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The Kalasha of Hindu Kush

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 10, 2013

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Y-Chromosomal DNA Variation in Pakistan

Why are the Kalash important?

There are three reasons why the Kalash are important in the study of Eurasian prehistory:

– Their mountainous habitat contributed to isolation and relative immunity from historical population movements

– Their non-Islamic religion has definitely preserved them from recent gene inflow

– Their language is unique within the Indo-Aryan family, and it often considered today as part of a separate Dardic family of Indo-Iranian in addition to the more populous Iranian and Indo-Aryan families.

The Kalash are crucial for those interested in the origins of Indo-Iranians, and the fact that they are, indeed, a simple West/South Asian mix is not without significance for that question.

The Kalasha of Hindu Kush

The Indo-Iranian languages, also known as the Aryan languages,constitute the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European language family. It is also the largest branch, with more than 1 billion speakers stretching from Europe (Romani) and the Caucasus (Ossetian) eastward to Xinjiang (Sarikoli) and Assam (Assamese) and south to Sri Lanka (Sinhalese).

Indo-Iranian consists of three groups: Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani. Nuristani languages are generally regarded as an independent group, as one of the three sub-groups of Indo-Iranian, following the studies of Georg Morgenstierne (1973, 1975). However, sometimes it is classified in the Dardic languages branch of the Indo-Iranian language family, while another theory characterized it as originally Iranian, but greatly influenced by the nearby Dardic languages.

The languages are spoken by tribal peoples in an extremely isolated mountainous region of the Hindukush, one that has never been subject to any real central authority in modern times. This area is located along the northeastern border of Afghanistan and adjacent portions of the northwest of present-day Pakistan. These languages have not received the attention Western linguists like to give them. Considering the very small number of peoples estimated to speak them, they must be considered endangered languages.

There are five Nuristani languages, each spoken in several dialects. Major dialects include Kata-vari, Kamviri, and Vai-ala. Most of the Nuristanis in Pakistan speak Kamviri. These are influenced by, and sometimes classified as, Dardic languages; but this is more of a geographical classification than a linguistic one.

The Dardic languages or Dardu are a sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages natively spoken in northern Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northern India’s Jammu and Kashmir, and eastern Afghanistan. Kashmiri is the most prominent Dardic language, with an established literary tradition and official recognition as one of the national languages of India.

Waigali is a language spoken by the Kalasha of the Waigal Valley in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province. The native name is Kalaṣa-alâ ‘Kalasha-language’. “Waigali” refers to the dialect of the Väy people of the upper part of the Waigal Valley, centered on the town of Waigal, which is distinct from the dialect of the Čima-Nišei people who inhabit the lower valley. The word “Kalasha” is the native ethnonym for all the speakers of the southern Nuristani languages.

Kalaṣa-alâ belongs to the Indo-European language family, and is in the southern Nuristani group of the Indo-Iranian branch. There are approximately 10,000 speakers of Kalaṣa-alâ. Kalaṣa-alâ is closely related to the Tregami language, or Gambiri, a language spoken by the Tregami people in the villages of Gambir and Katar in the Watapur District of Kunar Province in Afghanistan, with a lexical similarity of approximately 76% to 80% according to one estimate.

Tregami belongs to the Indo-European language family, and is on the Nuristani group of the Indo-Iranian branch. Ethnologue estimates its speakers at 1,000 (1994). Its speakers are overwhelmingly Muslim, and literacy rates are low: Below 1% for people who have it as a first language, and between 5% to 15% for people who have it as a second language.

Note that there is close connection between Kalaṣha-alâ and Kalaṣa-mun, which is spoken in Pakistan’s southern Chitral District. These two languages descend from different branches of the Proto-Indo-Iranian language. According to linguist Richard Strand the Kalasha of Chitral apparently adopted the name of the Nuristani Kalasha, who at some unknown time extended their influence into the region of southern Chitral, translated as field in the native language Khowar.

The Kalasha-mun, are a Dardic indigenous people residing in the Hindu Kush mountain range south west of Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They speak the Kalasha language, from the Dardic family, a sub-branch of the Indo-Iranian group of the Indo-Aryan branch, itself part of the larger Indo-European family, and are considered a unique tribe among the Indo-Aryan peoples of Pakistan.

Kalasha language is classified as a member of the Chitral sub-group, the only other member of that group being Khowar, also known as Chitrali, an Indo-Aryan language of the Dardic branch, spoken by 240,000 people in Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan (including the Yasin Valley, Phandar Ishkoman and Gupis), and in parts of Upper Swat.

The Norwegian Linguist Georg Morgenstierne wrote that Chitral is the area of the greatest linguistic diversity in the world. Although Khowar is the predominant language of Chitral, more than ten other languages are spoken here. These include Kalasha-mondr, Palula, Dameli, Gawar-Bati, Nuristani, Yidgha, Burushaski, Gojri, Wakhi, Kyrgyz, Persian and Pashto.

Since many of these languages have no written form, letters are usually written in Urdu, Pakistan’s national language. Many Nuristani people now speak other languages, such as Persian and Pashto–two official languages of Afghanistan & Chitrali in Pakistan.

Morgenstierne believes that in spite of similarities, Kalasha is an independent language in its own right and not a dialect of Khowar. Currently about 5,000 people speak Kalasha and it is considered critically endangered by UNESCO.

It is suggested that the Dards are the linguistic descendants of the bearers of proto Rigvedic culture ca. 1700 BC, pointing to features in certain Dardic dialects that continue peculiarities of Rigvedic Sanskrit, such as the gerund in -tvī.

During Swati rule (1858–1955), the Dard people were dominantly Hindu and frequent small scale jihad against Dard might have been a routine. Today the majority of Dardic peoples are Muslims, with a significant population of Kalash. Dardic religion in Indian Ladakh, particularly in the villages of Da and Hann, retains marked traces of the pre-Buddhist animistic religion, Bon-chos.

The Kalash tribes found in Chitral, are exceptional in having retained their ancestral polytheistic religion and are protected by the Government of Pakistan. In the 1970s there were a number of forced conversions. However, during the last two decades, protection by the Pakistani government has seen the Kalash double in number.

Kalash people are divided equally between the adherents of Islam and polytheism. Kalash religion is similar to the religion that was practiced by Rigvedic aryans. Kalash have retained most of the Proto-Indo-Iranian religion (Indo-European religion). The Kalash people are unique in their customs and religion.

The Hindukush area shares many of the traits of IIr. myths, ritual, society, and echoes many aspects of Ṛigvedic, but hardly of post-Ṛigvedic religion. Kalash culture and belief system differs from the various ethnic groups surrounding them but is similar to that of the neighboring Nuristanis in northeast Afghanistan. The isolated Kalash have received strong religious influences from pre-Islamic Nuristan.

The neighboring Nuristani people, an Indo-Iranian-speaking ethnic group native to the Nuristan region of eastern Afghanistan, of the adjacent Nuristan (historically known as Kafiristan) province of Afghanistan, once practiced the same ancient Indo-Iranian polytheistic Vedic religion as the Kalash until they were conquered and converted to Islam in the late 19th century by Emir Abdur Rahman Khan.

It is likely that if their region of Pakistan had been under Afghan, and not British, rule these people would have been forcibly submitted to Islam like their Nuristani cousins across the border 100 years ago. As it is I assume that at some point I may have to update these posts with the note that Pakistani Taliban forcibly converted the few thousand remaining Kalash to Islam.

Religion may be a critical explanation for this isolation, because the similarly isolated Burusho of northern Pakistan are not nearly as inbred. Though the Burusho are speakers of a linguistic isolate, they adopted Islam ~500 years ago, and so are likely to have intermarried more frequently with outsiders.

By the late 19th century much of Nuristan had been converted to Islam, although some evidence has shown the people continued to practice their customs. Over the years the Nuristan region has been the site of numerous war activity that has led to the death of many endemic Nuristanis and has seen an inflow of surrounding Afghans to claim the vacant region, who have since admixed with the remaining natives. The Kalash of Chitral maintained their own separate cultural traditions.

Kafir is a denigrating Arabic term used in an Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as “unbeliever,” “disbeliever,” or “infidel.” The term refers to a person who rejects God in Islam or who hides, denies, or covers the “Islamic version of truth.” The practise of declaring another Muslim as a kafir is takfir.

The Nuristani people were formally known as Kaffirs of Kafiristan before the Afghan Islamization of the region. Moreover their native name was Kapir, due to the lack of a “P” in Arabic, they coincidentally were called Kafirs, which was incorrect but again correct since they were polytheists, moreover Henotheists.

Kāfiristān is a historical region that covered present-day Nuristan Province in Afghanistan and its surroundings. Kafiristan took its name because the inhabitants of the region, which are closely related to the Kalash people, known as Kafirs by the Muslim population of Chitral, were non-Muslims and were thus known to the surrounding Muslim population as kafirs, meaning “infidels”.

The word “kafir” has also been suggested to be linked to Kapiś (= Kapish), the ancient Sanskrit name of the region that included historic Kafiristan. According to the theory, the name may have then mutated at some point into the word Kapir, and once again into the word Kafir.

The earliest references to Kapisa, located south-east of the Hindukush, included and is related to Kafiristan, appear in the writings of fifth century BC Indian scholar Pāṇini. Pāṇini refers to the city of Kapiśi, a city of the Kapisa kingdom, modern Bagram. Pāṇini also refers to Kapiśayana, a famous wine from Kapisa. The city of Kapiśi also appeared as Kaviśiye on Graeco-Indian coins of Apollodotus I and Eucratides.

The Kashmiri Pandits who follow the shaivist sect of Hinduism, are a non-dardic people and should not be confused with the authentic Kashmiri Dards, who are predominantly Muslim and Kalash.

Indo-Aryan peoples

Indo-Aryan languages

Kalash people

Kalasha language

Dard people

Dardic languages

Nuristani people

Nuristani languages

Kafiristan

Kalash – Haplogroups

The extreme long branches leading to the Kalash and Mozabites are almost certainly a function of endogamy and inbreeding. Their allele frequencies diverged from nearby populations because of isolation. But notice the nearby populations of the Kalash. They’re northwest South Asian. In many ways if you removed the drift and endogamy from the Kalash I suspect you’d been left with a group very similar to their Pathan neighbors.

South Asia (India,Afghanistan and Pakistan) Genetics

In the north of Pakistan, some individuals also frequently show a strikingly europoid appearance. The most well-known of these populations where theses characteristics are visible are the Burushos of the Hunza valley (speaking a non-indo-european language, Burushaski) and the Kalash in the Hindu-kush.

Because of their light skin and hair both the Kalash and Burusho have inspired claims that they are “lost white tribes.” The Kalash, the Burusho and the Nuristani claim to be descendants of the Alexander‘s army (another legend of the Kalash also claim a link with the Kushan), but so far the genetic tests have not seen any link with Greek or Macedonian populations (Very few tracks have been found among the Pathans (a.k.a. Pashtun) of Pakistan though).

It is quite possible that these south Asian populations are actually partly the visible remains of the ancient Indo-iranian populations that probably came from central Asia during bronze age and mixed with the local populations, as the DNA tests have revealed that populations of bronze age south Siberia, strongly supposed to have been early Indo-europeans, had such characteristics.

The Italian Archaeological Mission on Wednesday discovered an ancient cemetery dating back thousands of years at Odigram, Swat — a site experts believe was built between 1500 BC to 500 BC. A total of 23 graves have been excavated at the site that seems to be an ancient cemetery, indicating that they belonged to the pre-Buddhist era.

It clearly indicates that Swat Valley was thickly populated at that time. Most probably they were the Dards (a group of people defined by linguistic similarities and not a common ethnic origin, predominantly found in Eastern Afghanistan) and these Dards were somehow linked culturally to the people presently living in Kohistan and Kalash valleys. They probably spoke the Indo-European languages. We can say that the present culture of Kalash and Kohistan in Chitral valley can be linked with the ancient culture of Swat.

A variety of NRY Haplogroups are seen among the Burusho. Most frequent among these are R1a1 – a lineage associated with Central/Southern Eurasians and likely related to the Bronze Age migration into South Asia c. 3000 BCE; and R2a, probably originating in South/Central Asia during the Upper Paleolithic. The subcontinental lineages of haplogroup H1 and haplogroup L3 are also present, although haplogroup L, defined by SNP mutation M20, reaches a maximum of diversity in Pakistan.

Other Y-DNA haplogroups reaching considerable frequency are haplogroup J2, associated with the spread of agriculture in, and from, the neolithic Near East, and haplogroup C3, of Siberian origin and possibly representing the patrilineage of Ghenghis Khan. Also present at lower frequency are haplogroups O3, an East Eurasian lineage, and Q, P, F, and G.

Among the Burusho South Asian Y haplogroups predominate, but there are some representatives of Central Asian (C-M217) and East Asian (O3) haplogroups as well. The Burushos completely lack haplogroup G2a, which is well represented among the nearby Kalash and Pashtun populations.

Haplogroup G1 is the South and Central Asian branch of haplogroup G. While G2a men migrated west to Anatolia and Europe in the Neolithic, their G1 cousins migrated east to Persia and India. Only very rare cases of G1 have been found in Europe, including in Britain, Germany, as well as most of southern, central and eastern Europe. How did these G1 lineages get there ?

Central Asia became a merging zone for southern G1 and J2 lineages with northern R1a lineages during the Bronze and Iron Ages. New hybrid peoples were formed, like the Scythians, who once controlled an empire ranging from northern Pakistan to Xinjiang and to Ukraine.

Haplogroup G2a is assumed to be about 20,000 years. The majority of the men in this category have not been comprehensive tested, especially for the new clade G2a1b. Tis subgroup includes people of the Zagros mountains in Western-Iran, the Azeris in northwest Iran, many inhabitants of the Southern Caucasus and further in Pakistan including the Kalash people, and people living in the Balkan area of Europe.

Haplogroup G2a3b1 represents the majority of haplogroup G men in most areas of Europe west of Russia and the Black Sea. To the east, G2a3b1-except in the Caucasus Mountains area-is just a large or small minority among G persons in such locales as Turkey, the Middle East, Iran, the southern Caucasus area, China and India.

Most Europeans belong to the G2a subclade, and most northern and Western Europeans more specifically to G2a-L141.1 (or to a lower extend G2a-M406). About all G2b (L72+, formerly G2c) Europeans are Ashkenazi Jews. G2b has also been found around Afghanistan, probably as an offshoot of Neolithic farmers from the Levant.

Various estimated dates and locations have been proposed for the origin of Haplogroup G. The National Geographic Society places haplogroup G origins in the Middle East 30,000 years ago and presumes that people carrying the haplogroup took part in the spread of the Neolithic Two scholarly papers have also suggested an origin in the Middle East, while differing on the date. Semino et al. (2000) suggested 17,000 years ago. Cinnioglu et al. (2004) suggested the mutation took place only 9,500 years ago.

Haplogroup G2a(SNP P15+) has been identified in neolithic human remains in Europe dating between 5000-3000BC. Furthermore, the majority of all the male skeletons from the European Neolithic period have so far yielded Y-DNA belonging to this haplogroup. The oldest skeletons confirmed by ancient DNA testing as carrying haplogroup G2a were five found in the Avellaner cave burial site for farmers in northeastern Spain and were dated by radiocarbon dating to about 7000 years ago.

At the Neolithic cemetery of Derenburg Meerenstieg II, north central Germany, with burial artifacts belonging to the Linear Pottery culture, known in German as Linearbandkeramik (LBK). This skeleton could not be dated by radiocarbon dating, but other skeletons there were dated to between 5,100 and 6,100 years old.

The most detailed SNP mutation identified was S126 (L30), which defines G2a3. Haplogroup G2a was found also in 20 out of 22 samples of ancient Y-DNA from Treilles, the type-site of a Late Neolithic group of farmers in the South of France, dated to about 5000 years ago.

The fourth site also from the same period is the Ötztal of the Italian Alps where the mummified remains of Ötzi the Iceman were discovered. Preliminary word is that the Iceman belongs to haplogroup G2a2b (earlier called G2a4).

A genetic study published led by Firasat (2007) on Kalash individuals found high and diverse frequencies of :Haplogroup L3a (22.7%), H1* (20.5%), R1a (18.2%), G (18.2%), J2 (9.1%), R* (6.8%), R1* (2.3%), and L* (2.3%). Haplogroup L, Haplogroup H, and Haplogroup R1a are thought to have originated from prehistoric South Asia, while the others is related to Caucasus.

Over 70% of the Brahmins (highest caste in Hindusim) belong to R1a1, due to a founder effect. The distribution of the R1a1 Y-chromosome Haplogroup, and in particular its correlation with the Brahmin caste in India, provides strong confirmation of a theory deriving Hinduism from Central Asia. R1a is the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroup among Slavic speakers, the group now dominating the ancient homeland of Indo-European. The only other group among which R1a is particularly prominent is the Hindu Brahmins of India.

The decade-long debate as to which Eurasian region possessed the most diverse, hence oldest, STR values within R-M17, the most common subclade within the family of Y DNA lineages referred to as R1a or R-M420, has been effectively put to an end with the discovery of R-M17 sub-clades. The pattern implies that an early differentiation zone of R-M17 conceivably occurred somewhere within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region as they lie between South Asia and Eastern Europe”, from where “South Asian’ Z-93 and “European” Z-283 sub-clades differentiated and spread in opposite directions.

In southern Asia, haplogroup G is found in concentrations of approximately 18% to 20% of Kalash, approximately 16% of Brahui, and approximately 11.5% of sampled Pashtun, but in only about 3% of the general Pakistani population. The many groups in India and Bangladesh have not been well studied. About 6% of the samples from Sri Lanka and Malaysia were reported as haplogroup G, but none were found in the other coastal lands of the Indian Ocean or Pacific Ocean in Asia.

The presence of G2b in the these areas may be accounted for by several several separate theories, each with their own time scale. It does seem very likely that G2b originated in the Near East, in Anatolia or Syria, and spread both eastward and westward from there.

One often stated idea is of a direct Israelite ancestry for the Pashtuns as a whole. These stories were disseminated in Medieval times for religious reasons, and as part of the competition between the Mughals and the Pashtuns. However, this does not negate a possible Medieval Jewish origin for some of the Pashtun sub-tribes, but this would depend on the frequency of G2b among the Pashtuns, since any Jewish genetic admixture in relatively recent times would have been limited in scope. In 2012 Haplogroup G2b was found at a frequency of 60% out of a sample of 5 Pastuns in the Wardak region of Afghanistan. This is likely due to a local founder effect.

G2b is a major Y chromosome haplogroup, and yet unique.It was found among Pashtuns and on much lower scale among all major Jewish groups, Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians.

G2b presents more mysteries regarding its origin and distribution than virtually any other major Y haplogroup. Haplogroups that are rare in certain regions are more common in another, and have rather clear origins in other places where they are more commonly found. G2b has none of these obvious characteristics. It is most common by far in a region where it arrived very recently, but rare in other regions; including its likely area of origin. The distribution of G2b is sparse and dispersed, with almost no G2b haplotypes found in very large intervening regions. This pattern appears to be unique among Y haplogroups.

The extreme rarity of G2b in northern Pakistan could indicate that G2b in this area originates outside the region and was brought there in the historic period, perhaps from further west (Pakistan was part of both the Achaemenid Persian Empire, conquered by Alexander the Great, and then formed a part of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom). These two reported Pakistani G2b haplotypes are quite divergent from the Ashkenazi Jewish clade, and therefore do not at all indicate a recent common origin. The Turkish G2b is somewhat closer, but not identical.

It remains to be seen if testing will reveal G2b haplotypes in other populations — this is some indication that G2b occurs at low levels in the Near East. All G2b men tested so far have a rare null value for the DYS425 marker, (a missing “T” allele of the DYS371 palindromic STR), the result of a RecLOH event, a finding not yet seen among most other G haplotypes. Among Jews in Israel drawn from many areas of the world, G2b constituted 3.7% in one study.

A genetic study published led by Firasat (2007) on Kalash individuals found high and diverse frequencies of haplogroup J2. The precise region of origin for haplogroup J-M172 remains a topic of discussion. However, at least within a European context, Anatolia and the Aegean seem to be source regions, with haplogroup J2 having perhaps arisen in the Levant/ Middle East with the development of agriculture.

As to the timing of its spread into Europe, Di Giacomo points to events which post-date the Neolithic, in particular the demographic floruit associated with the rise of the Ancient Greek world. Semino et al. derived older age estimates for overall J2 (having used the Zhivitovksy method c.f. Di Giacomo), postulating its initial spread with Neolithic farmers from the Near East.

However, its subclade distribution, showing localized peaks in the Southern Balkans, southern Italy, north/ central Italy and the Caucasus, does not conform to a single ‘wave-of-advance’ scenario, betraying a number of still poorly understood post-Neolithic processes which created its current pattern. Like Di Giacomo, the Bronze Age southern Balkans was suggested to have been an important vector of spread.

Both E-M78 and J-M12 have been used in studies seeking to find evidence of a remaining Greek presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, going back to the time of Alexander the Great.

An extensive analysis of Y diversity within Greeks and three Pakistani populations – the Burusho, Kalash and Pathan – who claim descent from Greek soldiers allowed us to compare Y lineages within these populations and re-evaluate their suggested Greek origins. This study as a whole seems to exclude a large Greek contribution to any Pakistani population, confirming previous observations. However, it provides strong evidence in support of the Greek origins for a small proportion of Pathans, as demonstrated by the clade E network and the low pairwise genetic distances between these two populations.

This study however tested only for M78, and not V13, the typical type of M78 from the Balkans. More recent and detailed analyses of E-V13 in this region have however concluded that this hypothesis is incorrect, and that the variants found there are not the types typical of the Balkans. Instead “Afghanistan’s lineages are correlated with Middle Easterners and Iranians but not with populations from the Balkans”

Discover Magazine genetics blogger Razib Khan has repeatedly cited information indicating that the Kalash are an Indo-Iranian people with no Greek or Macedonian ethnic admixture.

Presumably the Kalash are distant from other populations because of their isolation, but their relationship to other world populations will retain the same general conformation before their endogamous period.

Kalasha

Kalasha, also spelled as Kalash and kalasa (literally “pitcher, Kalasha pot”), is a metal (brass, copper, silver or gold) pot with a large base and small mouth, large enough to hold a coconut. Sometimes “Kalasha” also refers to such a pot filled with water and topped with a coronet of mango leaves and a coconut.

This combination is often used in Hindu rites and depicted in Hindu iconography. The entire arrangement is called Purna-Kalasha, Purna-Kumbha, or Purna-ghata. Each of these names literally means “full or complete vessel” when the pot is referred to as the Kalasha.

The Kalasha is used as a ceremonial object as well as a decorative motif in Indian art and architecture. The Kalasha motif was used in decorating bases and capitals of pillars from the 5th century.

The Purna-Kalasha is considered a symbol of abundance and “source of life” in the Vedas. Purna-Kumbha is preeminently a Vedic motif, known from the time of Rigveda. It is also called Soma-Kalasha, Chandra-Kalasha, Indra-Kumbha, Purnaghata, Purna-Virakamsya, Bhadra ghata, or Mangala ghata. It is referred to as “overflowing full vase” (purno-asya Kalasha) in the Vedas.

The Kalasha is believed to contain amrita, the elixir of life, and thus is viewed as a symbol of abundance, wisdom, and immortality. The Kalasha is often seen in Hindu iconography as an attribute, in the hands of Hindu deities like the creator god Brahma, the destroyer god Shiva as a teacher, and the goddess of prosperity Lakshmi.

The Purna-Kalasha is believed to be a symbol of auspiciousness embodying either Ganesha, remover of obstacles, or his mother Gauri, the goddess of household bounty or Lakshmi. The Purna-Kalasha is worshipped in all Hindu festivities related to marriage and childbirth, as a mother goddess or Devi. In this context, the metal pot or Kalasha represents material things: a container of fertility – the earth and the womb, which nurtures and nourishes life. The mango leaves associated with Kama, the god of love, symbolize the pleasure aspect of fertility. The coconut, a cash crop, represents prosperity and power. The water in the pot represents the life-giving ability of Nature.

Sometimes, a silver or brass face of the Goddess is attached over the coconut of the Purna-Kalasha. In this form, the Purna-Kalasha symbolizes the Goddess as the manifestation of mother earth with her water, minerals, and vegetation. This method of Kalash pooja (worship) has come in for Vishnu in household functions too.

The Purna-Kalasha is also worshipped at Hindu ceremonies like Griha Pravesha (house warming), child naming, havan (fire-sacrifice), Vaastu dosha rectification, and daily worship.

Other intrepretations of the Purna-Kalasha associate with the five elements or the chakras. The wide base of metal pot represents the element Prithvi (Earth), the expanded centre – Ap (water), neck of pot – Agni (fire), the opening of the mouth – Vayu (air), and the coconut and mango leaves – Akasha (aether). In contexts of chakras, the Shira (literally “head”) – top of the coconut symbolizes Sahasrara chakra and the Moola (literally “base”) – base of Kalasha – the Muladhara chakra.

A kalash is placed with due rituals on all important occasions. It is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome. It is also used in a traditional manner while receiving holy personages.

The Kalasha is viewed as an auspicious object in Jainism. It is included in the Ashtamangala lists of both the Svetambara and Digambara sects of Jainism. Two eyes are depicted around the Kalasha, symbolising right faith and right knowledge. It is used for religious and social ceremonies. It is used in temples when certain images are being worshipped. When one enters a new home it is customary to carry the kalasha on the head reciting mantras. This ceremony is performed to welcome grace and happiness into the new home. They first appear in stone in the Kushan Empire period (65-224 AD).

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Indus civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 9, 2013

Indus civilization

The Ancient Indus Civilization

BBC – Primary History – Indus Valley

Indus Valley Civilization – Harappa

Indus Valley – Ancient India

Surprising Discoveries From the Indus Civilization – National Geographic

Indus Valley Civilization – Wikipedia

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The Eurasian Steppes

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 8, 2013

File:PazyrikHorseman.JPG

Horseman, Pazyryk felt artifact, c. 300 BC.

The Alans

Archaeologists recognize a complex of inter-related and relatively mobile cultures living on the Eurasian steppe, part of which protrudes into Europe as far west as Ukraine. These cultures from the late Neolithic and into the Iron Age, with specific traits such as Kurgan burials and horse domestication, have been associated with the dispersal of Indo-European languages across Eurasia.

Haplogroup R1a

Haplogroup R1a probably branched off from R1* around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (19,000 to 26,000 years before present). Little is know for certain about its place of origin. Some think it might have originated in the Balkans or around Pakistan and Northwest India, due to the greater genetic diversity found in these regions. The diversity can be explained by other factors though.

The Balkans have been subject to 5000 years of migrations from the Eurasian Steppes, each bringing new varieties of R1a. South Asia has had a much bigger population than any other parts of the world (occasionally equalled by China) for at least 10,000 years, and larger population bring about more genetic diversity. The most likely place of origin of R1a is Central Asia or southern Russia/Siberia. The oldest identified presence of European mtDNA around Mongolia and Lake Baikal dates back to over 6,000 years ago.

R1a is thought to have been the dominant haplogroup among the northern and eastern Proto-Indo-European language speakers, that evolved into the Indo-Iranian, Thracian, Baltic and Slavic branches.

The Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in the Yamna culture (3300-2500 BCE). Their dramatic expansion was possible thanks to an early adoption of bronze weapons and the domestication of the horse in the Eurasian steppes (circa 4000-3500 BCE).

The southern Steppe culture is believed to have carried predominantly R1b (M269 and M73) lineages, while the northern forest-steppe culture would have been essentially R1a-dominant.

The migration of the R1b people to central and Western Europe left a vacuum for R1a people in the southern steppe around the time of the Catacomb culture (2800-2200 BCE).

Haplogroup R-M17

R-M17 is the most common subclade within the family of Y DNA lineages referred to as R1a or R-M420, which share in common the M420 SNP mutation, and before the discovery of M420, R-M17 was itself referred to as R1a.

Archaeologists recognize a complex of inter-related and relatively mobile cultures living on the Eurasian steppe, part of which protrudes into Europe as far west as Ukraine. These cultures from the late Neolithic and into the Iron Age, with specific traits such as Kurgan burials and horse domestication, have been associated with the dispersal of Indo-European languages across Eurasia.

Nearly all samples from Bronze and Iron Age graves in the Krasnoyarsk area in south Siberia belonged to R-M17 and appeared to represent an eastward migration from Europe.

In central Europe, Corded Ware period human remains at Eulau from which Y-DNA was extracted appear to be R-M17(xM458) (which they found most similar to the modern German R-M17* haplotype.

The modern distribution of R-M17 is distinctive. There are two widely separated areas of high frequency, one in South Asia, around India, and the other in Eastern Europe, around Poland and Ukraine. The demographic reasons for this are the subject of on-going discussion and attention among population geneticists and genetic genealogists, however, such patterns could be the combined result of (i) migrations and admixture, (ii) natural selection, and (iii) random genetic drift.

Despite deserved criticism by most archaeologists and anthropologists, even prominent historians and archaeologists have recently attempted to “marry” the evidence from the social sciences with that of genetic anthropology. Whilst the notion that genes, language and culture are co-eval is highly questionable, the link between R1a and “Indo-Europeans” remains a topic of considerable scholarly interest.

Until 2012, there was extensive scholarly debate as to the origins of haplgroup R-M17. This was a result of (i) a lack of further phylogenetic resolution of R-M17 into ‘daughter’ sub-clades and (ii) the evidently erroneous belief that measure of “STR diversity” can unambigiuosly qualify as to which population harbours the ‘oldest’ R-M17 haplogroups.

A large corpus of scholars had found that Indian, or more generally, South Asian populations, had the highest STR diversity.

On the basis of these studies, and using the Evolutionary Effective Mutation Rate, several of the above authors concluded that R-M17 has been present in South Asian populations since the Neolithic, having originated there. They further used this evidence to refute the hypothesis that R-M17 arrived with Indo-European invaders from the north.

However, the use of this mutation rate has received criticism, as it should not be used with haplogroup populations which clearly show evidence of population expansion, such as R-M17. Thus, using this mutation rate could artificially ‘blow out’ the actual age of R-M17 by as much as three-fold. Indeed, authors using the contrary, “germline mutation rate” (which is the rate empirically observed in father-son studies) arrive at more recent age estimates. In fact, Busby et al recently argued that the use of STR diversity in calculating ‘ages’ of haplogroups is highly problematical. Other studies variously proposed Eastern European, Central Asian and even Western Asian origins for R – M17.

The decade-long debate as to which Eurasian region possessed the most diverse, hence oldest, STR values within R-M17 has been effectively put to an end with the discovery of R-M17 sub-clades. SNPs offer a clearer and more robust resolution than STRs. These findings have actually been known for a few years by genealogical companies and enthusiast genealogists, however, two academic, peer-reviewed papers were finally produced by Pamjav et al (2012, 2013). They discovered that all their tested Indian R-M17 samples belong to the Z-93 sub-clade, which is a derivative, “daughter” branch of R-M17.

In contrast, Eastern European populations belong to different daughter branches of R-M17, namely Z- 280 and M-458. The former is widely distributed over south-eastern, central-eastern and eastern Europe, and as far as Central Asia.(Pamjav 2012) Indeed, Central Asia “is an overlap zone for the R1a1-Z280 and R1a1-Z93”, being found in Mongol and Uzbek populations . On the other hand, M-458 is more geographically restricted to central-eastern Europe.

Furthermore, this study found that the undifferentiated, ‘parental’ M-198 existed in the European populations, but was not found in the Indian groups sampled (consisting of 256 Malaysian Indians, 301 Roma, 203 Dravidians from India).

Nevertheless, the authors concluded that “This pattern implies that an early differentiation zone of R1a1-M198 conceivably occurred somewhere within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region as they lie between South Asia and Eastern Europe”, from where “South Asian’ Z-93 and “European” Z-283 sub-clades differentiated and spread in opposite directions.

The Corded Ware Culture and the Settlement of Europe

The first major expansion of the R1a carrying forest-steppe people occured with the westward propagation of the Corded Ware Culture (or Battle Axe) culture (2800-1800 BCE) from the northern forest-steppe in the Yamna homeland. This was the first wave of R1a into Europe, the one that brought the Z283 subclade to Germany and the Netherlands, and Z284 to Scandinavia.

The Corded Ware R1a people would have mixed with the pre-Germanic I1 and I2 aborigines, which resulted in the first Indo-European culture in Germany and Scandinavia, although that culture could not be considered Proto-Germanic – it was simply Proto-Indo-European at that stage, or perhaps or Proto-Balto-Slavic.

The forest-steppe origin of this culture is obvious from the introduction of corded pottery and the abundant use of polished battle axes, the two most prominent features of the Corded Ware culture.

This is also probably when the satemisation process of the Indo-European languages began since the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian language groups belong to the same Satem isogloss and both appear to have evolved from the the Catacomb culture.

Ancient DNA testing has confirmed the presence of haplogroup R1a1a in samples from the Corded Ware culture in Germany (2600 BCE), from Tocharian mummies (2000 BCE) in Northwest China, from Kurgan burials (circa 1600 BCE) from the Andronovo culture in southern Russia and southern Siberia, as well as from a variety of Iron-age sites from Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia.

A lot of Western and Northern European R1a that is negative for the marker Z284 falls under the root R1a1a1* (M417), or even in the older R1a1a (M17) and R1a1 (SRY10831.2). The former are descended from the oldest known expansion of R1a out of the Forest-Steppe, the Corded Ware Culture.

However, Klyosov et al. (2009) found that a substantial percentage of R1a in Northwest Europe, particularly in Norway, England, Ireland and Iceland, had a repeat value of 10 (instead of 12) at the STR marker DYS388. Among them, some individuals were identified as carrying the mutation L664. The origin of the older subclades (M17 and SRY10831.2) is still unclear (perhaps Mesolithic hunter-gatherers roaming around Europe).

Germanic languages probably did not appear before the Nordic Bronze Age (1800-500 BCE). Proto-Germanic language probably developed as a blend of two branches of Indo-European languages, namely the Proto-Balto-Slavic language of the Corded-Ware culture (R1a-Z283) and the later arrival of Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic people from the Unetice culture (R1b-L11). This is supported by the fact that Germanic people are a R1a-R1b hybrid, that these two haplogroups came via separate routes at different times, and that Proto-Germanic language is closest to Proto-Italo-Celtic, but also shares similarities with Proto-Slavic.

The R1b branch of the Indo-Europeans is thought to have originated in the southern Yamna culture (northern shores of the Black Sea). It was the first one to move from the steppes to Europe, invading the Danube delta around 4200 BCE, then making its way around the Balkans and the Hungarian plain in the 4th millennium BCE.

It is likely that a minority of R1a people accompanied this R1b migration. Those R1a men would have belonged to the L664 subclade, the first to split from the Yamna core. These early steppe invaders were not a homogeneous group, but a cluster of tribes. It is possible that the R1a-L664 people were one or several separate tribes of their own, or that they mixed with some R1b lineages, notably R1b-U106, which would become the main Germanic lineage many centuries later.

The R1b-R1a contingent moved up the Danube to the Panonian plain around 2800 BCE, brought to an end the local Bell Beaker (circa 2200 BCE) and Corded Ware (c. 2400 BCE) cultures in Central Europe, and set up the Unetice culture (2300-1600 BCE) around Bohemia and eastern Germany. Unetice can be seen as the source of future Germanic, Celtic and Italic cultures, and is associated with the L11 subclade of R1b.

The late Unetice culture expanded to Scandinavia, founding the Nordic Bronze Age. R1a-L664 and R1b (L11 and U106) presumably reached Scandinavia at this time. People from the Nordic Bronze Age probably spoke a Proto-Germanic language, which for over a thousand years acquired vocabulary from the indigenous Corded Ware language, itself a mixture of Proto-Balto-Slavic and non-IE pre-Germanic.

The first genuine Germanic tongue has been estimated by linguists to have come into existence around (or after) 500 BCE, just as the Nordic Bronze Age came to an end, giving way to the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The uniqueness of some of the Germanic vocabulary points at borrowing from native pre-Indo-European languages (Germanic substrate theory).

The Celtic language itself is known to have borrowed from Afro-Asiatic languages spoken by Near-Eastern immigrants to Central Europe. The fact that present-day Scandinavia is composed of roughly 40% of I1, 20% of R1a and 40% of R1b reinforces the idea that the Germanic ethnicity and language had acquired a tri-hybrid character by the Iron Age.

The Baltic branch is thought to have evolved from the Fatyanovo culture (3200-2300 BCE), the northeastern extension of the Corded Ware culture. Early Bronze Age R1a nomads from the northern steppes and forest-steppes would have mixed with the indigenous Uralic-speaking inhabitants (N1c1 lineages) of the region. This is supported by a strong presence of both R1a and N1c1 haplogroups from southern Finland to Lithuania and the adjacent part of Russia.

The origins of the Slavs go back to circa 3500 BCE with the northern Yamna culture. The M412 and Z280 lineages spread around Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and western Russia, and would form the core of the Proto-Slavic culture. The high prevalence of R1a in Balto-Slavic countries nowadays is not only due to the Corded Ware expansion, but also to a long succession of later migrations from Russia, the last of which took place from the 5th to the 1th century CE.

The Slavic branch differentiated itself when the Corded Ware culture absorbed the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture (5200-2600 BCE) of western Ukraine and north-eastern Romania, which appears to have been composed primarily of I2a1b (M423) lineages descended directly from Paleolithic Europeans, with a small admixture of Near-Eastern immigrants (notably E1b1b, G2a, J and T). Thus emerged the hybrid Globular Amphora culture (3400-2800 BCE) in what is now Ukraine, Belarus and Poland.

It is surely during this period that I2a2, E-V13 and T spread (along with R1a) around Poland, Belarus and western Russia, explaining why eastern and northern Slavs (and Lithuanians) have between 10 and 20% of I2a1b lineages and about 10% of Middle Eastern lineages (18% for Ukrainians). After just a few centuries, this hybridised culture faded away into the dominant Corded Ware (2800-1800 BCE) and Catacomb (2800-1800 BCE) cultures.

The Corded Ware period was followed in the steppes by the Srubna culture (1800-1200 BCE), and around Poland by the Trzciniec culture (1700-1200 BCE). The last important Slavic migration is thought to have happened in the 6th century CE, from Ukraine to Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, filling the vacuum left by eastern Germanic tribes who invaded the Roman Empire.

Historically, no other part of Europe was invaded a higher number of times by steppe peoples than the Balkans. Chronologically, the first R1a invaders came with the westward expansion of the Yamna culture (from 4200 BCE), a succession of steppe migrations that lasted about 2000 years. Then came the Thracians (1500 BCE), followed by the Illyrians (around 1200 BCE), the Huns and the Alans (400 CE), the Avars, the Bulgars and the Serbs (all around 600 CE), and the Magyars (900 CE), among others.

These peoples originated from different parts of the Eurasian steppes, anywhere between Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which is why such high STR diversity is found within Balkanic R1a nowadays. It is not yet possible to determine the ethnic origin for each variety of R1a, apart from the fact that about any R1a is associated with tribes from Eurasian steppe at one point in history.

The Karasuk culture

Karasuk is a language family proposed by George van Driem of the University of Leiden that links the Yeniseian languages, sometimes known as Yeniseic or Yenisei-Ostyak; occasionally spelled with -ss-, a language family whose languages are and were spoken in the Yenisei River region of central Siberia, with the Burushaski language of northern Pakistan.

The evidence for Karasuk is mostly morphological. For example, the second-person singular prefixes on intransitive verbs are [ɡu-, ɡó-] in Burushaski and [ku-, ɡu-] in Ket.

The Karasuk hypothesis, linking Yeniseian to Burushaski, has been proposed by several scholars, notably by A.P. Dulson and V.N. Toporov. George van Driem, the most prominent current advocate of the Karasuk hypothesis, postulates that the Burusho people took part in the Indo-Aryan migration out of Central Asia that resulted in the Indo-European conquest of the Indus Valley that resulted in the Indo-European conquest of the Indian sub-continent, while other Karasuk peoples migrated northwards to become the Yenisei. These claims have recently been picked up by linguist Roger Blench.

While Yeniseian, which share many contact-induced similarities with the South Siberian Turkic languages, Samoyedic languages, and Evenki, has been demonstrated to be related to the Na-Dene languages of North America, as part of a newly named Dene–Yeniseian family, the relevant morphological correspondences between Na-Dene and Yeniseian have not been found in Burushaski.

Until 2008, few linguists had accepted connections between Yeniseian and any other language family, though distant connections have been proposed with most of the ergative languages of Eurasia.

In 2008, Edward Vajda of Western Washington University presented evidence for a genealogical relation between the Yeneisian languages of Siberia and the Na–Dené languages of North America.

At the time of publication (2010), Vajda’s proposals had been favorably reviewed by several specialists of Na-Dené and Yeniseian languages—although at times with caution—including Michael Krauss, Jeff Leer, James Kari, and Heinrich Werner, as well as a number of other respected linguists, such as Bernard Comrie, Johanna Nichols, Victor Golla, Michael Fortescue, Eric Hamp, and Bill Poser (Kari and Potter 2010:12).

One significant exception is the critical review of the volume of collected papers by Lyle Campbell and a response by Vajda published in late 2011 that clearly indicate the proposal is not completely settled at the present time. Two other reviews and notices of the volume appeared in 2011 by Keren Rice and Jared Diamond.

As noted by Tailleur and Werner, some of the earliest proposals of genetic relations of Yeniseian, by M.A. Castrén (1856), James Byrne (1892), and G.J. Ramstedt (1907), suggested that Yeniseian was a northern relative of the Sino-Tibetan languages. These ideas were followed much later by Kai Donner and Karl Bouda.

Bouda, in various publications in the 1930s through the 1950s, described a linguistic network that (besides Yeniseian and Sino-Tibetan) also included Caucasian, and Burushaski, some forms of which have gone by the name of Sino-Caucasian. The works of R. Bleichsteiner and O.G. Tailleur, the late Sergei A. Starostin and Sergei L. Nikolayev have sought to confirm these connections.

Others who have developed the hypothesis, often expanded to Dené–Caucasian, include J.D. Bengtson, V. Blažek, J.H. Greenberg (with M. Ruhlen), and M. Ruhlen. George Starostin continues his father’s work in Yeniseian, Sino-Caucasian and other fields.

The Karasuk language family is named after the Karasuk culture (ca. 1500–800 BC), a group of Bronze Age societies which existed in Central Asia during the Bronze Age (from the Aral Sea or the Volga River to the upper Yenisei catchment) in second millennium BCE.

The Karasuk culture preceded by the Afanasevo culture, the earliest Eneolithic archaeological culture found until now in south Siberia, occupying the Minusinsk Basin, Altay and Eastern Kazakhstan, and Andronovo culture.

The remains from the Karasuk culture are minimal and entirely of the mortuary variety. At least 2000 burials are known. The Karasuk period persisted down to c. 700 BC. From c. 700 to c. 200 BC, culture developed along similar lines. Vital trade contact is traced from northern China and the Baikal region to the Black Sea and the Urals, influencing the uniformity of the culture.

The economy was mixed agriculture and stockbreeding. Arsenical bronze artefacts are present. Their settlements were of pit houses and they buried their dead in stone cists covered by kurgans and surrounded by square stone enclosures.

Industrially, they were skilled metalworkers, the diagnostic artifacts of the culture being a bronze knife with curving profiles and a decorated handle and horse bridles. The pottery has been compared to that discovered in Inner Mongolia and the interior of China, with bronze knives similar to those from northeastern China.

It is generally believed that the culture has its origin in Mongolia, Northern China and Korea, characterized by Altaic idioms. Other scholars have suggested a connection with the Yeniseian and Burushaski people, even suggesting a Karasuk languages group. Another possibility is that it was an early example of a Turkic culture and it perhaps could also be seen as a place of the first westward migration of early Turkic peoples.

Ancient DNA extracted from the remains of two males who dated back to the Karasuk culture were determined to be of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a. Extracted mtDNA from two female remains from this cultural horizon revealed they possessed the Haplogroup U5a1 and U4 lineages. The study determined that the individuals had light hair and blue or green eyes.

The Bronze Age

The Bronze Age in the ancient Near East began in the 4th millennium BC. Cultures in the ancient Near East (often called, “the cradle of civilization”) practised intensive year-round agriculture, developed a writing system, invented the potter’s wheel, created a centralized government, law codes, and empires, and introduced social stratification, slavery, and organized warfare. Societies in the region laid the foundations for astronomy and mathematics.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland. Gold was in short supply, and the Amarna letters inform us that it was acquired from Egypt. Not many examples of Hurrian metal work have survived, except from the later Urartu. Some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.

The Maykop culture

The Maykop culture (also spelled Maikop), ca. 3700-3000 BC, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia.

It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop in the Kuban River valley.

In the south it borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500-2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300-2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia.

The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.

New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC.

After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s it was suggested that elements of the Maykop culture migrated to the south-eastern slopes of the Caucasus in modern Azerbaijan.

In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles between the Kuban and Nalchik rivers, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads.” Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC.

Its inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments.

The Maykop kurgan was extremely rich in gold and silver artifacts; unusual for the time. The Maykop culture is believed to be one of the first to use the wheel.

In the early 20th century, researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the found artifacts. This style was seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian and Celtic animal styles. Attributed to the Maykop culture are petroglyphs which have yet to be deciphered.

The Maykop nobility enjoyed horse riding and probably used horses in warfare. It should be noted that the Maykop people lived sedentary lives, and horses formed a very low percentage of their livestock, which mostly consisted of pigs and cattle. Archaeologists have discovered a unique form of bronze cheek-pieces, which consists of a bronze rod with a twisted loop in the middle and a thread through her nodes that connects with bridle, halter strap and headband. Notches and bumps on the edges of the cheek-pieces were, apparently, to fix nose and under-lip belts.

The construction of artificial terrace complexes in the mountains is evidence of their sedentary living, high population density, and high levels of agricultural and technical skills. The terraces were built around the fourth millennium BC. and all subsequent cultures used them for agricultural purposes. The vast majority of pottery found on the terasses are from the Maykop period, the rest from the Scythian and Alan period. The Maykop terraces are among the most ancient in the world, but they are little studied. The longevity of the terraces (more than 5000 years) allows us to consider their builders unsurpassed engineers and craftsmen.

Recent discoveries by archaeologist A. Rezepkin include: The most ancient bronze sword, dating from the second third of the 4-th Millennium BC. It was found in a stone tomb near Novosvobodnaya, and is now on display in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. It has a total length of 63 cm and a hilt length of 11 cm. The most ancient column. The most ancient stringed instrument, resembling the modern Adyghian shichepshin, dating from the late 4th Millennium B.C., now also in the Hermitage museum.

Because of its burial practices, it is in terms of the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas seen as an Indo-European intrusion from the Pontic steppe into the Caucasus. However, critics point out that: … where the evidence for barrows is found, it is precisely in regions which later demonstrate the presence of non-Indo-European populations. — J.P.Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans

The culture has been described as, at the very least, a “kurganized” local culture with strong ethnic and linguistic links to the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It has been linked to the Lower Mikhaylovka group and Kemi Oba culture, and more distantly, to the Globular Amphora and Corded Ware cultures, if only in an economic sense.

However: Such a theory, it must be emphasized, is highly speculative and controversial although there is a recognition that this culture may be a product of at least two traditions: the local steppe tradition embraced in the Novosvobodna culture and foreign elements from south of the Caucasus which can be charted through imports in both regions. — J.P. Mallory, EIEC, Maykop Culture

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, whose views are somewhat controversial, suggest that the Maykop culture (or its ancestor) may have been a way-station for Indo-Europeans migrating from the South Caucasus and/or eastern Anatolia to a secondary Urheimat on the steppe. This would essentially place the Anatolian stock in Anatolia from the beginning, and at least in this instance, agrees with Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis.

Considering that some attempt has been made to unite Indo-European with the Northwest Caucasian languages, an earlier Caucasian pre-Urheimat is not out of the question (see Proto-Pontic). However, most linguists and archaeologists consider this hypothesis highly unlikely, and prefer the Eurasian steppes as the genuine IE Urheimat.

The Yamna culture

The Yamna culture, “Pit [Grave] Culture”, from Russian/Ukrainian яма, “pit”) is a late copper age/early Bronze Age culture of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region (the Pontic steppe), dating to the 36th–23rd centuries BC. The name also appears in English as Pit Grave Culture or Ochre Grave Culture.

The culture was predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced near rivers and a few hillforts.

The Yamna culture was preceded by the Sredny Stog culture, Khvalynsk culture and Dnieper-Donets culture, while succeeded by the Catacomb culture and the Srubna culture.

Characteristic for the culture are the inhumations in kurgans (tumuli) in pit graves with the dead body placed in a supine position with bent knees. The bodies were covered in ochre. Multiple graves have been found in these kurgans, often as later insertions.

Significantly, animal grave offerings were made (cattle, sheep, goats and horse), a feature associated with Proto-Indo-Europeans (including Proto-Indo-Iranians).

The earliest remains in Eastern Europe of a wheeled cart were found in the “Storozhova mohyla” kurgan (Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, excavated by Trenozhkin A.I.) associated with the Yamna culture.

The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) in the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas. It is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language, along with the preceding Sredny Stog culture, now that archaeological evidence of the culture and its migrations has been closely tied to the evidence from linguistics.

Pavel Dolukhanov argues that the emergence of the Pit-Grave culture represents a social development of various local Bronze Age cultures, representing “an expression of social stratification and the emergence of chiefdom-type nomadic social structures”, which in turn intensified inter-group contacts between essentially heterogeneous social groups.

It is said to have originated in the middle Volga based Khvalynsk culture and the middle Dnieper based Sredny Stog culture. In its western range, it is succeeded by the Catacomb culture; in the east, by the Poltavka culture and the Srubna culture.

The Catacomb culture

The Catacomb culture, ca. 2800–2200 BC, refers to a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day Ukraine.

The culture was the first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamna culture. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded by the Srubna culture from ca the 17th century BC.

The name Catacomb culture comes from its burial practices. These are similar to those of the Yamna culture, but with a hollowed-out space off the main shaft, creating the “catacomb”. Animal remains were incorporated into a small minority of graves.

In certain graves there was the distinctive practice of what amounts to modelling a clay mask over the deceased’s face, creating an obvious if not necessarily correct association to the famous gold funeral mask of Agamemnon (see also Tashtyk culture).

The economy was essentially stock-breeding, although traces of grain have been found. There seem to have been skilled specialists, particularly metal-workers.

The origin of the Catacomb Culture is disputed. Jan Lichardus enumerates three possibilities: a local development departing from the previous Yamna Culture only, a migration from Central Europe, or an oriental origin. The culture is first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East.

The Catacomb culture was ousted by the Srubna (Timber-grave) culture from ca. the 17th century.

The linguistic composition of the Catacomb culture is unclear. Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis expounded by Marija Gimbutas, an Indo-European component is hard to deny, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Armenian and Paleo-Balkan dialects here is tempting, as it would neatly explain certain shared features.

More recently, the Ukrainian archaeologist V. Kulbaka has argued that the Late Yamna cultures of ca. 3200–2800 BC, esp. the Budzhak, Starosilsk, and Novotitarovka groups, might represent the Greek-Armenian-“Aryan”(=Indo-Iranian) ancestors (Graeco-Aryan, Graeco-Armenian), and the Catacomb culture that of the “unified” (to ca. 2500 BC) and then “differentiated” Indo-Iranians.

Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in South-Western Turkmenistan from the early 4th millennium (Parkhai cemetery). The same opinion is supported by Leo Klejn in his various publications.

The Srubna culture

The Srubna culture (Timber-grave culture), was a Late Bronze Age (18th-12th centuries BC) culture. It is a successor to the Yamna culture (Pit Grave culture) and the Poltavka culture.

It occupied the area along and above the north shore of the Black Sea from the Dnieper eastwards along the northern base of the Caucasus to the area abutting the north shore of the Caspian Sea, west of the Ural Mountains to come up against the domain of the approximately contemporaneous and somewhat related Andronovo culture.

The name comes from Russian cруб (srub), “timber framework”, from the way graves were constructed. Animal parts were buried with the body.

The economy was mixed agriculture and livestock breeding. The historical Cimmerians have been suggested as descended from this culture.

The Srubna culture is succeeded by Scythians and Sarmatians in the 1st millennium BC, and by Khazars and Kipchaks in the first millennium AD.

The Afanasevo culture

When R1b crossed the Caucasus in the Late Neolithic, it split into two main groups. The western one (M269 & L23) would settle the eastern and northern of the Black Sea. The eastern one (M269 + L23 + M73) migrated to the Don-Volga region, where horses were domesticated circa 4600 BCE. R1b probably mixed with indigenous R1a people and founded the Repin culture (3700-3300 BCE) a bit before the Yamna culture came into existence in the western Pontic Steppe.

R1b would then have migrated with horses along the Great Eurasian Steppe until the Altai mountains in East-Central Asia, where they established the Afanasevo culture (c. 3600-2400 BCE). Afanasevo people might be the precursors of the Tocharian branch of Indo-European languages alongside haplogroup R1a.

The R1b people who stayed in the Volga-Ural region were probably the initiators of the Poltavka culture (2700-2100 BCE), then became integrated into the R1a-dominant Sintashta-Petrovka culture (2100-1750 BCE) linked to the Indo-Aryan conquest of Central and South Asia.

Nowadays R1b is found at higher frequencies among ethnic minorities of the Volga-Ural region in Russia than among Slavic Russians. R1b is also present in many Central Asian populations, the highest percentages being observed among the Uyghurs (20%) of Xinjiang in north-west China, the Yaghnobi people of Tajikistan (32%), and the Bashkirs (47%, or 62.5% in the Abzelilovsky district) of Bashkortostan in Russia (border of Kazakhstan).

Conventional archaeological understanding tended to date the Afanasevo culture at around 2000–2500 BC. However radiocarbon gave dates as early as 3705 BC on wooden tools and 2874 BC on human remains. The earliest of these dates have now been rejected, giving a date of around 3300 BC for the start of the culture.

The culture is mainly known from its inhumations, with the deceased buried in conic or rectangular enclosures, often in a supine position, reminiscent of burials of the Yamna culture, believed to be Indo-European. Settlements have also been discovered. The Afanasevo people became the first food-producers in the area by breeding cattle, horses, and sheep. Metal objects and the presence of wheeled vehicles are documented. These resemblances to the Yamna culture make the Afanasevo culture is a strong candidate to represent the earliest cultural form of a people later called the Tocharians.

The Tocharians or Tokharians were inhabitants of medieval oasis city-states on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China). Their Tocharian languages (a branch of the Indo-European family) are known from manuscripts from the 6th to 8th centuries AD, after which they were supplanted by the Turkic languages of the Uyghur tribes.

Some scholars have linked the Tocharians with the Afanasevo culture of eastern Siberia (c. 3500 – 2500 BC), the Tarim mummies (c. 1800 BC) and the Yuezhi of Chinese records, most of whom migrated from western Gansu to Bactria in the 2nd century BC and then later to northwest India where they founded the Kushan Empire.

The culture became known from excavations in the Minusinsk area of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, southern Siberia, but the culture was also widespread in western Mongolia, northern Xinjiang, and eastern and central Kazakhstan, with connections or extensions in Tajikistan and the Aral area.

The Afanasevo culture was succeeded by the Andronovo culture as it spread eastwards, and later the Karasuk culture.

The Tarim mummies

In 1934 Swedish archaeologist Folke Bergman discovered some 200 mummies of fair-haired Caucasian people in the Tarim Basin in Northwest China (a region known as Xinjiang, East Turkestan or Uyghurstan). The oldest of these mummies date back to 2000 BCE and all 7 male remains tested by Li et al. (2010), were positive for the R1a1 mutations. The modern inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, the Uyghurs, belong both to this R1b-M73 subclade (about 20%) and to R1a1 (about 30%).

The first theory about the origins of the Tarim mummies is that a group of early horse riders from the Repin culture (3700-3300 BCE) migrated from the Don-Volga region to the Altai mountain, founding the Afanasevo culture (c. 3600-2400 BCE), whence they moved south to the Tarim Basin.

Another possibility is that the Tarim mummies descend from the Proto-Indo-Iranian people who expanded all over Central Asia around 2000 BCE from the Sintashta-Petrovka culture. An offshoot would have crossed the Tian Shan mountains, ending up in the Tarim Basin.

This theory has the merit of matching the dating of the Tarim mummies. Either way, most of the mummies tested for mtDNA belonged to the Mongoloid haplogroup C4, and only a few to European or Middle Eastern haplogroups (H, K and R).

There is some controversy regarding the possible link between the Tarim mummies and the Tocharian languages, a Centum branch of the Indo-European family which were spoken in the Tarim Basin from the 3rd to 9th centuries CE. It is easy to assume that the Tarim mummies were Proto-Tocharian speakers due to the corresponding location and the Indo-European connection.

However, the Tarim mummies predate the appearance of Tocharian by over two millennia, and Tocharian is a Centum language that cannot be descended from the Satem Proto-Indo-Iranian branch. Other Centum branches being all related to haplogroup R1b, and Tocharian being the only eastern Centum language, it is possible that the Tocharian speakers is instead associated to the Central Asian R1b1b1 (M73) subclade, also found among the modern Uyghurs inhabiting the Tarim basin.

Indo-Iranians

Proto-Indo-Iranian speakers, the people who later called themselves ‘Aryans’ in the Rig Veda and the Avesta, originated in the Sintashta-Petrovka culture (2100-1750 BCE), in the Tobol and Ishim valleys, east of the Ural Mountains. It was founded by pastoralist nomads from the Abashevo culture (2500-1900 BCE), ranging from the upper Don-Volga to the Ural Mountains, and the Poltavka culture (2700-2100 BCE), extending from the lower Don-Volga to the Caspian depression.

The Sintashta-Petrovka culture, associated with R1a-Z93 and its subclades, was the first Bronze Age advance of the Indo-Europeans west of the Urals, opening the way to the vast plains and deserts of Central Asia to the metal-rich Altai mountains. The Aryans quickly expanded over all Central Asia, from the shores of the Caspian to southern Siberia and the Tian Shan, through trading, seasonal herd migrations, and looting raids.

Horse-drawn war chariots seem to have been invented by Sintashta people around 2100 BCE, and quickly spread to the mining region of Bactria-Margiana (modern border of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan). Copper had been extracted intensively in the Urals, and the Proto-Indo-Iranians from Sintashta-Petrovka were exporting it in huge quantities to the Middle East. They appear to have been attracted by the natural resources of the Zeravshan valley for a Petrovka copper-mining colony was established in Tugai around 1900 BCE, and tin was extracted soon afterwards at Karnab and Mushiston. Tin was an especially valued resource in the late Bronze Age, when weapons were made of copper-tin alloy, stronger than the more primitive arsenical bronze. In the 1700’s BCE, the Indo-Iranians expanded to the lower Amu Darya valley and settled in irrigation farming communities (Tazabagyab culture). By 1600 BCE, the old fortified towns of Margiana-Bactria were abandoned, submerged by the northern steppe migrants. The group of Central Asian cultures under Indo-Iranian influence is known as the Andronovo horizon, and lasted until 800 BCE.

The Indo-Iranian migrations progressed further south across the Hindu Kush. By 1700 BCE, horse-riding pastoralists had penetrated into Balochistan (south-west Pakistan). The Indus valley succumbed circa 1500 BCE, and the northern and central parts of the Indian subcontinent were taken over by 500 BCE. Westward migrations led Old Indic Sanskrit speakers riding war chariots to Assyria, where they became the Mitanni rulers from circa 1500 BCE. The Medes, Parthians and Persians, all Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture, moved into the Iranian plateau from 800 BCE. Those that stayed in Central Asia are remembered by history as the Scythians, while the Yamna descendants who remained in the Pontic-Caspian steppe became known as the Sarmatians to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The Indo-Iranian migrations have resulted in high R1a frequencies in southern Central Asia, Iran and the Indian subcontinent. The highest frequency of R1a (about 65%) is reached in a cluster around Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan. In India and Pakistan, R1a ranges from 15 to 50% of the population, depending on the region, ethnic group and caste. R1a is generally stronger is the North-West of the subcontinent, and weakest in the Dravidian-speaking South (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh) and from Bengal eastward. Over 70% of the Brahmins (highest caste in Hindusim) belong to R1a1, due to a founder effect.

Maternal lineages in South Asia are, however, overwhelmingly pre-Indo-European. For instance, India has over 75% of “native” mtDNA M and R lineages and 10% of East Asian lineages. In the residual 15% of haplogroups, approximately half are of Middle Eastern origin. Only about 7 or 8% could be of “Russian” (Pontic-Caspian steppe) origin, mostly in the form of haplogroup U2 and W (although the origin of U2 is still debated). European mtDNA lineages are much more common in Central Asia though, and even in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. This suggests that the Indo-European invasion of India was conducted mostly by men through war, and the first major settlement of women was in northern Pakistan, western India (Punjab to Gujarat) and northern India (Uttar Pradesh), where haplogroups U2 and W are the most common.

The Abashevo culture

The Abashevo culture is a later Bronze Age (ca. 2500-1900 BCE) archaeological culture found in the valleys of the Volga and Kama River north of the Samara bend and into the southern Ural Mountains. It receives its name from a village of Abashevo in Chuvashia. Artifacts are kurgans and remnants of settlements.

The Abashevo culture was preceded by the Yamna culture and was the easternmost of the Russian forest zone cultures that descended from Corded Ware ceramic traditions.

The economy was mixed agriculture. Cattle, sheep, goat, as well as other domestic animals were kept. Horses were evidently used, inferred by cheek pieces typical of neighboring steppe cultures (as well to those of (earliest) Mycenae). The population of Sintashta derived their stock-breeding from Abashevo, although the role of the pig shrinks sharply.

It follows the Yamna culture and Balanovo culture in its inhumation practices in tumuli. Flat graves were also a component of the Abashevo culture burial rite, as in the earlier Fatyanovo culture. Grave offerings are scant, little more than a pot or two. Some graves show evidence of a birch bark floor and a timber construction forming walls and roof.

There is evidence of copper-smelting, and the culture would seem connected to copper mining activities in the southern Urals. The Abashevo culture was an important center of metallurgy and stimulated the formation of Sintashta metallurgy.

The Abashevo ethno-linguistic identity can only be a subject of speculation, reflecting both northern penetration of the earlier Iranian steppe Poltavka culture as well as an extension of Fatyanovo-Balanovo traditions.

Skulls of the Abashevo differ from those of the Timber grave, earlier Catacomb culture, or the Potapovka culture. Abashevo probably witnessed a process of assimilation which presupposses a bilingual population. There were likely contacts with Uralic-speakers, and this is a convenient place for the origin of some loan-words into Uralic. Some of the Volosovo culture of the region were absorbed into the Abashevo populace, as corded-impressed Abashevo pottery is found side by side with comb-stamped Volosovo ceramics sometimes in the same structure at archaeological sites.

It occupied part of the area of the earlier Fatyanovo-Balanovo culture, the eastern variant of the earlier Corded Ware culture, but whatever relationship there is between the two cultures is uncertain. The pre-eminent expert on the Abashevo culture, A. Pryakhin, concludeded that it originated from contacts between Fatyanovo / Balanovo and Catacomb / Poltavka peoples in the southern forest-steppe.

The Abashevo culture played a significant role in the origin of Sintashta, and early Abashevo ceramic styles strongly influenced Sintashta ceramics. It does not pertain to the Andronovo culture and genetically belongs to the circle of Central European cultures of the Fatyanovo culture type corded ware ceramics. It was succeeded by the Srubna culture and the Sintashta culture.

The Sintashta culture

The Sintashta culture, also known as the Sintashta-Petrovka culture or Sintashta-Arkaim culture, is a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the northern Eurasian steppe on the borders of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, dated to the period 2100–1800 BCE.

Due to the assimilation of tribes in the region of the Urals, such as the Pit-grave, Catacomb, Poltavka, and northern Abashevo into the Novokumak horizon, it would seem inaccurate to provide Sintashta with a purely Aryan attribution.

The people of the Sintashta culture are thought to have spoken Proto-Indo-Iranian, the ancestor of the Indo-Iranian language family. This identification is based primarily on similarities between sections of the Rig Veda, an Indian religious text which includes ancient Indo-Iranian hymns recorded in Vedic Sanskrit, with the funerary rituals of the Sintashta culture as revealed by archaeology.

There is however linguistic evidence of a list of common vocabulary between Finno-Ugric and Indo-Iranian languages. While its origin as a creole of different tribes in the Ural region may make it inaccurate to ascribe the Sintashta culture exclusively to Indo-Iranian ethnicity, interpreting this culture as a blend of two cultures with two distinct languages is a reasonable hypothesis based on the evidence.

The Sintashta culture emerged from the interaction of two antecedent cultures. Its immediate predecessor in the Ural-Tobol steppe was the Poltavka culture, an offshoot of the cattle-herding Yamnaya horizon that moved east into the region between 2800 and 2600 BCE. Several Sintashta towns were built over older Poltovka settlements or close to Poltovka cemeteries, and Poltovka motifs are common on Sintashta pottery.

Sintashta material culture also shows the influence of the late Abashevo culture, a collection of settlements in the forest steppe zone north of the Sintashta region that were also predominantly pastoralist.

The Abashevo culture was already marked by endemic intertribal warfare; intensified by ecological stress and competition for resources in the Sintashta period, this drove the construction of fortifications on an unprecedented scale and innovations in military technique such as the invention of the war chariot.

Increased competition between tribal groups may also explain the extravagant sacrifices seen in Sintashta burials, as rivals sought to outdo one another in acts of conspicuous consumption analogous to the North American potlatch tradition.

The earliest known chariots have been found in Sintashta burials, and the culture is considered a strong candidate for the origin of the technology, which spread throughout the Old World and played an important role in ancient warfare. Sintashta settlements are also remarkable for the intensity of copper mining and bronze metallurgy carried out there, which is unusual for a steppe culture.

Because of the difficulty of identifying the remains of Sintashta sites beneath those of later settlements, the culture was only recently distinguished from the Andronovo culture. It is now recognised as a separate entity forming part of the ‘Andronovo horizon’.

The first Sintashta settlements appeared around 2100 BCE, during a period of climatic change that saw the already arid Kazakh steppe region become even more cold and dry. The marshy lowlands around the Ural and upper Tobol rivers, previously favoured as winter refuges, became increasingly important for survival. Under these pressures both Poltovka and Abashevo herders settled permanently in river valley strongholds, eschewing more defensible hill-top locations.

The Sintashta economy came to revolve around copper metallurgy. Copper ores from nearby mines (such as Vorovskaya Yama) were taken to Sintashta settlements to be processed into copper and arsenical bronze. This occurred on an industrial scale: all the excavated buildings at the Sintashta sites of Sintashta, Arkaim and Ust’e contained the remains of smelting ovens and slag.

Much of this metal was destined for export to the cities of the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) in Central Asia. The metal trade between Sintashta and the BMAC for the first time connected the steppe region to the ancient urban civilisations of the Near East: the empires and city-states of Iran and Mesopotamia provided an almost bottomless market for metals. These trade routes later became the vehicle through which horses, chariots and ultimately Indo-Iranian-speaking people entered the Near East from the steppe.

The Sintashta-Petrovka culture is succeeded by the Fedorovo (1400–1200 BCE) and Alekseyevka (1200–1000 BCE) cultures, still considered as part of the Andronovo horizon.

Sintashta

Sintashta is an archaeological site on the upper Ural River in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. It is the remains of a fortified settlement dating to the Bronze Age, c. 2800–1600 BC, and is the type site of the Sintashta culture.

Sintashta is situated in the steppe just east of the Ural Mountains. The site is named for the adjacent Sintashta River, a tributary to the Tobol. The shifting course of the river over time has destroyed half of the site, leaving behind thirty one of the approximately fifty or sixty houses in the settlement.

Sintashta is often pointed to as the premier proto-Indo-Iranian site, and it is conjectured that the language spoken was still in the Proto-Indo-Iranian stage. There are similar sites “in the Volga-Ural steppe”

The site has been characterised “fortified metallurgical industrial center” and the ritual activities evident at associated cemeteries linked to Proto-Indo-Iranian traditions.

It is famed for its grave-offerings, particularly chariot burials. These inhumations were in kurgans and included all or parts of animals (horse and dog) deposited into the barrow.

There is evidence of copper and bronze metallurgy taking place in every house excavated at Sintashta, again an unprecedented intensity of metallurgical production for the steppe.

The settlement consisted of rectangular houses arranged in a circle 140 m in diameter and surrounded by a timber-reinforced earthen wall with gate towers and a deep ditch on its exterior.

The fortifications at Sintashta and similar settlements such as Arkaim, an archaeological site situated in the Southern Urals steppe, 8.2 kilometres (5.1 mi) north-to-northwest of Amurskiy, and 2.3 km (1.4 mi) south-to-southeast of Alexandronvskiy, two villages in the Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, just to the north from the Kazakhstan border, were of unprecedented scale for the steppe region.

The site is generally dated to the 17th century BC. Earlier dates, up to the 20th century BC, have been proposed. It was a settlement of the Sintashta-Petrovka culture.

Although the settlement was burned and abandoned, much detail is preserved. Arkaim is similar in form but much better preserved than neighbouring Sintashta, where the earliest chariot was unearthed. The site was protected by two circular walls.

The 17th century date suggests that the settlement was about co-eval to, or just post-dating, the Indo-Aryan migration into South Asia and Mesopotamia (the Gandhara grave culture appearing in the Northern Pakistan from ca. 1600 BC, the Indo-European Mitanni rulers reached Anatolia before 1500 BC, both roughly 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) removed from the Sintashta-Petrovka area), and that it was either an early Iranian culture, or an unknown branch of Indo-Iranian that did not survive into historical times.

Five cemeteries have been found associated with the site, the largest of which (known as Sintashta mogila or SM) consisted of forty graves. Some of these were chariot burials, producing the oldest known chariots in the world. Others included horse sacrifices – up to eight in a single grave – various stone, copper and bronze weapons, and silver and gold ornaments.

The SM cemetery is overlain by a very large kurgan of a slightly later date. It has been noted that the kind of funerary sacrifices evident at Sintashta have strong similarities to funerary rituals described in the Rig Veda, an ancient Indian religious text often associated with the Proto-Indo-Iranians.

Radiocarbon dates from the settlement and cemeteries span over a millennium, suggesting an earlier occupation belonging to the Poltavka culture. The majority the dates, however, are around 2100–1800 BC, which points at a main period of occupation of the site consistent with other settlements and cemeteries of the Sintashta culture.

The older Sintashta culture (2100–1800), formerly included within the Andronovo culture, is now considered separately, but regarded as its predecessor, and accepted as part of the wider Andronovo horizon.

The Andronovo culture

The Andronovo culture is a collection of similar local Bronze Age cultures that flourished ca. 1800–1400 BCE in western Siberia and the west Asiatic steppe. It is probably better termed an archaeological complex or archaeological horizon. The name derives from the village of Andronovo (55°53′N 55°42′E), where in 1914, several graves were discovered, with skeletons in crouched positions, buried with richly decorated pottery. Two sub-cultures have been since distinguished, during which the culture expands towards the south and the east: Alakul (1800–1400 BCE) and Fedorovo (1700–1300 BCE).

The geographical extent of the culture is vast and difficult to delineate exactly. On its western fringes, it overlaps with the approximately contemporaneous, but distinct, Srubna culture in the Volga-Ural interfluvial. To the east, it reaches into the Minusinsk depression, with some sites as far west as the southern Ural Mountains, overlapping with the area of the earlier Afanasevo culture.

Additional sites are scattered as far south as the Koppet Dag (Turkmenistan), the Pamir (Tajikistan) and the Tian Shan (Kyrgyzstan). The northern boundary vaguely corresponds to the beginning of the Taiga. In the Volga basin, interaction with the Srubna culture was the most intense and prolonged, and Federovo style pottery is found as far west as Volgograd.

Towards the middle of the 2nd millennium, the Andronovo cultures begin to move intensively eastwards. They mined deposits of copper ore in the Altai Mountains and lived in villages of as many as ten sunken log cabin houses measuring up to 30m by 60m in size. Burials were made in stone cists or stone enclosures with buried timber chambers.

In other respects, the economy was pastoral, based on cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. While agricultural use has been posited, no clear evidence has been presented. The Andronovo culture is strongly associated with the Indo-Iranians and is often credited with the invention of the spoke-wheeled chariot around 2000 BCE. It is also notable for regional advances in metallurgy.

Most researchers associate the Andronovo horizon with early Indo-Iranian languages, though it may have overlapped the early Uralic-speaking area at its northern fringe.

The identification of Andronovo as Indo-Iranian has been challenged by scholars who point to the absence of the characteristic timber graves of the steppe south of the Oxus River. Sarianidi (as cited in Bryant 2001:207) states that “direct archaeological data from Bactria and Margiana show without any shade of doubt that Andronovo tribes penetrated to a minimum extent into Bactria and Margianian oases”.

Based on its use by Indo-Aryans in Mitanni and Vedic India, its prior absence in the Near East and Harappan India, and its 16th–17th century BCE attestation at the Andronovo site of Sintashta, Kuzmina (1994) argues that the chariot corroborates the identification of Andronovo as Indo-Iranian. Klejn (1974) and Brentjes (1981) find the Andronovo culture much too late for an Indo-Iranian identification since chariot-wielding Aryans appear in Mitanni by the 15th to 16th century BCE. However, Anthony & Vinogradov (1995) dated a chariot burial at Krivoye Lake to around 2000 BCE.

Mallory (as cited in Bryant 2001:216) admits the extraordinary difficulty of making a case for expansions from Andronovo to northern India, and that attempts to link the Indo-Aryans to such sites as the Beshkent and Vakhsh cultures “only gets the Indo-Iranians to Central Asia, but not as far as the seats of the Medes, Persians or Indo-Aryans”.

Eugene Helimski has suggested that the Andronovo people spoke a separate branch of the Indo-Iranian group. He claims that borrowings in the Finno-Ugric languages support this view.

Vladimir Napolskikh has proposed that borrowings in Finno-Ugric indicate that the language was specifically of the Indo-Aryan type. An alternative possibility for the language of Andronovo may be Burušaski (now spoken in Kašmīr) or Ĥapirti (Elamitic), anciently spoken in Ĥuzistan.

Since older forms of Indo-Iranian words have been taken over in Uralic and Proto-Yeniseian, occupation by some other languages (also lost ones) cannot be ruled out altogether, at least for part of the Andronovo area: i. e., Uralic and Yeniseian.

The earliest historical peoples associated with the area are the Cimmerians and Saka/Scythians, appearing in Assyrian records after the decline of the Alekseyevka culture, migrating into the Ukraine from ca. the 9th century BCE (see also Ukrainian stone stela), and across the Caucasus into Anatolia and Assyria in the late 8th century BCE, and possibly also west into Europe as the Thracians (see Thraco-Cimmerian), and the Sigynnae, located by Herodotus beyond the Danube, north of the Thracians, and by Strabo near the Caspian Sea. Both Herodotus and Strabo identify them as Iranian.

Out of 10 human male remains assigned to the Andronovo horizon from the Krasnoyarsk region, 9 possessed the R1a Y-chromosome haplogroup and one haplogroup C-M130 (xC3). mtDNA haplogroups of nine individuals assigned to the same Andronovo horizon and region were as follows: U4 (2 individuals), U2e, U5a1, Z, T1, T4, H, and K2b.

90% of the Bronze Age period mtDNA haplogroups were of west Eurasian origin and the study determined that at least 60% of the individuals overall (out of the 26 bronze and Iron Age human remains’ samples of the study that could be tested) had light hair and blue or green eyes.

A 2004 study also established that, during the Bronze/Iron Age period, the majority of the population of Kazakhstan (part of the Andronovo culture during Bronze Age), was of west Eurasian origin (with mtDNA haplogroups such as U, H, HV, T, I and W), and that prior to the thirteenth to seventh century BC, all Kazakh samples belonged to European lineages.

In southern Siberia and Kazakhstan, the Andronovo culture was succeeded by the Karasuk culture (1500–800 BCE), which is sometimes asserted to be non-Indo-European, and at other times to be specifically proto-Iranian. On its western border, it is succeeded by the Srubna culture, which partly derives from the Abashevo culture.

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex

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).

Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.

Sarianidi’s excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals, until the last years of the Soviet Union, so the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi’s work began to be translated in the 1990s.

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. Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic period in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag. At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew the kinds of crops that are typically associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant during the Chalcolithic period.

During the Copper Age, the population of this region grew. Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, who led the South Turkmenistan Complex Archaeological Expedition from 1946, sees signs that people migrated to the region from central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but feels that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers. By contrast a re-excavation of Monjukli Depe in 2010 found a distinct break in settlement history between the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic eras there.

Major Chalcolithic settlements sprang up at Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe. In addition there were smaller settlements at Anau, Dashlyji and Yassy-depe. Settlements similar to the early level at Anau also appeared further east – in the ancient Delta of the River Tedzen, the site of the Geoksiur Oasis. About 3500 BCE the cultural unity of the culture split into two pottery styles: colourful in the west (Anau, Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe) and more austere in the east at Altyn-Depe and the Geoksiur Oasis settlements. This may reflect the formation of two tribal groups.

Around 3000 BCE it seems that people from Geoksiur migrated into the Murghab Delta, where small, scattered settlements appeared, and reached further east into the Zerafshan Valley in Transoxiana. In both areas pottery typical of Geoksiur was in use. In Transoxiana they settled at Sarazm near Pendjikent. To the south the foundation layers of Shahr-i Shōkhta on the bank of the Helmand River in south-eastern Iran contained pottery of the Altyn-Depe and Geoksiur type. Thus the farmers of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were connected by a scattering of farming settlements.

In the Early Bronze Age the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown. The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age c. 2300 BCE, corresponding to level V at Namazga-Depe.[5] It is this Bronze Age culture which has been given the BMAC name.

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.

Sarianidi regards Gonur as the “capital” of the complex in Margiana throughout the Bronze Age. The palace of North Gonur measures 150 metres by 140 metres, the temple at Togolok 140 metres by 100 metres, the fort at Kelleli 3 125 metres by 125 metres, and the house of a local ruler at Adji Kui 25 metres by 25 metres.

Each of these formidable structures has been extensively excavated. While they all have impressive fortification walls, gates, and buttresses, it is not always clear why one structure is identified as a temple and another as a palace. Mallory points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qala, the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling walls. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples. Extensive irrigation systems have been discovered at the Geoksiur Oasis.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BCE found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BCE was found at Altyn-Depe.

The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the “Anau seal”) with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilization. It bears five markings strikingly similar to Chinese “small seal” characters, but such characters date from the Qin reforms of roughly 100 AD, while the Anau seal is dated by context to 2,300 BCE. It is therefore an unexplained anomaly. The only match to the Anau seal is a small jet seal of almost identical shape from Niyä (near modern Minfeng) along the southern Silk Road in Xinjiang, assumed to be from the Western Han dynasty.

Interactions with other cultures

BMAC materials have been found in the Indus civilisation, 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. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.

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.

As argued by Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky, there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. Some BMAC words have now also been found in Tocharian.

Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilization.

The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians, a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southeastern Iran.

Bactrian Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. “The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula.”

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.

As James P. Mallory phrased it: 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.

However, archaeologists like B. B. Lal have seriously questioned the BMAC and Indo-Iranian connection, and thoroughly disputed the proclaimed relations.

While others maintain there is insufficient evidence for any ethnic or linguistic identification of the BMAC solely based on material remains, in the absence of written records.

Altyndepe

Altyndepe (the Turkmen for “Golden Hill”) is a Bronze Age (BMAC) site in Turkmenistan, near Aşgabat, inhabited in the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC, abandoned around 1600 BC. The site is notable for the remains of its “proto-Zoroastrian” ziggurat.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BC found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BC was found at Altyn-Depe.

Gonur Tepe is an archaeological site of about 55 hectares in Turkmenistan that was inhabited by Indo-Iranian peoples until sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE dating back to 2500 BCE. It’s located about 60km north of Mary, Turkmenistan (the capital city of Mary Province).

The site was discovered by Greek-Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi. Sarianidi discovered a palace, a fortified mud-brick enclosure, and temples with fire altars which he believes were dedicated to the Zoroastrian religion. He also found what appears to be the boiler for the ritual drink soma, which is mentioned in the Rigveda and also in the Avesta as haoma. Sarianidi says he also found dishes with traces of cannabis, poppy and ephedrine. According to Sarianidi, this discovery strengthens the theory that these were the ingredients of soma.

The northern part of the complex had a central citadel-like structure about 100m by 180m (350 by 600 feet) in size. A southern complex is about 1.5 hectares in size. The site was most likely abandoned after the Murghab River’s course moved to the west. Gonur is among the largest ruins in the Morghab’s delta region; over 150 ancient settlements dating to the early Bronze Age (2500-1700 BCE) have been found there.

Tepe Fullol (also known as Khush Tepe) is a village in northern Afghanistan where the treasure of Fullol was found, consisting of twenty vessels in gold and silver dated to the Bronze Age. It was accidentally discovered in 1965 by Afghan farmers in a grave cache and provided the first evidence of the Oxus civilisation (also known as BMAC) in northern Afghanistan.

Tepe Fullol is situated in Baghlan Province at the junction of the Khost and Sai valleys. On the basis of iconographic comparisons, the treasure has been dated to between 2600 and 1700 BC. There is also a mound, covering an area 14 by 18 metres (46 by 59 ft) and 20 metres (66 ft) high.

The area’s wealth probably derived from precious materials extracted from the nearby mountains , in particular lapis lazuli from Badakshan, which were widely traded. The vessel’s designs include animal imagery, such as a boar, a stag, snakes and bearded bulls (the latter derived from distant Mesopotamia), indicating that at this early date Afghanistan was already part of an extensive network of trade and cultural exchanges.

Elamo-Dravidians

Namazga V and Altyndepe were in contact with the Late Harappan culture (ca. 2000-1600 BC), and Masson (1988) tends to identify the culture as Proto-Dravidian.

Proto-Dravidian is the proto-language of the Dravidian languages. It is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian and Proto-South Dravidian around 1500 BC, although some linguists have argued that the degree of differentiation between the sub-families points to an earlier split.

As a proto-language, Proto-Dravidian has been reconstructed and is not itself found in the historical record. Due to a dearth of comparative linguistic research in Dravidian studies, not many details as to the grammar, epoch, or location of Proto-Dravidian are known.

Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia). The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions).

The presence of Haplogroup J2 in India, including the subclades M410 and M241 has been an often overlooked clue to the origins of M172. Sengupta et al, in 2005 worked to explain the presence of M172 in India. Their paper provides an immediate acknowledgement of the proposed spread of proto-Elamo-Dravidian speaking peoples into India originating from the Indus Valley and southwest Persia.

The idea that M172 may have been carried into India with proto-Elamo-Dravidian groups is supported by the frequencies of Haplogroup J in one of the only remaining Dravidian Speaking ethnic groups in the Iranian Plateau, the Brahui. 28% of the Brahui, an ethnic Dravidian speaking group from Western Pakistan were found to carry the mutation defining Haplogroup J. Overall Haplogroup J2 in India represented 9.1% of this very populous nation.

In Pakistan, M172 accounted for 11.9% of the Y-Chromosomes typed. Sengupta’s paper broke down the frequencies of Haplogroup J2 into various caste and language groups. J2 was found to be significantly higher among Dravidian castes at 19% than among Indo-European castes at 11%.

J2a-M410 in particular may be a strong candidate for a proposed migration of proto-Dravidian peoples from the Iranian Plateau or the Indus Valley since J2a M410 is a very high component of the haplogroup J2 chromosomes found in Pakistan. Over 71% of the M172 found in Pakistan was M410+.

Another interesting characteristic in the distribution of M172 and more specifically, M410, in India was its higher frequencies in Upper Caste Dravidians. M410+ chromosomes were found in 13% of Upper Caste Dravidians. Sengupta goes on to suggest an Indian origin of Dravidian speakers but from a Y chromosome perspective, the paper seems to acknowledge M172 arriving in India from Middle Eastern and Indus Valley Civilizations.

Despite an apparent exogenous frequency spread pattern of J2a toward North and Central India from the west, it is premature to attribute the spread to a simplistic demic expansion of early agriculturists from the Middle East….it may also reflect subsequent Bronze Age Harappans of uncertain provenance.

Subclades of M172 such as M67 and M92 were not found in either Indian or Pakistani samples which also might hint at a partial common origin. And while there may be multiple events and origins for M172 lineages in India, it does seem likely that the Indus Valley and Elamo-Dravidian speaking groups may be the origin of some of the M172 found in India today.

The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation. Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

The Kelteminar culture

The Kelteminar culture (5500–3500 BCE) was a Neolithic archaeological culture of sedentary fishermen occupying the semi-desert and desert areas of the Karakum and Kyzyl Kum deserts and the deltas of the Amu Darya and Zeravshan rivers in the territories of ancient Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, dated to the 6th-3rd millennium BCE.

The culture was discovered and first excavated in 1939 by the USSR Chorasmian Archaeological and Ethnographic Expedition under leadership of S.P. Tolstoy, who first described it. It is named after a site of the same name. The Kelteminar culture was replaced by the Tazabagyab culture.

The Kelteminar people practised a mobile hunting, gathering and fishing subsistence system. Over time, they adopted stockbreeding. The Kelteminar economy was based on sedentary fishing and hunting.

Scientists hold that Kelteminar culture is related to the Pit–Comb Ware culture and belongs to the Finno-Ugric peoples. The Kelteminar culture is cited as an argument against existence of an Indo-European ancestral homeland in Central Asia.

The Kelteminar people lived in huge houses (size 24m x 17m and height 10m), which housed the whole tribal community of about 100-120 people. They adorned themselves with beads made of shells. They manufactured stone axes and miniature trapezoidal flint arrowheads. For cooking, they used clay vessels produced without the potter’s wheel.

With the Late Glacial warming, up to the Atlantic Phase of the Post-Glacial Optimum, Mesolithic groups moved north into this area from the Hissar (6000–4000 BCE). These groups brought with them the bow and arrow and the dog, elements of what Kent Flannery has called the “broad-spectrum revolution”.

Tepe Hissar

Tepe Hissar is a prehistoric site located just south of Dāmḡān in northeastern Persia. To the north lie valleys rich in flint, lead, wood, fruit, deer, stag, boar, fish and fowl; to the south, the periphery of the great desert (kavir), with known occurrences of copper, gold, turquoise, semi-arid fauna, and herds of gazelles and onagers. Hissar Valley is a vast intermountain hollow with the rivers Kafirnigan, Karatag and Shirkent.

The sacred book of Zoroastrians «Avesta» mentioned this area as «Shumon». For the first time the word «Hissar» («hissor») as a name of a settlement, city or an administrative unit was mentioned in the 11th century. Then this word designated a site of ancient settlement with state armies, crafts, and a market. Way back then the city was the center of the most independent part of Samanid state.

Tepe Hissar shows habitation of settled farmers and herdsmen who lived near Damghan in northeastern Iran during the Aeneolithic period and the Bronze Age. The oldest levels date from the second half of the fourth millennium BC. and are characterized by modeled ceramics with geometric decorations (Hissar I-A).

The subsistence economy was based on agriculture. From Hissar II onward plant remains indicate “an agricultural system based on cereals [glume and free-threshing wheats, naked and hulled barley] and the utilization of local fruit [olive, grapevine] plant resources”. Lentil seeds and legumes were also present. Cattle and sheep figurines indicate herding activities (Mashkour).

Generally, bodies were buried on their sides in a flexed position in simple pits. In period II, however, rare brick cist graves appear.

Based on his analysis of burial ceramics, Erich Schmidt identified three major periods. Period I was subdivided into IA (earliest), IB and IC. The separation between IC and IIA is unclear; the term IC/IIA better reflects this uncertainty.

Period II(B) and III(B and C) are well-defined; IIIA is ephemeral. The 1976 radiocarbon determinations support the following chronology: IC/IIA: about 3980-3865 cal. BCE, IIB: c. 3365-3030 cal BCE, IIIB: ca. 2400-2170 cal. BCE; and IIIC 2170-1900 cal. BCE (Voigt and Dyson, I, pp. 173-74).

Period IB should then be about 4000 BCE and earlier, while IA should be sometime after 5000 BCE, since it clearly follows the Cheshmi Ali (Čašma ʿAli)-Sialk II painted ware horizon of about 5500 BCE (Esfandiari).

The inhabitants lived in adobe brick dwellings. The settlement had a burial ground. Earthenware made on a potter’s wheel, and paintings depicting goats, leopards, and birds were found in subsequent levels (Hissar I-B and II-A); metallurgy was well-developed. The culture of this period exhibits ties with the cultures of central Iran (Sialk III) and southern Turkmenia (Namazga Tepe III).

From the beginning full-time craft specialists mass-produced standardized painted pottery (Hissar I-IIA). Hissar I ware, handmade in IA and wheel-made in IB, consisted of painted buff, painted red, and plain utility ware; a crude late painted ware still occurred in period IIB, along with a coarse ware tempered with crushed slag (Pigott, Howard, and Epstein). Hissar I painted ware is decorated with geometric, plant, and animal motifs (gazelles, ibexes, and birds). Shapes consist of small cups and bowls, and bowls (shallow and deep) on pedestal stems with flaring bases.

Gray ceramics, gradually displacing the painted pottery, appear in the first half of the third millennium BC. (Hissar II-B). Burnished grey ware becomes predominant in period IIB and III, produced in a reducing fire from the same local clays. In IIB cups on high pedestal stands appear; in III canteens and bottle-pitchers replaced them. As with pottery, the uniformity and skill seen in the artifacts (and the quantity of slag and furnace linings) suggests full-time specialists. In Hissar I daggers, knife blades, arrowheads, pins, tacks, points, and needles were made.

In Hissar II and III copper artifacts increase in quality and variety and include personal ornaments (earrings, pendants, bracelets, bands), tools and weapons (bidents, lances, mattocks, chisels, maceheads), and luxury items (vessels, mirrors, boxes and intricately cast pins and rods). Lab study shows “remarkable technological conservatism persisting from Hissar I through III”. In Hissar IIB lead, silver, and gold were added to copper for the first time.

While western connections are visible in the ceramics and button-seals of Hissar I, many connections with Margiana (Marv) and Bactria occur in Hissar IIIC. These include mini-columns, alabaster discs, animal figurines, bidents, tridents, axe-adzes, compartmented copper stamp seals, lanceheads with bent tangs, metal horns, cosmetic bottles, beads with incised circles, etc.

Four rich burials from 1931 belong to this period as does a large “hoard” of pottery copper, gold and alabaster objects (most likely a cenotaph like those found in Baluchistan and Central Asia; Amiet, 1986). The 1976 excavations produced one clay or tablet with signs and nine blank pillow-shaped tablets in Hissar II.

The Hissar culture reached its golden age between the second half of the third millennium BC. and the early part of the second millennium BC. (Hissar III; similar to Namazga Tepe V and VI and more distantly resembling the Maikop culture). While the Hissar III culture continues Near Eastern traditions, the copper artifacts are related to the early Kuban culture of the northern Caucasus, especially Tsarskaya, which like the Majkop slightly earlier clearly represents a fusion of Near Eastern and Kurgan traditions.

Burial sites with rich inventories have been found. An isolated dwelling, apparently belonging to a wealthy patriarchal family, was excavated; this evidence points to the decay of the primitive communal system.

Seima-Turbino Phenomenon

The Altai Mountains in what is now southern Russia and central Mongolia have been identified as the point of origin of a cultural enigma termed the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon. It is conjectured that changes in climate in this region around 2000 BC and the ensuing ecological, economic and political changes triggered a rapid and massive migration westward into northeast Europe, eastward into China and southward into Vietnam and Thailand across a frontier of some 4,000 miles.

This migration took place in just five to six generations and led to peoples from Finland in the west to Thailand in the east employing the same metal working technology and, in some areas, horse breeding and riding.

It is further conjectured that the same migrations spread the Uralic group of languages across Europe and Asia: some 39 languages of this group are still extant, including Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian and Lappish.

However, recent genetic testings of sites in south Siberia and Kazakhstan (Andronovo horizon) would rather support a spreading of the bronze technology via Indo-European migrations eastwards, as this technology was well known for quite a while in western regions.

Seima-Turbino refers to burial sites dating around 1500 BC found across northern Eurasia, from Finland to Mongolia. The buried were nomadic warriors and metal-workers, travelling on horseback or two-wheeled chariots. These nomads originated from the Altai Mountains. The culture spread from these mountains to the west. Although they were the precursor to the much later Mongol invasions, these groups were not yet strong enough to attack the important social sites of the Bronze Age.

These cultures are noted for being nomadic forest and steppe societies with metal working, sometimes without having first developed agricultural methods. The development of this metalworking ability appears to have taken place quite quickly.

Bronze metallurgy in China originated in what is referred to as the Erlitou (Wade–Giles: Erh-li-t’ou) period, which some historians argue places it within the range of dates controlled by the Shang dynasty. Others believe the Erlitou sites belong to the preceding Xia (Wade–Giles: Hsia) dynasty.

The U.S. National Gallery of Art defines the Chinese Bronze Age as the “period between about 2000 BC and 771 BC,” a period that begins with Erlitou culture and ends abruptly with the disintegration of Western Zhou rule. Though this provides a concise frame of reference, it overlooks the continued importance of bronze in Chinese metallurgy and culture.

Little is known about the arrival of Proto-Greek speakers from the steppes. The Mycenaean culture commenced circa 1650 BCE and is clearly an imported steppe culture. The close relationship between Mycenaean and Proto-Indo-Iranian languages suggest that they split fairly late, some time between 2500 and 2000 BCE.

Archeologically, Mycenaean chariots, spearheads, daggers and other bronze objects show striking similarities with the Seima-Turbino culture (c. 1900-1600 BCE) of the northern Russian forest-steppes, known for the great mobility of its nomadic warriors (Seima-Turbino sites were found as far away as Mongolia). It is therefore likely that the Mycenaean descended from Russia to Greece between 1900 and 1650 BCE, where they intermingled with the locals to create a new unique Greek culture.

The Qijia culture

The Qijia culture (2400 BC – 1900 BC) was an early Bronze Age culture distributed around the upper Yellow River region of Gansu (centered in Lanzhou) and eastern Qinghai, China, it is regarded as one of the earliest bronze cultures. Johan Gunnar Andersson discovered the initial site at Qijiaping in 1923. Qijia culture was a sedentary culture, based on agriculture, and breeding pigs, which were also used in sacrifices.

Qijia culture is distinguished by a presence of numerous domesticated horses, and practice of oracle divination, the metal knives and axes recovered apparently point to some interactions with Siberian and Central Asian cultures, in particular with the Seima-Turbino complex. Archeological evidence points to a plausible early contacts between the Qijia culture and Central Asia.

During the late stages of the culture, the Qijia culture retreated from the west and suffered a reduction in population size. Qijia culture produced some of the earliest bronze and copper mirrors found in China. Extensive domestication of horses are found at many Qijia sites.

The archaeological site at Lajia, Huangniangniangtai, Qinweijia, and Dahezhuang are associated with the Qijia culture.

Since this is significantly later than the discovery of bronze in Mesopotamia, bronze technology could have been imported rather than discovered independently in China. While there may be reason to believe that bronzework developed inside China separately from outside influence, the discovery of European mummies in Xinjiang suggests a possible route of transmission from the West.

The Tagar culture

The Tagar culture, named after an island in the Yenisey River opposite Minusinsk, succeeded the Karasuk culture. The civilization was one of the largest centres of bronze-smelting in ancient Eurasia.

The Tagar culture was a Bronze Age archeological culture which flourished between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC in South Siberia (Republic of Khakassia, southern part of Krasnoyarsk Territory, eastern part of Kemerovo Province)

The Tagar tribes, whose people use the same burial places, indicating a continuity in settlements, are thought to have been Caucasoids of the Scythian circle. They lived in timber dwellings heated by clay ovens and large hearths. Some settlements were surrounded by fortifications. They made a living by raising livestock, predominantly large horned livestock and horses, goats and sheep. Harvest was collected with bronze sickles and reaping knives.

Their artifacts were heavily influenced by Scythian art from Pazyryk culture, an Iron Age archaeological culture (ca. 6th to 3rd centuries BC) identified by excavated artifacts and mummified humans found in the Siberian permafrost in the Altay Mountains and nearby Mongolia. Perhaps the most striking feature of the culture are huge royal kurgans fenced by stone plaques, with four vertical stelae marking the corners.

Ancient DNA extracted from the remains of six males who dated back to the Tagar culture were determined to be of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a. Extracted mtDNA from two female remains from this cultural horizon revealed they possessed the T3 and H lineages. The study determined that the majority of the individuals had light hair and blue or green eyes.

The Pazyryk culture

The Pazyryk culture is an Iron Age archaeological culture (ca. 6th to 3rd centuries BC) identified by excavated artifacts and mummified humans found in the Siberian permafrost in the Altay Mountains and nearby Mongolia.

The type site are the Pazyryk burials, a number of Iron Age tombs found in the Siberian permafrost in the the Pazyryk Valley of the Ukok Plateau in the Altai Mountains, Siberia, south of the modern city of Novosibirsk, Russia; the site is close to the borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Numerous comparable burials have been found in neighboring western Mongolia.

Archaeologists have extrapolated the Pazyryk culture from these finds: five large burial mounds and several smaller ones between 1925 and 1949, one opened in 1947 by Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko. The burial mounds concealed chambers of larch-logs covered over with large cairns of boulders and stones.

The Pazyryk burials are a number of Iron Age tombs found in the Pazyryk Valley of the Ukok plateau in the Altai Mountains, Siberia, south of the modern city of Novosibirsk, Russia; the site is close to the borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Numerous comparable burials have been found in neighboring western Mongolia.

Ordinary Pazyryk graves contain only common utensils, but in one, among other treasures, archaeologists found the famous Pazyryk Carpet, the oldest surviving wool-pile oriental rug. Another striking find, a 3-metre-high four-wheel funerary chariot, survived superbly preserved from the 5th century BC.

The mummies are buried in long barrows (or “kurgans”) similar to the tomb mounds of western Scythian culture in modern Ukraine. In fact, some of the first Bronze Age Scythian burials documented by modern archaeologists include the kurgans at Pazyryk in the Ulagan (Red) district of the Altai Republic, south of Novosibirsk in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia (near Mongolia).

Other undisturbed kurgans have been found to contain remarkably well-preserved remains, comparable to the earlier Tarim mummies of Xinjiang. Bodies were preserved using mummification techniques and were also naturally frozen in solid ice from water seeping into the tombs.

They were encased in coffins made from hollowed trunks of larch (which may have had sacral significance) and sometimes accompanied by sacrificed concubines and horses. The clustering of tombs in a single area implies that it had particular ritual significance for these people, who were likely to have been willing to transport their deceased leaders great distances for burial.

Many artifacts and human remains have been found at this location, including the Siberian Ice Princess, indicating a flourishing culture at this location that benefited from the many trade routes and caravans of merchants passing through the area.(State Hermitage Museum 2007) The Pazyryk are considered to have had a war-like life.

Other kurgan cemeteries associated with the culture include those of Bashadar, Tuekta, Ulandryk, Polosmak and Berel. There are so far no known sites of settlements associated with the burials, suggesting a purely nomadic lifestyle.

The tombs are Scythian-type kurgans, barrow-like tomb mounds containing wooden chambers covered over by large cairns of boulders and stones, dated to the 4th – 3rd centuries BCE.

The spectacular burials at Pazyryk are responsible for the introduction of the term kurgan, a Russian word of Turkic origin, into general usage to describe these tombs. The region of the Pazyryk kurgans is considered the type site of the wider Pazyryk culture. The site is included in the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The bearers of the Pazyryk culture were horse-riding pastoral nomads of the steppe, and some may have accumulated great wealth through horse trading with merchants in Persia, India and China.

Trading routes between Central Asia, China and the Near East passed through the oases on the plateau and these ancient Altai nomads profited from the rich trade and culture passing through. There is evidence that Pazyryk trade routes were vast and connected with large areas of Asia including India, perhaps Pazyryk merchants largely trading in high quality horses.

This wealth is evident in the wide array of finds from the Pazyryk tombs, which include many rare examples of organic objects such as felt hangings, Chinese silk, the earliest known pile carpet, horses decked out in elaborate trappings, and wooden furniture and other household goods. These finds were preserved when water seeped into the tombs in antiquity and froze, encasing the burial goods in ice, which remained frozen in the permafrost until the time of their excavation.

The Pazyryk culture has been connected to the Scythians, Iranic equestrian tribes who were mentioned as inhabiting large areas in the central Eurasian steppes starting with the 7th century BC up until the 4th century AD, whose similar tombs have been found across the steppes. The Siberian animal style tattooing is characteristic of the Scythians.

It has been suggested that Pazyryk was a homeland for these tribes before they migrated west. There is also the possibility that the current inhabitants of the Altai region are descendants of the Pazyryk culture, a continuity that would accord with current ethnic politics: Archaeogenetics is now being used to study the Pazyryk mummies.

Craniological studies of samples from the Pazyryk burials revealed the presence of both Mongoloid and Caucasoid components in this population. quoting G. F. Debets on the physical characteristics of the population in the Pazyryk kurgans, records a mixed population. The men would seem to be part Mongoloid and the women Europoid.

The Scythians

The historical appearance of the Iranic equestrian Scythians coincided with the rise of equestrian semi-nomadism from the Carpathian Mountains of Europe to Mongolia in the Far East during the 1st millennium BC.

The “classical Scythians” known to ancient Greek historians were located in the northern Black Sea and fore-Caucasus region, and their territories during the Iron Age were known to classical Greek sources as “Scythia”.

However, other Scythian groups encountered in Near Eastern and Achaemenid sources existed in Central Asia. Moreover, the term “Scythian” is also used by modern scholars in an archaeological context, i.e. any region perceived to display attributes of the “Scytho-Siberian” culture.

Large burial mounds (some over 20 metres high), provide the most valuable archaeological remains associated with the Scythians. They dot the Eurasian steppe belt, from Mongolia to Balkans, through Ukrainian and south Russian steppes, extending in great chains for many kilometers along ridges and watersheds.

From them archaeologists have learned much about Scythian life and art. Some Scythian tombs reveal traces of Greek, Chinese, and Indian craftsmanship, suggesting a process of Hellenization, Sinification, and other local influences among the Scythians.

Kurgan barrows were characteristic of Bronze Age peoples, from the Altay Mountains to the Caucasus, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. The Ipatovo kurga, a cemetery of kurgan burial mounds, located near the town of Ipatovo in Stavropol Krai, Russia, some 120 kilometers (75 mi) northeast of Stavropol, revealed a long sequence of burials from the Maykop culture c. 4000 BC down to the burial of a Sarmatian princess of the 3rd century BC, excavated 1998–99.

Modern interpretation of historical, archaeological and anthropological evidence has proposed two broad hypotheses when it comes to the origin of the Scythians. The first, formerly more espoused view by Soviet-era researchers, roughly followed Herodotus’ (third) account, stating that the Scythians were an Iranian group who arrived from Inner Asia, i.e. from the area of Turkestan and western Siberia.

An alternative view explains the origin of the Scythian cultural complex to have emerged from local groups of the “Timber Grave” (or Srubna) culture (although this is also associated with the Cimmerians). This second theory is supported by anthropological evidence which has found that Scythian skulls are similar to preceding findings from the Timber Grave culture, and distinct from those of the Central Asian Sacae.

Others have further stressed that “Scythian” was a very broad term used by both ancient and modern scholars to describe a whole host of otherwise unrelated peoples sharing only certain similarities in lifestyle (nomadism), cultural practices and language. The 1st millennium BC ushered a period of unprecedented cultural and economic connectivity amongst disparate and wide-ranging communities.

A mobile, broadly similar lifestyle would have facilitated contacts amongst disparate ethnic groupings along the expansive Eurasian steppe from the Danube to Manchuria, leading to many cultural similarities. From the viewpoint of Greek and Persian ancient observers, they were all lumped together under the etic category “Scythians”.

Accounts by Herodotus of Scythian origins has been discounted recently; although his accounts of Scythian raiding activities contemporary to his writings have been deemed more reliable. Moreover, the term Scythian, like Cimmerian, was used to refer to a variety of groups from the Black Sea to southern Siberia and central Asia.

“They were not a specific people”, but rather variety of peoples “referred to at variety of times in history, and in several places, none of which was their original homeland”. The Bible includes a single reference to Scythians in Colossians 3:11, immediately after mentioning barbarian, possibly as an extreme example of a barbarian.

Early physical analyses have unanimously concluded that the Scythians, even those in the east (e.g. the Pazyryk region), possessed predominantly “Europioid” features, although mixed ‘Euro-mogoloid” phenotypes also occur, depending on site and period.

Numerous ancient mitochondrial DNA samples have now been recovered from Bronze and Iron Age communities in the Eurasian steppe and Siberian forest zone, the putative ‘ancestors’ of the historical Scythians. Compared to Y-DNA, mtDNA is easier to extract and amplify from ancient specimens due to numerous copies of mtDNA per cell.

The earliest studies could only analyze segments of mtDNA, thus providing only broad correlations of affinity to modern ‘west Eurasian’ or ‘East Eurasian’ populations. For example, a 2002 study, the mitochondrial DNA of Saka period male and female skeletal remains from a double inhumation kurgan at the Beral site in Kazakhstan was analysed. The two individuals were found to be not closely related. The HV1 mitochondrial sequence of the male was similar to the Anderson sequence which is most frequent in European populations. On the other hand the HV1 sequence of the female suggested a greater likelihood of Asian origins.

More recent studies have been able to type for specific mtDNA lineages. For example a 2004 study studied the HV1 sequence obtained from a male “Scytho-Siberian” at the Kizil site in the Altai Republic. It belonged to the N1a maternal lineage, a geographically “west Eurasian lineage” Another study by the same team, again from two Scytho-Siberian skeletons found in the Altai Republic, were phenotypically males “of mixed Euro-Mongoloid origin”. One of the individuals was found to carry the F2a maternal lineage, and the other the D lineage, both of which are characteristic of “East Eurasian” populations.

These early studies have been eloborated by an increasing number of studies by Russian scholars. Conclusions which might be drawn thus far, from an mtDNA persepctive, are (i) an early, Bronze Age mixture of both west and east Eurasian lineages, with western lineages being found far to the East, but not vice-versa; (ii) an apparent reversal by Iron Age times, with increasing presence of East Eurasian lineages in the western steppe; (iii) the possible role of migrations from the sedentary south: the Balkano-Danubian and Iranian regions toward the steppe.

Ancient Y-DNA data was finally provided by Keyser et al in 2009. They studied the haplotypes and haplogroups of 26 ancient human specimens from the Krasnoyarsk area in Siberia were dated from between the middle of the 2nd millennium BC and the 4th century AD (Scythian and Sarmatian timeframe). Nearly all subjects belong to haplogroup R-M17.

The authors suggest that their data shows that between Bronze and Iron Ages the constellation of populations known variously as Scythians, Andronovians, etc. were blue- (or green-) eyed, fair-skinned and light-haired people who might have played a role in the early development of the Tarim Basin civilization.

Moreover, this study found that they were genetically more closely related to modern populations of eastern Europe than those of central and southern Asia. The ubiquity and utter dominance of R1a Y-DNA lineage contrasts markedly with the diversity seen in the mtDNA profiles.

However, this comparison was made on the basis of STRs. Since the 2009 study by Keyser et al, population and geographic specific SNPs have been discovered which can accurately distinguish between “European” R1a (M458, Z 280) and “South Asian” R1a (Z93)(Pamjav 2012.

Re-analyzing ancient Scytho-Siberian samples for these more specific subclades will further elucidate if the Eurasian steppe populations have an ultimate Eastern European or South Asian origin, or perhaps, both.

This, in turn, might also depend on which population is studied, i.e. Herodotus’ European “classical’ Scythians, the Central Asian Sakae or un-named nomadic groups in the far east (Altai region) who also bore a ‘Scythian” cultural tradition.

The Saka

The Pazyryk culture flourished between the 7th and 3rd century BC in the area associated with the Sacae, a Scythian tribe or group of tribes of Iranian origin. B. N. Mukerjee has said that it is clear that ancient Greek and Roman scholars believed, all Sakai were Scythians, but not all Scythians were Sakai.

Modern confusion about the identity of the Saka is partly due to the Persians. According to Herodotus, the Persians called all Scythians by the name Sakas. Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, AD 23–79) provides a more detailed explanation, stating that the Persians gave the name Sakai to the Scythian tribes “nearest to them”. The Scythians to the far north of Assyria were also called the Saka suni “Saka or Scythian sons” by the Persians. The Assyrians of the time of Esarhaddon record campaigning against a people they called in the Akkadian the Ashkuza or Ishhuza. Hugo Winckler was the first to associate them with the Scyths which identification remains without serious question.

They were closely associated with the Gimirrai, who were the Cimmerians known to the ancient Greeks. Confusion arose because they were known to the Persians as Saka, however they were known to the Babylonians as Gimirrai, and both expressions are used synonymously on the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 515 BC on the order of Darius the Great. These Scythians were mainly interested in settling in the kingdom of Urartu, which later became Armenia. The district of Shacusen, Uti Province, reflects their name. In ancient Hebrew texts, the Ashkuz (Ashkenaz) are considered to be a direct offshoot from the Gimirri (Gomer).

Pliny also mentions Aseni and Asoi clans south of the Hindukush. Bucephala was the capital of the Aseni which stood on the Hydaspes (the Jhelum River). The Sarauceans and Aseni are the Sacarauls and Asioi of Strabo.

Asio, Asi/Asii, Asva/Aswa, Ari-aspi, Aspasios, Aspasii (or Hippasii) are possibly variant names the classical writers have given to the horse-clans of the Kambojas. The Old-Persian words for horse, “asa” and “aspa, have most likely been derived from this.”

If one accepts this connection, then the Tukharas (= Rishikas = Yuezhi) controlled the eastern parts of Bactria (Chinese Ta-hia) while the combined forces of the Sakarauloi, Asio (horse people = Parama Kambojas) and Pasinoi of Strabo occupied its western parts after being displaced from their original home in the Fergana valley by the Yuezhi. Ta-hia (Daxia) is then taken to mean the Tushara Kingdom which also included Badakshan, Chitral, Kafirstan and Wakhan According to other scholars, it were the Saka hordes alone who had put an end to the Greek kingdom of Bactria.

The language of the original Saka tribes is unknown. The only record from their early history is the Issyk inscription, a short fragment on a silver cup found in the Issyk kurgan. (Eastern) Saka or Sakan is a variety of Eastern Iranian languages. It is a Middle Iranian language.

The inscription is in a variant of the Kharoṣṭhī script, and is probably in a Saka dialect, constituting one of very few autochthonous epigraphic traces of that language. Harmatta (1999) identifies the language as Khotanese Saka, tentatively translating “The vessel should hold wine of grapes, added cooked food, so much, to the mortal, then added cooked fresh butter on”.

The only known remnants of what is nowadays called the Saka language is Khotanese Saka language of the ancient Buddhist kingdoms of Khotan and Tumshuq in the Tarim Basin, in what in now southern Xinjiang, China, which was ruled by the Saka. The language there is widely divergent from the rest of Iranian belongs to the Eastern Iranian group. It also is divided into two divergent dialects. The two kingdoms differed in dialect, their speech known as Khotanese and Tumshuqese. Both dialects share features with modern Wakhi and Pashto, but both of the Saka dialects contain many borrowings from the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit. Many Prakrit terms were borrowed from Khotanese into the Tocharian languages.

Tumshuqese was more archaic than Khotanese, but it is much less understood because it appears in fewer manuscripts compared to Khotanese. According to the LINGUIST List, Khotanese and Tumshuqese are distinct Eastern Iranian languages. Khotanese is classified under the Southeastern Iranian family. Tumshuqese is classified as a “Sakan-Tumshuqese” language under the “Sogdian-Khotanese” subgroup, which in turn belongs to the Scythian branch of the Northeastern Iranian group of languages.

The two known dialects of Saka are associated with a movement of Scythian people. No invasion of the region is recorded in Chinese records and one theory is that two tribes of Saka, speaking the dialects, settled in the region in about 200 BC before the Chinese accounts commence.

The Tashtyk culture

The Tashtyk culture, named after an island in the Yenisey River opposite Minusinsk, succeeded the Tagar culture. The Tashtyk culture, an archaeological culture that flourished in the Yenisei valley in Siberia from the first to the fourth century CE, perhaps equivalent to the Yenisei Kirghiz.

According to recent historical findings, Kyrgyz history dates back to 201 BC. The early Kyrgyz lived in the upper Yenisey River valley, central Siberia (see Yenisei Kirghiz for details). Chinese and Muslim sources of the 7th–12th centuries AD describe the Kyrgyz as red-haired with fair complexion and green (blue) eyes.

First appearing in Chinese records of the Grand Historian as Gekun or Jiankun, and later as part of the Tiele tribes, they were once under the rule of Göktürks and Uyghurs. The descent of the Kyrgyz from the autochthonous Siberian population is confirmed on the other hand by the recent genetic studies (The Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective on Y-chromosome diversity).

Remarkably, 63% of the modern Kyrgyz men share Haplogroup R1a1 (Y-DNA) with Tajiks (64%), Ukrainians (54%), Poles (56%) and even Icelanders (25%). Haplogroup R1a1 (Y-DNA) is believed to be a marker of the Proto-Indo-European language speakers.

Kyrgyz genesis legend tells about an ancestor and father of all Kyrgyzes Kyzyl Taigan (Red Dog). A daughter of the khan was in the habit to take long walks in a company of 40 maidens-servants. Once, on return home after her usual walk, the Princess saw that her native aul was ravaged by an enemy. In the aul they found only one alive creature, a red dog.

The princess and her 40 maids become mothers, in a company with only one male attraction, a red dog. By the number of matrons, the posterity of 40 maidens, kyrk-kyz, began to be called Kyrgyz people. The cult of the Heavenly Dog was widespread between the tribes west and east of the ancient China.

The Kyrgyz state reached its greatest expansion after defeating the Uyghur Khaganate in 840 AD. Then Kyrgyz quickly moved as far as as the Tian Shan range and maintained their dominance over this territory for about 200 years.

In the 12th century, however, the Kyrgyz domination had shrunk to the Altay Range and the Sayan Mountains as a result of the rising Mongol expansion. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the Kyrgyz migrated south. Various Turkic peoples ruled them until 1685, when they came under the control of the Oirats (Dzungars).

Tashtyk settlements and hill-forts have been unearthed throughout the Yenisei region, particularly the Sayan canyon area. Their most imposing monuments were immense barrows-crypt structures; these have yielded large quantities of clay and metal vessels and ornaments. In addition, numerous petrographic carvings have been found.

During his excavations of the Oglahty cemetery south of Minusinsk, Leonid Kyzlasov discovered a number of mummies with richly decorated plaster funerary masks showing Western Eurasian features, though this would not rule out some East Asian admixture, as revealed by ancient DNA (see below). There were also intact fur hats, silk clothes, and footwear (now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg).

Some of the graves contained leather models of human bodies with their heads wrapped in tissue and brightly painted. Inside the models there were small leather bags probably symbolising the stomach and containing burned human bones. Scaled-down replicas of swords, arrows and quivers were placed nearby.

Extracted mitochondrial DNA from five female Tashtyk remains of 100–400 AD from Bogratsky region, Abakano-Pérévoz I, Khakassia Republic, revealed that four possessed the Western Eurasian HV, H, N9a, and T1 haplogroups, while the other carried the East Asian haplogroup C. The Western Eurasian Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1a was extracted from one male. The same haplogroup was found among the remains of the preceding Tagar culture. The study determined that the majority of the individuals had light hair and blue or green eyes.

The Hunza people

The Hunza people, or Hunzakuts, descend from the principality of Hunza. The Burusho or Hunzakuts (Hunza people), are an ethnic group indigenous to the Hunza and Yasin valleys of Gilgit Baltistan in northern Pakistan. The Hunzas are predominantly Shia Ismaili Muslims. Their language, Burushaski, has not been shown to be related to any other.

The Burusho claim to be descendants of the soldiers who came to the region with Alexander the Great’s army in the 4th century BC. In 2008 the Macedonian Institute for Strategic Researches “16.9” organized a visit by Hunza Prince Ghazanfar Ali Khan and Princess Rani Atiqa as descendants of the Alexandran army.

The Hunza delegation was welcomed at the Skopje Airport by the country’s prime minister Nikola Gruevski, the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church Archbishop Stephen and the then-mayor of Skopje Trifun Kostovski. Academics dismiss the idea as pseudoscience and doubts exist that party leaders actually believe the claims either.

Burusho legend maintains that they descend from the village of Baltir, which had been founded by a soldier left behind from the army of Alexander the Great—a legend common to much of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. However, genetic evidence supports only a very small, 2% Greek genetic component among the Pashtun ethnic group of Pakistan and Afghanistan, not the Burusho.

DNA research groups the male ancestry of the Hunza with speakers of Pamir languages (Afghans) and the Sinti Romani (Gypsies), due primarily to the M124 marker (defining Y-DNA haplogroup R2a), which is present at high frequency in all three populations. However, they have also an East Asian genetic contribution, suggesting that at least some of their ancestry originates north of the Himalayas.

The Hunzakuts and the region of Hunza has one of the highest literacy rates as compared to other similar districts in Pakistan. Hunza is a major tourist attraction in Pakistan, and many Pakistani as well as foreign tourists travel to the region to enjoy the picturesque landscape and stunning mountains of the area.

The district has many modern amenities and is quite advanced by Asian standards. Local legend states that Hunza may have been associated with the lost kingdom of Shangri La. The people of Hunza are by some noted for their exceptionally long life expectancy, others describe this as a longevity narrative and cite a life expectancy of 53 years for men and 52 for women, although with a high standard deviation.

A variety of NRY Haplogroups are seen among the Burusho. Most frequent among these are R1a1 – a lineage associated with Central/Southern Eurasians and likely related to the Bronze Age migration into South Asia c. 3000 BCE; and R2a, probably originating in South/Central Asia during the Upper Paleolithic. The subcontinental lineages of haplogroup H1 and haplogroup L3 are also present, although haplogroup L, defined by SNP mutation M20, reaches a maximum of diversity in Pakistan.

Other Y-DNA haplogroups reaching considerable frequency are haplogroup J2, associated with the spread of agriculture in, and from, the neolithic Near East, and haplogroup C3, of Siberian origin and possibly representing the patrilineage of Ghenghis Khan. Also present at lower frequency are haplogroups O3, an East Eurasian lineage, and Q, P, F, and G.

The Hunza live alongside the Wakhi and the Shina. The Wakhi reside in the upper part of Hunza locally called Gojal. Wakhis also inhabit the bordering regions of China, Tajikstan and Afghanistan and also live in Gizar and Chitral district of Pakistan. The Shina-speaking people live in the southern part of Hunza. They have come from Chilas, Gilgit, and other Shina language speaking areas of Pakistan.

Shina is a language from the Dardic sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages, while Wakhi is an Indo-European language in the branch of Eastern Iranian language family and is intimately related to other Southeastern Iranian languages in the Pamir languages group.

Wakhi is one of several languages that belong to the Pamir language group. A reflection of this is the fact that the Wakhi people are occasionally called Pamiris. The origin of this language is Wakhan in Afghanistan and it is, according to sources, more than four thousand years old. It is spoken by the inhabitants of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, parts of Gilgit–Baltistan (the former NAs) of Pakistan, Gorno-Badkhshan (mountainous-Badakhshan, in Russian) region of Tajakistan, and Xinjiang in western China.

The Pamiris are composed of people who speak the Pamiri languages, the indigenous language in the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous province, and adhere to the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam.

The Pamiris share close linguistic, cultural and religious ties with the people in Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan, the Sarikoli speakers in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in Xinjiang Province in China, the Wakhi speakers in Afghanistan and the Wakhi speakers in Upper Hunza Gojal region of Northern mountainous areas of Pakistan.

In the Pamiri languages, the Pamiris refer to themselves as Pamiri or Badakhshani, a reference to the historic Badakhshan region where they live.

The Pamir languages are a group of the Eastern Iranian languages, spoken by numerous people in the Pamir Mountains, primarily along the Panj River and its tributaries. This includes the Badakhshan Province of northeastern Afghanistan and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province of eastern Tajikistan.

Smaller communities can be found in the adjacent areas of Pakistan where many have settled in recent decades. Sarikoli, one of the languages of the Pamir group, is spoken beyond the Sarikol Range on the Afghanistan-China border, and thus qualifies as the easternmost of the extant Iranian languages.

The Ethnologue lists Pamir languages along with Pashto as Southeastern Iranian, however, according to Encyclopedia Iranica, Pamir languages and Pashto belong to the North-Eastern Iranian branch. The only other living member of the Southeastern Iranian languages is Pashto. Members of the Pamir language group include Shughni, Sarikoli, Yazgulyam, Munji, Ishkashimi language, Wakhi, and Yidgha. They have the subject–object–verb syntactic typology.

The vast majority of Pamir languages speakers in Tajikistan and Afghanistan also use Tajik (Persian) as literary language, which is—unlike the languages of the Pamir group—a Southwestern Iranian tongue. The language group is endangered, with total number of speakers roughly around 100,000 (as of 1990).

Ossetic is among the remnants of the Scytho-Sarmatian dialect group which was once spoken across Central Asia. Other surviving languages closely related to Ossetic are Yaghnobi, Pashto and Pamiri languages, all spoken more than 2,000 km to the east in Afghanistan, northwestern Pakistan and some parts of Tajikistan.

The Xiongnu

The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation located north of China. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources. What little is known of their titles and names comes from Chinese transliterations of their language.

The identity of the ethnic core of Xiongnu has been a subject of varied hypotheses, because only a few words, mainly titles and personal names, were preserved in the Chinese sources. Proposals by scholars include Turkic, Mongolic, Yeniseian, Tocharian, Iranian, and Uralic. They also possibly practiced Tengriism. The name Xiongnu may be cognate to the name Huns, but the evidence for this is controversial.

Chinese sources from the 3rd century BC report them as having created an empire under Modu Chanyu, the supreme leader after 209 BC. This empire stretched beyond the borders of modern-day Mongolia. After defeating the previously dominant Yuezhi in the 2nd century BC, Xiongnu became a dominant power on the steppes of central and eastern Asia. They were active in regions of what is now southern Siberia, Mongolia, Southern Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang. Relations between early Chinese dynasties and the Xiongnu were complex, with repeated periods of military conflict and intrigue alternating with exchanges of tribute, trade, and marriage treaties.

From 209 BC Modu Chanyu united the steppe tribes of Mongolia into the first large Steppe empire. Soon the new Han Dynasty was paying them tribute. From 133 BC Emperor Wu adopted an aggressive policy and pushed Chinese power west and north. Around 50 AD, following the second Xiongnu civil war, the southern Xiongnu submitted to China while the Northern Xiongnu remained independent. By around 100 AD the Xiongnu had been replaced by the Xianbe. Xiongnu remnants and descendents remained on the northern frontier and in the period around 250-450 AD they formed several short-lived dynasties in North China.

The original geographic location of the Xiongnu is disputed among steppe archaeologists. Since the 1960s, the geographic origin of the Xiongnu has attempted to be traced through an analysis of Early Iron Age burial constructions. No region has been proven to have mortuary practices that clearly match that of the Xiongnu.

The sound of the first Chinese character has been reconstructed as /hoŋ/ in Old Chinese. The Chinese name for the Xiongnu was a pejorative term in itself, as the characters have the meaning of “fierce slave”. The Chinese characters are pronounced as Xiōngnú in modern Mandarin Chinese.

The supposed Old Chinese sound of the first character has a possible similarity with the name “Hun” in European languages. The second character appears to have no parallel in Western terminology. Whether the similarity is evidence of kinship or mere coincidence is hard to tell. It could lend credence to the theory that the Huns were in fact descendants of the Northern Xiongnu who migrated westward, or that the Huns were using a name borrowed from the Northern Xiongnu, or that these Xiongnu made up part of the Hun confederation.

As in the case of the Rouran with the Avars, oversimplifications have led to the Xiongnu often being identified with the Huns, who populated the frontiers of Europe. The connection started with the writings of the 18th-century French historian Joseph de Guignes, who noticed that a few of the barbarian tribes north of China associated with the Xiongnu had been named “Hun” with varying Chinese characters. This theory remains at the level of speculation, although it is accepted by some scholars, including Chinese ones, the majority of Anglophone scholars flatly reject it. DNA testing of Hun remains has not proven conclusive in determining the origin of the Huns.

Ancient DNA tests have revealed that the Xiongnu were already a hybrid Eurasian people 2,000 years ago, with mixed European and North-East Asian Y-DNA and mtDNA. Modern inhabitants of the Xiongnu homeland have approximately 90% of Mongolian lineages against 10% of European ones.

Autosomal, Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA analyses from the Krasnoyarsk area, South Siberia, dated from between the middle of the second millennium BC. to the fourth century AD. reveal that whereas few specimens seem to be related matrilineally or patrilineally, nearly all subjects belong to haplogroup R1a1-M17 which is thought to mark the eastward migration of the early Indo-Europeans.

In the Bronze and Iron Ages, south Siberia was a region of overwhelmingly predominant European settlement, suggesting an eastward migration of Kurgan people across the Russo-Kazakh steppe. The south Siberians were blue (or green)-eyed, fair-skinned and light-haired people and might have played a role in the early development of the Tarim Basin civilization.

It is likely that some mtDNA lineages were carried to southern Siberia from the Volga–Ural region. Incidentally, in the fifth century BC, Herodotus mentioned transit trade occurring in Central Asia along a route that stretched from the Urals in the west to the Altai and the Minusinsk Basin in the east (Hemphill and Mallory 2004).

In Altai, the presence of the R1a1 haplogroup in the middle of the fifth century BC is confirmed by the sample SEB 96K2 of Ricaut et al. (2004) which was found to belong to this Y-haplogroup. The boundary of the eastern European influence seems to be fixed at the peri-Baikal area since no R1a1 haplogroup was found in the Xiongnu specimens of the Northern border of Mongolia.

Analysis performed on Xiongnu specimens revealed that whereas none of the specimens from the Egyin Gol valley bore this haplogroup, the Scytho-Siberian skeleton from the Sebÿstei site exhibited R1a1 haplogroup.

The finding that the Bronze Age population, like that of Krasnoyarsk Siberians belonged exclusively -as far as sampling allows- to Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a1 raises the issue of when and how exactly the diverse extant Y-chromosome gene pool of Central Asia came about.

We can now confidently say that even at the early age of ~4ky BP an R1a1-bearing population of presumably western Eurasian origin had acquired a mixed mtDNA gene pool consisting of both west- and east-Eurasian mtDNA, which agrees with what was presented in the aforementioned documentary, in which many of the seemingly Caucasoid mummies had East Eurasian mtDNA.

The boundary of the Europeoid movement is clearly fixed at Lake Baikal. To the east of Baikal no palaeoanthropological find bears any traces of Europeoid admixture.

Virtually all R1a today seems to trace back to the founding lineage of 5,000 ya. That means that before the most succesful clade of R1a arose, haplogroup R1a must have been very limited, in geography and/or frequency, such that today we can hardly find any traces of members of R1a who might belong to a clade ancestral to the super-succesful R1a clade that was born 5,000 years ago.

Haplogroup R1a1a is widely distributed inEurasia: it is mainly found in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, Siberia,ancient Siberia, but rare in East Asia.

In the 1920s, Pyotr Kozlov’s excavations of the royal tombs at Noin-Ula in northern Mongolia that date to around the 1st century CE, provided a glimpse into the lost world of the Xiongnu. Other archaeological sites have been unearthed in Inner Mongolia and elsewhere; they represent the Neolithic and historical periods of the Xiongnu’s history.

Those included the Ordos culture, many of them had been identified as the Xiongnu cultures. The region was occupied predominantly by peoples showing Mongoloid features, known from their skeletal remains and artifacts. Portraits found in the Noin-Ula excavations demonstrate other cultural evidences and influences, showing that Chinese and Xiongnu art have influenced each other mutually. Some of these embroidered portraits in the Noin-Ula kurgans also depict the Xiongnu with long braided hair with wide ribbons, which are seen to be identical with the Turkic Ashina clan hair-style.

Well-preserved bodies in Xiongnu and pre-Xiongnu tombs in the Mongolian Republic and southern Siberia show both ‘Mongoloid’ and ‘Caucasian’ features but are predominantly Mongoloid with some admixture of European physical stock, nonetheless the Xiongnu shared many cultural traits with their Indo-European neighbors, such as horse racing, sword worship. Analysis of skeletal remains from sites attributed to the Xiongnu provides an identification of dolichocephalic Mongoloid, ethnically distinct from neighboring populations in present-day Mongolia.

Russian and Chinese anthropological and craniofacial studies show that the Xiongnu were physically very heterogenous, with six different population clusters showing different degrees of Mongoloid and Caucasoid physical traits. These clusters point to significant cross-regional migrations (both east to west and west to east) that likely started in the Neolithic period and continued to the medieval/Mongolian period.

Presently, there exist four fully excavated and well documented cemeteries: Ivolga, Dyrestui, Burkhan Tolgoi, and Daodunzi. Additionally thousands of tombs have been recorded in Transbaikalia and Mongolia. In addition to these, the Tamir 1 excavation site from a 2005 Silkroad Arkanghai Excavation Project is the only Xiongnu cemetery in Mongolia to be fully mapped in scale. Tamir 1 was located on Tamiryn Ulaan Khoshuu, a prominent granitic outcrop near other cemeteries of the Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Mongol periods. Important finds at the site included a lacquer bowl, glass beads, and three TLV mirrors. Archaeologists from this project believe that these artifacts paired with the general richness and size of the graves suggests that this cemetery was for more important or wealthy Xiongnu individuals.

The TLV mirrors are of particular interest. Three mirrors were acquired from three different graves at the site. The mirror found at feature 160 is believed to be a low-quality, local imitation of a Han mirror, while the whole mirror found at feature 100 and fragments of a mirror found at feature 109 are believed to belong to the classical TLV mirrors and date back to the Xin Dynasty or the early to middle Eastern Han period.

The archaeologists have chosen to, for the most part, refrain from positing anything about Han-Xiongnu relations based on these particular mirrors. However, they were willing to mention the following: “There is no clear indication of the ethnicity of this tomb occupant, but in a similar brick-chambered tomb of late Eastern Han period at the same cemetery, archaeologists discovered a bronze seal with the official title that the Han government bestowed upon the leader of the Xiongnu. The excavators suggested that these brick chamber tombs all belong to the Xiongnu (Qinghai 1993).”

Classifications of these burial sites make distinction between two prevailing type of burials: “(1). monumental ramped terrace tombs which are often flanked by smaller “satellite” burials and (2) ‘circular’ or ‘ring’ burials.” Some scholars consider this a division between “elite” graves and “commoner” graves. Other scholars, find this division too simplistic and not evocative of a true distinction because it shows “ignorance of the nature of the mortuary investments and typically luxuriant burial assemblages [and does not account for] the discovery of other lesser interments that do not qualify as either of these types.”

A study based on mitochondrial DNA analysis of human remains interred in the Egyin Gol Valley of Mongolia concluded that the Turkic peoples originated from the same area and therefore are possibly related.

A majority (89%) of the Xiongnu mtDNA sequences can be classified as belonging to Asian haplogroups, and nearly 11% belong to European haplogroups. This finding indicates that the contacts between European and Asian populations were anterior to the Xiongnu culture, and it confirms results reported for two samples from an early 3rd century BC. Scytho–Siberian population (Clisson et al. 2002).

Another study from 2004 screened ancient samples from the Egyin Gol necropolis for the Y-DNA haplogroup N-Tat. The Egyin Gol necropolis, located in northern Mongolia, is ~2300 years old and belongs to the Xiongnu culture. This Tat-polymorphism is a biallelic marker – that defines the N1c (N3-Tat) Y-DNA haplogroup – what has so far been observed only in populations from Asia and northern Europe. It reaches its highest frequency in Yakuts and northern Uralic peoples, with significant parts also in Buryats and northeastern Siberian populations. Opinions differ about whether the geographic origin of the T-C mutation lies in Asia or northern Eurasia. Zerjal et al. suggested that this mutation first arose in the populations of Central Asia; they proposed Mongolia as a candidate location for the origin of the T-C polymorphism. In contrast, for Lahermo et al. the wide distribution of the mutation in north Eurasian populations suggests that it arose in northern Eurasia. According to them, the estimated time of the C mutation is ~2400–4440 years ago. (According to some more recent researches of the Y-DNA Hg N the presence of N1c and N1b in modern Siberian and other Eurasian populations is considered to reflect an ancient substratum, probably speaking Uralic languages.) Concerning the Xiongnu people, two of them from the oldest section harboured the mutation, confirming that the Tat polymorphism already existed in Mongolia 2300 years ago. The next archaeogenetical occurrence of this N-Tat ancient DNA was found in Hungary among the so-called Homeconqueror Hungarians. Also three Yakuts’ aDNA from the 15th century, and of two from the late 18th century were this haplogroup.

Additionally two mtDNA sequence matches revealed in this work suggest that the Xiongnu tribe under study may have been composed of some of the ancestors of the present-day Yakut population.

Another study of 2006, using genetic and archeological data from a Siberian grave of Pokrovsk recently discovered near the Lena River and dated from 2,400 to 2,200 years B.P., as well as modern Buryats, Khanty, Mansi, Evenk, and Yakuts, provided evidence for the existence of early contact between autochthonous hunters of the Siberian taiga and nomadic horse breeders from the Altai-Baikal area (Mongolia and Buryatia). The similarity of the mitochondrial haplotype of the Pokrovsk subject with a woman of the Egyin Gol necropolis of the 2nd/3rd century AD ( mtDNA D haplogroup) shows that this contact would have occurred by the end of the Xiongnu period, and possibly prior to the 3rd century BC.. This contact could have been through either the expansion of the Xiongnu and other steppe peoples westwards to new areas of Siberia, or northwards along riverways. The Yenisei (Ienissei) river in particular contributed to extensive east-west gene flow. The combined evidence demonstrates the close relationship between the Xiongnu and the Siberian populations.

Another 2006 study observed genetic similarity among Mongolian samples from different periods and geographic areas including 2,300-year-old Xiongnu population of the Egyin Gol Valley. This results supports the hypothesis that the succession over time of different Turkic and Mongolian tribes in the current territory of Mongolia resulted in cultural rather than genetic changes. Furthermore, it appears that the Yakuts probably did not find their origin among the Xiongnu tribes as previously hypothesised.

A research study of 2006 focused on Y-DNAs of the Egyin Gol site, and besides the confirmation of the above mentioned two N3-Tats, it also identified a Q-M242 haplogroup from the middle period and a C-M130 haplogroup from the later (2nd century AD).

The Q-M242 is one of the haplogroups of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (though this is not this subclade), and minor across Eurasia. Only two groups in the Old World are high majority Q-M242 groups. These are the Samoyedic Selkups (however, only 1 study made) and the Yeniseian Kets. They live in western and middle Siberia, together with the Ugric Khantys. The Kets originally lived in southern Siberia. The Uralic-Samoyedics were an old people of the Sayan-Baikal region, migrated northwest around the 1st/2nd century AD. According to the Uralistic literature the swift migration and disjunction of the Samoyedic peoples might be connected to a heavy warring in the region, probably due to the dissolution of the Xiongnu Empire in the period of the Battle of Ikh Bayan. The mutation defining haplogroup C-M130, is restrained in North and Eastern-Asia and in America (Bergen et al. 1998. 1999.) (Lell et al. 2002.). The highest frequencies of Haplogroup C3 are found among the populations of Mongolia and the Russian Far East, where it is generally the modal haplogroup. Haplogroup C3 is the only variety of Haplogroup C-M130 to be found among Native Americans, among whom it reaches its highest frequency in Na-Dené populations.

A research project of 2007 (Yi Chuan, 2007) was aimed at the genetic affinities between Tuoba Xianbei and Xiongnu populations. Some mtDNA sequences from Tuoba Xianbei remains in Dong Han period were analyzed. Comparing with the published data of Xiongnu, the results indicated that the Tuoba Xianbei presented some close affinities to the Xiongnu, which implied that there was a gene flow between Tuoba Xianbei and Xiongnu during the two southward migrations.

A recent examination in a Xiongnu cemetery in Duurlig Nars revealed a Western Eurasian male with maternal U2e1 and paternal R1a1 haplogroups and two other DNAs: a female with mtDNA haplogroup D4 and a male with Y-haplogroup C3 and mtDNA haplogroup D4.

A study of 2010 analysed six human remains of a nomadic group, excavated from Pengyang, Northern China. From the mtDNA, six haplotypes were identified as three haplogroups: C, D4 and M10. The analyses revealed that these individuals were closely associated with the ancient Xiongnu and modern northern Asians. The analysis of Y chromosomes from four male samples that were typed as haplogroup Q-M242 indicated that these people had originated in Siberia.

Xiaohe culture

The Tarim Basin, located on the ancient Silk Road, played a very important role in the history of human migration and cultural communications between the West and the East. However, both the exact period at which the relevant events occurred and the origins of the people in the area remain very obscure, but analyses of both Y chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) derived from human remains excavated from the Xiaohe cemetery, the oldest archeological site with human remains discovered in the Tarim Basin thus far, has been done.

Besides the East Eurasian lineage, two West Eurasian mtDNA haplogroups H and K were found among the Xiaohe people. H lineage is the most common mtDNAhaplogroup in West Eurasia, but haplogroup H with a 16260T was shared by only nine modern people in Genbank, including one Italian, one German, one Hungarian,one Portuguese, one Icelander and four English people.

Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed that the Xiaohe people carried both the East Eurasian haplogroup (C) and the West Eurasian haplogroups (H and K), whereas Y chromosomal DNA analysis revealed only the West Eurasian haplogroup R1a1a in the male individuals.

Haplogroup K, a western Eurasian–specific haplogroup, is mainly distributed in Europe, central Asia, and Iran. However, haplogroup K with 16134T, found in the Xiaohe people, has not been found in modern people to our knowledge.

Given the unique genetic haplotypes and the particular archaeological culture, the time of this admixture could be much earlier than the time at which the Xiaohe people were living at the site. This means that the time of their mingling was at least a 1000 years earlier than previously proposed. The admixture probably occurred elsewhere, before immigration into the Tarim Basin. The Xiaohe people might well have been an admixture at the time of their arrival. Afanasievo and other steppe cultures is identified as related to the Xiaohe people. This is not very surprising as the Afanasievo people were described in the anthropological literature as prominent-nosed Caucasoids of western origin, although individual skulls show Mongoloid influences.

The admixture took place in Siberia, and an already admixed population found its way to Xiaohe by ~4ky BP. Quite often we find in the northern belt from Europe to China populations with typically Western/Eastern Y-haplogroups accompanied by the “opposite” (Eastern/Western) mtDNA. This is due to the patriarchal nature of mobile Eurasian societies (whether nomads or hunters) in which the “clan” maintains its Y-chromosome gene pool but incorporates foreign females.

Thus, the absence of non-R1a1 chromosomes can be explained by the fact that non-R1a1 male individuals were not incorporated into the “western” tribe that made its way across Eurasia from Europe to China, but Eastern Eurasian-mtDNA bearing females were gradually absorbed; such would have been plentiful among the indigenous Mongoloid populations that lived east of the Urals since the Paleolithic. Thus, at the eastern end of this migration, we ended up with an R1a1-pure/East Eurasian mtDNA-heavy population.

Years later, the pendulum of Eurasian migration swung backwards, with some of the Asian R1a1-bearing individuals returning towards Europe (starting with the Scythians) to meet their distant cousins, this time shedding whatever east Eurasian mtDNA gene pool they had acquired, for the regular west Eurasian mtDNA gene pool that would have been reinforced in the return journey.

Turkic speakers and R1a

The present-day inhabitants of Central Asia, from Xinjiang to Turkey and from the Volga to the Hindu Kush, speak in overwhelming majority Turkic languages. This may be surprising as this corresponds to the region where the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European speakers expanded, the Bronze-Age Andronovo culture, and the Iron-Age Scythian territory.

So why is it that Indo-European languages only survives in Slavic Russia or in the southern part of Central Asia, in places like Tajikistan, Afghanistan or some parts of Turkmenistan? Why don’t the Uyghurs, Uzbeks, Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs, or the modern Pontic-Caspian steppe people (Crimean Tatars, Nogais, Bashkirs and Chuvashs) speak Indo-European vernaculars? Genetically these people do carry Indo-European R1a, and to a lesser extent also R1b, lineages. The explanation is that Turkic languages replaced the Iranian tongues of Central Asia between the 4th and 11th century CE.

Proto-Turkic originated in Mongolia and southern Siberia with such nomadic tribes as the Xiongnu. It belongs to the Altaic linguistic family, like Mongolian and Manchu (some also include Korean and Japanese, although they share very little vocabulary in common).

It is unknown when Proto-Turkic first emerged, but its spread started with the Hunnic migrations westward through the Eurasian steppe and all the way to Europe, only stopped by the boundaries of the Roman Empire.

The Huns were the descendants of the Xiongnu. Ancient DNA tests have revealed that the Xiongnu were already a hybrid Eurasian people 2,000 years ago, with mixed European and North-East Asian Y-DNA and mtDNA. Modern inhabitants of the Xiongnu homeland have approximately 90% of Mongolian lineages against 10% of European ones.

It appears that Turkic quickly replaced the Scythian and other Iranian dialects all over Central Asia. Other migratory waves brought more Turkic speakers to Eastern and Central Europe, like the Khazars, the Avars, the Bulgars and the Turks. All of them were in fact Central Asian nomads who had adopted Turkic language, but had little if any Mongolian blood. Turkic invasions therefore contributed more to the diffusion of Indo-European lineages (especially R1a1) than East Asian ones.

Turkic languages have not survived in Europe outside the Pontic-Caspian steppe. Bulgarian language, despite being named after a Turkic tribe, is actually a Slavic tongue with a mild Turkic influence. Hungarian, sometimes mistaken for the heir of Hunnic because of its name, is in reality an Uralic language (Magyar). the The dozens of Turkic languages spoken in the world today have a high degree of mutual intelligibility due to their fairly recent common origin and the nomadic nature of its speakers (until recently). Its two main branches Oghuz and Oghur could be seen as two languages about as distant as Spanish and Italian, and languages within each branch like regional dialects of Spanish and Italian.

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Indo-Aryan temples

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 1, 2013

Brihadishwara Temple

File:In Dargavs North Ossetia.jpg

Charnel vaults at a necropolis near the village of Dargavs, North Ossetia

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The Indo-Aryans of Maharashtra (Marathi)

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 31, 2013

File:Shengavit Foundations.JPG

Shengavit

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/41/Influencedurartu1.PNG

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; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

The culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of Transcaucasia. As Amjad Jaimoukha puts it: The Kura-Araxes culture was contiguous, and had mutual influences, with the Maikop culture in the Northwest Caucasus. According to E.I.Krupnov (1969:77), there were elements of the Maikop culture in the early memorials of Chechnya and Ingushetia in the Meken and Bamut kurgans and in Lugovoe in Serzhen-Yurt.

Similarities between some features and objects of the Maikop and Kura-Araxes cultures, such as large square graves, the bold-relief curvilinear ornamentation of pottery, ochre-coloured ceramics, earthen hearth props with horn projections, flint arrowheads, stone axes and copper pitchforks are indicative of a cultural unity that pervaded the Caucasus in the Neolithic Age.

Archaeological evidence of inhabitants of the Kura–Araxes culture had shown that ancient settlements were found along the Hrazdan river, a major river of Armenia starting at the northwest extremity of Lake Sevan and flows south through the Province of Kotayk and Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, as shown by drawings at a mountainous area in a cave nearby.

Structures within settlements have not revealed much differentiation, nor was there much difference in size or character between settlements, facts that suggest they probably had a poorly developed social hierarchy for at least a significant stretch of their history. Some, but not all, settlements were surrounded by stone walls.

They built mud-brick houses, originally round, but later developing into subrectangular designs with structures of just one or two rooms, multiple rooms centered around an open space, or rectilinear designs.

At some point the culture’s settlements and burial grounds expanded out of lowland river valleys and into highland areas. Although some scholars have suggested that this expansion demonstrates a switch from agriculture to pastoralism, and that it serves as possible proof of a large-scale arrival of Indo-Europeans, facts such as that settlement in the lowlands remained more or less continuous suggest merely that the people of this culture were diversifying their economy to encompass both crop and livestock agriculture.

The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising (especially of cattle and sheep). They grew grain and various orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in its later phases, horses (introduced around 3000 BCE, probably by Indo-European speaking tribes from the North). They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans.

In its earliest phase, metal was scant, but it would later display “a precocious metallurgical development which strongly influenced surrounding regions”. They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold, tin, and bronze. Their metal goods were widely distributed, recorded in the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets systems in the north, into Syria and Palestine in the south, and west into Anatolia.

Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya. The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts.

There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Archaeologists have attested a striking parallel in the spread to Syria of a distinct pottery type associated with what they call the Kura-Araxes culture. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians, but it might as well be Armenian, if there is any differences between these two languages at all.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van (Urartian: Biai, Biainili) 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.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî.[3] There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC identified with an Aleppo, earlier known as Armi.

Inhumation practices are mixed. Flat graves are found, but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs. This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population.

Late in the history of this culture, its people built kurgans of greatly varying sizes, containing greatly varying amounts and types of metalwork, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth.

This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy. Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

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, but it may rather maybe be identified with the speakers of the armenian language.

Mitanni (Mi-ta-an-ni, also Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni) was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri) by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat (Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) by the Assyrians seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

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. Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni (ca. 1500–1300 BC.) is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

Some theonyms, proper names and other terminology of the Mitanni are considered to form (part of) an Indo-Aryan superstrate, suggesting that an Indo-Aryan elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion. 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 names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin. In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni (between Suppiluliuma and Shattiwaza, ca. 1380 BC), the deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya (Ashvins) are invoked. Kikkuli’s horse training text (circa 1400 BC) includes technical terms such as aika (Vedic Sanskrit eka, one), tera (tri, three), panza (pañca, five), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine), vartana (vartana, round).

The numeral aika “one” is of particular importance because it places the superstrate in the vicinity of Indo-Aryan proper (Vedic Sanskrit eka, with regular contraction of /ai/ to [eː]) as opposed to Indo-Iranian or early Iranian (which has *aiva; compare Vedic eva “only”) in general.

Another text has babru(-nnu) (babhru, brown), parita(-nnu) (palita, grey), and pinkara(-nnu) (pingala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of the solstice (vishuva) which was common in most cultures in the ancient world.

Sanskritic interpretations of Mitanni names render Artashumara (artaššumara) as Arta-smara “who thinks of Arta/Ṛta” (Mayrhofer II 780), Biridashva (biridašṷa, biriiašṷa) as Prītāśva “whose horse is dear” (Mayrhofer II 182), Priyamazda (priiamazda) as Priyamedha “whose wisdom is dear” (Mayrhofer II 189, II378), Citrarata as citraratha “whose chariot is shining” (Mayrhofer I 553), Indaruda/Endaruta as Indrota “helped by Indra” (Mayrhofer I 134), Shativaza (šattiṷaza) as Sātivāja “winning the race price” (Mayrhofer II 540, 696), Šubandhu as Subandhu ‘having good relatives” (a name in Palestine, Mayrhofer II 209, 735), Tushratta (tṷišeratta, tušratta, etc.) as *tṷaišaratha, Vedic Tveṣaratha “whose chariot is vehement” (Mayrhofer I 686, I 736).

The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

Founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing a predominately Hurrian population, Mitanni, in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia, 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.

At the beginning of its history, Mitanni’s major rival was Egypt under the Thutmosids. However, with the ascent of the Hittite empire, Mitanni and Egypt made an alliance to protect their mutual interests from the threat of Hittite domination.

At the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, Mitanni had outposts centered around its capital, Washukanni, whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River. Their sphere of influence is shown in Hurrian place names, personal names and the spread through Syria and the Levant of a distinct pottery type. Eventually, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire.

Within a few centuries of the fall of Washshukanni to Assyria, Mitanni became fully Assyrianized and linguistically Aramaized, and use of the Hurrian language began to be discouraged throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, Urartean, a dialect closely related to Hurrian seems to have survived in the new state of Urartu, in the mountainous areas to the north. In the 10th to 9th century BC inscriptions of Adad-nirari II and Shalmaneser III, Hanigalbat is still used as a geographical term.

The Mitanni warriors were called marya (Hurrian: maria-nnu), the term for (young) warrior in Sanskrit as well; note mišta-nnu (= miẓḍha,~ Sanskrit mīḍha) “payment (for catching a fugitive)” (Mayrhofer II 358).

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.

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.

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.”

Maharashtra (Marathi) 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). Maharashtra is the world’s second most populous first-level administrative country sub-division. Were it a nation in its own right, Maharashtra would be the world’s twelfth most populous country ahead of Philippines.

Maharashtra is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Gujarat and the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the northwest, Madhya Pradesh to the north and northeast, Chhattisgarh to the east, Karnataka to the south, Andhra Pradesh to the southeast and Goa to the southwest. The state covers an area of 307,731 km2 (118,816 sq mi) or 9.84% of the total geographical area of India. Mumbai, the capital city of the state, is India’s largest city and the financial capital of the nation. Nagpur is the second (Winter) capital of the state.

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 which is credited for establishing Hindu rule by ending the Mughal rule; historically, the term describes the Maratha Empire founded by Shivaji in the seventeenth century and continued by his successors.

Robert Vane Russell, an untrained ethnologist of the British Raj period, basing his research largely on Vedic literature, that Marathas belong to one of the 96 different clans, known as the 96 Kuli Marathas or Chhānnava Kule. The organisation of this clan system is disputed in the popular culture and by historians. An authoritative listing was attempted in 1889, but the general body of lists are often at great variance with each other.

The Marathas primarily reside in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Goa. Those in Goa and neighbouring Karwar are known specifically as Konkan Marathas as an affiliation to their regional and linguistic alignment.

The generally 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 Sanskritized 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 (charioteer). An alternative theory states that the term derives from the words Maha (“Great”) and Rashtra (“nation/dominion”).

Marathi, an Indo-Aryan language, is the state’s official language. The modern Marathi language developed from the Prakrit known as Maharashtri. The words Maratha and Marathi may be a derivative of the Prakrit Marhatta found in Jain Maharashtri literature.

Maharastri or Maharastri Prakrit, is a language of ancient and medieval India which is the ancestor of Marathi, Konkani, Sinhala and the Divehi as well. It is one of the many languages (often called dialects) of a complex called Prakrit, and the chief Dramatic Prakrit. Maharashtri was spoken for 1000 years (500 BC to 500 AD). It was used in numerous works of literature, and its literary use was made famous by the Sanskrit playwright Kālidāsa.

Maharashtri Prakrit was commonly spoken until AD 875 and was the official language of the Sātavāhana empire. Works like Karpurmanjari and Saptashati (150 BC) were written in it. Maharashtri Prakrit was the most widely used Prakrit language in western and southern India.

Maharashtri Apabhraṃśa remained in use for several hundred years until at least AD 500. Apabhraṃśa was used widely in Jain literature and formed an important link in the evolution of Marathi. This form of Apabhraṃśa was re-Sanskritised and eventually became Marathi.

The varna, the term for the four broad ranks into which traditional Hindu society is divided, of the Maratha is a contested issue, with arguments for their being of the Kshatriya (warrior) varna which is widely accepted, and others for their being of peasant origins.

This issue was the subject of antagonism between the Brahmins and Marathas, dating back to the time of Shivaji, but by the late 19th century moderate Brahmins were keen to ally with the influential Marathas of Bombay in the interests of Indian independence from Britain.

These Brahmins supported the Maratha claim to Kshatriya status, and the legend of Shivaji, but their success in this political alliance was sporadic, and fell apart entirely following independence in 1947.

Various Maratha families lay claim to the Kshatriya varna, and the various clans make dis-similar claims. Bhonsles claim their origin from Suryavanshi Sisodias, Jadhavs from Yaduvanshi Yadavas, Bhoites from Chandravanshi Bhatis, Chavans from Agnivanshi Chauhans, Salunkhes from Agnivansha Solankis etc.

The Marathas are Hindu warriors from the western Deccan (present day Maharashtra) that rose to prominence by establishing ‘Hindawi Swarajya’. The Marathas became prominent in the 17th century under the leadership of the Great Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhonsale who revolted against the Bijapur Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, and carved out an an independent kingdom with Raigad as his capital.

After a lifetime of guerrilla warfare with the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur and Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Shivaji formally established an independent Hindu Maratha kingdom when he crowned himself Chhatrapati in 1674 with Raigad as its capital. Shivaji died in 1680, leaving behind a large kingdom. Soon after Shivaji’s death, the Mughals invaded, fighting an unsuccessful War of 27 years from 1681 to 1707.

Known for their mobility, the Marathas consolidated their territory during the Deccan Wars (1680-1707), also called the Mughal–Maratha Wars or the War of 27 years, against the Mughals and, at their peak, controlled much of northern and central India.

Shahu, a grandson of Shivaji, was released by the Mughals after the death of Aurangzeb. Following a brief struggle with his aunt Tarabai, Shahu became ruler. During this period, he appointed Balaji Vishwanath Bhat and later his descendants as the Peshwas or the prime ministers of the Maratha Empire.

After the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the empire expanded greatly under the rule of the Peshwas. The empire at its peak stretched from Tamil Nadu in the south, to Peshawar (modern-day Pakistan) on the Afghanistan border in the north, and Bengal and Andaman Islands in east.

A large portion of the Maratha empire was coastline, which had been secured by a potent navy under commanders such as Kānhōjī Āngré. He was very successful at keeping foreign naval ships, particularly of the Portuguese and British, at bay. Securing the coastal areas and building land-based fortifications were crucial aspects of the Maratha’s defensive strategy and regional military history.

In 1761, the Maratha army lost the Third Battle of Panipat to Abdali’s Afghan Durrani Empire, which halted their imperial expansion. Ten years after Panipat, young Madhavrao Peshwa reinstated the Maratha authority over North India.

In a bid to effectively manage the large empire, he gave semi-autonomy to the strongest of the knights, which created a confederacy of Maratha states. They became known as Gaekwads of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore and Malwa, the Scindias of Gwalior and Ujjain, Bhonsales of Nagpur.

In 1775, the British East India Company intervened in a succession struggle in Pune, which became the First Anglo-Maratha War. Marathas remained the preeminent power in India until their defeat in the Second and Third Anglo-Maratha wars (1805–1818), which left the British East India Company in control of most of India.

The British recognised Maratha as a martial race, a term created by Army officials of British India after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, against the rebel caste and pro British caste into one of two categories, ‘martial’ and ‘non-martial’, beginning early in the 20th century.

The ostensible reason was that a ‘martial race’ was typically pro British thus well-built for fighting, while the ‘non-martial races’ were those whom the British believed to be unfit for battle because of their patriotic natures.

Actually British-trained Indian soldiers were among those who rebelled in 1857 and thereafter recruitment policy favoured castes which had remained loyal to the British and diminished or abandoned recruitment from the catchment area of the Bengal army. The concept already had a precedent in Indian culture as one of the four orders (varnas) in the Vedic social system of Hinduism is known as the Kshatriya, literally “warriors.”

Earlier listings of martial races had often excluded them, with Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the Indian Army 1885-1893 stating the need to substitute “more warlike and hardy races for the Hindusthani sepoys of Bengal, the Tamils and Telugus of Madras and the so-called Marathas of Bombay.”

Sikata Banerje notes a dissonance in British military opinions of the Maratha, wherein the British portrayed them as both “formidable opponents” and yet not “properly qualified” for fighting, criticising the Maratha guerrilla techniques as an improper way of war.

Banerje cites a 1859 statement as emblematic of this disparity: “”[T]here is something noble in the carriage of an ordinary Rajput, and something vulgar in that of the most distinguished Mahratta. The Rajput is the most worthy antagonist, the Mahratta the most formidable enemy.”

The Maratha Light Infantry regiment of the Indian Army is one of the “oldest and most renowned” regiments of the Indian Army. Its First Battalion, also known as the Jangi Paltan (“Warrior Platoon”), traces its origins back to 1768 as part of the Bombay Sepoys. The battle cry of Maratha Light Infantry is Bol Shri Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai! (“Cry Victory to Emperor Shivaji!”) in tribute to the Maratha sovereign.

The history of the states and dynasties comprising the Maratha Empire constitutes a major portion of the history of late medieval India. Among its impacts, the Maratha empire:

  • The Marathas were the primary force responsible for weakening and eventually ending the moghal domination of India.
  • were among those who participated in the revival of the power of Hindus in north India after many centuries of Muslim rule. At this time they were seen as major supporters of the Hindu cause.
  • led to the dilution of the caste system as a large number of lower castes, Brahmins and other castes fought along with them.
  • encouraged the usage of Sanskrit and development of the Marathi language and was seminal to the consolidation of a distinct Maharashtrian identity.

The empire also resulted in the voluntary relocation of substantial numbers of Maratha and other Marathi-speaking people outside Maharashtra, and across a big part of India. Thus, there are today several small but significant communities descended from these emigrants living in the north, south and west of India.

These communities tend often to speak the languages of those areas, although many do also speak Marathi in addition. Notable Maratha families outside Maharashtra include Scindia of Gwalior, Gaekwad of Baroda, Ghorpade of Mudhol, and Bhonsle of Thanjavur.

Marathas have dominated the state politics of Maharashtra since its inception in 1960. Since then, Maharashtra has witnessed heavy presence of Maratha ministers or officials (which comprises 25% of the state) in the Maharashtra state government, local municipal commissions, and panchayats. 10 out of 16 chief ministers of Maharashtra hailed from the Maratha community as of year 2012.

Hurrians

Shengavit Settlement

Kura–Araxes culture

Indo-Aryan expansion

Mitanni

Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni

Maryannu

Urartu

Marhasi

Maharashtra

Maratha

Marathi language

Maharastri Prakrit

Jiroft culture

Meluhha

Aratta

Hamazi

Subartu

Y-chromosomes and mtDNA from Maharashtra

The most recent gene flow paternal gene flow from West Asia corresponds largely to haplogroup J2a-M410. Unfortunately the authors used the “evolutionary mutation rate” which I and others have criticized, hence their age estimates are inflated. J2a and R1a1 have similar Y-STR variances in the two studied populations (0.36 and 0.34), 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.

Haplogroup R1a1 is more diverse in India-Pakistan than in west Eurasia, but there is variation in diversity in different South Asian groups. It’s possible that a subgroup of it also migrated from the west, but that possibility must remain speculative in the absence of even more Y-SNP structure within it.

South of Mari, and 110 kilometres north of Baghdad, a mound was discovered in the 1960s at Tell es Sawwan that has become a type site for the Samarra culture of the mid-6th through early 5th millennia. Like the Halaf culture to the west, it shows the extent of early settlement in Mesopotamia.

Map - Tell es Sawwan and Samarra

The main site Tell es Sawwan – Samarra

– lies about 50 miles upstream from modern Baghdad where the Euphrates and Tigris begin to flow more closely together.

Map showing the location of Samarra

Samarran pottery – Its distinctive pottery helps to define the Samarra culture

Samarran figurine – as do the clay figurines ‘mother goddess’ figures.

This map shows the geographical position of the Jarmo and Samarra cultures

north of Baghdad to the Ubaid and Uruk to the south.

Armenian

Mitanni (Mitra)

Indian (Indra)

Posted in Indo Aryans, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

The Aryans (Armenians) on their way to India

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 20, 2013

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk), and the unnamed king of Aratta (probably somewhere in modern Iran or Armenia).

Aratta was originally taken to be an epithet of the Sumerian city Shuruppak related to its local name for the god Enlil; however that is no longer seen to be the case. Although Aratta is known only from myth, some Assyriologists and archeologists have speculated on possible locations where Aratta could have been, using criteria from the myths.

By 1973, archaeologists were noting that there was no archaeological record of Aratta’s existence outside of myth, and in 1978 Hansman cautions against over-speculation. Writers in other fields have continued to hypothesize Aratta locations. A “possible reflex” has been suggested in Sanskrit Āraṭṭa or Arāṭṭa mentioned in the Mahabharata and other texts; Alternatively, the name is compared with the toponym Ararat or Urartu.

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.

However, at Jeitun (or Djeitun), which has given its name to the whole Neolithic period in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag, mudbrick houses were first occupied 6000 BC. 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.

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; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

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.

The 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).

Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.

Sarianidi’s excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag during the Neolithic period.

The inhabitants were farmers who kept herds of goats and sheep and grew wheat and barley, with origins in southwest Asia. At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew the kinds of crops that are typically associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant during the Chalcolithic period.

During the Copper Age, the population of this region grew. Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, who led the South Turkmenistan Complex Archaeological Expedition from 1946, sees signs that people migrated to the region from central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but feels that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers. By contrast a re-excavation of Monjukli Depe in 2010 found a distinct break in settlement history between the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic eras there.

Major Chalcolithic settlements sprang up at Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe. In addition there were smaller settlements at Anau, Dashlyji and Yassy-depe. Settlements similar to the early level at Anau also appeared further east – in the ancient Delta of the River Tedzen, the site of the Geoksiur Oasis.

About 3500 BCE the cultural unity of the culture split into two pottery styles: colourful in the west (Anau, Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe) and more austere in the east at Altyn-Depe and the Geoksiur Oasis settlements.

This may reflect the formation of two tribal groups. Around 3000 BCE it seems that people from Geoksiur migrated into the Murghab Delta, where small, scattered settlements appeared, and reached further east into the Zerafshan Valley in Transoxiana.

In both areas pottery typical of Geoksiur was in use. In Transoxiana they settled at Sarazm near Pendjikent. To the south the foundation layers of Shahr-i Shōkhta on the bank of the Helmand River in south-eastern Iran contained pottery of the Altyn-Depe and Geoksiur type. Thus the farmers of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were connected by a scattering of farming settlements.

In the Early Bronze Age the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown. The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age c. 2300 BCE, corresponding to level V at Namazga-Depe. It is this Bronze Age culture which has been given the BMAC name.

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.

Sarianidi regards Gonur as the “capital” of the complex in Margiana throughout the Bronze Age. Mallory points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qala, the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling walls. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples.

Lapis lazuli (sometimes abbreviated to lapis) is a deep blue semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense color. It was being mined in the Sar-i Sang mines and in other mines in the Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan as early as the 7th millennium BC.Afghanistan was the source of lapis for the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, as well as the later Greeks and Romans. Lapis beads have been found at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania.

Tepe Fullol (also known as Khush Tepe), situated in Baghlan Province at the junction of the Khost and Sai valleys, is a village in northern Afghanistan where the treasure of Fullol was found, consisting of twenty vessels in gold and silver dated to the Bronze Age. It was accidentally discovered in 1965 by Afghan farmers in a grave cache and provided the first evidence of the Oxus civilisation (also known as BMAC) in northern Afghanistan. On the basis of iconographic comparisons, the treasure has been dated to between 2600 and 1700 BC. There is also a mound, covering an area 14 by 18 metres.

The area’s wealth probably derived from precious materials extracted from the nearby mountains , in particular lapis lazuli from Badakshan, which were widely traded. The vessel’s designs include animal imagery, such as a boar, a stag, snakes and bearded bulls (the latter derived from distant Mesopotamia), indicating that at this early date Afghanistan was already part of an extensive network of trade and cultural exchanges.

Altyndepe (the Turkmen for “Golden Hill”) is a Bronze Age (BMAC) site in Turkmenistan, near Aşgabat, inhabited in the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC, abandoned around 1600 BC. Both Namazga V, a Bronze Age (BMAC) archaeological site in Turkmenistan, some 100 km from Aşgabat, near the border to Iran, and Altyndepe were in contact with the Late Harappan culture (ca. 2000-1600 BC), and Masson (1988) tends to identify the culture as Proto-Dravidian. The site is notable for the remains of its “proto-Zoroastrian” ziggurat.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BC found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BCE found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BCE was found at Altyn-Depe.

Excavated by Vadim Mikhailovich Masson, Viktor Sarianidi, and I. N. Khlopin from the 1950s, the site of Namazga-Tepe set the chronology for the Bronze Age sites in Turkmenistan (Namazga III-VI). Namazga IV around 2500 BC. shows proto-urban and village settlement patterns. Namazga V around 2000-1600 BC. is the period of “urban revolution” following the Anatolian model with little or no irrigation. Namazgadepe emerges as the production and probable governmental center, with Altyndepe likely a secondary capital.

Around 1600 BCE, Altyndepe is abandoned, and Namazgadepe shrinks to a fraction of its former size. Namazga VI in the Late Bronze Age (1600-1000 BC.) is characterized by the incursion of nomadic pastoralists from the Alekseyevka culture and/or Srubna culture. There have also been detailed painted potteries located at this site.

Gonur Tepe, located about 60 km north of Mary, Turkmenistan (the capital city of Mary Province), is an archaeological site of about 55 hectares in Turkmenistan that was inhabited by Indo-Iranian peoples until sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE dating back to 2500 BC.

The site was discovered by Sarianidi, who discovered a palace, a fortified mud-brick enclosure, and temples with fire altars which he believes were dedicated to the Zoroastrian religion. He also found what appears to be the boiler for the ritual drink soma, which is mentioned in the Rigveda and also in the avesta as haoma. He also found dishes with traces of cannabis, poppy and ephedrine, which strengthens the theory that these were the ingredients of soma.

The site was most likely abandoned after the Murghab River’s course moved to the west. Gonur is among the largest ruins in the Morghab’s delta region; over 150 ancient settlements dating to the early Bronze Age (2500-1700 BCE) have been found there.

The Gutians (also Guteans, Guti, Quti, Qurtie, Qurti, Kurti and Kurdu) were a tribe from northern and central ranges of Zagros mountains that overran southern Mesopotamia when the Akkadian empire collapsed in approximately 2154 BC.

The Gutian dynasty came to power in Mesopotamia around 2150 BC., by destabilising Akkad, according to the Sumerian kinglist at the end of the reign of king Ur-Utu (or Lugal-melem) of Uruk. They reigned for perhaps around one century (copies of the kinglist vary between 25 and 124 years; 91 years is often quoted as probable). The dynasty was succeeded by the 3rd dynasty of Ur.

Next to nothing is known about their origins, as no “Gutian” artifacts have surfaced from that time; little information is gleaned from the contemporary sources. Nothing is known of their language either, apart from those Sumerian king names, and that it was distinct from other known languages of the region (such as Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, Hittite and Elamite).

Archaeologists have been unable to identify a single fragment of material culture in Mesopotamia as belonging to the Guti, and the Akkadian (western Semitic) texts contain no loanwords identifiable as Indo-European. Except for their name and their activities as recorded in the Mesopotamian texts, the Guti are all but invisible.

The Gutian language (Qutian) was spoken by the Gutian people. Nothing is known about the language except its existence and a list of Gutian ruler names in the Sumerian king list. The existence is attested by a list of languages spoken in the region, found in a clay tablet from the Middle Babylonian period presumably originating from the city of Emar, which also lists Akkadian, Amorite, Sutean, “Subarean” (Hurrian), and Elamite. There is also record of “an interpreter for the Gutean language” at Adab.

The Gutian king names from the Sumerian list are Inkishush, Zarlagab, Shulme (or Yarlagash), Silulumesh (or Silulu), Inimabakesh (Duga), Igeshaush (or Ilu-An), Yarlagab, Ibate, Kurum, Apilkin, La-erabum, Irarum, Ibranum, Hablum, Puzur-Suen, Yarlaganda, Si-um and Tirigan.

Based on these names, some scholars claim that the Gutian language was neither Semitic nor Indo-European, and was unrelated to the languages spoken around it. However, according to Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov, Gutian language was close to Tocharian languages of the Indo-European family.

The specialist on Iranian, W. B. Henning, who had worked for many years on the problem of the name of Tocharians, suggested in a posthumous article that their early ancestors were Gutians who had invaded Mesopotamia in ca. 2350—2200 BC. This hypothesis would place the ancestors of the Tocharians in the “right spot”: virtually all of their Caucasoid Y-chromosome gene pool could be explained with an origin in north Iran.

The historical Guti have been regarded by some as among the ancestors of the Kurds, including by the modern Kurds themselves. However, the term Guti had by late antiquity become a “catch all” term to describe all tribal peoples in the Zagros region, and according to J.P. Mallory, the original Gutians precede the arrival of Indo-Iranian peoples (of which the Kurds are one) by some 1500 years.

In the late 19th-century, Assyriologist Julius Oppert sought to connect the Gutians of remote antiquity with the later Gutones (Goths), whom Ptolemy in 150 AD had known as the Guti, a tribe of Scandia. Oppert’s theory on this connection is not shared by many scholars today, in the absence of further evidence.

As argued by Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky, there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. Some BMAC words have now also been found in Tocharian.

Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilization.

The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians, a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southeastern Iran.

Bactrian Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. “The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula.”

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.

As James P. Mallory phrased it: «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.”

However, archaeologists like B. B. Lal have seriously questioned the BMAC and Indo-Iranian connection, and thoroughly disputed the proclaimed relations. While others maintain there is insufficient evidence for any ethnic or linguistic identification of the BMAC solely based on material remains, in the absence of written records.

The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the “Anau seal”) with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilization.

It bears five markings strikingly similar to Chinese “small seal” characters, but such characters date from the Qin reforms of roughly 100 AD, while the Anau seal is dated by context to 2,300 BCE. It is therefore an unexplained anomaly. The only match to the Anau seal is a small jet seal of almost identical shape from Niyä (near modern Minfeng) along the southern Silk Road in Xinjiang, assumed to be from the Western Han dynasty.

BMAC materials have been found in the Indus civilisation, 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. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.

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.

The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people from the Zagros Mountains of Iran who gained control of Babylonia in the southern Mesopotamia after the Hittite sack of the city and the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire in 1585 BC (i.e. 1531 BC per the short chronology), and established a dynasty based in Dur-Kurigalzu, who lasted until ca. 1155 BC (short chronology).

The Kassites were members of a small military aristocracy but were efficient rulers and not locally unpopular, and their 500-year reign laid an essential groundwork for the development of subsequent Babylonian culture. The horse, which the Kassites worshipped, first came into use in Babylonia at this time.

From the 1600-1200 BC, kings of Kassite origin ruled in Babylon until they were overthrown by Elamites. The most notable Kassite artifacts are their Kudurru steles. Used for marking boundaries and making proclamations, they were also carved with a high degree of artistic skill.

The original homeland of the Kassites is not well known, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains in Lorestan in what is now modern Iran. It is believed that the name of the Kassites is preserved in the name of the Kashgan River, in Lorestan.

Kassites in the Babylonian state used mostly the Semitic Akkadian language of the native Assyrians and Babylonians. Traces of the Kassite language are few: a short Kassite-Akkadian dictionary containing agricultural and technical terms, names of colours etc., and lists of personal names (some names are collated with Semitic equivalents), names of deities and horses.

Like the Elamites, Gutians and Manneans, it seems that they were linguistically unrelated to the later Indo-Europeans who came to dominate the region a thousand years later. Genetic relations of the Kassite language are unclear, although it’s generally agreed that it was unrelated to Semitic; relation with Elamite is doubtful. A lack of Kassite texts makes the reconstruction of Kassite grammar impossible at present.

Relationship with or membership in the Hurro-Urartian family has been suggested, based on a number of words. Some words may have been adopted from Indo-Iranian languages. Morphemes are not known; the words buri (ruler) and burna (protected) probably have the same root. The Kassite language has not been classified. However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni.

The Hittites, who spoked a language included in the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family, established an empire at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around the 1800 BC.

This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Suppiluliuma I, when it encompassed an area that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. After c. 1180 BC, the empire came to an end during the Bronze Age collapse, splintering into several independent “Neo-Hittite” city-states, some of which survived until the 8th century BC.

Despite the use of Hatti for their core territory, the Hittites should be distinguished from the Hattians, an earlier people who inhabited the same region (until the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC) and spoke a language possibly in the Northwest Caucasian languages group known as Hattic.

Circassian, also known as Cherkess, is a dialect continuum of the North Caucasus. There are two Circassian languages as defined by their literary standards, Adyghe (West Circassian), with half a million speakers, and Kabardian (East Circassian) with a million. The spoken languages, however, merge, with geographically intermediate dialects intelligible to both standards.

Kaskian (Kaskean) was a non-Indo-European language of the Kaskians of northeastern Bronze Age Anatolia, in the mountains along the Black Sea coast. It is sometimes suspected that Kaskian was related to the pre-Hittite Hattic language, based on toponyms and personal names.

The name Kaskian may be cognate with an old name for Circassia (ser-KASS-ee-uhnz), and the name of one of the tribes in the Kaskian confederation, the Abešla, may be cognate with the endonym of the Abkhaz peopleand some Circassian people, or Adyghe people, suggesting the Kaskians proper and Abeshla might have been the ancestors of the Circassians and other Caucasian peoples.

The Hittite language was a member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. They referred to their native land as Hatti, and to their language as Nešili (Nesili= from the city Nesa/Kanesh). The conventional name “Hittites” is due to their initial identification with the Biblical Hittites in 19th century archaeology.

Despite the use of Hatti for their core territory (present-day central Anatolia, Turkey), the Hittites should be distinguished from the Hattians, an earlier people who inhabited the same region (until the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC) and spoke a language possibly in the Northwest Caucasian languages group known as Hattic. Hittite is an Indo-European language, linguistically distinct from the Hattians.

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 Hittite military made successful use of chariots. Although belonging to the Bronze Age, they were the forerunners of the Iron Age, developing the manufacture of iron artifacts from as early as the 14th century BC, when letters to foreign rulers reveal the latter’s demand for iron goods.

The Hittites continued expanding south after the defeat of the important Amorite dynasty of Yamhad (ca. 1800–1600 BC), alternatively known as the land of Ḥalab (modern day Aleppo), who at the time was the most powerful in the Near East and had a substantial Hurrian population, and the army of the Hittite king Mursili I made its way to Babylon and sacked the city.

The kingdom of Yamḥad was destroyed by the Hittites under Mursilis I in the 16th century BC. However, Aleppo soon resumed its leading role in Syria when the Hittite power in the region waned due to internal strife.

It is believed that the power vacuum in upper Mesopotamia created by the weak middle Assyrian kings who succeeded Puzur-Ashur III, and the internal strifes of the Hittites, who had conquered Aleppo (Yamhad) and the collapse of Babylon, who later were invaded by the Kassites, due to the Hittite sack by Mursili I, helped to unite the warring Hurrian tribes and city states under one dynasty, the state of Mitanni, an Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.

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.

The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

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 ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya).

A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. It is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt mentions in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

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.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC.

Aleppo, who in historical records appears as an important city much earlier than Damascus, 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.

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 to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC.

In the Old Babylonian period, Aleppo’s name appears as Ḥalab (Ḥalba) for the first time. Subarians are known to have established the first country in the history by making Tel Halief city (Tell Half), which was in the south of Ceylanpınar and Rasulayn (Ra’s al-’Ayn) 40 km.

Scholars such as Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi. Chaldea or Chaldæa (from Greek Chaldaia; Akkadian: Ḫaldu; Aramaic: Kaldo) was a marshy land located in south eastern Mesopotamia which came to rule Babylon briefly.

Tribes of Semitic settlers who arrived in the region from the 10th century BC became known as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees. The Hebrew Bible uses the term Kaśdim and this is translated as Chaldaeans in the Septuagint.

Subarian is the term used by certain scholars (such as I. J. Gelb & E. A. Speiser) to describe the aboriginal language and inhabitants of Subar-Tu, an ancient kingdom in Ararat, or Urartu, mentioned in Sumerian records. According to the theory the Sumerians originally came down from this area or if not then at least the exonym originated there.

Aram is a son of Shem, according to the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 of the Hebrew Bible, and the father of Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash. The Book of Chronicles confirms Aram as one of Shem’s sons, confirming Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash, as also on the list of Shem’s descendants.

Aram son of Shem is recognized as a prophet in Mandaeism and as an Islamic prophet. Aram is usually regarded as being the eponymous ancestor of the Aramaean people of Northern Mesopotamia and Syria.

The origin of the Arameans remains uncertain, with limited mention of Arameans in Mesopotamian inscriptions supplemented by a few descriptive incidents 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 period of the Late Bronze Age seems to have coincided with increasing aridity, which weakened neighbouring states and induced transhumance pastoralists to spend longer and longer periods with their flocks.

Urban settlements diminished in size, until eventually fully nomadic pastoralist lifestyles came to dominate the region. These highly mobile, competitive tribesmen with their sudden raids continually threatened long-distance trade and interfered with the collection of taxes and tribute.

In the early 14th century BC, much of Israel came under Aramean rule for eight years according to the Biblical Book of Judges, until Othniel defeated the forces led by Chushan-Rishathaim, the King of Aram-Naharaim. Other entities mentioned in the Hebrew Bible include Aram Damascus and Aram Rehob.

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.

Arno Poebel & S.N. Kramer pushed this hypothesis even further to suggest that the original tribe carrying the Sumer/Subar ethnonym was actually the original Shem tribe whose memory is recorded in the Bible (sumerian final -r being an amissable consonant in words with a Semitic form).

Tribes called Subarians were living in an area extending to Zagros Mountains in the north Mesopotamia and to Habur and Balih in the west.The Khabur River (Arabic‎ al-khābūr, Kurdish: Xabûr, Syriac ḥābur/khābur, Turkish: Habur) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory.

Important sites that have been excavated include Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Tell Leilan, Tell Mashnaqa, Tell Mozan and Tell Barri. The region has given its name to a distinctive painted ware found in northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the early 2nd millennium BCE, called Khabur ware. The region of the Khabur River is also associated with the rise of the kingdom of the Mitanni that flourished c.1500-1300 BC.

The Halaf culture, is a prehistoric period which lasted between about 6100 and 5500 BCE. The period is a continuous development out of the earlier Pottery Neolithic and is located primarily in south-eastern Turkey, Syria, and northern Iraq, although Halaf-influenced material is found throughout Greater Mesopotamia.

While the period is named after the site of Tell Halaf in north Syria, excavated by Max von Oppenheim between 1911 and 1927, the earliest Halaf period material was excavated by John Garstang in 1908 at the site of Sakce Gözü, then in Syria but now part of Turkey. Small amounts of Halaf material was also excavated in 1913 by Leonard Woolley at Carchemish, on the Turkish/Syrian border. However, the most important site for the Halaf tradition was the site of Tell Arpachiyah, now located in the suburbs of Mosul, Iraq.

Although no Halaf settlement has been extensively excavated some buildings have been excavated: the tholoi of Tell Arpachiyah, circular domed structures approached through long rectangular anterooms. Only a few of these structures were ever excavated. They were constructed of mud-brick sometimes on stone foundations and may have been for ritual use (one contained a large number of female figurines). Other circular buildings were probably just houses.

The Halaf period was succeeded by the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period (~5500 – 5200 cal. BCE) and then by the Ubaid period (~5200 – 4000 cal. BCE).

Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra’s al-’Ayn are the river’s main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area. From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history. The Khabur joins the Euphrates near the town of Busayrah.

Subarians were known as preliminary Asurians by historians and their country was called Subarto. The Assyrians, also known as Syriacs, Chaldeans, and Aramaeans (see names of Syriac Christians), are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia. They are Semitic people, who speak and write distinct dialects of Eastern Aramaic exclusive to Mesopotamia and its immediate surroundings.

Assyrians trace their ancestry back to the Sumero-Akkadian civilisation that emerged in Mesopotamia circa 4000–3500 BC, and in particular to the northern region of the Akkadian lands, which would become known as Assyria by the 24th century BC. The Assyrian nation existed as an independent state, and often a powerful empire, from the 24th century BC until the end of the 7th century BC.

The shared paternal lineages observed today between Armenians and Assyrians, such as R-M269 and J1*, converge, perhaps, 2000-4000 years ago. With the caveat, of course, that predictions based on STR markers may lack significant precision.

If we exclude Y-DNA T, Assyrians and Caucasian populations may share a close relationship as far as the Y chromosome is concerned. Assyrians also show Y DNA affinities to populations of the Levant and Mesopotamia.

Altyndepe

Gunar Tepe

Jeitun

Namazga-Tepe

On Tocharian origins

Posted in Armenia, Caucasus, Indo Aryans | Leave a Comment »

The question of the origin of the Indo-Aryans

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 15, 2013

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The question of the origin of the Indo-Aryans is obviously very difficult, and attempts at tracing their origin use either a type of “geolinguistic trigonometry” to make them fit in the broader context of Indo-European dispersals, or rely on archaeological interpretation of the material culture of sites such as Arkaim or the BMAC.

I have recently proposed that the Indo-Aryans originated in West Asia, roughly in the area between the Caucasus, Armenia and Iran (to the west and south of the Caspian Sea). An alternative hypothesis of Indo-Aryan origins would derive them from the north of the Caspian Sea and ultimately from Northeastern Europe.

My ADMIXTURE experiments so far have provided substantial evidence of the former hypothesis, suggesting that the main Caucasoid component in South Asia is of West Asian origin. According to my theory, the direction of the migrating Indo-Aryans took them north of Balochistan, across the Punjab and into India, from an ultimate source in the Transcaucasus, via Iran, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan.

It is difficult to disentangle different genetic strata in this region, or to assess the importance of Indo-Aryan vs. other population movements. Nonetheless, the South Asian sample points’ position on the PCA map can be explained by a linear regression with a high correlation coefficient of -0.83, so a simple cline between Iranian-like and South Indian-like people seems like a very good model approximation.

A recent linguistic model suggests a first-order split in the Indo-European family between Indo-Iranian and the rest of the family. Such a model might be attractive in the context of the best PIE origins model currently available, as it would derive the Indo-Iranians from an eastward migration from Anatolia, the Anatolian speakers from those who stayed behind near the homeland, and the rest of the Indo-Europeans from those who went to Europe.

Personally, I’m not particularly convinced that this is correct vs. the most commonly held model in which the Anatolian-European split is primary. Hopefully, a combination of genetics and linguistics will help resolve these issues. We should also not forget that the clear vector of West Asian Caucasoid incursions into South Asia detected by both ADMIXTURE and PCA analyses need not have involved a single people or a single time.

It is clear from the figure, that Indo-European (Armenian/Iranian) and Caucasian (Adygei, Georgian, Lezgin) groups of West Asia form a cluster in comparison to both North Europeans and South Asians, and I see no real reason to think that the early Proto-Indo-Europeans were genetically that distinct from their neighbors. So, the Indian Cline was probably formed over thousands of years by dispersals of different kinds of people, speaking different languages, but all sharing the same basic West Asian gene pool.

The Mitanni of Syro-Anatolia have what seems to be Indo-Aryan personal/deity names, as well as numerals in what appears to have been a largerly Hurrian-speaking population. The Kingdom of the Mitanni flourished in the 2nd millennium BC, a time also generally considered to be that of the earliest Indo-Aryan linguistic monument, the Rigveda.

What is most interesting, however, is that Hurrian, like Urartian, are part of the Hurro-Urartian language family, which has been linked by some linguists to Northeast Caucasian.

There is a “Dagestan” genetic component in South Asia and Europe. This component is modal in populations of Dagestan: Dargins from Urkarah, Lezgins, and Kumyks from Stalskoe. Dargins and Lezgins are Northeast Caucasian speakers, and while Kumyks are Turkic, this is probably due to a small East Eurasian component in their ancestry, and it’s a fair guess that they too are natives to the region who underwent language shift.

Surprisingly, this component occurs at a high frequency in some South Asian populations, including Telugu and Tamil Brahmins from South India. These are believed to be descended from Indo-Aryan speakers from North India and to have maintained a genetic distinctiveness vis a vis the native inhabitants of South India.

A relationship between Hurro-Urartian and Northeast Caucasian coupled with the known proximity of Indo-Aryans with Hurrians would immediately supply an explanation for the “Dagestan” component: it might be the legacy of an absorption of Hurrian elements by the ancestors of the Indo-Aryans while the latter were still in the Near East.

By the 2nd millennium BC, the Indo-Aryan element seems to have been well on its way to disappearance in the region, and we find no trace of it after the demise of the Mitanni. A millennium later came the disappearance of Urartian, replaced by various types of Indo-European (such as Armenian and Iranian), and Semitic. We are fortunate that the Indo-Aryans of Syro-Anatolia left traces of their existence before their demise.

The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour. Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria.

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.(Drews:p. 59) 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 ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya). The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family.

It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

Thutmose III of Egypt, also mentions the people of Ermenen in 1446 BC, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

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 (KUR.KUR Na-i-ri, also Na-‘i-ru) for a Hurrian-speaking region in the Armenian Highlands, roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey.

The word is also used to describe the tribes who lived there, whose ethnic identity is uncertain. Nairi has sometimes been equated with Nihriya, known from Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Urartean sources. Nairi was incorporated into Urartu during the 10th century BC.

In the early 6th century BC, the UrartianKingdom 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 Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenians. Linguists classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family.

Armenian shares a number of major innovations with Greek, and some linguists group these two languages together with Phrygian and the Indo-Iranian family into a higher-level subgroup of Indo-European, which is defined by such shared innovations as the augment. More recently, others have proposed a Balkan grouping including Greek, Armenian, Phrygian, and Albanian.

The large percentage of loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.

W. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages.

Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms. Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergosound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, theArmenian 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 theArmenian 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).

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. (Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage.

Rather, it is more likely anareal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased being in geographic contact.)

The Èr people, also known as Èrsh or (in Georgian works) the Hers, are a little-known ancient people inhabiting Northern modern Armenia, and to an extent, small areas of Northeast Turkey, Southern Georgia, and Northwest Azerbaijan. Most of their history is constructed based on archaeological and linguistic (primarily based on placenames, with some elements) data, compared to historical trends in the region and historical writings, such as the Georgian Chronicles or the Armenian Chronicles, as well as a couple notes made by Strabo.

They were a constituent of the state of Urartu, which either incorporated or conquered them during the 8th century BCE. Their relation to the main Urartians (who were probably ethnically separate from them, judging from place names) is unknown. Linguistically, based on placenames, they are thought to have been a Vainnakh people.

The Èrsh language was the language of the Èr or Èrs people. According to placenames, it was a Vainakh language, a kin to the language of the historical Malkh nation, as well as modern Chechen, Ingush and Batsbi, and possibly others.

The capital of the Èrs (which was later turned into a fortress by Urartu) was called Èribuni (later turned into and used as a fortress by the Urartian state). Buni is a from Vainakh root, meaning shelter or home, which was probably around /bun/ (giving rise to the modern Chechen word bun, a cabin, or small house). Hence, Èribuni meant “the home of the Èrs”. It corresponds to modern Yerevan (which was spelled Erivan until relatively recently; van is a common Armenian rendering for the root /bun/).

In the Georgian Chronicles, Leonti Mroveli refers to Lake Sevan as “Lake Ereta”. The name of the Arax is also attributed to the Èrs. It is also called the Yeraskhi. The Armenian name is “Yeraskhadzor” (which Jaimoukha identifies as Èr + khi a Vainakh water body suffix + Armenian dzor gorge).

The Armenian name is “Yeraskhadzor” (which Jaimoukha identifies as Èr + khi a Vainakh water body suffix + Armenian dzor gorge). Interestingly, in close proximity to the South is the “Vainakhchradzor” gorge, perhaps an old home of the Dzurdzuks. During the time of the kingdom of Urartu, there was a northern region near the Yerashkhadzor gorge and a little northwest of Erebuni called “Eriaki”.

Nothing is really known about the people of Eriaki prior to their conquest or interpretation by Urartu, but the probably had lived separately before that. Urartu was originally situated around the Lake Van, but expanded in all directions, including North, probably eventually incorporating or conquering the Èrs.

The Urartians themselves were probably distantly related to the Èrs, in the very least by language, and probably more than just that. They were part of the same language family, the Northeast Caucasian family, and although they were of different branches, the Vainakh branch is thought to be the closest to the Hurro-Urartian branch to which Urartian belongs.

The Vainakh languages are a small family of languages spoken chiefly by the Vainakh peoples, in Russia (Chechnya and Ingushetia), in Georgia, and in the Chechen diaspora (mainly in Europe, Middle East and Central Asia).

The Vainakh languages were historically classified as an independent North-Central Caucasian family, but are now recognized as a branch of the Northeast Caucasian family. They are believed to have split off some 5,000–6,000 years ago.

According to the 19th-century language scholar, Johann Heinrich Hübschmann, the name “Nakhichavan” in Armenian literally means “the place of descent”, a Biblical reference to the descent of Noah’s Ark on the adjacent Mount Ararat. Hübschmann notes, however, that it was not known by that name in antiquity. Instead, he states the present-day name evolved to “Nakhchivan” from “Naxčavan”. The prefix “Naxč” was a name and “avan” is Armenian for “town”. Armenian tradition says that Nakhchivan was founded by Noah, which can relate to the Vai-Nakhs.

Modern historian Suren Yeremyan disputes this assertion, arguing that ancient Armenian tradition placed Nakhichevan’s founding to the year 3669 BC and, in ascribing its establishment to Noah, that it took its present name after the Armenian phrase “Nakhnakan Ichevan”, or “first landing.”

The oldest material culture artifacts found in the region date back to the Neolithic Age. The region was part of the states of Mannae, Urartu and Media. It became part of the Satrapy of Armenia under Achaemenid Persia c. 521 BC. After Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC, various Macedonian generals such as Neoptolemus tried to take control of the region, but ultimately failed and a native Armenian dynasty of Orontids flourished until Armenia was conquered by Antiochus III the Great (ruled 222-187 BC).

In 189 BC, Nakhchivan became part of the new Kingdom of Armenia established by Artaxias I. Within the kingdom, the region of present-day Nakhchivan was part of the Ayrarat, Vaspurakan and Syunik provinces.

According to the early medieval Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, from the 3rd to 2nd centuries, the region belonged to the Muratsyan nakharar family but after disputes with central power, King Artavazd I massacred the family and seized the lands and formally attached it to the kingdom. The area’s status as a major trade center allowed it to prosper; as a result, many foreign powers coveted it.

Nakharar (Armenian: naxarar, from Parthian naxvadār “holder of the primacy”) was a hereditary title of the highest order given to houses of the ancient and medieval Armenian nobility.

Medieval Armenia was divided into large estates, which were the property of an enlarged noble family and were ruled by a member of it, to whom the title of Nahapet “chief of the family” or tanuter master of the house was given. Other members of a Nakharar family in their turn ruled over smaller portions of the family estate. Nakharars with greater authority were recognized as ishkhans (princes).

The origin of the Nakharars seems to stretch back to pagan Armenia, who coexisted with the Roman and Parthian Empire, and they are mentioned to have pillaged many pagan temples when Armenia’s conversion to Christianity began under Tiridates III.

The Nakharars survived the fall of the Arshakuni dynasty and the subsequent placement of the Marzban Governor-Generals by Sassanid king, and allowed a great deal of autonomy for the vassal state, up until the attempted conversion of Armenia to Zoroastrianism by Yazdegerd II, in which Vartan Mamikonian led a rebellion, and through the Battle of Vartanantz convinced the Persians that conversion would come at to high a price, eventually leading to the Nvarsak Treaty.

In western Armenia under Byzantine rule, Justinian’s reform removed the martial role of the nakharars, as well as attempting to annex estates from Armenian nobles. The nakharars, angered at their restriction in power, began a full-scale insurrection that had to he quelled through swift military intervention, eventually sparking war with the Sassanids.

Though weakened by numerous invasions and the legal reforms of Kings, the nakharar structure remained virtually unchanged for many centuries and was finally eliminated during the Mongol invasions in the thirteenth century. Certain aspects of the nakharar system remained intact in Armenia until the early 20th century, when the noble class was altogether abolished by the Bolsheviks.

Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat. The name Armenia was given to the country by the surrounding states, and it is traditionally derived from Armenak or Aram (the great-grandson of Haik’s great-grandson, and another leader who is, according to Armenian tradition, the ancestor of all Armenians).

The native Armenian name for the country is Hayk’. The name in the Middle Ages was extended to Hayastan, by addition of the Iranian suffix -stan (place). The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk, the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Noah, who according to the 5th century author Moses of Chorene defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC, and established his nation in the Ararat region. The further origin of the name is uncertain.

Hayasa-Azzi or Azzi-Hayasa was a Late Bronze Age confederation formed between two kingdoms ofAnatolia, Hayasa located South of Trabzon and Azzi, located north of the Euphrates and to the south of Hayasa. The Hayasa-Azzi confederation was in conflict with the Hittite Empire in the 14th century BC, leading up to the collapse of Hatti around 1290 BC.

Hittite inscriptions deciphered in the 1920s by the Swiss scholar Emil Forrer testify to the existence of a mountain country, the Hayasa and/or the Azzi, lying around Lake Van. Several prominent authorities agree in placing Azzi to the north of Ishuwa. Others see Hayasa and Azzi as identical.

The similarity of the name Hayasa to the endonym of the Armenians, Hayk or Hay and the Armenian name for Armenia, Hayastan has prompted the suggestion that the Hayasa-Azzi confereration was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis.

The term Hayastan bears resemblance to the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and another western deity called Ebla Hayya, related to the god Ea (Enki or Enkil in Sumerian, Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian). Thus, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1962 posited that the Armenians derive from a migration of Hayasa into Shupria in the 12th century BC.

The mentioning of the name Armenian can only be securely dated to the 6th century BC with the Orontid kings and very little is known specifically about the people of Azzi-Hayasa per se. The most recent edition of Encyclopædia Britannica does not include any articles on Hayasa or Azzi-Hayasa likely due to the paucity of historical documentation about this kingdom’s people.

Britannica’s article on the Armenians confirms that they were descendents of a branch of the Indo-European peoples but makes no assertion that they formed any portion of the population of Azzi-Hayasa.

Some historians find it sound to theorize that after the Phrygian invasion of Hittites the theoretically named Armeno-Phrygians would have settled in Hayasa-Azzi, and merged with the local people, who were possibly already spread within the western regions of Urartu.

After the fall of the latter, and the rise of the Kingdom of Armenia under the Artaxiad dynasty, Hayasan nobility (given they were truly Armenian) would have assumed control of the region and the people would have adopted their language to complete the amalgamation of the proto-Armenians, giving birth to the nation of Armenia as we know it today.

The Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex is at least Indo-Iranian (if not specifically Indo-Aryan) and can be traced to the Syro-Anatolian region. The formation of the BMAC begins in the 3rd millennium BC, and it ends its existence in the 2nd, at around the time when Indo-Aryans are said to have made their appearance in the subcontinent.

Whether we trace it to Anatolia, or, more modestly, to Iran, the likely western origin of the BMAC would almost certainly mean that it could have served as a conduit for the dispersal of the mystery “Dagestan” component to India.

The scenario derives the Indo-Aryans from the Transcaucasus where they pick up the “Dagestan” component, south of the Caspian, to the Oxus River civilization (BMAC) of Turkmenistan, to Afghanistan, and then via the Khyber Pass to Pakistan. The Mitanni are seen as Indo-Aryans who “stayed behind” and became thoroughly Hurrianized in the 2nd millennium BC.

We have one piece of evidence of the association of this component with Indo-Aryans: its presence in Brahmins and absence from low caste and tribal groups. But, there is a different source of evidence that can potentially complete the argument: the non-Indo-European speakers of Pakistan: the Dravidian Brahui and the Burushaski speakers.

My theory predicts that they should have less of this component than Indo-Aryan and Iranian speakers from Pakistan such as Pathans, Sindhi, and Balochi. To test this, I repeated my South Asian experiment, but this time I added these two populations as well. As you can see, the component is minimized in tribals, low castes, and non-Indo-European groups of Pakistan (Burusho and Brahui).

I am not going to bet that all the details presented in this scenario are correct. But, this theory seems to make sense of many different pieces of evidence (such as the presence of Indo-Aryans in the Near East) and to harmonize with the genetic evidence.

Aryan 

Hurrians

Who Were the Hurrians?

Origin of Early Transcaucasian Culture (aka Kura-Araxes culture)

Tell Halaf 

Halaf culture

Hassuna

Shulaveri-Shomu culture

Kura–Araxes culture

Mitanni

Indo-Aryan migration

The Aryan Invasion/Migration Question – Friends of South Asia

A solution to the problem of Indo-Aryan origins

A solution to the problem of Indo-Aryan origins (part 2)

Posted in Caucasus, Indo Aryans, Indo-Europeans, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 9, 2013

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; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

The earliest kurgans occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes (cf. Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a and b). The Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes (Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a: 97).

The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

Origin of Early Transcaucasian Culture (aka Kura-Araxes culture)

Posted in Armenia, Caucasus, Indo Aryans, Indo-Europeans | Leave a Comment »

Inanna – Atar – the God of the Covenant (treaty, agreement, promise)

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 9, 2013

Place of origin – Haplogroup J1/J2

In human genetics, Haplogroup J-M172 [Phylogenetics 1] is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subclade (branch) of haplogroup J-P209.[Phylogenetics 2] J-M172 can be classified as Mediterranean/Aegean (Di Giacomo, 2004), Greco-Anatolian, Mesopotamian and/or Caucasian and is linked to the earliest indigenous populations of Anatolia and the Aegean. It was carried by Bronze Age immigrants to Europe, and ultimately descends from the Cro-Magnon population (IJ-M429 Y-DNA) within the region spanning eastern Turkey and Persia around 35,000 years ago.

The precise region of origin for haplogroup J-M172 remains a topic of discussion. However, at least within a European context, Anatolia and the Aegean seem to be source regions, with Hg J2 having perhaps arisen in the Levant (Di Giacomo 2004) / Middle East (Semino 2004) with the development of agriculture. As to the timing of its spread into Europe, Di Giacomo points to events which post-date the Neolithic, in particular the demographic floruit associated with the rise of the Ancient Greek world.

Semino et al. derived older age estimates for overall J2 (having used the Zhivitovksy method c.f. Di Giacomo), postulating its initial spread with Neolithic farmers from the Near East. However, its subclade distribution, showing localized peaks in the Southern Balkans, southern Italy, north/ central Italy and the Caucasus, does not conform to a single ‘wave-of-advance’ scenario, betraying a number of still poorly understood post-Neolithic processes which created its current pattern. Like Di Giacomo, the Bronze Age southern Balkans was suggested to have been an important vector of spread.

Haplogroup J-M172 is found mainly in the Fertile Crescent, the Caucasus (Nasidze 2003), Anatolia, the Balkans, Italy, the Mediterranean littoral, and the Iranian plateau(Semino 2004).

J-M172 is found at very high frequencies in certain peoples of the Caucasus: among the Ingush 87.4% (Balanovsky 2011), Chechens 55.2% (Balanovsky 2011), Georgians 21%-72%, (Wells 2001), Azeris 24% (Di Giacomo 2004)-48%, (Wells 2001) Abkhaz 25%, (Nasidze 2004) Balkars 24% (Battaglia 2008), Ossetians 24% (Nasidze 2004), Armenians 21% (Wells 2001)-24% (Nasidze 2004), Circassians 21.8% (Balanovsky 2011), and other groups ( Nasidze 2004 and Nasidze 2003).

Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. Its present geographic distribution argue in favour of a Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent. This expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE) from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia, rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant (which appears to be linked rather to haplogroups G2 and E1b1b). A second expansion of J2 could have occured with the advent of metallurgy, notably copper working (from the Lower Danube valley, central Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia), and the rise of some of the oldest civilisations.

Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia).

The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions). The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation. Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

In Genetic genealogy and human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J-M267, also commonly known as Haplogroup J1 is a subclade (branch) of Y-DNA haplogroup J-P209, (commonly known as Haplogroup J) along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J-M172 (commonly known as Haplogroup J2). (All these haplogroups have had other historical names listed below.[Phylogenetics 1][Phylogenetics 2])

Men from this lineage share a common paternal ancestor, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to as M267, which was announced in (Cinnioğlu 2004). This haplogroup is found today in significant frequencies in many areas in order near the Middle East, and parts of the Caucasus, Sudan and the Horn of Africa. It is also found in high frequencies in parts of North Africa and amongst Jewish groups, especially those with Cohen surnames. It can also be found much less commonly, but still occasionally in significant amounts, in Europe and as far east as Central Asia.

Since the discovery of haplogroup J-P209 it has generally been recognized that it shows signs of having originated in or near West Asia. The frequency and diversity of both its major branches, J-M267 and J-M172, in that region makes them candidates as genetic markers of the spread of farming technology during the Neolithic, which is proposed to have had a major impact upon human populations.

The P58 marker which defines subgroup J-P58 was announced in (Karafet 2008), but had been announced earlier under the name Page08 in (Repping 2006 and called that again in Chiaroni 2011). It is very prevalent in many areas where J-M267 is common, especially in parts of North Africa and throughout the Arabian peninsula. It also makes up approximately 70% of the J-M267 among the Amhara of Ethiopia. Notably, it is not common among the J-M267 populations in the Caucasus.

Chiaroni 2009 proposed that J-P58 (that they refer to as J1e) might have first dispersed during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, “from a geographical zone, including northeast Syria, northern Iraq and eastern Turkey toward Mediterranean Anatolia, Ismaili from southern Syria, Jordan, Palestine and northern Egypt.” They further propose that the Zarzian material culture may be ancestral. They also propose that this movement of people may also be linked to the dispersal of Semitic languages by hunter-herders, who moved into arid areas during periods known to have had low rainfall. Thus, while other haplogroups including J-M172 moved out of the area with agriculturalists who followed the rainfall, populations carrying J-M267 remained with their flocks (King 2002 and Chiaroni 2008).

According to this scenario, after the initial neolithic expansion involving Semitic languages, which possibly reached as far as Yemen, a more recent dispersal occurred during the Chalcolithic or Early Bronze Age (approximately 3000–5000 BCE), and this involved the branch of Semitic which leads to the Arabic language. The authors propose that this involved a spread of some J-P58 from the direction of Syria towards Arab populations of the Arabian Peninsula and Negev.

Mother Goddess

Mother goddess is a term used to refer to a goddess who represents motherhood, fertility, creation, or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.

Many different goddesses have represented motherhood in one way or another, and some have been associated with the birth of humanity as a whole. Others have represented the fertility of the earth.

Numerous female figurines from Neolithic Çatalhöyük in Anatolia have been interpreted as evidence of a mother-goddess cult, c.7500 BC. James Mellaart, who led excavation at the site in the 1960s, suggests that the figures represent a Great goddess, who headed the pantheon of an essentially matriarchal culture. A seated female figure, flanked by what Mellart describes as lionesses, was found in a grain-bin; she may have intended to protect the harvest and grain.

Reports of more recent excavations at Çatalhöyük conclude that overall, the site offers no unequivocal evidence of matriarchal culture or a dominant Great Goddess; the balance of male and female power appears to have been equal. The seated or enthroned goddess-like figure flanked by lionesses, has been suggested as a prototype Cybele, a leading deity and Mother Goddess of later Anatolian states.

In the Aegean, Anatolian, and ancient Near Eastern culture zones, Cybele, the primordial deity Gaia, and Rhea were worshiped as Mother goddesses. In Mycenae the great goddess often was represented by a column.

Ninsun is the Mother Goddess in general Mesopotamian mythology. She is Asherah in Canaan and `Ashtart in Syria. The Sumerians wrote erotic poetry about their mother goddess Ninhursag.

James Frazer (author of The Golden Bough) and others (such as Jane Ellen Harrison, Robert Graves and Marija Gimbutas) advance the idea that goddess worship in ancient Europe and the Aegean was descended from Pre-Indo-European neolithic matriarchies.

Gimbutas argued that the thousands of female images from Old Europe (archaeology) represented a number of different groups of goddess symbolism, notably a “bird and snake” group associated with water, an “earth mother” group associated with birth, and a “stiff nude” group associated with death, as well as other groups.

Gimbutas maintained that the “earth mother” group continues the paleolithic figural tradition, and that traces of these figural traditions may be found in goddesses of the historical period. According to Gimbutas’ Kurgan Hypothesis, Old European cultures were disrupted by expansion of Indo-European speakers from southern Siberia.

From 5500 to 2750 BC the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture flourished in the region of modern-day Romania, Moldova, and southwestern Ukraine, leaving behind ruins of settlements of as many as 15,000 residents who practiced agriculture and domesticated livestock. They also left behind many ceramic remains of pottery and clay figurines. Some of these figurines appear to represent the mother goddess (see images in this article).

Inanna

Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. Inanna can be considered the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

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. 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.

According to one story, Inanna tricked the god of culture, Enki, who was worshipped in the city of Eridu, into giving her the Mes. The Mes were documents or tablets which were blueprints to civilization. They represented everything from abstract notions like Victory and Counsel and Truth to technologies like weaving to writing to social constructs like law, priestly offices, kingship, and even prostitution. They granted power over, or possibly existence to, all the aspects of civilization (both positive and negative).

Inanna traveled to Enki’s city Eridu, and by getting him drunk, she got him to give her hundreds of Mes, which she took to her city of Uruk. Later, when sober, Enki sent mighty Abgallu (sea monsters, from ab, sea or lake + gal, big + lu, man) to stop her boat as it sailed the Euphrates and retrieve his gifts, but she escaped with the Mes and brought them to her city. This story may represent the historic transfer of power from Eridu to Uruk.

In his connections with Inanna, Enki shows other aspects of his non-Patriarchal nature. The myth Enki and Inanna tells the story of the young goddess of the É-anna temple of Uruk, who visits the senior god of Eridu, and is entertained by him in a feast. The seductive god plies her with beer, and the young goddess maintains her virtue, whilst Enki proceeds to get drunk. In generosity he gives her all the gifts of his Me, the gifts of civilized life. Next morning, with a hangover, he asks his servant Isimud for his Me, only to be informed that he has given them to Inanna. Upset at his actions, he sends Galla demons to recover them. Inanna escapes her pursuers and arrives safely back at the quay at Uruk. Enki realises that he has been tricked in his hubris and accepts a peace treaty forever with Uruk.

Politically, this myth would seem to indicate events of an early period when political authority passed from Enki’s city of Eridu to Inanna’s city of Uruk.

Hurrians

Inanna’s name derives from Queen of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-anna). The cuneiform sign of Inanna however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin) and sky (Sumerian: an). These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk), and the unnamed king of Aratta (probably somewhere in modern Iran or Armenia).

Because it gives a Sumerian account of the “confusion of tongues”, and also involves Enmerkar constructing ziggurats at Eridu and Uruk, it has, since the time of Samuel Kramer, been compared with the Tower of Babel narrative in the Book of Genesis.

The land of Subartu or Subar is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit. It 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 (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). 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. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

Three of the 14th century BC Amarna letters, Akkadian cuneiform correspondence found in Egypt, mention Subari as a toponym. All are addressed to Akenaten; in two (EA 108 and 109), Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos, complains that Abdi-Ashirta, ruler of Amurru, had sold captives to Subari, while another (EA 100), from the city of Irqata, also alludes to having transferred captured goods to Subari.

There is also a mention of “Subartu” in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia. In Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadrezzar II and Nabonidus), Subartu was used as a generic term for Assyria. The term was still current under Cambyses II, who mentions Subarian captives.

Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians. There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Some scholars, such as Harvard Professor Mehrdad Izady, claim to have identified Subartu with the current Kurdish tribe of Zibaris inhabiting the northern ring around Mosul up to Hakkari in Turkey.

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. A “possible reflex” has been suggested in Sanskrit Āraṭṭa or Arāṭṭa mentioned in the Mahabharata and other texts.

The goddess Inanna resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of Uruk pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic.

Enmerkar wants Aratta to submit to Uruk, bring stones down from the mountain, craft gold, silver and lapis lazuli, and send them, along with “kugmea” ore to Uruk to build a temple. Inana bids him send a messenger to Aratta, who ascends and descends the “Zubi” mountains, and crosses Susa, Anshan, and “five, six, seven” mountains before approaching Aratta.

Aratta in turn wants grain in exchange. However Inana transfers her allegiance to Uruk, and the grain gains the favor of Aratta’s people for Uruk, so the lord of Aratta challenges Enmerkar to send a champion to fight his champion. Then the god Ishkur makes Aratta’s crops grow.

Urkesh or Urkish is a tell, or settlement mound, located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. It was founded during the fourth millennium BC possibly by the Hurrians on a site which appears to have been inhabited previously for a few centuries.

The genealogy and identity of Urkesh’s rulers is largely unknown, but the following names have been identified as being those of the city-state’s kings. The first three known kings (only two of whom are known by name) bore the Hurrian title endan.

EN is the Sumerian cuneiform for “lord” or “priest”. Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state’s patron-deity – a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk.

ENSI (spelled PA.TE.SI in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal (King/Emperor).

They held most political power in Sumerian city states during the Uruk period (c.4100-2900 BCE).[5] In the city state of Ashur, the hereditary ruler bore the Akkadian language version of the title énsi, while the patron deity was regarded as šarrum (“King”).

Sumer (approximately “land of the civilized kings” or “native land”) was an ancient civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Although the earliest historical records in the region do not go back much further than ca. 2900 BC, modern historians have asserted that Sumer was first permanently settled between ca. 4500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who may or may not have spoken the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc. as evidence).

These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called “proto-Euphrateans” or “Ubaidians”, and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria). The Ubaidians were the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.

However, some scholars such as Piotr Michalowski and Gerd Steiner, contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language. It has been suggested by them and others, that the Sumerian language was originally that of the hunter and fisher peoples, who lived in the marshland and the east Arabian littoral region, and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture.

Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (4th millennium BC), continuing into the Jemdat Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians (who spoke a Language Isolate) and the Semitic Akkadian speakers, which included widespread bilingualism. The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as a sprachbund. Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of the Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC (short chronology), but Sumerian continued as a sacred language.

The Sumerians were a non-Semitic people, and spoke a language isolate; a number of linguists believed they could detect a substrate language beneath Sumerian, names of some of Sumer’s major cities are not Sumerian, revealing influences of earlier inhabitants. However, the archaeological record shows clear uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the Early Ubaid period (5300 – 4700 BC C-14) settlements in southern Mesopotamia. The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region that were made fertile by silt deposited by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.

It is speculated by some archaeologists that Sumerian speakers were farmers who moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there. The Ubaid pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami Transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BC C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries.

The connection is most clearly seen at Tell Awayli (Oueilli, Oueili) near Larsa, excavated by the French in the 1980s, where 8 levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling Samarran ware. Farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.

Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the Arabian bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral. The Sumerians themselves claimed kinship with the people of Dilmun, associated with Bahrein in the Persian Gulf. Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians may have been the people living in the Persian Gulf region before it flooded at the end of the Ice Age.

The Hurrians were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian, and lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border (Al Hasakah Governorate) and Turkey. The Excavations have shown that this site houses the remains of one of the world’s oldest known cities, leading scholars to believe that cities in this part of the world emerged much earlier than previously thought.

Traditionally, the origins of urban developments in this part of the world have been sought in the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC many of the famous Mesopotamian cities such as Ur and Uruk emerged, giving this region the attributes of “Cradle of Civilization” and “Heartland of Cities.” Following the discoveries at Hamoukar, this definition may have to extended further up the Tigris River to include that part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland.

Knowledge of Hurrian culture relies on archaeological excavations at sites such as Nuzi and Alalakh as well as on cuneiform tablets, primarily from Hattusa (Boghazköy), the capital of the Hittites, whose civilization was greatly influenced by the Hurrians. Tablets from Nuzi, Alalakh, and other cities with Hurrian populations (as shown by personal names) reveal Hurrian cultural features even though they were written in Akkadian. Hurrian cylinder seals were carefully carved and often portrayed mythological motifs. They are a key to the understanding of Hurrian culture and history.

The Khabur River is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra’s al-‘Ayn are the river’s main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area.

From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history. The Khabur joins the Euphrates near the town of Busayrah.

Since the 1930s, numerous archaeological excavations and surveys have been carried out in the Khabur Valley, indicating that the region has been occupied since the Lower Palaeolithic period.[4] Important sites that have been excavated include Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Tell Leilan, Tell Mashnaqa, Tell Mozan and Tell Barri.

Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pāli) or Kangrinboqe is the name of the central world-mountain in Buddhist cosmology. 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”. 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.

Flood Myth

A flood myth or deluge myth is a symbolic narrative in which a great flood is sent by a deity, or deities, to destroy civilization in an act of divine retribution. Parallels are often drawn between the flood waters of these myths and the primeval waters found in certain creation myths, as the flood waters are described as a measure for the cleansing of humanity, in preparation for rebirth. Most flood myths also contain a culture hero, who strives to ensure this rebirth.

The flood myth motif is widespread among many cultures as seen in the Mesopotamian flood stories, the Puranas, Deucalion in Greek mythology, the Genesis flood narrative, and in the lore of the K’iche’ and Maya peoples of Central America, the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa tribe of Native Americans in North America, and the Muisca people in South America.

According to Sumerian mythology, Enki also assisted humanity to survive the Deluge designed to kill them. This is one of the oldest of the surviving Middle Eastern Deluge myths.

In the later Legend of Atrahasis, Enlil, the king of the gods, sets out to eliminate humanity, whose noise is disturbing his rest. He successively sends drought, famine and plague to eliminate humanity, but Enki thwarts his half-brother’s plans by teaching Atrahasis how to counter these threats.

Each time, Atrahasis asks the population to abandon worship of all gods, except the one responsible for the calamity, and this seems to shame them into relenting. Humans, however, proliferate a fourth time.

Enraged, Enlil convenes a Council of Deities and gets them to promise not to tell humankind that he plans their total annihilation. Enki does not tell Atrahasis directly, but speaks to him in secret via a reed wall. He instructs Atrahasis to build a boat in order to rescue his family and other living creatures from the coming deluge. After the seven-day Deluge, the flood hero frees a swallow, a raven and a dove in an effort to find if the flood waters have receded. Upon landing, a sacrifice is made to the gods. Enlil is angry his will has been thwarted yet again, and Enki is named as the culprit. Enki explains that Enlil is unfair to punish the guiltless, and the gods institute measures to ensure that humanity does not become too populous in the future.

In some Hindu traditions, Manu is a title accorded to a progenitor of humanity. According to these traditions, the current time period is ruled by the seventh Manu called the Vaivasvata Manu, the son of Vivasvân and his wife Sanjnâ.

Vaivasvata Manu, whose original name was Satyavrata, is the 7th Manu and considered the first king to rule this earth, who saved humanity from the great flood — after being warned of it by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, who had also advised him to build a giant boat. The story is mentioned in early Hindu scriptures such as the Satapatha Brahmana, and it has often been compared with the popular traditions of a Great Deluge from other cultures around the world, particularly that of Noah’s Ark. Because Manu was believed to be absolutely honest, he was initially known as Satyavrata (“One with the oath of truth”). Vaivasvata Manu ruled as King Manu. His wife was Sraddha.

Covenant

A covenant, in its most general sense and historical sense, is a solemn promise to engage in or refrain from a specified action. Under historical English common law a covenant was distinguished from an ordinary contract by the presence of a seal. Because the presence of a seal indicated an unusual solemnity in the promises made in a covenant, the common law would enforce a covenant even in the absence of consideration. In United States contract law, an implied covenant of good faith is presumed.

A covenant is a type of contract in which the covenantor makes a promise to a covenantee to do (affirmative covenant) or not do some action (negative covenant). In real property law, the term real covenants is used for conditions tied to the use of land. A “covenant running with the land”, also imposes duties or restrictions upon the use of that land regardless of the owner. Restrictive covenants are somewhat similar to easements and equitable servitudes, leading to some discussion about whether these concepts should be unified; the Restatement (Third) of Property takes steps to merge these concepts as servitudes. Real covenant law in the United States has been referred to as an “unspeakable quagmire” by one court.

Covenants for title are covenants which come with a deed or title to the property, in which the grantor of the title makes certain guarantees to the grantee. Non-compete clauses in the United States are also called restrictive covenants.

The religious concept of a covenant is central to the Abrahamic religions and derived from the biblical covenants, notably the Abrahamic covenant. It is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with that religious community or with humanity in general.

A covenant may also refer to an agreement between members of a congregation to work together according to the precepts of their religion. In Indo-Iranian religious tradition, Mithra-Mitra is the hypostasis of covenant, and hence keeper and protector of moral, social and interpersonal relationships, including love and friendship. In living Zoroastrianism, which is one of the two primary developments of Indo-Iranian religious tradition, Mithra is by extension a judge, protecting agreements by ensuring that individuals who break one do not enter Heaven.

A biblical covenant is a religious covenant that is described in the Bible. All Abrahamic religions consider biblical covenants important. Of these covenants, the Noahic Covenant is unique in applying to all humanity, while the other covenants are principally agreements made between God and the biblical Israelites and their proselytes. Jeremiah 31:30–33 also mentions “a new covenant” that God would establish with Israel and Judah.

The New Covenant is a biblical interpretation originally derived from a phrase in the Book of Jeremiah, in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is often thought of as an eschatological Messianic Age or world to come and is related to the biblical concept of the Kingdom of God.

Generally, Christians believe that the New Covenant was instituted at the Last Supper as part of the Eucharist, which in the Gospel of John includes the New Commandment. There are several Christian eschatologies that further define the New Covenant, as an example an inaugurated eschatology defines and describes the New Covenant as an ongoing relationship between Christian believers and God that will be in full fruition after the Second Coming of Christ; that is, it will not only be in full fruition in believing hearts, but in the future external world as well. The connection between the Blood of Christ and the New Covenant is seen in most modern English translations of the New Testament with the saying: “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”.

Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and that the Blood of Christ shed at his crucifixion is the required blood of the covenant. As with all covenants between God and man described in the Bible, the New Covenant is considered “a bond in blood sovereignly administered by God.” It has been theorized that the New Covenant is the Law of Christ as spoken during his Sermon on the Mount.

Christians believe this new covenant to be the “replacement” or “final fulfilment” of the Old Covenant described in the Old Testament or as existing alongside it in dual covenant theology.

Noah’s Thanksoffering (c.1803) by Joseph Anton Koch. Noah builds an altar to the Lord after being delivered from the Flood; God sends the rainbow as a sign of his covenant.

The Noahic covenant [Gen 9:8-17] applies to all of humanity and to all living creatures. In this covenant, God promises never again to destroy all life on Earth by flood[9:11] and creates the rainbow as the sign of this “everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth”.[9:12-17]

God makes a pledge of commitment to Noah in Genesis 9:1–17. The priestly (Elohim) version takes the form of a covenant arrangement. This is the first explicit act of a covenant in the Hebrew Bible and is used seven times in this episode. God commits to continue both human and animal life and vows to never again use a second deluge against humanity. The covenant is sealed with the sign of a rainbow, after a storm, as a reminder.

God blesses Noah and his sons using the same language as the priestly source of the Genesis creation narrative, “Be fruitful and increase and fill the earth.” Before the flood, animals and humans coexisted in a realm of peace only knowing a vegetarian diet. After the flood, God maintained that mankind would be in charge over the animals, granting that they may be eaten for food under the condition that their blood be removed. God set these purity rules well before any transaction with Ancient Israel, effectively not confining such precedence solely to the Jewish faith. Human life receives special divine sanction because humanity is in the image of Elohim.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the covenant of the pieces or covenant between the parts was a seminal event in the life of the biblical Patriarch. In this event God revealed himself to Abraham and made a covenant with him (in the site known nowadays as Mount Betarim), in which God announced to Abraham that his descendants would eventually inherit the Land of Israel. This was the first of a series of covenants made between God and the Patriarchs.

The Abrahamic covenant found in Genesis 12-17 is known as the Brit bein HaBetarim, the “Covenant Between the Parts” in Hebrew, and is the basis for brit milah (covenant of circumcision) in Judaism. The covenant was for Abraham and his seed, or offspring, both of natural birth and adoption.

The Ark of the Covenant, also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in the Book of Exodus as containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. According to some traditional interpretations of the Book of Exodus, Book of Numbers, and the Letter to the Hebrews the Ark also contained Aaron’s rod, a jar of manna and the first Torah scroll as written by Moses; however, the first of the Books of Kings says that at the time of King Solomon, the Ark contained only the two Tablets of the Law. According to the Book of Exodus, the Ark was built at the command of God, in accordance with the instructions given to Moses on Mount Sinai. God was said to have communicated with Moses “from between the two cherubim” on the Ark’s cover.

In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, the Blessed Virgin Mary is sometimes allegorically referred to as the Ark of the Covenant, in that she bore Jesus Christ in similarity to the original tangible contents of the Ark, as cited in the Book of Revelation and (in Roman Catholicism) the Litany of Loreto.

In Judaism, the Seven Laws of Noah, or the Noahide Laws, are a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the “children of Noah” – that is, all of humanity.

According to Judaism, any non-Jew who adheres to these laws is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the World to Come, the final reward of the righteous. Adherents are often called “B’nei Noach” (Children of Noah) or “Noahides,”and may sometimes network in Jewish synagogues.

The Noahide laws comprise the six commandments which were given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, according to the Talmud’s interpretation of Gen 2:16, and a seventh precept, which was added after the Flood of Noah. According to Judaism, the 613 commandments given in the written Torah, as well as their explanations and applications discussed in the oral Torah, are applicable to the Jews only, and non-Jews are bound only to observe the seven Noahide laws.

Later developments

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte.

Ishtar was the goddess of love, war, fertility, and sexuality. She was the daughter of Ninurta. She was particularly worshipped in northern Mesopotamia, at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (Erbil). Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”.

Astarte (“Astártē”) is the Greek name of the Mesopotamian (i.e. Assyrian, Akkadian, Babylonian) Semitic goddess Ishtar known throughout the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean from the early Bronze Age to Classical times. It is one of a number of names associated with the chief goddess or female divinity of those peoples.

She is found as Ugaritic (ʻṯtrt, “ʻAṯtart” or “ʻAthtart”); in Phoenician as, (ʻštrt, “Ashtart”); in Hebrew (Ashtoret, singular, or Ashtarot, plural); and appears originally in Akkadian as D, the grammatically masculine name of the goddess Ishtar; the form Astartu is used to describe her age. The name appears also in Etruscan as Uni-Astre (Pyrgi Tablets), Ishtar or Ashtart.

Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has been known as the deified evening star.

Astarte (Ishtar) was accepted by the Greeks under the name of Aphrodite or, alternatively, Artemis. The island of Cyprus, one of Astarte’s greatest faith centers, supplied the name Cypris as Aphrodite’s most common byname.

Other major centers of Astarte’s worship were the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Other faith centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily from which she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina. A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about 500 BC found near Caere in Etruria equates Astarte with Etruscan Uni-Astre that is, Juno. At Carthage Astarte was worshipped alongside the goddess Tanit.

The Aramean goddess Atargatis (Semitic form ʻAtarʻatah) may originally have been equated with Astarte, but the first element of the name Atargatis appears to be related to the Ugaritic form of Asherah’s name: Athirat.

Attar (also known as Athtar, Astar, and Ashtar) is the god of the morning star in western Semitic mythology. In Canaanite legend, he attempts to usurp the throne of the dead god Baal but proves inadequate. In semi-arid regions of western Asia he was sometimes worshipped as a rain god. His female counterpart is the Phoenician Astarte. In more southerly regions he is probably known as Dhu-Samani.

Attar was worshipped in Southern Arabia in pre-Islamic times. A god of war, he was often referred to as “He who is Bold in Battle”. One of his symbols was the spear-point and the antelope was his sacred animal. He had power over Venus, the morning star, and was believed to provide humankind with water.

In Zoroastrian mythology, Atar is one of the Yazatas and the spirit of fire. He is also called Adar, Atash, Atesh, or Adur. Referred to as “The Son of Ahura Mazda” in the Avesta, he was created to fight the dragon Azhi Dahaka created by Ahriman to destroy the universe. The 9th day of the month and 9th month of the year is named for him in the Zoroastrian calendar.

According to Ugarit tablets however, Atar is the son of El and Aserah, known as The Terrible. In Phoenician lore, he attempted to rule the world for a time after the killing of Baal by Mot but was unsuccessful.

In Southern Arabia, Attar (Athar) is a pre-Islamic god of war, but also a giver of water. He was often referred to as “He who is Bold in Battle.” One of his symbols is the spear-point, and his sacred animal is the antelope. He may be equated with Atter of the northern Semites, the god of war whose planet was Venus and whose female counterpart was Attar. Atter may also be equated with Shahar (Sahar), a moon good of the northern and southern Semites.

ATAR, or Agni, is a Hindu/Persian god, the God of fire and purification. Agni became the god Atar under Zoroasterism, a religion where all the old Vedic Gods found worshippers under new names. Varuna became Ahura Mazda or simply, Ormazd, the ruler of the Persian Gods in Zoroasterism.

Atar possesses the conventional attributes of the Persian Gods. He has superhuman strength (possibly Class 50), stamina, resistance to injury and various skills mystical in nature. He may be able to control fire, but he has yet to demonstrate the full range of his power. According to his worshippers, he could purify objects be eating them. He can also cross between various dimensions because he was supposed to guide the cremated dead to the afterlife.

In Hindu-Persian Myth Agni is the son of Dyaus, the sky-god, and Prithivi, the earth-goddess. Very little is known about his role or his character except he was one of the most important gods of the early Vedic Pantheon. He presided over sacrificial flames and guided the spirits of the cremated dead to the underworld to await their next life. As the Rakshasas led by Ravanna supplanted the Vedic gods, Agni protected the monkey-god Hanuman and led him to safety even as he himself was forced into the role of cook before the demons.

The god Vishnu subsequently led the Vedic gods to conquer the Rakshasas as the Vedic Gods were replaced by the religion of Hinduism.

Atar, however, lost his son, the war-god, Kartikkeya, to Skanda, the son of Shiva, who was god of war in the Hindu Pantheon. Skanda assumed his predecessor’s identity and took over many of his aspects. He is also credited with slaying Azhi Dahaka, one of the Asuras. Guilty for many undefined defiances against the gods, Dahaka was chained to a mountain by Atar.

Asha Vahishta’s association with atar is carried forward in the post-Gathic texts, and they are often mentioned together. In Zoroastrian cosmogony, each of the Amesha Spentas represents one aspect of creation and one of seven primordial elements that in Zoroastrian tradition are the basis of that creation. In this matrix, aša/arta is the origin of fire, Avestan atar, which permeates through all Creation. The correspondence then is that aša/arta “penetrates all ethical life, as fire penetrates all physical being.”

Asha (aša) is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism.” The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “lie.”

The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’. For other connotations, see meaning below.

Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.[a]

The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius» of “Truth” or “Righteousness”. In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”. The Middle Persian descendant is Ashawahist or Ardwahisht; New Persian Ardibehesht or Ordibehesht.

In the Gathas, the oldest texts of Zoroastrianism and thought to have been composed by the prophet himself, it is seldom possible to distinguish between moral principle and the divinity. Later texts consistently use the ‘Best’ epithet when speaking of the Amesha Spenta, only once in the Gathas is ‘best’ an adjective of aša/arta.

Avestan aša and its Vedic equivalent ṛtá both derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian *ṛtá- “truth”, which in turn continues Proto-Indo-European *h2r-to- “properly joined, right, true”, from the root *h2ar. The word is attested in Old Persian as arta.

Mithra

*Mitra (Proto-Indo-Iranian, nominative *Mitras) was an important Indo-Iranian divinity. Following the prehistoric cultural split of Indo-Aryan and Iranian cultures, names descended from *mitra were used for the following religious entities:

  • Mitra (Vedic) (Sanskrit Mitrá-, Mitráḥ), a deity who appears frequently in the ancient Sanskrit text of the Rigveda
  • Mithra (Avestan Miθra-, Miθrō), a yazata mentioned in the Zoroastrian sacred scripture of the Avesta, whose New Persian equivalent is Mīhr / Mehr
  • Maitreya, a bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure Dharma
  • Mithras, the principal figure of the Greco-Roman religion of Mithraism
  • Mitra (surname), an Indian family name and surname found mostly amongst Bengalis.

Both Vedic Mitra and Avestan Mithra derive from an Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra-, generally reconstructed to have meant “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise.” This meaning is preserved in Avestan miθra “covenant.” In Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan languages, mitra means “friend,” one of the aspects of binding[disambiguation needed] and alliance

The Indo-Iranian reconstruction is attributed to Christian Bartholomae, and was subsequently refined by A. Meillet (1907), who suggested derivation from the Proto-Indo-European root *mei “to exchange.”

A suggested alternative derivation was *meh “to measure” (Gray 1929). Pokorny (IEW 1959) refined Meillet’s *mei as “to bind.” Combining the root *mei with the “tool suffix” -tra- “that which [causes] …” (also found in man-tra-, “that which causes to think”), then literally means “that which binds,” and thus “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise, oath” etc. Pokorny’s interpretation also supports “to fasten, strengthen”, which may be found in Latin moenia “city wall, fortification”, and in an antonymic form, Old English (ge)maere “border, boundary-post”.

Meillet and Pokorny’s “contract” did however have its detractors. Lentz (1964, 1970) refused to accept abstract “contract” for so exalted a divinity and preferred the more religious “piety.” Because present-day Sanskrit mitra means “friend,” and New Persian mihr means “love” or “friendship,” Gonda (1972, 1973) insisted on a Vedic meaning of “friend, friendship,” not “contract”.

Mitanni (Mi-ta-an-ni, also Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni) or Hanigalbat (Assyrian Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) was an Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC. 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.

Some theonyms, proper names and other terminology of the Mitanni exhibit close similarities to Indo-Aryan, suggesting that an Indo-Aryan elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion. In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, the deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya (Ashvins) are invoked.

At the beginning of its history, Mitanni’s major rival was Egypt under the Thutmosids. Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) mentioned the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

The name Armenian was firstly recorded on an inscription which mentions Armani together with Ebla, from territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC, identified with the Syrian city of Aleppo. To this day the Assyrians still refer to the Armenians by the name Armani. The word is also thought to be related to the Mannaeans and to the biblical Minni.

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 to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC.

However, with the ascent of the Hittite empire, Mitanni and Egypt made an alliance to protect their mutual interests from the threat of Hittite domination. At the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, Mitanni had outposts centered around its capital, Washukanni, whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River. Eventually, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire.

In the time of Ashur-nirari III (ca. 1200 BC, the beginning Bronze Age collapse), the Phrygians and others invaded and destroyed the Hittite Empire, already weakened by defeats against Assyria. Some parts of Assyrian ruled Hanilgalbat was temporarily lost to the Phrygians also, however the Assyrians defeated the Phrygians and regained these colonies . The Hurrians still held Katmuhu and Paphu. In the transitional period to the Early Iron Age, Mitanni was settled by invading Semitic Aramaean tribes.

Within a few centuries of the fall of Washshukanni to Assyria, Mitanni became fully Assyrianized and linguistically Aramaized, and use of the Hurrian language began to be discouraged throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, Urartean, a dialect closely related to Hurrian seems to have survived in the new state of Urartu, in the mountainous areas to the north. In the 10th to 9th century BC inscriptions of Adad-nirari II and Shalmaneser III, Hanigalbat is still used as a geographical term.

Chaldea or Chaldæa (Akkadian: māt Ḫaldu, Aramaic: Kaldo) was a marshy land located in south eastern Mesopotamia which came to rule Babylon briefly. Tribes of Semitic settlers who arrived in the region from the 10th century BC became known as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees.

Though belonging to the same Semitic ethnic group, they are to be differentiated from the Aramean stock; and the Assyrian king Sennacherib, for example, is careful in his inscriptions to distinguish them. When they came to possess the whole of southern Mesopotamia, the name “Chaldean” became synonymous with “Babylonian”, particularly to the Greeks and Jews.

The language used by the Chaldeans was the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, the same Semitic language, save for slight peculiarities in sound and in characters, as Assyrian Akkadian. In late periods both the Babylonian and Assyrian dialects of Akkadian ceased to be spoken, and Aramaic took its place across Mesopotamia, and remains the mother tongue of the Assyrian (also known as Chaldo-Assyrian) Christians of Iraq and its surrounds to this day. One form of this widespread language is used in Daniel and Ezra, but the use of the name “Chaldee” to describe it, first introduced by Jerome, is incorrect and a misnomer.

The origin of the Arameans remains uncertain, with limited mention of Arameans in Mesopotamian inscriptions supplemented by a few descriptive incidents 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).

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.

The Arameans conquered, during the 11th and the 10th centuries, Sam’al (Zenjirli), also known as Yaudi, the region from Arpad to Aleppo which they renamed Bît-Agushi, and Til Barsip, which became the chief town of Bît-Adini, also known as Beth Eden.

At the same time, Arameans moved to the east of the Euphrates, where they settled in such numbers that the whole region became known as Aram-Naharaim or “Aram of the two rivers”. One of their earliest kingdoms in Mesopotamia was Bît-bahiâni (Tell Halaf).

North of Sam’al was the Arameans state of Bit-Gabari, sandwiched between the Neo-Hittite states of Carchemish, Gurgum, Tabal, Khattina and Unqi. Whilst these later states maintained a Neo-Hittite hieroglyphic for official communication, it would seem that the population of these small states was progressively Aramaeanised.

Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu.

Scholars such as Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi. Boris Piotrovsky wrote that “the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century B.C. as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state. In the Assyrian annals the term Uruatri (Urartu) as a name for this league was superseded during a considerable period of years by the term “land of Nairi””.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Hurrian-speaking kingdom, 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. The capital was called Ubbumu. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia. Shubria was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name Armenia.

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.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). 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.

There is also a mention of “Subartu” in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia. In Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadrezzar II and Nabonidus), Subartu was used as a generic term for Assyria. The term was still current under Cambyses II, who mentions Subarian captives.

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 Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

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.

Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. 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.

The expedition to the Naharina announced by Thutmosis I at the beginning of his reign may have actually taken place during the long previous reign of Amenhotep I Helck believes that this was the expedition mentioned by Amenhotep II.

Their chief festival was the celebration of the solstice (vishuva) which was common in most cultures in the ancient world. The Mitanni warriors were called marya, the term for warrior in Sanskrit as well; note mišta-nnu (= miẓḍha,~ Sanskrit mīḍha) “payment (for catching a fugitive)”.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites. The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

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.(Drews:p. 59) 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 Aryan Homeland

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; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

The earliest kurgans occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes (cf. Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a and b). The Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes (Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a: 97).

The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

Haplogroup J-M267

Haplogroup J-M172

Haplogroup J-P209

Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA) – Eupedia

Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA) – Eupedia

Khabur River

Mount Ararat

Sumeru

Subartu

Sumer

Hurrians

Urkesh

Aryan

Aratta

Mitanni

Urartu

ENSI

Shulaveri-Shomu culture

Kura–Araxes culture

Mitanni

Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni

The Indo-European Elements In Hurrian

Arameans

Chaldea

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta

Confusion of tongues

Old Europe

Mother goddess

Inanna

Ishtar

Astarte

Attar (god)

Atar (Hindu god)

Covenant (biblical)

Mosaic covenant

Covenant of the pieces

Noahic Covenant

New Covenant

Ark of the Covenant

Dual-covenant theology

Rainbows in mythology

Noah’s ark

Noach (parsha)

Noahide laws

Christian views of the Old Covenant

Genesis creation narrative

Sumerian creation myth

Genesis flood narrative

Supersessionism

Flood myth

Posted in Armenia, Christianity, Indo Aryans, Indo-Europeans, Religion, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

Soma among the Armenians

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 14, 2013

Soma was a god, a plant, and an intoxicating beverage. It is referenced in some 120 of 1028 verses of the Indian Rig Veda (mid second millenium B.C.). Haoma was its Iranian counterpart.

Although the Iranian Avesta mentions haoma less frequently, there is little doubt that the substances were similar or identical. In both India and Iran, at some point the true identity of soma/haoma was forgotten, and substitutes for it were adopted.

It has been suggested that abandonment of the divine entheogen and its replacement by surrogates occurred because the original substance was no longer available or was difficult to obtain once the proto Indo-Iranians left their “original homeland” and emigrated.

During the past two hundred years, scholars have tried with varying degrees of success to identify this mysterious plant which was at the base of early Indo-Iranian worship. As early as 1794, Sir William Jones suggested that haoma was “a species of mountain rue”, or Peganum harmala L. (Arm. spand). Other soma candidates in the 19th and early 20th centuries have included cannabis (Arm. kanep’) and henbane (Arm. aghueshbank).

All of these plants are native to the Armenian highlands, and all of them were used by the Armenians and their predecessors for medicinal and magico-religious purposes.

If the divine elixir really was a single substance rather than a mixture, then, in our view, none of the above-mentioned nominees alone qualifies. The pharmacological effects of Peganum harmala, cannabis, or henbane, taken alone, simply do not match the Vedic and Iranian descriptions of the effects of soma/haoma.

In the 1960s, R. Gordon Wasson proposed a new candidate, whose effects are more consistent with those mentioned in the Vedas. The present study will examine Wasson’s thesis and look for supporting evidence in ancient Armenian legends and customs.

Soma among the Armenians

Posted in Armenia, Indo Aryans, Religion | Leave a Comment »

 
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