Indus Valley Conference Report by Greg Heffernan

SINDHU-SARASVATI VALLEY CONFERENCE AT THE LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY, FEBRUARY 21 AND 22, 2009
By Greg Heffernan

LOS ANGELES: In an impressive gathering of linguists, archaeologists and historians, Loyola Marymount’s Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts and Doshi Bridgebuilder Endowment, along with Soka University of America and Southern California Consortium for International Studies, sponsored a rousing analysis of the Indus Valley Civilization and the Rig-Veda. “Archaeological finds in the Indus Valley are challenging models of civilization and human cultural development all over the world,” commented University of Wisconsin’s Mark Kenoyer, a leading archaeologist whose specialty is Harrapa and Mojen-Daro referring to the fact that India’s Indus civilization not only pre-dated the Egyptian and Mesopotamians, but that it was twice the size of both of them.

Key sponsor, Navin Doshi, author of Saving Us From Ourselves, in his introductory remarks, reflected on how the civilization that is being uncovered, is separated by a common partition, and lamented that more of the world needs to reconcile in common interests. Kenoyer echoed Doshi’s comments explaining that a massive area of excavation is going unexplored because it is right on the Pakistan/Indian border. Kenoyer’s vivid photos showed ancient graves of the Indus people’s elite women who were buried with shell carved bangles that had been traced to Kutch.

Kenoyer emphasized that stone tools in India have been discovered that are 2.8 million years old which are as old as tools found in Africa. Trade of the Indus Civilization thrived and drew travelers from Central Asia, China, and Oman. Artifacts such as ancient merchant seals and stamps from the Indus Valley have turned up in archaeological sites in Mesopotamia and Central Asia. “The earliest seal we have is about 2800 BC which is appropriately an elephant,” he said adding that there is archaeological evidence of cotton, silks, dyes, colored clothes and high quality wool dating to 2450 BC. Cultivation of rice has even been documented at 4000 BC.

Jim Shaffer of Case Western University who has been digging in the Harappa region for years, referred to what he calls the “Harrapa Diaspora” that involves most of the late Harappan sites being abandoned around 3500 BC to 3100 BC and 98 % of the sites during the Early Harrapan history being new as evidence of a shift in the Saraswati River sometime around 1800 BC. As to when and how the Saraswati dried up, there is still debate over the currently recognized date of about 1900 BC. 3200 to possibly 3800 BC the Saraswati flowed most likely to the Arabian Sea.

Ashok Aklujkar in studying the Rig-Veda put forth the theory that the word “Saraswati” may have had a mantra status as it is used in nearly every line of book six. Eminent archaeologist S.R. Rao, former Deputy Director General, Archaeological Survey of India and emeritus scientist in the National Institute of Oceanography (Goa) who is the discoverer and excavator of the Indus Valley site of Lothal in Gujarat confirmed that Sanskrit is the oldest known language that has been identified, predating Semitic languages and even Proto-Canaanite in Mesopotamia.

Edwin Bryant from Rutgers University felt the origins of the Ayran peoples and their relationship with the Indus Valley would eventually be uncovered in a deciphering of the Rig-Veda. His recent book was an attempt to show extremists on both the Indo European migration theory and the Indus Valley origin theory, that both theories needed to look at the new evidence being found in both the texts and in the ground. He grieved that there are only three areas in India that study texts, Delhi, Pune and Calcutta and that there need to be more centers of study which would pay off in the future.

Dr. Arjun Daluvoy, who is currently producing a documentary on the history of the swastika, who was present at the event, praised the scholars for their enlightening work. “I’m very impressed by the panels here and many of the recent finds and artifacts of Indus Valley culture. Obviously my interest is in the swastika, and you find it on many of these ancient artifacts we’re uncovering. The origins of the Aryan peoples seems right in the Indus Valley itself,” he said.

Nicholas Kazanas, of Omilos Meleton Cultural Institute, Greece, claimed the Rig- Veda predates the Sindhu Saraswati culture by citing the lack of reference to bricks, silver, writing, rice, urbanization and cotton, all elements of the Indus Valley culture. Kenoyer took difference to Kazanas’ thesis. “There are bricks that we have found in the Indus Valley that are 7000 years old,” said Kenoyer who did agree with Kazanas’ theory that the one mention of “chariot” in the Rig-Veda may refer to a wide bullock cart rather than a narrow two passenger chariot. “We have carts that date to 3300 BC in Harrapa that were drawn by oxen,” said Kenoyer, referring to a wide cart rather than chariot.

Perhaps the most intriguing characteristic of the Indus Valley civilization is its lack of evidence of war, conflict or even invasion, which destroys the “invasion theory” of the Aryan peoples often promoted as “migration” theory. “I don’t believe in a migration theory,” commented Kazanas. Still Kenoyer and Shaffer have discovered no pictures or art of kings conquering other lands, as is the case of much of the Mesopotamian civilizations. “It’s really propaganda to encourage war and justify it,” said Kenoyer. The Indus Valley has none of this.

Kudos to chairs Debashish Benerji, Christopher Chapple, Mathew Dillon of LMU, Navin Doshi, William Fulco, director of LMU’s center for Archaeology, Nalini Rao, a Professor of World Art at Soka University whose father is SR Rao, Dinker Shah, Vikram Kamdar, Naresh Patel, Bhupen Randeria, Jitu Mehta, and Bhupesh Parikh.

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 9, 2009 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    http://sites.google.com/site/kalyan97/ Posted the following updates on this page:

    Serge Cleuziou and Thierry Berthoud, 1982, Early tin the near east — a reassessment in the light of new evidence from western Afghanistan, Expedition, Fall 1982, pp. 14-19: Gudea of Lagash (2150-2111 BCE) refers to tin from Meluhha.
    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/12839078/outsidemeluhha Indus script discoveries outside Meluhha — mleccha artisan guild tokens

    See: Indus script glyphs decoded as mleccha smith guild tokens http://www.docstoc.com/docs/9536635/Decoded-smith-guild-tokens

    http://sites.google.com/site/kalyan97/betdwarka

    Shell-working industries of the Indus civilization by JM Kenoyer, 1984

    Ancient shell industry at Bet Dwarka island by AS Gaur, Sundaresh and Vardhan, Patankar in Current Science, Vol. 89, No. 6, 25 September 2005
    Ancient shell industry at Bet Dwarka island by AS Gaur, Sundaresh and Role of shell in Mesopotamia: evidence for trade exchange with Oman and Indus Valley: TR Gensheimer (Paleorient, Annee 1984, Vol. 10, No. 1)
    Kenoyer 1977 Shell working at ancient Balakot, Pakistan

    kalyanaraman


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