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Indian Beads in the Mediterranean

Excavations conducted in Turkey, Greece and Israel has revealed stone beads that can be traced back to workshops in and around India. Among these sites, the oldest contact is with Israel dating from 3000 BCE to 400 BCE. This was before the Mature Harappan period (2600 – 1900 BCE) and after cotton from Balochistan was found at Dhuwelia in Eastern Jordan dating to 4000 BCE. This is also much before the formation of Israelites as people with a separate identity and much more closer to the period the first dynasties were getting setup in Egypt.

Following this, the next contact was with Turkey, dating from 2300 to 1180 BCE and with Greece (2200 – 1200 BCE).

The beads were all studied using a combination of stylistic analysis, raw material sourcing, and technological analyses of shaping and drilling using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The 3rd millennium beads reveal the presence of different perforation techniques, including the wide spread technology of drilling with a pecking technique, and the use of tapered cylindrical stone drills. In addition, there is evidence for the use of emery abrasives with solid or tubular copper drills. The most significant discovery is the presence of beads perforated using constricted cylindrical stone drills that are characteristic of drilling technology of the Indus civilization (circa 2600-1900 BC). Some of the beads from later levels appear to have been drilled using single or double diamond drills which is a technique that also can be traced to the South Asian sub-continent. These discoveries provide a new source of information for trying to understand the complex exchange systems that linked the Mediterranean regions with West Asia and South Asia during the Bronze Age and early Iron Age. The identification of these long distance contacts and the long period during which they occurred has significant implications for other studies of technology, artistic styles, and even ideologies between these distant regions. [The 42nd Annual Conference on South Asia]


As I had written before, all of this is not surprising and these data points fit well into the model that has been constructed before. But here is an interesting thought: If traders from the subcontinent were traveling to far off places like Israel or exchanging goods via a trading network or if people from those regions in the Mediterranean were visiting the subcontinent, what was the language of trade? Was it Proto-Indo-European or something else?  If Indian traders or ideas were traveling West much before the mythical Aryan invasion time, who influenced whom?

One Response to Indian Beads in the Mediterranean

  1. TAMILKELVAN (@kelvan1978) May 23, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    It is puzzling to note that the WESTERN HISTORIANS are adopting different standards of world history for INDIA AND REST OF WORLD. For India the IndoAryanas are barbaric nomads but possessed with chariots and beautiful langauage but for rest of world IndoAryans are not as much as barbarian as projected in india. As per Western history the entire Indo Europeans are far more civilised from CELTS in Great Britian to HURRITES in Middle East. Viewed in this perspective it is no surprise that prehistoric Turk is advanced even in 7000BC and during Pharaoah’s period in 2600BC they entered into matrimonial alliance with Pharaoahs.Now if we compare the present position of India vis-avis Western world and prehistoric India vis-a-vis MIDDLE EAST the position is similar. The prehistoric Middle East is far more advanced than India. Further India is not known to be manufacturer of glass beads or precious stones. THERE HAVE been manufacturing units of glass beads in KODUMANAL/PALANI and precious stones brought from SWARNADWEEP/SRILANKA for export to Middle East. Thus considering the proximity of SIND to Middle East probably there would have been land route itself and the so called IVC/SARASWATHI CIVILISATION would have been only a SEZ of those times employing Indian labour for export to Middle east. The icons of IVC with its robe around waist point to the similarities of SUMERIA and the seals amazingly resemble only the SUMERIAN legends with the skeleton figures halfman-half animals falcons near the human forms with elongated tails wings etc., Further it is amazing to note that in the temple paribasha of Srirangam the term MELUHA REFERS TO SANDALWOOD only and hence MELUHA would probably been a port in West Coast from where sandalwood was exported. However the DECCAN HISTORY starts only from sixth centuryp BC and in spite of tall claims there had been no evidence of skilled habitation aroun d 3000BC in DECCAN. hence thencockand bull stories of IVC/SARASWATHI CIVILISATION should be put to an end and IVC/SARASWATHI CIVILISATION was only a manufacturing SEZ for MIDDLE EAST

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