Identity of Aryan Culture
|Article Identity of Aryan Culture consists:
The post, Identity of Aryan culture is important for various purposes of study, for UPSC IAS, PCS, UPPSC, BPSC, and other History graduation exams.
The texts consist of traits of Aryan:
The principal (identity of Aryan culture) traits of Aryan culture are set out by Vedic, Iranian, and Greek literary texts and cognate terms found in the proto-Indo-European languages.
The texts helped in reconstructing the material and other aspects of Aryans Culture comprising the Rig Veda, the Zend-Avesta, and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
- The time of Rig Veda is roughly assigned to 1500 BC, although the later addition might be as late as 1000 BC.
- The earliest parts of the Zend-Avesta are roughly attributed to 1400 BC.
- Homer’s works are assigned to 900-800 BC.
What these texts represented us:
Generally, these texts represent agriculture and pastoralism as the principal sources of livelihood. The cultural contents of these texts date roughly to the late Neolithic and early Bronze ages.
The contents seem to cover Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which are geographically linked to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Anatolia, and Greece.
- Since ancient times various communities in a major portion of vast territory spoke Indo-European languages.
- The text throws light on the lives of Aryan Culture as they domesticated horses which were used for riding, and driving carts.
- The use of spoke wheels by Aryans, and they fought with bows and arrows which were placed in quivers.
The Domestication and Diffusion of Horses:
The horse played a crucial role in the life of early Indo-Europeans, It is regarded as an indispensable trait of the Aryan Culture.
- The term Asva in the Rig Veda and its cognates appear in Sanscrit, Avestan, and Greek.
- For the early Vedic period we have over fifty horse names and thirty chariot names.
- The aspa or horse forms part of the name of several Iranian chiefs in the Avesta.
- In various forms, the term asva occurs 215 times in the Rig Veda.
- The Rig Veda devotes two complete hymns in praise of the horse.
- Both the horse and Chariote repeatedly occur in Prayers made to the Avestan Mitra who is the same as God Mitra in the Rig Veda.
- The largest number of horses appear to have been in the area between the Dnieper river in the west and the Volga river in the East.
- The earliest evidence of Horses is found in the south Ural region and the Black Sea area in the 6th millennium BC.
The earliest inscriptional evidence of the use of the horse in Western Asia is in Anatolia in the second half of the 19th century BC.
The War Chariot:
The Indo-Europeans widely used horse-drawn chariots, which were well known in the Vedic, Avestan, and Homeric texts.
- The vajapeya sacrifice of later Vedic text was also a Greek practice and described by Homer.
- It is held that Wheeled chariots originated in western Asia in the fourth millennium BC.
- Dasarath, the name of a king, means a person possessing ten chariots.
- Wooden wheels are known outside India, but until 2000 BC they were generally solidly built. Clay wheels are reported in the Harappan context, though they cannot be dated earlier than 2500 BC.
Spoked wheels appear in Hissar in Iran and in the north Caucasus around 2300 BC.
- A six-spoked wheeled chariot depicted on a cylindrical seal is attributed to Hissar around 1800 BC.
- War chariots with spoked wheels appear in the Sintashta region in the South Ural Area adjoining western Kazakhistan by 1500 BC., spoked wheels are in existence in several places in eastern Europe and western Asia.
- Banawali and Hissar district of Haryana was associated with spoked wheels but it seems to be in the post-Harappan phase.
- The remains of horses of the 2nd millennium BC. have been found in South Central Asia, Iran, and Afghanistan.
- The horse and the Chariotes are represented in Kirgizia, the Altai zone, Mongolia, the Pamir mountain ranges, and South Tajikistan during the time of 1500 BC.
Horse Remains in the Subcontinent:
In the Indian subcontinent, only a few horse remains of the 3rd millennium BC are ascribed and these are of doubtful nature.
In the view of Richard Meadow, the Pirak complex located near the Bolan pass in the Kachi plains of Baluchistan shows the earliest true horse in South Asia around 1700 BC.
In the burials of Gandhara grave culture in Swat valley situated in North-west Frontier Pakistan the remains of horse and horse furnishing dating to 1400 BC and alter appeared.
- The horse bone has been found in the overlapping layer of the painted Grey ware and the Harappan cultures at Bhagwanpura in Haryana attributed to 1600-1000 BC.
- The Surkotada horse from the Kutch area may have been contemporaneous with the Pirak horse.
The pit dwelling can also be associated with the Aryan culture and may have been originated in cold conditions.
- Around 4500 BC, the horse-users of Ukraine lived in semi-subterranean houses in addition to surface ones.
- In the Ural Volga region, the Pit dwelling began in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC.
- In the 2nd millennium BC in the Andronovo culture of Central Asia.
- Burial seems to have developed in imitation of a pit dwelling.
- The practice of pit dwelling prevailed in Bruzhome near Srinagar in Kashmir and also in Haryana. This may be due to the Central Asian influence on the borders of Kashmir.
Birch: The use of birch –wood seems to be an Aryan feature along with underground houses. The birch is called burja in Sanskrit, and it has cognates in six Indo-European languages.
Cremation: Cremation also developed as a trait of Aryans. The practice of Cremation is supported in the Vedic, Avestan, and Homeric texts.
Fire Cult: The fire cult is considered to be a special trait of both the Indo-Aryans and Indo-Iranians.
- The fire altar or vedi is mentioned in the Rig Veda.
- Fire worship is very important in the Avesta.
Animal sacrifice may have prevailed among many tribal peoples, but the horse sacrifice was typical of the Indo-Europeans, particularly of the Vedic people.
- The French Vedic scholar Louis Renou considers it to be an Indo-European ritual.
- Many archeological shreds of evidence about the prevalence of horse sacrifice are found in eastern, central, western, and northern Europe, and also in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
- In Ukraine and Russia, many cemeteries testify to the sacrifice of more than one horse.
- It seems that these practices started in the second half of the fifth millennium BC.
- In the 10th book of the Rig Veda, two hymns are devoted to the horse sacrifice, the later Vedic texts transform the sacrifice into Asvamedha.
The Cult of Soma:
The cult of soma called haoma in the Avestan language was confined to only the Iranian and Vedic peoples.
- The identification of the soma plant has been long debated, but now a plant called ephedra, a small twig that has been found in vessels used for drinking rituals on the premises of the temple of togolok-21 in Margiana in south-eastern Turkmenistan is considered to be Soma.
Language and Inscriptional Evidence:
The most important attribute of Aryan culture is language. Linguists have reconstructed the proto-Indo-European language. It started around the 7th or 6th millennium BC.
From c. 4500 BC marked phonetic development took place in the eastern branch, i.e. proto-Indo-Iranian.
- However, inscriptional evidence of the proto-Ido-Iranian or Indo-Aryan language does not date to earlier than 2200 BC.
- The first linguistic traces of it figure on a tablet of a dynasty of Agade in Iraq. This inscription mentions two names reconstructed as Arisena and Somasena.
Hittite inscription from Anatolia indicates speakers of the western branch of the Indo-European language in this area from the 19th to 17th century BC.
- Mycenaean inscriptions from Greece indicate the arrival of speakers of this branch in the 14th century BC,
- The speakers of the eastern branch are represented in the inscription of the Kassites and the Mittanis in Mesopotamia from the 16th to 14th century BC. but there is no such inscription in India. It is therefore absurd to argue that speakers of the Indo-European language spread India to Mesopotamia.
- The finding of Russian linguists supports an earlier hypothesis of Gordon Childe that Anatolia was the original home of the Aryans. It is also supported by Renfrew. But the question is- If the Aryan language originated in Anatolia, why did it completely disappear from its place of origin?
Dispersal of the Indo-Aryans:
The genetic signals show the migration of the Indo-Aryans from Central Asia to India.
Some special genetic signals appear in the steppe people of Central Asia from one end to the other in c.8000 BC.
- These genetic indications are called M 17.
- They are found in more than 40% people of in Central Asia.
- In Delhi, scientists discovered M 17 in more than 35% of Hindi speaker people and only in 10% of Dravidian speakers.
- Biologists place the Indo-Aryan migration from Central Asia after 8000 BC, but linguists and archaeologists date it to c.2000 BC.
- Linguists can better explore Russian links with Indo-Aryan languages, but the genetic evidence about the Indo-Aryan migration is decisive.
Some important chronology of the Identity of Aryan Culture:
In the table given below, some important chronology of the Identity of Aryan culture is mentioned:
|10000||Cereals were first cultivated at a Mesolithic site near Jerusalem|
|8000||Indo-Aryan migration from Central Asia after this date|
|7000||Development of Agriculture in the Palestine area.|
|5000-4000||Cremation in Holland, Germany, eastern Europe, Iraq, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.|
|5M||Horse sacrifice probably started among Indo-Europeans.|
|4M||Horse in Anatolia wheeled chariot in western Asia and the steppes of south Russia.|
|2500||Clay wheels were reported in the Harappan context.|
|2300||Spoked wheels in Hissar, Iran, and the North Caucasus.|
|2200||Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan languages in an inscription of the Agade dynasty in Iraq.|
|2M||The horse, pit dwelling, post-cremation burial in the swat valley.|
|1600-1000||The horse bone of the PGW and Harappan cultures at Bhagawanpura (Haryana) is evidenced by the overlapping layers there.|
|1400||The date of Zenda-Avesta|
|1000||Later strata of Rig Veda|
|900-800||Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.|
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