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THE HARAPPAN QUESTION

Mayank Vahia
Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
Vol. 88 (2007), pp. 43-59
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41692084
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
THE HARAPPAN QUESTION
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Abstract

One of the major problems of interpretation of early Indian history has been the inconsistencies between the Harappan (Indus Valley) civilisation and the Rigvedic literature. Problems arise from the fact that the Harappan Civilisation was at its peak around second millennium BC (Allchin and Allchin, 1989 page 131). The period of creation of the Rigveda has also been put around 4000 to 2000 BC, though the writing down of the text has been dated to a much later period around 2000 BC or later. The Rigvedic literature and its subsequent developments have also been in the Indian subcontinent. There has therefore been a strong temptation to connect the Harappans to the Vedic Civilisation. However, there are several problems with this association, most graphically portrayed in the 'horse problem' (Thapar, 2003). Horses are integral to most Rigvedic ritualistic customs while they are absent in the Harappan sites. There are several other problems also. We re-visit this controversy in the light of some recent developments and suggest that the Harappans belonged to the ancient Homo sapiens who separated from the humans migrating from Africa as early as sixty thousand years ago and travelled along the coast of the Arabian Sea (Wells, 2003). This group lost touch with the group that migrated to the Mediterranean and evolved independently of them. We suggest that it was this group that set up the Harappan civilisation. We suggest that the group that went to the Mediterranean eventually moved east at the end of the Ice ages and passing through northern Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan entered India (the Indo-Iranians) where they met the earlier migrants who had come along the seas. They met at the Harappan sites sometime around two and a half thousand years BC. We base this suggestion on new data on the genetic make up of aboriginal Indian tribes (Thangaraj et al., 2002) and other studies of human migration, dating of separation of languages (Gray and Atkinson, 2003) and broad based studies of prehistoric human evolution (Mithen, 2003) as well as other evidence about the appearance of horses in Asia, etc. We propose that the Vedas were composed by the Indo Iranian but they included upon the learning of the Harappans and this mix of knowledge is also visible in the Vedic literature, especially in the astronomical information in the literature.

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