia. Moreover, the dry climate of the steppe was thoroughly hostile to the growth of the willow.



The ecological habitat needed for the golden willow matches well that described for the Vedic vetasa tree. For example the Taittiriya Samhita (Yajur-Veda) mentions that the vetasa plant grew in the wetlands: apsujo vetasah (TS Atharva-Veda (10.7.41) too mentions that the golden vetasa grows amid floods. It is possible that the Vedic river Vitastā (Kashmiri Vyeth, Hindi Jhelum) was named after this plant.


There have been recent studies which have noted that the climatic and cultural features described in the Rig-Veda do not match the northwest Indian ones from 1500 to 1000 BC period. In the Rig-Veda, there is no mention of seals, statues, paintings, writing, burnt brick, potter’s wheel, cotton, urban citadel culture etc (Kazanas 2009). In the Rig-Veda the Sarasvati river was wide and full, and the whole region was moist and wet (ibid). This ecological condition, i.e. moist and wet prevailed before 4000 BC as discovered from the palynological studies (Jarrige 2008; Costantini 2000, 2008). Hence a date earlier than 4000 BC is quite reasonable for the period of composition of the Rig-Veda.


This date corroborates well with the palynological evidence of presence of abundant pollens of willow (Salix) from the soils of the region dating before the 3000 BC. In 1997, an extensive palynological examination of Mehrgarh and Nausharo of the Indus Valley region was conducted by Lorenzo Costantini andAlessandro Lentini (2000). Jarrige citing from them notes,

“The results of the pollen analysis show that, from the beginning of the Mehrgarh occupation till the 4th millennium BC, ‘the region was probably dominated by a semilacustrine or humid environment with a riparian vegetation, characterized by Populus, Salix, Fraxinus, Ulmus and Vitis, associated in a typical hydrophytic complex, arranged in dense gallery forests’ ” (Jarrige 2008:151).


Other cold climate forest trees which existed before that time included Populus (poplar), Fraxinus (Ash Tree), Ulmus (elm), Vitis (grape), Abies, Picea, Tsuga, Pinus, Juniperus, Quercus, Tilia and Corylus. Hydrophytic plants included  Cyperaceae, Phragmites, Typha, Alisma, Myriophyllum, and Nymphea (Jarrige:139; Costantini 2008:172). Costantini noted evidence for the presence of oak-forests in the region. There was enough of the evidence for the presence of Tamarix, Palmae, Smilax and Fumaria in the Mehrgarh periods I and II (ibid).


The Old Indo-Aryan cognate word of ‘willow’ is vetasa (Pokorny:1120-22). However there has been an element of ignorance among the philologists about the Indian willow trees. Pokorny thought Vedic vetasa was one of the ‘grass-reeds’ which are in the family gramineae or Poaceae. Griffith, the translator of many Vedas too has taken the same view. Lexicographer Monier-Williams thought that vetasa was the Asian furniture-reed Calamus rotang (rattan palm, cane-reed), which is a climber found in Sri Lanka, South India, Assam, Southeast Asia and West Asia, and which belongs to an entirely different family Arecales. Witzel adopted the latter view.


Witzel claimed that willow is not found in India, nor was it found there when the Aryans arrived. The Aryans thrust the name vetasa on to the ‘reeds’, after finding no willow tree in northwest India. However, we find that all these claims are wrong. Witzel wrote, (Witzel 2005:373),


“Some of them (names of plants) therefore exhibit a slight change in meaning; a few others possibly are applications of old, temperate zone names to newly encountered plants, such as ‘willow’> ‘reed, cane’. Again, this change in meaning indicates the path of the migration, from the temperate zone into India” (brackets added).


He again wrote (2009 Fulltext:5 n32),


“In addition to the birch, the IE word for … ‘willow’ (may be found in) in vetasa > Calamus rotang’ (EWA II 578), if so, then both with change of meaning in the Indian climatic context” (bracket added).


At least 40 species of willow (Salix) are native to northwest India (Pakistan), Nepal, Kashmir and many other high altitude regions of north India, in addition to the species present in Afghanistan.[3] Many species such as Salix tetraspermia are found exclusively in India. In the pre-history too, willow, particularly the “golden willow” was native to the northwest India. And hence the date of the Taittiriya Samhita (Yajur-veda) cannot be later than 3000 BC.


The Vedic Description of Vetasa


The Taittiriya Samhita ( mentions the use of vetasa in curing pain. Willow (Salix) contains salicylic acid, a remedy for fever and pain used in modern medicine too (Jeffreys 2008). This property of willow was known to the ancient Greek, Egyptian and Indian people. However its rediscovery goes to the credit of Edmund Stone (1763 AD). No such pain relieving property has ever been attributed to the grass-reed or the cane-reed. This fact confirms that the Vedic vetasa was nothing else but willow.


Max Muller (p.308) gives details of the charms associated with making of a medicinal drink from the vetasa, which was used to treat a thirsty person with high fever (as described in the AtarvaVeda). The drink was made in a cup made of vetasa (willow), and was stirred by the branches of vetasa. This must have caused the salicylic acid in willow to be dissolved in water, leading to the relief in the symptoms of fever and thirst on drinking the syrup. At the same place, Max Muller mentions some other Vedic texts (viz. TS; Kaushik 40.1-6; AV 3.13) wherein the same process has been described (Muller:308).


All the Vedic accounts of the vetasa plant match the description of the willow tree and not that of cane-reed or the grass reed. The Rig-Veda (RV 4.58.5) mentions vetasa (willow) as the ‘golden willow’ (hirayāyo vetaso). The ‘golden willow’ or Salix alba is found in northwest India even today, and its twigs are exactly like pure gold in colour.[4] The Vedic vetasa could not have been any reed, whether the Calamus rotang or the ‘grass-reed’. The ‘golden reed’ (as in the translation by Griffith; Phragmites australis aurea) is a grass-reed native to North America and Australia. The grass-reed species that is found in South Asia Phragmites karka (Khagra reed) is different from the ‘golden reed’ of America, and does not fit with the description of vetasa as given in the many Vedic texts. Hence the identification of the golden vetasa as the “golden reed” as done by Griffith is wrong.


The habitat of the vetasa plant, as we get from the Vedic mantras, is amidst waters. Rig-Veda (4.58.5) mentions that the hiranyayao vetaso (golden willow) lives along the brook. Taittiriya Samhita ( too says the same thing (apām va etad pupam yad vetasas).[5] The Atharva Veda writes that the vetasa plant stays within the waters (10.7.41). These descriptions of the vetasa are consistent with the description of the morphology and the habitat of the ‘golden willow’, and not that of a reed.


There are numerous mentions of the ‘willow’ in the Yajurveda. The KṛṣṇYajurveda (or the Taittiriya Samhita, mentions the branches of vetasa (willow). We know that the grass-reeds do not branch, and it is the willow which has numerous branches. The Taittiriya Samhita mentions an eagle sitting in the branches of the ‘golden willow’ (hirayayo vetaso, TS The eagle prefers to sit in the camouflage of the dense branches of trees like the willow. Hence the reference is to ‘willow’ not to the grass-reed.


Philology of willow: Latin salix, English ‘willow’ and Sanskrit vetasa


Witzel relied on the biased Eurocentric philology of vetasa given by others, and did not check whether any modern Indo-Aryan language has a cognate word of vetasa meaning ‘willow’. He as well as Monier-Williams gave the meaning ‘cane-reed’ for Sanskrit vetasa, which was wrong because the later Indo-Aryan derivatives of vetasa like bet, bed etc certainly mean ‘willow’ in languages like Prakrit, Nepali, Kashmiri and Dardic etc. Michael Witzel is also silent about the origin or etymology of the unique Latin word salix (willow). We shall now examine the etymology below.


Salix, sallow


Lat. salix (willow) is a loanword from Germanic (Valpi:415). The cognates are found only in the Celtic and Germanic branches, and that cannot warrant its inclusion as an Indo-European word. Cognates are: M. Irish sail, sa(i)lech, Welsh helyg-en, O. Brit. name Salico-dūnon, Gaul. name Salicilla; O.H.G. sal(a)ha, M.H.G. salhe, Ger. Salweide; O.E. sealh, O.Ice. selja (willow, from *salhjōn). It has been suggested that the source of all these cognates is the Saxon root *sal meaning ‘black’ (Valpi:415), and at PIE level *sal2 meaning ‘salt’, ‘grey’, ‘saliva’ etc. These roots have no specific semantic feature which could be associated with the willow tree, and clearly the etymology suggested is wrong. The sound resemblance between the Saxon sal, PIE sal and the tree salix is only superficial, and gives no idea of the etymology of the word salix.


If we think laterally, we find that, in all probability, the cognate words of salix represent an older linguistic substratum of Europe. The Altaic words like Tungus-Manchu *ǯalikta and Uralic like Finnish salava, jalava and Hungarian szilfa meaning ‘elm’ are enough evidence to suggest this fact (see Starostin’s Database).




The other word which needs discussion is Sanskrit ‘vetasa’. Its cognates mean willow in Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Germanic and Greek branches. However in the Slavic languages of the steppe the cognates do not mean ‘willow’ but ‘branch’ and ‘twig’.


Lith. Inf. vūti, vytìs (acc. vỹtį; willow rod), ablaut. žil-vìtis (grey willow), Ltv. vīte (branch, tendril), vîtuõls (willow), O.Pruss. witwan (willow), apewitwo (willow of the river-banks); Old Church Slavonic větvь (twig, branch), O.C.S. viti, vitь (a loan word from Lith. vytìs),  Russ. vítvina (twig, branch, rod), Sloven. vitika (ring); Avestan vaēiti (willow, willow-stick); Gk. τα (itea); O.Ice. vīðir, O.E. wīðig; M.L.G. wīde, O.H.G. wīda all meaning ‘willow’ (Pokorny: 1120-1122).


If the Indo-European had originated within Europe in the Ukrainian steppe, how did the cognates of ‘willow’ like Slavic vítvina (twig) and Latin vitis (grape-vine) etc lost the meaning ‘willow’? Latin vitis does not mean ‘willow’ but vine. Contrasting this, Sanskrit vēta-, vētasá, vētra etc all are cognates to this group of words, and their derivatives mean ‘willow’ in northern Indo-Aryan languages even today.


Further than this, although the European willow is black or dark grey, giving it the Latin name salix (from sal=black, Valpi:415; dark-grey Pokorny:879), many cognates of the willow in European languages mean ‘gold’ or ‘golden’ which is consistent only with the Vedic tree ‘golden willow’, and not with the European black or grey coloured willow. Examples are: Old English wīr (copper wire, wavy jewellery), M.L.G. wīre (metal wire), O.H.G. wiara (gold-wire) etc (Pokorny:1120-22). From this has come the Engllish word ‘wire’ having the flexibility and yellow colour both from the Vedic golden willow.


One can think that a wire may be made of iron too, and the main semantic element of these cognates comes from the ‘flexibility’ of the willow. Yet it is worth remembering that the older metal was copper, iron came much later; and also that classically wires are made of copper, not of iron.


Clearly the word wire (or its ancestor) was coined in the Copper-/ Bronze-age of North and Central Europe owing to the semantic elements “red-yellow colour” and the “flexibility” common to the Vedic golden willow and the copper-wires.


Sanskrit u, vīĮu (strong) seems to be related with Proto-Indo-Aryan u (bamboo, willow) and its derivative Kashmiri vīr, vīrü (white willow; CDIAL 12091). Turner gives some other cognate words from the Indo-Aryan branch having the meaning ‘willow’:


Proto-Indo-Aryan vēta (CDIAL 12097), Pashai-Dardic vei, wēu (willow), Dardic bīk (willow), Shina-Dard bĕu, bĕvĕ (willow); Proto-Indo-Aryan veta-daṇḍa (willow-stem, CDIAL 12098); From Sanskrit vetasa (CDIAL 12099), Prakrit vēdasa, vēasa (willow), Ashkun-Kaffiri  wis (willow), Kashmiri bisa (willow), Lahnda bīs, Nepali baĩs (willow), Dameli-Kafiri-Dardic bigyē (willow), Proto-Indo-Aryan *vēu–, vētrá–. *vētuka—(willow).


Other Indo-Aryan cognates meaning ‘willow’ and listed by some other authors are: Assamese bheha (salix), Punjabi bed (willow, Salix types, Singh:110); Nepali beu (Turner Nepali:456), bais, biu (Turner Nepali:458). Persian cognates meaning willow are: bada, bīd, bed, bīdī, bīde (Steingass:165, 217-8).


The examination of the cognate words meaning ‘willow’ as provided by Turner from the modern and extinct Indo-Aryan languages reveals that the real meaning of the Old Indian or Vedic vetasa was ‘willow’. We note above that the Prakrit, Northwest Indo-Aryan (Dardic), Kashmiri, Lahnda, Nepali and Assamese cognates of ‘willow’ do actually mean ‘willow’. Hence the Eurocentric stand taken by these scholars, that the meaning ‘willow’ was lost from the cognate words after the Aryan arrival into India cannot be supported.


We may also conclude that the willow (Salix sp) was native to the Indus-Sarasvati region up to the fourth millennium BC. Golden willow (Salix alba) described well in the Vedic texts grew along the rivers in moist soil. As described in the Yajur and the Atharva Vedas, it was used for medicinal purposes for the treatment of pain and fever because of the salicylic acid content of it. However it became extinct from the Indus-Sarasvati plains following the fourth millennium BC, when the region became drier. It fixes the dates for composing the three Vedas discussed here (Rig, Yajur and Atharva) before 3,000 BCE. This view is consistent with other studies done in the field (Kazanas 2009).


Other Trees


Unlike vetasa, where we have philological identification with ‘willow’, many Sanskrit/ Vedic tree names have not been identified with the modern trees, whether European Indian,  so far–neither philologically nor biologically. This needs to be sorted out if we wish to understand the Vedic history, and fix its correct chronology.


There is a huge confusion in the names of the European trees, except only a few like the birch. We can note that there is a fluidity and confusion of names in between the three commonest trees of Europe viz. alder, elm and juniper (Pokorny: 302-304). This indicates that the Indo-European speakers did not originate in or near Europe otherwise they should not have confusion in naming the three principal European trees.









Birch (Betula) is known in Sanskrit by the name bhurja, and is found in the Himalayan districts of India, wherever annual snowfall occurs. It is said that birch cannot grow in the absence of any annual snowfall. It is possible that the tree was widespread in India during the Last Glacial Maximum and also during the Teleglacial. However after circa 7,000 BC, plains of India did not receive regular annual snow fall. Hence the tree must have become extinct from the Central India and the Indus plains during later Holocene. Hence mention of the


Witzel claimed that the birch tree is found all the way from India to Europe (Witzel 2009:51). However this claim is baseless. Although birch grows in the northernmost part of Siberia region, and also in Mongolia, and in the Ukrainian forest lands, it does not grow in the steppe proper and there is a great discontinuity between the Himalayan birch forests and the north European birch forests (Hytteborn:74 Fig 2.22a & b). Yet they are known by the variants of the same ancient name even today in all the regions of Indo-European speech. This favours an older date for Indo-European migration when birch grew in the forests all the way from India to Europe, and then it must have been a very cold period. This fact too fixes the date of IE linguistic migration to before 4000 BC.


Oak (Quercus)


There is palynological evidence that Quercus sp. (oak) grew in the upper level of the Kachi plain of the Indus Valley region up to 4,000 BC (Costatini:173). It grows in the Himalayas even today. In the Jammu region oak was in abundance since the beginning of Holocene up to 2000 BC, following which it declined owing to aridity (Trivedi and Chauhan 2009). It has not been clarified whether the oak pollens found from Mehrgarh and Nausharo belong to the ‘cork-tree’ proper or some related species within the oak (Quercus) genus. If the early Holocene Quercus was cork-yielding oak (Quercus suber or Q. variabilis etc), then its likelihood of the bark-yielding bhoja becomes greater. There is a folk belief in India that the leaves or the bark of the bhoja tree were used for writing texts (books). Whether or not, cork was there one thing is clear palynologically that some oak (Quercus) species must have grown in India.


Contrasting beech, which invaded the Central and North Europe only lately (vide infra), the oak (Quercus) has been present in the North Europe since the beginning of the Holocene. In the Alps region, oak arrived at 10,500 BC, even before the end of the Teleglacial period (Finsinger 2006). At Lago Piccolo site of the Alps, evidence of oak (Quercus) has been found from 11,300 BC (ibid:615, Table 1).


However it is a mystery why there is no common word for oak tree in the European languages. Crystal (1987:296) notes that there is little evidence of a common word for ‘oak’ in Europe, which is a common European tree, and even the national tree of many of the European countries.


Crystal’s statement can be justified by the following list of words meaning ‘oak’ in many European languages. There is no cognate relationship even within the same branch, say Italic, of the IE family.


Latin quercus, glans, robur, sūber, aesculeus, ilex (holm-oak), ilignum,  French chȇne, Romanian stejar, Portugese carvalho, Spanish roble; Albanian lis, drushk, artikuj; Proto-Celtic *dari(k)-, Irish dair, darach; German eichen, eiche; Greek phegos, phagos, drys, balanidia, Old. Greek balano-s; Croatian hrasto; Lithuanian azuolas, azoulinis.


Application of the generic word daru (Sanskrit tree) to ‘oak’ in several languages of Europe like Irish (dair), Albanian (drushk) and Greek (drys), indicates that this was a common tree at many the places of Europe at the time of IE arrival, yet there were confusions in identification caused by interrupted distribution.


The Old Greek word balano-s is a cognate of baruna (Hindi) or varuā (Sanskrit), an Indian tree    (Monier-Williams; Turner CDIAL 11314). The word balano-s has no cognate in any European language.


Turner (CDIAL) provides a list of words meaning oak in Indo-Aryan languages. Out of them Sanskrit karahāa >Hindi kharhar, karahār (oak; CDIAL 2802) seems to the cognate of carvalho (Portugese, oak).


On the other hand, the Latin word quercus (oak) may be a cognate of Sanskrit kua > Dardic kaék (Oak; CDIAL 3228), rather than of Sanskrit parkaī, although the latter has been claimed to be so by Pokorny (p. 822-823). Such possibilities need serious examination. 


The reason for this variability of the names of oak is the erratic presence of the oak in many regions of Europe. For example, Oak disappeared from the Iberian Peninsula about 5000 BC and again reappeared about 2,500 BC (Issar:41). If the Indo-European arrival to the Iberian Peninsula took place between these dates, i.e. 5,000-2,500 BC there would be no Indo-European cognate for this tree in the Spanish language, simply because there would be no oak in Spain then.


It is beyond the scope of this article to list the dates of appearance and disappearance of the oak tree in each and every region of Europe. It is because of this disappearance and reappearance that there is no uniformity in the naming of oak, and we get chȇne in French, carvalho in Portugese and roble in Spanish for oak—names which were given to the tree as and when it arrived in the region.


If the Sanskrit word bhoja is accepted as a cognate word of Greek phagos (oak; both bhoja and phago-s mean to eat), then the following words too may be cognates of bhoja:


Dialects of Kafiri and Dardic wzu (oak), bōñǰ, bonz (oak), bŭc̣h, bŭc̣ (Platanus tree); Kurd. būz (elm); Hindi bã̄j, Kumauni (Pahari Hindi) bã̄j (oak), Nepali buk (oak tree), bã̄jh, (Echinocarpus, a tree of Tilia family; see CDIAL 11209;  12067; Witzel 2001:51n).


This possibility becomes more plausible if we take into account the Nostratic protagonist Blapek’s  finding that the ultimate source of phagos (and also of Latin fagus) is Nostratic with meaning “tree with edible fruits” (2000; cited in Witzel 2005:394, n176). However it is also possible that bhoja was a different tree in India, and on arrival to Greece, the word was thrust on to the oak tree. But the other possibility too remains that the oak was known as bhoja in northwest India during the beginning of Holocene, and when the northwest Indians went to Greece they identified oak as bhoja or phagos. Hence the PIE reconstructed for the words phagos is *bhāǵo-s, which is very close to the Sanskrit word bhoja.


Many of the words listed by Pokorny as cognates of ‘beech’, and by Turner as cognates of Sanskrit vṛkṣa, may in fact be the cognate words of Sanskrit bhoja, with meanings changed after arrival into Europe. Examples are: German Buche, O. Icelandic bōk, O.E. bōc, English ‘book’, O.H.G. buoh;  Slavic buz; Shina (Dardic) bŭc̣h, bŭc̣ etc meaning different tree/ plant products in different languages (see CDIAL 11209 vanj;  12067 vka; Pokorny:107-8).


The meaning ‘oak’ was retained only in the Greek language and has been lost from the other European languages. The cognates have been applied to name ‘beech’, ‘elm’, ‘elder’ and many other trees in the other European languages (see Pokorny:107-108).


Beech (Fagus sylvestica)


Beech is a European tree of temperate climate, and not found in India. It has been claimed that the reconstructed PIE *bhāǵo-s (Pokorny:107-108) meant beech in the Aryan homeland, and that there is no cognate word for beech in Sanskrit. That means the Indo-Aryans came to India from steppe, and lost the word for beech altogether after not finding the tree in India—this is the argument (Witzel 2001:51 note120; 61 note 146).


However beech is not found east of the famous beech line running through Poland and Romania (Bolte 2007; Thieme 1954:16, cited in Witzel 2001:51,61). That means beech is not found in the steppe, the claimed homeland, which is located much to the east of the beech line.




Fig. The beech line passing through Poland and Romania, East of which beech tree is not found



Witzel claimed that the beech was found in the steppe, much to the east of the modern beech-line, at the Atlantic period about 5,500 to 3,000 BC (Witzel 2001:51 n120; 61 n146). This is a clear case of concoction. The archaeological evidence from palynology has proved that the beech was found only in South France, South Italy and the south Balkans (Greece, Macedonia etc) before 3000 BC (Tonkov; Feurdean). The much later expansion of the beech tree was from south (Balkan Peninsula) to north and from west (France) to east, not from east to west. It has also been proved archaeologically that the steppe never had beech over the last 12,000 years and the nearest beech forests in the mountains of Ukraine and Romania had beech only over the last 4000 years (since about 2000 BC). Thus the claim can be proved bogus on the basis of sound material evidence.


It is an example how the Eurocentric authors have thus taken recourse to deception and concoction to write whatever they wanted to prove, and the thing was accepted as fact by others. The great difficulty for history was that the hard evidence was circumvented by lies.


Witzel tells another untruth in the same article that the beech tree is not found in Greece, and adds that the word for beech tree fagus (Latin) was adopted in the Greek language to mean ‘oak’ because Greece is a beech-less country (2001:51, 61; 2005:394). This is again a huge concoction and deception. Forest survey reports from Greece mention that beech is found there in plenty (Bergmeier 2001). Archaeology too proves that the Balkan Peninsula, in which Greece is located, is the oldest home of beech in Europe (vide supra).


Thus the beech tree has been found in Greece since at least 12,000 years back, and has expanded only recently to other places. Unfortunately, Elst contradicted Witzel’s logic well, yet did not notice the concoction in his story.[6] Clearly the Greeks never had the identification problem for ‘beech’ because had been there always. We can say that the Greek word phagos (oak) has not changed its meaning on arrival of IE in Greek, rather the Latin fagus is a borrowing into Latin (Gk phagos, oak > L. fagus) with associated change of meaning, and it was applied to name a different tree ‘beech’ in the Latin language, because of disappearance of the oak from the Latin speaking regions about 5,000 BC. Hence we can date the arrival of Indo-European into the South-West Europe to a date between 5000 and 2,500 BC.


Beech (Fagus sylvatica) survived the Last Glacial period in Europe only at three small locations namely the refugia in Southern France, southern Italy and the Balkans (Bartsch:425). Its northward expansion started about 8000 BC, and it was very slow to move northward, taking 7000 years to reach Germany (Bartsch:425). It reached north Spain by 3000 BC (Davis 1994:186), and reached northern Balkans by 2000 BC (Tonkov). It arrived into Romania by 2,700 BC, but established itself in the forests only by 1300 BC (Feurdean 2001:135-36). From southern France, Fagus reached Salonnes (North-East France) by 1000 BC (Riddiford 2012, Fig. 4b).


Beech reached its modern limits in the northern parts of Europe only about 1000 years back. It is not found east of Poland (Bolte 2007) and it never reached the steppe. Other than Western Europe, it is also found in Turkey (Fagus orientalis), China (several species) and Japan (F. japonica).


Hence we can conclude that the knowledge of the tree ‘beech’ at 4000 BC, or even 1500 BC, in the steppe region is not possible. Thus even if this is accepted that beech was the PIE bhāǵo-s, this philological evidence goes against steppe being the Indo-European homeland. The fact from archeo-geography about absence of beech in North Europe, Germany, Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia at about 4000 BC rules out these countries from being the place of origin of the Indo-European languages at 4,000 BC.


Philologically too, a common word for beech lacks in the European languages. Only some of the Germanic languages have in common the cognate words meaning ‘beech’ e.g. E. ‘beech’, German Buche, Icelandic beyki etc. Otherwise, there is complete irregularity in the naming of this tree. Some examples are:


Greek oxya; Spanish haya, French hetre, Portugese faia, Romanian fag; Albanian ah (all meaning ‘beech’).


On the other hand, the listed cognates of PIE bhago-s mean different trees in different languages of Europe , for example:


German Buche (beech), Greek phago-s (oak), Russian buz (elder tree), Icelandic beykir (cooper) etc. 



People have considered Celtic (Gaul) bāgos too to be cognate of Latin fagus or ‘beech’. However this is in all likelihood, a loan word from Greek or Latin and other Celtic languages do not share this word for beech:


Irish feá, fáibhile (beech), Welsh ffewydden (beech).


On the other hand, words for ‘beech’ in the non-IE languages Hungarian (bükkfa) and Finnish (pyokki) are closer to the Germanic words for beech.


Turner thinks, in case of Indo-Aryan languages, that many of the names of the forest tree (which resemble German Buche etc) are no cognates of PIE *bhāǵo-s at all, but are derived from Sanskrit vṛkṣa (see CDIAL:12067):


Sanskrit vṛkṣa (tree), Pali vaccha (tree), Prakrit vakkha; Ḍumaki bīk, Dameki (Dard) bigyē˜ˊs (willow), Tirahi (Dard.) brīč, Maiya (Dard.) bic̣h (pine tree), Shina (Dard. gil) bŭc̣h, bŭc̣ (plane or Platanus tree), Kohistani (Dard) bīc̣h (Pinus excels); West Pahari (Kochi) bīkh (tree), Nepali buk (oak tree). To this list we can add Hindi (rural) biriccha, Vajjika (Bihari) birīch (tree). Clearly the cognates have meanings from any ‘tree’ to pine, oak, platanus and willow.


In fact many of these are very similar to the following: Slav. *buza-, *bъzъ– (elder tree sambucus), Russ. buz, Slovac bɛz, Russ. dial. boz, Kurd. būz (a kind of elm).


It may be claimed that the resemblance of the words buc, bikh etc of Turner’s list to similar sounding words from Pokorny’s list is co-incidental. However some of the Germanic words are certainly from Sanskrit vṛkṣa e.g. German Viereiche (oak) and OHG fereheih (oak). At the beginning of Holocene when the Indians reached the Central Europe (as R1a1a, Underhill 2009), the oak was there already. Hence the word vriksha (vṛkṣa, tree) got applied on to them.




A conifer tree within the same order as pine (Pinales) is not found in the inhabited regions of India, although it grows in the remote heights of the Himalayas (1800 meters to 3000 meters; Costantini:172) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and India, and has been named Juniperus wallichiana or indica (Hook and Thomson 1874:537, cited in Adams:208). The tree is no more remaining in the memory or awareness of the people living in the Indian plains, and the Indian name of the tree has been lost, making any philological identification difficult.


However, the pollen studies of the archaeological remains prove that juniper was present in the Kachi plain of the Indus Valley until the end of the fourth millennium BCE (Costantini:171-72) and was widely growing in the Himalayan foot-hills. We have the following material to arrive at a philological identification:


Vedic kadru (Taittiriya Samhita, Sanskrit kedara (a tree, listed in the Dictionary by Monier-Williams, but not identified so far); Greek kedros (juniper), Latin cedar (pine); Lith. kadagỹs, O.Pruss. kadegis (juniper) indicate the Indo-European status of the kadru or kedara tree. But which tree was known as kadru or kedara: Juniper or pine? Both of them were present in India then.


The Old Church Slavonic word kadilo means ‘incense’ (Pokorny: 537). This indicates that the original kedara was juniper, because it is the juniper whose wood is used as incense-wood for Vedic rituals in Nepal and many parts of north India. The Indian Himalayan tree Deodar which is a pine, has been given the scientific name Cedrus deodara. The genus name Cedrus too is a cognate of Sankrit kadru and kedara. In our view, the ancient Indian kedara was juniper.



Kikkar (Acacia)


Kikkar, kīkara (Hindi, Punjabi etc Acacia arabica tree), Proto-Indo-Aryan *kikkara (CDIAL 3151). It is possible that the word kīkaa used in the Rig-Veda, describing region where “cows did not yield much milk” refers to a region where the kīkara plant grew in plenty. This region has been identified as Magadha (South Bihar and Jharkhand), and this tree grows as wild weed in plenty in Jharkhand and South Bihar. The Sanskrit word kińkarāla meaning the same plant Acacia may be the Sansktized form of the Proto-Indo-Aryan word *kikkara.


Pokorny preferred not to include the Indo-Aryan cognates in this list. Thus he gives the cognates as:


PIE k̂ik̂er- pea (Pokorny: 598); Armenian siseṙn (chickpea); Greek-Macedonian kikerroi, Greek krios (chickpea) <*kikrios; Lat. cicer (chickpea); Lith. keke (grape), Ltv. k”ekars (shine), Ltv. k”eḱis (umbels like cumin, coriander; grape),  Lithuanian and Latvian cekulis (flamingo plant, tassel, jute, tussock grass), cecers (frizzy hair); Czech  čečeřiti (to make shaggy or frizzy); Albanian (*k”ekar) kokër (grain, bean).


The kikkar (Acacia) fruits are legumes like the chickpeas, and both belong to the same family Leguminoecea. Acacia’s inflorescence is umbel, hence Latvian k”eḱis (umbel). Its flowers look like tassel or spike of tussock grass (hence Latvian cekulis tussock grass). Thus we find that it is the Acacia plant which has some feature in common with the rest in the group. Hence the original meaning tree was Acacia


Mulberry (Morus)


Mulberry is a sub-Himalayan Indian tree which has also been traditionally grown in China and Japan. With the silk trade the tree has spread to Central Asia, Near East, Spain, North and East Africa, South Europe and the Americas.[7] It was never grown, nor even known, in the steppe. Therefore philological evidence for the presence of mulberry in the Indo-European homeland proves beyond doubt that the place of origin of the IE languages was in the India, and certainly rules out the steppe. 


There are at least two possible PIE reconstructions for the mulberry tree. Presence of reconstructable PIE root means the IE homeland was at a place where mulberry grew. One is *moro of Pokorny, and the other *brahma (of this author).


Pokorny’s Eurocentric bias becomes obvious when we note that he does not give the meaning ‘mulberry’ for the PIE *moro-, but gives instead the ‘blackberry’. He also omits the Sanskrit word madhura-vka (mulberry, lit. ‘sweet tree’; CDIAL 14733) from the list of the cognate words of *moro-. He proposes that the cognates (of *moro-) originally meant the ‘blackberry’, however they acquired the additional meaning ‘mulberry’ on arrival to South Europe, where mulberry was found (Pokorny:749). However, archaeobotany tells us that the mulberry was not found in Europe when the arrival of the IE speakers to South Europe took place. In Latin there are two words, morus means only mulberry, however mōrum means ‘mulberry’ and ‘blackberry’ both (Valpi: 271). Hence it is the ‘blackberry’ to which the name was applied later and the *moro- was originally the name of the ‘mulberry’ tree, which was before the silk-trade, a tree confined to India and China.


The English word ‘mulberry’, Welsh merwydden (mulberry), French murier (mulberry), Old High German mōrbere (mulberry) point out to the fact that PIE *moro- was philologically ‘mulberry’ not the ‘blackberry’.


PIE moro- (blackberry, as per Pokorny; mulberry[8]; Pokorny:749); Sanskrit madhura-vka (mulberry-tree; not in Pokorny’s list, however Turner notes it: CDIAL 14733); Armenian mor, mori, moreni (blackberry); Gk. moron (μρον, mulberry, blackberry); Welsh merwydden (mulberry); Lat. mōrum  (mulberry, blackberry), Spanish morera (mulberry), French murier (mulberry); O.H.G. mūr-, mōrbere, M.H.G. mūlber (mulberry); Lith. mõras (mulberry). An Indian tree Artocarpus lacucha, which belongs to the mulberry family (Moraceae) and has identical fruits and leaves to the mulberry, is called madar in Assamese and Bengali  languages (CDIAL 9849; madhura>madāra).


Fraxinus or Ash Tree


The Frāxinus tree (Latin, ash-tree) which is a first class firewood and burns with bright light with little smoke, has been considered present at the PIE stage by the name *bherəĝ- or *bhrēĝ- (Pokorny:139-140), which is a clear cognate of the Rig-Vedic word bhgu, which was a group of men specializing in lighting, burning and preserving fire (RV 1.58.6; 6.15.2).


Clearly the Rig-Vedic bhgu- must have been named after this tree’s name which is one of the best firewood. In the Rig-Veda the word bhgu has been used in the context of car (ratha) building (RV 4.16.20), indicating that the same specialists could also make carts from this wood. It is known that not the wheel of cars, but the bodies of cars were built from this wood in Europe because of the flexibility of the wood. Obviously, when the tree became extinct in India, the particular tree, as the meaning of the term, was lost, and the word bhgu came to be remembered only for the specialists who worked with this wood. The English word ‘bright’ is the cognate of bhgu. Hence we need to fix the date of the Rig-Veda before 4000 BC, after which this tree was not found in the northwest India.



CDIAL: A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages. See Turner.

RV Rig-Veda,

TS Taittiriya Samhita




Adams, R. P., 2011, Junipers of the World: The genus Juniperus, Trafford Publishing.


Bergmeier, E., 2001, Fagus sylvestica forest vegetation in Greece: Syntaxonomy and gradient analysis, Journal of Vegetation Science 12(1):109-126.


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Costantini, L., 2008, The First Farmers in Western Pakistan : The Evidence of the Neolithic Agro-pastoral Settlement of Mehrgarh, Pragdhara 18:167-178.


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Griffith, Ralph T.H., 1889, Hymns of the Rig Veda (English translation of the Rig-Veda), republished as The Rig Veda: Complete in 2008, Forgotten Books.


Hook, F. and Thomson, E. B., 1874, Forest fl. N.W. and Central India.


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Issar, A., 2004, Climate Changes During the Holocene and Their Impact on Hydrological Systems, Cambridge University Press.


Jarrige, J-F, 2008, Pragdhara 18:135-154.


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Kazanas, N., 2009, Indo-Aryan Origins and Other Vedic Issues, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi.


Pokorny, J., 1959, Indo-Germanisches Etymologisches Worterbuch (in German;  Indo-European Etymological Dictionary), A Francke Ag.


Priyadarshi, P., 2011, The First Civilization of the World, Siddhartha Publications, Delhi.


———-, 2012, Of Mice and Men: DNA, Archaeological and Linguistic correlation of the two linked journeys of mice and men, Vedic Venues, 1:316-352.


———-, 2013, Some Domestic Animals of the Indo-European Homeland and their dispersal, Vedic Venues, 2:1-47.


Sahoo, S. et al, 2006, A prehistory of Indian Y-chromosomes: evaluating demc diffusion scenarios, PNAS 103(4):843-848.


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Singh, Bhai Maya, 1895, The Punjabi Dictionary, Munshi Gulab Singh and Sons, Lahore.


Stone, Edmund, 1763, An Account of the Success of the Bark of the Willow in the Cure of Agues. In a Letter to the Right Honourable George Earl of Macclesfield, President of Royal Society from the Rev. Mr. Edmund Stone, of Chipping-Norton in Oxfordshire, Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), 53 (1763):195-200; published by Royal Society.


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Thieme, P., 1954, Die Heimat der indogermanischen Gemeinsprache. [Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur] Wiesbaden: Steiner.


Trivedi, A. and Chauhan, M.S., 2009, Holocene Vegetation and Climate Fluctuations in Northwest Himalaya, Based on Pollen Evidence from Surinsar Lake, Jammu Region, India, Journal of Geological Society of India, 74:402-412.


Turner, R.L., 1962-66, A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages, Oxford University Press, London.


Turner, R.L. (Nepali), 1961, A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language, Routledge, London.


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Witzel, Michael, 2005, “Indocentrism: autochthonous visions of ancient India”, in Bryant, Edwin and Patton,L.L. (Eds.), The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History, Routledge, pp 341-404.


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[2] Goden Willow http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/trees/handbook/th-3-139.pdf , accessed 30 May 2013.

[5] vetas (willow) is the flower of the waters. Here the context is that of the golden willow.

[7] Sanchez, M.D., World Distribution and Utilization of Mulberry, Potential for Animal Feeding, Food and Agriculture Organization document, Electronic Conference on Mulberry for Animal Production.

[8] Pokorny gives meaning ‘blackberry’ which cannot be supported on the basis of available philological material, and ‘mulberry’ should be the meaning of the PIR root-word.

Linguistic, archaeological and DNA Evidence favouring origin of some breeds of the Domestic Horse “Equus caballus” from India

“Equus sivalensis is the oldest true horse known, it has more highly specialised teeth than the Oreston and Newstead ponies. After Lydekker. Palaeontologia Indica, Ser. x. vol. ii.” (Ewart 1911: 366)

Cognate words of the Sanskrit asva (PIE *akwa) are found in nine out of the ten branches the Indo-European family of languages, indicating that the original Indo-European homeland had horse. Although horse bones have been found from the archaeological remains of the Indus Valley Civilization, the oldest domesticated “true horse” bones too have been recovered from India from 8000 BP layer, and wild from 20,000 years back.

The DNA studies of horse shows that the Aryan-horse association is a myth, and that the horse was domesticated at many places. Archaeology shows that the Central Asians were late to use horse, say about 50 AD, and the Central Asian Bactria-Margiana-Archaeological Complex had no horse at all. Thus there was an archaeological disconnect between the Ukrainian and the South Asian horse domestications, meaning that horse was domesticated independently at the two places. This is consistent with the DNA findings.

The Indian sivalensis horse has survived as many modern breeds of horse, and the Arabic, the Thoroughbred of Europe and the Blood races have evolved from the sivalensis. There is a geographical population structuring of Indian horses, indicating that the Indian horses are indigenous and have not been imported.

The Light Race Horse of Indian Origin

Azzaroli (1985:94) noted that the Indian domestic caballus horse recovered from 1200 BCE horse burials at Katelai (Swat, India) belonged to the “eastern” breed which was different “from the Bronze and Iron Age horses of Eastern and Central Europe and recalls some horses from Etruscan tombs: presumably it belongs to some oriental strain.”

The “eastern breed” certainly refers to the sivalensis horse (discussed elsewhere in this article). The Etruscan horses from Populonia and Castro from the first millennium BCE resemble the Swat horse and do not resemble the Bronze or Iron Age horse from north Italy and the rest of Europe as well as the Pleistocene horse of the same area (Azzaroli 1985:146).

Etruscan Horse teracotta Fig. 1 Etruscan teracotta Horse. Note the long neck and downward bent head, the features of Sivalensis type.

The sixth century BCE horse burials at Padova (Padua, north Italy) resemble the Swat burial in style (Azzaroli:137). This horse breed must have been brought by the Etruscans arriving to Italy from West Asia where it had in all probability arrived with some Indo-Aryan arrival to West Asia like the Mittani. This finding implied that the Indian horse had migrated to southern Europe from India. That this horse and chariot had not arrived to India from West Asia is made explicit by Azzaroli, who found that the Indian chariots were different from the West Asian ones (ibid). The Swat petroglyph chariots are same in style as that of Central Asia and the steppe.

Thus it becomes clear that the light horses originated from India and the European horses were heavy, the fact made clear by Azzaroli in his book. This fact accords well with the Burgman’s Rule, which states that the animal’s of colder regions have heavier body size.

The only horse depiction detected from BMAC is a seal (below; source David Anthony’s Blog, also cited in Anthony 2009) with a horse-rider. The horse in it is clearly of the Etruscan type, which is no different from the Marwari type (see below).

Anthony Horse - Copy Fig. 2 A BMAC (Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex; 2100-1750 BCE) horse, the lone horse depiction from the BMAC

Horse marwR Fig. 3. A Marwari Indian Horse

On the other hand the Kazakh breed of horse is heavy, with shorter legs.

Horse Jabe kazakh2
Fig. 4. A modern Kazakh native breed of Horse

It contrasts with the Harappa horse figurines which were light:

horse-mohenjodaro Fig. 5. Mohenjo-Daro horse: See whether it resembles the ancient Etruscan and modern Marwari horses, or resembles the steppe and Kazakh horses

The steppe horse was like zebra.

Horse treacitta 2 - Copy Fig. 6. Teracotta figurine from Mohenjo-Dar, identified by Mackay as horse. Mackay, Further Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro (from Shendge’s book).

Stone Age horse from Europe Ewart p. 363 Fig. 7. Stone Age Horse from Europe, resembling the steppe horse. It was not tall, but more like zebra. Ewart, 1909, p. 363.

Przewalski mare Ewart p. 363 Fig. 8. A typical steppe horse: Przewalski mare. Ewart 1909, p. 363.

Kazakh ancient horses as depicted on the petroglyphs were stout and with shorter legs:

Petroglyph Kazakhstan Hors Fig. 9.
Kazakh steppe ancient horse as depicted in the rock art

Horse 4 Fig. 10. The Pirak horse was light and resembled Mohenjo-Daro horse, but not the Kazakh steppe horse (pictures from M.J. Shendge’s book)

European horse was heavy (Bergman’s rule) with shorter legs (Allen’s Rule) example being the Shetland Pony :

Shetland Pony Fig. 11. A Shetland Pony: A native European horse.

The Zarevshan horse from Zardcha-khalifa resembled the Przewalski horse, and could not have been the ancestor of the Pirak horse:

Zardcha horse pin - Copy Fig. 12. Zardcha Khalifa horse: source Parpola in Bryant’s book.

Indo-European Linguistics: Horse from water

The PIE root-word for horse ek̂u̯o-s (Pokorny:301-302) has been derived from another PIE root akwā-, ǝkwā or ēkw- (Pokorny:23) meaning “water, river, sea”. Starostin (p. 824) thinks that the horses were sacrificed to the sea-god (for navigational safely), hence they got named after “water”. However, sacrifices evolved in civilizations much later than language, and the words for animals like horse must have been coined much before any sacrificial rituals came into practice. Hence this view, is at best a good folk-etymology, and cannot be true. We need to search a different relationship between sea and horse.

Rig-Vedic Account Consistent with Linguistic theory

The derivation ek̂u̯o-s (horse) from akwā (water) is not understandable unless we take into account the Rig-Vedic mention that horse came from the ocean. Rig-Veda 1.163 (Hymns for the Horse) says:

1. What time, first springing into life, thou neighedst, proceeding from the sea or upper waters, Limbs of the deer hadst thou, and eagle pinions. O Steed, thy birth is nigh and must be lauded.

4. Three bonds, they say, thou hast in heaven that bind thee, three in the waters, three within the ocean. To me thou seernest Varuna, O Courser, there where they say is thy sublimest birth-place.

The abode of Varuna, the God of waters, is in the Arabian Sea. The foregoing is a picturesque description of retreating horses from the submerging coasts of the Gulf of Cambay in the Arabian Sea following the sea-level rise after the LGM. Just after the Last Glacial Maximum, about 16,000 years back, the sea-level started rising, forcing the coastal fauna, which included the wild horse, into mainland. It may be noted that the horse does not want to live in dense forests (Linlater), and it must have lived on the coasts in large numbers in India. Clearly, this would have given impression to the people at that time that the horses were coming out of the sea. Our studies have indicated that the earliest portions of the Rig-Veda pertain to the end of the Last Glacial Maximum.

This is a literary evidence for presence of wild horse in India during or just after the Last Glacial Maximum. We have to examine whether it corroborates well with archaeology. Examination of archaeology and geology shows that the common notion among the historians that India did not have horse before 1500 BCE is no more than an untruth spoken thousand times taking shape of a fact.

Evidence from Indian Archaeology

Paleontological and archaeological evidence shows that the wild horses were widely distributed all over Europe and Asia throughout the Upper Palaeolithic period between 10,000 BP and 35,000 BP. India was a principal home of horse during that period.

At Imamgaon, 80 kilometers east of Poona, 20,000 years old radiocarbon dated level yielded wild animal skeletons including Equus namadicus and Equus sivalensis (Badam:413), the types belonging to “caballus” species. The latter breed was ancestral to many of the domesticated horse lineages of today like the Arabic horse and the Thoroughbred horse (vide infra). Equus caballus, hemionus and other species have been found from Aq Kupruk of Afghanistan dating back from 8,000 to 16,000 BP (Meadow:25-26). Wild true horse bones were found from 20,000 BP strata of Bolan and Son valleys (G.R. Sharma:110 ff.; Kazanas 1999:33-34), and domesticated horse bones from dates 8500 BP and 6500 BP of the Bolan and Son valleys (Sharma:110 ff.). R.S. Sharma (1996:17) too noted domesticated horse bones from Mahagara Neolithic complex of 7000 BP and Bagor (Rajasthan) 6500 BP (R.S. Sharma:16). However he prefers to ignore them and overall supports invasion by the Aryans on horse-chariots.

In view of the findings of the domesticated “true” horse bones from the Central India (Mahagara, Bolan and Son Valleys) dating back to 8500 BP to 6500 BP, the pre-agricultural hunter (Mesolithic) society as depicted in the Bhimbetka Rock Paintings should be dated 8,000 BP or older. Unfortunately, the paintings have been dated later than 3,500 BP because they contain horse in it and the general view of the historians does not accept horse in India before the Aryan Invasion date of 3,500 BP.

Bhimbetka rock painting
While Equus caballus was present ubiquitously in all sites from Asia and Europe, it was accompanied by one smaller species of Equus which was different for Asia and Europe. In Asia, it was Equus hemionus which was found along with Equus caballus, whereas in Europe it was Equus hydruntinus (Forsten and Sharapov:309). Forsten and Sharapov found that this general formula was broken at Palestine and Tajikistan, where all the three species of horse were found at about 15,000 years back. It may be noted that the generic term Equus caballus included many varieties or races of horse. For India, it was generally sivalensis and namadicus, while for Europe it was generally the stenonis. Although, the namadicus and the sivalensis are the same race of wild caballus horse, yet there are slight differences. Forsten and Sharapov noted that the namadicus horse was larger, and comparatively younger in archaeological findings than the sivalensis (ibid.:310).

During the glacial peak between 25,000 and 19,000 years ago, and then again between 12,700 and 11,500 years ago, there was extreme cold and aridity in the northern latitudes of Eurasia, and also in the West Asia and Iran. There were no herbs for the horses to feed on in the Ukrainian and Turkestani tundra climate of the Last Glacial Maximum. Most of the horses of Eurasia died during these cold and arid periods (Achilli:4 of pdf version). Following warming of climate, horse population re-expanded from some eastern location (ibid). It is possible that the relatively cold adapted Przewalskii’s horse may have survived in Ukraine during the Last Glacial Maximum. However DNA studies have proved that these horses have nothing to do with our domesticated or the “caballus” horse, which have descended from other Asian and European races, but not from the Przewalskii’s horse of the steppe region (Achilli et al).

Yet India, the Iberian Peninsula of Europe and the Southeast Asia were the places where climate was not so bad and horses survived in these refugia, and flourished during the Last Glacial maximum (Warmuth). Thus after the end of the LGM up to 10,000 years before present India was a prime home of the wild horses.

Today, the Rann of Cutch is a place on the western coast of Gujarat, where there is a natural habitat for wild horses and asses, and ghur (Equus hemionus) is found in the wild there. Before 10,000 BP, wild “true horses” of sivalensis type were found in India widely. It is claimed that they became extinct after 10,000 BP. However, no one mentions how, or why they became extinct. Extinction of Equus sivalensis did not occur because of any climatic difficulty in India.

The wild stock of Equus sivalensis became extinct largely because of dense anthropization of India about 10,000 BP, leading to loss of habitat to the wild horses. Added to this, regular hunting for food, as well as regular capturing for domestication led to extinction of the wild stock of the Equus sivalensis. However, the gene of the wild Equus sivalensis survives today in the domesticated horses of India, Arabia, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Hence the supposed extinction of the wild sivalensis from India at 10,000 BP, does not allow another assumption that at 10,000 BP, India became devoid of all horses, and that there were no domesticated horse in India after that time.

The Post-Glacial Indian Population Expansion, and the exit route out of India

Following the glacial phase, the sea-level started rising shifting the coastal population to the interior (Soares, 2008:). It was a massive shift of population, and its effect was most marked near the Gulf of Cambay. The better climate (warmer and humid) also led to enhanced food availability leading to population growth. Because of these two factors, the carrying capacity of South Asia became saturated, and some of the population was forced to migrate out.

The route of migration out of India between 16,000 BP and 10,000 BP has been deciphered with the help of DNA technology. The human Y-chromosomal haplogroup R1a1a (M17) was studied by Underhill et al. They found its population expansion at about 16,000 BP in Gujarat, India, and spread through southern Central Asia to the north Black Sea region in the next few thousand years.

Fig. 13. Origin and migration of R1a1a (M17), after LGM. Source Underhill et al, 2009.

The study of DNA of domestic mouse sub-species Mus musculus musculus also provides a route map for mice, going out of India to the north Black Sea region, almost at the same time.

Fig. 14. Migration route of domestic mouse sub-species Mus musculus musculus, marked ‘m’. Source: Boursot 1996

Fig. 15. Another DNA study showing migration route of Mus musculus musculus (on the top side towards the north Black Sea region. Source: Bonhomme.

Fig. 15. Composite route map of migration of man (R1a1a lineage) and mice (Mus musculus musculus) out of India to the north Black Sea region, just following the Last Glacial Maximum. This seems to be the common route for many other migrations like that of wild horse.

We have seen that the human migration just after the LGM was accompanied with mouse, yet perhaps it was not accompanied by domesticated animals like cattle and horse. The Indian wild horses (sivalensis) must have too followed the same route of migration to the steppe, yet there is evidence that the Russians and the Ukrainians did not get the proper Indo-European word for horse “akwa” (PIE) or aśva (Old Indian).

This is probably because the horse had not been domesticated by that time. Hence the Ukrainian word for horse is kin’. Words for horse in other Slavic languages are: Old Church Slavonic kon”ь “horse”, Russian kon” “horse”, Czech ku̥ň “horse”, koně, Slovak kôň “horse”, koňa, Polish koń “horse”, Serbo-Croatian kòńj “horse”, Slovene kònj “horse” (Starostin:825). Had Indo-European origin and domestication of horse occurred in the Ukrainian steppe, the Slavic languages must have had the word akwa- or asva. No cognate word outside the Slavic branch has so far been suggested for the word konj. Sanskrit kuJjara (kunjara) is a suitable candidate. Kunjara means “one which moves in the orchards, or an elephant.

The words for horse in Lithuanian (arklys, arklinis), Latvian (zirgs), and Estonian (hobun, hobu) too are not from akwa. Yet some words in the Old Lithuanian were from this root: O.Lith. ašva, ešva “mare”, Lith. ašviénis “stallion”, family name Ašvine and Ašva.

Another notable point in the last figure is the fact that from East Iran to the north Pontic (Black Sea) region, the area over the route was occupied by the Scythians, an East Iranian linguistic group. Even the Kurgan culture of Ukraine (about 6000 years BP) has been identified with the Scythians (an East Iranian tribe). This link of north Pontic region with the East Iranian can only be explained by accepting that the route from East Iran to the north Pontic region was used for migration later also.

In the north Pontic and Caspian region, we get river and place names based on Indian or Iranian river-name or places respectively e.g. Don R. (after Danu R. Iran); Danube R. (after Danu R. Iran); Dnieper R. and Dniester R. (after Danu nazdya); Tyras R. (after Tūra, Tvara rapid); Jamna / Yamna for Black Sea (after Yamuna/ Jamuna the black river of India); Volga (Sanskrit Rasā River MW:870 > Scythian Rā > Russian Volga).

Where was the horse domesticated: the DNA Evidence?

Contrary to the general belief that the horse was domesticated from the Przewalskii wild horse by the Aryans, at their homeland located somewhere in the Eurasian steppe, latest DNA evidence suggests widespread horse domestication, and that too exclusively from non-Przewalskii wild horses, indicating that either the Aryan home was not in the Central Asian steppe, or that the Aryan-horse correlation is a myth, or both.

Wild horses ancestral to the modern caballus horses lived in India and Spain as survivors of the glacial peak. In other parts of Eurasia, any horse population must have died during the Last Glacial peak (20,000 BP to 16,000 BP). Study by Solis et al (2005) showed that many horse breeds of the Iberian Peninsula are autochthonous and have been domesticated in Europe itself. They are not connected with any Aryan arrival. Pottoka is the purest lineage of the Basque horses in northern Spain (Solis:677). Another study using the DNA technology found that at least one breed of horse was domesticated in Spain much before Indo-European linguistic arrival to the area (Achilli et al 2011:4 pdf).

Trashing older beliefs, the DNA study of Achilli et al noted that two of the horse lineages (i.e. F and pre-JK) were found exclusively in the Przewalskii, meaning thereby that the Przewalskii is not the wild ancestor of the Asian and European horses, otherwise these DNA lineages (F and pre-JK) would have been found in the caballus i.e. true horses too (ibid: 3). Achille thus concluded, “This finding also supports evidence from other studies that the Przewalskii’s horse is not the mtDNA source for the domestic horse” (ibid). Weinstock et al (2005) found by DNA analysis that the “true horse” is closely related with the American slit-legged horse and the Asian hemionus horses, and that is distant genetically from the Przewalskii horses.

Hence earlier clubbing of the Przewalskii horse with the caballus or “true horse” was unfortunate, and genetically speaking Przewalskii horses are not “true horses”. The Przewalskii has 66 chromosomes, where as the “true horses” have 64 chromosomes. They two are actually two species. On the other hand, all available evidence suggests that the Indian horse sivalensis was and its descendant modern Indian horses are “true horses” and have contributed genes to most of the domesticated caballus horse races of the modern world (vide infra).

Moreover evidence from Weinstock’s study (supra) makes it clear that the surviving Indian Wild Ass ghur (Equus hemionus of the Runn of Cutch) is genetically closer to the domesticated horses (caballus) than are the Przewalskii wild horse of Central Asia.

This, apart from Tibetan kulan, is the closest surviving wild relative of modern “true horse” in the Old World. Skeletons of extinct “true” horse viz. Equus namadicus (Falconer and Cautley 1849; Sonakiya and Biswas 1998) and Equus sivalensis (Falconer and Cautley 1849) have been recovered from India. This is consistent with the DNA studies which suggest that the modern Indian “true horses” are autochthonous to India, and the morphological studies which suggest that the Equus sivalensis was one of the ancestors of the “true horse”.

The Central Asia ranging from the north Black Sea to Mongolia was the original home of wild Przewalskii’s horse. Hence it may be safely inferred that the Central Asia or the Steppe-Region was not the place of early domestication of horse, otherwise the Przewalskii’s would have got domesticated, not the non-Przewalskii horses.

By DNA study of living horses, Vila et al (2002) and Jansen et al (2002) were able to demonstrate that the theory of a regional domestication of horse by Aryans was wrong and that the horses were domesticated at a large number of places from local wild horses throughout Eurasia. Tatjana (2008) found that by 6000 years before present or the Bronze Age both wild and domesticated horses had been widespread over Europe and Asia. It may be noted here that most of the populations of Eurasia were not agricultural societies then, even though technologically, the period may be within the age of farming. Most of the populations depended on hunting, and horse was essentially a hunting help. Assistence from dog and horse combine perfected the art of hunting, leading to more and more live captures of the prey, leading to birth of pastoralism.

DNA study of fossil and living wild and domesticated horses by Kavar (2005) showed that there had been many centres for recruitment of horses for domestication, thus contradicting any compulsory association of the horse domestication and Aryans. In effect, this trashes the Kurgan hypothesis too. By this time, there is a huge collection of such reports and reviewing them all is beyond the scope of this article.

Lindgren and colleagues (2004) found in their DNA study that although wild mares had been recruited from all over Eurasia, on the male side only one male had been recruited, from whose breed all the domesticated horses have descended. This male was not the Central Asian Przewalskii, because the latter had split from the modern horse lineage about 120,000 years back. Possibly this progenitor male was of Tarpan or related wild type. However, with the death of the last living wild horse of Eurasia the Tarpan, today we are not in a position to ascertain the location of the wild male progenitor of modern horses. Yet one thing is sure that this male horse had descended from a stallion line originating from a southern location, either the Iberian Peninsula or the South India after the end of glaciations.

DNA analysis shows that all modern “true horses” (i.e. excluding donkeys and zebras) have descended from a single gene pool of Pleistocene horses. There was a large scale extinction of horse lineages during the Last Glacial Maximum (20,000 to 16,000 years back). Horses survived the bad glacial period in the southern locations of Eurasia (Iberian Peninsula and India). West Asia and Iran were extremely arid cold deserts (James and Petraglia: S7), and were not habitable for horses during this period.

Indian horses have generally been excluded from the DNA studies of domestication of horse, thanks to the strong belief in the Aryan-Horse Invasion Theory. However some studies have only recently been conducted that show that the Indian horse breeds are autochthonous.

Behl et al (2007) studied DNA of five Indian caballus horse breeds viz. Marwari, Spiti, Bhutia, Manipuri and Zanskari vis-à-vis the European Thoroughbred horse. The result showed that the genetic distance varied as the geographical distance between the lineages. There is a geographical structuring of the horse breeds in India. This type of finding necessarily means that the breeds under question have evolved in their present location over a very long period of time, and also that they have not been imported from outside.

This finding means that these Indian horse breeds are indigenous of India living in their respective places for a very long period of time. A DNA study of the Spiti horses of the Himachal Pradesh showed that this domesticated breed of the “true horse” has been well in place in the region for a very long time, much before the assumed date of Aryan Invasion on India (Chauhan et al). This finding is consistent with other studies demonstrating that the Indian sivalensis horse gave birth to many horse lineages of India and abroad (vide infra).

Equus sivalensis of India

“Equus sivalensis of the Siwalik deposits of Northern India, is the oldest true horse known to science” (Ewart 1909:393). He again wrote, “Equus sivalensis is the oldest true horse known, it has more highly specialised teeth than the Oreston and Newstead ponies.” (Ewart 1911:366). This is not an isolated view. This has been the considered opinion of the equinologists of the last two centuries, before Wheeler gave the horse-invasion theory in 1930.

J.A. Thompson (1922:1109) wrote “One of these, which flourished during Pliocene times, was a slender-limbed species, standing about 15 hands high, and having a broad forehead and tapering face, and certain peculiarities of the molar teeth. This type is represented by the Siwalik horse (Equus sivalensis). The Arab may be a descendant of this stock.”

In 1916, the New York Academy of Science noted (Annals:310), “A possible contributory to the desert breed of the Pleistocene and of the modern domesticated horses is the animal of the E. sivalensis type of the Upper Pliocene in the Siwaliks of India. This animal is tall, with long, fairly slender limbs, long neck, well elevated tail, long face, which is strongly deflected on the cranium with a slightly convex profile and broad brow, and teeth with a narrow protocone.”

Ewart (1909:392) noted, “Of the possible ancestors of the domestic breeds, the following may be mentioned:– Equus sivalensis, E. stenonis, E. gracilis (Owen’s Asinus fossilis), E. namadicus, E. fossilis and E. robustus.” … (p. 393) “It used to be said that E. sivalensis could not be regarded as an ancestor of domestic horses because of the shortness of the anterior pillar of the cheek teeth. I find, however, that in some modern horses, the anterior pillars are decidedly shorter than in E. sivalensis, and that in some of the short-pillared domestic horses the face is nearly as strongly deflected on the cranium as in E. sivalensis. There is hence no longer any reason for assuming that this ancient Indian species had no share in the making of domestic breeds. But in the absence of a large and representative collection of skulls of domestic horses, it is impossible to say which modern breeds are most indebted to the large-headed, long- limbed race, which in Pliocene times frequented the area to the east of the Jhelum River, now occupied by the Siwalik Hills. Mr. Lydekker thinks E. sivalensis or some closely allied race ” may have been the ancestral stock from which Barbs, Arabs and Thoroughbreds are derived.””

“Equus sivalensis of India was a tall, broad-browed horse characterized by a long tapering deflected face and an inter-orbital prominence, a long neck, high withers and a high-set-on tail.” (United States Bureau Report: 174). The US Bureau report suggested that like the Arab and the Indian horses, which descended from the sivalensis, the latter too may have been a fleet race characterized by an indomitable disposition (ibid:174). The Report noted the features of the Indian Siwalik horse in the following words: “light as well as heavy horses characterized by long pointed ears and a prominence between the eyes, by a long deflected face, high withers (shoulder ridge), and a high-set-on tail include horses of the Siwalik type as their ancestor” (174). This is the description of a classical horse. Most of the high quality horses would fit in this description.
These findings go well with the earlier findings that many of the caballus horses of Europe have descended from Equus stenonis, which was a close relative of Equus sivalensis (Ewart), and that most of the caballus horses of Asia have descended from the Indian horse sivalensis. These two were different from the Central Asian Przewalskii horse. Ponies too of both Asia and Europe are caballus in status, and are most closely related to the sivalensis and stenonis. Indian horse breeds of today like Marwari, Manipuri, Spiti and Bhutia exhibit features of sivalensis and have most likely been domesticated from it.

There is evidence that the sivalensis horses were taken along with the Neolithic migrations from India to the Southeast Asia and the Philippines. Paterno (1981:396) noted, “This contention is based on some isolated preservation of E. sivalensis traits. However, rather fully-sivalensis types have been described from Neolithic strata (8000-4000 BCE) at Lemery, Batangas in the Philippines together with dog remains.” Alba (1994) too notes that the E. sivalensis features are still found in the horses of the so-called “Sulu Horse” and its relatives in Borneo, Sumatra and Malacca. This description implies domestication of sivalensis horse in India before 8000 BCE (10,000 BP).

Ewart (1911) presented a good discussion on the Indian Equus sivalensis and found that this particular wild horse has made a large contribution to modern “true horse” or caballus population of the world. The Thoroughbred breed which is used worldwide today for racing, hunting, polo etc is descended from Equus sivalensis (Ewart:369).

Certain breeds of modern British racehorses have descended from Newstead horse which was a connecting link between the modern British horse breeds and the Indian sivalensis (ibid:370). The Barb breed of North African coast and also the so called Arab breed of horse in fact are descendants of the Equus sivalensis (ibid:369). Lydekker, another specialist of equine breeds too opined that the horses of Arabia, North African coast and the Thoroughbred breed have descended from the Indian Equus sivalensis. (quoted in ibid:369; also Lydekker:19-21). Lydekker, and also Ray Lankester, found that the “blood-horse” too was of Indian origin. (quoted in The Origin and Influence of Thoroughbred Horse, CUP Archives.). This is logical. The term blood-horse is a short form for “warm-blooded horse”.

Manansala (p. 396) notes, “In other words, Lydekker now realizes that all the modern breeds are not characterized by long-pillared molars, and says that there is a probability that Barbs, Arabs and Thoroughbreds are descended from Equus sivalensis”. He further adds, “However, rather fully sivalensis types have been described from Neolithic strata (8000-4000 BCE) at Lemery, Batangas in the Philippines together with dog remains.” (ibid).

In spite of the widely held belief that Equus sivalensis went extinct about 10,000 years back, we have evidence of their existence in the true horse population of India. US Bureau on Animal Industry Fifth Report noted that “Throughbreds built on the lines of Stockwell and Persimmons are probably more intimately related to Equus sivalensis than to Prof Ridgeway’s ‘fine bay horse’ (Equus caballus libycus) of North Africa.” (page 174). In fact, the Central Asian ancient wild horse was like Indian sivalensis horse (ibid:168), and the skeletal features of the latter have been retained in many modern breeds of horse of Europe (ibid: plate IX, Fig.3, opp. p. 168). Ewart noted in the report that there were four types of domesticated horses in the world, the “steppe”, “forest”, “plateau” and “siwalik” types. (p. 163)

It is not possible to discuss the whole report of the US Bureau here. The concluding remark noted, “But notwithstanding the absence of well preserved skulls it has been possible by making use of the new methods to obtain a considerable amount of evidence that the domestic horses had a multiple origin, that they include amongst their ancestors not only varieties allied to the wild horse which still survives in Mongolia, and varieties adapted for a forest life, but also varieties specialized for ranging over boundless deserts and plateaus, and for living amongst foothills and upland valleys.” (page 165)

On the other hand, many authors hold that these breeds (Arab, Thoroughbreds, Blood-horse etc) have not fully descended from the sivalensis, but yet have got a significant contribution from sivalensis horse of Pleistocene India. This sensible research in modern horse evolution came to an abrupt end probably as a consequence of the World Wars, which diverted scholarly attention to more acute issues, and following the Wars, infused an element of Nazism in the scholars.

By the time the World War II ended, people had forgotten the sivalensis horse, and much more spirited Eurocentric minds relied more on conjectures supporting the White pride, rather than the facts unearthed by generations of horse specialist zoologists and paleontologists.

Thus the evidence says that the presumed to be extinct Indian wild horse Equus sivalensis was in fact domesticated, and has contributed significantly to the numbers of modern domesticated caballus horses, particularly those living in India today.

The Central Asians and the Horse

Another myth of history is the assumption that the Central Asian steppe people must have been the first domesticators of the horse. A recent archaeological research by Frachetti and Benecke (2009) showed that the Central Asians were quite late to keep horse. They did not have domesticated horses even after they had adopted the pastoral practices. It was only after 50 AD that the Central Asians took interest in keeping horse. “Thus the data from Begash draw into question the still common view that Eurasian pastoralism diffused eastward as a result of mounted horsemen in the Bronze Age” they write.

More importantly, they found that association with horse was related to increased adoption of “hunting” mode of subsistence: “At Begash, there is a correlation between a slow increase in horses and evidence for increased ranges of hunting.”… “Significantly, faunal data from Begash contradict the notion that the emergence of Eurasian pastoralism was sparked by the rapid domestication and riding of the horse.” (p.1025).

At Begash, the layers with increased pastoral activity had more of sheep, goat and cattle bones, and very few horse bones (Fig. 2 on p. 1029). Thus horse riding was probably invented by the hunter societies, as has been depicted in the Bhimbetka rock paintings.

This is the reason why we get more importance of horse in the Vedic literature, but the importance of cattle increases as Vedic society moved towards greater pastoralism and agriculture. Hence Kazanas (2009) is correct in his assessment that the Indus Valley civilization, a largely farming society with much less emphasis on horse, was a post-Rig-vedic society. By this evidence we may say that the earliest portion of the Rig-Veda is a transformation zone from hunting to pastoral society, which we call Mesolithic in archaeological terminology. Outram et al (2009) found at Botai (Kazakhstan) that horse was domesticated there for meat and mare’s milk, although it may have been ridden also.

In all event, there is no archaeological evidence of movement of humans or horse from the Central Asia to Iran or India. The BMAC (Bactria-Margiana-Archaeological Complex, 4300-3700 BP) is the southern Central Asian cultural complex. It has been found that there was no horse in the BMAC (Witzel 2003:7 of 12, pdf). No horse related furniture has been found. This clearly rules out any migration of horse or horse riding Aryans from this route to Iran or India. Clearly Indian antiquity of horse is older than that of the Central Asia. That means horse was domesticated in India and Ukrainian steppe independently of each other.

Moreover, Hiebert (1998:153) noted, “no steppe nomadic complex has been found on the Iranian plateau, not even evidence of indirect contact or interaction… The only evidence for interaction … comes from the Central Asia desert oasis cultures.” Thus any migration of man or horse from steppe to Indo-Iran is ruled out by archaeology.

The Linguistics of Horse

Harmatta showed that many languages borrowed Indo-Aryan words for ‘horse’. The North-Western Caucasian languages Udi (4000 BC) had ek, Circassian and Kabardian šv, and Abkhaz a-čv. Similarly Southeast Caucasian too had such words meaning horse from the Indo-Aryan: Lak ču; Khinalug spa ass; Chechen gaur, Ingush gour horse (c.f. Persian gor wild ass, RV gaura wild cow, Hindi ghor horse; quoted in Mishra:222).

On the other hand the PIE root for horse akwa- is absent from Hittite (Kazanas 2009:174), implying that Anatolia was not the place of origin of the Indo-European languages, because the IE languages are so strongly identified with the word akwa. In the Celtic again, there is confusion: ech and Epona, implying borrowing from other branches (vide infra). In the Germanic group too, eoh (the cognate of akwa-) was there earlier, but seems to have been lost and retained only in a few personal names, or compound words today. In the Slavic, akwa- is not in use (vide supra). Thus Indian and Iranian are the only two branches of Indo-European, where this root is firmly present.

There are two sets of cognates one each for southern and northern route languages, both being present in India:

1. Southern Route Cognates of aśva (meaning horse): *ekwo- (PIE); Sanskrit ashva; Avestan aspa; Latin equus; Greek hippos; O. Irish ech; Tocharian A yuk, Toch. B yakwe. We do not know whether Tibetan yak is a loan from Tocharian. Welsh ebol means “any young animal”.

Although Greek hippos has been derived by citing examples of “k” to “p” mutation. Such a view is no better than the folk-etymology. A more logical explanation would be :

Sanskrit aśva > Avestan aspa, and also Persian aqva; Avestan aspa > hippos, epona etc. From Persian aqva > Latin equus. Such a derivation needs a serious consideration.

2. Old English eoh; Gothic aihwa- (in compound word aihwatundi, a herb); OCS ehu-; all meaning “horse”. Also of note is English “ass” (donkey). Although cognates of Sanskrit aśva have been noted in the Germanic languages, they occur as vestigial words of folk-memory, as compound words in which the meaning “horse” is not often explicit, but has been made out by us as a product of semantic analysis of the words. For example: aihwa- (Goeth.) occurs only as the compound word aihwa-tundi (bramble, prickly bush). Similarly Old Saxon ehu- is found only as a compound word in ehu-scalc stable-keeper (Lehmann:15). In many languages the meaning has changed.

3. Northern Route Cognates of Horse: *kurs- (PIE, to run), *hursa- (P. Gmc.), hross (O. Norse), hors- (O. Fris.), ors (M. Du), hros (OHG), khura, kharu (Sk. horse), hreS- (Sk. neighing of a horse), hari (Sk. horse), haryaśva (Sk. a bay horse of reddish-brown colour, c.f. E. “horse”, MHG hross, Ger. ross etc), harya (Sk. horse). khara (Sk. donkey). In Sanskrit other words are: harSa “erection of male sex organ”, hrasva. Also important are Sanskrit sartR, sthaura and sthurin and English “stallion”.

In the Celtic branch, Old Irish had ech from akwa-. Gaul epo- (horse) also does not occur independently, but as a first part of compound word “eporedorix” (horse of the redo=ratha=chariot of the rix= king), and in the name of goddess Epona. In fact Greek hippos may be a word borrowed from Gaul/Proto-Celtic elements existing in Greece before the second wave of Indo-European arrival in the area. That leads us to suggest that there were actually three waves of Indo-European entry into Europe. And we are aware that actually three waves of DNA lineages entered Europe at different times: a) R1b/R1b1b, b) R1a1a, and c) J2b.

Lehmann remarks that “phonological difficulties may point to borrowing introduced when the horse became known to the Indo-Europeans through an unidentified steppe people.” (ibid). However this conclusion has to be read in conjunction with the recent DNA studies of human migration. Probably, the first wave of Indo-European speakers reached Central and South Europe as R1b1b, and north Europe from India as R1a1a Y chromosomal haplogroup. At that time they had not carried horse (and cow). Hence the word for “horse” was lost from the Germanic and Balto-Slavic language. The words for horse were re-borrowed into the north European languages later from arrivals from South Europe, who had domesticated local horse after subsequent waves of Indo-European arrivals from South Asia and Iran (as J2b).

Upper Pliestocene Horse Shivalik Type (Fig 55 on page 364 of Ewart 1911)


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