The Indus Colony in Mesopotamia – Part 2

(Ziggurat at Ur)

Read Part 1
Even though direct trade declined, a large number of foreigners stayed back, adopted local customs, and played an important role in Sumerian economy. These foreigners stayed in a village — a Meluhhan village — from 2062 B.C.E; we have documents from this period. This village was located in an area called Lagash in southwestern Mesopotamia which had cities like Girsu, Nina, and a port city and area called Guabba which had the temple of Nin-mar[5]. The Meluhhan village in Guabba and was associated with this temple.
Guabba was probably a harbor town under the jurisdiction of the Girsu/Lagas but by the time of Ur III, it was not near the sea,  but could only be reached by inland waterways.A large number of granaries existed in Guabba where the temple was located. The granaries had to deliver barley and the Meluhhan village granary was one of them[10][11].
Thanks to the meticulous record keeping by the Sumerians we get a good picture of what these Meluhhans did. In 2062 B.C.E, a scribe of the builders received barley from the Meluhhan village. In 2057 B.C.E, there is account of grain delivery, the details of which is mentioned against a tablet of one Ur-Lama, son of Meluhha; the inventory of barley deposits in 2047 B.C.E mentions the quantity from the Meluhhan village. By 2046 B.C.E, there is a debt note:Ur-Lama, son of Meluhha has to recompense some wool. In 2045 B.C.E, the list of grain rations mentions the son of Meluhha, who was the serf of the Nanse temple from the delta[10][11].
During the Akkadian times, the Meluhhans were considered as foreigners, but by Ur III period they became part of society – paying tax and distributing grain — like other Sumerian villages. Compared to other towns and villages, the amount of grain delivered by the Meluhhan village was quite high. Between 1981-1973 BC, Ur was ruled by Amar-Sin and between 1972-1964 BC by his brother Shu-Sin. During the sixth year of the former and eighth year of the latter, barley was delivered only by the Meluhhan granary. Maybe the Meluhhan granaries were bigger or there was a third millennium jaziya[11].
Besides the granary, few people of Guabba — 4272 women and 1800 children — worked in the weaving sector. The Indus region was famous for cotton since 4000 B.C.E: one of the earliest evidence for exports from the subcontinent is Baluchistan cotton which was found in Jordan. So probably the residents of Guabba were skilled weavers from the Indus region[11].
Besides weavers, the village also had shepherds; the Ur III texts also mention a Meluhhan goat. The temple of Ninmar had two gardens out of which one was Meluhhan. This was probably a garden planted with fruit trees from Meluhha and provided fruits for the goddess. Also by the Ur III period, the Meluhhans had adopted Sumerian names. It seems the overseer of the Nanshe temple was a Meluhhan and there was a Meluhhan worker in the temple. Thus instead of following their religious traditions, the Meluhhans adopted the Sumerian ones[11].
Even though we have a better idea of the Meluhhans in Mesopotamia, these texts don’t help us in identifying Meluhha; We don’t know how far it was from Ur. Also no where in the texts the Meluhhans are mentioned in being in touch with their homeland. There is a mention of a Meluhhan skipper, but he was involved in domestic trade.
The Language Turner

(Cuneiform letter to King of Lagash)

Few years back, Gregory L. Possehl, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, was reading Leo Oppenheim’s Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization, when he discovered a reference to a personal seal of a Meluhhan translator — Shu-ilishu — who lived in Mesopotamia. Possehl tracked down a photograph of the seal as well as got a fresh impression from the original seal (pic). The seal was dated from Late Akkadian (2200 – 2113 B.C.E) to Ur III (2113–2004 B.C.E)[3].
Think about this: Around 4000 years back, there was a man in Mesopotamia who could speak Meluhhan as well as Sumerian or Akkadian. He could read those Indus tablets. This is not surprising since the Meluhhan merchants would have handled the imports from Meluhha and exported Mesopotamian goods to their homeland. Since the translator worked with Meluhhans and Mesopotamians, he would need to speak multiple languages.
This suggests that there is probably a bi-lingual tablet somewhere in the region where Shu-ilishu lived. If such a tablet is found, it could be the Rosetta stone which would solve a 134 year old mystery forever. We will know if the Indus people were literate or illiterate, spoke some variant of Indo-Aryan or proto-Dravidian or Klingon. This find could end the dispute over the indentity of the Harappans.
While no bi-lingual seal has been found so far, various Indus seals have been found in Mesopotamia. G.R. Hunter, who in 1934 concluded that Brahmi was derived from Indus script, observed that square Indus seals could be in Indus language while the circular ones, though in Indus script, could be encoding a non-Indus language. He has a reason for suggesting this: there is one particular circular Mesopotamian seal which has five Indus signs in a sequence not seen before; a square seal found in Kish was similar to the Indus ones[10].
That has not helped in decipherment. The number of Indus seals found in Mesopotamia are not too many. About thirty seals have been found of which only ten can be dated with certanity. With trade relations lasting centuries this is a disappointing count. So our hope of finding a bi-lingual tablet depends on finding a Sumerian cuneiform tablet.
Another clue could come from the translations of Ur III texts. Mesopotamians were prolific writers: We know what Sargon of Akkad wrote; we can read the seal of Queen Puabi; there are numerous texts which describe in detail how much tax was paid, debt was kept and who broke whose tooth. Due to this meticulous record keeping we can reconstruct the history of people from the Indian subcontinent in Mesopotamia during the period when Khufu was building the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The news about the Meluhhan village came in a paper published in 1977 based on ten Ur III texts from Lagash/Girsu[10]. Last year there was another update based on the translations of 44 texts which has 48 references to Meluhha. The text which connects the Meluhhan village with Guabba is located in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum and was first published in 1912; no one noticed the connection till recently. Hopefully with revived interest in this topic, scholars will keep an eye for such clues which will help us solve this puzzle.

  1. The place Ur is important in the Abrahamic religions since it is  the birth place of Abraham. According to tradition Abraham lived from 1812 B.C.E to 1637 B.C.E. Since there is evidence for the granary delivering grain between 1981-1973 B.C.E and also between 1972-1964 B.C.E, it is possible that Meluhhans were around during Abraham’s time as well. That is if Abraham is a real historical character. According to Bible’s Buried Secrets — a historical analysis of the Hebrew Bible — the Babylonians exiled the Caananites in 586 B.C.E. It was while living in Babylon, near Ur, that a scribe, named “P” created the Abraham story to enforce the concept of the covenant.
  2. Many thanks to Hari and Ranjith P for their help in this research.
  3. Images from Wikipedia.


  1. Iraq’s ancient past at University of Pennysylvania
  2. The Middle Asian Interaction Sphere by Gregory L. Possehl
  3. Shu-ilishu’s Cylinder Seal by Gregory L. Possehl
  4. Dionisius A. Agius, Classic ships of Islam(BRILL, 2008).
  5. Charles Keith Maisels, The emergence of civilization (Taylor & Francis, 1990).
  6. Hammurabi (King of Babylonia.), (University of Chicago Press, 1904).
  7. Asko Parpola, The Horse and the Language of the Indus Civilization,in The Aryan Debate edited by Thomas R. Trautmann (Oxford University Press, USA), 234-236.
  8. Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate (Oxford University Press, USA, 2004).
  9. Michael Roaf, The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East (Facts on File, 1990).
  10. Simo Parpola, Asko Parpola, and Robert H. Brunswig, “The Meluḫḫa Village: Evidence of Acculturation of Harappan Traders in Late Third Millennium Mesopotamia?,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 20, no. 2 (May 1977): 129-165.
  11. P.S Vermaak, “Guabba, the Meluhhan village in Mesopotamia,” Journal for Semitics 17, no. 2 (2008): 553 – 570.

The Indus Script – Analysis

(A letter in cuneiform sent to King of Lagash)

Read Part 1, Part 2.
There are two points the Dravidian camp and the Indo-Aryan camp agree on: the signs are mostly written from right to left and they are logo-syllabic. Bryan Wells was able to decipher the script as Dravidian and even read words from it. Subhash Kak has not deciphered the script, but has shown that it bears similarities to Brahmi script and the language could be an Indo-Aryan one like Prakrit. If we had lengthy sentences in Indus script, we could validate both these claims with confidence.
When it comes to the decipherments, the literature is overwhelmingly in favor of Dravidian, proto-Dravidian or early Kannada-Tamil.  This comes not just from Indian scholars, but also Soviet and Finnish groups which have worked on this problem.Compared to this the Indo-Aryan angle has very little support; most books don’t even mention this possibility.
But is the Dravidian case rock solid? Assume for a moment that Dravidian or proto-Dravidian was spoken by the Harappans, when they lived in the urban settings. Now if Indo-Aryans forced these people — people who lived in well planned cities —  to move to South India, what happened to their urbaneness.? There is not a single Harappan site in any of the South Indian states dating to that period or for that matter any later period. Thus if Dravidians did indeed move from Indus valley to South India, they would have moved from an advanced Bronze Age culture backwards to a Neolithic culture[2][5].  This parallels another explanation where the urban residents of BMAC became pastoral cattle breeders by the time they reached Indus Valley.
Continue reading “The Indus Script – Analysis”

The Indus Script – Decipherments

(Asokan inscription in Brahmi)

Read Part 1
When say “deciphering the Indus script” there are two aspects to it. The first is the structural analysis which looks at the signs which are used the most, the relationship between the signs etc and the second is assigning various sounds to the symbols to attempt a reading.
In 1968, the Russian linguist Yuri  Knorozov who assisted in the Battle of Berlin and later decoded the Mayan script found internal structures in the Indus seals using software analysis. Based on that he read the text as proto-Dravidian. One of the signs in the Indus script is that of a man carrying a stick. This for Knorozov  represented the posture of Yama or Bhairava hence he thought it was one of the predecessors of one of such gods. He also read the script and one such reading is ‘[day of the [god] -guardian honored leader, lightning of the cloud worthy hero’. The criticism of Knorozov is that while his analysis was useful, the reading was pure guess work[1].
But how did Dravidians, who currently live in the four Southern states, end up in the Indus Valley? According to one version, Proto-Dravidian speakers moved into the Indus Valley from Iran some time between 6500 and 3000 B.C.E. These people, who derived Proto-Dravidian from Proto-Elamite-Dravidian, developed the Indus culture over a period of 2000 – 4000 years[1]. When the Indo-Aryans arrived, sometime after the collapse of the Indus Valley, Dravidian was the dominant language.
Continue reading “The Indus Script – Decipherments”

The Indus Script – Introduction

(Lothal, according to the ASI)

4000 year back, in Lothal, Gujarat, a merchant walked from his home in the lower town towards the wharf. As he walked past the bead factory, he saw the artisans already at work there; some of these beads were in demand in lands as far away as Mesopotamia. Crossing the public drain and the acropolis he reached the wharf. There were quite a few ships waiting to carry goods to Dilmun, Ur, and Lagash.
He glanced to his left, in the direction of the worker’s barracks, located at the far end of the wharf and quickly walked to the opposite end – towards the warehouse. All the goods were bundled and tied as expected. As he walked to the first bundle, one of his workers put some wet clay on the rope. He took a rectangular seal from the folds of his dress and pressed it hard on the clay. Satisfied with the impression, he moved on to the next bundle. When the recipient got the shipment, he would know exactly what is contained.
There are good reasons to believe that such a scenario could have happened. One probable use of Indus seals was  in economic activity; the seals found in Lothal had impressions of a coarse cloth on their reverse and sometimes several seals were used to mark the goods. Besides this, there is enough evidence of trade relations between the Harappans and Mesopotamia going far back to the time of Sargon of Akkad (2270 – 2215 B.C.E) and even before that to 4000 B.C.E with the find of Baluchistan cotton in Jordan.
In 1875, Major-General Clark, who was the Commissioner of Awadh, discovered the first seal which had the engraving of a hump-less bull and six signs above it in Harappa[3]. 134 years later we don’t know what is written on those seals; there are many decipherments, but no consensus. While papers are coming out, applying various statistical methods to find out if the Indus seals encode a linguistic system, there is another debate over if these small palm size steatite seals with random looking inscriptions represent Indo-European, proto-Dravidian, Munda or some other language.
Why is decoding the Indus script and language so hard when Egyptian hieroglyphics, Linear B and cuneiform have been deciphered? In the case of Egyptian hieroglyphics and cuneiform there was bi-lingual encoding, like the Rosetta stone, which helped. When it comes to the Indus, which is an unknown script representing an unknown language, we don’t have that luxury. Linear B was deciphered without bi-lingual text which gives hope, but then Indus seals are short. The average length of a seal is 5; the longest single sided inscription has seventeen signs. With such data, deciphering the seal is a hard task.
When it comes to the Indus seals we want answers to these questions:

  • What is the script?
  • What is the language?
  • What is the subject matter?
  • Were the Harappans Vedic people or Dravidians?

Continue reading “The Indus Script – Introduction”

Iraq Museum Reopens

Stuff Happens“, that was Donald Rumsfeld’s response when asked about the looting that happened in Baghdad following the US invasion of Iraq. One of the places that got looted was the Iraq Museum which carries artifacts from as far back as 9000 B.C.E. There was the usual mango man (aam aadmi) style looting where people ran into the museum and grabbed random millenia old artifacts, but there was also professional work where they broke through concrete walls.

Initially it was thought that 170,000 pieces had disappeared; soon the number was reduced to 15,000. Eventually it turned out that only 33 pieces were missing. An important object that disappeared was the Warka Vase, which is dated to 3200 – 3000 B.C.E. Then one day a red Toyota stopped by:

“The red Toyota spluttered to a halt in front of the Iraq Museum and three men in their early twenties jumped out. As they struggled to lift a large object wrapped in a blanket out of the boot, the American guards on the gate raised their weapons. For a moment, a priceless 5,000-year-old vase thought to have been lost in looting after the fall of Baghdad seemed about to meet its end. But one of the men peeled back the blanket to reveal carved alabaster pieces that were clearly something extraordinary. Three feet high and weighing 600lb intact, this was the Sacred Vase of Warka, regarded by experts as one of the most precious of all the treasures taken during looting that shocked the world in the chaos following the fall of Baghdad. [The Iraq War & Archaeology]

Finally after 6 years the museum opened, in February. Well, sort of. You can visit if your name is Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. It will take much longer before an Iraqi mango man can stand before the exhibits, look at the cuneiform inscriptions of ancient Sumer, and wonder about the Meluhhans who could read that tablet. Till then even we Meluhhans have to visit it virtually.

Pavlopetri, Dwaraka etc.

That is the video of a 5000 year old submerged town —- almost a complete town with separate buildings, courtyards, streets and graves — in Greece. Pavlopetri was a harbor town which dates to between the Minoan civilization and the Mycenaean Greek culture, which coincides with the de-urbanization of Harappa.

“This site is unique in that we have almost the complete town plan, the main streets and domestic buildings, courtyards, rock-cut tombs and what appear to be religious buildings, clearly visible on the seabed. Equally as a harbour settlement, the study of the archaeological material we have recovered will be extremely important in terms of revealing how maritime trade was conducted and managed in the Bronze Age.” [World’s Oldest Submerged Town Dates Back 5,000 Years]

Recently The Archaeology Magazine had a feature on 12 great underwater discoveries — of submerged sites, Bronze Age ship wrecks and European ships —- and they left out underwater archaeology in India.

In 2002, in Mahabalipuram, “underwater investigations showed the presence of the remains of walls as well as large stone blocks, which seemed to correspond to the time period of the surviving shore temple. Excavations carried out by ASI in 2005 also revealed the remains of two structural temples, found near the shore temple.” Also after 2004, the “naval diving team, assisting the Archaeological Society of India, also discovered another structure perhaps a temple 100 metres north-east.”

Similarly the ASI conducted excavations near the Dwarkadheesh temple and Gomti Ghat in Dwaraka.They found “a structure of stone blocks with post holes to fit wood”, and “coins, pottery, pieces of bangles and toys”

Previous under water excavations revealed about 120 anchors. These anchors often had three holes of which the upper one was used for tying a rope and the other two holes for holding wooden flukes. The Underwater Archaeology Wing recently found what they call fragments of ancient structures. It is not known of it is part of a wall or temple and so it is classified as part of some structure. One of the structures consists of stone blocks with holes to fit wood and the age of that is unknown.[Dwaraka Update (2)]

Also, a circular wooden structure made of stone and wood was found. Murli Manohar Joshi claimed that finds in Dwaraka were 9500 years old, but science disagreed: some of the finds were dated to 2280 B.C.E.

The Aryan Debate: Horse

In 1974, archaeologists J. P. Joshi and A. K. Sharma found horse bones in Surkotada, a Harappan site in Gujarat. This was a sensational discovery: first, it was the bones of a horse and second, it was dated to the period 2265 B.C.E. to 1480 B.C.E, which corresponds to the Mature Harappan period[1].

Finding horse remains, especially from India, are always controversial. For example, one of the earliest claims of horse is dated to 4500 B.C.E in the Aravalli range in Rajasthan – the same place from where the Harappans got their copper. This period is the same time when horse was first domesticated in the world. So there are questions: was the artifact obtained from a Bronze Age level even though the site was Neolithic? Was it really a horse — the Equus Caballus —rather than a donkey or onager.?

Due to the large size of bones and teeth of an onager, it is hard to distinguish it from a horse. Also sometimes the reports that come with excavations have insufficient measurements, drawings, and photographs required for independent assessment[1]. Due to this the findings are always suspect; it is always concluded that the horse arrived quite late to India.

Such questions arise because in the Indo-Aryan debate — if Vedic civilization pre-dated, co-existed or followed the Harappan civilization — a key factor is the horse. In this debate the main argument against Harappa being Indo-Aryan can be summarized as follows.

  1. According to the popular version of Indian pre-history, horse — an animal not native to India — was bought to India by the Indo-Aryans when they came in 1500 B.C.E. There is no evidence of horse in India before 1500 B.C.E.
  2. Among the numerous seals found in Harappa there is none which represent a horse, while other animals like the bull, buffalo, and goat are represented.
  3. In Rg Veda, the horse (asva) has cultural and religious significance. Since there is absence of horse in Harappa, it can only mean that the Vedic people arrived after the decline of the Harappan civilization.

The find at Surkotada upset this narrative because it crossed a lakshman rekha into Mature Harappan and also violated the threshold for the Indo-Aryan arrival. Hence the findings themselves became suspect – at least till 1991.

The eminent archaeozoologist, Sandor Bokonyi, was in Pune to attend a workshop on ‘Prehistoric contacts between South Asia and Africa’ at the Deccan College. Following the conference he spent some time in Delhi where the Excavation Branch of the ASI showed him the finds from Surkotada which consisted of six samples, mostly teeth. After examining the artifacts, he concluded that they were not of a half-ass, but a real domesticated horse[7].
Continue reading “The Aryan Debate: Horse”

Historical News (1): Pazhassi Raja, MMW, Neolothic Axe

  • From Newspapers
    1. Karur coins of Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians
    2. According to Dr. Nagaswamy, Tamil scholar Francois Gros of the Ecole Francais Extreme Orient, Pondicherry, suggested the study of all the Karur finds and assessment of their archaeological significance, along with the role of Karur in the history of Tamil civilisation. The studies clearly proved that the presence of these foreigners had left a far deeper impact on the economy, defence, arts and architecture than imagined earlier.

    3. Recently Edakkal Caves in Kerala has been a hub of discoveries: A Neolithic axe was found in  Ambukuthy hills and one of the caves had an Indus Valley sign.
    4. Of the identified 429 signs, “a man with jar cup”, a symbol unique to the Indus civilisation and other compound letters testified to remnants of the Harappan culture, spanning from 2300 BC to 1700 BC, in South India, Mr. Varier, who led the excavation at the caves told PTI.The “man-with-the-jar” symbol, an integral remnant commonly traced in parts where the Indus Valley civilisation existed, has even more similarities than those traced in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, he said.

    5. Kesavan Veluthat has a review of Thomas Trautmann’s The Clash of Chronologies
    6. In the 18th century, when prehistory had not been known and the western intellect was struggling under the burden of biblical chronology, either the world outside Christendom had to be fitted within the scheme or the scheme itself had to be thrown overboard. Sir William Jones was trying to vindicate the “short chronology” of the Bible, with creation located some four millennia before Christ, in opposition to the Enlightenment tirade against the Bible and what it represented. Thus, an ethnology deriving the peoples of the world from the children of Noah, a philology starting with the tower of Babel and a cartography derived from Ptolemaic notions tried to fit the new information into its mould — however hard that was.

  • Movies
    1. One historical movie which is currently in theatres is Pazhassi Raja, based on the true story of a Malayali prince who fought a guerilla war against the British in 1795.

    2. One historical movie which looks to be good is Agora, which is based on the life of Hypatia, the female astronomer and mathematician, who lived from 370 CE – 415 CE.

  • Podcasts
    1. If you have been fascinated by Ardi, Out of Africa theory and the like, one course worth listening is  the MMW1 (Prehistory and the birth of civilization) from UC San Diego. This time they are offering three tracks online, which is the same course taught by three different professors. I have been listening to the one by Prof. Tara D. Carter.
    2. This term Prof. Matthew Herbst is teaching MMW4 (New Ideas and the clash of cultures). Prof. Herbst is one of the best teachers of history as we have noted before and his lectures are highly recommended.

Indic influence in ancient Syria and Egypt

Mention ancient Egypt and the names we remember are Tutankhamen, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. For an Indic connection there is Ramesses II – the Pharaoh who had peppercorns stuffed into his nose. Though he was dismissed as a rebel and heretic, one Pharaoh who deserves attention is Nefertiti’s husband and Tutankhamen’s father Akhenaten (1353 – 1336 BCE) – the first known monotheist and probably the founder of monotheist intolerance.
Recently BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time (via Anne) had an episode on Akhenaten and one of the issues they discussed was why did Akhenaten, in a polytheistic Egypt, insist on the worship of only the Sun disk Aten? Was that a shift in theological thinking or a political move to divest the powerful priests of Amun of their power?
There is no clear answer for why in the third year of his reign Akhenaten started the construction of the new temple dedicated to his Sun god. In some incomplete inscriptions Akhenaten mentioned that things were bad during the reign of his father and grandfather, but it is not clear what was bad. This is also a bit surprising since the reign of his father — Amenhotep III — was  one of those prosperous times in Egyptian history[1].
But another possibility — one which is rarely mentioned — is that Akhenaten’s father-in-law, one Tusharatta, was a Mittani king in North Syria. His wife Kiya was a Mittani and his mother Tiye was half-Mittani. The Mittanis were a warrior elite who ruled over a Hurrian population. But what’s special about them is that they spoke an Indo-Aryan language.

In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, Indic deities Mitra, Varun. a, Indra, and N¹asatya (Asvins) are invoked. A text by a Mitannian named Kikkuli uses words such as aika (eka, one), tera (tri, three), panza (panca, ¯ve), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine), vartana (vartana, round). Another text has babru (babhru, brown), parita (palita, grey), and pinkara (pi _ ngala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of visuva (solstice) very much like in India. It is not only the kings who had Sanskrit names; a large number of other Sanskrit names have been unearthed in the records from the area.[Akhenaten, Surya, and the R. gveda2]

But is this language Indo-Iranian, Iranian or Indo-Aryan or to rephrase: did the Mittanis speak the PIE branch of India.? That matter was settled in 1960 by Paul Thime[3].

There are several reasons, but to be brief, I shall only give three: 1. the deities Indra,Mitra, Varun.a, and Nasatya are Indian deities and not Iranian ones, because in Iran Varun.a is unknown and Indra and Nasatya appear as demons; 2. the name Vasukhani makes sense in Sanskrit as a “mine of wealth” whereas in Iranian it means “good mine” which is much less likely; 3. satta, or sapta, for seven, rather than the Iranian word hapta, where the initial `s’ has been changed to `h’.[Akhenaten, Surya, and the R. gveda2]

How did this Indo-Aryan speaking population reach Syria and Palestine in the 14th century B.C.E? There are four possibilities[3].

  1. This group split away from the Iranians, colonized the Mittani kingdom and then reached India.
  2. One group split away from Iranians and moved to India, while another group went to the Near East.
  3. The Indo-Aryans reached India and then went back to Near East.
  4. Indo-Aryans, a Vedic speaking tribe from India left for the Near East taking their gods with them.

Among these (1) is not considered as serious possibility while (2) is the most commonly accepted one. Sten Konov argued for (3) while Frederick Eden Pargiter supported (4). According to H. Jacobi (who believed that the Mittanis came from India), since the worship of Vedic deities was happening in 14th century Mittani kingdom, it would have happened in India much earlier. Jamna Das Akhtar and P.E.Dumont thought that the dates were even earlier[3].
In fact there are many arguments in support of (4). Archaeologists have not found Central Asian, Eastern European or Caucasian culture in the Mittani kingdom. At the time same time they found the peacock motif – something which could have come from India. Based on this Burchard Brentjes argued that Indo-Aryans were settled in the Near East much before 1600 B.C.E[3].With all the trading relations between various parts of India and the Near East, dating as far back as 4000 BCE with the find of cotton in Dhuwelia and carnelian bead in  Mesopotamia in the third millennium BCE, the migration of Indo-Aryans is not a fantasy tale.
Thus with all the Indo-Aryan culture around him, is it possible that Akhenaten got the idea of “One Truth” and the worship of the disk of the sun from it?[2]
There is another related mystery: how this concept of the worship of one God, which disappeared from Egypt, surface in Judaism much later.? The most common explanation is that probably Moses, who according to the Hebrew Bible led an exodus, took the idea to Israel. But archaeology has revealed that the Exodus as mentioned in the Bible never happened. One theory is that they adopted it from a desert people called Shasu? Is there any other explanation?
Postscript: Finally it would take Tutankhamen, the boy king who is currently in San Francisco, to restore the old Egyptian culture back.

  1. In Our Time, BBC Radio 4
  2. Subhash Kak, Akhenaten, Surya, and the Rg veda,July 17, 2003
  3. Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate (Oxford University Press, USA, 2004).

Cretaceous Park, Tamil Nadu

The most important science news the past week has been Ardi: Science had a special issue; there was extensive media coverage both in print and radio; Discovery channel is telecasting a documentary next week. At the same time news of the the 4.4 million year old hominid species that lived in the Afar Rift region of northeastern Ethiopia came out, there was news from India, of a 65 million year old find – of Dinosaur eggs.

On a sultry afternoon on September 12 this year, Ramkumar and his research students went to Ariyalur to scour the rocks and sediments as part of a study funded by Indian and German scientific institutions. As they paused by a stream on a grazing land at Sendurai, they found spherical-shaped fossils peeping out of the sand beds. “We got really excited. As I have seen a dinosaur egg, I was sure these were dinosaur eggs,” said Ramkumar.
A quick digging revealed clusters of eggs beneath seven layers of sand spread over two sqkm. The eggs may not have hatched due to the Deccan volcanic eruptions or seasonal flooding, surmise the team. “We suspect the extinction of dinosaurs was triggered by the Deccan volcano. Volcanic ashes cap the eggs,” said one researcher. [India’s Jurassic nest dug up in Tamil Nadu]

National Geographic has a photo of the egg. Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi has the analysis of the eggs belonging to the Cretaceous period.