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Thread: What can linguistics and philology tell us about the Indo-Aryan migrations?

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    What can linguistics and philology tell us about the Indo-Aryan migrations?

    I hope to summarize some of what I've read later. First I'm going to dump a whole lot of useful texts just to keep track of them:

    Early Sources for South Asian substrate languages, Witzel (1999)

    University of Alberta, greater Magadha conference, Day 1, 2021. speakers include Bronkhorst who came up with the greater Magadha theory, and Vagheesh Narasimhan--he must surely find it interesting to be surrounded by this crowd.
    Day 3
    Greater Magadha: studies in the culture of Early India, by Bronkhorst (2007). Soft copy of the book itself.
    Measured positive review by Alexander Wynne.
    Measured negative review by Neelis.
    Negative review by Jayarava.
    Also linked below: Moving targets? Texts, language, archaeology and history in the Vedic and early Buddhist periods. Witzel (2009). This can be considered the response by Witzel to Bronkhorst.

    The roots of Hinduism. Parpola (2008, 2015). PM me for a soft copy.

    The origins of Yoga and Tantra. Geoffrey Samuel (2008). PM me for a soft copy. Provides a fascinating glimpse into the social context within which Yoga and Tantra developed together with Vedic thought, and the geographical, social and even ethnic basis for the same developments.
    Summary and review by five different scholars (2009). All reviews are very positive.
    Very short summary and review by Andre Padoux (2008).

    An excellent book: Early India. By Romila Thapar (2002). Pages 69-173 provide a very good synthesis of the textual and archaeological evidence for early India.

    Basic publications by Witzel to make sense of the Vedic period and what its textual resources afford us, in rough (historical) chronological order:
    Early Indian History: Linguistic and Textual Parameters. Witzel (1995, 2001, 2012). Also published as "Rgvedic history: poets, chieftains and polities" on his page.
    Tracing the Vedic dialects (Witzel 1989). The fact that the Vedas were composed with dialectical variations, some rather deep (e.g. collapse of PIE r and l in the West but not in the East, where the Arthavaveda was composed) is also remarked on by Parpola in chapter 12 of his book, along with its different thematic focus (a pronounced focus on witchcraft and magic, visible even in the vocabulary of the Arthavaveda, with many words in these two domains occurring nowhere else in the Vedic corpus.) That chapter is one of the more interesting ones in his book IMO and one that would likely withstand the test of time.
    Notes on Vedic dialects #2. Witzel (2005).
    The Vedas and the Epics: Some comparative notes about Geography, Lineages, Persons and Grammar. Witzel (2002).
    Early sanskritization: Origins and development of the Kuru state. Witzel (1995).
    The development of the Vedic canon and its schools: the Social and Political Milieu. Witzel (1997).
    Gandhara and the formation of the Vedic and the Zoroastrian canon. Witzel (2011). Very interesting work. Traditional Indologists are almost unanimously of the opinion that Indic peoples did not adopt writing until an extremely late date, almost the time of Ashoka, preferring oral transmission until their hand was forced by various state actors. This work summarizes some of the evidence for this.
    Moving targets? Texts, language, archaeology and history in the Vedic and early Buddhist periods. Witzel (2009). His response to Bronkhorst.

    Some general, preliminary conclusions:
    1. In the Vedic period, the extension of the Aryavarta (regions considered to be ritualistically orthodox and non-polluting to the Aryan composers of the Vedas) was very small, much smaller than the area actually practicing some kind of Indo-Aryan speech. Large parts of Indo-Aryan-speaking India, e.g. Magadha, Kosala, Videha etc. were originally basically free of Brahmin influence, Magadha being this way until a very late date (the Mauryans, who developed from Magadha, were in many senses were not actually Brahminical "Hindus" even before Ashoka's famed conversion to Buddhism--I know that's a charged and complex word but you get what I mean). People from the central and eastern regions of the Indo-Aryan-speaking zone were treated as outside the Aryavarta for a long time, and it was in the Kuru kingdom in the Haryana region that the Vedic orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and Brahamical tradition, first developed, and it was exported from that place over time.
    2. There seems to be universal consensus that Sramanical traditions such as Ajivika, Jain and Buddhist thought, were rooted in the Eastern area of the Aryan-speaking zone. It is unclear to what degree the central ideas of their thought derived from/have precedents in Vedic traditions, with some thinking most of it is (Witzel, Parpola) to some thinking most of it is not (Bronkhorst). In either case, all groups agree that these traditions deviate significantly/showcase an independent line of development from the developing tradition behind the Vedic corpus centered in the Kuru area, with Brahmins not moving into areas like Magadha for example until the historical period.
    3. Three central elements of South Asian religion--Yoga, Tantra ("Magic") and Moksha ("Liberation") all have this complex relationship to the Vedic tradition. Moksha we covered in the previous point (with the Sramana religions), it seems like Yoga and Tantra had their first precedents within the Arthavavedic tradition a little East of Kuru, with a slightly different linguistic background. Some even think the intellectual precedents of Yoga and Tantra may be traced to non-Indo-Aryan sources (Parpola, Samuel).
    4. Four very important events took place in the history of Indic religions and languages: a. The formulation of later Vedic orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the Kuru-Pancala area in Haryana and the elevation of the social status of Brahmins. b. The invitation sent by King Janaka of the Kingdoms of Kosala and Videha, to Brahmins of this Western area, into the Central area of Aryavarta, where the Vedic corpus continued to develop. c. The standardization of the Vedic corpus in terms of its composition and pronunciation after the Persians had conquered NW India. d. the spread of Brahmins and their ideology and practices from this Kuru-Pancala and Kosala-Videha core to all other regions of India in the historical period, by the invitation of local landed elites who wanted to legitimize their leadership.

    I think all this is very interesting. Especially because, if there is any part of the world where history is literally inscribed into population-genetic differences, it is South Asia. When pondering these philological and linguistic works together with the variation in genetic structure in different areas of India, including within the Indo-Aryan-speaking areas (with the different streams of West Eurasian ancestry and even differences in the steppe ancestry and all that), one is confronted with a landscape of very interesting possibilities. But that calls for other work. Something preliminary that can even be worked on right now, however, is: are the admixture datings in DATES for Steppe ancestry in Indo-Aryan groups all the same? If it is not, we already have a smoking gun for how these complex episodes of social transformation impacted the genetics of present-day South Asians.
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    Dumping these here as well:
    Abstracts for the conference on the Iron Age in South Asia held in Japan in 2018. A good reference point for further research into the Ochre-Colored Pottery, Black and Red Ware, Painted Grey Ware, Northern Black Polished Ware cultures.

    On the localization of the Vedic texts and schools. Witzel (1987)

    On page 55 of this link, you find Colin Masica's famous paper on the "language X" that contributed much agricultural vocabulary to the Hindi dialects of the Gangetic plains, plus--according to Witzel--geminates to the language of the Vedic texts.

    On page 67 of this book, more on the l/r vs r-only dialects in Aryan language of the Vedic period, by Deshpande.

    Even if you do not accept the conclusions of this paper (which the author himself admits is speculative), Possible Iranian Origins for the Śākyas and Aspects of Buddhism (Attwood 2012) gives a good overview of how Bronkhorst, Samuel and Witzel all accept that something different was happening in the non-Vedic Aryan East vs the Vedic Aryan West of Northern India.

    Where Parpola first lays out his "Dahae = Dasyu" theory.
    Last edited by Ryukendo; 01-07-2022 at 09:12 AM.
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    Parpola also mentions Panis as one of the enemys of Aryans: "According to 10,108, the Panis living on the far side of the deep river Rasγ guard with their sharp weapons great riches in a treasury rooted in a mountain and full of cattle, horses and valuable goods."

    I think it is quite interesting, though probably just coincidental, that Dennis Kuzmin mentions Olonets Karelian tradition in which Panis are "unbaptized brutes, mythical ancestors", also according to Meryan dictionary Meryan Jelma Pan stands for ancestor in Meryan. That being said, now that we have orja "slave" < Aryan, wouldn't it be possible that (some) Uralic speakers knew that they were called as Pan by someone, in the very distant past. Pan, in this case, would be an exonyme, given by Aryan speakers.

    " A most interesting reference in this regard is RS 6,51,14: "Slay down the Pani, the devourer; for he is a wolf..."

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    I just want to make a quick comment here: I think Witzel's work is by far the most reliable. He almost exclusively relies on information within the texts themselves. Parpola unfortunately relies a lot on drawing connections between words, archaeology, and anthropological records of modern-day non-Vedic Hindu traditions/local cults (e.g. feeding of Crocodiles in temples in particular places in Bengal and South India, etc.)--which, I have to admit, is an under-appreciated source of philological evidence I think. Few people work with those. If you actually read his work, some of it is definitely quite well argued and the number of coincidences that must take place to explain some of his observations are too large to be ignored (i.e. there is "signal" in the noise), but a lot of it is probably just pattern-matching.
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    Kapisa, just some thoughts inspired by your comments and the fact that some Dardic populations like Kohistani are literally SPGT clones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kapisa View Post
    ... Of course, the presence of a local Burushaski substrate in Dardic and Kashmir specific pre-IA substrate makes me think this photo-Historic phenomenon represented other linguistic groups as well. However, absence of Burushaski and Kashmir substrate in RV might suggests that Vedic IA might have arrived originally from valleys of North Balochistan (Gomal) and later expanded in Central-East Punjab in post-Harrappan Cemetery H and PGW sites. most PGW sites in Pakistan are in Ravi/Satluj doabs and areas of South and East Punjab near the border with Rajasthan. And only later moved west and east.
    Post # 219: https://anthrogenica.com/showthread....-a-myth/page22
    To what extent these two populations SPGT like and PGW like interacted, I don't know the answer to, since there are sites and tribes in Gandhara and NW South Asia in general associated with Vedas and Mahabharata. Takshakas, Nagas (whether a cultural phenomenon or a distinct tribe linked with Rishi Kashyapa) has been associated with this region, alongside other tribes that take part in the Kurukshetra war.
    However, we don't have enough genetic data from Gandhara proper (Peshawar/Mardan/Charsadda/Swabi) to answer this question. Its possible the "Vedic" IA used the same Khyber pass routes and their genetic and cultural trace overlaid what was present in the earlier "dardic" wave.
    Additional Steppe input is required for populations outside of Swat valley:
    Sample Fit Katelai IA • Average TKM IA • Average
    Average (Kohistani) 1.66 96.5 3.5
    Average (Kamboj) 1.99 85.5 14.5
    Average (Pashai Dardic) 2.95 75.5 24.5
    ...
    @ Thread, so if you follow developments on the South Asian section of the forum, for some time now we have the conclusion that the highest steppe populations in the Punjab area (Ror, Eastern Jatts) work as very good Steppe sources to Caste populations, including even groups like UP Brahmins/Tiwari Brahmins (some of the highest steppe Brahmins) in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab, and across much of Northern India more generally. Many of the populations of the Punjab area were then "de-Aryanized" in the texts by the late Vedic period due to falling outside the pale of the Kurukshetra/Kuru-Pancala and later Kosala-Videha orthopraxy by that time (look up the terms "Bahikas", "Ushinaras", "Madras" etc.), despite the core of the RgVeda and the Mahabharata recording phenomena in the Punjab area just some centuries before then, and these populations are presumably ancestors to some of the non-caste "aVarna" groups such as Jats and Rors in the region today. This fits extremely well with the idea with a late core of high steppe populations that promoted caste formation across much of N India from a slightly more eastern focus (Eastern Punjab and Haryana leading to W Uttar Pradesh and the Ganga-Yamuna doab), with vestiges of high steppe non-brahmin and even non-caste populations left behind in NW India (Jatts and Rors in the Punjab).

    The thing that really confused me is why this trail of high-steppe non-brahmins did not stretch all the way to the Swat valley, where presumably the earliest Aryans entered, and did not appear in the SPGT samples themselves. Furthermore, why are Dards, who are the Aryan people local to the Swat Valley, not like Jatts and Rors but just even more so? Two quick thoughts on this: 1. the dating of the SPGT is now later than what is written in the reference texts you'd run across, so maybe the SPGT in the Swat Valley is not archaeologically the earliest Steppe-influenced culture in S Asia. 2. If you look at the religious traditions of the Dards, there is this shamanistic, tribal substrate under the Vedic and orthodox Hindu beliefs, which makes me think they may be Brahminized rather late, and are therefore analogous to populations in other parts of Northern S Asia instead of Jatts and Rors (i.e., maybe an initial wave of IAr ancestry but true assimilation into the mainline Indian Caste cline took place later, just like the rest of S Asia outside of the Kurukshetra zone of E Punjab/Haryana and the Ganga-Yamuna-doab). Dumping some links here:

    https://academicjournals.org/journal...f/CBBA2D553114
    https://brill.com/view/journals/ic/1...cle-p201_2.xml
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/24048371 (read footnote 2):
    Two further myths given by Jettmar relevant to Shamanism deserve comment. The myths are found among the Burushaski speakers of the Hunza, the Kafiro-Dardic basis of whose Shamanism is shown, among many other things, by the use of Shina [RK: a Dardic language] as the trance language of the shamans (RK: !)
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/1178560 Some quotes:
    Formerly, bitan [RK: Burusho shamans] refrained from drinking cow's milk, eating beef, and having contact with cattle. Today they observe such restric- tions only prior to their ceremonies. Hunzakut informants could not explain the basis for the bitan's ritual avoidance of cattle. One may ob- serve, however, that similar taboos were part of the orthodox religious practices of the Shin, the people who live in the Gilgit region to the south of Hunza (cf. DREW 1875, 428). BIDDULPH(1880, 96-97) believed that the Hunzakut had imported these ideas from the Shin. His contention receives some support when we learn that the Hunzakut bitan claim to chant in Shina, the language of their Dardic neighbors, rather than in their own Burushaski tongue.
    The British Official John Biddulph, who visited the area several times between 1873 and 1878, noted that bitan [RK: shamans] were once common among the Dardic speakers of neighboring Shinkari (the area of the former Gilgit Agency), but by the 1800s were to be found only in Gilgit, Hunza, and
    Nagar (1880, 98). Elsewhere they had been superseded by Islamic reli-
    gious practitioners (cf. LORIMER1929, 511).
    These would fit well with either an introduction of Steppe ancestry not via Swat but via some other valley, or a two-wave theory where the second wave was in fact introduced via the Swat Valley but leapfrogged over it (which we know is possible because the social conditions permitted it: the brahmins and bards in the Vedic period amply record the social injunction against staying overnight in villages--which was regarded as ritually polluting, but moving around with their herds and staying outside them, until an extremely late period in the Vedic chronology).
    Last edited by Ryukendo; 01-09-2022 at 02:05 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryukendo View Post
    Kapisa, just some thoughts inspired by your comments and the fact that some Dardic populations like Kohistani are literally SPGT clones.



    @ Thread, so if you follow developments on the South Asian section of the forum, for some time now we have the conclusion that the highest steppe populations in the Punjab area (Ror, Eastern Jatts) work as very good Steppe sources to Caste populations, including even groups like UP Brahmins/Tiwari Brahmins (some of the highest steppe Brahmins) in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab, and across much of Northern India more generally. Many of the populations of the Punjab area were then "de-Aryanized" in the texts by the late Vedic period due to falling outside the pale of the Kurukshetra/Kuru-Pancala and later Kosala-Videha orthopraxy by that time (look up the terms "Bahikas", "Ushinaras", "Madras" etc.), despite the core of the RgVeda and the Mahabharata recording phenomena in the Punjab area just some centuries before then, and these populations are presumably ancestors to some of the non-caste "aVarna" groups such as Jats and Rors in the region today. This fits extremely well with the idea with a late core of high steppe populations that promoted caste formation across much of N India from a slightly more eastern focus (Eastern Punjab and Haryana leading to W Uttar Pradesh and the Ganga-Yamuna doab), with vestiges of high steppe non-brahmin and even non-caste populations left behind in NW India (Jatts and Rors in the Punjab).

    The thing that really confused me is why this trail of high-steppe non-brahmins did not stretch all the way to the Swat valley, where presumably the earliest Aryans entered, and did not appear in the SPGT samples themselves. Furthermore, why are Dards, who are the Aryan people local to the Swat Valley, not like Jatts and Rors but just even more so? Two quick thoughts on this: 1. the dating of the SPGT is now later than what is written in the reference texts you'd run across, so maybe the SPGT in the Swat Valley is not archaeologically the earliest Steppe-influenced culture in S Asia. 2. If you look at the religious traditions of the Dards, there is this shamanistic, tribal substrate under the Vedic and orthodox Hindu beliefs, which makes me think they may be Brahminized rather late, and are therefore analogous to populations in other parts of Northern S Asia instead of Jatts and Rors (i.e., maybe an initial wave of IAr ancestry but true assimilation into the mainline Indian Caste cline took place later, just like the rest of S Asia outside of the Kurukshetra zone of E Punjab/Haryana and the Ganga-Yamuna-doab). Dumping some links here:

    https://academicjournals.org/journal...f/CBBA2D553114
    https://brill.com/view/journals/ic/1...cle-p201_2.xml
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/24048371 (read footnote 2):

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/1178560 Some quotes:



    These would fit well with either an introduction of Steppe ancestry not via Swat but via some other valley, or a two-wave theory where the second wave was in fact introduced via the Swat Valley but leapfrogged over it (which we know is possible because the social conditions permitted it: the brahmins and bards in the Vedic period amply record the social injunction against staying overnight in villages--which was regarded as ritually polluting, but moving around with their herds and staying outside them, until an extremely late period in the Vedic chronology).
    How does the ancestry of the Dardic speaking Kalash fit into this? Or did they only began speaking Dardic languages later on?
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    Quote Originally Posted by CopperAxe View Post
    How does the ancestry of the Dardic speaking Kalash fit into this? Or did they only began speaking Dardic languages later on?
    Don't only part of the Kalash speak Dard? Many of them speak Nuristani languages such as Waigali. That plus the fact that they're genetically quite distinct from other Dards (and Nuristanis like Kho are actually like Kalash genetically) make me think those Kalash speaking Dardic were Dardicized Nuristanis.
    Last edited by Ryukendo; 01-09-2022 at 03:24 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryukendo View Post
    Don't only part of the Kalash speak Dard? Many of them speak Nuristani languages such as Waigali. That plus the fact that they're genetically quite distinct from other Dards (and other Nuristanis, like Kho, are like Kalash genetically) make me think those Kalash speaking Dardic were Dardicized Nuristanis.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryukendo View Post
    Don't only part of the Kalash speak Dard? Many of them speak Nuristani languages such as Waigali. That plus the fact that they're genetically quite distinct from other Dards (and other Nuristanis, like Kho, are like Kalash genetically) make me think those Kalash speaking Dardic were Dardicized Nuristanis.
    The ethnonym Kalash seems to originate from Nuristan via a superstrate but technically they are different and not directly related people. Pre-Muslim Nuristani often raided neighboring Muslims (Panjshir, Badakshan,..) and non-muslim valleys what probably brought this ethnonym. It is very possible that Kalash got Y-DNA from Nuristani like for example their weird and rare Z2123 clade which is different from other Indo-Aryan Z2123.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coldmountains View Post
    It is very possible that Kalash got Y-DNA from Nuristani like for example their weird and rare Z2123 clade which is different from other Indo-Aryan Z2123.
    Can you tell me which subclades of R1a-Z2123? I have been looking over a great volume of data from China, and it might be interesting to see how each subclade may be represented in that country.

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    The thing that really confused me is why this trail of high-steppe non-brahmins did not stretch all the way to the Swat valley, where presumably the earliest Aryans entered, and did not appear in the SPGT samples themselves.
    Pegasus showed Katelai-LBA sample already showing minor MLBA admixture. That and the IA outlier from Loebanr, fits well as a steppe source for Dardic communities including Kalash that are 70% of that ancestry. So, its not that Steppe rich populations aren't present, they are just not yet sampled imo.
    Screen Shot 2022-01-08 at 9.51.37 PM.png
    The Tibetan empire paper showed some Y40, Z94s and Y7s among Baltis and Kashmiris. Kohistanis rather than Kashmiris fit as a ancestry source for the pre-Tibetian Baltis, however, Brokpas and Shina populations are more proximal to Ladakh and Baltistan suggesting an autosomally Kohistani/Kamboj like source for Shina population. Even among Kohistani dataset there is considerable variation in Steppe-MLBA and WSHG related admixture.
    Valleys in Hindu-Kush Pamir are significantly segregated hence languages grouped together as Dardic are not at all mutually intelligible, speakers of Shina with in various parts of North Pakistan are not able to understand each other.
    https://journals.uio.no/actaoriental...view/5341/4681
    There are several routes that allow movement via Hindu-Kush, with passes leading west to Gilgit Baltistan and south to Chitral. A huge concentration of sites I posted earlier (yet unsequenced) are also in former tribal agencies near Afghan border. IIRC there was a paper of riverside burial at Gurez,
    It also supports what you suggest here:
    These would fit well with either an introduction of Steppe ancestry not via Swat but via some other valley, or a two-wave theory where the second wave was in fact introduced via the Swat Valley but leapfrogged over it (which we know is possible because the social conditions permitted it: the brahmins and bards in the Vedic period amply record the social injunction against staying overnight in villages--which was regarded as ritually polluting, but moving around with their herds and staying outside them, until an extremely late period in the Vedic chronology).
    Original homeland of Shins is in GB, from where some migrated to Chitral:
    Even within 1 language sub-family of Shina-type there are distinct populations. Shina live very close to the ceasefire line between Kishanganga/Gurez and Kargil; Astore in GB I believe. There have been some internal migrations as well, some in 9-10th century between Swat/Dir Kohistan, Shin-kari (Indus Kohistan). One of them is explained by the fact that Burushaski has tonal features similar to Shina because of population contact.
    "The Shins were considered ritually cleaner than the other three castes, the Yeshkuns, the Kamins, and the Doms (Jettmar 2002)."
    https://anthrogenica.com/showthread....embers/page908
    Regardless of the contact with Vedic orthodoxy, these populations do show social stratification which might show up genetically.
    Last edited by Kapisa; 01-09-2022 at 03:41 AM.
     

    Sample Fit Wezmeh N • Average Yamnaya RUS Samara • Average Simulated AASI by DMXX • Average IRL Megalithic • Average Tyumen HG • Average Chokhopani 2700BP • Average
    Kapisa-Mom (Kapisa) 3.23 46.5 19 18 8.5 5.5 2.5
    Kapisa (Kapisa) 2.70 46.5 17 17.5 8.5 7 3.5
    Kapisa-Dad (Kapisa) 3.35 46 21 15.5 8.5 4.5 4.5


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