Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Elamites in Central Asia

The earliest sites in Bactria were founded by Harappans and Elamites.The presence of Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) artifacts at Gilund does not show evidence of Indo-Aryan influence in India. First of all we know that BMAC cultures originated after the decline of the Harappan site of Shortughai (c.2400-2200 BC) on the Oxus river. The pottery of these people was quite diverse, some of the pottery was dark brown on a greenish-white or reddish pink slip.

Some researchers have noted the existence of strong Elamite affinities among the Bactrian aristocracy (1). In addition the Altyn depe ruins have terracotta statuettes with Proto Elamite and Proto-Sumerian script (2) .

Archaeologists agree thet Black and red ware (BRW) indus unearth on many South India sites are related to Dravidian speaking people. The BRW style has been found on the lower levels of Madurai and Tirukkampuliyur. B.B. Lal (1963) made it clear that the South Indian BRW was related to Nubian ware dating to the Kerma dynasty. Singh (1982) made it clear that he believes that the BRW radiated from Nubia through Mesopotamia and Iran southward into India.BRW is found at the lowest levels of Harappa and Lothal dating to 2400BC. T.B. Nayar in The problem of Dravidian Origins proved that the BRW of Harappa has affinities to predynastic Egyptian and West Asian pottery dating to the same time period.

After 1700 BC, with the end of the Harappan civilization spread BRW southward into the Chalcolithic culture of Malwa and Central India down to Northern Deccan and eastward into the Gangetic Basin. The BRW of the Malwa culture occupied the Tapi Valley Pravara Godavari and the Bhima Valleys. In addition we find that the pottery used by the at Gilund, Rajasthan on the banks of the Bana River, was also BRW (3) . This indicates that the people at Gilund, like other people in North India at this time were Dravidian speakers given their pottery. If this is so, the building where the "bin" containing the cache of BMAC seals were found probably represented a warehouse where exotic objects imported from Central Asia were probably stored. Let's not forget, that Central Asia was a major center for Harappan copper and tin for hundreds of years.

In summary the first civilizations in Central Asia were founded by Harappans and Elamites. These Harappans used the BRW as the Dravidians of South India, cognate pottery suggest that the founders of both Harappan and South Indian civilization were the same people. The presence of BRW at Gilund therefore suggest that the people there were not Indo-Aryans, they were Dravidian speakers who stored some exotic Central Asian goods in the city.

1. Ligue & Salvatori (Ed.), Bactria: an ancient oasis civilization from the sands of Afghanistan , (1989), p, 137).

2. P.A. Kohl (Ed.), The Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia (1981) p.112.

3.Gilund, Retrieved on 7/22/06 at:


S. Kalyanaraman said...

Indus writing: professional guild calling cards Updated

Indus writing: professional guild calling cards

--(including decoding of Indus script epigraphs of Chanhujo-daro and 19 other sites)

From a review of the decoded Indus script epigraphs from 42 sites, one semantic category is seen to explain the entire range of texts: smithy guild artisans’ work.

Indus writing can be described as corpus of inscriptions of professional guild calling cards.

This is consistent with the cultural tradition attested in the historical periods of the contributions made shreni (guilds), and institutions such as gana, samgha, nigama, jati in socio-economic organization.

Indus writing thus describes the corporate life of ancient India with particular reference to the smith guilds who created mineral and metal artefacts and traded them over an extensive interaction area of the civilization.

Hisorical periods attest the contributions made by shreni and other institutions to the nation. (cf. Jolly, Julius, 1896, Reicht und Sitte: Einschliesslich der einheimischen Litteratur, Strassburg, KJ Trubner) The decoded epigraphs are consistent with the texts of early historical periods referred to as Hindu law or dharmashastras.

The unique social organization of shreni (corporate guilds) continues into the historical periods of India and attested by punch-marked coins of mints, Rampurva copper bolt, Sohgaura copper plate using Indus script glyphs and by copper plate- and stone-inscriptions of contributions made by shreni to promoting cultural life in India. The seeds of this tradition were seen to have been laid in the days of Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization which produced over 3800 Indus script epigraphs. 'Sheffield of ancient India' Chanhujo-daro metal artefacts (Illustrated London News 1936, Nov. 21)
Decoding Indus script epigraphs of 20 sites

--(Chanhujo-daro, Khirasara, Kish, Susa, Nindowari-damb, Chandigarh, Ropar, Ur, Desalpur, Rakhigarhi, Alamgirpur, Naru-Waro-Dharo, Ra’s al-Junayz, Surkotada, Bala-kot, Nausharo, Kot-diji, Allahdino (Nel Bazaar), Dholavira, Banawali (& Unknown provenance)

The pictures of epigraphs are from Epigraphia Sarasvati. The texts are from Mahadevan corpus followed by readings of texts taken from ICIT corpus which analyses 3831 epigraphs: Qala’at el-Bahrain and Hajar epigraphs are not listed in Mahadevan corpus.

Each of these twenty sites have yielded between two to 21 epigraphs each.

The epigraphs are inscribed on pots or seals or tags. Some seals also have an animal glyph (for e.g. bull).

Bull glyph in the following epigraphs may be decoded as: d.hangar ‘bull’; rebus: d.hangar ‘blacksmith’ (H.)

Heifer glyph in the following epigraphs may be decoded as: damr.a ‘heifer’; rebus: tam(b)ra ‘copper’ (Skt.)

Composite animal glyph may be decoded as a metals repertoire of a smithy.

[ID Text and symbol/sign refereences are to]

This is a continuation of the following monograph:

Decoding Indus script epigraphs of 22 small sites

-- (1) Gumla, Jhukar, Pirak, Qala’at el-Bahrain, Pabumath, Nippur, Lohumjo-daro, Luristan, Hulas, Hajar

(2) Gharo Bhiro (Nuhato), Djoka (Umma), Rojdi, Tepe Yahya, Amri, Altyn Tepe, Tello, Tarkhanewala-dera, Shortugai, Bakkar Buthi, Failaka, Hissam-dheri

Aileen Kawagoe said...

This is interesting theoretically, but I should like to see what you think are the key correlating genetic evidence between the proto-Dravidian/Dravidian-Harrapan/Elamite-to Central Asian peoples.