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Tag Archives | Before 1 CE

Stegodons in India

The stegodon was a elephant like animal that lived in Asia about 5.3 million to 1.8 million years before present. These animals were about 13 feet high, 26 feet long and had 10 feet long tusks. Stegodons were earlier considered to the ancestor of elephants and mammoths, but now they are considered to be the sister group of the mammoth and the Indian and African elephant. Recently archaeologists from the ASI (where else?) found some tools in Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum which resemble the stegodon.

The deep elephant-shapped furrows stunningly resembled ‘stegodon’, the first of the true elephants that had probably roamed in this part of the world during the ‘pleistocene’ period, the official said. Chauhan said the length of the ‘elongated’ truck is very long and the about four-inch imprint point to a primitive species. “This unusual figure of an elephant on the stone at Basadera takes one back to a primitive period,” he said.

“The technique ‘block-on-anvil’ and ‘block-on-block’ adopted to shape and size the tools found by us and their striking similarity with the tools discovered in the river valley indicate the age of human habitation which could be older than the one discovered near Jamshola by the anthropologists from Kolkata,” he said. The discoveries should be enough pointer to the perception that East Singhbhum might have seen transformation of primitive men, he said. [Vital clues about primitive human beings]


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Adichanallur skeletons spill beans

In 2004, there was a spectacular archaeological discovery in Adichanallur, near Tirunelveli when 2800 years old human skeletons were found in urns. These urns also contained writing resembing early Tamil Brahmi. Later a three-tier burrial system was discovered in which earlier generations were burried in urns at 10 ft depth and recent ones above them. Soon the habitational site of the people who were burried was also discovered.

Analyzing the habitational site, it was understood that people lived in a fortified town and it had a separate potters quarters. There was also evidence of industrial activity and archaeologists think that it was a crowded busy town. The analysis of these skeletons have revealed some new facts.

  1. These people were tall, contradicting an earlier hypothesis that pre-historic Indians were short
  2. People consumed refined food, though there is no description of what constitutes refined food
  3. They had Southern Mongoloid features indicating sea trade between east coast of India and south east Asia in 800 B.C.


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What Aryan Invasion – II

“The perennial concept of people, language and agriculture arriving in India together through the northwest corridor does not hold up to close scrutiny,”

The proponents of the Aryan Invasion/Migration theory believe that Central Asian people bought agriculture to India. Also since we Indians descended from them, there should be some evidence for this in our genetic makeup.

May such theories are being put to rest now. Newly surfaced evidence shows that agriculture developed in Middle Ganga Valley much before Europe. Research by Oppenheimer, Michael Petraglia and Hannah James show that Europeans are descendents of people from India. Two recent genetic studies done in India dispute the European parenthood theory.

A study by scientists at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Calcutta has revealed that most present-day Indians are the descendants of early humans who began to arrive in India about 60,000 years ago. It suggests that modern Indians do not owe much genetic makeup to central Asians who arrived much later.

The findings do lend support to the migration of people from central Asia into India.

“Although we did find genetic signatures from central Asian populations in Indian communities, there are not enough (signatures) to prove large-scale mixture with local populations,” research team leader Vijendra Kashyap told The Telegraph.

“The perennial concept of people, language and agriculture arriving in India together through the northwest corridor does not hold up to close scrutiny,” Kashyap and his colleagues at the University of Oxford and the Estonian Biocentre said in their research paper.[Aryan impact myth crumbles]

A separate study by Partha Mazumder at ISI Calcutta also proves that genetic signatures of Indian men are older than 10,000 years and this predates the arrival of Europeans in India.

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The First Farmer: From India?

The findings indicate that people residing in this area too started farming 10,000 years back

Recent discoveries in archaeology are pushing back the dates of many civilizations. The discovery of murals and writing in a Mayan site in San Bartolo in the lowlands of northeastern Guatemala pushed the dates for Mayan art and writing to 250 – 100 B.C. Now a single grain of rice is showing that developed civilization may have existed in India about 7000 years back, much before the Harappan civilization.

The Archaeological Survey of India had started excavating many sites across the country looking for evidence of cultures that pre-dated the Indus Valley Civilization and the main sites are Virana (Haryana) and Lahudadev (UP)

“This would mean that there were pockets were urbanisation would have started before the well-developed urban civilisation of the Harappans,” said Mani.

But now we have studied a variety of rice that was obtained from the Lahura-Deva site, which revealed that there were regular farming and cultivation activities going on in 6th century BC,” he said.

Mani also said that revelation of developed cultures should not be misunderstood as a separate civilisation.

“We have also received pieces of pottery and other evidence from sites like Lahura-Deva and they have created a lot of curiosity as they can themselves become a tool to trace the evolution of Harappan civilisation,” he added. [Grain of rice points to pre-Harappan culture]

The discoveries in Lahuradeva site also indicate that Middle Ganga Valley would have been the home of the first farmer. Previously it was believed that agriculture began in West Asia in a region known as the Fertile Crescent with the domestication of barley and wheat. Later a new Fertile Crescent was discovered in China where rice cultivation began much before agriculture in West Asia. In the Indian subcontinent wheat and barley cultivation began in Kachi Plain in Baluchistan(Pakistan) in the seventh millennium B.C.

Now recent excavations show that people in this region took to farming and domestication of animals much earlier.

Lahuradeva has now provided the answer. The archaeologists here have found remains of carbonised material containing grains of cultivated rice along with wild grass. There are several layers of ancient civilization buried under the mound â?? as the archaeologists found out when they dug deeper..

The findings indicate that people residing in this area too started farming 10,000 years back. Talking to Hindustan Times, director State Archaeological Department Rakesh Tiwari said the habitation deposits had been divided into a five-fold tentative culture sequence, including Early Farming Phase, Copper Age, Early Iron Age, NBPW and Early Centuries BC/ AD.

The cultural remains of Early Farming Phase, including potsherds, charred and un-charred bones, scattered small pieces of charcoal, small burnt chunks of clay, a small piece of stone and tortoise shell, were found here. Ceramic industries of the period consisted of hand made red ware, black and red ware, he said. [The â??first farmerâ?? belonged to (UP) India, says ASI]

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What Aryan Invasion?

Steatite statue of a high priest
or official; circa 3000 B.C.,
found at Mohenjo-Daro

Stephen Oppenheimer concluded by genetic studies that people moved into India from Africa initially and rest of the world population were descendents of this group. University of Cambridge researchers Michael Petraglia and Hannah James came to the similar conclusion by analyzing fossils, artifacts, and genetic data. So if there was a migration, it was from India to Europe and not the other way. Does this prove that there was no Aryan Invasion/Migration?

While the above migrations happened about 85,000 years back, the theory of Aryan Invasion/Migration talks about what happened around 4000 years back. This is what Dr. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, who has been excavating in the Indus city of Harappa has to say

The transition from one culture to the next was gradual as seen at Harappa, and there is no evidence for invasions by outside communities such as the so-called Indo-Aryans.

Although some scattered skeletons were discovered in the later levels, they do not represent warfare or raiding, and there is no evidence that the site came to a violent end. [Decline and Transformation]

Now the BBC has updated their page on the history of Hinduism to reflect this. So why are some people still holding onto the invasion theory? A good answer comes from Suhag A Shukla, who was the legal counsel for the Hindu American Foundation in the recent California textbook controversy.

There is no evidence of any invasion or any war. Honestly, the people who have held onto the Aryan invasion theory, probably based their entire careers on that particular theory and have expounded that through their research, they have a vested interest in not seeing it disappear.[‘I am not for rewriting Hinduism’]

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