Sunday, 13 January 2019

Mahābhārata and archaeology: the chariot of Sanauli and the position of Painted Grey Ware


Director SK Manjul from ASI showing the chariot from the excavation site at Sanauli

One of the great archaeological news of 2018 has been the discovery of the 'chariots' in Sanauli, UP, a village in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab where an archaeological site has been found, labelled as Late Harappan or Ochre Coloured Pottery/Copper Hoard. An interesting article from News18 says:
Spate of excavations in Uttar Pradesh’s Sanauli and Chandayana have thrown open possibilities of new cultures for the current archaeologists and they differ from Lal’s hypothesis. Lal correlated the ‘Painted Grey Ware Culture’ of archaeology to Mahabharata and bracketed it in the 1100 BC time frame. The new hypothesis now strikes the correlation between Ochre Coloured Pottery (OCP) with the Mahabharata Culture, which brackets it in 2000 BC. 
Based on the excavations conducted under him in Sanauli, where a chariot was found in June, SK Manjul, the director of Institute of Archaeology, under Archaeological Survey of India, delivered a lecture in July 2018 in Delhi. The title of the talk was “Mahabharata and Archaeology: PGW vis a vis OCP/Copper Hoard Culture.”

In the lecture, Manjul made a case for OCP as a culture relation to Mahabharata. The presentation was: “The hypothesis given by BB Lal and others on the basis of archaeological findings in the lower strata at Hastinapur and similar findings from other sites mentioned in the Mahabharata correlated Painted Grey Ware Culture with the Mahabharata Era.” Lal noticed Painted Grey Ware from important sites mentioned in Mahabharata and time bracket of war suggested around 1000-900 BCE. But recent excavations in Sanauli, Barnawa and Chandayana have a different story to tell - that of much earlier culture OCP. [...]  
As per the archaeologists, who are votaries of the New Hypothesis, PGW is marked with “rural settlements, pit dwellings and hut. There are weapons, arrow, head small, spear head [maybe arrow head and small spear head?], agriculture tools, bone points, metal iron. No chariots found. It shows limited and distinct pottery traditions. It has very less information on Vedic rituals and traditions.” 

On the other hand, the archaeologists say that the OCP is marked with “Advanced weapons and tools, antenna sword, harpoon, celts, dagger and shield, metal copper and advance chariot found. Advance pottery tradition including metal pots. Also, it has similarity with Vedic rituals.”
This connection was already proposed by S.P. Gupta and it was advocated also in a 2017 article by Vinay Kumar Gupta and B.R. Mani about Painted Grey Ware. I have also supported it in my article about the chronology of Mahābhārata and Ṛgveda, after having determined that the great battle should be placed in the year 1432 BC, a date based on the astronomical details from the poem and on the recurrent Purāṇic statement about the 1015 or 1050 years between the birth of Parikṣit (contemporary with the battle) and the coronation of Mahāpadma Nanda that can be placed in 417 or 382 BC (see the article for more details). About the archaeological connection, I wrote there: 
If we look at archaeology in order to find a corroboration of this date, we cannot reasonably pretend to find traces of the battle, but we do have some interesting elements for comparison. In the late 15th century B.C. in the area of Kurukṣetra we still have Late Harappan settlements, and in one of them, Bhagwanpura, particularly close to the supposed site of the battle, we find Late Harappan pottery together with Painted Grey Ware, dating here from 1400 B.C.[i] It is well known that according to B.B. Lal this ware is related to the Mahābhārata period because it is found in many localities mentioned in the poem, like Indraprastha (the capital of the Pāṇḍavas, identified with Purana Qila in Delhi), Hastināpura (the capital of the Kauravas), Ahicchatrā (the capital of North Pañcāla) and Kauśāmbī (the capital of South Pañcāla). But we have another ware that is present in the area of the Kurus (Upper Doab) and in the same sites of Hastināpura, Ahicchatrā and Kauśāmbī in the II millennium B.C., namely the so-called Ochre Coloured Pottery, as already observed by S.P. Gupta.[ii] This is the pottery of the first level of the aforementioned sites, it is generally dated 2000-1500 B.C., but the thermoluminescence tests on sherds from Atranjikhera, Lal Qila, Jhinjhana and Nasirpur have given dates between 2650 and 1180 B.C.[iii] About Hastināpura and Kauśāmbī, there is the important tradition that the fifth successor of Parikṣit, Nicakṣu, abandoned the first city, because it was carried away by the Ganges, and made the second one his capital.[iv] B.B. Lal has claimed that this is confirmed by the PGW levels of Hastināpura, where there are traces of a partial flood, and by the fact that we can find a similar PGW culture in Kauśāmbī. But we can observe that also the first, OCP level, of Hastināpura was abandoned, and that also in Kauśāmbī there are OCP levels which have been only hypothetically dated by Sharma in 1960.

[i] Kenoyer (2006, 43).
[ii] Gupta and Ramachandran (1976, 47-9).
[iii] Ghosh (1989, vol. I, 174-5).
[iv] Pargiter (1922, 285); Singh (2004, 143).  

I also noticed that PGW is absent from Gujarat, although places like Dvārakā and Prabhāsa in Kathiawar have a central role in the poem in connection with Kṛṣṇa and the Yādavas. And, if Kṛṣṇa's Dvārakā is to be identified with the submerged city found by S.R. Rao near Bet Dwarka, and, as he said, “it is possible to postulate on structural, ceramic and inscriptional evidence that Dwarka was built in the 15th century B.C. when the sea level was lower than at present and was submerged within a hundred years”, we have another confirmation of this chronology, because according to the poem (see here) the city was submerged 36 years after the battle, that is, in 1396 BC, and at the same time the remaining Yādavas abandoned Kathiawar towards Indraprastha after the massacre of their clans called Vṛsṇi, Andhaka and Bhoja. According to Kenoyer, most Late Harappan sites in Gujarat have a break after 1400 BC. Also Mukhtar Ahmed in a book on the end of the Harappan Civilization observes that the Lustrous Red Ware (that was found also in Bet Dwarka) continues until around 1400 BC, and afterwards there is a break in the archaeological record at most sites until around 600 BC. The coincidence is really impressive, and since it appears to confirm so precisely the account of the Mahābhārata we wonder if there are material traces of the migration. Mukhtar Ahmed says that Lustrous Red Ware was found also in Navdatoli III and Ahar IC, in the Ahar-Banas culture. Pargiter (p.279) wrote that the river Banas or Parṇāśa is connected with the Yādava king Devāvṛdha, brother of Andhaka and Vṛṣṇi, and his descendants reigned at Mārttikāvata, "which was apparently in the Śālva country around Mt. Abu", that is, in South Rajasthan where the Ahar-Banas culture was. And Arjuna established one of the emigrating Yādava princes, the son of Kṛtavarman, in Mārttikāvata. 

There was another kind of pottery common between Gujarat and this region, namely, the Black and Red Ware (BRW), that had a very long tradition in the Ahar-Banas culture, especially in Balathal, from the 4th millennium BC. The same kind of ware is dated 1450-1200 BC in the Western Ganges plain. This age of start is remarkably close, although there is also the theory that it came from the BRW tradition of the Eastern Ganges valley. As the Japanese archaeologist Uesugi has written (see here): "During the second millennium BCE, the black ware industry was present in the Ganga Valley and southern Rajasthan and made its appearance in the western Ganga Valley and northern Rajasthan, to which the black ware industry was introduced either from the eastern Ganga Valley or from southern Rajasthan, as this region was widely occupied by the Bara‐OCP complex during the early second millennium BCE. There is no conclusive evidence for determining from which region the black ware industry [was] introduced to the western half of the Ganga Valley, but the morphological features of BRW and BSW [Black Slipped Ware] from this region suggest their introduction from the eastern Ganga Valley rather than from southern Rajasthan." However, later on he says: "Noteworthy is that BRW and BSW in the western Ganga Valley include shallow bowls/dishes in their formal assemblage (Figure 9: 22, 23). The origin of this form cannot be revealed with the currently available evidence in the Ganga Valley, but as it was absent in the assemblage of the eastern Ganga Valley during the early second millennium BCE (Purushottam Singh 1994, 1996), it can be presumed that this form emerged during the late second millennium BCE in the Ganga Valley." But shallow bowls were present in the Ahar-Banas BRW (see here and here).

So, if BRW came to Western UP from Rajasthan, we would have a sign of the migration of the Southern Yādavas, taking their seat in the area of Indraprastha in the Doab, where Arjuna brought "the bulk of the people", as Pargiter says and installed Vajra as king. On the other hand, in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa Arjuna establishes Vajra as king in Mathurā, which is much more logical, since Mathurā was already a Yādava capital before the invasion by the king of Magadha Jarāsandha that compelled Kṛṣṇa to go to Dvārakā.





Uesugi continues: "In the western Ganga Valley and northern Rajasthan, the black ware industry is identifiable as having an independent phase between the Bara‐OCP phase and the PGW phase and as continuing to the following PGW‐dominant phase (Gaur 1983). Even in the Ghaggar Valley, BRW and BSW are known to be associated with PGW, although there is no independent phase of BRW and BSW in this region. These pieces of evidence imply that the black ware industry and PGW had some relations."

So, the Painted Grey Ware in the Doab comes after the BRW, and in the Ghaggar valley they come together. This means that the PGW culture is connected with that local tradition, and not with an alleged western migration. What Uesugi also remarks is that the PGW pottery is radically different from the previous Bara-OCP pottery of Late Harappan affinity for the forms and the painting motifs. He also doubts that the overlap of PGW and Late Harappan in Bhagwanpura is real, because it concerns only potsherds and not full vessels in burials. However, even if we accept the overlap, we have to do with two different traditions. Was the PGW culture the result of the arrival of the southern Yādavas? According to Uesugi, the area of origin of PGW can be the Ghaggar valley: "The region of origin of PGW has not been specified, but the dense distribution of PGW sites in the Ghaggar Valley and the cultural sequences in different parts of North India suggest that PGW developed in the Ghaggar Valley. However, it is important to repeat that PGW did not have direct relations with the Bara‐style pottery which was widespread in the preceding period but had connections with the black ware industry in the Ganga Valley. Therefore, the origin of PGW must be searched in its relations with the black ware industry in the east, that is in the connection between the Ghaggar Valley and the Ganga Valley during the second millennium BCE. This is a hypothesis to be tested against more evidence in future studies." 
I find quite difficult to accept that the PGW culture could develop in the Ghaggar valley where the local tradition was completely different. It seems more likely that it developed where there was already the similar BRW-BSW. Another region with high frequency of PGW sites is the region of Mathurā or Braj region, as noticed especially by the already cited article by Kumar Gupta and Mani: "The Braj region for sure presents the most dense settlement pattern in the entire sub‐continent and the area west of Yamuna has to be the core area of the PGW where the minimum area required for the presence of a PGW settlement comes out to be just about 16 sq. km. [...] Now, we have quite solid grounds to speak about the authors of the PGW culture. The PGW using people were indigenous to the area where their settlements are found in high density, i.e., the Braj region. They did not come from outside. Their pottery technology seems to be an advancement over the pre‐existing Black Slipped Ware and plain grey ware technology, so they were in continuity of the earlier folks who used Black Slipped Ware with grey core and plain grey ware."

If the Braj or Mathurā region was the place of origin of the PGW, it would be of Yādava origin. Anyway, it is clear that the PGW culture spread in the Kuru-Pañcāla kingdom that was central in the late Vedic period of Brāhmaṇas, a more peaceful culture compared to the Ṛgveda: in the same way, PGW culture seems less warlike than OCP/Copper Hoards, as the same article remarks: "The Mahabharata was a period of continuous warfare and the limited weaponry evidence from PGW horizons does not favour it whereas Copper hoards are associated with OCP on a secure ground and the Copper hoard implements might be indicative of an atmosphere of warfare."
  
In fact, the new discoveries from Sanauli/Sinauli show us a warrior culture with swords and chariots, but this culture is not only typical of the Mahābhārata: also the Ṛgveda mentions battles, warriors, chariots, and sometimes swords and spears (asi and ṛṣṭi). If the age of the Sanauli chariots is 2000-1800 BC (or also 2100 BC as I have heard from another source) it would correspond to the age of the early Ṛgveda according to my chronology. Finally, we would have the concrete representation of the rathas of those ancient hymns.

Painted Grey Ware
   






Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Were the Mitanni Aryans really Indo-Aryans?





Mitanni (or Mittani) is a famous kingdom of the 15th-14th century BCE in northern Mesopotamia, famous especially because of the evident 'Aryan' (Indo-Iranian) nature of the names of its kings and deities. 
The most common theory, is that they were more precisely Indo-Aryans, and it is repeated everywhere, although Kammenhüber maintained that the language is still Indo-Iranian and Diakonoff has proposed instead a connection with Dardo-Nuristani people. Mayrhofer himself in his article Indo-Iranisches Sprachgut aus Alalah said that the words used, except aika (see below) are not specific of Indic, but are common Indo-Iranian. He remarked that even when they are not attested in Iranic, since the Old Iranian documents are limited, the 'only Indic' character of the word cannot be proved e silentio.
This alleged Indo-Aryan identity has been used to date the Ṛgveda, suggesting that it must be dated at the age of Mitanni or after it, since the Mitanni Indo-Aryan appears as more archaic than the Ṛgvedic language itself. So, let us see what are the arguments of this identification.

The most repeated reasons of the Indo-Aryan identity are s- instead of Iranic h- and aika- for 'one' (in aikawartanna, 'one turn' of the horse) instead of Iranic *aiwa- attested in Avestan and Old Persian. Now, Iranic h- from s- seems to be a late phenomenon, as Mayrhofer has shown from borrowings into Elamite, it is not earlier than the 8th/7th century BC (see here), at least in Western Iran. The change is attested in the Avesta, the date of which is not sure, but it can be after 1000 BCE (in any case it should not go beyond 1300 BCE), and the region is Central Asia, quite far from Mitanni. Old Persian is closer, but is attested from the 6th century BCE. About Median we do not know much, but it is interesting that the capital of the Median empire, Ecbatana in Greek, Hamgmatāna- in Old Persian, can be referred as Sagbat/Sagbita in Assyrian texts (see here). Also the theonym Assara Mazaš (for Ahura Mazdā) in an Assyrian list of gods, dated 8th/7th century BC, has revealed a Median form with sibilant (see here). On the other hand, among the names from Nuzi we have Artaḫuma, which can be compared with a name in Elamite document, ir-da-u-ma, interpreted by Hinz 1975 as *ṛtā-humā 'through the right Order lucky', and he cites other names in Elamite or Akkadian starting with uma-, like u-ma-a’-pi-ri-a, interpreted as *humāfrya 'Phoenix-dear?' (because the Humā bird in Persian mythology is a sort of phoenix, associated with good fortune). The Persian term humā is derived from Middle Persian humāy and seems to be related with Avestan humāyā 'beneficial; blessed'. So, maybe Artaḫuma means 'blessed through Truth' and reveals a form with aspirated sibilant. It can be due to a different dialect, like Old Persian.    

As to aika-, it is curiously ignored how also in many Iranic languages there are terms for 'one' derived from that root (see here), for instance Middle Persian ēk, Farsi yak, Kurdish yek, Zaza e:k (see here). Nuristani languages, besides Ashkun ach and a Waigali variant ēk, have forms of ev/ew, therefore the Nuristani connection does not seem so strong.
Also interesting is a remark from Raulwing's article on Kikkuli's treatise on horse training:
HERZFELD describes that in 1929, Riza Schah Pahlavi held horse races near the Afghan border of 3, 5 and maximum 9 rounds of 1.4 km (nearly a mile); as HERZFELD enthusiastically points out, “exactly as in Kikkuli’s and Haosravah’s times, and the horses were not tired at all”. 
So, it seems that in Iran the tradition of an odd number of rounds for horses until nine, as in Kikkuli's description, was still alive in the 20th century.

Of course, another strong argument for the Indo-Aryan identity is the mention of 'Vedic' gods in the treaty between the Hittite king Suppiluliuma and the Mitanni king Šattiwaza (here a translation): Mitra, Varuṇa, Indra and Nāsatya.  Let us see how is the reading of the cuneiform texts in the two versions of the treaty, one for Mitanni and one for the Hittites (from Fournet 2010):

DINGIR.MEŠMi-it-ra-aš-ši-il DINGIR.MEŠA-ru-na-aš-ši-il DINGIRIn-da-
ra DINGIR.MEŠNa-ša-at-ti-ya-an-na

DINGIR.MEŠMi-it-ra-aš-ši-il/-el DINGIR.MEŠÚ-ru-wa-na-aš-ši-il
DINGIRIn-tar DINGIR.MEŠNa-ša-a[t-ti-ya-a]n-na 

So, the name Mitra is clear, Indra is rather Indar, and Nāsatya is Našattiya with short a. These are minor differences but we cannot speak of exact identity with the Vedic forms. And all these three deities are present also in the Avesta: Mithra is one of the main yazata or worshipped deities, Indra and Nåŋhaiθiia had become important daēuuas ('pagan' gods, therefore demons), mentioned in the Vīdēvdād/Vendidad (see here). Also Mayrhofer, in the aforementioned article, spoke of 'gods of the Vedic and pre-Zoroastrian pantheon'.
We can also notice that before Mitra there is here the Sumerian sign DINGIR.MEŠ for a plurality of gods. The suffix -ššil according to the hypothesis of Fournet is a dual (as in Vedic mitrāvaruṇau), but there is no confirmation of this, and we would expect the same also for the Nāsatyas who are typically a divine couple. Diakonoff observes that -šši- is the morpheme for abstract words (e.g. šarrašši 'kingship'), and -for the plural. He translates 'the mitraic gods' (belonging to sphere of the god of light). According to Giorgieri, the suffix -šše/i- indicates also concrete objects and nomina actionis (when added to verbal roots).
If we consider that mithra- in Avestan means "a contract, promise, agreement, friendship, commitment", and the god Mitra is clearly connected with agreements both in the Iranian world and in the Vedas, maybe we have to do here with the 'gods of agreements', which would be fine for a treaty. They can also be the spies of Mitra mentioned in the Mihr Yašt of the Avesta (see here).
And what about Aruna or Uruwana? Also these have the sign of plural gods, and the form is clearly not the same as Vedic Varuṇa: the identification has been done only because it is after Mitra, with whom Varuṇa is typically associated in the Ṛgveda. It is interesting that in Hittite texts, aruna- is the sea, and is often listed among treaty witnesses and conceived as a male deity in myths of Hurrian origin (see here). So, maybe the same deity (in the plural 'the gods of the sea(s)') is invoked here as witness? Or maybe it was confounded with the Hittite Aruna for that reason. Now, also the Indian Varuṇa in post-Vedic tradition is the god of the sea, but this is not his main role in the Ṛgveda, and it would be strange to put it besides Mitra as such. Hittite aruna- has no clear etymology, but the Hittite etymological dictionary compares Vedic arṇa 'wave, flood, stream', arṇava 'wave, flood, foaming sea', arṇas 'wave, flood, stream, sea, ocean'. The Indo-European root should be *ar-, expressing motion (of waves).
In order to understand more, let us consider the equivalent (in the other list) Uruwana, which is quite different. Diakonoff denied the identification with Varuṇa and proposed to read Avestan urwa(n) 'soul', 'soul of the dead', so that Uruwanaššil would be 'gods of the sphere of the souls of the dead'.
Fournet, instead, sees in Uruwana a Hurrian version (since initial r- was not admitted in Hurrian) of *Ruwana < *(s)rouaHno, meaning 'the one in charge of flowing waters'. And Varuṇa, being the creator of the water-blocking Vṛtra, would be a metathesis of an older *Ruwana. This etymology is not convincing, but we can notice a parallel phenomenon in Hurrian urukmannu, a metallic part of the shield, if it really comes from rukma-,  that in Vedic indicates a golden or silver plate (from the root ruc- 'to shine'). 
Now, in Avestan addition of u- is regular before ru- and rw- (see here), like av. uruuata 'rule, order, prescription' from *rwata, which is a metathesis of *wrata, since we can compare skr. vrata 'rule, religious vow'. In Avestan there is also uruuaiti 'verbal promise, treaty'.
In Greek we have ρητός (<*wrētos) 'stated, covenanted, agreed', Cypriot ϝρήτᾱ 'agreement, treaty, law, pronunciation', Elean ϝράτρα 'verbal agreement, covenant'.
The concept of vrata is strictly connected with Varuṇa in the Ṛgveda. Jamison and Brereton, in their recent translation of the hymns, even state that his name is related to vratá “commandment” and therefore is the god of commandments. But if the root of vrata is that of speaking and declaring (cf. here), the root of Varuṇa is rather the same as the Sanskrit verb vṛ- 'to cover, screen, veil, conceal, hide, surround, obstruct; to ward off, check, keep back, prevent, hinder, restrain'. One could connect this root with the fact that the Vedic Varuṇa is the god who by his snares (pāśa) punishes and restrains those who transgress his commandments. But another interpretation is that he is the covering or all-encompassing Sky itself, a supreme celestial deity that observes everything, especially the deeds of men.
There are good parallels in Vedic varūtṛ 'one who wards off or protects, protector, defender, guardian deity', and Greek erymai 'to keep off, protect, save'. Varuṇa was the guardian of the cosmic order, called ṛta ('truth'). 
We can do another comparison with Avestan urvant 'seizing' (said of a bird), from the participle *wr-ant- according to Bartholomae: the original root can be different (PIE *wal), but the phonetic evolution would be the same. 
So, maybe the root *wṛ- had given a variant form *wrana that became *rwana and then Urwana. By the way, it is interesting that both *wrana and Urwana are close to Greek ouranos, the name of the sky and of the heavenly god that has not a clear etymology. 
Thus Uruwanaššil can refer to the 'gods who are guardians of verbal agreements or sacred commandments', or to the spies of Varuṇa that are often mentioned in the Ṛgveda.

But let us proceed with the numerous Indo-Iranian names that we find in Mitanni and in the Near East, among the rulers of various cities of Mesopotamia and Palestine, and the charioteers called in Hurrian maryanni. First of all, I would like to cite a name present in a list of names from Nuzi that is not cited in the list given by O' Callaghan in Aram Naharaim. It is given in the forms a-ri-ia, a-a-ri-ia, a-ri-i-ia. There are at least 11 persons with this name, two of them are charioteers. In Alalah, there are 24 a-ri-ia; one of them is also called a-ri-ia-an. Another is a maryanni with chariot, and another is brother of Irteya, a clearly Aryan name (see below).
The name clearly corresponds to Sanskrit ārya, Pāli ariya, Avestan airiia, Old Persian ariya. In Iranic use, it indicates the Iranic people itself, according to Herodotus 7.62 also the Medes were originally called Arioi. In India it was more a social and ethical term, 'noble, freeman' (see this post). We cannot say what was the meaning in Nuzi, but we can suppose that it meant 'member of the Aryan nobility'. A name A-ri-ia is found also among the Median city-lords in Assyrian sources (see here).
Now, I would like to remark some features of Indo-Iranian words in these names that are not Indic but rather closer to Iranic:

Arta-: many Mitanni Aryan names start with Arta- 'Truth', for instance Artadāma, Artaššumara, Artamanya. Now, arta- is typical of Old Persian and Parthian names, and it was found also in Median (see here). In Vedic, the form is ṛta-, like Ṛtabhāga. Moreover, there is a Mitanni name Artaya/Arteya (frequent in Nuzi and present in Alalah), that recalls the old name of the Persians, Artaioi, according to Herodotus 7.61. According to Hesychius, instead, artaioi means 'heroes' among the Persians. Parallels in Elamite documents are IrdayaIrteya (Hinz 1975). The same form Irteya is very frequent in proper names from Alalah.

Aššura-: in some names, we find this element, e.g. Be-ta-aš-šu-ra, Bi-ri-aš-šu-ra, Kal-ma-aš-šu-ra, Ša-i-ma-aš-šu-ra, Šú-na-aš-šú-ra (king of Kizzuwatna). The Assyrian national deity Aššur does not have the final -a, and is normally at the beginning of names. Moreover, Bi-ri-aš-šu-ra is clearly a Mitanni Aryan name (<*Priyāsura), and we have already seen that Assara is used in an Assyrian list of gods before Mazaš, showing a similar form with double sibilant.
However, it is possible that *asura here is not the god, but has the basic meaning of 'lord' applied to human beings, attested also in the Avesta. Bi-ri-aš-šu-ra, for instance, might mean 'dear lord'. The name Ša-i-ma-aš-šu-ra (variant Ša-mi-aš-šu-ra) from Nuzi is interesting, because the first element *šaima- can be compared with the Old Persian *çaima- 'superiority' found in the Elamite U-še-ma, interpreted as *hu-çēma- 'having a splendid superiority' (Tavernier 2007). The Indic form is śreman. So, Ša-i-ma-aš-šu-ra can be interpreted as 'lord of/with distinction'. O'Callaghan observes that he was owner of a horse, and he was father of *Biriazana, a clearly Aryan name that apparently has the word zana, the Avestan, Old Persian and Median equivalent of Sanskrit jana 'person, race, people' (priyajana in Sanskrit means 'dear person').

Bard-, Birid-: Bartašwa (Nuzi), Biridašwa (Yanuamma) are two names that can be variant of the same one, that has been compared with Sanskrit Bṛhadaśva, meaning 'having high horses'. But bṛhad (from *bhṛǵh-ant) is very different from Birid-. On the other hand, in Avestan we have barǝz-, bǝrǝz(i)- 'high', and in Old Persian the name Bardiya, comparable with Biridiya found in Megiddo. In the Old Iranian names attested in non-Iranian texts (see here) we have a reconstructed element bṛdi-, including *Brdi-aspa-, "having a tall horse" (Elamite Bir-ti-is-ba, Middle Persian Burjasp).

-mašda: a name is bi-ir-ya-ma-aš-da, interpreted as corresponding to the Vedic Priyamedha (from *Priyamazdha). But we can see that the form mašda is closer to Avestan and Old Persian mazda 'wisdom'. Names with frya- (<*priya-) are common in Iranic, written pi-ri-ia in Babylonian sources (see here). In Khotanese, an Eastern Iranic language, we have even a form with voiced plosive, bria. It is also remarkable that, as noted by E. Hopkins, compounds with priya- are known in the Ṛgveda only in books VIII, I, IX and X, that are the latest ones: we can suspect an Iranic influence (cf. Talageri 2008, The Rigveda and the Avesta. The final evidence, pp.175-183).

mišta-: Mayrhofer connected mištannu 'bounty' with Vedic mīḍhá- “booty, price for fight”, but Avestan mižda, Middle Persian mizd 'wage, price' are closer. 

-myašda: a name from the Amarna letters, zi-ir-dam-ia-aš-da, has been interpreted as zṛda-myazda 'one who makes an offering of the heart' (O'Callaghan). This form is very Iranic, in Avestan heart is zǝrǝd-, in Parthian zyrd (in Indic hṛd-). We can compare from the already cited list of Iranic names (Tavernier 2007): "*Zṛdiyavauš (Median) 'with a good heart'. Babylonian: Si-ri-di-a-muš."
The sound in Akkadian cuneiform should be an affricate, while Iranic is a voiced sibilant, but it is also considered a voiced sound (see here), therefore quite close. On the other hand, Babylonian is considered a voiceless affricate. We can also wonder if we have to do here with a form with voiceless palatal, comparable with the Indo-European root *ḱrd-.  
There is also a curiously similar name *Irdamiasda, written in Elamite Ir-da-mi-ia-is-da, that has been interpreted as *Ṛta-myazda- "ritual banquet". In fact, Avestan miiazda is a sacred offering of food. In the Ṛgveda we have the form miyedha with the same meaning.

panza-: in the list of the number of rounds with the horses, we have pa-an-za-wa-ar-ta-an-na, clearly corresponding to Indo-Iranian pañca 'five'. If is really a voiced sound, it is interesting that in many Iranic languages the form of the number five has also a voiced affricate or fricative: Persian panj, Parthian panǰ, Bactrian panzo, Pashto pinźë, Kurdish penj.

-ta(h)ma: the famous Mitanni king's name Artatama is written in the Amarna letters ar-ta-ta-a-ma(š) (see here). It has been interpreted through -dhāman as in the Vedic ṛtadhāman 'whose abode is truth or divine law', an epithet of Agni found twice in the late Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā. As a name it is used in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa for the 13th Manu. So, it is difficult to consider it as an ancient Indo-Iranian name, I would propose another interpretation, through an Old Persian *Artata(h)ma 'brave through Truth'. A corresponding Median name *Ṛtataxma is attested in the Elamite form Ir-da-tak-ma and similar. Moreover, many names with Old Persian tahma- are written tam-ma- in Elamite cuneiform.

wašanna: in Kikkuli's treatise, we find wa-ša-an-na-ša-ia translated "of the training area (for chariots)' and interpreted as coming from Indo-Iranian *waźhanasya. In Indic, this root *waǵh- becomes vah-, in Avestan vaz-, giving vaza- 'driving', vazō-raθa 'driving a chariot', vāza- 'draft animal'. There is also an Avestan name važāspa 'having draft horses', and the noun vāša- 'vehicle', but this must come from *wart-, according to the typical Avestan change rt>š that does not seem to be attested in Mitanni Aryan.

Yama: Yama and Yamiuta 'helped by Yama?' (dynast of Guddashuna) are names attested in the Amarna letters, a Yamibanda 'servant or follower of Yama?' was prince of Taanach. In Alalah we have one Yaman (Ia-ma-an). A name Yama(ka) is found also in the cuneiform documents of the Achaemenid period. About Yamibanda, bandaka in Old Persian means 'vassal, follower', in modern Persian banda means servant, and among the Iranic names, we have *Bagabanda 'who serves or supports Baga', written Ba-ka-ban-da in Elamite. The form Yami- might derive from a reduction of the last vowel (the opposite of Avestan Yima, cf. also Persian Jam, Jamshīd), while a feminine Yamī like the Vedic sister of Yama seems unlikely. A cult of Yama as god is not only in India as king of the dead, but also among the Kalash (in the past also the Nuristanis), for whom Imra/Imro (Yama-rāja) is the creator god.

Yašdata: this is the name of a prince from Palestine, written ia-aš-da-ta in Amarna letters. O'Callaghan cites an intepretation from Avestan *yaza-dāta 'given by the sacrifice', but this is not attested. However, a comparable name is found among the Iranic names, written Ia-iš-da-da, interpreted by Hinz and Koch as an Old Persian *yazdāta, and by Tavernier as an extension with the suffix -āta from yašta 'consecrated', a name apparently attested in various forms in Elamite documents. Another similar word is Avestan yaoždāta 'purified', although the first element comes from *yauš 'health, vital force', so we would expect rather *yaušdata.

-zana: among Nuzi names, there is Aššuzana that has been derived from Indo-Iranian *ašwa-canas, that has no attestion in Indic, while there is an Iranic Aspačanā (nom.) 'delighting in horses', attested in Elamite document as Aš-ba-za-na.

Besides the names, there are also the epithets for horses from Nuzi pinkara-nnu and paritta-nnu, that have been compared with Vedic piṅgala 'reddish-brown, tawny, yellow' and palita 'grey': it is interesting that in both cases instead of Indic l we have an r, which is the rule in Old Iranian languages.
Finally, we can also remark that there is no trace of Indo-Aryan aspirated consonants in Mitanni Aryan words, although a way of writing it in cuneiform script could be that found, for instance, in the Hittite name Tudḫaliya.

Thus, we can see that not only many elements have a form closer to Old Persian, Median or Avestan, but also parallels in the Old Persian names attested in cuneiform documents. Forms like bard/birid- and -tama suggest affinity with Old Persian, while others like zird- with Median, Parthian and Avestan. We can suppose that at least two different dialects were present among the Mitanni Aryans, probably a stage of Persian and Median, being Medes and Persians the most ancient Iranic peoples mentioned in Assyrian sources and acting in Western Iran in historical times.
The next step will be a discussion of the archaeological evidence.

Giacomo Benedetti

24/5/2017





Monday, 23 January 2017

The term 'Aryan' and its Semitic cognates

The term 'Aryan' had a strange history. Derived from the Sanskrit ārya 'noble, member of the three higher classes', Avestan airya, Old Persian ariya 'member of the Iranian people', it was identified by European scholars during the 19th century with all the Indo-Europeans, and ethnocentric racial theories (De Gobineau, etc., see here) identified the term, suggesting nobility and superiority, with an idea of a Nordic superior race, although historical Germanic people did not identify themselves with a term like 'Arya'. I have already spoken about this topic in a previous post, but now I come back to it because I would like to share with you an interesting, even astonishing, connection.
A connection with the alleged antithesis of the Aryans, the Semites.

In the wiktionary entry about arya, after various other etymologies of the word, a last theory is mentioned: "Oswald Szemerényi has suggested[1][7] that *arya- is a loanword from an Ugaritic word meaning "kinsmen", from Proto-Afro-Asiatic *ħər ‎(“free, noble”)"
Actually, the Ugaritic word noted by Szemerényi is ’ary 'kinsman', from a different root (*ʔar-), but if we see the meaning of the terms derived from the Afro-Asiatic root proposed above, one is surprised by their close similarity with the meanings of the Indo-European terms. 
From A. Bomhard's Afrasian Comparative Vocabulary (2014):
Proto-Afrasian *ħar- ‘(vb.) to be superior, to be higher in status or rank, to be above or over; (n.) nobleman, master, chief, superior; (adj.) free-born, noble’:
Semitic: Proto-Semitic *ħar-ar- ‘to be free-born, to be or become free, to set free’, *ħar(r)-/*ħur(r)- ‘noble, free-born’ > Hebrew ḥōr ‘noble’; Arabic ḥurr ‘noble, free-born; free, independent’, ḥarra ‘to liberate, to free, to set free, to release, to emancipate’, ḥurrīya ‘freedom, liberty, independence, unrestraint, license’; Aramaic ḥərar ‘to be or become free’; Ugaritic ḥrr ‘free’; Sabaean ḥrr ‘freemen, free-born men’; Geez / Ethiopic ḥarāwi ‘free-born, nobleman’, ḥarāwənnā ‘freedom’, ḥarənnat ‘freedom’; Tigrinya ḥara ‘free’, ḥarənnät ‘freedom’; Tigre ḥara ‘free; freedom’; Amharic hurr ‘free’; Gurage hurru bālä ‘to become free, to set free’. 
Egyptian ḥry ‘chief, master, overseer, superior’, ḥr ‘on, upon, over’, ḥrw ‘upper part, top’; Coptic hi- [xi-] (< *ḥaryaw) ‘on, in, at’, hray [xrai] ‘upper part’.
Omotic: North Omotic: Yemsa / Janjero herašo ‘chief, ruler’, herašo ‘chieftainship, rule’. 
We can see how the concept of freedom is often equivalent with that of nobility in these cognates, and Hebrew ḥōr 'noble' is also translated 'free man' (see here), but the Hebrew term ḥērūt 'freedom' comes from Aramaic/Syriac ḥēr 'free' (see here). In Arabic ḥurr means 'free' (opposed to ‛abd 'slave') but also 'noble, good'. For instance, ḥurr al-kalām refers to a speech of high literary quality, not to 'free speech'. The feminine ḥurrah may simply mean 'lady' and ḥurr 'gentleman'. As F. Rosenthal observes (here): "This usage of ḥurr had its origin in the general human inclination to ascribe all bad qualities to the slave and his miserable lot, and all good qualities to those who were legally free men."

This picture strongly reminds the Indian concept of ārya. Also in the Indian use, the connotation of ārya as freeman is clear. In the Ṛgveda, ārya is opposed to dāsa, that means 'slave, servant', in other Vedic texts to the śūdra, one who belongs to the low class of labourers, those who must serve the three higher classes. In the Arthaśāstra, a treatise on law and politics, the chapter on slaves clearly contrasts the position of ārya with that of slave (dāsa). And the Vedic term arya with initial short a means 'master, lord'. The Pāli (Middle Indian) derived term ayya means 'gentleman, lord, master'.
The connotation of freedom could also better explain the Buddhist use of Pāli ariya, Sanskrit ārya, for a person on the path to spiritual liberation.

In the Iranian context, Avestan airya is opposed to other populations like tuirya, while in Achaemenid inscriptions, we find pārsa:pārsahyā: puça: ariya: ariyaciça, “a Persian, son of a Persian, Arya, of Arya origin.” In the compound ariya-ciça, where in ciça (Avestan čiθra) 'seed, origin, lineage', we recognize a concept typical of a tribal and aristocratic culture. But in the Dēnkard we find also a social connotation: ērīh ut dahyupatīh “nobility and lordship,” contrasts with arg ut bār hač škōhišn, “labor and burdens from poverty.” (see here).

Out of the Indo-Iranian world, we can compare an Irish term that has been derived from the same root as ārya, that is aire, so defined in an Irish dictionary:
"In Laws used to describe every freeman, 'commoner' as well as noble, who possesses an independent legal status. Occasionally, however, aire is used in the more restricted sense of 'noble' (as oppd. to 'commoner'), which is its usual meaning in the literature"
"In more general sense noble, chief..."
The term is derived from Proto-Celtic *aryos, found in Gaulish names with a first element Ario- like Ariomanus. There is also a dubious Runic arjostez interpreted as 'most distinguished' (see here), that would show that the root was present also in Germanic.
In Greek, aristos is the famous term for 'noble' in the social sense, being a superlative with the meaning of 'best, most excellent'. In Greek there is also a prefix ari- used to intensify an adjective, possibly connected with aristos according to Chantraine.
In Hittite, we find arawa, arawanni 'free', in Lycian arawa 'free' matching in the Greek version  of the same text apeleutheroi 'freedmen' (see here). Forms apparently comparable with the Semitic terms, although with the loss of the initial pharyngeal consonant, that is apparently preserved in Hittite in other comparisons of Afro-Asiatic roots starting with the same sound given by Bomhard (who connects arawa with a root *her- and/or *hor- ‘to escape, to flee, to run away’, with a different laryngeal consonant, see here). In Hittite there is also the verb arai 'rise; raise', inf. arauwanzi, in Luwian ari(ya) is interpreted as 'raise', and a stem *ariyatt- as 'elevation, mountain' (see here). There is also the Hittite adjective aru 'high', the verb arriya 'rouse, stir, awaken; be awake', and ar- 'to stand, remain standing, stand up, stand upright'.
In Armenian the imperative ari means 'stand up!', in the verb yaṙnem 'to rise, to arise, to get up, to rise or stand up, to rise again' (see this entry).
The Indo-European root of the Hittite and Armenian verbs according to Rix is *h1rei 'to rise' ("sich erheben"), but for the Armenian verb he proposed also *h3er- 'to start moving (forward)' ("sich in (Fort-) Bewegung setzen"), giving also Sanskrit iyarti 'to raise', Greek or-nymi 'to stir up, make to arise, awaken, arouse' and Latin orior, oriri 'to rise, originate'. In Wiktionary, the meaning of this root is "to move, to stir; to rise, to spring" and it gives as derived term also Greek oros 'mountain', following the theory of Frisk and Chantraine. So, a connection with upward movement and height seems clear.

The idea of movement and rising, if it was present also in the Afro-Asiatic *ħar-, could explain the idea of freedom, although we have seen that also in Arabic the main connotation originally was rather nobility, and in Egyptian apparently there is no trace of the idea of freedom, rather 'to be above'. On the other hand, the social concept of members of the higher community and freedom are often exchanged: it happened to 'frank', whose name comes from the name of the javelin, but indicated the members of the conquering people of the Franks and finally meant 'free', or to the Latin adjective liberalis (coming from liber 'free'), that indicated the theoretical disciplines studied by free men or the generous behaviour of the noble. Also Persian āzād 'free' comes from a word meaning 'born (into the clan), noble'.

I suspect that also the name Hurri of the Hurrians comes from the same root as Semitic *ħar(r)-/*ħur(r)-, indicating the people of the free or noble ones like the Āryas, and the fact that they had an aristocracy with Indo-Iranian names and deities in the Mitanni kingdom can be a sign of their affinity with that cultural world. There is also an interesting study by Fournet and Bomhard about affinities between Hurrian and Indo-European languages, suggesting, in their view, a common ancestor.
In Elamite, the Iranians are called Harriya, with an initial laryngeal sound. On the other hand, in the Elamite dictionary (in German) we find ari as equivalent of Akkadian rugbu 'loft, room on roof, upper storey', that can be related with the same root in the sense of 'to be above'.

Then, the similarity of form and use of the Afro-Asiatic root *ħar/ħur- and IE *Har-ya/o- (with the adjectival suffix -ya/yo-) suggest that these concepts of nobility and freedom developed in a common cultural frame of a society where slavery and social stratification were evolving: this was possible with the Neolithic revolution, that with agriculture required hard labour and produced a surplus that allowed to maintain slaves, and was also associated with conflicts and trade that made possible the acquisition of slaves. The Semitic and the Indo-European cultural worlds appear thus to be parallel developments of the Neolithic of the Fertile Crescent: in this cultural 'tree', the Indo-Iranian branch (differently from the other Indo-Europeans) chose to name itself with the adjective or name connected with that root. As if they did not admit that members of their own people could be slaves (and normally slaves were foreigners), and/or because they believed to be especially noble in their behaviour or lineage.
Thus, the social concept evident in the Semitic, Irish, and also Indian use became ethnic, especially in Iranians, who still use it in the name itself of Iran, while in India it can be used to distinguish speakers of Indo-Aryan languages from Dravidian, Munda and Tibeto-Burman speakers, thus being more linguistic than ethnic, besides the traditional association of ārya with the higher castes and ethical behaviour. 

All this has nothing to do, fortunately, with the disastrous and artificial concept of a Nordic 'Aryan race'. It is time to deepen the ancient relation of the Semites with the 'Aryans', evident in many other terms: the results can question some stereotypical oppositions that may still be present in our received picture of humanity and its history.






 





Thursday, 22 December 2016

Indo-European and other linguistic families: space for proposals


Dear followers of the blog, respected scholars, here you can add your linguistic proposals concerning the topic of the connection of Indo-European with other linguistic families.


Giacomo Benedetti

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The wheel from Mehrgarh to the Vedas and the Indian national emblem



On November 15th an article has been published on Nature Communications about a copper amulet (see the photo above) from Mehrgarh, Baluchistan, presented as the earliest object produced through the lost-wax technique.
At the same time, the amulet appears as the earliest reproduction of a spoked wheel. Of course, it is only a shape, but is it possible to use the shape of a wheel before it exists? Or was the symbol itself that finally brought to the creation of the spoked wheel, like a Platonic idea taking shape through a demiurge? It can be an intriguing debate between a materialistic and idealistic approach to history and culture... but let's analyze the issue.

First of all, about the context: "The wheel-shaped amulet inventory number MR.85.03.00.01 was collected in 1985 at the MR2 site of Mehrgarh during the excavations of the ‘Mission Archéologique de l’Indus’ (dir. Jean-François Jarrige)" 
The MR2 site belongs to the Period III of Mehrgarh, associated with the Chalcolithic and dated by the Wikipedia entry and by Kenoyer 4800-3500 BC. More precisely, the paper speaks of "sector X, Early Chalcolithic, end of period III, 4,500–3,600 BC." However, in the supplementary information we read: "Wheel-shaped ornament discovered by Anaick Samzun in 1985 from a surface recollection at the MR2 site. Despite the fact that the copper artefact was not discovered in its primary position, it belongs to the Early Chalcolithic period since the MR2 site dates entirely from this period."

The date given for the object is 6000 years old, but it is clearly a guess, a full number in the middle between 4500 and 3600 BC, which is the dating given here of the site MR2. In the same site also other wheel-shaped objects have been found: one, fragmentary, "close to the skull of a woman buried in the individual tomb H 33". This suggests that such objects were common in Early Chalcolithic Mehrgarh, and had a sort of religious meaning that could be connected also with death.
For a parallel, we can cite the Celtic use of wheel amulets (from here): 
Symbolic votive wheels were offered at shrines (such as in Alesia), cast in rivers (such as the Seine), buried in tombs or worn as amulets since the Middle Bronze Age. Such "wheel pendants" from the Bronze Age usually had four spokes, and are commonly identified as solar symbols or "sun cross". Artefacts parallel to the Celtic votive wheels or wheel-pendants are the so-called Zierscheiben in a Germanic context. The identification of the Sun with a wheel, or a chariot, has parallels in Germanic, Greek and Vedic mythology.
On the other hand, how old are the earliest traces of real spoked wheels used for vehicles? A common answer is: Sintashta in the Russian steppe, around or slightly before 2000 BC (for instance in the detailed book of Anthony "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language"). There are graves containing impressions of spoked wheels, evidently made of wood. The same book explains that the earliest depictions of spoked wheels are later in the Near East: on cylinder seals at Kanesh (Kültepe in Turkey), the important Assyrian colony and Hittite city, around 1900 BC. Anthony used these facts to support an origin from the steppes of the chariots with spoked wheels, followed with enthusiasm by the fans of the steppes. I consider this passion for the steppes an enigmatic and irrational propensity, maybe explainable as a sort of revenge and affirmation of superiority by northern and eastern Europeans on Asians and Mediterraneans, usually regarded (with some obvious reasons) as the source of civilization. 
Anyway, there are some facts that are ignored in this picture. Not only the wheel-shaped amulets, already discovered in the '80s and apparently completely neglected in the debate, but also some terracotta wheels from models of carts found in Harappan sites in Western India and in Shahr-i Shokhta, Iran, in levels dated to the 3rd millennium BC, most probably before the Sintashta graves.

Terracotta wheels from Banawali and Rakhigarhi, Mature Harappan period
Terracotta wheels from Bhirrana, Mature Harappan period

Terracotta wheel from Shahr-i Sokhta, 2750-2200 BC

Not only. Kenoyer in "Wheeled Vehicles of the Indus Valley Civilization of Pakistan and India", published in 2004, remarks:
At Harappa we find evidence for the use of terracotta model carts as early as 3500 BC during the Ravi Phase at Harappa [...] No carts or wheels dating to this early time period have been reported from any sites in Afghanistan or Central Asia, or even from sites such as Mehrgarh and Nausharo that are located at the edge of the Indus plain. [...] it is now possible to say that, on the basis of the currently available archaeological evidence, the development of Indus wheeled carts appears to be the result of indigenous processes occurring out in the alluvium and not the result of diffusion from mountainous regions to the west.
Evidently, he did not consider the wheel-shaped amulets from Mehrgarh, but he was dealing with models of carts and terracotta wheels, which are very different from the copper amulets.
But what is impressive here is that he puts the first wheeled carts in the region in the Indus valley, something completely ignored by this passage from the Wikipedia entry on the wheel:
The first evidence of wheeled vehicles appears in the second half of the 4th millennium BCE, near-simultaneously in Mesopotamia (Sumerian civilization), the Northern Caucasus (Maykop culture) and Central Europe (Cucuteni-Trypillian culture), so the question of which culture originally invented the wheeled vehicle is still unsolved.    
Can we consider normal that the Indus valley is not mentioned 12 years after the article of Kenoyer? And is it normal that in the book of Anthony, published in 2007, there is no reference to the same article? Maybe yes, we can consider it normal, because South Asian archaeology is evidently out of the range of mainstream knowledge, even when the authors are important Western archaeologists like Kenoyer. I am the only one who has added references to Indian findings in the paragraph of that entry on the history of the wheel, and fortunately they have not been removed.
Anthony in his book, p.69, states that the Baden culture ceramic wagon models dated 3300-3100 BC are "the oldest well-dated three-dimensional models of wheeled vehicles", and there is no mention of the Harappan findings.

An exception to this silence is the Bulgarian M. Ivanova, who, about the Maykop wheels from northern Caucasus, says in "The Black Sea and the Early Civilizations of Europe, the Near East and Asia", pp.121-2:  
The remains of two wooden wheels at Novokorsunskaja allow some suppositions about the type of vehicle to which they belonged. In size, they are similar to wheels of the Catacomb culture [...] The presence of a hub suggests a vehicle with rotating wheels and a fixed axle. The vehicle from which the wheels at Novokorsunskaja originate might have been a two-axle wagon like the roughly contemporary wagon from Koldyri on the Lower Don. But it is also possible that the find from Novokorsunskaja was a two-wheeled cart. Clay models of two-wheeled carts with rotating wheels attest to the use of this type of vehicle in central Asia and the Indus valley in the late fourth millennium BC. At Altyn-depe in south Turkmenistan, such models occur in the second half of the fourth millennium (Namazga III period) and become more common in the early centuries of the third millennium. Cattle figurines with holes in the withers for attaching the yoke have been recovered at Kara-depe. Comparable models appeared in the Indus valley around 3500–3300 BC, during the Ravi-Phase of the Indus culture at Harappa (Kenoyer 2004, 90 f., Fig. 2).
So, going back to Kenoyer's article, the American archaeologist continues speaking of the wheels found from the Early Harappan period (2800-2600 BC), 17 in number; 4 of them from Harappa have painted motifs, and one "shows radiating lines that could represent spokes". The design given in the paper (Figure 4, no.7) can suggest spokes indeed. Kenoyer adds that the technology of wheel transport however is not well attested out of Harappa itself, and he remarks, citing Tosi 1968, that also Shahr-i Sokhta has not given wheels. Probably, the terracotta wheel exposed in the Museum of Oriental Art in Rome shown above has been found later than Tosi's publication. By the way, it is remarkable that there are also zebu (Bos indicus) figurines, and since zebus were domesticated around Mehrgarh, it suggests a significant influence from the East, from the Indian subcontinent. A tendency shown also in the historical period, since the Helmand area (Arachosia) was known as White India and was more Indian than Iranian until the Muslim conquest (see here). 
On the other hand, Kenoyer adds (p.8):
Further north in Central Asia, the first carts appear during the subsequent Namazga V period (2600-2200 BC) that corresponds to the Harappa Period in the Indus Valley, and these are four wheeled carts drawn by one or two camels and not by bullocks. Since camels were not domesticated in the Indus valley, we can assume that the use of camel carts is an indigenous process in Central Asia and that the construction of four wheeled carts in Central Asia is also a local phenomenon.
About the Mature Harappan period, Kenoyer speaks of a significant increase in the number of terracotta carts and wheel fragments, and has also something to say about the reproduction of spoked wheels: 
The most controversial discussion revolves around the construction of spoked wheels that have been associated with the use of the horse drawn chariot and by extension, the Indo-Aryan culture. In India single examples of "spoked wheels" have been reported from the sites of Lothal, Rupar, and Mitathal, Banawali and most recently at Rakhigarhi [...] Perhaps the most convincing example of a spoked wheel comes from the site of Rahkigarhi, presumably from the Harappan levels though the excavation report has not yet been published. In this example there are eleven radiating spokes that would have provided considerable support to a light outer rim.
The wheel in question is that of the photo above. Kenoyer does not speak of Bhirrana, that was excavated in the same period of the publication of his article (2003-2006). And in Puratattva no.36, of the year 2005-6, after Kenoyer's article, we find an article by L.S.Rao about wheels found in Bhirrana. There are several instances of wheels with painted spokes or spokes in low relief, already from the Early Mature Harappan period. I suppose the dating of this period should be around 2600 BC (the accepted beginning of the Mature Harappan), although a paper by Sarkar et al. published on Nature gives even 6.5–5 ka BP for this period. Being too far from the consensus on the periodization of the Indus-Saraswati culture, I do not dare to accept it.
However, we have a confirmation that spoked wheels were well known in Mature Harappan India. L.S.Rao, who apparently did not know Kenoyer's article (he cites only a 1998 book of him), remarks that they have not been found in the Indus valley, but we have seen that an example was already in an Early Harappan level of Harappa, and we can add the spoked wheel from Shahr-i Sokhta contemporary with Mature Harappan. Mehrgarh's amulets seem a bit too early, also compared with the earliest cart models from Harappa (3500 BC). However, 3600 BC as the lowest limit of the Chalcolithic level of the amulets is not so far from it, but very far from the first attestations of a terracotta wheel with spokes (after 2800 BC, Early Harappan). Moreover, those copper objects are quite different from the terracotta wheels, and they can also be pure symbols. But why in that shape, and symbols of what? We can remark that they have six spokes. What can be the meaning of that number? 
If you search for numerical symbolism in ancient India, the best place is the hymn RV I.164. There we read in st.11-12: 

dvādaśāraṃ nahi tajjarāya varvarti cakraṃ pari dyāṃ ṛtasya |
ā putrā agne mithunāso atra sapta śatāni viṃśatiśca tasthuḥ ||
pañcapādaṃ pitaraṃ dvādaśākṛtiṃ diva āhuḥ pare ardhe purīṣiṇam |
atheme anya upare vicakṣaṇaṃ saptacakre ṣaḷara āhur arpitam ||


So translated by Jamison and Brereton (see here):
11. Twelve-spoked, the wheel of truth [=the Sun] ever rolls around heaven—yet not to old age. Upon it, o Agni, stand seven hundred twenty sons in pairs [=the nights and days of the year].
12. They speak of the father [=the Moon] with five feet [=the seasons] and twelve forms [=the months], the overflowing one in the upper half of heaven.
But these others speak of the far-gazing one [=the Sun] in the nearer (half) fixed on (the chariot) with seven wheels [=the Sun, Moon, and visible planets] and six spokes [=the seasons, in a different reckoning].
The word ṣaḷ-ara means 'having six spokes' and it is the Rigvedic equivalent of ṣaḍ-ara, found in a repetition of st.12 placed in AV (Śaunaka recension) 9.9.12 before a repetition of st.11 (see here for the translation). The same stanza 12 is cited in the Atharvavedic Praśna Upaniṣad, commented by Śaṃkara, who recognized the symbolism of the year and seasons. About ṣaḍara, he glossed with the compound ṣaḍ-ṛtu-mat- 'having six seasons'.

Now, in Harappan seals we find a sort of spoked wheel, regularly with six spokes:

Harappan square seals with the character of the 'spoked wheel' (from this site)

Plano convex molded tablet 
discovered in Harappa, 1997.

The similarity of shape with Mehrgarh's amulets is remarkable, and the fact that it is placed over the heroic scene on the convex tablet shows its strong symbolic character, probably with a solar meaning as in the Vedic hymn.
Also in historical times, the wheel of Viṣṇu, called Sudarśana-cakra, is often described as having six spokes, symbolizing again the six seasons (see e.g. here).
Thus, we would have again a striking instance of cultural continuity, this time from Chalcolithic Mehrgarh to historical India through the Harappan age. 
Mehrgarh's 'spoked wheel' perhaps was not a real wheel but a circle symbolizing the cyclical time of the year and the Sun, like the Native American 'cross in a circle' or the Sun cross of European prehistory. We can also compare Bactrian bronze seals having circular shape, the last one is directly comparable to the one from Mehrgarh, although with 8 spokes:


However, the Harappan terracotta wheels reproduce real wheels, and the ancient six-spoked symbol could be easily identified with the new technological object, that had also the advantage of representing the idea of movement of the Sun. Now, the spoked wheel has been associated with the Aryans because it is mentioned in the Vedas. In Vedic rituals like the Vājapeya we find a ratha-cakra 'chariot wheel' placed on a post to symbolize the Sun, with 17 spokes. According to the Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra, before climbing the post, the officiant is hailed with formulas, which declare him lord of the 12 months and the 6 seasons of the year (see here).

The wheel was so central in the ancient Indian worldview that the ideal king was called Cakravartin 'a ruler the wheels of whose chariot roll everywhere without obstruction' (Monier-Williams, translating the German Petersburg dictionary). Both in Jain and Buddhist traditions this emperor of the Earth has, among the seven jewels (ratna), the 'jewel of the wheel', symbol of Dharma, in the sense of justice and social order.

Relief with Cakravartin from Amaravatī
Also Ashoka, the great emperor, used a wheel, evident in the pillar below, with 24 spokes, explained in various ways and adopted in the Indian flag itself. However, it seems that on the top of the lions there was a wheel with 32 spokes, that can be interpreted as the 32 marks of the Mahāpuruṣa (Great Man) proper to the Buddha and the Cakravartin king. Interestingly, in the legend of Ashoka called Aśokāvadāna, the number of pilgrimage sites connected with the life of the Buddha and visited by Ashoka totals thirty-two (see J.S. Strong, The Legend of King Aśoka, Princeton 1983, pp.123-5).
Radha Kumud Mookherjee, an historian and member of the Indian Parliament at the time of Nehru, tried to include that wheel on the national emblem (see here):
“It app­ears that a ‘chakra’ with thirty-two spokes was, in the original, placed atop the shoulders of the four lions. The basic idea was that the wheel of righteousness, representing spiritual forces, should be above the four lions, representing material strength. (However) there is evidence to show that this top wheel fell off the shaft on which it rested and so in the Sarnath Museum one sees the lion capital without the top.”“We feel our state emblem should not embody in itself, as it were, a historical mistake. The sheer accident of the wheel being detached from the pillar should not justify a truncated copy of the original sculpture. Besides, the chakra, which is now only engraved in the abacus, does not convey the significance and symbolism of the original, which stresses the superiority of spiritual values. It will be in conformity with our principles and ideals if we correct the mistake. If we have wanted to revive the Ashokan ideals, as indeed we have done, let us not perpetuate a mutilated variant of this monument.”
Pragyan Kumud, a descendant of the historian, has decided to "go up to the highest authorities until the change is made", explaining: “There is something in symbolism, otherwise we would not need national emblems. Maybe, if the chakra of peace was put back into its rightful place, our country would witness a change for the better.” 

So, the wheel symbol is still actual in India, a rolling lasting millennia...

reconstructed Sarnath pillar















   

  
 Giacomo Benedetti, Impruneta, Italy, 6/12/2016