Sunday, April 01, 2018

Map from: The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia

A pre-print on bioarxiv: The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia has this as figure 4:

Some interesting features:

1. Mehrgarh, the oldest agricultural village in South Asia dates to 7000 BCE, so the date on (1) doesn't square with archaeology.

2. The steppe folks had to take a really convoluted route to avoid BMAC (incorrectly marked as BAMC? on the map).

3. There is no archaeological evidence of the Indus Valley Civilization being carried into the south peninsula; but ASI is supposed to have formed during/after the collapse of the IVC.

4. Let us note that the Mittani documents of around 1400 BC record Indra, Varuna, Mitra and the two Nasatyas.  The Rg Veda with its North Indian geography also shows the evolution of one Nasatya into two; see this or below. Nevertheless, the old idea was that the proto-Indo-Aryans branched out east and west through BMAC, the western branch giving rise to the Mitanni documents. The route shown here and the suggested dates really make explaining the Mitanni documents even harder.

Thus, if this map is right, the mystery deepens.

PS: the more conventional map from Wiki:

A_Gupta wrote:Great find. Shiv. Paul Theime argues that a proto-Aryan would have only one Nasatya. It is only in the Rig Veda that we see one Nasatya turn into two. Two Nasatyas are invoked in the Mitanni treaty. This is just one of the arguments Theime has that the Mitanni treaty is Vedic or post-Vedic.

Easier to post from a computer than a tablet. Thieme points out that

In fact, the Avesta knows of one (Nasatya equivalent) only, who is mentioned as a daeva in company with Indra and Saurva. Consequently, the reconstruction of a Proto-Aryan dual *Nasatya must remain doubtful. It must be borne in mind that a single Nasatya is known to the RV also (4.3.6) and, moreover, the RV once forms a dual dvandva Indra-Nasatya (8.26.8 ) which can only mean 'Indra and the [one] Nasatya". Konow's statement...:"The existing state of things makes it necessary to infer that the dual designation Nasatyau is of Indian growth", seems to me to stand unimpaired.

5. It is now possible to gather up the results of our investigation into a reply to our questions:

Do Mitra, Varuna, Indra and the two Nasatyas protect treaties in the RV? and: Is it likely or provable that they did so in proto-Aryan times?

To the first question a strictly factual answer can be given: all the named gods indeed are said to protect treaties in the RV, even the two Nasatyas, though these only occasionally.

The second one cannot be answered with the same confidence, since we have no primary sources of Proto-Aryan religion and must rely upon the resources of techniques of reconstruction. I hope my discussions have made it clear, what ought to have been clear before: we cannot reconstruct Proto-Aryan religious terms - and much less Proto-Aryan religious ideas - by simply and naively projecting Rigvedic data into Proto-Aryan times.

A reconstruction can be attempted only by a careful confrontation of Vedic and Avestan terminology.

Such confrontation yields the result that but one name in the Mitanni list can be postulated safely as that of a Proto-Aryan god whose function it was to protect treaties - *Mitra...

If there are no convincing counterarguments, it would seem established that the Mitanni treaty is either contemporary with Vedic or else post-Vedic.


Shiv, my guess is that you have not seen "The Aryan Gods of the Mitani People" by Sten Konow (1923) During a previous bout of AIT/AMT/OIT, this reference came up, and not finding it in the libraries here, I actually ordered a copy from Norway, where they were selling from the original publishing run of this article. The yellowing pages have been sitting in my bookshelf since.

Sten Konow was an Aryan Invasionist, like every other Indologist of that time. However, he argues that development of Indra, Varuna and the two Nasatyas from their Indo-European and "period of Aryan unity" prototypes happened entirely within India. At least one of the arguments is invasionist, that the Dasyus were people of a different color, and possibly "noseless" and thick lipped, and the Aryans could have encountered such people only in India. Other arguments are based on geography (e.g., identifying a Vedic name with Mount Abu in Rajasthan). He also points out that the development of the Nasatyas from the singular possible Indo-European prototype to a dual is evidenced in the Rg Veda itself. He also says that while the mention of Varuna, Indra, Mitra are natural in a treaty because of the roles they play, why the Ashwins? It is because they are in the later Rg Veda as "typical groomsmen who are invoked to conduct the bride home in their chariot", and "there is nothing to show that this conception is old in the Rg Veda". "We have seen how the compact was concluded after a war between the Hittite king Subbiluliuma and the Mitani king, and how Subbiluluima installed Mattiuaza as king of the Mitani and gave him his own daughter in marriage. I have no hesitation in asserting that it is on account of this marriage that the Nasatyas are invoked in the treaty."

"I hope to have made it probable that these gods were Indian and not Aryan or even Iranian. If the conception of the Asvins as groomsmen belongs to the later phases of the Rgveda period, as it seems to do, we must further draw the conclusion that the extension of Indo-Aryan civilization into Mesopotamia took place after the bulk of the Rgveda had come into existence. The oldest portions of the collection would consequently have to be considered as considerably older than the Mitani treaty."

Konow mentions near the beginning that "there is no consensus of opinion with regard to the question whether they {Indra, Varuna, etc.} should be considered as purely Indian deities or as such worshipped by the ancient Aryans before their separation into two branches, an Indian and an Iranian. Most scholars favor the second alternative, only Jacobi has argued in favour of the view that we are here faced with Indian and not with Aryan gods. It is evidenct that the question is of importance for our valuation of the age of Vedic civilization. If Jacobi's view should prove to be correct, we should have to state a propagation of ancient Indian civilization into Mesopotamia in the 14th century BC and the Vedic period would consequently have to be pushed back to a more ancient date."