3500 year old stone and Tamil Nadu politics

Recently a neolithic stone, shaped like a hand held axe which had some Indus valley signs on it, dating to between 2000 BC – 1500 BC was found near Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu. Does this mean that the people of Tamil Nadu and people of Indus Valley shared the same language. Some experts think so. Some people who are not experts, like Karunanidhi also think so for political reasons. Who would have thought that archaeology would be an election issue?

Taking note of AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa’s remarks calling him a ‘traditional enemy’, in an obvious reference to her Brahmin caste, Karunanidhi told an election rally here that recent archaeological findings of Indus valley scripts in Mayiladuthurai in Nagapattinam district indicated that the people who lived in Tamil Nadu belonged to the Dravidian race similar to those who lived in the Indus valley[MK vows to develop Dravidian culture]

Finding a stone with Indus script in Tamil Nadu does not prove that people belong to the same race, for all you know, it could have been left behind by travellers or traders. As Michael Danino writes

Language apart, I wish to stress that the implication made in the articles (and relayed a few days later by a prominent politician of Tamil Nadu) to the effect that the Harappan civilization is “Dravidian” is wholly baseless and has long been rejected. Some of the reasons for this include: (1) the absence in the archaeological record of any clear southward migratory pattern, especially through the Deccan; (2) the phenotypical continuity between the Harappan physical types and today’s types in the same region, which precludes any massive southward migration; (3) recent genetic studies pointing to the indigenous origin of Dravidians in the South; (4) the absence of any Dravidian names in the toponymy and hydronymy in India’s North-West; (5) the growing consensus among linguists that Brahui (a Dravidian dialect in Baluchistan) is an import of the historical period into the region, not an ancient relic; (6) finally the fact that the Harappans could not have migrated to the South and reverted from an advance Bronze Age culture to a Neolithic or Megalithic one, forgotten all about their typical crafts and techniques, pottery designs, urbanism.[Michel Danino at India Archaeology]

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