Some Domestic Animals of the Indo-European Homeland and their dispersal
The much acclaimed hypothesis of the Indo-European origin in the steppe and language change of north India by a small number of migrating steppe pastorals has not been examined objectively so far. The modern language (Slavic) of the steppe region has lost either the word itself or its meaning for the most of the domestic animals, associated with farming, of the Proto-Indo-European homeland. Similar is the case of Anatolian Hittite language. DNA studies as well as archaeology rule out domestication or even early presence of most of the domestic farming related animals in the steppe. On the other hand India has earliest presence of such animals, as proved by archaeology and DNA studies, and also the Indo-Aryan language has retained with meanings the words for such animals. A re-examination of archaeological evidence rules out early domestication of horse and the chariot in the steppe, where horse was mainly captured for food. Review of older findings suggests an indigenous domestication of the horse, and the oldest presence of the two-wheel chariot in India. The archaeological evidence rearranged, suggests that during the Chalcolithic period, possibly Indo-Aryans from Indus went out to create the enclaves of Indo-Aryan language and culture in the BMAC, Sintashta and Anatolia (Mittani).
The modified dominating hypothesis for the Indo-European homeland is that the Indo-European languages originated in the Ukrainian steppe (from north of the Black Sea to the south Ural region) at about 4,000 BCE, in a population of pastorals, and thereafter the IE linguistic dispersal took place, with the help of horse and chariot, colonizing and linguistically converting the subjugated nations. Its southward migration to Iran and India started at 2000 BCE and reached northwest India after 1500 BCE (Thapar 2006:192-193).
The main contradiction to the theory comes from the Language-Farming migration theory, which emphasizes the essential role of farming played in the language conversion (Bellwood 2002). It is a known fact that the invaded nations in the AIT hypothesis (viz Central Europe, North India and Anatolia) had been farmers since much before the proposed date of migrations out of the steppe. In Ukraine the people subsisted on foraging and hunting until early fourth millennium BCE when the first primitive farming is seen at the Bug-Dniester, Tripolye etc sites (Tringham 1971:168, quoted in Barker 1985:102). However, the rudimentary farming failed soon and the steppe people adopted pastoralism by the third millennium which lasted till recent times (Barker: 106). Thus the steppe fails the most essential requirement for the homeland—farming—which has been considered essential for generating the necessary population to drive any elite/dominating language-converting migration (Bellwood and Oxenham 2008).
Bellwood and Oxenhan write, “Language shift on a continental scale, equivalent to the distribution of a major language family, through political or social domination has been a very rare event in history, indeed has never really occurred at all. Most ancient and medieval languages that were associated with conquest, but not large-scale population migration and colonization, did not spread far as long-term language-replacing vernaculars beyond their home regions (Ostler 2005). …Bulk shifting to elite languages is not the answer; they rarely established themselves as the vernaculars of whole populations through shift, except on single-nation scales (e.g., Turkish in Anatolia, Hungarian).” This effectively rules out the possibility of language change in India during the last 10,000 years. In fact the migrations which took place during the period from 4,000 BCE till 1,000 BCE, our period of study in this article, did not produce any language change anywhere except in some small tracts of land.
The other school of Indo-European origin hypothesis, the Anatolia hypothesis, now trying to occupy the centre-stage, emphasizes that the Proto-Indo-European speakers were farmers as attested from the plenty of common farming related words in the various Indo-European languages (Comrie 2002), while the steppe people were pastoralists. In this view the IE home was in Anatolia, and the dispersal took place about 8,000 BCE (Renfrew 1990; Bellwood 2002, 2005, 2008; Gray and Atkinson 2003; Bouckaert 2012).
The work of the whole school is highly undependable. For example Dunn, Gray etc (2011) had found by the same type of computer analysis that the Indo-Iranian is the youngest of all branches of the IE family (Dunn et al:80, Fig.1). However, Bouckaert et al (2012) found that the Indo-Iranian is older than the European branches, and only Armenian, Tocharian, Lycian, Luvian and Hittite are older than the Indo-Iranian (p.959, Fig.2). This clearly indicates problem with either their materials or the methods.
Bouckaert’s study is bad in design because the meanings (words) which were listed for the various languages for the comparative study did not include any farming related “meaning” like horse, cow, bull, goat, lamb, sheep, pig, chariot, wheel, mouse, cook, grind, mill and similar Neolithic associated meanings, which are most relevant to the study of the farming related Indo-European migrations (which the article claims to have achieved). The study was biased too, because it considered only two options or possibilities for the homeland—Anatolia and the steppe (p.959). The result is marred by the use of the wrong data for the Indian languages.
The Vedic word (paśu, from PIE pek, cattle; Pokorny:797) for the meaning “animal” has been given a low rating (single star), while more obscure words from the many European languages have been given high ratings (up to three stars). Often, words have been chosen from the Vedic in such a way that these would be scored “not cognate” in the computerized analysis. One simple example of such manipulation is the meaning “warm”: for Vedic Sanskrit they have listed uṣṇa, instead of the Vedic word gharma- (cognate to PIE *ghwer-) reducing one mark to the Vedic. Such manipulation of data completely erodes the credibility of this study. Even after doing them, the Vedic stands older (2,900 BCE) than the European languages in the study.
Anatolia does not survive the scrutiny of evidence from genetics, philology and archaeology all taken together. Most importantly, the west Asia did not have horse until 2000 BCE, although there was the domestic donkey in Levant at about 4,000 BCE (Sherrat 1983, quoted in Barker 1985:33) and domestic onegar at Ur at about 3,000-2,600 BCE (Renfrew 1990:201). Anatolian did not have IE cognate words for horse (Kazanas 2009: 174), ox, cow, pig, goat and sheep (vide infra).
Kazanas proposed India on the basis of linguistics, mythology, surviving literature and the beliefs of the different Indo-European speakers (Kazanas 2009). Earlier on, many other authorities had proposed India as the homeland on specific grounds e.g. Voltaire, Kant (both quoted in Goodrick-Clarke:29), Herder, Trombetti, Schlegel etc among the past authors, and Elst (1993 and 1999) and Telagiri among the contemporary ones.
The Indo-European people had farming before migration (Comrie 2002). They also had words for the animals living in the homeland, which included cow, goat, sheep, pig, mouse and horse. Thus it has been surmised that the Proto-Indo-Europeans (of the steppe) could not have started their first outward journey before they had received or locally domesticated the cow, goat, sheep, pig, mouse etc. from outside.
If the steppe were the homeland, the words (for the domestic animals) should have survived in today’s languages of the steppe, which belong to the Slavic branch. This approach is well accepted and has been rigorously applied to the Indian case. In addition, if the PIE had word for a domestic animal that animal should be demonstrably present in the domestic form in the steppe at 4,000 BCE (archaeological and/or DNA evidence needed). To Anatolia, the same rule would apply with the difference that they should be present in Anatolia at 8,500 BCE, the claimed date of origin of the Aryan languages there. Here, we will mainly consider the case of the steppe vis-à-vis India.
Fig. 1. The Pontic-Caspian Steppe: The claimed homeland of the Aryans. Source: Anthony, D. and Brown, R., Harnessing Horsepower, web article.
1. The Pig
Earlier DNA studies of the wild and the domesticated pigs have shown that the domestication of the wild boar took place at several places in Eurasia, out of which India and Southeast Asia were the earliest (Larson 2005). Mitochondrial DNAs of the wild and domestic swine from Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam were studied under a high resolution technology (Tanaka 2008). The results showed that only the South Asian (Bhutanese) samples had local domestication of the pigs. All other areas had imported pig populations, implying that South Asia was the only place where the domestication of the local wild boar had taken place.
The concept of the domestication of the wild boar reached Europe after arrival of the first domesticated pig to Europe through the West Asian route. After this event, the pig soon reached the Paris basin by the fourth millennium BCE (DNA study, Larson 2007). The earlier swine bones recovered from the Bug-Dneister culture (6,500-5,000 BCE) were all wild, although Zvelebil claims that a few may have been “imported domesticated” animals (Zvelebil and Lillie:74). Zvelebil (1991) found that the East European regions like Ukraine had late farming, and that too was imported from the Central European LBK culture. Dniepr-Donetsian culture (5000-3000 BCE) of Ukraine does not show evidence of pig, goat, sheep or cattle (Shaw and Jameson 2008:203). In fact even in the Central European LBK culture (5400-4500 BCE) too pigs were rare (Milisauskas and Kruk 1989, quoted by Thorpe:29). On these accounts, it is extremely difficult to accept that the steppe had domestic pigs at 4,000 BCE.
In spite of the archaeological findings of the stray presence of the pig just outside the fringes of the steppe during the later Neolithic period, the DNA evidence confirms that the North Pontic-Caspian steppe has not contributed to the domestic pig population at all (Larson 2005, see figure below). Hence it could not have been the homeland of the Indo-Europeans too.
Figure 1: Source Larson 2005. The areas where the native wild boars and the domesticated pigs coexist. It is clear from the map that no pig was domesticated in the steppe.
That means the Indo-Europeans also did not evolve at the steppe. This we can say because the philological evidence strongly says that the homeland had the domestic pig before dispersal. Seven branches of the Indo-European have cognates for the swine (PIE sūs “swine”, Pokorny:1038-1039). However, the large number of these has lost the meaning ‘swine’ and cognates have acquired semantically related different meanings (e.g. porcupine, ploughshare, dirt or “to sow” etc.):
Sanskrit sūkara (pig); Av. hu (pig, from *huvō), Persian sukar (hedgehog, porcupine), M.Pers. xūk (swine), Pahlavi xūg (swine), xūkar (hedgehog); Greek us, uos (boar), ὕaina (hyena, wildcat), sufos (dirty place); O.H.G and O.E. sū (to sow); Toch. В suwo (swine); Proto-Celt. *sukko- (ploughshare, swine) reconstructed from O. Irish name Socc (swine), Gaul. *su-tegis (dirty place), Welsh swch (ploughshare); Ltv. suvẽns, sivẽns, O.Pruss. seweynis (dirty place), Ltv. svīns (smudges); Old Church Slavic svinъ ds. (dirt, smudges; Pokorny:1038-1039).
In Iranian, the alternative meanings like hedgehog and porcupine appears. In Greek alternative meanings “hyena” and “wildcat” appear. There is a tendency of loss of the meaning “pig” in the Celtic and Germanic, and the words acquire meanings relating to “digging”, “sowing” etc, which have semantic association with the behaviour of the wild boar. The Baltic and Slavic branches have completely lost the meaning “swine”, and have retained the meaning “dirty place”. This signifies absence of the pig from the ancient steppe.
The wild sheep Ovis orientalis is the source of the domestic sheep. The wild sheep is widely found in the Northwest India (Lydekker 1898:169-171; Schaller 1977; Schaller and Mirza 1974; Edge and Oslon-Edge 1987; Frisina 2001; IUCN Report 2008). However, this fact has been overlooked by all the workers in the field of the animal DNA studies. The distribution of the Ovis orientalis is from India to the Balkans and India harbours four out of the total eight sub-species viz. O. o. bocharensis (Pamir and Laddakh), O. o. cycloceros (North-West Frontier Province, Indus valley, Baluchistan, Sind), O. o. vignei (Laddakh, Indus Valley, Kunarl, Chitral and Gigit River Valleys) and O. o. punjabiensis (Indus and Jhelum rivers to the Himalayan foothills).
The very presence of the largest number of subspecies is enough evidence for considering northwest India as the home of the sheep. This along with the oldest archaeological catch of the domesticate sheep bones from the Indian subcontinent dating back to 14,000 BCE constitutes solid evidence in favour of the first sheep domestication in India. So far the DNA researchers have not included the Indian wild sheep samples in their studies, and have also feigned ignorance of the findings (of sheep) of the archaeologists like Zeder, Possehl, Meadow, Jarige, Allchin, G.R. Sharma, Rakesh Tewari etc.
Meadows et al (2007:1372) found five DNA lineages of the domestic sheep worldwide, none of which had been domesticated in the steppe or Europe. Only two lineages A and B are present in the steppe today and they show very “recent” expansion time (i.e. arrival) in the region (Tapio 2006:1781) . Thus the steppe did not have the domestic sheep at 4,000 BCE, the putative date of Aryan dispersal, or even till much later.
Europe does not have the wild sheep and the seemingly wild ones are actually feral (Meadows 2011:706). Hence domestication of the sheep was not possible there. Central Asia’s wild sheep (Ovis vigne or urial, and Ovis ammon or argali) were found not to have given birth to any domestic sheep of the world (Meadows 2011:702-3; Hiendleder 2002, 1998).
Another DNA study by Sun (2010) showed that the Central Asian domestic sheep consisted of two DNA populations–the sheep of India-Southeast Asia and the sheep of Mongolia-Tibet ancestry. No domestic sheep of Central Asia showed arrival from Europe, West Asia or the steppe, or even evolution from the local Central Asian wild sheep population. The sheep of India-Southeast Asia ancestry must have entered the Central Asia from India and not through Tibet otherwise they too must have been noted in the Tibetan gene pool. Thus the DNA evidence strongly favours entry of the domestic sheep into Central Asia from India. Our proposed time for this event is during the Indus Valley Civilization (vide infra).
Wild sheep/goat were hunted since long in the steppe (6,500 BCE, Dolukhanov 2005:1450) and Central Asia (e.g. 8,000 BCE, Dani and Masson 1999:115), yet no steppe or Central Asian wild sheep was ever domesticated (DNA evidence). In the Indian subcontinent, the sheep had already been domesticated from the local wild stock before Mehrgarh (8,000 BCE; Meadow, quoted by Possehl 2002:27). Meadow (1996:403) also provided evidence for goat domestication at the same layer. Many adult goats were already small in size at the oldest layer of Mehrgarh (period IA, 8,000 BCE; Shaffer:131). Horse cave of Aq Kupruk had the possibly domestic sheep at 10,000 BCE (Possehl:24).
Sheep bones have been found from the 14,000 BCE Hindu Kush Valley (Aq Kupruk) where the continuing presence of quantities of sheep bones into the Neolithic period has been surmised by the Allchins to be the evidence of some form of “exploitation” of the animal ultimately leading to the domestication before 8,000 BCE (Allchin and Allchin 1982:97; Perkins 1972). By the word “exploitation” we can understand animal-herding and animal husbandry.
The domestic goat and sheep bones were found from 10,000 BCE old Aq Kupruk site (Possehl:24), Mahagara (10,000 to 8,000 BCE), Chopani Mando (older than 17,800 BCE in Upper Palaeolithic) etc in Central India (G.R. Sharma:370). With time the supporters of West Asian origin of the domestic sheep and goat have changed their views. Zeder, who had proposed the goat domestication in the Zagros (2000), had to finally accept that the domestic goat of India (“East Pakistan” in his article) was indigenous (2006:148).
It may be noted that for the Indian recoveries of sheep and goat, much more stringent criteria for domestication have been applied e.g. shortening of the body-size, shortening of horn etc. Bias in studies become obvious when we note that such criteria have not been applied to the goat bones recovered from the West Asia (8,000 BCE, Zeder 2005, 2006), Europe or the steppe.
The sheep and goat bones which are otherwise perfectly domesticated yet the shortening of bones is only slight compared to the wild ones, or their numbers does not exceed 50% of the bones recovered, have been dubbed non-domesticated, or “animal herding” or “animal husbandry” in India (Fuller 2006:26). Contrasting this, the sheep/goat bones looking exactly the same as wild have been considered domesticated in West Asia (Zeder 2005, 2000). If we remove such double standards of treatment, the date of Indian domestication of sheep and goat will go back to at least 6,000 years earlier than the West Asian date.
Zeder accepts the problem with the Fertile Crescent samples, and even challenges the various criteria for domestication. She writes: “Thus neither modern male nor female domestic goats in the Zagros sample are distinguishable from the wild goats on the basis of the breadth and depth measurements. Nor can female domesticates be distinguished from wild females on the basis of length measurements” (Zeder 2005:128).
In fact even the oldest of the sheep/goat bones at Mehrgarh show signs of domestication. On the basis of such evidence, Possehl asserted that they must have been brought from some other (older) centre of domestication from within India (Possehl:29). Arrival of the domesticated goat from West Asia to Mehrgarh was ruled out by archaeological evidence (Meadow quoted in Possehl:26-27).
In the West Asian Neolithic domesticated sheep, goat, cattle etc. appear as readymade, not as locally domesticated under the due process of domestication. This was considered as evidence for arrival of the Neolithic and farming culture from India to the West Asia (Kivisild 2005).
DNA studies can provide precise data for determination of the date of domestication of animal and plant species. By such data, India comes to be the oldest place of domestication. 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). [italicised emphasis added]. This datum in fact suggests India and China to be not the “possible centres”, but actually the earliest centres.
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 sheep) domestication—something which the scholars have dared not pronounce so far.
The IE words for sheep are PIE moiso-s or maiso-s (sheep, Pokorny: 747), with cognates in five branches of IE. viz. Indian, Iranian, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic. Only Indian and Iranian branches have retained the meaning “sheep”. Others mean leatherwork, bag etc:
Sanskrit mēṣa (sheep); Av. maēša- (sheep); O. Ice. meiss (basket), O.H.G. meis(s)a (baggage), M.L.G. mēse (barrel); O.Bulg. měchъ (hose), Russ. měch (fell, fur, hose, sack, bag etc.); Lith. máišas, máiše (haying), Ltv. máiss, máikss (sack, bag), O.Pruss. moasis (bellows). Some related words/cognates are: Indo-Aryan mes (CDIAL 10343, skin-bag), Sanskrit maisiya (ovine, skin-bag); Russian mekh (skin) etc. This refutes Witzel’s (1999) claim that the Sanskrit meṣa is a loanword or substratal word from Burushaski (meṣ bag).
Sanskrit meṇḍha, medhra, (sheep; CDIAL 10310); PIE *mend, mond, mṇd (to suckle, Pokprny: 729); Illyr name Menda (mare), Mandeta, Mandos (small horse), mandius (cattle); M. Ir. *mendo-, mennán, bennán (young animal), Brit. name Mandu-; O.H.G. manzon (udder). Thus Witzel’s and also Turner’s allegation that the word mendha is a loan from Austro-Asiatic is baseless.
Another word for sheep is “ewe” (English, sheep). Cognates: PIE *óu̯i-s (sheep, Pokorny:784); Sanskrit avi; Greek oia and ois; O.H.G. ouwi, O.S. evi; Latin ovis; Welsh ewig; Lithuanian avis; O. Bulgarian ovь-ca, ovь-nъ (sheep); Arm. hov-iw (shepherd) etc. This word too is absent from the Slavic branch except the East European Bulgarian which is not a steppe nation. The cognates are also absent from Albanian, Hittite and Tocharian. Loss of the word or the meaning from the languages of the steppe implies absence of domestic sheep when the first founder wave of the Indo-European reached the steppe.
Horse too had been domesticated at the homeland before the Indo-European dispersal took place (linguistic evidence). The cognate words for ek(w)a (PIE horse) or aśva (Sk. horse) are absent from the Hittite language of ancient Anatolia (Kazanas 2009:174). This can be taken as a proof of Anatolia not being the homeland of the Indo-Europeans. The first wave of the Indo-Europeans arrived at Anatolia from the east, probably before the domestication of horse (the earliest of the several waves of the IE immigration), and that is why we do not get any cognate word for ek(w)a (horse) in the Anatolia region.
Philology of horse:
Most of the European IE languages are poor in cognate words of ek(w)a. They show loss of the word or the meaning, and the retention of only a remote semantic connection with the horse. In the Germanic branch, apart from the Old English eoh (horse), the Gothic aihwa- occurs only as the compound word aihwatundi (the herb bramble, prickly bush) and the Old Saxon ehu- is found only as a compound word in ehu-scalc stable-keeper (Lehmann:15). The Gaul epo- (horse) also does not occur independently, but as the first part of the compound word “eporedorix” (horse-(of)-the chariot-(of)-the king) and in the name of the goddess Epona. Greek hippos is another puzzle. The Baltic languages have: Old Prussian ašva, ešva (mare), aswinan (army, mare’s milk), O. Lith. ašvíenis (stallion) and Lithuanian family-name Ašvine and Ašva. In the steppe languages, the Old Church Slavic ehu- may be a borrowing from the Germanic (OS ehu-), and in reality no cognate of ek(w)a exists in the Slavic.
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 we do not find any phonological difficulty happening to the Indian and Iranian languages. We can say that the domestic horse was lost from the lives of the Indo-Europeans on arriving to Anatolian, the Balkans and the Central Europe, and regained later.
This is obvious from the discussion that the steppe people had another language in place when the Indo-European arrived there. Hence the Slavic borrowed the word for the horse (konj) from the substratum, which is not found in any other branch of IE, except a stray -konj in a compound word meaning foot-wear in Albanian. Yet konj has been claimed (by Pokorny) to be of PIE origin, and the reconstructed PIE is *kab-n-io- with the cognates: Ukrainian kin’, Old Church Slavonic kon”ь, Russian kon”, Czech ku̥ň, koně, Slovak kôň, koňa, Polish koń, Serbo-Croatian kòńj, Slovene kònj, all meaning “horse” (Pokorny:301-302).
Pokorny has claimed that the Italic words (Italian cavallo, Spanish caballo etc) are cognates of the Slavic konj. However, these (cavallo, caballo) and the Irish capall, and the Estonian hobu (all meaning horse) may be related to the Sanskrit word kapila (brown-red animal; ant, horse, ape), and needs a re-examination. In a nutshell we can say that the Slavic languages do not show evidence of early contact with the domestic horse.
Archaeology of the caballus horse:
We get caballus horse fossils from the following places in India: Imamgaon (18,000 BCE, Badam:413) ; Aq Kupruk from human contexts (14,000 to 6,000 BCE, Meadow 1989:25-26); Bolan and Son river valleys (18,000 BCE, G.R. Sharma:110 ff.; Kazanas 2009:33-34); domestic caballus horse from Bolan and Son valleys (6,500 and 4,500 BCE, G.R. Sharma:110ff); Mahagara (5,000 BCE, R.S. Sharma:17); Bagor (4,500 BCE, R.S Sharma:16); Indus Valley Civilization (Bokonyi 2005; Lal 2005; Gupta 2005:186-191) etc.
The number of horse bones decrease in India as the hunting practice diminishes, the use of ox increases, and the farming becomes the principal mode of survival. A directly proportional relationship of hunting practice and keeping of horse has been found in the archaeological remains at Begash (Frachetti and Benecke 2009:1025).
India was never devoid of the caballus horse. Its caballus horse type was sivalensis which was a “forest-type” horse. Although no DNA comparison of the Indian and European horses has ever been made, the well considered view is that the sivalensis is the ancestor of the European thoroughbred horse (J.C. Ewart 1911:364), some Kirghiz (ibid), the Barbs (ibid), the Arabic (ibid:369 and Lydekker 1907:19-21), the blood-horse (statement of Lydekker, and also of Ray Lankester quoted in Ridgeway 1905:470; also see Ewart 1909:393-394).
Not only this, there is evidence that the domestic Indian horse (sivalensis) was transported to the Southeast Asia too at about 8,000 BCE. 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.” In the Philippines only the domestic, and not the wild horse could have been brought by man. 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 evidence points to the arrival of the Indian domestic horse between 8,000 BCE and 4,000 BCE, much earlier than the arrival/local domestication of the domestic horse in the steppe.
This all evidence enables us to say that the horse was domesticated in India before 8,000 BCE. The domestic horse skeletons from Mahagara, Bolon and Son Valleys and Bagor fit well in this timeframe. From this, we can also explain how this horse reached the BMAC and the Andronove cultures from the south and then finally the steppe by about 2,000 BCE. The steppe horse (Przewalski) was never domesticated.
In the central Asia and the steppe, the Przewalski horse lived, which could only be hunted for food. Those which might have been captured and then herded too must have been served to the plates sooner or later (Levine, quoted in Anthony 2009:205; Anthony 2005:252). Levine in her detailed study of the horse bones from Botai (3700-3000 BCE) and Dereivka (4200-3700 BCE) concluded that none of the horse in these two places had been domesticated (see in Anthony 2009:205). The horse at Dereivka and Botai had been captured as the cheap source of meat for the lean winters (Anthony 2005:253). However Outram (2009) found at Botai evidence of mare’s milk in the pottery. Evidence of riding was not conclusive, yet it was found that this was a different breed of horse: “Metrical analysis of horse metacarpals shows that Botai horses resemble Bronze Age domestic horses rather than Paleolithic wild horses from the same region.” Probably this finding means importation of domestic horse from either Europe or South Asia, although no such comparison has been made so far. We are aware (from DNA study) that the steppe-horse was not domesticated.
Sir William Ridgeway was wise enough to assert in the year 1905 that the Przewalski was not the ancestor of the caballus horses (Ridgeway:425). However, as the Aryan theory gained influence, more and more authors started saying that the steppe horse Przewalski was the ancestor of the caballus horses. To their frustration, the DNA studies have concluded that not a single horse lineage has descended from the Przewalski (Achilli; Weinstock). The Przewalski and the caballus have different chromosome numbers, and actually they belong to different species. On this basis we can say that the domestic horse found in the steppe and Central Asia was surely imported from outside.
The much widely publicized story of the horse domestication at Dereivka (horse-and-dog burial, Ukraine) at 4200-3700 BCE, which is generally believed even today, proved wrong in 2000. The dates claimed were of the soil layer, not of the skull. The Dereivka horse was never accepted as domestic horse by a large number of scholars (like Levine, Hausler etc). To silence the opposition, the skull bone was directly radiocarbon dated and found to be from 3000 BCE (Anthony 1997). However it became soon obvious that this report was wrong as a bone not actually belonging to the horse had been tested by mistake. Still later, by actual radiocarbon dating of the horse skull, it came out that the horse-burial had been made by a much later settlement, settled over the same place (Scythian era 800-200 BCE), digging deep into the lower layers. David Anthony, author of the Dereivka story was left with no choice. He quickly retracted his earlier claim (Anthony:2000, 2009:215).
Thus the 4200 BCE domestic horse no more exists, although many authors still beat its drum. The DNA studies have proved that the horse had been domesticated at more than seventy places throughout Eurasia (Vila; Tatjan; Kavar). However, horse was possibly not domesticated in the Central Asia and the steppe, while it was domesticated in India and Spain. The progenitor of the Indian domestic horse was the wild sivalensis horse, and that of the Spanish was the Tarpan horse. This is the only parsimonious solution. Many horse breeds of the Iberian Peninsula (like the Pottoka) were locally evolved much before the Aryans arrived into the penninsula (Solis 2005:677; Achilli 2011:4 pdf).
On the other hand there are reports from the steppe archaeology noting late equine importation in the steppe and Central Asia. There is archaeological finding that the first domesticated horses of the south Ural region of Siberia (e.g. from Rostovka, Preobrazhenka, Samus’ IV etc sites) came from the Central Asian Andronovo-Fedorovo culture at about 1300 BCE (Kuzmina and Mallory:200). Thus the 2100 BCE domestic horse (with chariot) from Sintashta (Anthony 2009) too might have come through the Central Asia. A recent study of Bagesh (a Chalcolithic site from Kazakhistan) showed “While pastoral herding of sheep and goats is evident from the Early Bronze Age, the horse appears only in small numbers before the end of the first millennium BC” (Frachetti and Benecke 2009: Abstract). The paper further shays, as evidenced from Bagesh, the “horse use seems to commence gradually and is not highly associated with early and middle Bronze Age pastoralists.” (Frachetti and Benecke 2009:1025). The authors find, the “percentages of horse remains at Begash remain below 6 per cent until approximately AD 50 (Phase 3b).” “The domestic horse is documented at Begash by the start of the second millennium BC, but its impact on pastoralism is not clear.” These all indicate arrival of the domestic horse from further south quite late in the middle and the late Bronze Age.
The presence of domestic horse at 2000 BCE Sintashta has to be read with the following lines, “The Kuishak lead wire probably was an import from the Zeravshan. A lapis lazuli from bead from Afghanistan was found at Sintasta. A Bactrian-handled bronze mirror was found in a Sintashta grave at Krasnoe Znamya…” (Anthony 2009:434). These again have to be read with the following line: “The details of the funeral sacrifices showed startling parallels with the sacrificial funeral rituals of the Rig Veda” (Anthony 2009:375). There is further evidence favouring a Southern cultural influence on the steppe. The stepped-pyramid motif of the BMAC, Sarazm and Namazga regions appears in the steppe suddenly at about 2,000 BCE and soon becomes widely popular (Anthony 2009:433). The southerners exchanged textile in lieu of the steppe metals (ibid). These findings clearly indicate that the chariot in the Sintashta grave too must have been an influence from the south, either the BMAC, or Afghanistan, and ultimately from the Indus Civilization.
Thus we can assume the other way round that the Indo-Europeans moved out of India without horse about 10,000-9,000 BCE and reached the steppe without horse by about 8,000-7,000 BCE as the first wave of Indo-European speakers. Later the horse was domesticated probably first in India from the sivalensis, and then also at about seventy places throughout Eurasia (except the steppe). In spite of domestication at so many places, the Central Asian and the steppe horse cultures were the direct result of import from India.
Indo-Aryan presence in the BMAC, Andronovo, the steppe and Anatolia:
There is linguistic evidence of post-Vedic Indo-Aryan presence in the steppe/Ural region and West Asia. Udmurt (Votyak), Kami, Mari, Moksha and Erzya languages of the Uralic family are found in the neighbourhood of the presumed Aryan homeland. The words borrowed in the Finno-Ugric languages of the region are not from the PIE or Slavic, but from Sanskrit. Many of such words have travelled into the Uralic languages of further northwest. How they reached the western Uralic from the eastern Uralic languages is beyond the scope of this article. On the West Asian Mittani language too, influence post-Vedic vocabulary is detectable (vide infra).
Examples of Indo-Aryan borrowings in the Uralic branch are: Sanskrit martya →Udmurt marta (man); Sanskrit Arya → Saami *orja > oarji “southwest” (Koivulehto 2001: 248); ārjel “Southerner”, and Finnish orja, Votyak var, Syry. ver “slave” (Redei 1986: 54). Some other such borrowing noted by Burrow are: Sanskrit śata (hundred) → Finn. sata, Lappe coutte, Mordv. sado, Zyry so, Voty śu, Vog sāt; Sanskrit vārāha → Finn. oras (castrated boar); Sanskrit udara →Finn. utar, Mordv. odar (udder); Sanskrit hiraṇya (gold) →Hungarian arany (gold); Sanskrit śarabha (a large deer) →Vog. šourp, šōrp (elk); Sanskrit setu → Mordv. sed’ (bridge) etc. (Burrow:25). This is a hint to the fact that the Indo-Aryans had arrived there from the south because words for Arya mean the “southerner” in many Uralic languages in the above list. This is also clear from the philology that the Indo-Aryans were foreigners in the steppe land. That is why their epithet was not used with respect, but with contempt so as to mean “slave” in some Uralic languages.
The AIT interpretation of these loan words is very unimpressive. The proponents of the theory think that the Indo-Iranian originated there: “it appears probable that the seat of this primitive Indo-Iranian must have been in the region of the middle Volga and the Urals for this contact to have been possible.” (Burrow:26; also see Witzel 2003). These interpretations are absurd, because the impugned migration if took place, was too small to leave any genetic mark on the Indo-Iranian population of today. If the main bulk of Indo-Iranian population stayed at the steppe, then it should have survived there till today.
Thus the claim of Witzel and Burrow are simple products of Eurocentricism. Almost all of the words are clearly established Vedic and post-Vedic Indo-Aryan, and not the “primitive Indo-Iranian”. In all likelihood, they are the result of migration of the northwest Indians to Sintashta and the Uralic region. They must have made Indo-Aryan speaking enclaves in the steppe region, from which the words may have percolated into the Uralic. The whole thing needs examination under the light of archaeology and other evidence.
In spite of the designation of Neolithic, the Western (i.e. Pontic-Caspian) steppe was a largely hunter society till late. Frachetti (2012:7) noted about Tentek-sor: “The faunal record from the year-round settlement of Tentek-sor (4500–4000 cal BC) reflects a hunting strategy of mainly Asian wild ass (Equus hemionus kulan; 85%) as well as antelope (Siaga tatarica; 5%), aurochs (5%) and a few wild horses (Barynkin and Kozin 1998:71; Kuz’mina 1988:175). Domesticated sheep and cattle were not recovered in sites of this time period.” The steppe horse was too fast a runner to be captured or to be hunted frequently.
The steppe culture (Kyzl-khak II, Kurpezhe-molla, and Kara Khuduk I, Botai) remained primarily hunting until the last part of the fourth millennium BCE. Frachetti clarifies, “Nevertheless, the low percentages of domesticated animals in faunal assemblages recovered from sites in the north Caspian steppe and trans-Caucasus do not indicate a specialized mobile pastoralist economy among any communities of the western steppe during the first half of the fourth millennium BC (Kuz’mina 1988)” (2012:8). Dolukhanov (1979) argued against any possibility of farming in the Bug-Dniester sites, and found evidence of barter of grain, pig and cattle from people living outside the region (quoted in Shaw and Jameson:124). Most probably its transformation took place under influences coming from both directions, West and South after about 2000 BCE. Frachetti (2012:8) argues “that interactions surrounding exchanges of commodities and resources represent a dominant catalyst for economic changes at the domestic level and an important factor for subsequent shifts in institutional organization in the western steppe at end of the third millennium BC”. In fact, the proper Bronze Age culture came to the steppe from Asia through the Caucasian and Central Asian routes. The typology of the artefacts from Catacomb-Kurgan graves dated about 2000 BCE revealed influence of Caucasus region (Shaw and Jameson:135).
The “interaction” of the western steppe was taking place with the Central Asia, but the Central Asia itself was receiving cultural inputs from northwest India, Afghanistan, the Pamir and Bactria. Clearly the arrival of the domestic sheep can be traced from northwest India through Sarazm (early fourth millennium site at Pamir, vide infra).
Lawler (44-45) writes about Begash, “The inhabitants did not begin to use horses until well into the second millennium b.c., and the varieties of sheep and goat found here today appear to be related to the varieties first domesticated thousands of years before in western Iran…”. Thus the sheep recovered from the Chalcolithic Central Asia were not Central Asian in origin, but had been imported. Whether the sheep and goat had been first domesticated in the South Asia or Iran may be a subject of further research, but one thing is clear that the domestic animals came to Central Asia and the steppe from the south.
There is no doubt about it that the steppe did not have cow and sheep early on. The question arises as to how they reached there. Anthony (2009:132) thinks that the cow and sheep reached the Western steppe from the Danube river basin after 5,000 BCE. This naïve conjecture is however ruled out by the DNA studies of the Ukrainian and the steppe cows. It says “The mtDNA data indicates that the Ukrainian and Central Asian regions are zones where hybrids between taurine and zebu (B. indicus) cattle have existed. This zebu influence appears to have subsequently spread into southern and southeastern European breeds” (Kantanen 2009: Abstract). Thus it was the spread of the zebu from India to the Central Asia to steppe/Ukraine to the southeast and south Europe, not the vice versa. Anthony’s date too is wrong; the archaeologists working in the field do not support such an early date for cow and sheep in the steppe. Nor has the western route for the sheep been supported.
The 2200 years old samples of wheat found from Begash is an indication of trade with nearby Pamir people, who were in turn in trade with the Harappans. Begash shows no evidence of wheat agriculture or the grinding stone, therefore any wheat must have been imported (Lawler: 44). Located in between Harappa and Begash, in the Pamir plateau, just north of the Hindu Kush, we get the Sarazm Chalcolithic centre, which had farming, and which was intensely related with Harappa. Frachetti (2012:17) writes, “Central Asians were likely in contact with urban communities across the Iranian Plateau and into the Indus Valley, as indicated by the presence of precious stones and minerals from the Pamir Mountains at Harappa by the third millennium BC (Law 2006).” Sarazm sites had large number of domestic sheep (Frachetti 2012:14), which must have reached there from the Indus Valley, because the sheep was never domesticated in Central Asia (vide supra in sheep section).
Although Frachetti does not utter the phrase “Indus to steppe” movement, he holds similar view, as Lawler narrates: “The combined finds in Uzbekistan and at Begash suggest to Frachetti that the people living in Central Asia around 2000 b.c. were part of the rapidly urbanizing world, when the great cities of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus were at their first peak, … Frachetti maintains they had access to the wider world. And, by passing along important innovations such as grains and other goods, they had a hand in connecting far-flung civilizations. This movement from south to north took place centuries before the horse-riding pastoralists moved across the Eurasian steppes from west to east.” (Lawler:46).
If we examine the case vice-a-versa, the Iranians and the Indus people had received no migrations from the steppe. They traded wheat, sheep, goat and cattle in lieu of precious stones and metals. Shishlina and Hiebert noted “no steppe nomadic complex has been found on the Iranian plateau, not even evidence of indirect contact or interaction” (1998; quoted by Witzel, The home of the Aryans). Yet some influence of Bactria and Margian cultures has been noted to have occurred on Iran during 1900-1700 BCE period visible in the funerary practices at two places namely Khurab and Shahdad.
Archaeological evidence, if impartially examined, suggests that during the Chalcolithic period, the Indo-Aryan speaking Indians moved out with the advanced farming, the urban civilization, horse, chariot and the Chalcolithic culture out of the Indus Valley to South Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan), and then to the northern Central Asia, and from there to the steppe. From southern Central Asia these Indo-Aryans also moved to West Asia. The movements were not in the form of invasions but were as slow infiltration, or immigration type. The time frames of the different cultures also are consistent with this migration: Indus-Sarasvati Civilization 3,300-1,700 BCE; BMAC (Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex, south Central Asia) 2,300-1,700 BCE and the Andronovo Culture (Kazakhastan, Kurgan and Eastern Steppe) 2,100-1,400 BCE (calibrated 1600-1000 BCE; Anthony 2009:423).
Immediately to the northwest of Harappa was the BMAC culture, and further to the north of the latter was the Andronovo culture stretching up to the eastern steppe of the south Ural region. The BMAC was not much away from the northernmost reaches of the Harappa Civilization. Dani and Masson (pp. 228-229) note an increasing influence on the southeast Turkmenistan from northwest India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran during the late fourth millennium to early third millennium BCE. This was the time when the cultures of Kalibangan, Banawali, Amri-Nal and Harappa were flourishing.
The BMAC was a fortified city culture (e.g. Kelleli III; Gonur; Togolok etc) resembling the Indus Valley Civilization, and was very unlike the rural Vedic Civilization. By 2000 BCE, even the steppe had got transformed into a clump of urban enclaves within a large steppe civilization. Even if the Aryans had started from a pre-urban steppe, the intervening Andronovo and BMAC was long enough journey to have converted the Aryans into urbanized people by 1500 BCE. Thus the Vedic Aryans should have exhibited the elements of city culture like the burnt-brick etc, if they had come through the BMAC at 1,500 BCE.
A large number of the typical early Indus objects like flat knife without axial ribbing, metal frying pan with handle, ivory etc. have been found in the Margiana culture (Masson 1988:93). Many Proto-Indian seals including one with the swastika and many with the Indus pictographic inscriptions have been found at Altyn-Depe (a site within Margiana, Turkmenistan), and this has been considered by many as evidence favouring the Indus Valley ethnicity of the authors of the culture (Masson 1988:118; Gupta 2005:179; also see Renfrew 2005:209). Burney supports an Indo-Aryan, rather than Indo-European invention of the two-wheel chariot. In Tepe Hissar of northeast Iran, just to the south of the BMAC cultural region, we get 2,350 BCE two-wheel chariot. Outside India, this is probably the oldest chariot finding (Burney:65). It may have arrived from the Indus, where we get evidence of the two-wheel chariot from 3,000 BCE onwards, and its even older existence cannot be denied.
From the BMAC the Indo-Aryans reached the further west too. That is how we get the typical Indian humped bull in the Hittite kingdom, Caucasus and Elam (See fig. below). The zebu is an exclusive legacy of India (Chen 2009). This correlates well with the arrival of the Indo-Aryan speaking people (the Mittani) to Anatolia about 1750-1500 BCE. The most likely source of these people could only have been the Margiana Indo-Aryan population. It has been wrongly claimed that the Mittani were Proto-Indo-Aryan, or that the Mittani Indo-Aryan language is older than the Vedic Sanskrit. Such misguided views were presented possibly because these authors had no idea of the later Indo-Aryan languages.
Hittite Bronze Zebu
Elamite Bronze Zebu: clearly not well-fed
The Mittani is later than the Vedic Sanskrit, and uses words and grammar resembling later Indo-Aryan languages like Pali, Prakrit and Magadhi etc. Mittani mitta (from Vedic mitra), satta (from Vedic sapta) etc are similar to Pali and Prakrit (mitta, satta), and later IA languages like Punjabi (mittar, satta etc.). Vedic language is older because the “p” in Sanskrit sapta is also present in the Iranian (hafta), Greek sept-, English seven etc. Hence loss of “p” is later, not that the “p” was gained later into the Mittani word satta. There has been a parallel presence of such derived words in India from much earlier times than the sixth century BCE Pali.
In the same way, other such allegedly “older than Vedic” Mittani words is Mittani aika “one”; the diaphthong ai is present today in Bengali ēk (written form; æk Starostin:858), which is pronounced by the laity as oiko (aika>oiko in Bangali lay pronunciation a>o). The Sanskrit eka (one) is derived from PIE eĝ- (Pokorny:281-286), and not from PIE *aig-. Hence Sanskrit eka is older than Mittani aika (one). e > ai mutation is seen in Avestan and Armenian too which are later than the Vedic (Kazanas 2012:216-217) . The AIT-arguments claiming an older date for the Mittani (and ai > e mutation etc) have been contradicted well by Mishra and Iyengar (2012:307-316), who found fifty examples of change within the Rig-Veda.
Some other allegedly older words are Mittani tera (three), c.f. Punjabi tare three; Mittani panza (five), c.f. Punjabi panja; Mittani Indara, Punjabi Indar etc. Another evidence favouring a post-Vedic migration of Mittani is the fact that all the Mittani kings acquired Vedic throne-names, even if they had originally Hurrian proper names: Tus’ratta (< Vedic Tvesa-ratha; Pokorny:1099), Artatama (Rta-dhāman), Artas’s’umara (Rta-smara), S’attuara (satvara) (Anthony 2009:49).
Thus we conclude that the Mittani Indo-Aryan language is later than the Vedic, and has been derived from the Vedic. These views about language of the Indus and its relationship with the Indo-Aryans of the Mittani kingdom are consistent with the latest date of the Rig-Vedic civilization (4,000 BCE; Kazanas 2009). The Rig-Vedic civilization is certainly pre-urban/ pre-Indus and the language of the Rig-Veda too is certainly pre-Mittani.
The migrations to Bactria, Margiana-Turkmenistan and the Armenia-Kurdistan regions have been symbolically referred to in the Baudhayana Śrautasūtra as Gandhara, Parśu and Aratta (Ararat) respectively and must date to the time of the Indus Civilization (see also Kazanas 2012:224; Lal 2009).
The Chalcolithic migration from Indus to the south Central Asia (BMAC) and then to the Andronovo region follows the general rule of migration, that migration takes place as a consequence of “the population growth that follows the invention of agriculture, leading to a steady pressure for territorial expansion, against less populous non-agricultural people.” (mentioned as Renfrew’s view by Trautmann 2005:205). Such a view of migration is held by ecologists too. In case of the Chalcolithic Indo-Aryan migration, the rule is applicable because the Chalcolithic increased the food production and consequent population growth tremendously in the Indus Valley Civilization. The Central Asians and the steppe people had been hunters till quite late, and cannot be expected to migrate in violation of this general ecological rule. This analysis collapses the theory of the Indo-Aryan invasion on India from the BMAC (see Bryant 2001 for the whole theory).
People have doubted the “AIT date” of onset of riding (4200 BCE) and charioteering (2100 BCE). Archaeologist Renfrew (2000:44; quoted by Drews) wrote, “The mounted warrior nomad horseman does not make his appearance until the end of the second millennium”. Another prominent archaeologist who has been persistently researching the subject for long Kuzmina (2000:122, quoted by Drews:132) wrote “warrior-horsemen appear in the steppe not in the fourth millennium BC but at the end of the second millennium BC”. And we know it was impossible to cross the Hindu Kush ranges by chariots. This makes the theory of arrival of the Aryans in chariots from Sintashta (South Ural) to the Northwest India at 1500 BCE impossible.
The historians have constantly denied the existence of chariot in India before 1500 BCE. A re-examination of the excavation (1920-21 and 1933-34) report of Harappa published by the British Government of India in 1940 reveals that the chariot appears in India at 3000 BCE at Harappa (Vats 1940:452), and may have been made for the first time there itself. Many chariot toys including a covered copper chariot model were found from that date (see figures below). The original uncovered chariot must have been made at least a thousand years earlier. This finding fits well with our date of the Rig-Veda (4,000 BCE; Kazanas:2009), which quite often mentions the chariots. Later another copper chariot from 2300 BCE layer was found from Daimabad in Maharashtra (Sali 1986:477-479). After this time, chariot appears in many civilizations simultaneously at about 2000 BCE (Egypt, Mesopotamia, Sintashta etc). The spoked wheel too is attested in the Indus seals.
Chariot from Daimabad: Harrapan period site;
Source Brooklyn Museum website.
Harappa chariot, Harappa copper chariot, the first covered chariot of the world
found by M.S. Vats at Harappa.
Spoked wheel on Harappan seal. On the left of the wheel in the lower seal, a cart without bull and wheels is depicted.). is possibly a cart sans wheel and bull.
Thus the chariot and horse appearing in the Mittani Indo-Aryan culture is clearly due to the migration from India. This is clear from a piece of literature written by someone named Kikkuli from the land of Mittani at about 1500 BCE for the Hittite rulers. This treatise uses typical Indo-Aryan words for horse-breeding, charioteering and horse-training (Kuzmina and Mallory :xi). This has been taken as a strong piece of evidence by many scholars favouring the dispersal of the art of the horse-breeding and the chariots by the ancient Indians to the West Asia (D’yakonov 1956; Kammenhuber 1961; Myerhofer:1966, 1974; Salonen:1955-1956; Theime:1960; Ivanov:1968; all quoted by Kuz’mina and Mallory: xi.). In our view, this event took place at the time of the Harappa Civilization.
Conclusion: The domestic animals pig, goat, sheep, cow and horse were late to arrive in the steppe. This we can say on the basis of the archaeology, DNA studies and the linguistics. The Indo-European languages had spread widely before these animals arrived in the steppe. We find that the Slavic languages, the language of the steppe region is poor in vocabulary for the domestic animals. On the other hand, India shows a long history of domestication of these animals on the basis of archaeology, DNA studies and linguistics.
We find in our study that the steppe region fails to meet the requirements for being the homeland when the archaeological, genetic and philological facts are examined. On the other hand the South Asia, particularly India, passes all of the genetic, the archaeological and the philological tests. The evidence suggests at least two large migrations out of India having impact on other cultures. One at the dawn of the Neolithic marked by the R1a1a and the J2b migrations, and the other at the Chalcolithic period about 3,000-2,500 BCE.
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