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Gypsies Mesopotamian Cylinder Seal, circa 2350-2150 BCE University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and AnthropologyCylinder seals were used by Mesopotamians as ownership stamps. Plain stamps of ceramic have been discovered as early as the Ubaid period of Mesopotamia (early 6th millennium), but the intricately carved cylinder seals occur during the Uruk period. The photographs in this collection were provided by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and represent artifacts loaned until 2008 to the Beijing World Art Museum for their rotating exhibit on Great Civilizations. The cylinder seal motif is comparable to the motifs which occur on Indus script artefacts. The combat motif is specific; a person kicks up his left leg and places it on the head of a bovine. A horned person is ligatured to the back of a bovine -- a motif which occurs on the Mesopotamian cylinder seal and also on an Indus script seal.Mleccha decoding of the pictorial glyphsM1224d,e two sides of an Indus sealeṛaka 'upraised arm' (Ta.); rebus: eraka = copper (Ka.) ḍhagarām pl. the buttocks; the hips (G.lex.) Rebus: ḍhā~gar., dhā~gar blacksmith; digger of wells(H.)

mēṛsa = v.a. toss, kick with the foot, hit with the tail (Santali.lex.) Rebus: me~r.he~t iron; ispat m. = steel;

dul m. = cast iron; kolhe m. iron manufactured by the Kolhes (Santali); meṛed (Mun.d.ari); meḍ (Ho.)(Santali.lex.Bodding)

sal ‘bos gaurus’, bison; rebus: sal ‘workshop’ (Santali)

kolsa = to kick the foot forward, the foot to come into contact with anything when walking or running; kolsa pasirkedan = I kicked it over (Santali.lex.)

kolhe (iron-smelter; kolhuyo,jackal) kol, kollan-, kollar = blacksmith (Ta.lex.)

kol ‘to kill’ (Ta.)Seal inscribed; Shortugai; Jarrige, 1984, Fig. 126Communication network: Mediterranean to Meluhha“Mesopotamian texts of the third and second millennium refer to the region of the Indus Valley/Baluchistan as the land o Meluhha. These texts detail the trade and resources obtained from Meluhha, including both manufactured and raw materials, ores, and metal objects, precious metals, specific types of stone and stone objects, semi-precious stones, trees and wooden objects, plants and animals. That there were direct relations between the elites of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley is attested by the gift of a stone statuette of a Meluhha dog to King Ibbi-Sin of Ur (2028-2004 BCE). Equally significant is the presence of a cylinder seal depicting a Meluhhan translator sitting on the knee of an Akkadian king and acting as an interpreter for two envoys. Lastly, the Mesopotamian texts refer to the presence of an actual Meluhhan village within Mesopotamia (Parpola et al. 1977). This fascinating text suggests the presence of a Meluhhan (Indus) colony in Mesopotamia. Indus-Mesopotamian relations are clearly attested in the Mesopotamian texts and are enriched by the numerous archaeological remains of the Indus civilization that have been found in Mesopotamia. Similarly, with the formation of the Indus civilization we can trace its direct expansion and influence into Central Asia. The recent discovery of the site of Shortugai on the Oxus River in Afghanistan attests to the establishment of an Indus colony far to the north of their known cultural distribution (Francfort and Pottier 1978). Shortugai, an Indus colony in an area of distinctly indigenous population, thus appears to be in Central Asia what the Meluhhan villages are reported to be in Mesopotamian texts – colonies in foreign lands. The rich and typically Indus material culture recovered from Shortugai has suggested to the excavator that the colony was established as a frontier community for extending commercial relations deeper into Central Asia. The proximity of this site to the lapis lazuli mines of Badakshan may also be of significance. This commodity was in great demand, being considered he diamond of antiquity by the elites of Mesopotamia. Further evidence for Central Asian-Indus interrelations can be seen in the presence of two Indus seals, containing written signs, recovered from Altyn-depe in recent Soviet excavations (Masson 1981). There can be little doubt that by the end of the third millennium a vast network of communication united the elites from the eastern Mediterranean to the Indus Valley.” (Lamberg-Karlovsky, C.C. (ed.), 1989, Mesopotamia, Central Asia and Indus Valley, in: Archaeological Thought in America, Cambridge University Press, pp.263-264)

The seals have pictograms, not just a representation of animals. In VM Masson’s opinion this means that some of the ancient residents of Altyn-Depe were able to read this text.(G. Bongard-Levin, 1989, Archaeological Finds in Central Asia throw light on

Ancient India,Jagdish Vibhakar and Usha Gard (Eds.), Glimpses of Ancient India through Soviet Eyes, Delhi, Sundeep Prakashan)

Shortugai seal

badhia ‘castrated boar’ (Santali); Rebus: bad.hi ‘a caste who work both in iron and wood’ (Santali) kolmo ‘rice plant’; kolom ‘three’ (Mu.) Rebus: kolami ‘furnace, smithy’ (Te.) Rebus reading and meaning of the Shortugai seal: Smith's furnace

"What is surprising is the discovery in 1962 of corroded pieces bearing traces of an embossed design and made of a low tin content bronze (5.15%)...The uncorroded metal is thought to have contained nearer 7% tin. (Caley, ER, 1972, Results of an examination of fragments of corroded metal from the 1962 excavation at Snake Cave, Afghanistan, Trans. American Phil. Soc., New Ser., 62, 43-84). These fragments came from the deepest level in the Snake Cave, contemporary with the earliest occupation dated by 14C to around 5487 and 5291 BCE (Shaffer, Jg, in Allchin FR and N. Hammond (Eds.), 1979, The Archaeology of Afghanistan, Academic Press, 91, 141-4)...the earliest tin bronze known anywhere...Shortugai...In 1975, French archaeologists discovered on the surface at Shortugai, sherds of Indus pottery extending over more than a millennium -- the whole span of the Indus civilization. (Lyonnet, B., 1977, Decourverte des sites de l'age du bronze dans le NE de l'Afghanistan: leurs rapports avec la civilisation de l'Indus, Annali Instituto Orientali di Napoli, 37, 19-35)...Particularly important is a Harappan seal bearing an engraved rhinoceros and an inscription which reinforces the belief that the site was a trading post. Shortugai is only 800 kms. from Harappa, as the crow flies...Lyonnet's conclusion was that the most likely explanation for their existence was an interest in 'the mineral resources of the Iranian Plateau and of Central Asia', to which can now be added those of Afghanistan itself. Indus contacts extended well into Turkmenia where the principal bronze age settlements, such as Altin-depe and Namasga-depe, lie close to the Iranian border...." (Penhallurick, RD, 1986, Tin in Antiquity, London, Institute of Metals, pp. 18-32)

See: Gregory L. Possehl, Shu-ilishu’s cylinder seal, Expedition, Vol. 48, No.1

Map of the Greater Indus drainage. (Source: Charles Keitth Meisels, 199, Early civilizations of the old world..., London, Routledge).

Seaport of Guabba, a Meluhhan village with a shrine for Ninmar

Vermaak, P.S. 2008. "Guabba, the Meluhhan village in Mesopotamia", Journal for Semitics 17 (2): 454-71

Abstract: Although a Meluhhan village (é-duru5 me-luh-ha) integrated under the jurisdiction of Girsu / Lagash in southern Mesopotamia has been known since Sargonic times, it has never previously been identified with a specific place name. In this article the Meluhhan village has now, for the first time, been connected in a Ur III text with the well-known village / town of Guabba (Gú-ab-baki) based on the (twice) published text MVN 7 420 = ITT 4 8024 from Ur III Girsu.

One cuneiform text confirms that at Guabba, located in Lagash territory, one textile factory employed over 6,200 workers--many others had many thousands of laborers.

He brought the fire right up into Ninmar's shrine Guabba, (and) transported its precious metals and gems on large boats.

Map from The shape of ancient thought: comparative studies in

Greek and Indian ... By Thomas McEvilley

“Fig. 23…The ingots are roughly rectangular and have trapezoidal sections. They are 31.4 cm. and 32.4 cm. lon

g, 19.0 and 21.6 cm. wide and 3.7 ad 3.6 cm. thick, and weigh 11.4 and 11.9 kg. Each ingot has two signs engraved in the surface…The ingots were found by divers off the shore near Haifa and reportedly represent only a portion of a greater number of ingots. Further inquiries are now being made in Haifa to obtain more information about the location from which the ingots came and material that might have been associated with them…Tin 94.83% and 95.30%... ” (Robert Maddin, Tamara Stech Wheeler, James D. Muhly, Tin in ancient near east: old questions and new finds, Expedition, Winter 1977) Source for the photo of two tin ingots:

Cypro-Minoan script? No. Indus scrip glyphs



CC (Cypriot Cuneiform Syllabary, 'Cypro-Minoan' Script)

B Balls/Boules (small clay spherical objects):

From Charts with Characters

Note: Uncertainties remain: notably variant forms, attributable to peculiarities in the handwriting of various scribes.

Samples of Signs 102 and 95 are taken from TABLE OF CYPRIAN SYLLABOGRAMS: The table indicates that Cretan Linear A signs (syllabograms, each representing a single syllable) were adopted and adapted for transcribing languages used in Cyprus in the Bronze Age; this Cyprian writing system developed into the Iron Age syllabary (Linear C), employed mainly for Hellenic inscriptions.

“Two of the three signs (one sign is found on both ingots) are identifiable in the Cypro-Minoan syllabary. (Masson, E., 1974, Cyprominoica. Lund, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology B1, p. 15: signs 95 and 102 ). The third and common sign is not known in the exact form it appears on the ingots, but it certainly looks like a member of the same family. Cypro-Minoan script was used from the end of the sixteenth century BCE to the end of the eleventh century, so the ingots must date to this period. Emilia Masson is studying the signs to determine whether their paleography will permit a closer dating.” (Robert Maddin, Tamara Stech Wheeler, James D. Muhly, Tin in the ancient Near East: old questions and new finds, Expedition, Winter 1977, p.46)

Comparable Indus script glyphs

In my view, two glyphs which appear on the two ingots are NOT comparable to the syllabary Signs 102 and 95 of Cypro-Minoan script. On the other hand, all the three glyphs on the two ingots have comparable glyphs in Indus script epigraphs and can be read rebus as hieroglyphs, representing tin (unalloyed or pure) metal.

S. Kalyanaraman Oct. 15, 2009

Notes on ancient tin sources (for Meluhha, Mesopotamia)

Trade links of Meluhha with Ugarit (Minet el-Beida or Ras Shamra)

m0308 Indus sealFeline figurine terracotta. A woman’s face and headdress are shown.The base has a hole to display it on a stick.90. Molded tablet. (Kenoyer)Plano convex molded tablet showing a female battling two tigers and standing above an elephant. A single Indus script depicting a spoked wheel is above the head of the person (After JM Kenoyer/ Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

[quote] Minet el-Beida (alternative: Minet el-Beidha; Arabic: the "White Harbour") is an important archaeological site in Syria, the remains of the harbour and port settlement of the kingdom of Ugarit with its capital and primary settlement some x km distant at the mound of Ras Shamra. The harbour is so-called on account of the pale colour of the cliffs that protect it. Excavation within the borders of the ancient kingdom of Ugarit started in 1929 with the first investigations at Minet el-Beida. [unquote]Pyxis Lid Syria, Minet el-Beida, Tomb III; Late Bronze Age, 13th century BCE. (Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY; France, Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités Orientales)

Lid of a pyxis with mistress of the animals

Thirteenth century BC

Minet el Beida, port of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria

The Levant

Elephant ivory

D. 13.7 cm; Th. 12 cm

Allocated to the Louvre after the Schaeffer excavation, 1929

AO 11601

Near Eastern Antiquities

This Pyxis Lid is a clear evidence for interactions with Meluhha. “Ivories depicting similar divinities have been found at such sites as Mycenae and Kydonia. The theme of divinities controlling and nurturing wild animals derives from the Near East, and this remarkable work—melding eastern and western traditions—captures the artistic currents that reflect the internationalism of the Late Bronze Age.” This remarkable image on an ivory lid, involving a lady and two goats, evokes comparable scene of a lady holding back two rearing tigers on some Indus tablets in Indus script. kola 'woman' (Nahali. Assamese); kolimi, kolami 'smithy, forge' (Te.); kollan 'smith' (Ta.); kol 'panchaloha' (Ta.) rebus: kola 'tiger' (Santali) kolmo 'paddy plant' (Santali); kolom 'three' (Mu.) Goat is mr..eka (Te.); rebus: melukkha 'copper' (Pali); mlecchamukha id. (Skt.)

Michael Rice Jones, 2007, Oxhide ingots, copper production, and the Mediterranean trade in copper and other metals in the bronze age, MA Thesis, Texas A&M University

A ‘harrow’ glyph on a copper ingot as a Meluhhan product

13 October 2009

The glyph of a ‘harrow’ shown on a Cypriot ox-hide copper ingot may be an Indus script glyph (and NOT a cypro-minoan script glyph). In the context of Indus script, the ‘harrow’ glyph can be explained as a hieroglyph, read rebus as aduru ‘metal’ (Ka.) It is significant that the four-sided bronze stand found at Kurion, Cyprus also shows a panel with a person carrying two large ivory elephant tusks, pointing to riverine-maritime trade interactions with Meluhha across Persian Gulf-Tigris-Euphrates-Ugarit. Read on...


Ancient Cyprus in the Ashmolean Museum...The Copper Trade: Ingots, Hoards and Ship Wrecks

In the Bronze Age, copper was usually transported in the form of oxhide ingots. These ingots would be traded and then melted down so copper smiths in foreign lands could work the copper. Complete oxhide ingots have been found as part of the cargo in two Bronze Age shipwrecks, while fragments of these ingots have been found in workshops throughout the Bronze Age world.

"Copper oxhide ingots are basically flat, oblong, ingots of copper from 4 to 6 cm thick, with lengths varying from 20cm to 45cm, and weights from about 10kg…" (Gale, N. in Gale 1991, 198).

The ingots are referred to as 'oxhide' because their shape resembles a dried oxhide, with peaks in the four corners. This mini Oxhide ingot from Makarsta (Croatia, (left AN1927.1218)) shows the shape of the form, which was widely used throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region.

This 15th century BC cylinder seal from Pyla (right)shows a fanciful scene which includes the depiction of a stylized oxhide ingot. Some scholars feel that this early representation of an oxhide ingot is evidence that that oxhide ingots were known to Cypriotes as early as the 15th Century BC. Besides the ingot, this seal shows birds, a griffin, a dagger, an ibex being attacked by a lion and a bucranium (a sculpture representing an ox skull adorned with wreaths). It could be argued that the oxhide ingot, in association with the mythical world represented by the griffin, might have been ascribed a sort of symbolic status. There is no way to prove this, but the form of the oxhide ingot is also represented in association with a possible goddess figure.

This bronze figurine is standing on an oxhide ingot (left, AN1971.888). It has been suggested that this female statuette may have been worshipped as a sort of fertility goddess, and linked with the oxhide ingot to ensure the continuation of a plentiful supply of copper (Catling 1969). All deities of this kind have been dated to the Late Bronze Age (Dalley 1987).

Close up of base of figurine; 3 ears of the ingot are visible, the fourth has broken off.[unquote]

Comment: It is significant that only glyphs (without any script signs) are used on the cylinder seal of the Ashmolean museum. It could pre-date the Cypro-Minoan script.

Lectures on the prehistoric civilization of the Indus valley by Rao Bahadur KN Dikshit, DG of Archaeology, University of Madras, 1938Percy SP Handcock, 1912, Mesopotamian archaeology, New York, GP Putnam's Sons

Cylinder seal. Six locks of hair of the person holding back one-horned heifers. bhat.a 'six' (G.); rebus: bhat.a 'furnace' (G.); med. 'body'; rebus: med. 'iron' (Mu.); damra 'heifer' (G.); rebus: tam(b)ra 'copper' (Skt.) (Source: Percy SP Handcock, 1912, Mesopotamian archaeology, New York, GP Putnam's Sons, p. 283)

Riverine-maritime trade lanes from Meluhha

n Trade of metals and luxury products by merchants of Ebla

S. Kalyanaraman October 11, 2009

Tin is reported to have passed through Dilmun (cf. Ebla texts of the third quarter of the third millennium BCE : Waetzoldt 1981: 366-7; loc.cit. Moorey, 1999, p. 298)

The shipwreck at Haifa containing two pure tin ingots with Indus script is explained in the context of the possible trade routes from Meluhha to this port, through the Persian Gulf, Euphrates River (Mari river port), Ebla and Ugarit.Two pure tin ingots were discovered in 1976 from a shipwreck in Haifa. Details at In this monograph, the trading route was speculated to be through Mari on the Euphrates to Ugarit (Mediterranean Sea) and on to Minoan Crete. “Tin procurement at Mari was highly organized (Dossin 1970; Villard 1984; nos. 555-6). It travelled in the form of ingots weighing about 5 kg. each. It reached Mari by donkey caavan from Susa (Susiana) and Anshan (Elam) through Eshnunna (Tell Asmar). The relevant records contain the names of Elamite rulers and Elamite agents (Heltzer 1989). Tin was transmitted westwards, both as an item of royal gift-exchange and as a trade commodity…it may well often have travelled by sea up the Gulf from distribution centres in the Indus Valley. In the old Babylonian period tin was shipped through Dilmun (Leemans 1960: 35), as it had been a millennium earlier to judge by references in the Ebla texts…Strabo (xv.ii.10) referred specifically to Drangiana, the modern region of Seistan in south-west Iran (into Afghanistan) as a source of tin. Muhly (1973: 260) associated this directly with Gudea’s report of receiving tin from Meluhha…A number of scholars have pointed out the possibility that tin arrived with gold and lapis lazuli in Sumer through the same trade network, linking Afghanistan with the head of the Gulf, both by land and sea (Stech and Piggott 1986: 41-4).” (PRS Moorey, 1984, Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries, Oxford, Clarendon Press, pp. 298-299).

“We have the cylinder seal of a Sargonic official who served as translator for the Melukkha merchants who came to Agade from the Indus Valley, perhaps bringing with them the tin of Melukkha, a commodity mentioned in one of the statue inscriptions of Gudea, ruler of Lagash. A Mari text, dated to the ninth year of the reign of Zimri-Lim, refers to the construction of a ‘small Kaptaru boat’, perhaps to be taken as a model ship for ritual purposes or as the designation of a ship built for sailing to Crete…Bronze certainly was being produced in Middle Minoan Crete, with production undergoing a great expansion during the Late Bronze Age, as it did on the Greek mainland…The problem is that, at present, no satisfactory analytical method of studying the provenance of tin has been discovered.” (James D. Muhly, 1995, Mining and Metalwork in Ancient Western Asia, in: Jack M. Sasson, ed., 1995, Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Vol. III, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, pp. 1501-1521).

“The ingots are made of a very pure tin, but what could they have to do with Cyprus? Thee is certainly no tin in Cyprus, so at best the ingots could have been transshipped from that island…What the ingots do demonstrate is that metallic tin was in use during the Late Bronze Age…rather extensive use of metallic tin in ancient eastern Mediterranean, which will probably come as a surprise to many people. (p.47). ” The pictures of these two ingots was published in 1977, by JD Muhly (New evidences for sources of trade in bronze age tin in Alan D. Franklin, Jacqueline S. Olin, and Theodore A. Wertime, The Search for Ancient Tin, 1977, Seminar organized by Theodore A. Wertime and held at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Bureau of Standards).

Sources: Anon., 1980, Ingots from wrecked ship may help to solve ancient mystery, Inst. Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies Newsletter, No. 1, 1-2; Maddin, R., TS Wheeler and J. Muhly, 1977, Tin in the ancient Near East: old questions and new finds, Expedition, 19, 35-47).

The ingots are kept at the Museum of Ancient Art, Municipal Corporation of Haifa. The ingots contain epigraphs in the ‘Indus script’. How did the ship arrive at Haifa containing these artefacts? Could they have come from Cyprus assuming that the epigraphs on the ingots resemble Cypro-Minoan symbols or did they originate stamped in Meluhha and end up in Haifa shipwreck through a trade-route which could have been through Ebla? Or, was the stamping done en route, say, in Mari a riverport on River Euphrates or in the port of Ugarit? We can only speculate, but it is clear that Indus script glyphs are used on the tin ingots...

“Raw materials recovered from archaeological excavations in the Indus Valley, the Persian Gulf, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean reflect the existence of long-distance trading during the Bronze Age, which united these regions into networks of commercial exchange. As each region relied on a different set of weights for trading, a straightforward conversion system must have been in operation. Here we describe a simple and universal conversion system that could have provided an economic key to the trade networks of the Old World between 2500 and 1000 BCE…Our analysis of the diverse weight systems that were in use from the Indus Valley to the Aegean from the middle of the third millennium to the end of the second millennium BCE complements earlier studies and reveals that the conversion systems in operation were elegant in their simplicity, although each weight system showed a degree of variance from our proposed standards. The integration of different weight systems was crucial in developing the scale and nature of commercial exchange in the Near East and would have facilitated the emergence of the Ancient World System… This conversion system enables a hypothetical 1,370-g 'ingot' of lapis lazuli to be defined in terms of the different shekel weights of each region. Thus, 1,370 g would be the equivalent of 100 13.68-g Dilmun shekels , 160 8.55-g Mesopotamian shekels, 175 7.83-g Eblaite–Carcemish shekels, and so on, across an east–west route to the Mediterranean…” (cf. Annex; Alfredo Mederos and CC Lamberg-Karlovsky, 2001, Converting currencies in the Old World--Simple arithmetic underpinned trading throughout the Near East during the Bronze Age, Nature 411, 437 (2001) Macmillan Publishers Ltd.) cf. Zaccagnini, C. (1986). 'The Dilmun Standard and its relationship with Indus and Near Eastern weight systems'. Iraq 48, 19-23.

Serge Cleuziou and Thierry Berthoud, 1982, Early tin the near east -- a reassessment in the light of new evidence from western Afghanistan, Expedition, Fall 1982, pp. 14-19: Gudea of Lagash (2150-2111 BCE) refers to tin from Meluhha.

Role of shell in Mesopotamia: evidence for trade exchange with Oman and Indus Valley: TR Gensheimer (Paleorient, Annee 1984, Vol. 10, No. 1)

Kenoyer 1977 Shell working at ancient Balakot, Pakistan


Manusmriti (II.39) notes that over time, dwija who remain uninitiated and become vratya, fallen from Savitri and left out by the aarya: ata uurdhvam trayo apy ete yathaakaalam asamskrtaah saavitripatitaa vraatyaa bhavanty aaryavigarhitaah. Some scholars , however , suggest, Vratya does not necessarily denote a person who has not undergone upanayana samskara; but, it refers to one who does not offer Soma sacrifice or keep the sacred fire(agnihotra).


Vratyakaanda of AV refer to vratya worshipping Rudra, the wind divinity. Vratya gave the knowledge and tradition of both Pitryaana (Path of the fathers) and devayaana (Path of the divinities) (AV XV.12.4-5, 8-9). Yajnavalkya recognized this tradition. Vratya world-view is that of four quarters of the universe (AV XV.2.1-4) and a Cosmic person (AV XV.18). Vratya interactions with Mesopotamia s may explain a few Akkadian words in the Atharva Veda, the concept of the Purushasukta. Vratya asidiyamana eva sa prajapatim samaisyat (AV 15.1-4)(loc.cit. Hiralal Jain, Jainism in Buddhist literature, fn14: notes that Pali literature (Theragaatha) also refers vratyas. Cf. Ananda Guruge, Vidyodaya Lipi, Colombo, 1962, p. 71, where arguments are adduced to prove that vratyas of an Eastern India were survivals of the Indus valley civilization).

S. Kalyanaraman

9 Oct. 2009 kalyan97@gmail.comIndus script discoveries outside Meluhha -- mlecccha artisan guild tokens (Mirrored at outsidemeluhha doc) S. Kalyanaraman 6 Oct. 2009 Abstract

Hypothesis: Meluhhans had invented the Indus script writing system ca. 4th millennium BCE, to encode their speech: mleccha. Many of them were sea-faring artisan-merchants from Sarasvati-Sindhu river basins. As sea-faring merchants, the artisan/smith guilds of Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization areas, had continued the practice of preparing mleccha smith guild tokens in contemporaneous interaction areas west of Sindhu and with civilizations across and beyond the Persian Gulf. This monograph presents a view that the Indus script was a writing system invented to communicate information – in the language of the inventors -- on the technologies, resources, and processes involved in the production and distribution of select commodities surplus to the requirements of the inventors. Such a writing system also involved communicating information about administrative structures (such as guilds of artisans) which supported/authenticated the production process. The Indus script decoded speech of artisans who had experimented with and developed skills in mining and metallurgy.

Thus, the writing system was a complementary technology, used to enhance or to substitute oral communication (or speech) related to metallurgical technologies. Almost all the epigraphs of the script (including epigraphs incised on metallic weapons/tools/ copper tablets, painted on bangles and a gold pendant, incised on a gold fillet headband and a steatite pectoral ornament) are professional guild tokens, authenticating the traded alloy/metal/mineral products, encoding the underlying mleccha speech. The guild tokens were, thus, professional calling cards of the guilds which could also be used to create sealed impressions on packages traded in an impressive long-distance trade.

In one instance, the token of a smithy/forge guild was exhibited on a monolithic sign-board on a gate of the fortification in Dholavira. (Dholavira. Northern gateway of the citadel with a sign-board. Reconstruction, courtesy: )

So can the cognate glyphs on Proto-elamite, Magan, Mesopotamian and Dilmun seals – exemplified by the Gadd seals or seals from Saar (Magan) – and on two tin ingots, be decoded as metallurgical repertoire of mleccha smith guilds.

The following objects discovered outside of Sarasvati-Sindhu river basins are presented:

95 seal and fragments of seals at Saar

220 sealings or fragments of sealings at Saar

16 Gadd's list of "seals of ancient Indian style found at Ur"

10 Persian Gulf seals and one Persian Gulf sealing reported by Brunswig, Parpola and Potts

2 Yale tablets

Over 10 Mesopotamian cylinder seals from Met Museum and British Museum

1 Mcmohan cylinder seal

1 Legrain's seal impression

2 seals reported by Frankfort

2 inscribed tin ingots of a Haifa shipwreck

1 Akkadian cylinder seal showing a Meluhhan

...Two inscribed tin ingots discovered in a shipwreck in Haifa provide the evidence for the rebus method of the writing system and mleccha as the underlying speech encoded by the glyphs.

An Akkadian cylinder seal provides the evidence for the presence of a Meluhhan speaker artisan/merchant in Mesopotamia and that meluhha (mleccha) is a non-akkadian language.

Two tin ingots and an Akkadian cylinder seal as rosetta stones...

continued at

See: Indus script glyphs decoded as mleccha smith guild tokens

Indus script glyphs on coins and Magan seals

S. Kalyanaraman October 2, 2009

Mirrored at


This monograph explains the glyphs found on early punch-marked coins of Hindustan, pre-mauryan Sohgaura copper plate and Rampurva copper bolt as a metallurgist-writing system continuum from the days of metalsmith guild tokens issued using Indus script epigraphs. Many glyphs used as pictorial motifs and signs of the script continue to be used on the punch-marked coins and early cast coins of Hindustan. The continued use is related to the substantive messages conveyed by these glyphs – the repertoire of artisans – metalsmiths and mineworkers in particular, of Sarasvati civilization. The glyphs are also seen on the seals of Magan (Bahrain) establishing the trade contacts between Magan and Meluhha. The glyphs decode mleccha speech. The monograph complements an earlier document, ‘Indus script decoded: mleccha smith guild tokens’. (August 6, 2009)


In his 1890 monograph, Theobald lists 312 symbols found on early punch-marked coins of Idia. He revises this list to 342 symbols in his 1901 monograph. DR Bhandarkar and Alexander Cunningham are of the view that early coinage of India is datable to 10th century BCE though numismatists claim that the first coinage is that of Lydia of 7th century BCE.

“Until very lately it was the popular belief that the Indians were ignorant of the art of coinage until the time of Alexander. This popular error I refuted some twenty-five years ago, by quoting the statement of Q. Curtius that Alexander, on his arrival at Taxila, was presented by the Raja with 80 talents of coined silver (signati argenti)…That the Indians were not ignorant of stone masonry is, I think, proved by the name of Taksha-shila-nagara, or the ‘cut-stone-city’. I am of course aware that other meanings are given tto taksha by European savants; but that this meaning oc ‘cut’ was accepted by the people is shown by the slightly altered form of Taksha-shira for Taksha-Shila, which gave rise to the Buddhist legend of the ‘cut-head’. This legend is referred to by all the Chinese pilgrims – by Fa-Hian in AD 400, by Sung-yun in AD 520, and by Hwen Thsang in AD 631. The last pilgrim expressly states that ‘this is the spot where Tathagata ‘cut off his head’. Fa-Hian also notes that Chu-cha-shi-lo, or Taksashila, means, in Chinese words, ‘cut-off-head’…By the silver coinage of India I refer to the thousands of square silver pieces which are found all over the country from the Himalaya Mountains to Cape Comorin, and from Sistan to the mouths of the Ganges. As all these pieces are stamped with several dies or punches, on one or both faces, they have received the descriptive name of punch-marked coins. In the Hindu books they are called purana or ‘old’, a title which vouches for their antiquity. They are mentioned by Manu and Panini, both anterior to Alexander, and also in the Buddhist Sutras, which are about the same age. The original name of the coin was karshapana, from karsha, ‘a weight’, and apana ‘custom or use’, meaning that they were pieces of one karsha weight as established by use or custom…According to Buddhist tradition the karshapana or kahapana, was called purana at least as early as the time of Buddha himself. This is shown by the curious story, extracted by Burnouf from the Sutras of the courtesan Vasavadatta, who demanded 500 puranas as the price of her favours…As Buddha’s death is placed in the middle of the sixth century BCE, the silver puranas of India may be quite as old as any of the coinages of Greece or Asia Minor. In the frontispiece, Plate A, I have given two pictorial representations of a well-known Buddhist legend regarding the purchase money of the Jetavana garden at Sravasti…the owner of the garden, Prince Jeta, stipulated that he would only part with it on the condition that the purchaser should cover the whole surface with coins touching each other. Both scen3es represent the coins being laid out ‘edge to edge’. It will be seen that the pieces are all square. The older sculpture dates from 250 BCE…How old these punch-marked coins may be it is difficult to say. They were certainly current in the time of Buddha, that is, in the sixth century BCE. But I see no difficulty in thinking that they might mount as high as 1000 BCE. They certainly belong to the very infancy of coinage.” (A Cunningham, 1891, Coins of ancient India from the earliest times down to the seventh century AD, London, B. Quaritch p. v, p.19, p.43)

Glyphs on the coins in Hindustan

Gyphs are used on punch-marked coins of Hindustan, on Sohgaura copper plate (pre-mauryan), and on Rampurva copper bolt...

Discovery Channel, Discovery News 10/01/2009

Indus-like symbols in south India

A rock engraving depicting a symbol commonly associated with the Indus Valley civilisation which flourished in the north-western region of the Indian sub-continent has been found in southern India.

The engraving, which depicts a man with a jar, was discovered recently in the Edakkal caves in the Wayanad district of Kerala.

Historian M R Raghava Varrier, who identified the symbol during excavation by the state's Archaeological Department, told The Hindu newspaper: "What is striking in the Edakkal sign is the presence of an Indus motif, which is rare."

"The jar is the same as the Indus Valley's. But the human figure is slightly different. This is where the influence of the Edakkal style really dominates."

Mr Varrier said: "It is wrong to presume that the Indus culture disappeared into thin air." He added that the findings indicated "the fact that cultural diffusion could take place".

The two-dimensional human figure with a jar is thought to be etched with a stone axe and is a part of the newly-discovered "compound letters similar to scripts".

The Indus script - dating between 2300 BC and 1700 BC - which comprises several hundred symbols which have been found on seals, small tablets, or ceramic pots but have not been deciphered yet.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

“Edakkal engraving a unique find”

T. S. Subramanian

The discovery of a jar sign engraving in the Edakkal caves in Wayanad district of Kerala “is a unique find, linking the Indus Valley civilisation with south India,” according to Iravatham Mahadevan, a scholar on the Indus and the Tamil Brahmi scripts. The occurrence of the sign, which is the most characteristic symbol of the Indus script, at Edakkal, is “very significant,” he said.

In the light of this discovery, the occurrence of the sign on the polished Neolithic celt at Sembian-Kandiyur in Nagapattinam, district, Tamil Nadu, “is confirmed,” Mr. Mahadevan argued.

The Hindu had published on Saturday (September 26, 2009) a news item headlined “Sign akin to Indus Valley’s found in Kerala.” Historian M.R. Raghava Varier had identified the sign during an exploration of the Edakkal caves. The news item quoted Mr. Varier as saying, “What is striking in the Edakkal sign is the presence of an Indus motif, which has been rare and interesting.”

The Hindu had also published on May 1, 2006 a news item on the discovery of a Neolithic stone celt, a hand-held axe, with four signs of the Indus script on it. The celt was found at Sembian-Kandiyur. One of the signs on the celt was a jar with handles on either side. At that time, Mr. Mahadevan had called it “a major discovery because for the first time a text in the Indus script has been found in the State [Tamil Nadu] on a datable artefact, which is a polished Neolithic celt.”

The large-sized jar sign, partly seen at the right end of the photograph published in The Hindu on Saturday, seems to be No. 345 in the sign list of his work, The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables, published in 1977, said Mr. Mahadevan. This would be confirmed when the missing half of the picture was published, he added. The most frequent sign in the Indus script was the jar, numbered 342 in the Concordance. The picture published in the newspaper showed a related jar sign with three strokes, which is No. 345 in the Concordance, he explained.

He congratulated Mr. Varier and his colleagues for this “major discovery.” Tamil Brahmi inscriptions assigned to the Cheras of the Sangam age had earlier been found at Edakkal. But this Edakkal engraving was much anterior to the Tamil Sangam age, Mr. Mahadevan noted.

A RARE FIND: The engraving at the Edakkal Caves.

Sign akin to Indus Valley found in Kerala

Staff Reporter

— Photo: special arrangement

A RARE FIND: The engraving at the Edakkal Caves.

MALAPPURAM: A rock engraving, similar to a sign of the Indus Valley Civilisation, has been found at Edakkal in Wayanad district of Kerala. A recent exploration at the Edakkal Caves revealed a picture of a man with a jar, a unique sign of the Indus civilisation.

Tangible evidence

Engraved supposedly with a stone-axe in linear style, the sign has proven itself to be a tangible evidence to link it to the Indus culture. It was the first time that an Indus sign is discovered in Kerala.

“But we do not claim that the Indus people reached Wayanad; nor do we argue that Edakkal was a continuity of the Indus civilisation,” said historian M.R. Raghava Varier, who identified the sign during the exploration in August.

He said, “What is striking in the Edakkal sign is the presence of an Indus motif, which has been rare and interesting.”

Man-with-the-jar has been a recurring motif of the Indus Valley signs. Though it uses the Indus motif, the Edakkal engraving has retained its unique style. With linear strokes, the engraver has tried to attain a two-dimensional human figure.

“The ‘jar’ is the same as in Indus ‘ligature.’ But the human figure is slightly different. This is where the influence of the Edakkal style predominates,” said Dr. Varier.


Though rock art sites are plenty in different continents, the rock engravings at the Edakkal Caves are unique in the world. The Indus Civilisation has been dated between 2,300 BC and 1,700 BC. The Edakkal culture, however, is yet to be identified with any particular time.

Historians say Edakkal represents quite a long period. The figures of ritualistic nature found at Edakkal represent different stages of human development, both historic and pre-historic. “But this one is definitely pre-historic,” Dr. Varier said.

Some Indus scrip glyphs, ligatured glyphs depicting a standing person and a jar (of two types: one is rimless; the other is with a rim)

Sign Nos. 1, 32, 33, 34, 35, 328, 342, 44, 45, 46

Decoding the glyphs in mleccha (context of Indus script epigraphs):

Body (of man) glyph

meṛgo = rimless vessels (Santali) mēd ‘body’ (Kur.)(DEDR 5099); rebus: meḍ ‘iron’ (Ho.)

Ligaturing glyphs:

kanka = rim of jar (Santali); karNaka id. (Skt.); rebus: karNaka ‘scribe; barado ‘carpenter, mason’; kaND ‘fire-altar’;

baṭa = rimless pot (Kannada); rebus: bat.a = kiln (Te.) baṭa = furnace (Santali) bhrāṣṭra = furnace (Skt.)

Paperweights -- seal replicas distributed as gifts by Pakistan International Airlines (copper plates: one on wooden base; the other on turquoise base).

Legend posted on the reverse reads: "Seals from Mohenjodaro 5000 years old. These seals have thrown an open challenge to the scholars to decipher their worth. Indus valley civilization, flourished five thousand years ago in Pakistan. The inhabitants lived largel by agriculture but also maintained trade with lands as far away as Mesopotamia." (date ca. 1977 obtained a first class passenger on PIA who received these mementos and given to me.) Kalyan 19 Aug. 2009

The open challenge was accepted in 1978 and this website documents the efforts.

The rediscovery of Saraswati

Civilisational advantage of being a Hindu

By Dr Vijaya Rajiva August 23, 2009

The rediscovery of the Saraswati revitalises the foundations of Vedic thought. The name Saraswati which the Vedic seers bestowed on the ancient river, which along with the Sindhu, has captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Hindus, also gives new meaning to the later deification of the Goddess Saraswati.

The Rig Veda, comprising some 1008 hymns, was composed approximately 5,000 years ago, and is the oldest of the Hindu Scritpures and much loved by Hindus and much acclaimed by the rest of the world, not only for its beauty and spiritually inspirational verses, but for its ancient lineage. In the Rig Veda there is special mention of the river Saraswati as a mighty river and as one that sustained life for peoples. The Saraswati is mentioned 72 times. The seers of the Rig Veda hailed it as best among rivers and as flowing from the mountains to the sea. It is therefore, natural to assume that the river existed and that the Rig Vedic hymns were composed along its banks and the surrounding river basin.

However, shortly after the Rig Vedic period, the river disappeared and it is believed that it dried up owing to natural causes such as techtonic shifts. Recent archeological discoveries and evidence from a variety of disciplines such as satellite photography show that the dried-up bed of a large river existed once. The inference then is that the Rig Veda must have been composed before the disappearance of the Saraswati. This dating of the river’s existence and its disappearance shed light on what is a controversial topic today, the date of the Rig Veda and the identity of the people who composed these immortal hymns.

Colonial scholars since the 19th century and their present day followers have created a tradition (somewhat dubious at this stage of Indic studies) that maintains that the Rig Veda was composed circa 1,500 B.C. at the earliest and that it was the work of the Indo Europeans/Aryans who invaded India or immigrated from the Steppes there shortly before that period. Their further belief was that the Rig Veda was composed along the banks of the Sindhu (Indus), some even arguing that it was composed partially, further north. Readers will be familiar with the phrase Aryan Invasion Theory.

In the last two decades both Indian and foreign scholars (who can be described as the New Theorists) have challenged this tradition and reclaimed the Veda as the product of indigenous people, native to the Indian subcontinent. On this new theory the Sanskrit people, the Dravidians and the tribal people who spoke the Munda language were the natives of India and amalgamated loosely into a conglomerate of peoples. Further, that they were the peoples of what has been till recently called the Indus Valley Civilisation and which is now called the Saraswati Sindhu Civilization. Based on the evidence provided by geneticists that all non African peoples migrated out of Africa some 90,000 years ago and one branch travelling along to the Indian subcontinent, and a further movement of peoples from south to north in India some 40,000 years ago, it is argued by the New Theorists that the Veda was composed in India by indigenous peoples and not by invaders from outside the subcontinent. The linguistic evidence also points to the close affinity of the various peoples of the Indian subcontinent. This is described by Dr S Kalyanaraman in his paper Indian Lexicon: An Overview, ll May, 1998 ( His later paper Saraswati - Vedic river and Hindu civilisation (2008) is also a remarkable account of the topic.

The results of this new thinking have been ably presented in the last two decades in books, lectures, papers and conferences. The most recent one was held in November 2008 at an international conference held in October 2008 in New Delhi. The theme of the conference was: The Vedic River Sarasvati and Hindu Civilisation.

A compendium of papers presented at this conference has been published under the title The Vedic River Saraswati and Hindu Civilisation (Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2008, editor Dr. S. Kalyanaraman). The participants in the conference were scholars, scientists and researchers in their respective fields.

The literature on the indigenous creation of the Veda and the identification of the Indus Valley Civilisation as proto Vedic is growing. The works S. Kalyanaraman, N.S. Rajaram, David Frawley and Subash Kak are some of that new thinking.

The rediscovery of the Saraswati revitalises the foundations of Vedic thought. The name Saraswati which the Vedic seers bestowed on the ancient river, which along with the Sindhu, has captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Hindus, also gives new meaning to the later deification of the Goddess Saraswati. She is the repository of learning, music and the arts. Great as was classical India’s achievements in all the arts and sciences (and these have been acknowledged as considerable) they could only have come as the product of a riverine civilization that began with the the four Vedas (the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda) and ended with the profound speculation of the forest treatises, the Upanishads and led the way for the achievements of classical, medieval and modern Hinduism.

What is the secret of the Rig Veda’s continued fascination for all who have encountered it?

Is it the deep devotion that everyday millions of Hindus who see it as the profound beginnings of their culture’s wisdom and guidance? Is it the diligence down the centuries of scholars, savants, sages, saints and the millions of unsung and unknown priests and members of their community that have kept the Rig Veda alive in the consciousness of the people of the subcontinent? Is it simply the compelling beauty of Sanskrit as a language which no one who has heard it can deny?

Some of all of the above, would be an approximate answer. More importantly, for our times, it is about the core values of the Rig Veda, its environmentalism and its emphasis on the unity of humankind, linked to the cosmic universe. Earth, heaven and the entire universe and humans inside it, are the subject of the Rig Veda. The Vedic civilization, along with the native cultures of various parts of the world, especially the Americas, exalt the role of nature in their world view.

The Dutch philosopher, Spinoza, said in the 17th century of the Christian era that Nature and God are one.

Long before that, the Hindus saw Prakriti (Nature ) and Purusha (God) as aspects of the divine principle. This is the letimotif of Hinduism’s beliefs, the basis of its pluralism, its all embracing tolerance. The divine principle is Infinite and therefore limitless. It is not ONLY this or ONLY that. It can be worshipped in a variety of modes and the Rig Vedic mode set a precedent for Hinduism for all time to come.

Hence, the inner connection between the Saraswati and Vedic thought is not to be limited to a geographical nexus. The rediscovery of the ‘lost’ river is a joyful reaffirmation of the Vedic truths propounded on the banks of the Saraswati-Sindhu by sages and seers of the Veda.

The current present day controversy around the Saraswati and the composition of the Rig Veda by the indigenous people of India is a challenging and many ways a welcome one since Hindu/Indian scholars are tested in their mettle at the deepest and foundational level of their culture and religion. The discovery of some 2000 sites of what is formerly called the Indus Valley Civilisation, with almost 80 per cent of them being located at the site of Saraswati may indeed be the clinching argument for the continuity of Vedic civilization with the Indus Valley Civilisation, and its identity with that civilization. The new theorists have not only pointed out various similarities between the two cultures, but also the intimate connection of various beliefs and cultural habits between the Indus Valley Civilisation and the Vedic, a connection which can be seen even today in the Indian subcontinent.

The controversy may rage on between the Aryanists and the New Theorists but with the accumulating evidence centred round the rediscovery of the Saraswati, the latter seem to be winning out.

What is of importance is the opportunity provided to contemporary Indians to give new meaning to the alternative names given to the subcontinent and its rivers. Afterall, it was the Greeks who called the Sindhu, the river Indus. And Bharata Varsha, Hindustan and Bharat can be equally be used for the more modern India. Further, there is the message of the Veda which can never be forgotten. This is the great civilisational advantage of being a Hindu and that responsibility is upon Hindus, since they have inherited an ancient and noble tradition that extols the importance of Bhu (Earth), and the interconnected-ness of all life, cosmic and terrestrial.

In the end, that is Saraswati’s message to all Hindus and all Indians who are part of the Indian subcontinent. It is also the message for all humanity in the New Age.

(The writer taught Political Philosophy at a Canadian university.)

dhama = garland; fish-tail = puccha; rebus: dhamma puja 'worship of dharma' Frieze on Sanchi stupa torana

Copper cart model at Chanhu-daro, the place called Sheffield of Ancient India by Ernest Mackay (1936 Illustrated News of London)Asura tradition in Hindu civilization

Sarasvati is aasuri sarasvati. Varuna, Mitravaruna, Agni, Aryaman, Bhaga, Ams’a, the Sun (Savitr, RV 1.35.10), Rudra (tvam agne rudro asuro maho divas…RV 2.1.6: You, O Agni, (as) Rudra, (are) the asura of great heaven…), Dyaus are referred to as asura. Varuna is asura medhira. One interpretation is that asura is derived from asu, meaning ‘possessing asu’. Asu means ‘life-power’. (Rudolf Otto, Das Gefuhl des Uberweltlichen, Munich, CH Beck’sche Verlangsbuchhandlung, 1932, p. 186). Aditya are asura. Devaav asuraa (in the dual) may mean: asura as deva. The word asura has a positive connotation of power and healing with the power of maayaa in early texts. (…asurasya maayayaa – RV 5.63.3 ‘the magic of an asura in the hymn to Mitravaruna.) Agni is the asura in VS 27.12: tanuunapaad asuro vis’vavedaa devo deveshu devaah patho anaktu madhvaa ghrtena…’may Tanuunapaat, asura, all-knower, god, god among gods, anoint the paths with honey (and) with ghee.’

The toughest context of the use of asura occurs in VS 8.55:

Indras’ ca marutas’ ca krayaayopotthito ‘surah panyamaano mitrah krito vishnuh s’ipivishtaa uuraav aasanno vishnur narandhishah

‘Both Indra and the Maruts when put up for sale, the asura when being bargained for, Mitra when bought, Vishnu s’ipivishta when seated on the thigh. Vishnu the delighter-of-men(?)”

Asura as metal workers

Ayojaala asuraa maayino ‘yasmaayaih paashair ankino ye caranti taams te randhayaami harasaa jaatavedah sahasrarstih sapatnaan pramrnaan paahi vajrah (AV 19.66.1)

“The maaya-possessing asura who have metal nets, who wander about having hooks with nooses made of metal, these I make subject to you with the flame, O Jaatavedas. May you, the vajra having one thousand spears, protect (us) crushing our rivals”

Sod akraamat saa ‘suraan aagacchat taam asuraa upaahvayanta maaya ehiiti. Tasyaa virocanah praahraadir vatsaa aasid ayaspaatram paatram. Taam dvimurdhaa ‘rtvyo ‘dhok taam maayaam evaadhok. Taam maayaam asuraa upa jiivanty upajiivantyo bhavati ya evam veda (AV 8.13.1-4)

“She ascended; she came to the asuras. The asuras called to her, ‘O Maayaa, come’. Virocana the son of Prahraada was her calf. The metal vessel was the vessel. Dvimurdhan the son of Rtu milker her. Thus he milked maayaa. The asuras subsist upon that maayaa. He who knows this becomes one to be subsiste upon.”

Munda have a tradition that a metal-using people called Asura were in India. One group of Munda are called Asura. (Rai Bahadur SC Roy, The asuras – ancient and modern, Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society 12 (1926): 148.

(All translations from Wash Edward Hale after Whitney).

Citation from the google book Asura in early Vedic religion by Wash Edward Hale:

According to FBJ Kuiper, the asura ‘constitute the central problem of Vedic religion' (FBJ Kuiper, The basic concept of Vedic religion, History of Religion 15 (1975): 112

According to R. Shamasastry, Vedic Gods in BC Law Volume, ed. By DR Bhandarkar, KA Nilakanta Sastri, BM Barua, BK Ghosh and PK Gode (Calcutta, The Indian Research Institute, 1945, p. 277-281 -- “…the Vedic gods are no other than the seven planets, the twenty-seven asterisms, Agastya or Canopus and Sunasira, the Dog-star Serius and a few other periodical stars. These are the Devas. The Asuras are the imaginary dark spirits of night…(Thus) eclipses, occulations of the planets are the most important subject matter of the Vedic hymns necessitating the performance of suitable sacrifices to appease the gods.”

Asur, Tziganes, Dom – smiths, artisans

“According to the Birhor, the Asur were the first people on earth to smelt iron. But the smoke coming from their furnaces incommoded the Supreme Being, Sing-bonga, who dispatched messenger-birds to enjoin them to cease their labours. The Asur replied that metallurgy was their favourite occupation and mutilated the messengers. Sing-bonda himself then came down to earth. He approached the Asur without being recognized and, having persuaded them to enter the furnaces, burned them. As a sequel, their widows become spirits off Nature. (Sarat Chandra Roy, The Birhors, 1925, Ranchi, pp. 402 sq.). This myth is found in more complete form among the Munda…a similar myth is found among the Oraons. The twelve Asur brothers, and the three Lodha brothers, all famous smiths, irritate Bhagwan (i.e. God) with the smoke of their furnaces. Disguised as a sick old man, Bhagwan comes down to earth, where he is given shelter by a widow, and the smiths, having consulted him for advice regarding the repair of their furnaces, end up, as in the Munda myth, by being burned alive. (Rev. P. Dehon, Religion and customs of the Uraons, Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, 1906, pp. 121-81, pp. 128-31). The Asur are a tribe of smiths who probably lived in the northern Punjab…Walter Ruben has shown that the probable links between the Asur and the Asuras of the Vedic hymns, those enemies of the gods (deva) with whom they engaged in innumerable combats. (vf. Eisenschmiede und Damonen, pp. 302-3 and passim.)…the Tzigane nomads who are a combination of smith, tinker, musician, healer and fortune-teller. The name given by the Tziganes to themselves is in Europe, Rom, in Armenia, Lom, in Persia, Dom and in Syria, Dom or Dum. ‘It is interesting,’ writes Jules Bloch, ‘that dom in India is the name of a tribe, or rather a conglomeration of tribes very widespread and well known in former times.’ In the Sanskrit texts they are associated with musicians and untouchables, but they are primarily known as smiths and musicians. It is not without interest to note that there are links between the Asur smelters and smiths.. and the dom; before the present dynasty a Dom dynasty, which had originated in the north, ruled over the Asur. (W. Ruben, opcit., p. 9; Jules Block, Les Tsiganes, 1953, Paris, p. 30)” (Mircea Eliade, 1971, The forge and the crucible, pp. 65-66)

“Reuben published a remarkable study of the Asur, a primitive tribe of smiths living in the mountains of Chota Nagpur in India…They formed a community of specialists, divided in totemclans…The single smith was honoured by the surrounding tribes, though he be from a totally different anthropological stock, but as a mass the smiths were despised and hated though feared. Ruben has proved that we have to do with a tribe that originally belonged to a cattle-raising culture, which tribe specialized in metallurgy…The Asur originally lived north of the mountains of the Punjab, where the cattle-raising culture is at home and where the earliest metal objects were found. This culture is certainly connected with early metallurgy also by the fact that they were the first to possess good pottery. We have already pointed out that metallurgy and the possession of proper furnaces are intimately linked and that it is impossible to smelt ores in a camp fire. Coghlan in his interesting experiments at the Borough Museum (Newbury) in 1938 proved beyond doubt that the only primitive furnace that would smelt ores was the pottery kiln, which later on led to special metallurgical furnaces as metal technique improved. But reverting to the ethnological evidence there are many signs that the iron workers of many jungle tribes of southern India are immigrants and form a sort of alien guild or craft, just as much of the practice of iron working in Africa has been spread by the guild of artisans.” (RJ Forbes, 1971, Studies in ancient technology, pp. 62-63) (Water Reuben, 1939, Eisenschmiede und Damonen in Indien, Leiden)

Agaria are iron-smelters. The name signifies a worker with aag or fire. A sub-group Lohaar also exists among agaria. They are found in Maikal range in the Mandla, Raipur and Bilaspur districts and also in Mirzapur and Bengal. The first Agaria made the ploughshare. Two endogamous divisions are: Patharia and the Khuntia agaria. “The Patharia place a stone on the mouth of the bellows to fix them in the ground for smelging while the Khuntias use a peg.” (RV Russell, 2006, The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India, p. 31)

(Verrier Elwin, 1940, The Agaria, OUP)

Bir (kol) asur, birjia asur and agaria asur are sub-divisions among asur people who no live in the districts of Gumla, Lohardaga, Palamau and Latehar of Jharkhand state. They are also found in Bihar, West Bengal, Madhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.. At the Khuntitoli asur graveyard, 56 graves were opened which had 12 or 13 asur earthenware burial urns. The following metal ornaments and other articles were found in these graves (now in Patna museum): bronze and copper bracelets (62), fragments of bronze and copper bracelet (83), bronze ankets, bronze and copper finger rings (28), bronze and copper toe rings (8), bronze and copper bead (103), bronze ankle bells (3), unstamped copper coins (2), bronze ear ornaments (4), stone beads large (18), small (174), bone bead (1), iron bracelets and armlets (8), iron rings (10), iron arrow heads (2), fragments of three bronze plates, cowrie shells, indistinguishable fragments of bronze or copper. (Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society, 1919, SC Roy’s excavation of Asur sites ).

“…the credit goes to India for developing the complex metallurgy and producing alloys of metals. This speaks legions of the metallurgical skill which the metal workers and artisans of ancient India possessed way back in the early centuries before Christ. Such a good understanding of metallurgical processes as involved in metallurgy of zinc may also be a pointer to the overall expertise which the Indian artisan possessed of the fine behaviour of specific minerals in the antiquity. It was almost at this point of time that the famous Damascus steel was being exported to other parts of the world from India. The extraction of zinc may be taken as the culmination of this art (or science).” (Rina Shrivastva, 1999, Smelting furnaces in ancient India, Indian Journal of History of Science, 34 (1), 1999, pp. 33-46.).

Mining of copper in ancient India by Rina Shrivastva, IJHS, 34(3), 1999

Artisanal and small scale mining in India… Mihir Deb et al., Intl. J. of Mining, reclamation and environment, Vol. X, No. X, 2004

Early scribes as controllers of guilds (Mesopotamia)

The rim of a narrow-necked jar is the most frequently occurring glyph of Indus script. This has been decoded as kan.d.a kan-ka (jar, rim); rebus: furnace-altar, mine. Kan-ka is also karn.aka rebus for karn.ika ‘scribe’ of karn.ika guild (used in epigraphs of historical periods on copper plates.

The remarkable organization of the settlements of Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization points to the possibility of the artisans working as a guild. This hypothesis is borne out by the decoding of Indus script (signs and pictorial motifs) as mleccha smith guild tokens listing the guild repertoire. ppt slides

Historical evolution of metallurgy

Stages of metallurgy after RJ Forbes, Fig. 4, p. 8 (RJ Forbes, 1963, Studies in ancient technology, vol. VIII)

Diffusion of metallurgy after RJ Forbes, Fig. 6, p. 23

Use of blowpipes by smiths after RJ Forbes, Fig. 7, p. 29

Iron smelters, Fig. 9, p. 36

Metal-minded Indus

“Rostovtzev pointed out the importance of the Transcaucasian mines both for Sumer and Caucasia. He considers copper industry to have arisen simultaneously in Turkestan, Elam, Caucasia, Mesopotamia and Egypt and maintains that the ‘animal decoration’ was characteristic for this early metallurgical period…

“Even Witter, who stoutly upholds his theory of a separate Middle European metallurgical school of independent growh and even one of the same date as those in the Ancient East, points to the east for the sources of Sumerian metallurgy and stresses the necessity of further excavations in Baluchistan and the Makran to investigate the common source of Sumerian and Indus civilization. Post-war Near Eastern archaeology seems to confirm the hypothesis that we must look for the birthplace of Old World metallurgy in the mountain region stretching from Anatolia through the Armenian Mountains eastwards into Afghanistan. The eastern flank is notably rich in native metals and ores but apart from a few excavations at Anau and in Baluchistan little is yet known on the earlier prehistory of the region…By 2500 BCE the Royal Tombs of Ur show us a profusion of gold, electrum, silver, copper and various types of bronzes…by 2500 BCE the entire region between the Nile cataracts and Indus is metal-minded.” (pp.1-20)

“The typical tinker is the gypsy, whose history is full of curious sidelights on the history of metals. The Hungarians say ‘there are as many smiths as there are gypsies’. They seem to have come from India and indeed their language is intimately related with Sanskrit. Their word for metal or iron is saster (compare the Sanskrit sastra!), copper is called lolo (red) saster, brass dscheldo saster (yellow iron), a typical nomenclature of a people that was originally a tribe of iron-smiths, now the traditional tinker and copper-smith!...The gypsy is the typical tinker who carries his smithy, anvil, firehearth and tools along and who works sitting, a position quite impossible for a black-smith. At the same time he is the fortuneteller and the musician, a combination that is a regular feature of itinerant smiths in other regions. The Roumanians call him calderari or tinker, and spoitori or white-smith and this again illustrates the evolution of a people that left India as a tribe of iron-smiths…Nowadays the smith in Java is a poor, humble man, but all the same he is a special and honoured person…The word for smith is pan.d.e (expert), a word used especially for the black-smith and empu or kyai (Lord, master) as used for the armourer…In Bali the bangsa pande or guild of the smiths was originally a clan or genealogical group…The smith is obliged to hang the small model of a tent (taroeb) under the eaves outside, thereby making his smithy a taroeb or sacral ground and a meeting place of the community. Originally the taroeb was the primitive tribal temple dedicated to Banispati, the cannibalistic Lord-of-the-Forest who is also Panji, the tribal hero. The pandjaq is not only the smith’s assistant, but the assistant of the gamelan or sacred band is also called pandjaq!...It is clear that the early smiths were organized either in castes or guilds. Among nomads and pastoralists we mostly find smith-castes which are always endogamous. The smith-caste lives apart in semi-nomad tribes in a special quarter…Gradually the guilds of gold- and silver-smiths, copper and bronze-smiths separate from the iron-smiths, who are generally held in higher esteem as they forge the weapons and implements. Even here the iron-smith is seldom at the same time a warrior, as he remains at home to look after the supply and repair of arms. Sometimes the smith-clan also embraces members who are leather-workers, wood-carvers or who ply any other trade. The smith is always a mysterious figure, whose work apart from being a continuous source of wonderment to the primitive tribesman, is generally bound by traditional rites and ceremonies. The ritual of the smith’s craft is generally determined by the religious systems of his fellow-tribesmen…The Bambala iron workers consider it impossible to smelt iron without the medicine which they say transforms iron ore into iron. The principal person therefore is the ‘iron doctor’, who has jealously guarded knowledge of the different medicines. The work is carried out in spring only! During the work the smelters live in temporary shelters in a state of strict taboos…The men moulding the kiln for smelting the ores are not allowed to drink any water!...The fire shall always be kept burning and shall be purified by regular offerings…According to Philon of Byblos the ancient Phoenician author Sanchuniaton says that his countrymen called the iron-smith chorosh which also meant ‘magician’, probably because of the intricacies of iron metallurgy and his knowledge of the secret manipulations and necessary rites to purify the ‘new,unclean metal’. In ancient Java the smith bears the same title as a priest. One of the most renowned magicians of ancient Java, who floated on a leaf from India to Java and who understood the art of making gold, was called Loh-Gawe, that is the Sanskrit loha-kara (metal-worker) rendered in Javanese. And nowadays the Protestant minister is often honoured with a title closely related, etymologically, to the Javanese word for smith. Javanese literature abounds with wonder-tales of the smith, whose sakti (mana) is considered to be enormous…An oath on the anvil is considered to be particularly binding and many a magical rite of the smith is connected with the anvil. The furnace also plays a part. The building is often accompanied by imitative rites. Two children are placed in the new furnace and crack beans to imitate the crackling fire, so that the furnace shall burn well later on…The awe for these ‘special stones’ (metal) only grew when the smith learnt to smelt, melt and cast them…metals were endowed with a particular power because of the miraculous transformations that attended their manufacture, as a secondary factor in the wealth of beliefs…By ‘marrying’ male and female ores metals are born, these too have a gender and the ‘marriage of the metals’ is a special feature of medieval alchemy…The smith was a temple of the spirits of the earth and the fire; the smith a priest who by certain rites could accelerate or cause the birth of the metals, the furnace an altar on which the rite was enacted. The belief in the growth of the metals led to the idea of their transmutation, inherent in our mind to the doctrines of alchemy…In the Rigveda Indra is the smith of the gods and the Avesta recognizes the Ameneshpent Kshatra Vairya as the genius of the metals.But the god of the smith, often the god of the earth-fire is a typical example of an ambivalent god, both a saviour and a demon. ” (RJ Forbes, 1963, Studies in ancient technology, vol. VIII, pp. 69-82)

Fig. Greek smith at work (RJ Forbes, 1963, Studies in ancient technology, vol. VIII, cover page; also, p.37)

Fig. Smithy in ancient Egypt Fig. Metalworkers at work in the grave of Ipu-im-re (After Fig. 16 in RJ Forbes).

“Analysis of slow-evolving polymorphisms has identified a single paternal and a single maternal lineage of Indian origin shared by all groups (of Romanies tested…). These lineages belong to a small subset of the known genetic diversity of the Indian subcontinent. Thus, Roma descend from a small ancestral minority in the Indian subcontinent that has subsequently fractured into multiple population isolates within Europe” (Kalaydjieva et al., 1999: 15; Report of June 2001, Centre for Human genetics at Edith Cowan University, Perth; Kalaydjieva, L.; Perez-Lezaun, A.; Angelicheva, D.; Onengut, S.; Dye, D.; Bosshard, N. U.; Jordanova, A.; Savov, A.; Yanakiev, P.; Kremensky, I.; Radeva, B.; Hallmayer, J.; Markov, A.; Nedkova, V.; Tournev, I.; Aneva, L.; Gitzelmann, R.: A founder mutation in the GK1 gene is responsible for galactokinase deficiency in Roma (Gypsies). Am. J. Hum. Genet. 65: 1299-1307, 1999; Kalaydjieva L, Hallmayer J, Chandler D, et al. (1996). "Gene mapping in Gypsies identifies a novel demyelinating neuropathy on chromosome 8q24.".Nat. Genet. 14 (2): 214–7.doi:10.1038/ng1096-214. PMID 8841199) See: Kalaydjieva L, Gresham D, Calafell F (2001) Genetic studies of the Roma (Gypsies): a review. BMC Med Genet 2:5–18

“A Sumerian term for smith, SIMUG, is written with a complex sign that is made up of two others, viz. that for ‘smith’s fire’ (Falkenstein No. 325, which author calls it a smelting furnace, though the pictograms very clearly show the picture of a basin with burning charcoal as used by the smith) and that for ‘foreman’. It seems certain that the word smith meant ‘foreman of the smith’s fire’, which we can compare with the later Accadian nappahu, which literally means ‘one who blows the (smith’s) fire’. The smith in ancient Sumer was a free craftsman; he was linked closely to the temple-state economy that characterizes the ancient civilization. HE belonged to the GIS-KIN-TI (craftsmen), who wre controlled by a priest-smith called SANGU. During URukaginna’s reign he was even elevated to the higher rank of SANGU-GAR. So he was a bondman and remained so for many a century. Even the Codex Hammurabi (par. 274) ordains that the smith shall receive a lower pay than the peasant, because he is only a muskenu, a bondman, controlled and fed by the temple…We hear that the temple-state had central storehouses called AZAG-AN distinguished by a suffix running ‘place where…is kept’ where the imported metal and other goods were stored. However, the Sumerian TIBIRA covered both the Accadian tamkaru (merchant) and qurqurru (metallurgist), like the mercatores of the Middle Ages who were often both artisans and merchants at the same time. Hence the trade was only partly a State-affair and the dam-gar (tamkaru) was allowed a certain latitude to do some business of his own. Hence the lots of 6-12 talents of metal sometimes go to the e-DUB-ba, the State storehouse’, also called ‘house of the silver and the lapis lazuli, the great storehouse’. Several tons of copper were consumed yearly in each Sumerian town and the gold-smith’s shops seem to have worked some 6k of red gold, 8k of refined gold and nearly 6k of silver in one year at Ur. The large part of the metal still arrived at the storehouse at Ur around 2000 BCE, wehre a large staff looked after the eight groups of workers for the administration: sculptors, goldsmiths, lapidaries, carpenters, founders, fullers, tailors and shipbuilders. Each of these ‘guilds’ had a supervisor and the chief of each section also assisted in surveying certain activities of the other sections. The supervisor was the assistant of a gasam: enqu, imqu, the master of a workshop. The controlling office (tun-lal-me) might employ him upto thrice a month. The directors of the storehouse act through inspectors or controllers, who mostly the check the weight of metal and objects fashioned from it…Several contracts between the storehouse keepers and the individual smiths have been found…During the Ur III period he was already a settled citizen with a plot of land, whose fashioned articles were carefully weighed, checked and registered as a he brought them back to be paid a salary expressed in units of barley. We read of contracts for making hoes from 600k of copper, or a number of tools to be made from 500k. In the fifth year of Su-Sin 20 talents of copper were thus issued to the smiths of Ur, and other contracts speak of several hundreds of hacks being made from one lot of copper. A similar organization existed at Tello-Lagash, at Umma the controllers were mainly scribes. The kings of Ur had a great entrepot of metals and other base materials at Drehem (Puzuris-Dagan), where there was no industry, but the craftsmen lived in towns like Sippar (‘town of bronze’) and Eridu (‘town of smiths’), according to Dorsin. We hear about a town called Dur-gurgurri (BAD-TIBIRA ki) that was founded by Sin-iddennam of Larsa and which seems to have been an old Sumerian metallurgical centre as the name means ‘fortress of the copper-smiths’. Its location is unknown but it flourished for many centuries as it still figures in the correspondence of king Hammurabi, when transports of wood-blocks for the metal-workers are mentioned and when it is the scene of an inquiry of bribes taken by officials from the tribute of silver…We know little of the religious status of the smith in Mesopotamia. His patron-god was Ea, who is the patron-god of all craftsmen, later on special patrons of every craft were created and he fire god Girru became patron of the smiths and the goldsmiths…

“Nothing is known of the smith of the Indus civilization, but in Hellenistic India we find that the craftsmen and tradesmen are mostly associated in guilds. Some crafts like mining, gold-and silver-working and the manufacture of arms were government undertakings…The factories for the working of base metals were supervised by the ‘inspector of the base metals’ (Lohadhyaksha), a central authority for urban workshops and those in the country. But on the royal domains the sitadyaksa supervised the smiths who worked there and saw to it that their work was properly done…Still from Buddhist texts we learn that not all the smiths were employed by the state, as they seem to have lived in villages too and to have fashioned agricultural implements freely for their brethren.” (RJ Forbes, pp. 88-96)

Substrate language of Sumer

Tibira, Sangu are pre-Sumerian words (meaning ‘merchant’ and ‘priest’ respectively) – remnants of a language spoken by the inhabitans of southern Mesopotamia before the Sumerian immigration. To the south lay Dilmun and Magan; Meluhha was further east, whose speech needed an interpreter. The sources of this Sumerian substrate may be found in the Indian linguistic area: tam(b)ra is copper; sanga is ‘priest’ in Gujarati.

Tabira, metal worker (See JRAS, 1923, 253 n.2). “The original Sumerian tibira, loan-word tabiru, was transmitted to the Hebrews as tobal, tubal, and then explained by the Hebrew-Arabic word kaiin, metal worker. This combination was discovered by Sayce and communicated to me orally.” (The Sumero-Accadian system of legendary and historical chronology Weld Bundel (cuneiform) collection, 1922, Vol. II, p.8, fn 2) Kudda was mentioned as a priest of Innini and Babbar on a vase found at Warka (?) dedicated to Nimgal of Ur. (ibid., p. 18, fn1; S. Langdon, ed., 1923, Oxford Editions of Cuneiform texts, Vol. II, Historical inscriptions, containing principally the chronological prism, WB.444)

Other substrate words include: engar 'farmer', apin 'plow' and absin 'furrow'. ur 'millstone' (Sumerian)[ur-al 'mortar' (Ta.); ulu_khala (Skt.)] ili 'sesame' (Sumerian) [ellu/u_lu 'sesame oil' (Akkadian); el., el.l.u 'Sesamum indicum' (Ta.); tila, jar-tila 'sesame' (Vedic)](Blazek, V. and C. Boisson, The Diffusion of Agricultural Terms from Mesopotamia. Archiv Orientalni 60, 1992, 16-37) It is possible that IE *kwe-kw-lo- ‘wheel’ may be related to Sumerian gilgul 'wheel'; (GIS-); gigir 'wagon'. a_n.i which occurs in the R.gveda as ‘lynch pin’ is considered foreign to both Dravidian and Vedic. IE rota ‘rotate’ may also relate to urut.t.u ‘roll’; urul. ‘roll’ (Ta.)


17 August 2009

Srivatsa glyph on Sanchi torana created by a scribe of srivastava guild or karanika guild.

[quote] Jāti (in Devanagari: जाति) (the word literally means births) is the term used to denote communities and sub-communities in India. It is a term used across religions. In Hindu society each jāti typically has an association with a traditional job function, although religious beliefs (e.g. Sri Vaishnavism or Veera Shaivism) or linguistic groupings define some jatis. A person's surname typically reflects a community (jati) association: thus Gandhi = greengrocer, Dhobi = washerman, Srivastava = military scribe, etc. In any given location in India 500 or more jatis may co-exist, although the exact composition will differ from district to district. [unquote]āti

Srivastava is one of the 12 clans of brahma kayastha. He is a scribe, a military scribe. Literally, the word means, ‘guru’.

Now, it becomes possible to hypothesise why the glyph on top of the Sanchi torana was called a srivatsa. The glyph was created by the vis'wakarma scribe, srivastava. See the glyph.

The glyph encodes mleccha speech: dhamma kole.l puja (puja of dhamma temple). Rebus glyphs: dama 'tie, knot'; kol 'fish'; puccha 'fish-tail'. The same glyph occurs on jaina ayagapatta and on Begram ivories of ca.1st millennium BCE.

kalyanaraman 15 august 2009

Halebid, Hoysala dynasty, 12th century

Indian Museum, CalcuttaThis exceptionally fine Hoysala sculpture of Sarasvati, goddess of music and learning, is one of the masterpieces of Indian art. Sarasvati can be identified by the palm-leaf book which she extends with her left hand. The Hoysala impulse was to fill every possible space with decoration, not unlike like the Baroque impulse in Western art.

(Above, top): Fragment of a gold bowl with Mesopotamian motifs, dating from the Bronze Age (2500 B.C.), discovered at Tepe Fullol in northern Afghanistan. 2200-1900 BC. Gold. National Museum of Afghanistan. (Bottom, left): Ornament in the form of a ram, Tillya tepe, 1st century B.C. to 1st century A.D. The animal appears to be keeping watch, standing erect and looking straight ahead. The rings beneath the ram’s hooves allowed this ornament to be attached to the high headdress often seen among nomads. Gold. National Museum of Afghanistan. (Bottom, right): Ring depicting Athena, Tillya tepe, 1st century B.C. to 1st century A.D. The name of Athena is engraved in Greek letters written backwards, indicating that the central part of this ring was intended as a seal. As a patron deity of war, Athena is shown wearing a helmet and holding a spear and shield. The Greek goddess was popular among nomads, probably because of her warlike nature. Yellow and white gold. National Museum of Afghanistan. [THIERRY OLLIVIER / MUSÉE GUIMET photos]

Bronze (cire perdue) image, Nataraja. Sivalingas were found in Harappa.Damascus sword from India (Tipu's sword)

Epigraphica samples

J3 July 2009

Indus Sarasvati Civilization – The Mediterranean theory (IA) – Snapshots by Prof. Nick Gier

A)At least three different ethnic types: Austro-Asians, earliest peoples related to Australian aborigines; Dravidians, the people that the Aryans encountered; and the Aryans themselves. This divides up into three different language types, too, with the Northern Indian languages derived from Sanskrit and the Southern languages having Dravidian roots.

Indus river called Sindhu (a river goddess) in Sanskrit. Persians could not pronounce initial "S," so it therefore became "Hindu."

Why did the first great civilizations spring up in some of the driest areas of the world? Not the Mississippi, Amazon, or Danube river valleys, where the sod could not be plowed, but the river systems were the land did not have to be cleared. Alluvial soil easier to plow and very fertile.

Indus cities thrived from ca. 3000 to 2000 BCE and went into slow decline after that time. Two great cities (Mohenjo Daro and Harappa) sprang seemingly from nowhere, fully planned and functional, even more rationally planned than Mesopotamia or Egypt (contrast irregular streets of Babylon. Excellent plumbing and evidence of municipal control over the drainage. City blocks 200 yards by 400 yards. Indoor showers and drains.

Unimaginative but well-designed and sturdy structures. Well built and comparatively spacious housing for workers and slaves. Language still has yet to be deciphered; some scholars discern a similarity with Polynesian languages (specifically Easter Island!). Not much art except for assorted seals.

Agriculture central. Surpluses to support city. Grain and cotton; famous for latter. The harrow only, because the plow was not needed in the soft soil. Some animals domesticated, but not elephant or horse. No irrigation. Some evidence of dam building to flood areas. Did not have iron and mediocre metallurgy (bronze only). Did not penetrate jungle for that very reason. Very poor weapons. No military fortresses, etc. No swords. The people seemed to be extremely conservative; they did not pick up new things even though there is much evidence of trade with Mesopotamia and Persia.

Religion: mother goddess, fertility, etc. Great communal bath at Mohenjo Daro. Definitely for religious purposes. Temple prostitutes. Common also in Babylon. Female figurines and the horned gods with erect penis. Phallus worship. Aryans called them "dark," "phallus-worshiping," "foul-mouthed," and "godless." Horned-god as "proto-Shiva" sitting in the lotus position. Lord of the Forest (Vanaspati) and Beasts (Pashupati). Proto-Venus fertility goddess. The humped-backed bull, but not the sacred cow.

World-wide comparisons: Aryans vs. Indus Valley people; Israelites (non-Aryans) vs. Canaanites; Earliest Greeks (Aryans) vs. Minoans on Crete; Sky-gods and war-gods vs. Fertility gods and goddesses.

Breakdown of Indus Valley Civilization

Three possible causes, and probably a combination of all three:

1. External human forces: Invading nomadic tribes of Aryan warriors. Harrapans had very poor weapons--stone tipped arrows. Aryan war-god Indra vs. Indus pacifists.

2. Natural forces: floods, droughts, radical geologic changes. Natural dams flooded the cities. Back up of salt water from the ocean.

3. Internal human forces: urban pollution and over population. Decline of trade with Mesopotamia. Conservative culture that did not pick up new ideas. Didn’t use their ingenuity to defend themselves.

Pre-Aryan Religious Heritage

1. Ahimsa (non-injury)--the principle of nonviolence

2. Karma and Reincarnation

3. Yoga--proto-Shiva in the lotus position.

4. Worship of Great Goddess--goddess figurines from the Indus cities.

5. Cults of trees, waters, animals, e.g., the fig tree, the most famous being the Buddha’s Bo Tree.

6. Phallus worship connected with the proto-Shiva.

7. Bhaktism--devotion to a savior god. I personally have seen no evidence of this.

8. Village deities, demons, ghosts, spirits

9. Third Eye--the mind’s eye, the eye of introspection and meditation. Perhaps seen on the forehead of nobleman/priest of Indus seals.

New Evidence

Much larger than previously thought. May be the largest prehistoric urban civilization.

May have had a democratic organization. At least more egalitarian than any other civilization.

Largest exporters in the ancient world. 700 ft. long dock in Gujarat.

Suffered depression rather than Aryan conquest. Migration eastward to Sarasvati.

Largest Ancient Civilization

1.5 million square kilometers. Larger than Western Europe.

Iranian border to the West; Turkmenistan and Kashmir to the North; Delhi to the East; and the southern Gujarat to the South.

1,400 sites: 917 in India, 481 in Pakistan, and one in Afganistan.

Sarasvati not Indus?

Most of the sites are in the ancient Sarasvati River basin.

Sarasvati River mentioned in the Rigveda, running between the Indus and the Yamuna Rivers.

Satellite images proved this to be correct.

Some scholars warn that we should stay clear from potential Pakistani-Indian conflict.

Who were these people?

Examination of skeletel remains show that they are directly linked to present day Indians.

Many practices (farming, sailing, jewelry) preserved intact.

The tadoori oven is an Indus-Sarasvati invention.

Indus Chronology

Stage 1: 7000-4000 BC

Beginnings of village farming communities

Stage 2: 4300-3200 BC

Developed farming and pastoral communities

Stage 3: 3200-2600 BC

Agricultural surplus societies, urbanisation

Stage 4: 2600-2500 BC

The big leap. Advanced town-planning and scripts emerge

Stage 5: 2500-2000 BC

Civilization in full bloom

Stage 6: 2000-1600 BC

Dramatic decline in Sindh and resurgence in Punjab and Haryana. Back to farming units

Indus-Sarasvati Egalitarianism

No cult of personality or royal tombs.

Some social stratification but still no control by one class. Competing elites?

Obvious administrative organization (standardized weights, measurements, and brick size) but only regional capitals.

Seals with what looks like a priest but there is no evidence that they had any great control.

BY Nick Gier

Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy

University of Idaho


Dwaraka-Sarasvati (Video)

Bronze age and writing system of Sarasvati hieroglyphs evidenced by two 'rosetta stones'

Two terracotta toys discovered at Nausharo. Sarasvati civilization. The wearing of the sindhur at the parting of the hair is over 4,500 years old. Hair is painted black. Jewelry painted golden. Sindhur is painted red. A stunning evidence that Sarasvati is the Mother of Hindu civilization.Nausharo: female figurines. Period 1B, 2800 – 2600 BCE. 11.6 x 30.9 cm. Terracotta[After Fig. 2.19, Kenoyer, 1998]. At the parting of the hair is sindhur (red); jewelry are painted golden; hair is painted black. Astonishing examples of Hindu civilization. Even today, the practice of wearing sindhur at the parting of the hair is practised by married Hindu women. Truly, Sarasvati river basin is the mother of Hindu civilization exemplified by many abiding cultural traditions which have continued for over 3 millennia.

The rustless wonder by TR Anantharaman

A historical and archaeological account of the famed Iron Pillar in the vicinity of Qutab Minar at Delhi, which is associated with a rather baffling corrosion resistance property. The book also traces the unique metallurgical knowledge of those times. Also translated in Hindi and Tamil. Source:

Where the gods come alive - a monograph on the bronze icons of south India by Raj Baldev, Rajagopalan C., Sundaram CV The Monograph Looks At The Celebrated Bronze Icons From South India With Both Scientific And Technological Standpoints, With Emphasis On Non Destructive Testing And Finger Printing And Artistic Accomplishments. An Useful Volume For Historians, Artists, Art Lovers, Scientists And Common Readers. Source:

The word has to reverberate in every nook and corner of the globe. We are living in extraordinary times; during our lifeime, maa sarasvati is flowing again.

saptasindhu: Sapta Sindhu (Nation of Seven Rivers): Theatre of Pancajanaah, Five Peoples Marius Fontane, 1881,Histoire Universelle, Inde Vedique (de 1800 a 800 av. J.C.), Alphonse Lemerre, Editeur, Paris

Mohangarh sarasvati: Greening of the desert. Marusthali (semi-arid land) becomes marutam (fertile plain). Sarasvati mahanadi roopaa nahar is the name given on the dhvajastambham set up near this nahar at Mohangarh, 55 kms. west of Jaisalmer close to border with Pakistan. The nahar is 40 ft. wide and 12 ft. deep. Now the nahar flows upto Gedra Road in Barmer Dist. Another 15 kms. the glacial manasarovar waters from Mt. Kailas will reach Gujarat. A historic moment in world civilization.

National water grid: Reborn Sarasvati: part of the perspective plan of Min. of Water Resources, GOI. The rebirth of R. Sarasvati will provide an impetus to create a National Water Grid. Surplus flood waters of Brahmaputra can reach Kanyakumari and every river south of the Vindhyas can also become a jeevanadi.

Sarasvati sarovar: At Adi badri, Yamunanagar Dist. Haryana. 80 X 80 m. square. This has become a tirthasthanam in our lifetime. 20 kms. from Kapalamochan, Somb Sarovar. Visited by 9 lakh pilgrims every karthik purnima day to celebrate rina mochan. The present generation will have no rebirth having created a tirthasthanam at the place where the late Moropant Pingle did yajna and started the sarasvati search yatra not unlike the pariyatra of Shri Balarama describd in Mahabharata shalyaparva.

sarasvatiwif: Palaeo (Ancient)-drainage of R. Sarasvati. discovered using satellite images. IRS P3 WIFS image. This adorns the office of PM, a proud display of the brilliance of Bharatiya scientists who have not only re-discovered R. Sarasvati but are also making her flow again. Reborn Sarasvati will provide 24X7 waters to 20 crore people.

Vedic Sarasvati: The entire course of the Vedic River Sarasvati has been mapped. cf. KS Valdiya (2008)

mtkailasshivalinga: Plate X [c] Lingam in situ in Trench Ai (MS Vats, 1940, Excavations at Harappa, Vol. II, Calcutta) S'iva linga found at Harappa is shaped like the summit of Mt. Kailas, From the Manasarovar glacier at the foothills of Mt. Kailas emerge 10 greatest rivers of the world. One of them is Vedic Shatadru (Sutlej), the anchorage river of Vedic River Sarasvati. The others are: Yangts, Huanghe, Mekong, Irawadi, Salween, Brahmaputra, Sindhu, Sharada, Sarasvati.


The Saraswati: The mother of Indian civilization. Inaugural address delivered on 24 October 2008 by Prof. BB Lal in the Conference on Vedic River Sarasvati and Hindu Civilization held at India International Centre, New Delhi

Sarasvati – Vedic River and Hindu Civilization by S. Kalyanaraman (2008)

Vedic River Sarasvati and Hindu Civilization (ed.) S. Kalyanaraman (2008) – Compendium of Papers presented at the Conference on the same subject held at at India International Centre, New Delhi between Oct. 24 to 26, 2008

Harappan and Mohenjo Daro civilizations were extensions of Sarasvati or Vedic civilization : BB Lal

Your sindhur is 3,000 years old

By Kumar Chellappan

Deccan Chronicle, 1 November 2008

Sindhur, the uniq ue marking on the foreheads of Indian women, dates back to the third millennium BC. Even during the early days of civilisation women used to wear the sindhur or tilak on their foreheads, excavations along the now defunct Saraswati river have proved.

“The Indian woman had adorned her forehead with sindhur as a symbol of marriage. This perhaps also indicated the existence of a structural family life in an orderly society,” Prof BB Lal, former director general, Archaeological Survey of India told Deccan Chronicle.

“We came across the sindhur in terracotta figurines from the sites along the states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Carbon dating confirmed the fact that these terracotta figurines date back to the third millennium BC,” said Prof Lal.

“Similarly the practice of greeting one another with namaste and the criss-cross pattern of furrows on farm lands, seen even today in Haryana and Rajasthan, date back to the Saraswati era,” he said. The Harappan and Mohenjo Daro civilisations were only extensions of the Saraswati or Vedic Civilisation, according to Prof Lal.

“Since the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo Daro happened simultaneously in 1920, they are known as Harappan civilisations. But the Saraswati civilisation is much older than that of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro,” said Prof Lal.

He said that linguistic differences between the Saraswati civilisation and the one that existed in South India came to be known as the Aryan-Dravidian divide. “In the third millennium BC, there was this southern Neolithic culture in the region which later became the states of TN, AP and Karnataka,” said Prof Lal an archaeologist of international repute.

Celebrating Sarasvati as divinity of music and other arts

Metaphor: pavo cristatus, peacock.

Habitat: Sarasvati-Hindu civilization linguistic area

Mayuri (Peacock), 19th century India Wood, parchment, metal, feathers; L. 112 cm (44 in.) The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.163) in Metmuseum, New York

Indian Peafowl

Order: Galliformes Family: Phasianidae Genus/Species: Pavo cristata

See peacock, peahen picture

See peacock dance video

See peacock cry video

Peacock cry: jeevan jeeva video

Depiction on a funerary urn as maraka 'peacock' rebus: 'death'; jeevan jeeva 'long live'.

See peacock-peafowl dance video

National InsigniaNational Insignia

The Indian peacock, Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus), the national bird of India, is a colourful, swan-sized bird, with a fan-shaped crest of feathers, a white patch under the eye and a long, slender neck.

The peacock is widely found in the Indian sub-continent from the south and east of the Indus river, Jammu and Kashmir, east Assam, south Mizoram and the whole of the Indian peninsula. It is protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection) Act, 1972.

Distribution and Habitat

The Indian Peafowl occurs from eastern Pakistan through India, south from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka. Though once common in Bangladesh, it may now be extinct in that country. Its highly ornamental appearance motivated early seafarers to transplant the peafowl to their homelands in other parts of the western world. Phoenician traders in the time of King Solomon (1000 BCE) introduced the birds to present-day Syria and the Egyptian Pharaohs.

In its native India, the peafowl is a creature of the open forests and riparian undergrowth. In southern India, it also prefers stream-side forests but may also be found in orchards and other cultivated areas.

Antiquity and origin of the term 'Hindu' -- Murlidhar H. Pahoja (2005)

Sarasvati Darshan

 (Version 1: Sarasvati darshan)

Sarasvati River: Village Mana, Badrinath

The Story of India- World's Oldest Civilization-Beginnings- Sarasvati River' (31 Oct. 2008)

Sarasvati river - beginnings of Hindu civilization

Aryan invasion theory, proven false – India (December 28, 2007)

Aryan invasion/migration is a myth

The video shows how the Britishers filled in an inferiority complex into the already sad post Moghul invaded India through their Aryan Invasion theory to convert all Indians into their culture and religion (Christianity).

A vast number of statements and materials presented in the ancient Vedic literatures can be shown to agree with modern scientific findings and they also reveal a highly developed scientific content in these literatures. The great cultural wealth of this knowledge is highly relevant in the modern world. Techniques used to show this agreement include:

•Marine Archaeology of underwater sites (such as Dvaraka)

•Satellite imagery of the Indus-Sarasvata River system

•Carbon and Thermoluminiscence Dating of archaeological artifacts Scientific Verification of Scriptural statements

•Linguistic analysis of scripts found on archaeological artifacts

A Study of cultural continuity in all these categories.

Dholavira: a futuristic metropolis of the past

A film on Dholavira, Gujarat which bags the Best National Film Award for Creative Contributions in Marketing Tourism Products.

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