Indus valley - General overview - 03 The Aryan [Scythian] invasion
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
In 1953, Sir Mortimer Wheeler proposed that the invasion of an Indo-European tribe from Central Asia, the "Aryans", caused the decline of the Indus Civilisation. As evidence, he cited a group of 37 skeletons found in various parts of Mohenjo-Daro, and passages in the Vedas referring to battles and forts. He interpreted the presence of many unburied corpses found in the top levels of Mohenjo-Daro as the victims of a warlike conquest. The problem with his theory was that he was proposing a theory of genocide to the very people whose distant ancestors may have perpetrated the crime. The word ‘Aryan’ has always had some very emotive connotations.
A great deal more evidence has surfaced since Sir Mortimer proposed the theory, but for largely political reasons it continues to be ignored. And yet many Indians of the north call themselves Proto European or Indo European and the peoples of the south state categorically that they are inheritors of the Dravidian tradition.
Indeed there is absolutely no reason to dig up an historical event that took place 4,000 years ago in order to restart arguments over race and culture. But it might be worth revisiting because usually truth is a better solution in the long run. Furthermore Shaivism is not Hinduism.
The Aryans were in fact Scythians, as explained in the overall page for Shaivism. They were aggressive and they rode horses giving them speed, the chance of surprise attack, and the advantage of height and bulk over those on foot. The Indus valley civilisation was not alone in suffering the effects of these invaders. The Scythians or ‘Aryans’ also catastrophically attacked Mesopotamia and Persia as well.
Those in Iran/Persia who saw the first wave of these invasions are more precise about their invaders. They say that they were overrun by the Scythic people coming from the direction of the Ferghana region in Central Asia. The Ferghana (Uzbek: Fargʻona/Фарғона, فەرغانە; Tajik: Фарғона, Farğona/Farƣona; Persian: فرغانه Farġāna/Farqâna; Russian: Фергана́) come today from a region in eastern Uzbekistan, at the southern edge of the Fergana Valley in southern Central Asia, cutting across the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Fergana is about 420 km east of Tashkent, and about 75 km west of Andijan. But this was just the direction from which they came.
"It is hypothesized that the proto-Elamo-Dravidian language, most likely originated in the Elam province in southwestern Iran, and spread eastwards … to the Indus Valley and the Indian sub-continent."
The route of invasion
The Near East is separated from the Indus Valley by the arid plateaus, ridges and deserts of Iran and Afghanistan, “not an insurmountable obstacle”. The route south of the Caspian sea is even a part of the Silk Road, some sections of which were in use from at least 3,000 BCE, connecting Badakhshan (north-eastern Afghanistan and south-eastern Tajikistan) with Western Asia, Egypt and India. Similarly, the section from Badakhshan to the Mesopotamian plains (the Great Khorasan Road) was apparently functioning by 4,000 BCE and numerous prehistoric sites are located along it.
Singh et al. (2016) investigated the distribution of J2a-M410 and J2b-M102 in South Asia, which "suggested a complex scenario that cannot be explained by a single wave of agricultural expansion from Near East to South Asia," but also note that "regardless of the complexity of dispersal, NW region appears to be the corridor for entry of these haplogroups into India."
Poznik et al. (2016) note that 'striking expansions' occurred within R1a-Z93 at ~4,500-4,000 years ago, which "predates by a few centuries the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation."
Mascarenhas et al. (2015) note that the expansion of Z93 from Transcaucasia into South Asia is compatible with "the archeological records of eastward expansion of West Asian populations in the 4th millennium BCE culminating in the so called Kura-Araxes migrations in the post-Uruk IV period."
The Harappans were the first to feel the effects and we have an observation that explores the specific effects the Harappans endured. Examination of human skeletons from the site of Harappa has demonstrated that the end of the Indus valley civilisation saw violence, and deaths from infectious diseases like leprosy and tuberculosis, diseases unknown to the civilisation before.
Gradually the Scythians moved south down the valley and then east along the coast. Archaeological excavations indicate that the decline of Harappa drove people southwards to where we find the Dravidians and Shivaism today in the south of India. It is uncertain whether the sites found after 1900 BCE in the east are Dravidian or Scythian, but excavations in the Gangetic plain show that urban settlement began around 1200 BCE, when Scythian dominance was more or less complete, indicating these are not Indus valley civilisation sites.
In the aftermath of the Indus Civilisation's collapse, regional cultures emerged, showing the influence of the Indus Civilisation to varying degrees, indicating that genocide was not total. In the formerly great city of Harappa, burials have been found that correspond to a regional culture called the Cemetery H culture. The Cemetery H culture has the earliest evidence for cremation; a practice dominant in Hinduism today, but unknown to the Dravidians or Shaivites.
Mehrgarh is about half way down the Indus river valley. Somewhere between 2600 BCE and 2000 BCE, the city of Mehrgarh “seems to have been largely abandoned in favour of the larger and fortified town Nausharo five miles away” just when the Indus Valley Civilization was in its middle stages of development. Historian Michael Wood suggests this took place around 2500 BCE. Whether Nausharo is Scythian or not we do not appear to know, but it seems more likely the Scythians built themselves a fort from which they launched raids and the people of Mehrgarh were forced to flee.
Surkotada is an archaeological site now located in India and regarded as a site belonging to the Indus Valley Civilisation. It is a smaller fortified site of about 1.4 hectares (3.5 acres) in area. It is located 160 km (99 mi) north-east of Bhuj, in the district of Kutch, Gujarat. The ancient mound stands surrounded by an undulating rising ground clustered by small sandstone hills.
The earliest occupants of Surkotada had affiliations with an antecedent culture. This is because the earliest occupants were Dravidians and Shaivites. But whoever used it next built a fort, and quite a crude fort by Indus valley standards with mud-brick and mud-lump fortifications, although they did use standard bricks, perhaps using bricks that were already there.
The Surkotada site contains horse remains dated to ca. 2000 BCE, “which is considered a significant observation with respect to Indus Valley Civilisation”. The Indus valley indigenous people did not use horses. Sándor Bökönyi (1997), on examining the bone samples found at Surkotada, opined that at least six samples probably belonged to true horse. During 1974, Archaeological Survey of India undertook excavation in this site and J.P.Joshi and A.K.Sharma reported findings of horse bones at all levels (circa 2100-1700 BCE). So the Scythians reached Surkotada in about 2100. So it took the Scythians 400 years or so to move down from Mehrgarh to Surkotada.