Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Archive for December, 2013

Lentil as anything: the pulse of the past is in food words

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 29, 2013

No matter where in the world you live, chances are you’ve eaten “pulses” some time in the last week. These foods, otherwise known as “food legumes” or “grain legumes,” have been a part of the human diet since at least 11,000 BC.

Lentil as anything: the pulse of the past is in food words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The fruits of migration: Understanding the ‘longue dureé’ and the socio-economic relations of the ETC

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 28, 2013

The appearance of the Early Transcaucasian Culture (ETC) across large portions of the Near East in the 3rdmillennium BC is commonly cited as one of the best archaeologically documented and broadly studiedcases of a prehistoric migration.

This study uses the ETC to develop a model of what happens whenmigrants move into regions that are already inhabited by emerging or complex societies. In particular,this study focuses on how immigrant populations can integrate themselves into indigenous communitiesin a physical, socio-political and economic sense, and how a migrant group’s identity can be constructedand maintained alongside these indigenous communities.

Multiple lines of evidence, including settlement patterns, ceramic evidence and textual records, are used to postulate an economic niche for the ETC in viti- and viniculture, which has a long recorded historyin Transcaucasia, commonly regarded as the place of origin of the ETC.

The production of a consumablehigh status commodity such as wine by ETC immigrants provided them with the socioeconomic statusthat allowed them to maintain their social identity in an archaeologically visible manner in their newhomelands for extended periods of time.

Furthermore, the increased production of wine provided by the immigrants eventually changes the availability of this commodity and transforming its use and transforms its consumption in North Syrian societies.

The fruits of migration: Understanding the ‘longue dureé’ and the socio-economic relations of the ETC

Unraveling Migration, Trade, and Assimilation

Origin of Early Transcaucasian Culture – Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog

Kura–Araxes culture – Wikipedia

Migration, Diffusion and Emulation

Posted in Armenia, Caucasus | Leave a Comment »

Fictional Essay: Pope Francis, and what he can say

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 26, 2013

http://diversitychronicle.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/francis.jpg

Fictional Essay: Pope Francis Condemns Racism And Declares That “All Religions Are True”

XXX

Posted in Christianity | Leave a Comment »

The wasteland: Horrifying aerial pictures show full scale of destruction of Syrian city of Homs

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 22, 2013

Shells of houses: The Khaled bin Walid Mosque is scarred and pockmarked from shrapnel spat into the city by the daily explosions that hit the city. Beyond the mosque, the shells of buildings and homes give the city the look of a post-apocalyptic wasteland

Shells of houses:

The Khaled bin Walid Mosque is scarred and pockmarked from shrapnel spat into the city by the daily explosions that hit the city. Beyond the mosque, the shells of buildings and homes give the city the look of a post-apocalyptic wasteland

The wasteland: Horrifying aerial pictures show full scale of destruction of Syrian city of Homs

Homs, previously known as Emesa, is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Hom Governorate. It is 501 metres (1,644 ft) above sea level and is located 162 kilometres (101 mi) north of Damascus. Located on the Orontes River, Homs is also the central link between the interior cities and the Mediterranean coast.

Homs is a major industrial center, and with a population of at least 652,609 people, it is the third largest city in Syria after Aleppo to the north and the capital Damascus to the south. Its population reflects Syria’s general religious diversity, composed mostly of Arabic-speaking Sunni Muslims and Alawite and Christian minorities. There are a number of historic mosques and churches in the city, and it is close to the Krak des Chevaliers castle, a world heritage site.

“Emesa” is a compound of “Ham-Es”, with the Es representing an assemblage of the locally revered sun god in (El-Gabal) in ancient times. The name “Emesa” or “Hemesa” is also attributed to “Emesenoi”, the name of the Arab tribe that ruled the area before its incorporation into the Roman Empire. When the name of the tribe became attached to the city is indiscernible, but is generally thought to have been used under the Romans.

The royal family of Emesa, also known as the Emesani Dynasty or the Sempsigerami of Emesa, sometimes known as The Sampsiceramids were a ruling Roman client dynasty of priest-kings in Emesa, Syria Province (modern Homs, Syria). They can be viewed both as Arameans and Arabs.

Emesa was famous for the worship of the strong ancient pagan cult El-Gebal, also known as Elagabal. The city was renowned for El-Gebal’s place of worship the Temple of the Sun. El-Gebal was worshipped in the form of a conical black stone. El-Gebal was the Aramaic name for the Syrian Sun God and means God of the Mountain.

“Emesa” was shortened to “Homs” or “Hims” by its Arab inhabitants, many of whom settled there prior to the Muslim conquest of Syria. This name has been preserved throughout the period of Islamic rule continuing to the present day. It was known as “la Chamelle” by the Crusaders, although they never ruled the city. A second possibility about the origin of the city’s modern name is that it is an Arabic form of the city’s Latin name “Emesus”, derived from the Greek “Emesa” or “Emesos”.

For roughly 2,000 years, Homs has served as a key agricultural market, production site, and trade center for the villages of northern Syria. It has also provided security services to the hinterland of Syria, protecting it from invading forces.

Excavations at the Citadel of Homs indicate that the earliest settlement at the site dates back to around 2300 BCE. Biblical scholars have identified the city with Zobah mentioned in the Bible.

In 1274 BCE, a battle took place between the forces of the Egyptian Empire under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River near Homs. It was possibly the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving perhaps 5,000–6,000 chariots.

Posted in Syria, War | Leave a Comment »

The earliest known temple to be decorated with pilasters and recesses

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 22, 2013

File:StateLibraryNSW detail 03.JPG

Tepe Gawra,  ancient Mesopotamian settlement east of the Tigris River near Nineveh and the modern city of Mosul, northwestern Iraq. It was excavated from 1931 to 1938 by archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania.

Excavations at Tepe Gawri revealed 16 levels showing that the Tepe Gawra site was occupied from approximately 5000 BC to 1500 BC. They include the earliest known temple to be decorated with pilasters and recesses. The Gawra Period (3500–2900 BC) is named for the site.

The site, which apparently was continuously occupied from the Halaf Period (c. 5050–c. 4300 bc) to about the middle of the 2nd millennium bc, gave its name to the Gawra Period (c. 3500–c. 2900) of northern Mesopotamia. Prior to the Gawra Period, however, the site seems to have been influenced by the Ubaid culture (c. 5200–c. 3500) of southern Mesopotamia.

The pilaster is an architectural element in classical architecture used to give the appearance of a supporting column and to articulate an extent of wall, with only an ornamental function. In contrast, an engaged column or buttress can support the structure of a wall and roof above.

In discussing Leon Battista Alberti’s use of pilasters, which Alberti reintroduced into wall-architecture, Rudolf Wittkower wrote, “The pilaster is the logical transformation of the column for the decoration of a wall. It may be defined as a flattened column which has lost its three-dimensional and tactile value.”

A pilaster appears with a capital and entablature, also in “low-relief” or flattened against the wall.

Pilasters often appear on the sides of a door frame or window opening on the facade of a building, and are sometimes paired with columns or pillars set directly in front of them at some distance away from the wall, which support a roof structure above, such as a portico. These vertical elements can also be used to support a recessed archivolt around a doorway. The pilaster can be replaced by ornamental brackets supporting the entablature or a balcony over a doorway.

When a pilaster appears at the corner intersection of two walls it is known as a canton.

As with a column, a pilaster can have a plain or fluted surface to its profile and can be represented in the mode of any architectural style. During the Renaissance and Baroque architects used a range of pilaster forms. In the giant order pilasters appear as two-storeys tall, linking floors in a single unit.

The fashion of using this element from Ancient Greek and Roman architecture was adopted in the Italian Renaissance, gained wide popularity with Greek Revival architecture, and continues to be seen in some modern architecture.

Posted in Mesopotamia, Rarities | Leave a Comment »

Person of the year!

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 22, 2013

Pope-Francis-I-Angelus-and-Blessing-from-the-window-overlooking-St-Peter-s-Square

I Knew Pope Francis Was Good, But When I Found Out Everything He Did in 2013, I Was Blown Away

Posted in Christianity | Leave a Comment »

The rosette symbol

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 21, 2013

File:Orna115-Rosetten.png

Scorpions and Rosette

Steatite, Stamp seal, North Mesopotamia, Gawra period, c.3300 BC

https://i1.wp.com/encyclopediaurantia.org/images/br151.jpg

File:Cylinder seal Shamash Louvre AO9132.jpg

Cult scene: the worship of the sun-god, Shamash. Limestone cylinder-seal, Mesopotamia

Ram in a Thicket, Ur, Southern Iraq, 2600-2400 BC

Puabi (Akkadian: “Word of my father”), Ur, during the First Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2600 BCE)

https://i0.wp.com/sumerianshakespeare.com/media/2bb5ecf2c805583affff8608ffffe415.jpg

Queen Pu-abi’s attendants, who were sacrificed to serve her in the afterlife

https://i0.wp.com/sumerianshakespeare.com/media/9e52fba4c8055a72ffff820cffffe415.jpg

A shell plaque found in Queen Pu-abi’s tomb

– It shows ibexes rearing up on their hind legs to feed on the leaves of a high branch.

Note the eight-pointed rosette in the cente

      

Scorpion macehead

File:Narmer Palette.jpg

Narmer Palette

Rosette designs from Meyer’s Handbook of Ornament

File:Mohenjo-daro Priesterkönig.jpeg

Mohenjo-daro Priest

File:Sitting bull Louvre AO7021.jpg

Sitting bull

– Black marble (formerly inlaid), found in Warka (ancient city of Uruk), Djemdet-Nasr period (ca. 3000 BC)

Mycenaean Jug

File:Crete - Phaistos disk - side A.JPG

File:Diskos.von.Phaistos Detail.1 11-Aug-2004 asb PICT3372.JPG

Phaistos Disc, Phaistos, Minoan Crete, ca. 1700 BC

Assyrian Tree of Life

tree

File:Ish-tar Gate detail.jpg

File:Berlín - Pergamon - Porta d'Ishtar - Lleons.JPG

File:Pergamonmuseum Ishtartor 05.jpg

The Ishtar Gate, Babylon, 575 BC

File:Gandhara Buddha (tnm).jpeg

Rosette design at the bottom of a statue of the Buddha, Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, circa 1st century CE

A rosette is a round, stylized flower design, used extensively in sculptural objects from antiquity. Appearing in Mesopotamia and used to decorate the funeral stele in Ancient Greece. Adopted later in Romaneseque and Renaissance, and also common in the art of Central Asia, spreading as far as India where it is used as a decorative motif in Greco-Buddhist art.

The rosette derives from the natural shape of a rosette in botany, formed by leaves radiating out from the stem of a plant and visible even after the flowers have withered. The formalised flower motif is often in carved in stone or wood to create decorative ornaments for architecture and furniture. It was a common motif in metalworking, jewelry design and the applied arts at the intersection of two materials, or to form a decorative border.

This motif was widespread throughout Europe and the Near East. Rosette decorations have been used for formal military awards. They are also used to decorate musical instruments, such as around the perimeter of sound holes of guitars.

One of the earliest appearances of the rosette in ancient art is in early fourth millennium BC Mesopotamia. It’s not know for certain what particular symbolism the Sumerians attached to the eight-pointed rosette, but it occurs throughout their cultural history. It can be seen on shell plaques, on the headdresses, and on many other artifacts.

Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

Inanna was associated with the celestial planet Venus. There are hymns to Inanna as her astral manifestation. It also is believed that in many myths about Inanna, including Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld and Inanna and Shukaletuda, her movements correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky.

Also, because of its positioning so close to Earth, Venus moves rather irregularly across the sky, and never travels all the way across the dome of the sky as most celestial bodies do, instead, Venus rises in the East and the West in both the morning and evening.

Because of Venus’ erratic movements (it disappears behind the sun from 90–3 days at a time and then reappears on the other horizon), some cultures did not recognize Venus as single entity, but rather two separate stars on each horizon as the morning and evening star.

The Mesopotamians, however, most likely understood that the planet was one entity. A cylinder seal from the Jemdet Nasr period expresses the knowledge that both morning and evening stars were the same celestial entity.

The erratic movements of Venus relate to both mythology as well as Inanna’s erratic nature. Like Venus, Inanna seems unpredictable in her actions, being both the goddess of love and war, having both masculine and feminine qualities, and occasionally having temper tantrums. However, Mesopotamian literature takes this comparison one step further, explaining Inanna’s physical movements in mythology as similar to the movements of Venus in the sky.

Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld explains how Inanna is able to, unlike any other deity, descend into the netherworld and return to the heavens. The planet Venus appears to make a similar descent, setting in the West and then rising again in the East.

In Inanna and Shukaletuda, in search of her attacker, Inanna makes several movements throughout the myth that correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky. An introductory hymn explains Inanna leaving the heavens and heading for Kur, what could be presumed to be, the mountains, replicating the rising and setting of Inanna to the West. Shukaletuda also is described as scanning the heavens in search of Inanna, possibly to the eastern and western horizons.

Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Seal impressions from the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3100–2900 BC) show a fixed sequence of city symbols including those of Ur, Larsa, Zabalam, Urum, Arina, and probably Kesh. It is likely that this list reflects the report of contributions to Inanna at Uruk from cities supporting her cult.

A large number of similar sealings were found from the slightly later Early Dynastic I phase at Ur, in a slightly different order, combined with the rosette symbol of Inanna, that were definitely used for this purpose. They had been used to lock storerooms to preserve materials set aside for her cult. Inanna’s primary temple of worship was the Eanna, located in Uruk (c.f. Worship).

In Egypt the Scorpion macehead (also known as the Major Scorpion macehead) is a decorated ancient Egyptian macehead found by British archeologists James E. Quibell and Frederick W. Green in what they called the main deposit in the temple of Horus at Hierakonpolis during the dig season of 1897/1898.

It is made of limestone, is pear-shaped, and is attributed to the Scorpion II (Ancient Egyptian: possibly Selk or Weha), also known as King Scorpion, referring to the second of two kings or chieftains of that name during the Protodynastic Period of Upper Egypt, due to the glyph of a scorpion engraved close to the image of a king wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt.

Little is left of this macehead and its imagery: A king wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, sitting on a throne below a canopy, holding a flail. Beside his head, in the upper right corner, there is a image of a scorpion and a rosette. Facing him is a falcon who may be holding an end of a rope in one of its claws – a motif also present on the Narmer Palette.

On the macehead the king sporting a bull’s tail is standing by a body of water, probably a canal, holding a hoe. He is wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and is followed by two fan bearers. A scorpion and a rosette are depicted close to his head. He is facing a man holding a basket and men holding standards. A number of men are busy along the banks of the canal. In the rear of the king’s retinue are some plants, a group of women clapping their hands and a small group of people, all of them facing away from the king. In the top register there is a row of nome standards. A bird is dangling from each of them, strung up by its neck.

A second, smaller macehead fragment showing Scorpion wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt is referred to as the Minor Scorpion macehead. Little is left of this macehead and its imagery: A king wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, sitting on a throne below a canopy, holding a flail. Beside his head images of a scorpion and a rosette. Facing him is a falcon who may be holding an end of a rope in one of its claws – a motif also present on the Narmer Palette.

It is believed the rosette was a symbol for kingly authority. The origin of this symbolism is unknown. Other of many examples are the famous Narmer palette, also known as the Great Hierakonpolis Palette or the Palette of Narmer, created as a memorial to a victorious campaign by that early king, also carries the rosette motif.

The Narmer Palette is a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC, containing some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. It is thought by some to depict the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the king Narmer.

On one side, the king is depicted with the bulbed White Crown of Upper (southern) Egypt, and the other side depicts the king wearing the level Red Crown of Lower (northern) Egypt.

A large picture in the center of the Palette depicts Narmer wielding a mace wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt (whose symbol was the flowering lotus). To his left is a man bearing the king’s sandals, once again flanked by a rosette symbol.

Along with the Scorpion Macehead and the Narmer Maceheads, also found together in the Main Deposit at Nekhen, the Narmer Palette provides one of the earliest known depictions of an Egyptian king.

The Palette shows many of the classic conventions of Ancient Egyptian art, which must already have been formalized by the time of the Palette’s creation. The Egyptologist Bob Brier has referred to the Narmer Palette as “the first historical document in the world”.

The Palette, which has survived five millennia in almost perfect condition, was discovered by British archeologists James E. Quibell and Frederick W. Green, in what they called the Main Deposit in the Temple of Horus at Nekhen, during the dig season of 1897–1898. Also found at this dig were the Narmer Macehead and the Scorpion Macehead.

The exact place and circumstances of these finds were not recorded very clearly by Quibell and Green. In fact, Green’s report placed the Palette in a different layer one or two yards away from the deposit, which is considered to be more accurate on the basis of the original excavation notes.

It has been suggested that these objects were royal donations made to the temple. Nekhen, or Hierakonpolis, was the ancient capital of Upper Egypt during the pre-dynastic Naqada III phase of Egyptian history.

Palettes were typically used for grinding cosmetics, but this palette is too large and heavy (and elaborate) to have been created for personal use and was probably a ritual or votive object, specifically made for donation to, or use in, a temple. One theory is that it was used to grind cosmetics to adorn the statues of the gods.

The rosette continued to have a royal symbolism of dignity and authority down into later times. A Hittite tomb stela from the 8th century BC portrays a wonderful example of this symbol hovering over a princess and her attendant. What appears to be a sun-disk contains an eight-pointed rosette with two highly detailed and very bird-like wings stretching out on either side. A light gray steatite Hittite spool seal dating from 1500 BC has a stag on one side and a rosette on the other. The seal is drilled in the center of each.

Another early Mediterranean occurrence of the rosette design derives from Minoan Crete; for example, the rosette design has been found on the famed Phaistos Disc, recovered from the Phaistos archaeological site in southern Crete.

Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. It is made of clay and now is on display at the Archaeological Museum of Herakleion. The exact date of manufacture is uncertain; some archaeologists ascribe it to the 17th century BC.

The Phaistos Disc captured the imagination of amateur and professional archeologists, and many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc’s signs. While it is not clear that it is a script, most attempted decipherments assume that it is; most additionally assume a syllabary, others an alphabet or logography.

Attempts at decipherment are generally thought to be unlikely to succeed unless more examples of the signs are found, as it is generally agreed that there is not enough context available for a meaningful analysis.

The Phaistos disk was found in 1908 in a building at the Minoan palace site of Phaistos, near Hagia Triada, on the south coast of Crete. The disk is 16 centimeters in diameter (or 6 inches, approximately the size of the palm of your hand). It is about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols.

Many, including Benjamin Schwartz, who in his work on decipherment refers to the Phaistos Disc as “the first movable type”, regard it as the first example of printing, since the embedded impressions (figures) were placed there by some form of prepared punch. How such symbolic tools were used otherwise is unknown, since similar examples have never been discovered.

In his popular science book Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond describes the disc as an example of a technological advancement that did not become widespread because it was made at the wrong time in history, and contrasts this with Gutenberg’s printing press.

The inscription was apparently made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic “seals” into the soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling towards the disc’s center. It was then fired at high temperature. The unique character of the Phaistos Disc stems from the fact that the entire text was inscribed in this way, reproducing a body of text with reusable characters.

The German typesetter and linguist Herbert Brekle, in his article “The typographic principle” in the Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, argues that the Phaistos Disc is an early document of movable type printing, since it meets the essential criteria of typographic printing, that of type identity:

An early clear incidence for the realization of the typographic principle is the notorious Phaistos Disc (ca. 1800–1600 BC). If the disc is, as assumed, a textual representation, we are really dealing with a “printed” text, which fulfills all definitional criteria of the typographic principle.

The spiral sequencing of the graphematical units, the fact that they are impressed in a clay disc (blind printing!) and not imprinted are merely possible technological variants of textual representation. The decisive factor is that the material “types” are proven to be repeatedly instantiated on the clay disc.

Eight-petaled rosettes similar to those on the Disk and on the various ancient gameboards appeared also on many other objects. They were generally a symbol for the sun, or more precisely its cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and so indicated the passages from one state of existence into another.

We might question the origin of the rosette images. Consider an eight-leaf rosette carved through an ivory disk from a child’s burial at the European Gravettian burial site in Sungir, situated about 200 km east of Moscow, on the outskirts of Vladimir, near the Klyazma River in Russia, dated to about 28,000 years ago, the earliest example found up to now, and one of the most beautiful. Clearly the rosette has a very old history, dating back to the times of the Cave Paintings of Europe, and the Great Flood, or earlier.

It was found in a child’s burial at the site, and its funerary context suggests that it may have been associated with the rebirth- and- renewal cluster of ideas already back then.

Whatever this rosette may have meant to its maker, its pierced design evokes to modern eyes the concept of “passage” or “transition” through its central opening even more powerfully than any flat shape could.

Closer to us in time, and less open to doubt about its meaning, are the many ancient Egyptian pictures that show the young sun god being born in a lotus blossom with eight leaves. This image reflects a sunrise over the flooded lands of the Delta where lotus, which grows as the Nile rises, covered the waters to the horizon. It was therefore a fitting sign for that daily rebirth and new beginning.

On the other hand, the association of that flower with birth was not unique to Egypt because in India, various gods, and particularly the Buddha, also emerged into the world from that same eight-petaled lotus.

The Egyptian “Book of the Dead” calls the king of the gods Re in Chapter 15 “the golden youth who came forth from the lotus”, and in Chapter 81 the deceased utters the desire to be transformed into a sacred lotus2.

The typical copy of that book also included a vignette of the cow-headed sky-goddess Hathor, the “mother of light”, emerging from the burial mound with an eight-leaved rosette on her neck.  Right next to her, the tomb owner rises from his coffin and clutches two “Life” signs in his hands, leaving no doubt about the meaning of the scene.

Similarly, a painted portrait from Tutankhamun’s tomb shows him rising out of a lotus blossom with eight petals that grows from his coffin and so illustrates his resurrection.

Such images led the symbolist Manfred Lurker to propose in his illustrated Dictionary “The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt” that the rosette represented the sun breaking forth after the night and the defeat of the abysmal darkness.

The Bronze Age Cretans, too, decorated many objects with eight-leaved rosettes, including the ceiling of the “Throne Room” in the palace at Knossos. Like the later Philistines and Canaanites, they used that rosette as one of their favorite pottery ornaments.

The presence of golden eight-leaf rosettes in tombs at Mochlos, Crete, from around 2,000 BCE, and in Mycenaean graves from more than half a millennium later, attests that in these cultures, too, this sign was associated with a symbolism of death to be followed by rebirth.

Some of the wigs on the human-shaped clay coffins from Philistine-occupied Beth-Shean bear lotus flowers, and the sarcophagus of king Ahiram from the Phoenician city of Byblos, dated to about the time of Solomon, displays a ceremonial scene common in Phoenician art which shows him holding a lotus flower as a sign of his rebirth and apotheosis.

The Classical Greeks were equally fond of the eight-leaved rosette motif. One particularly revealing stone sculpture at the former site of the Eleusinian mystery cult shows an initiate emerging from the center of a giant eight-petaled flower bud that is marked all over with eight-leaf rosettes. The context leaves here no doubt that this sculpture illustrated the spiritual rebirth which the initiate to those mysteries was said to achieve7.

In the sun cults of ancient Northern Europe, a wheel with eight spokes represented the sun and its regenerative powers but appeared also as a symbol of death and destruction.

Similarly, the symbolic meaning of the Near Eastern rosette included death, as on a fragment from the throne of pharaoh Thutmosis IV where that sign marks an enemy crushed by the king’s foot.

On Greek vase paintings of battles, or of Theseus killing the Minotaur, an eight-leaf rosette often conveyed that the combat ended in death. For instance, a vase painting from about 660 BCE shows a clash between the warriors on two ships. Where their spears meet over the opposing bows, the ancient painter placed the eight-leaf rosette the way a modern comic book artist would put there a graphically enhanced “Zap” or “Pow”.

In Minotaur-slaying scenes, the rosette marks sometimes that monster to announce its upcoming death. At other times, it decorates Theseus and can be seen as a sign that he will return from his excursion into the labyrinth, a symbol of the underworld, and will thereby be regenerated.

In India, and in a few cases also in ancient Mesopotamia, an eight- leaf rosette adorned the memorial stelae of widow- burning victims who had been killed in their husbands’ funeral pyres.

In general, the contexts in which we find the eight-leaf rosette suggest that it represented the birth, death, and rebirth of the sun (and/or of the planet Venus), in many of the ancient Near Eastern religions which could have influenced the maker of the Disk.

This direction-reversing track on each side of the Disk resembles the paths on a group of gameboards for race games from India. These also begin with a counterclockwise tour around the border of their board and then make a U-turn to spiral clockwise to the center.

A geographical distance like that between India and Crete does not rule out the possibility of faraway connections through which people far from each other often shared common symbols or their expressions such as, for instance, this unique and characteristic game path of a counterclockwise outer turn followed by a clockwise spiral inward.

India was an active part of the same cultural complex that produced the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent and their many common basic beliefs. The people of the Indus Valley, or Harappan, civilization shared a common cultural matrix with the Cretans and many other peoples of their time. That matrix included, for instance, bull cults and snake worship which are both attested in both India and Crete and in some of the areas between them.

In addition, both emphasized maritime trade since Crete is an island, and practically all the Harappan cities were built on the seashore or on navigable rivers. The ruins of Harappa and of Knossos also happened to reveal some of the most advanced sanitary plumbing systems of their time.

There can be no doubt about the existence of ancient trading contacts between Bronze Age Crete and Harappan India, however indirect these may have been through middlemen from Mari or elsewhere. Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who excavated many of the principal Indus Valley sites, points out that two segmented faience beads, one from Knossos and the other from Harappa, did not only have the same shape but were also identical in composition, as shown by spectrographic analysis25.

Despite the miles and mountains that separated those civilizations, many of their beliefs spread also among them. For instance, Indian Vedic gods such as Mitra, Varuna, and Indra witnessed the oaths of kings in Hurrian Mitanni which is now in Syria. Also, most of the Hurrian words for horse craft were derived from Sanskrit, a major language of ancient India.

Moreover, in Ugarit on the Syrian coast, one of the words for “fire” was the name of Agni, the Indian Vedic god of fire who led to Latin “ignis” and so provided English speakers with “ignition” as well as the cozy “inglenook” by the fireplace.

As another example of such wide diffusion for certain ideas, the Classical Labyrinth design with seven circuits is first attested in the above doodle on the back of a book-keeping tablet from Pylos in Greece, dated to about 1200 BCE.

This labyrinth was also strongly associated with nearby Crete where it appeared in both round and square forms on coins from about the sixth century BCE on. However, that same intricate and unmistakable design is also reported from early southern India, among many other times and places.

Similarly, board games travel easily and spread widely, like most other number-related traditions, and they are often found distributed in almost identical form over large regions or in widely separated areas.

An excellent example is the ancient game of “Five Lines” which is still played in Crete and, of all other places, also in Northern India. A board for this game, shaped like a five-pointed star, was also found chiseled into the roofing slabs of a temple at Kurna in Egypt, completed during the 14th century BCE.

It takes therefore no stretch of the imagination to suspect  possible relationships between board games played in distant areas of the same cultural complex, particularly if these share an otherwise unusual trait such as that U-turn after the first counterclockwise go-around.

Graves 1 and 2 at Sunghir are described as “the most spectacular” among burials. The adult male was buried in what is called Grave 1 and the two adolescent children in Grave 2, placed head to head, together with an adult femur filled with red ochre.

The settlement area was found to have four burials: the remains of an older man and two adolescent children are particularly well-preserved, and the nature of the rich and extensive burial goods suggests they belonged to the same class. In addition, a skull and two fragments of human femur were also found at the settlement area, and two human skeletons outside the settlement area without cultural remains.

The three individuals buried at Sungir were all adorned with elaborate grave goods that included ivory-beaded jewelry, clothing, and spears. More than 13,000 beads were found (which would have taken 10,000 hours to produce). Red ochre, an important ritual material associated with burials at this time, covered the burials.

The children are considered a twin burial, thought to have ritual purpose, likely sacrifice. The findings of such complete skeletons are rare in late Stone Age, and indicate the high status of the male adult and related children. The children had the same MtDNA, which may indicate the same maternal lineage, but more would need to be known about other individuals in the settlement.

The site is one of the earliest examples of ritual burials and constitutes important evidence of the antiquity of human religious practices. The extraordinary collection of grave goods, the position of the bodies, and other factors all indicate it was a burial of high importance. Two other remains at the site are partial skeletons.

The remains are held by the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of RAS, Moscow. In 2004, the International Seminar, “Upper Paleolithic People from Sunghir, Russia,” was hosted by the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, UK. It is the second of two major conferences about this site.

Two books have been published in Moscow about the findings. Upper Palaeolithic Site Sungir (graves and environment) (1998) was the first complete publication about the site, including an inventory of artifacts, reconstruction of the Paleolithic man’s clothes, archaic counting and calendar. The second part of the book displays the reconstruction of the environment by geological, palinological, zoological data.

The second book, Homo Sungirensis (2000) edited by T.I. Aexeeva et al., includes articles published since the first book, and new anthropological data derived from morphology, palaeopathology, X-ray study, histology, trace elements and molecular genetic analyses. It has an illustrated catalogue of all the skeletal materials.

Sungir – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phaistos Disk Story

Rosettes of the Tree of Life around the Second Garden

Tree of Life in Crete and Cyprus

Rosettes of the Tree of Life in Crete and Cyprus

Tree of Life around the Second Garden

Rosettes of the Tree of Life around the Second Garden

Tree of Life around Lake Van and Mount Ararat

Rosettes of the Tree of Life around Lake Van and Mount Ararat

Tree of Life in Persia

Rosettes of the Tree of Life in Persia

Posted in Rarities, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

A webside dedicated to Sumerian history, art and culture

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 21, 2013


A translation of Tablet #36 in the Library of Congress. The world’s first political satire, the first dark comedy and murder mystery. A literary masterpiece that was written by a Sumerian Shakespeare.

A webside dedicated to Sumerian history, art and culture

 

Posted in Mesopotamia, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

The archaeogenetics of the Near East

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 20, 2013

The archaeogenetics of the Near East

The archaeogenetics of the Near East involves the study of DNA or ancient DNA, identifying haplogroups and haplotypes of ancient skeletal remains from both Y-DNA, and mtDNA and other autosomal DNA for populations of the Ancient Near East (i.e., the modern Middle East including Egypt, Persia (Iran), Anatolia (Turkey), Mesopotamia, Arabia, the Levant, and Northern Africa).

Developments in DNA sequencing in the 1970s and 1980s provided researchers with the tools needed to study human genetic variation and the genetics of human populations to discover founder populations of modern people groups and human migrations.

In 2005, National Geographic launched The Genographic Project, led by 12 prominent scientists and researchers, to study and map historical human migration patterns by collecting and analyzing DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.

Zalloua and Wells (2004), under the auspices of a grant from National Geographic Magazine examined the origins of the Phoenicians. The debate between Wells and Zalloua was whether haplogroup J2 (M172) should be identified as that of the Phoenicians or that of its “parent” haplogroup M89 on the YDNA phylogenetic tree.

Initial consensus suggested that J2 be identified with the Canaanite-Phoenician (Northwest Semitic) population, with avenues open for future research. As Wells commented, “The Phoenicians were the Canaanites”

It was reported in the PBS description of the National Geographic TV Special on this study entitled “Quest for the Phoenicians” that ancient DNA was included in this study as extracted from the tooth of a 2500 year-old Phoenician mummy.

Wells identified the haplogroup of the Canaanites as haplogroup J2. The National Geographic Genographic Project linked haplogroup J2 to the site of Jericho, Tel el-Sultan, ca. 8500 BCE and indicated that in modern populations, haplogroup J2 is found in the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe, with especially high distribution among present-day Jewish populations (30%), Southern Italians (20%), and lower frequencies in Southern Spain (10%).

In a 2005 study of ASPM gene variants, Mekel-Bobrov et al. found that the Israeli Druze people of the Carmel region have among the highest rate of the newly evolved ASPM haplogroup D, at 52.2% occurrence of the approximately 6,000-year-old allele.

While it is not yet known exactly what selective advantage is provided by this gene variant, the haplogroup D allele is thought to be positively selected in populations and to confer some substantial advantage that has caused its frequency to rapidly increase.

According to DNA testing, Druze are remarkable for the high frequency (35%) of males who carry the Y-chromosomal haplogroup L, which is otherwise uncommon in the Mideast (Shen et al. 2004). This haplogroup originates from prehistoric South Asia and has spread from Pakistan into southern Iran.

Anthropologist Carleton S. Coon is quoted as saying The Iraqi population is without doubt much the same today as it was in Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian times. It has been found that Y-DNA Haplogroup J2 originated in northern Iraq (Ancient Assyria).

In spite of the importance of this region, genetic studies on the Iraqi people are limited and generally restricted to analysis of classical markers due to Iraq’s modern political instability, although there have been several published studies displaying the genealogical connection between all Iraqi people and the neighbouring countries, regardless religious and linguistic barriers (Iraq contains Semitic peoples such as Arabs, Assyrians and Mandeans, Turkic peoples such as Turcomans, Indo-European peoples such as Kurds, Armenians, Shabaks and North Caucasian speakers such as Circassians). One such study reveals a close genetic relationship between all Iraqis, Kurds, Caspian Iranians and Svani Georgians.

Iraqi mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Iran, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Georgia, and Armenia, whereas it substantially differs from that observed in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. Iraqi Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria. No significant differences in Y-DNA variation were observed among Iraqi Arabs, Assyrians, or Mandeans.

For both mtDNA and Y-DNA variation, the large majority of the haplogroups observed in the Iraqi population (H, J, T, and U for the mtDNA, J2 and J1 for the Y-DNA) are those considered to have originated in Western Asia and to have later spread mainly in Western Eurasia.

The Eurasian haplogroups R1b and R1a represent the second most frequent component of the Iraqi Y-chromosome gene pool, the latter suggests that the population movements from Central Asia/Eastern Europe into modern Iran also influenced Iraq to some degree.

Many historians and anthropologists provide strong circumstantial evidence to posit that Iraq’s Marsh Arabs, also known as the Maʻdān people, inhabitants of the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands in the south and east of Iraq and along the Iranian border, share very strong links to the ancient Sumerians, – the most ancient inhabitants of southern Iraq, and that Iraq’s Mandaeans and Assyrians share the strongest ethnic links to the Sumerians and Babylonians.

The Arabic speaking Beni Delphi (sons of Delphi) tribe of Iraq is believed to have Greek origins, from the Macedonian soldiers of Alexander the Great and the colonists of the Seleucid Empire.

The Assyrian Christian population are fairly closely related to other Iraqis, and also to modern Jordanians and some Near Eastern Jewish populations, yet due to religious and cultural endogamy have a very distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population.

“The Assyrians are a fairly homogeneous group of people, believed to originate from the land of old Assyria in northern Iraq [..] they are Christians and are bona fide descendants of their ancient namesakes.”

The relatively close genetic link with the indigenous Pre Arab Mesopotamian Assyrians and Mandeans indicates that many Iraqis who today speak Arabic are also to a great extent originally of Mesopotamian roots,as opposed to being ethnic Arabs.

In a 2011 study focusing on the genetics of the Maʻdān people of Iraq, researchers identified Y chromosome haplotypes shared by Marsh Arabs, Arabic speaking Iraqis, Assyrians and Mandeans “supporting a common indigenous local background.”

Studies have reported that most Irish and Britons are descendants of farmers who left modern day Iraq and Syria 10,000 years ago. Genetic researchers say they have found compelling evidence that four out of five (80% of) white Europeans can trace their roots to the Ancient Near East.

In another study, scientists analysed DNA from the 8,000 year-old remains of early farmers found at an ancient graveyard in Germany. They compared the genetic signatures to those of modern populations and found similarities with the DNA of people living in today’s South Eastern Turkey and Iraq.

The archaeogenetics of Turkey

In population genetics the question has been debated whether the modern Turkish population is significantly related to other Turkic peoples, or whether they are rather derived from indigenous populations of Anatolia which were culturally assimilated during the Middle Ages.

The contribution of the Central Asian genetics to the modern Turkish people has been debated and become the subject of several studies. As a result, several studies have concluded that the historical (pre-Islamic) and indigenous Anatolian groups are the primary source of the present-day Turkish population, in addition to neighboring peoples, such as Balkan peoples, and central Asian Turkic people.

According to a 2012 study on ethnic Turkish people, “Turkish population has a close genetic similarity to Middle Eastern and European populations and some degree of similarity to South Asian and Central Asian populations.”

At K = 3 level, using individuals from the Middle East (Druze and Palestinian), Europe (French, Italian, Tuscan and Sardinian) and Central Asia (Uygur, Hazara and Kyrgyz), clustering results indicated that the contributions were 45%, 40% and 15% for the Middle Eastern, European and Central Asian populations, respectively.

For K = 4 level, results were 38% European, 35% Middle Eastern, 18% South Asian (Pakistani) and 9% Central Asian. However, Hodoglugil et al. caution that results may indicate previous population movements (e.g. migration, admixture) or genetic drift, given Europe and South Asia (e.g. Pakistan) have some genetic relatedness.

The study indicated that the Turkish genetic structure is unique, and admixture of Turkish people reflects the population migration patterns. Among all sampled groups, the Adygei population from the Caucasus was closest to the Turkish samples.

Adyghe, also known as West Circassian, is one of the two official languages of the Republic of Adygea in the Russian Federation, the other being Russian. Adyghe belongs to the family of Northwest Caucasian languages. Kabardian (also known as East Circassian) is a very close relative, treated by some as a dialect of Adyghe or of an overarching Circassian language.

In their own language the Circassians refer to themselves as Adiga (also transliterated as Adyga, Adyge, Adygei, Adyghe, Attéghéi). The name is believed to derive from atté “height” to signify a mountaineer or a highlander, and ghéi “sea”, signifying “a people dwelling and inhabiting a mountainous country near the sea coast”, or “between two seas”.

The oldest known reference to Anatolia, “Land of the Hatti”, was found for the first time on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets from the period of the Akkadian Empire (2350–2150 BC). The name Asia Minor (“Lesser Asia”) was given by the Greeks in Late Antiquity. In the Byzantine Empire, the Anatolic Theme was a theme covering the western and central parts of Turkey’s present-day Central Anatolia Region.

The earliest historical records of Anatolia stem from the southeast of the region and are from the Mesopotamia-based Akkadian Empire during the reign of Sargon of Akkad in the 24th century BC. Scholars generally believe the earliest indigenous populations of Anatolia were the Hattians and Hurrians.

The Hattians spoke a language of unclear affiliation, and the Hurrian language belongs to a small family called Hurro-Urartian, all these languages now being extinct; relationships with indigenous languages of the Caucasus have been proposed but are not generally accepted. The region was famous for exporting raw materials, and areas of Hattian- and Hurrian-populated southeast Anatolia were colonised by the Akkadians.

Unlike the Semitic Akkadians and their descendants, the Assyrians, whose Anatolian possessions were peripheral to their core lands in Mesopotamia, the Hittites were centred at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia by 2000 BC. They were speakers of an Indo-European language known as the “language of Nesa”. Originating from Nesa, they conquered Hattusa in the 18th century BC, imposing themselves over Hattian- and Hurrian-speaking populations.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521/0 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.

The Adyghe people originate in the North Caucasus region, an area they are believed to have occupied as early as the Stone Age period, with traces of them dating back as far as 8000 BC. In about 4000 BC, the Maykop culture flourished in the North Caucasus region, which influenced all subsequent cultures in the North Caucasus region as well as other parts of the region that is now southern Russia. Archaeological findings, mainly of dolmens in North-West Caucasus region, indicate a megalithic culture in the region.

The Adyghe kingdom was established in about 400 BC. After 460 AD, reports of “Utige” begins to feature in connection to a state established around Phanagoria, which grew into Old Great Bulgaria.

After the collapse of this state under pressure from the Khazars, the Adyghe people did not seem to unite politically. This reduced their influence in the area and their ability to withstand periodic invasions from groups like the Mongols, Avars, Pechenegs, Huns, and Khazars.

Genetically, the Adyghe population has shared ancestry mainly with neighboring peoples of the Caucasus, with some influence from other regions.

A group of Armenian scientists conducted a study about the origins of the Turkish people in relation to Armenians. Savak Avagian; director of Armenia’s bone marrow bank found that “Turks and Armenians were the two societies throughout the world that were genetically close to each other. Kurds are also in same genetic pool”.

During the 6th century BC, most of Anatolia was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the Persians having usurped the Medes as the dominant dynasty in Iran. In 499 BC, the Ionian city-states on the west coast of Anatolia rebelled against Persian rule. The Ionian Revolt, as it became known, initiated the Greco-Persian Wars, which ended in a Greek victory in 449 BC, and the Ionian cities regained their independence.

In 334 BC, the Macedonian Greek king Alexander the Great conquered the peninsula. Alexander’s conquest opened up the interior of Asia Minor to Greek settlement and influence. Following the death of Alexander and the breakup of his empire, Anatolia was ruled by a series of Hellenistic kingdoms, such as the Attalids of Pergamum and the Seleucids, the latter controlling most of Anatolia. A period of peaceful Hellenization followed, such that the local Anatolian languages had been supplanted by Greek by the 1st century BC.

During the 1st century BC the Armenians established the powerful Armenian kingdom under Tigran who reigned throughout much of eastern Anatolia between the Caspian, Black, and Mediterranean seas.

After the division of the Roman Empire, Anatolia became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire. Anatolia was one of the first places where Christianity spread, so that by the 4th century AD, western and central Anatolia were overwhelmingly Christian and Greek-speaking. For the next 600 years, while Imperial possessions in Europe were subjected to barbarian invasions, Anatolia would be the center of the Hellenic world.

Byzantine control was challenged by Arab raids starting in the 8th century, but in the 9th and 10th century a resurgent Byzantine Empire regained its lost territories and even expanded beyond its traditional borders, into Armenia and Syria (ancient Aram).

The background of the Armenians

Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show.

Aleppo appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus. The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Armani (Armenians) to the Akkadians.

The Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of the Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) mention the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”. The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu.

Minni is also a Biblical name of the region, appearing in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:27) alongside Ararat (Urartu) and Ashchenaz (Scythians), probably the same as the Minnai of Assyrian inscriptions, corresponding to the Mannea, corresponding to the country of the Mannaeans, an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia.

Muṣaṣir (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake ), in Urartian Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin) was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC. The city’s tutelary deity was Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk, the Armenian patriarch. Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle.

Ḫaldi was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) panthenon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

Scholars such as Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi. The short-lived 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty.

The origin of the Arameans remains uncertain, with limited mention of Arameans in Mesopotamian inscriptions supplemented by a few descriptive situations associated with Rebekah from Aram-Naharaim in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Aleppo, occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (ca. 2300 BC).

One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured “Dubul, the ensi of A-ra-me” (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains.

Other early references to a place or people of “Aram” have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC). There is little agreement concerning what, if any, relationship there was between these places, or if the Aramu were actually Arameans; the earliest undisputed mention of Arameans as a people appears in the inscriptions of Tiglath Pileser I (c. 1100 BC).

Nomadic pastoralists have long played a prominent role in the economy of the Middle East, but their numbers seem to vary according to climatic conditions and the force of neighbouring states inducing permanent settlement.

The Ahlamû (= wanderers) are first mentioned in the el-Amarna letters alluding to the king of Babylon; the presence of the Ahlamû are also attested in Assyria, Nippur and even at Dilmun (Bahrain); Shalmaneser I (1274-1245 BC) defeated the Shattuara, King of Mitanni and his Hittite and Ahlamû mercenaries are mentioned in the Jazirah.

The term appears equivalent to the Egyptian term Shasu (Shsw = wanderer), who replaced the outlaw ‘Apiru (cuneiform SA.GAZ) as the major source of instability in the Egyptian Levantine empire from the reign of Tutankhamun onwards.

In the following century, the Ahlamû cut the road from Babylon to Hattusas, and Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244-1208 BC) claims that he conquered Mari, Hana and Rapiqum on the Euphrates and “the mountain of the Ahlamû”, apparently the region of Jebel Bishri.

For the first time, an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) refers to the “Ahlamû-Aramaeans” (Ahlame Armaia) and shortly after, the Ahlamû rapidly disappear from Assyrian annals, to be replaced by the Aramaeans (Aramu, Arimi).

“Ahlamû-Aramaeans” would consider the Arameans as an important and in time dominant faction of the Ahlamû tribes, however it is possible that the two peoples had nothing in common, but operated in the same area.

It is conceivable that the name “Aramaeans” was a more accurate form of the earlier ethnonym Martu (Amorites, Westerners) in the Assyrian tablets.

Amorite (Sumerian MAR.TU, Akkadian Tidnum or Amurrūm, Egyptian Amar, Hebrew  ʼĔmōrī) refers to an ancient Semitic-speaking people from ancient Syria who also occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC. The term Amurru in Akkadian and Sumerian texts refers to them, as well as to their principal deity.

In the earliest Sumerian sources, beginning about 2400 BC, the land of the Amorites (“the Mar.tu land”) is associated not with Mesopotamia but with lands immediately to the West, including what is now modern Syria and Canaan. They appear as nomadic people in the Mesopotamian sources, and they are especially connected with the mountainous region of Jebel Bishri in Syria called the “mountain of the Amorites”.

Mari had been inhabited since the 5th millennium BC. The city flourished from about 2900 BC, since it was strategically important as a relay point between the Sumerian cities of lower Mesopotamia and the cities of northern Syria. Sumer required building materials such as timber and stone from northern Syria, and these materials had to go through Mari to get to Sumer.

The Sumerian King List (SKL) records a dynasty of six kings from Mari enjoying hegemony between Adab and Kish, ca. 25th c. BC. Several names of kings from this period, including those from the kings’ list, are also known from correspondence found elsewhere, including Ebla.

After a period of eminence, Mari was destroyed in the mid-24th century BC. This destruction brought a period of relative decline in importance in the region, and the city was reduced to no more than a small village.

Historians are divided as to who destroyed the city; some name Sargon of Akkad (who stated that he had passed through Mari on his famous campaign to the west), while others say it was the Eblaites, Mari’s traditional commercial rivals. However, the status of the city was revived again under an Amorite dynasty, which started the second golden age commenced around 1900 BC.

Emar was strategically sited as a trans-shipping point where trade on the Euphrates was reloaded for shipping by overland route. In the middle of the third millennium BC Emar came under the influence of the rulers of Ebla; the city is mentioned in archives at Ebla.

In Mari texts of the eighteenth century BC, (Middle Bronze Age), Emar was under the influence of the neighboring Amorite state of Yamhad. There was no local tradition of kingship at Emar.

Mitanni or Hanigalbat was an Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC. The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform Mi-ta-an-ni, also Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni) by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat (Assyrian Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

The name Mitanni is first found in the “memoirs” of the Syrian wars (ca. 1480 BC) of the official astronomer and clockmaker Amememhet, who returned from the “foreign country called Me-ta-ni” at the time of Thutmose I.

Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. Nairi was the Assyrian name (Na-i-ri, also Na-‘i-ru) for a Proto-Armenian (Hurrian-speaking) region in the Armenian Highlands, roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey.

Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”, or “Hurrians”. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.

Founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing a predominately Hurrian population, Mitanni came to be a regional power after the Hittite destruction of Amorite Babylon and a series of ineffectual Assyrian kings created a power vacuum in Mesopotamia.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain, and the culture was earlier known as the Shengavit culture. Its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.

In the Armenian hypothesis of Indo-European origins, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages.

Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC. The Phrygian language would also be included.

Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Armeno-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armeno-Aryan hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).

The land of Subartu ((Sumerian Subir/Subar/Šubur, Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri), also known as Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Hurrian-speaking kingdom mentioned in the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC) and known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper.

Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki, and the Martu land. Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), -which has been identified with Aleppo, among the lands under his control.

There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of Assyria in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu.

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the early Armenians.

Tell es-Sawwan is a primarily Ubaid, Hassuna, and Samarra culture occupation with some later Babylonian graves. It is considered the type site for the Samarran culture. It is located in Saladin Province, Iraq, 110 kilometres (68 mi) north of Baghdad, and south of Samarra.

The Ubaid period (ca. 6500 to 3800 BC) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by Henry Hall and later by Leonard Woolley. Cultural influences on Ubaid culture: Samarran Farmers from the North, trans-Arabian bifacial indigenous hunter-gatherers, and circum Arabian nomadic pastoral complex.

The Ubaid 1 period (5300–4700 BC), sometimes called Eridu, is a phase limited to the extreme south of Iraq, on what was then the shores of the Persian Gulf. This phase, showing clear connection to the Samarra culture to the north, saw the establishment of the first permanent settlement south of the 5 inch rainfall isohyet. These people pioneered the growing of grains in the extreme conditions of aridity, thanks to the high water tables of Southern Iraq.

Ceramic production appeared in the ancient Near East towards the end of the 8th millenium BCE, and towards the 6th millenium BCE painted ceramics were common. In southern Mesopotamia the Samarra culture, and in northern Mesopotamia the Hassuna and Samarra cultures, produced finely decorated ceramics in the seventh and early 6th centuries BCE, showing the distribution of Halaf and early Ubaid cultures. The Samarra bowl, at the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin, have the Swastika in the center of the design.

Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pāli) is the name of the central world-mountain in Buddhist cosmology. believed to be the centre of the universe from which four major rivers have their source, with their out-flowing routes creating the arms of the holy Swastika common in Hindu and Buddhist iconology.

The concept of Sumeru is closely related to the Hindu mythological concept of a central world mountain, called Meru, but differs from the Hindu concept in several particulars. Etymologically, the proper name of the mountain is Meru (Pāli Neru), to which is added the approbatory prefix su-, resulting in the meaning “excellent Meru” or “wonderful Meru”.

There seems to be a connection between the similar sounding places of ‘Samarra’ and ‘Sumeru’. The early travelers brought the Swastika to India – naming their holy mountain after their place of origination. Shinar, Šinʻar, is a biblical geographical locale of uncertain boundaries in Mesopotamia. The name may be a corruption of Hebrew Shene neharot (“two rivers”), Hebrew Shene arim (“two cities”), or Akkadian Sumeru.

Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span.

The word “Mashu” itself may translate as “two mountains”, from the Babylonian for twins. The “twins”, in Semitic mythology, were also often seen as two mountains, one at the eastern edge of the world (in the lower Zagros), the other at the western edge of the world (in the Taurus), and one of these seem to have had an Iranian location.

The Bible says that Noah’s ark landed on the mountains of Ararat. This does not refer to any specific mountain or peak, but rather a mountain range within the region of Ararat, which was the name of an ancient proto-Armenian kingdom also known as Urartu.

Nonetheless, one particular tradition identifies the mountain as Mount Masis, the highest peak in the Armenian Highland, which is therefore called Mount Ararat. Masis is the Armenian name for the peak of Ararat, the plural ‘Masiq’  may refer to both peaks.

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2300–1700 BCE, located in present day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River).

There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag during the Neolithic period. This region is dotted with the multi-period hallmarks characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those southwest of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran.

At Jeitun (or Djeitun), mudbrick houses were first occupied c. 6000 cal. BCE. The inhabitants were farmers who kept herds of goats and sheep and grew wheat and barley, with origins in southwest Asia.[

The inhabitants of the BMAC were sedentary people who practised irrigation farming of wheat and barley. With their impressive material culture including monumental architecture, bronze tools, ceramics, and jewellery of semiprecious stones, the complex exhibits many of the hallmarks of civilization.

The complex can be compared to proto-urban settlements in the Helmand basin at Mundigak in western Afghanistan and Shahr-i Shōkhta in eastern Iran, or at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley.

BMAC materials have been found in the Indus civilization, on the Iranian plateau, and in the Persian Gulf. Finds within BMAC sites provide further evidence of trade and cultural contacts. They include an Elamite-type cylinder seal and an Harappan seal stamped with an elephant and Indus script found at Gonur-depe. The relationship between Altyn-Depe and the Indus Valley seems to have been particularly strong.

There is evidence of sustained contact between the BMAC and the Eurasian steppes to the north, intensifying c. 2000 BCE. In the delta of the River Amu Darya where it reaches the Aral Sea, its waters were channeled for irrigation agriculture by people whose remains resemble those of the nomads of the Andronovo Culture. This is interpreted as nomads settling down to agriculture, after contact with the BMAC.

The culture they created is known as Tazabag’yad. About 1800 BCE the walled BMAC centres decreased sharply in size. Each oasis developed its own types of pottery and other objects. Also pottery of the Andronovo-Tazabag’yab culture to the north appeared widely in the Bactrian and Margian countryside.

Many BMAC strongholds continued to be occupied and Andronovo-Tazabagyab coarse incised pottery occurs within them (along with the previous BMAC pottery) as well as in pastoral camps outside the mudbrick walls. In the highlands above the Bactrian oases in Tajikistan, kurgan cemeteries of the Vaksh and Bishkent type appeared with pottery that mixed elements of the late BMAC and Andronovo-Tazabagyab traditions.

A significant section of the archaeologists are more inclined to see the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent.

It has become increasingly clear that if one wishes to argue for Indo-Iranian migrations from the steppe lands south into the historical seats of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans that these steppe cultures were transformed as they passed through a membrane of Central Asian urbanism.

The fact that typical steppe wares are found on BMAC sites and that intrusive BMAC material is subsequently found further to the south in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan, may suggest then the subsequent movement of Indo-Iranian-speakers after they had adopted the culture of the BMAC.

In India

Some of the earliest ancient human civilisations in South Asia originated from areas encompassing present-day Pakistan. The earliest known inhabitants in the region were Soanian during the Lower Paleolithic, of whom stone tools have been found in the Soan Valley of Punjab.

The Indus region, which covers most of Pakistan, was the site of several successive ancient cultures including the Neolithic Mehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation (2800–1800 BCE) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

Mehrgarh, (7000–5500 BCE), on the Kachi Plain of Balochistan, is an important Neolithic site discovered in 1974, with early evidence of farming and herding, and dentistry. Early residents lived in mud brick houses, stored grain in granaries, fashioned tools with copper ore, cultivated barley, wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle.

As the civilization progressed (5500–2600 BCE) residents began to engage in crafts, including flint knapping, tanning, bead production, and metalworking. The site was occupied continuously until 2600 BCE, when climatic changes began to occur. Between 2600 and 2000 BCE, region became more arid and Mehrgarh was abandoned in favour of the Indus Valley, where a new civilization was in the early stages of development.

The Indus Valley Civilization developed between 3300–1700 BCE on the banks of the Indus River. At its peak, the civilisation hosted a population of approximately 5 million in hundreds of settlements extending as far as the Arabian Sea, present-day southern and eastern Afghanistan, southeastern Iran and the Himalayas.

Major urban centers were at Dholavira, Kalibangan, Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro, and Rakhigarhi, as well as an offshoot called the Kulli culture (2500–2000 BCE) in southern Balochistan, which had similar settlements, pottery and other artifacts. The civilization collapsed abruptly around 1700 BCE.

In the early part of the second millennium BCE, the Rigvedic civilization existed, between the Sapta Sindhu and Ganges-Yamuna rivers. The city of Taxila in northern Pakistan, became important to Vedic religion (and later in Buddhism).

Early Vedic society consisted of largely pastoral groups, with late Harappan urbanization having been abandoned. After the time of the Rigveda, Aryan society became increasingly agricultural and was socially organized around the four varnas, or social classes.

In addition to the Vedas, the principal texts of Hinduism, the core themes of the Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are said to have their ultimate origins during this period. The early Indo-Aryan presence probably corresponds, in part, to the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture in archaeological contexts.

The Kuru kingdom corresponds to the Black and Red Ware and Painted Grey Ware cultures and to the beginning of the Iron Age in South Asia, around 1000 BCE, as well as with the composition of the Atharvaveda, the first Vedic text to mention iron, as śyāma ayas, literally “black metal.”

The Painted Grey Ware culture spanned much of northern India from about 1100 to 600 BCE. The Vedic Period also established republics such as Vaishali, which existed as early as the 6th century BCE and persisted in some areas until the 4th century CE. The later part of this period corresponds with an increasing movement away from the previous tribal system towards the establishment of kingdoms, called mahajanapadas.

The Vedic Civilization (1500–500 BCE) characterised by Indo-Aryan culture laid the foundations of Hinduism, which would become well established in the region. Multan was an important Hindu pilgrimage centre.

The Vedic civilisation flourished in the ancient Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā, now Taxila in Punjab. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Persian Achaemenid Empire around 519 BCE, Alexander the Great’s empire in 326 BCE and the Maurya Empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great until 185 BCE.

The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria (180–165 BCE) included Gandhara and Punjab and reached its greatest extent under Menander (165–150 BCE), prospering the Greco-Buddhist culture in the region. Taxila had one of the earliest universities and centres of higher education in the world.

In India the Maratha (archaically transliterated as Marhatta or Mahratta) are an Indian warrior caste, found predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. The term Marāthā has two related usages: within the Marathi-speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste; historically, the term describes the kingdomfounded by Shivaji Raje in the seventeenth century and continued by his successors.

Maharashtra is a state in the western region of India. It is the second most populous state after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India. Maharashtra is the wealthiest state in India, contributing 15% of the country’s industrial output and 13.3% of its GDP (2006–2007 figures).

The modern Marathi language developed from the Maharashtri Prakrit, and the word Marhatta (later used for the Marathas) is found in the Jain Maharashtri literature. The terms Maharashtra, Maharashtri, Marathi and Maratha may have derived from the same root. However, their exact etymology is uncertain.

The most widely accepted theory among the scholars is that the words Maratha and Maharashtra ultimately derive from a compound of Maha (Sanskrit for “great”) and rashtrika. The word rashtrika is a Sanskritised form of Ratta, the name of a tribe or a dynasty of petty chiefs ruling in the Deccan region.

Mahisha or Mahishaka was a kingdom in ancient India, ruled by the Asura king Mahisha. His capital, Mahisha City, is currently known as Mysore a city in Karnataka. This kingdom is mentioned in Mahabharata, though Puranas (especially Markandeya Purana) gives more information. The Sanskrit word Mahisha means great, powerful.

Another theory is that the term is derived from Maha (“great”) and rathi or ratha (great chariot driver), which refers to a skillful northern fighting force that migrated southward into the area.

The Mahar are an Indian community historically identified as Untouchables. They are found largely within Maharashtra. As Untouchables they were assigned a very low status in Hinduism, and as a result most of the Mahar community followed social reformer B. R. Ambedkar in converting to Buddhism in the early 20th century.

The 19th century activist and social reformer Jyotirao Phule wrote that the Mahars are indigenous people of India belong to Kshatriya (warrior) varna, and they were conquered by Aryan Brahman race, which came from beyond the Indus region to invade India and the established the caste system for social control.

The Mahar fought with the Brahman and their ancestors were singled out as untouchables. Phule proposed etymologies “great/terrible enemy” (maha meaning great and ari or art meaning enemy), or “those who take away dead animals” (mrit har). The name of Maharashtra state is possibly derived from “land of the Mahars”(Mahāran̄ce rāṣṭra).

Kshatriya, from (holder of) Kshatra (rule or authority), is one of the four varnas (social orders) of the Hindu society. The Sanskrit term Kshatriya belonged to the Vedic society wherein members organized themselves into 3 classes, viz., Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya. Traditionally, Kshatriya constitute the ruling and military elite. They were in charge of the protection of the society by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime.

The most recent gene flow paternal gene flow from West Asia corresponds largely to  haplogroup haplogroup J2a-M410. J2a and R1a1 have similar Y-STR variances in the two studied populations, and their ages are roughly a third of those reported (with wide uncertainty), or about ~4ky.

This is roughly consistent with the postulated arrival of the Indo-Aryans in India, and should probably be added to the enumeration of cases where the genealogical mutation rate correlates well with prehistory. It also seems consistent with my speculation about a West Asian origin of the Indo-Aryans.

These findings reveal movement of populations to Maharashtra through the western coast rather than mainland where Western Ghats-Vindhya Mountains and Narmada-Tapti rivers might have acted as a natural barrier.

Within India, J2a is more common among the upper castes and decreases in frequency with the caste level. This can be explained by the assimilation of local J2a (and R2) people from Bactria and Pakistan by the R1a Indo-European warriors who descended from the Volga-Ural region of Russia (Sintashta culture) and established themselves for a few centuries in southern Central Asia, immediately north of the Hindu Kush (including the Oxus civilization) before moving on to conquer the Indian subcontinent. J2a would have reached Bactria with the expansion of Neolithic herders from the Middle East who then blended with the indigenous hunter-gatherers belonging chiefly to R2.

J2b has a quite different distribution from J2a. J2b seems to have a stronger association with the Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures of Southeast Europe. It is particularly common in the Balkans, Central Europe and Italy, which is roughly the extent of the European Copper Age culture. Its maximum frequency is achieved around Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Northwest Greece – the part of the Balkans which best resisted the Slavic invasions in the Early Middle Ages.

The vast majority of J2b lineages belong to J2b2 and its subclades. While J2b* and J2b1 lineages are mostly restricted to the Caucasus, Anatolia and the Balkans, J2b2 is also found in the Pontic Steppe, in Central Asia and in South Asia, particularly in India. Its very low frequency in the Middle East though suggests that, unlike other J2 lineages it was not disseminated by a demic diffusion of the Neolithic lifestyle.

In many ways the distribution of J2b2 and its subclades is strongly reminiscent of G2a3b1 and its subclades. The most likely hypothesis is that both haplogroups colonised the Pontic Steppe region during the Neolithic, either crossing the Caucasus from eastern Anatolia or, more probably, expanding east from the flourishing cultures of ‘Old Europe’ (Thessalian Neolithic). J2b2 and G2a3b1 would have integrated the local R1a population, and later been joined by a larger contingent of R1b lineages coming from the North Caucasus.

Nowadays J2b2 is found chiefly in south-east and Central Europe, but also in Russia and among the upper castes of India. All these elements reinforce the hypothesis that J2b2 and G2a3b1 were two minor lineages spread within an R1a-dominant population during the Indo-Aryan invasions of South Asia approximately 3,500 years ago.

Another conceivable possibility is that a minority of J2b2, G2a3b1 and R1b-M269 from the Caucasus region migrated to the Volga-Ural region in the early Bronze Age, propagating with them the Proto-Indo-European language and bronze technology to the Caspian steppe before the expansion of this new culture to Central and South Asia. The drawback of this hypothesis is that it doesn’t explain why R1b lineages strongly outnumber J2b2 and G2a3b1 in Europe but not in South Asia.

Any connections?

Mari is a city that has been inhabited since the 5th millennium BC. The city flourished from about 2900 BC, since it was strategically important as a relay point between the Sumerian cities of lower Mesopotamia and the cities of northern Syria. Sumer required building materials such as timber and stone from northern Syria, and these materials had to go through Mari to get to Sumer.

Marhaši (Mar-ḫa-ši, Marhashi, Marhasi, Parhasi, Barhasi; in earlier sources Waraḫše) was a 3rd millennium BC polity situated east of Elam, on the Iranian plateau. It is known from Mesopotamian sources, and its precise location has not been identified, though some scholars link it with Jiroft.

An inscription attributed to Lugal-Anne-Mundu of Adab (albeit in much later copies) mentions it among the seven provinces of his empire, between the names of Elam and Gutium. This inscription also recorded that he confronted their governor (ensi), Migir-Enlil of Marhashi, who had led a coalition of 13 rebel chiefs against him.

The Awan kings of Elam were in conflict with a Sumerian ruler’s attempt to seize the market at Warakshe, a kingdom apparently near Elam on the Iranian plateau, rich in luxury products of all types, especially precious stones. During the Akkadian Empire, Warakshe was conquered by Sargon the Great, and king Abalgamash of Warakshe and his general Sidgau, along with Luh-ishan of Awan, rebelled unsuccessfully against Rimush, while Hishep-ratep of Awan in alliance with Warakshe was defeated by Naram-Sin.

King Shulgi of the Ur-III dynasty gave his daughter Nialimmidashu in marriage to king Libanukshabash of Marhashi in his 18th year, in an attempt to forge an alliance, but this proved short-lived, for Shulgi’s successor Amar-Sin records having to campaign against their new king, Arwilukpi.

Hammurabi of Babylonia’s 30th year name was “Year Hammurabi the king, the mighty, the beloved of Marduk, drove away with the supreme power of the great gods the army of Elam who had gathered from the border of Marhashi, Subartu, Gutium, Tupliash (Eshnunna) and Malgium who had come up in multitudes, and having defeated them in one campaign, he (Hammurabi) secured the foundations of Sumer and Akkad.”

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

The Maratha (archaically transliterated as Marhatta or Mahratta) are an Indian warrior caste, found predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. The term Marāthā has two related usages: within the Marathi-speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste; historically, the term describes the kingdomfounded by Shivaji Raje in the seventeenth century and continued by his successors.

Maharashtra is a state in the western region of India. It is the second most populous state after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India. Maharashtra is the wealthiest state in India, contributing 15% of the country’s industrial output and 13.3% of its GDP (2006–2007 figures).

The modern Marathi language developed from the Maharashtri Prakrit, and the word Marhatta (later used for the Marathas) is found in the Jain Maharashtri literature. The terms Maharashtra, Maharashtri, Marathi and Maratha may have derived from the same root. However, their exact etymology is uncertain.

The most widely accepted theory among the scholars is that the words Maratha and Maharashtra ultimately derive from a compound of Maha (Sanskrit for “great”) and rashtrika. The word rashtrika is a Sanskritised form of Ratta, the name of a tribe or a dynasty of petty chiefs ruling in the Deccan region.

Another theory is that the term is derived from Maha (“great”) and rathi or ratha (great chariot driver), which refers to a skillful northern fighting force that migrated southward into the area.

The Mahar are an Indian community historically identified as Untouchables. They are found largely within Maharashtra. As Untouchables they were assigned a very low status in Hinduism, and as a result most of the Mahar community followed social reformer B. R. Ambedkar in converting to Buddhism in the early 20th century.

The 19th century activist and social reformer Jyotirao Phule wrote that the Mahars are indigenous people of India belong to Kshatriya (warrior) varna, and they were conquered by Aryan Brahman race, which came from beyond the Indus region to invade India and the established the caste system for social control.

The Mahar fought with the Brahman and their ancestors were singled out as untouchables. Phule proposed etymologies “great/terrible enemy” (maha meaning great and ari or art meaning enemy), or “those who take away dead animals” (mrit har). The name of Maharashtra state is possibly derived from “land of the Mahars”(Mahāran̄ce rāṣṭra).

Kshatriya, from (holder of) Kshatra (rule or authority), is one of the four varnas (social orders) of the Hindu society. The Sanskrit term Kshatriya belonged to the Vedic society wherein members organized themselves into 3 classes, viz., Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya. Traditionally, Kshatriya constitute the ruling and military elite. They were in charge of the protection of the society by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime.

The most recent gene flow paternal gene flow from West Asia corresponds largely to  haplogroup haplogroup J2a-M410. J2a and R1a1 have similar Y-STR variances in the two studied populations, and their ages are roughly a third of those reported (with wide uncertainty), or about ~4ky.

This is roughly consistent with the postulated arrival of the Indo-Aryans in India, and should probably be added to the enumeration of cases where the genealogical mutation rate correlates well with prehistory. It also seems consistent with my speculation about a West Asian origin of the Indo-Aryans.

These findings reveal movement of populations to Maharashtra through the western coast rather than mainland where Western Ghats-Vindhya Mountains and Narmada-Tapti rivers might have acted as a natural barrier.

Margu (Latin: Margiana) was a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. The ruler who lost a Bactrian revolt is mentioned as a Margian in the Behistun inscriptions of ca. 515 BCE by Darius Hystaspis. It is not mentioned as a satrapy in the inscription, because it was included in a larger satrapy of the empire.

It was located in the valley of the river Murghab, also called Margos, Margu and Margiana River, which has its sources in the mountains of Afghanistan, and passes through Murghab District in modern Afghanistan, and then reaches the oasis of Merv (Persian: Marw) in modern Turkmenistan. Merv was the centere of Margiana.

Merv’s origins are prehistoric: archaeological surveys have revealed many traces of village life as far back as the 3rd millennium BC and that the city was culturally part of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. Under the name of Mouru, Merv is mentioned with Balkh in the geography of the Zend-Avesta (commentaries on the Avesta).

Under the Achaemenid dynasty Merv is mentioned as being a place of some importance: under the name of Margu it occurs as part of one of the satrapies in the Behistun inscriptions (ca. 515 BC) of the Persian monarch Darius Hystaspis. The first city of Merv was founded in the 6th century BC as part of the expansion into the region by the Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC), but the Achaemenid levels are deeply covered by later strata at the site.

Later history

In the 10 years following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia established themselves over large areas of Anatolia, with particular concentrations around the north western rim.

The Turkish language and the Islamic religion were gradually introduced as a result of the Seljuk conquest, and this period marks the start of Anatolia’s slow transition from predominantly Christian and Greek-speaking, to predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking (although some ethnic groups such as Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians remained numerous and retained Christianity and their native languages).

In the following century, the Byzantines managed to reassert their control in western and northern Anatolia. Control of Anatolia was then split between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm, with the Byzantine holdings gradually being reduced. In 1255, the Mongols swept through eastern and central Anatolia, and would remain until 1335. The Ilkhanate garrison was stationed near Ankara.

By the end of the 14th century, most of Anatolia was controlled by various Anatolian beyliks. Smyrna fell in 1330, and the last Byzantine stronghold in Anatolia, Philadelphia, fell in 1390. The Turkmen Beyliks were under the control of the Mongols, at least nominally, through declining Seljuk Sultans. The Beyliks did not mint coins in the names of their own leaders while they remained under the suzerainty of the Mongol Ilkhanids.

The Osmanli ruler Osman I was the first Turkish ruler who minted coins in his own name in 1320s, for it bears the legend “Minted by Osman son of Ertugul”. Since the minting of coins was a prerogative accorded in Islamic practice only to a sovereign, it can be considered that Osmanli became formally independent from the Mongol Khans.

After the decline of the Ilkhanate from 1335–1353, the Mongol Empire’s legacy in the region was the Uyghur Eretna Dynasty that was overthrown by Kadi Burhan al-Din in 1381. Among the Turkmen leaders the Ottomans emerged as great power under Osman and his son Orhan I.

The Anatolian beyliks were in turn absorbed into the rising Ottoman Empire during the 15th century. The Ottomans completed the conquest of the peninsula in 1517 with the taking of Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum) from the Knights of Saint John.

With the beginning of the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, and as a result of the expansionist policies of Czarist Russia in the Caucasus, many Muslim nations and groups in that region, mainly Circassians, Tatars, Azeris, Lezgis, Chechens and several Turkic groups left their ancestral homelands and settled in Anatolia.

As the Ottoman Empire further shrank in the Balkan regions and then fragmented during the Balkan Wars, much of the non-Christian populations of its former possessions, mainly Balkan Muslims (Bosnians, Albanians, Turks, Muslim Bulgarians and Greek Muslims such as the Vallahades from Greek Macedonia, Bulgaria, Northern Macedonia), were resettled in various parts of Anatolia, mostly in formerly Christian villages throughout Anatolia.

A continuous reverse migration occurred since the early 19th century, when Greeks from Anatolia, Constantinopole and Pontus area migrated toward the newly independent Kingdom of Greece, and also towards the United States, southern part of the Russian Empire, Latin America and rest of Europe.

Following the Treaty of Turkmenchay (1828) and the incorporation of the Eastern Armenia into the Russian Empire, another reverse migration involved the large Armenian population of Anatolia, which recorded significant migration rates from Western Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) toward the Russian Empire, especially toward the newly established Armenian provinces of the empire.

Anatolia remained multi-ethnic until the early 20th century (see the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire). During World War I, the Armenian Genocide, the Greek genocide (especially in Pontus), and the Assyrian Genocide almost entirely removed the ancient indigenous communities of Armenian and Assyrian populations in Anatolia, as well as a large part of its ethnic Greek population.

Following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, all remaining ethnic Anatolian Greeks were forced out during the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, Anatolia has become Turkey, its inhabitants being mainly Turks and Kurds (see demographics of Turkey and history of Turkey).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The history of India

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 20, 2013

In India

Some of the earliest ancient human civilisations in South Asia originated from areas encompassing present-day Pakistan. The earliest known inhabitants in the region were Soanian during the Lower Paleolithic, of whom stone tools have been found in the Soan Valley of Punjab.

The Indus region, which covers most of Pakistan, was the site of several successive ancient cultures including the Neolithic Mehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation (2800–1800 BCE) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

Mehrgarh, (7000–5500 BCE), on the Kachi Plain of Balochistan, is an important Neolithic site discovered in 1974, with early evidence of farming and herding, and dentistry. Early residents lived in mud brick houses, stored grain in granaries, fashioned tools with copper ore, cultivated barley, wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle.

As the civilization progressed (5500–2600 BCE) residents began to engage in crafts, including flint knapping, tanning, bead production, and metalworking. The site was occupied continuously until 2600 BCE, when climatic changes began to occur. Between 2600 and 2000 BCE, region became more arid and Mehrgarh was abandoned in favour of the Indus Valley, where a new civilization was in the early stages of development.

The Indus Valley Civilization developed between 3300–1700 BCE on the banks of the Indus River. At its peak, the civilisation hosted a population of approximately 5 million in hundreds of settlements extending as far as the Arabian Sea, present-day southern and eastern Afghanistan, southeastern Iran and the Himalayas.

Major urban centers were at Dholavira, Kalibangan, Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro, and Rakhigarhi, as well as an offshoot called the Kulli culture (2500–2000 BCE) in southern Balochistan, which had similar settlements, pottery and other artifacts. The civilization collapsed abruptly around 1700 BCE.

In the early part of the second millennium BCE, the Rigvedic civilization existed, between the Sapta Sindhu and Ganges-Yamuna rivers. The city of Taxila in northern Pakistan, became important to Vedic religion (and later in Buddhism).

Early Vedic society consisted of largely pastoral groups, with late Harappan urbanization having been abandoned. After the time of the Rigveda, Aryan society became increasingly agricultural and was socially organized around the four varnas, or social classes.

In addition to the Vedas, the principal texts of Hinduism, the core themes of the Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are said to have their ultimate origins during this period. The early Indo-Aryan presence probably corresponds, in part, to the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture in archaeological contexts.

The Kuru kingdom corresponds to the Black and Red Ware and Painted Grey Ware cultures and to the beginning of the Iron Age in South Asia, around 1000 BCE, as well as with the composition of the Atharvaveda, the first Vedic text to mention iron, as śyāma ayas, literally “black metal.”

The Painted Grey Ware culture spanned much of northern India from about 1100 to 600 BCE. The Vedic Period also established republics such as Vaishali, which existed as early as the 6th century BCE and persisted in some areas until the 4th century CE. The later part of this period corresponds with an increasing movement away from the previous tribal system towards the establishment of kingdoms, called mahajanapadas.

The Vedic Civilization (1500–500 BCE) characterised by Indo-Aryan culture laid the foundations of Hinduism, which would become well established in the region. Multan was an important Hindu pilgrimage centre.

The Vedic civilisation flourished in the ancient Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā, now Taxila in Punjab. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Persian Achaemenid Empire around 519 BCE, Alexander the Great’s empire in 326 BCE and the Maurya Empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great until 185 BCE.

The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria (180–165 BCE) included Gandhara and Punjab and reached its greatest extent under Menander (165–150 BCE), prospering the Greco-Buddhist culture in the region. Taxila had one of the earliest universities and centres of higher education in the world.

In India the Maratha (archaically transliterated as Marhatta or Mahratta) are an Indian warrior caste, found predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. The term Marāthā has two related usages: within the Marathi-speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste; historically, the term describes the kingdomfounded by Shivaji Raje in the seventeenth century and continued by his successors.

Maharashtra is a state in the western region of India. It is the second most populous state after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India. Maharashtra is the wealthiest state in India, contributing 15% of the country’s industrial output and 13.3% of its GDP (2006–2007 figures).

The modern Marathi language developed from the Maharashtri Prakrit, and the word Marhatta (later used for the Marathas) is found in the Jain Maharashtri literature. The terms Maharashtra, Maharashtri, Marathi and Maratha may have derived from the same root. However, their exact etymology is uncertain.

The most widely accepted theory among the scholars is that the words Maratha and Maharashtra ultimately derive from a compound of Maha (Sanskrit for “great”) and rashtrika. The word rashtrika is a Sanskritised form of Ratta, the name of a tribe or a dynasty of petty chiefs ruling in the Deccan region.

Mahisha or Mahishaka was a kingdom in ancient India, ruled by the Asura king Mahisha. His capital, Mahisha City, is currently known as Mysore a city in Karnataka. This kingdom is mentioned in Mahabharata, though Puranas (especially Markandeya Purana) gives more information. The Sanskrit word Mahisha means great, powerful.

Another theory is that the term is derived from Maha (“great”) and rathi or ratha (great chariot driver), which refers to a skillful northern fighting force that migrated southward into the area.

The Mahar are an Indian community historically identified as Untouchables. They are found largely within Maharashtra. As Untouchables they were assigned a very low status in Hinduism, and as a result most of the Mahar community followed social reformer B. R. Ambedkar in converting to Buddhism in the early 20th century.

The 19th century activist and social reformer Jyotirao Phule wrote that the Mahars are indigenous people of India belong to Kshatriya (warrior) varna, and they were conquered by Aryan Brahman race, which came from beyond the Indus region to invade India and the established the caste system for social control.

The Mahar fought with the Brahman and their ancestors were singled out as untouchables. Phule proposed etymologies “great/terrible enemy” (maha meaning great and ari or art meaning enemy), or “those who take away dead animals” (mrit har). The name of Maharashtra state is possibly derived from “land of the Mahars”(Mahāran̄ce rāṣṭra).

Kshatriya, from (holder of) Kshatra (rule or authority), is one of the four varnas (social orders) of the Hindu society. The Sanskrit term Kshatriya belonged to the Vedic society wherein members organized themselves into 3 classes, viz., Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya. Traditionally, Kshatriya constitute the ruling and military elite. They were in charge of the protection of the society by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime.

The most recent gene flow paternal gene flow from West Asia corresponds largely to  haplogroup haplogroup J2a-M410. J2a and R1a1 have similar Y-STR variances in the two studied populations, and their ages are roughly a third of those reported (with wide uncertainty), or about ~4ky.

This is roughly consistent with the postulated arrival of the Indo-Aryans in India, and should probably be added to the enumeration of cases where the genealogical mutation rate correlates well with prehistory. It also seems consistent with my speculation about a West Asian origin of the Indo-Aryans.

These findings reveal movement of populations to Maharashtra through the western coast rather than mainland where Western Ghats-Vindhya Mountains and Narmada-Tapti rivers might have acted as a natural barrier.

Within India, J2a is more common among the upper castes and decreases in frequency with the caste level. This can be explained by the assimilation of local J2a (and R2) people from Bactria and Pakistan by the R1a Indo-European warriors who descended from the Volga-Ural region of Russia (Sintashta culture) and established themselves for a few centuries in southern Central Asia, immediately north of the Hindu Kush (including the Oxus civilization) before moving on to conquer the Indian subcontinent. J2a would have reached Bactria with the expansion of Neolithic herders from the Middle East who then blended with the indigenous hunter-gatherers belonging chiefly to R2.

J2b has a quite different distribution from J2a. J2b seems to have a stronger association with the Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures of Southeast Europe. It is particularly common in the Balkans, Central Europe and Italy, which is roughly the extent of the European Copper Age culture. Its maximum frequency is achieved around Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Northwest Greece – the part of the Balkans which best resisted the Slavic invasions in the Early Middle Ages.

The vast majority of J2b lineages belong to J2b2 and its subclades. While J2b* and J2b1 lineages are mostly restricted to the Caucasus, Anatolia and the Balkans, J2b2 is also found in the Pontic Steppe, in Central Asia and in South Asia, particularly in India. Its very low frequency in the Middle East though suggests that, unlike other J2 lineages it was not disseminated by a demic diffusion of the Neolithic lifestyle.

In many ways the distribution of J2b2 and its subclades is strongly reminiscent of G2a3b1 and its subclades. The most likely hypothesis is that both haplogroups colonised the Pontic Steppe region during the Neolithic, either crossing the Caucasus from eastern Anatolia or, more probably, expanding east from the flourishing cultures of ‘Old Europe’ (Thessalian Neolithic). J2b2 and G2a3b1 would have integrated the local R1a population, and later been joined by a larger contingent of R1b lineages coming from the North Caucasus.

Nowadays J2b2 is found chiefly in south-east and Central Europe, but also in Russia and among the upper castes of India. All these elements reinforce the hypothesis that J2b2 and G2a3b1 were two minor lineages spread within an R1a-dominant population during the Indo-Aryan invasions of South Asia approximately 3,500 years ago.

Another conceivable possibility is that a minority of J2b2, G2a3b1 and R1b-M269 from the Caucasus region migrated to the Volga-Ural region in the early Bronze Age, propagating with them the Proto-Indo-European language and bronze technology to the Caspian steppe before the expansion of this new culture to Central and South Asia. The drawback of this hypothesis is that it doesn’t explain why R1b lineages strongly outnumber J2b2 and G2a3b1 in Europe but not in South Asia.

Sindh

Sindh (Latin: Indus; Sanskrit: Sindhu) is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the “Mehran” and has been given the title of Bab-ul-Islam (The gateway of Islam).

The region received its name, Sindh, from the River Sindhu (Indus) that separates it from Balochistan and the greater Iranian Plateau, and the people living in the region are referred to as Sindhi. As a western frontier of South Asia the region has always been exposed to the entry of invaders from Central Asia and the Middle East.

This river was known to the ancient Iranians in Avestan as Hindu, in Sanskrit as Sindhu, to Assyrians (as early as the seventh century BC) as Sinda, to the Greeks as Indos, to the Romans as Indus, to the Persians as Ab-e-sind, to the Pashtuns as “Abasind”, to the Arabs as Al-Hind, to the Chinese as Sintow, and to the Javanese as the Santri.

The terms Hindi and Hindu are derived from the word Sindh, as the ancient Persians pronounce “s” as “h” (e.g. sarasvati as hrauvati). In the same way, Persians called the people of this region as Hindhi people, their language as Hindhi language and the region as Hindh, the name which is used for this region since ancient times and later for the whole northern part of the Indian sub-continent even today.

India is also known as Hindustan, a name which has nothing to do with Hinduism, but related more to a people and their language named after the main river flowing through this region, the Sindhu (Indus).

Sindh is bounded to the west by the Indus River and Balochistan, to the north by Punjab, the east by the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan and to the south by the Arabian Sea. The capital of the province is Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub.

Sindhis are a Sindhi-speaking ethnic group native to the Sindh province of modern-day Pakistan. Most of the population in the province is Muslim, with sizable Hindu minorities. The main language spoken is Sindhi by about 26 million people, while there exists a significant Urdu-speaking minority of about 8 million.

Some of the places in Sindh have been inhabited as early as the 3rd millennium BC. A large number of Indus valley sites have been found in Sindh.

For several centuries in the first millennium BC., and in the first five centuries of the first millennium AD., western portions of Sindh, the regions on the western flank of the Indus river, were intermittently under Persian and Kushan rule, first during the Achaemenid dynasty (500-300 BC), then, from 150 BC under the Parthians, and still later under the Sassanids, before the Islamic invasion of Iran in the 7th century AD. Alexander the Great marched through Punjab and Sindh, down the Indus river, during his invasion of the eastern flank of the Persian empire.

Sindh was ruled by local Hindu and Buddhist rulers until 712 CE, when it was invaded by the Arabs and incorporated into part of the Umayyad Caliphate, resulting in widespread conversions to Islam. However, a substantial number of Sindhis still retain their Hindu beliefs.

Sindhi culture is highly influenced by Sufi doctrines and principles. Some of the popular cultural icons are Raja Dahir, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Jhulelal and Sachal Sarmast.

Because of its location at the western edge of South Asia, Sindh was one of the earliest regions to be influenced by Islam after 632 AD – as the Qu’ran was not written until then. Prior to this period, it was heavily Hindu, and Buddhist. After 632 AD, It was part of the Islamic empires of the Abbasids and Umayyids. Fundamentalist rulers played a pivotal role in forcibly converting millions of native Sindhis to Islam.

At the same time, Muslim technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and Sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to the Islamic Sultanate in Sindh. The region got settled by Turks, Pashtuns and Mughals. Habbari, Soomra, Samma, Arghun dynasties ruled Sindh. Many Baloch tribes migrated and settled in Sindh. These Baloch assimilated with Sindhis, and now they constitute a significant population of Sindh.

Soomro (or Soomra, Sumrah) is a Sindhi tribe mainly in Sindh, in parts of Punjab bordering Sindh and in Balochistan, Pakistan. Other cities also have some Soomro population, who have been there for work reasons, but their origins remain in Sindh.

Writers like E. O’Brein describe the Sumra as originally Rajputs: In A.D.750 they expelled the first Arab invaders from Sindh and Multan, and furnished the country with a dynasty which ruled in Multan from 1445 to 1526 A.D., when it was expelled by the Samma.

British political agent Colonel James Tod refers to them as a part of the twin clans of Umra and Sumra Rajputs who were a subdivision of Sodha tribe of Rajputs, which in turn has been mentioned as a grand division of Parmar Rajputs who in remote times held all the Rajputana desert.

Frequently combining with their brethren the Umars, gave name to a large tract of country, which is even still recognized as Umra-Sumra and Umarkot, and within which Alor and Bhukkar is situated.

Following the 985 CE expulsion of the Qarmatian Muslim sect from Iraq and Egypt, the Qarmatians relocated to Sindh. The grey part of history is that some say that when they relocated they were called Sumero along with some suggesting that they were the possibly converts to Islam in Sindh, however, there is no evidence of this as their presence becomes evident later on after they became rulers of Sindh and when they did they had Arabic names.

The term Soomro, spelled Soomro in English, but pronounced Soomera or Soomara, means ‘of Samarra’ in Sindhi. There is also a wide accepted concept of Soomera being men brought by bin Qasim and left there after he went back but according to the lack of information on this part of history, the facts are blurred.

When Sindh was under the Ummayad caliphate, the Habbari dynasty was in control. The Ummayads appointed Aziz al Habbari as the governor of sindh. Habbaris ruled Sindh until Mahmud Ghaznavi defeated the Habbari’s in 1024. Mahmud Ghaznavi viewed the Abbasids to be the Caliphs thus he removed the remaining influence of the Ummayad Caliphate in the region.

Following the defeat of the Habbari’s, the Abbasid Caliphate made Al Khafif from Samarra the new governor of Sindh for a better, stronger and stable government. Once he became the governor he allotted several key positions to his family and friends, thus Al-Khafif or Sardar Khafif Soomro formed the Soomra Dynasty in Sindh and became its first king. The Soomra ruled Sindh from 1024-1351.

Until the Siege of Baghdad (1258) the Soomra dynasty was the Abbasid Caliphate’s functionary in Sindh but after that it became independent. Since then some soomra’s intermarried with local women and adopted some local customs as well. It be noted that Mansura was the first capital of the Soomra Dynasty and the last of the Habbari dynasty.

Also a majority of Hindu Sindhi names end with ni thus to distinguish them from Hindu Rajputs they were called Soomero, written Soomro in English, and not Soomerni by the Hindu Rajputs of Sindh.

The overwhelming majority of Soomros are Sunni and a significant number who adheres to Sufi Islam and Shiite Islam like most of Sindhis but these days due to the rising influence of Wahhabi Islam a large number are Wahhabi as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: