vrijdag 22 januari 2010

अरुंधती रॉय थे हेअर्त ऑफ़ इंडिया इस अंडर attack

The Heart Of India Is Under Attack By Arundhati Roy 31 October, 2009 Guardian.co.uk The low, flat-topped hills of south Orissa have been home to the Dongria Kondh long before there was a country called India or a state called Orissa. The hills watched over the Kondh. The Kondh watched over the hills and worshipped them as living deities. Now these hills have been sold for the bauxite they contain. For the Kondh it's as though god had been sold. They ask how much god would go for if the god were Ram or Allah or Jesus Christ. Perhaps the Kondh are supposed to be grateful that their Niyamgiri hill, home to their Niyam Raja, God of Universal Law, has been sold to a company with a name like Vedanta (the branch of Hindu philosophy that teaches the Ultimate Nature of Knowledge). It's one of the biggest mining corporations in the world and is owned by Anil Agarwal, the Indian billionaire who lives in London in a mansion that once belonged to the Shah of Iran. Vedanta is only one of the many multinational corporations closing in on Orissa. If the flat-topped hills are destroyed, the forests that clothe them will be destroyed, too. So will the rivers and streams that flow out of them and irrigate the plains below. So will the Dongria Kondh. So will the hundreds of thousands of tribal people who live in the forested heart of India, and whose homeland is similarly under attack. In our smoky, crowded cities, some people say, "So what? Someone has to pay the price of progress." Some even say, "Let's face it, these are people whose time has come. Look at any developed country – Europe, the US, Australia – they all have a 'past'." Indeed they do. So why shouldn't "we"? In keeping with this line of thought, the government has announced Operation Green Hunt, a war purportedly against the "Maoist" rebels headquartered in the jungles of central India. Of course, the Maoists are by no means the only ones rebelling. There is a whole spectrum of struggles all over the country that people are engaged in–the landless, the Dalits, the homeless, workers, peasants, weavers. They're pitted against a juggernaut of injustices, including policies that allow a wholesale corporate takeover of people's land and resources. However, it is the Maoists that the government has singled out as being the biggest threat. Two years ago, when things were nowhere near as bad as they are now, the prime minister described the Maoists as the "single largest internal security threat" to the country. This will probably go down as the most popular and often repeated thing he ever said. For some reason, the comment he made on 6 January, 2009, at a meeting of state chief ministers, when he described the Maoists as having only "modest capabilities", doesn't seem to have had the same raw appeal. He revealed his government's real concern on 18 June, 2009, when he told parliament: "If left-wing extremism continues to flourish in parts which have natural resources of minerals, the climate for investment would certainly be affected." Who are the Maoists? They are members of the banned Communist party of India (Maoist) – CPI (Maoist) – one of the several descendants of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), which led the 1969 Naxalite uprising and was subsequently liquidated by the Indian government. The Maoists believe that the innate, structural inequality of Indian society can only be redressed by the violent overthrow of the Indian state. In its earlier avatars as the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in Jharkhand and Bihar, and the People's War Group (PWG) in Andhra Pradesh, the Maoists had tremendous popular support. (When the ban on them was briefly lifted in 2004, 1.5 million people attended their rally in Warangal.) But eventually their intercession in Andhra Pradesh ended badly. They left a violent legacy that turned some of their staunchest supporters into harsh critics. After a paroxysm of killing and counter-killing by the Andhra police as well as the Maoists, the PWG was decimated. Those who managed to survive fled Andhra Pradesh into neighbouring Chhattisgarh. There, deep in the heart of the forest, they joined colleagues who had already been working there for decades. Not many "outsiders" have any first-hand experience of the real nature of the Maoist movement in the forest. A recent interview with one of its top leaders, Comrade Ganapathy, in Open magazine, didn't do much to change the minds of those who view the Maoists as a party with an unforgiving, totalitarian vision, which countenances no dissent whatsoever. Comrade Ganapathy said nothing that would persuade people that, were the Maoists ever to come to power, they would be equipped to properly address the almost insane diversity of India's caste-ridden society. His casual approval of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka was enough to send a shiver down even the most sympathetic of spines, not just because of the brutal ways in which the LTTE chose to wage its war, but also because of the cataclysmic tragedy that has befallen the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, who it claimed to represent, and for whom it surely must take some responsibility. Right now in central India, the Maoists' guerrilla army is made up almost entirely of desperately poor tribal people living in conditions of such chronic hunger that it verges on famine of the kind we only associate with sub-Saharan Africa. They are people who, even after 60 years of India's so-called independence, have not had access to education, healthcare or legal redress. They are people who have been mercilessly exploited for decades, consistently cheated by small businessmen and moneylenders, the women raped as a matter of right by police and forest department personnel. Their journey back to a semblance of dignity is due in large part to the Maoist cadre who have lived and worked and fought by their side for decades. If the tribals have taken up arms, they have done so because a government which has given them nothing but violence and neglect now wants to snatch away the last thing they have – their land. Clearly, they do not believe the government when it says it only wants to "develop" their region. Clearly, they do not believe that the roads as wide and flat as aircraft runways that are being built through their forests in Dantewada by the National Mineral Development Corporation are being built for them to walk their children to school on. They believe that if they do not fight for their land, they will be annihilated. That is why they have taken up arms. Even if the ideologues of the Maoist movement are fighting to eventually overthrow the Indian state, right now even they know that their ragged, malnutritioned army, the bulk of whose soldiers have never seen a train or a bus or even a small town, are fighting only for survival. In 2008, an expert group appointed by the Planning Commission submitted a report called "Development Challenges in Extremist-Affected Areas". It said, "the Naxalite (Maoist) movement has to be recognised as a political movement with a strong base among the landless and poor peasantry and adivasis. Its emergence and growth need to be contextualised in the social conditions and experience of people who form a part of it. The huge gap between state policy and performance is a feature of these conditions. Though its professed long-term ideology is capturing state power by force, in its day-to-day manifestation, it is to be looked upon as basically a fight for social justice, equality, protection, security and local development." A very far cry from the "single-largest internal security threat". Since the Maoist rebellion is the flavour of the week, everybody, from the sleekest fat cat to the most cynical editor of the most sold-out newspaper in this country, seems to be suddenly ready to concede that it is decades of accumulated injustice that lies at the root of the problem. But instead of addressing that problem, which would mean putting the brakes on this 21st-century gold rush, they are trying to head the debate off in a completely different direction, with a noisy outburst of pious outrage about Maoist "terrorism". But they're only speaking to themselves. The people who have taken to arms are not spending all their time watching (or performing for) TV, or reading the papers, or conducting SMS polls for the Moral Science question of the day: Is Violence Good or Bad? SMS your reply to ... They're out there. They're fighting. They believe they have the right to defend their homes and their land. They believe that they deserve justice. In order to keep its better-off citizens absolutely safe from these dangerous people, the government has declared war on them. A war, which it tells us, may take between three and five years to win. Odd, isn't it, that even after the Mumbai attacks of 26/11, the government was prepared to talk with Pakistan? It's prepared to talk to China. But when it comes to waging war against the poor, it's playing hard. It's not enough that special police with totemic names like Greyhounds, Cobras and Scorpions are scouring the forests with a licence to kill. It's not enough that the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF) and the notorious Naga Battalion have already wreaked havoc and committed unconscionable atrocities in remote forest villages. It's not enough that the government supports and arms the Salwa Judum, the "people's militia" that has killed and raped and burned its way through the forests of Dantewada leaving 300,000 people homeless or on the run. Now the government is going to deploy the Indo-Tibetan border police and tens of thousands of paramilitary troops. It plans to set up a brigade headquarters in Bilaspur (which will displace nine villages) and an air base in Rajnandgaon (which will displace seven). Obviously, these decisions were taken a while ago. Surveys have been done, sites chosen. Interesting. War has been in the offing for a while. And now the helicopters of the Indian air force have been given the right to fire in "self-defence", the very right that the government denies its poorest citizens. Fire at whom? How will the security forces be able to distinguish a Maoist from an ordinary person who is running terrified through the jungle? Will adivasis carrying the bows and arrows they have carried for centuries now count as Maoists too? Are non-combatant Maoist sympathisers valid targets? When I was in Dantewada, the superintendent of police showed me pictures of 19 "Maoists" that "his boys" had killed. I asked him how I was supposed to tell they were Maoists. He said, "See Ma'am, they have malaria medicines, Dettol bottles, all these things from outside." What kind of war is Operation Green Hunt going to be? Will we ever know? Not much news comes out of the forests. Lalgarh in West Bengal has been cordoned off. Those who try to go in are being beaten and arrested. And called Maoists, of course. In Dantewada, the Vanvasi Chetana Ashram, a Gandhian ashram run by Himanshu Kumar, was bulldozed in a few hours. It was the last neutral outpost before the war zone begins, a place where journalists, activists, researchers and fact-finding teams could stay while they worked in the area. Meanwhile, the Indian establishment has unleashed its most potent weapon. Almost overnight, our embedded media has substituted its steady supply of planted, unsubstantiated, hysterical stories about "Islamist terrorism" with planted, unsubstantiated, hysterical stories about "Red terrorism". In the midst of this racket, at ground zero, the cordon of silence is being inexorably tightened. The "Sri Lanka solution" could very well be on the cards. It's not for nothing that the Indian government blocked a European move in the UN asking for an international probe into war crimes committed by the government of Sri Lanka in its recent offensive against the Tamil Tigers. The first move in that direction is the concerted campaign that has been orchestrated to shoehorn the myriad forms of resistance taking place in this country into a simple George Bush binary: If you are not with us, you are with the Maoists. The deliberate exaggeration of the Maoist "threat" helps the state justify militarisation. (And surely does no harm to the Maoists. Which political party would be unhappy to be singled out for such attention?) While all the oxygen is being used up by this new doppelganger of the "war on terror", the state will use the opportunity to mop up the hundreds of other resistance movements in the sweep of its military operation, calling them all Maoist sympathisers. I use the future tense, but this process is well under way. The West Bengal government tried to do this in Nandigram and Singur but failed. Right now in Lalgarh, the Pulishi Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee or the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities – which is a people's movement that is separate from, though sympathetic to, the Maoists – is routinely referred to as an overground wing of the CPI (Maoist). Its leader, Chhatradhar Mahato, now arrested and being held without bail, is always called a "Maoist leader". We all know the story of Dr Binayak Sen, a medical doctor and a civil liberties activist, who spent two years in jail on the absolutely facile charge of being a courier for the Maoists. While the light shines brightly on Operation Green Hunt, in other parts of India, away from the theatre of war, the assault on the rights of the poor, of workers, of the landless, of those whose lands the government wishes to acquire for "public purpose", will pick up pace. Their suffering will deepen and it will be that much harder for them to get a hearing. Once the war begins, like all wars, it will develop a momentum, a logic and an economics of its own. It will become a way of life, almost impossible to reverse. The police will be expected to behave like an army, a ruthless killing machine. The paramilitary will be expected to become like the police, a corrupt, bloated administrative force. We've seen it happen in Nagaland, Manipur and Kashmir. The only difference in the "heartland" will be that it'll become obvious very quickly to the security forces that they're only a little less wretched than the people they're fighting. In time, the divide between the people and the law enforcers will become porous. Guns and ammunition will be bought and sold. In fact, it's already happening. Whether it's the security forces or the Maoists or noncombatant civilians, the poorest people will die in this rich people's war. However, if anybody believes that this war will leave them unaffected, they should think again. The resources it'll consume will cripple the economy of this country. Last week, civil liberties groups from all over the country organised a series of meetings in Delhi to discuss what could be done to turn the tide and stop the war. The absence of Dr Balagopal, one of the best-known civil rights activists of Andhra Pradesh, who died two weeks ago, closed around us like a physical pain. He was one of the bravest, wisest political thinkers of our time and left us just when we needed him most. Still, I'm sure he would have been reassured to hear speaker after speaker displaying the vision, the depth, the experience, the wisdom, the political acuity and, above all, the real humanity of the community of activists, academics, lawyers, judges and a range of other people who make up the civil liberties community in India. Their presence in the capital signalled that outside the arclights of our TV studios and beyond the drumbeat of media hysteria, even among India's middle classes, a humane heart still beats. Small wonder then that these are the people who the Union home minister recently accused of creating an "intellectual climate" that was conducive to "terrorism". If that charge was meant to frighten people, it had the opposite effect. The speakers represented a range of opinion from the liberal to the radical left. Though none of those who spoke would describe themselves as Maoist, few were opposed in principle to the idea that people have a right to defend themselves against state violence. Many were uncomfortable about Maoist violence, about the "people's courts" that delivered summary justice, about the authoritarianism that was bound to permeate an armed struggle and marginalise those who did not have arms. But even as they expressed their discomfort, they knew that people's courts only existed because India's courts are out of the reach of ordinary people and that the armed struggle that has broken out in the heartland is not the first, but the very last option of a desperate people pushed to the very brink of existence. The speakers were aware of the dangers of trying to extract a simple morality out of individual incidents of heinous violence, in a situation that had already begun to look very much like war. Everybody had graduated long ago from equating the structural violence of the state with the violence of the armed resistance. In fact, retired Justice PB Sawant went so far as to thank the Maoists for forcing the establishment of this country to pay attention to the egregious injustice of the system. Hargopal from Andhra Pradesh spoke of his experience as a civil rights activist through the years of the Maoist interlude in his state. He mentioned in passing the fact that in a few days in Gujarat in 2002, Hindu mobs led by the Bajrang Dal and the VHP had killed more people than the Maoists ever had even in their bloodiest days in Andhra Pradesh. People who had come from the war zones, from Lalgarh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, described the police repression, the arrests, the torture, the killing, the corruption, and the fact that they sometimes seemed to take orders directly from the officials who worked for the mining companies. People described the often dubious, malign role being played by certain NGOs funded by aid agencies wholly devoted to furthering corporate prospects. Again and again they spoke of how in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh activists as well as ordinary people – anyone who was seen to be a dissenter – were being branded Maoists and imprisoned. They said that this, more than anything else, was pushing people to take up arms and join the Maoists. They asked how a government that professed its inability to resettle even a fraction of the 50 million people who had been displaced by "development" projects was suddenly able to identify 1,40,000 hectares of prime land to give to industrialists for more than 300 Special Economic Zones, India's onshore tax havens for the rich. They asked what brand of justice the supreme court was practising when it refused to review the meaning of "public purpose" in the land acquisition act even when it knew that the government was forcibly acquiring land in the name of "public purpose" to give to private corporations. They asked why when the government says that "the writ of the state must run", it seems to only mean that police stations must be put in place. Not schools or clinics or housing, or clean water, or a fair price for forest produce, or even being left alone and free from the fear of the police – anything that would make people's lives a little easier. They asked why the "writ of the state" could never be taken to mean justice. There was a time, perhaps 10 years ago, when in meetings like these, people were still debating the model of "development" that was being thrust on them by the New Economic Policy. Now the rejection of that model is complete. It is absolute. Everyone from the Gandhians to the Maoists agree on that. The only question now is, what is the most effective way to dismantle it? An old college friend of a friend, a big noise in the corporate world, had come along for one of the meetings out of morbid curiosity about a world he knew very little about. Even though he had disguised himself in a Fabindia kurta, he couldn't help looking (and smelling) expensive. At one point, he leaned across to me and said, "Someone should tell them not to bother. They won't win this one. They have no idea what they're up against. With the kind of money that's involved here, these companies can buy ministers and media barons and policy wonks, they can run their own NGOs, their own militias, they can buy whole governments. They'll even buy the Maoists. These good people here should save their breath and find something better to do." When people are being brutalised, what "better" thing is there for them to do than to fight back? It's not as though anyone's offering them a choice, unless it's to commit suicide, like some of the farmers caught in a spiral of debt have done. (Am I the only one who gets the feeling that the Indian establishment and its representatives in the media are far more comfortable with the idea of poor people killing themselves in despair than with the idea of them fighting back?) For several years, people in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal – some of them Maoists, many not – have managed to hold off the big corporations. The question now is, how will Operation Green Hunt change the nature of their struggle? What exactly are the fighting people up against? It's true that, historically, mining companies have often won their battles against local people. Of all corporations, leaving aside the ones that make weapons, they probably have the most merciless past. They are cynical, battle-hardened campaigners and when people say, "Jaan denge par jameen nahin denge" (We'll give away our lives, but never our land), it probably bounces off them like a light drizzle on a bomb shelter. They've heard it before, in a thousand different languages, in a hundred different countries. Right now in India, many of them are still in the first class arrivals lounge, ordering cocktails, blinking slowly like lazy predators, waiting for the Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) they have signed – some as far back as 2005 – to materialise into real money. But four years in a first class lounge is enough to test the patience of even the truly tolerant: the elaborate, if increasingly empty, rituals of democratic practice: the (sometimes rigged) public hearings, the (sometimes fake) environmental impact assessments, the (often purchased) clearances from various ministries, the long drawn-out court cases. Even phony democracy is time-consuming. And time is money. So what kind of money are we talking about? In their seminal, soon-to-be-published work, Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminum Cartel, Samarendra Das and Felix Padel say that the financial value of the bauxite deposits of Orissa alone is $2.27 trillion (more than twice India's GDP). That was at 2004 prices. At today's prices it would be about $4 trillion. Of this, officially the government gets a royalty of less than 7%. Quite often, if the mining company is a known and recognised one, the chances are that, even though the ore is still in the mountain, it will have already been traded on the futures market. So, while for the adivasis the mountain is still a living deity, the fountainhead of life and faith, the keystone of the ecological health of the region, for the corporation, it's just a cheap storage facility. Goods in storage have to be accessible. From the corporation's point of view, the bauxite will have to come out of the mountain. Such are the pressures and the exigencies of the free market. That's just the story of the bauxite in Orissa. Expand the $4 trillion to include the value of the millions of tonnes of high-quality iron ore in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and the 28 other precious mineral resources, including uranium, limestone, dolomite, coal, tin, granite, marble, copper, diamond, gold, quartzite, corundum, beryl, alexandrite, silica, fluorite and garnet. Add to that the power plants, the dams, the highways, the steel and cement factories, the aluminium smelters, and all the other infrastructure projects that are part of the hundreds of MoUs (more than 90 in Jharkhand alone) that have been signed. That gives us a rough outline of the scale of the operation and the desperation of the stakeholders. The forest once known as the Dandakaranya, which stretches from West Bengal through Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, parts of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, is home to millions of India's tribal people. The media has taken to calling it the Red corridor or the Maoist corridor. It could just as accurately be called the MoUist corridor. It doesn't seem to matter at all that the fifth schedule of the constitution provides protection to adivasi people and disallows the alienation of their land. It looks as though the clause is there only to make the constitution look good – a bit of window-dressing, a slash of make-up. Scores of corporations, from relatively unknown ones to the biggest mining companies and steel manufacturers in the world, are in the fray to appropriate adivasi homelands – the Mittals, Jindals, Tata, Essar, Posco, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and, of course, Vedanta. There's an MoU on every mountain, river and forest glade. We're talking about social and environmental engineering on an unimaginable scale. And most of this is secret. It's not in the public domain. Somehow I don't think that the plans afoot that would destroy one of the world's most pristine forests and ecosystems, as well as the people who live in it, will be discussed at the climate change conference in Copenhagen. Our 24-hour news channels that are so busy hunting for macabre stories of Maoist violence – and making them up when they run out of the real thing – seem to have no interest at all in this side of the story. I wonder why? Perhaps it's because the development lobby to which they are so much in thrall says the mining industry will ratchet up the rate of GDP growth dramatically and provide employment to the people it displaces. This does not take into account the catastrophic costs of environmental damage. But even on its own narrow terms, it is simply untrue. Most of the money goes into the bank accounts of the mining corporations. Less than 10% comes to the public exchequer. A very tiny percentage of the displaced people get jobs, and those who do, earn slave-wages to do humiliating, backbreaking work. By caving in to this paroxysm of greed, we are bolstering other countries' economies with our ecology. When the scale of money involved is what it is, the stakeholders are not always easy to identify. Between the CEOs in their private jets and the wretched tribal special police officers in the "people's" militias – who for a couple of thousand rupees a month fight their own people, rape, kill and burn down whole villages in an effort to clear the ground for mining to begin – there is an entire universe of primary, secondary and tertiary stakeholders. These people don't have to declare their interests, but they're allowed to use their positions and good offices to further them. How will we ever know which political party, which ministers, which MPs, which politicians, which judges, which NGOs, which expert consultants, which police officers, have a direct or indirect stake in the booty? How will we know which newspapers reporting the latest Maoist "atrocity", which TV channels "reporting directly from ground zero" – or, more accurately, making it a point not to report from ground zero, or even more accurately, lying blatantly from ground zero – are stakeholders? What is the provenance of the billions of dollars (several times more than India's GDP) secretly stashed away by Indian citizens in Swiss bank accounts? Where did the $2bn spent on the last general elections come from? Where do the hundreds of millions of rupees that politicians and parties pay the media for the "high-end", "low-end" and "live" pre-election "coverage packages" that P Sainath recently wrote about come from? (The next time you see a TV anchor haranguing a numb studio guest, shouting, "Why don't the Maoists stand for elections? Why don't they come in to the mainstream?", do SMS the channel saying, "Because they can't afford your rates.") Too many questions about conflicts of interest and cronyism remain unanswered. What are we to make of the fact that the Union home minister, P Chidambaram, the chief of Operation Green Hunt, has, in his career as a corporate lawyer, represented several mining corporations? What are we to make of the fact that he was a non-executive director of Vedanta – a position from which he resigned the day he became finance minister in 2004? What are we to make of the fact that, when he became finance minister, one of the first clearances he gave for FDI was to Twinstar Holdings, a Mauritius-based company, to buy shares in Sterlite, a part of the Vedanta group? What are we to make of the fact that, when activists from Orissa filed a case against Vedanta in the supreme court, citing its violations of government guidelines and pointing out that the Norwegian Pension Fund had withdrawn its investment from the company alleging gross environmental damage and human rights violations committed by the company, Justice Kapadia suggested that Vedanta be substituted with Sterlite, a sister company of the same group? He then blithely announced in an open court that he, too, had shares in Sterlite. He gave forest clearance to Sterlite to go ahead with the mining, despite the fact that the supreme court's own expert committee had explicitly said that permission should be denied and that mining would ruin the forests, water sources, environment and the lives and livelihoods of the thousands of tribals living there. Justice Kapadia gave this clearance without rebutting the report of the supreme court's own committee. What are we to make of the fact that the Salwa Judum, the brutal ground-clearing operation disguised as a "spontaneous" people's militia in Dantewada, was formally inaugurated in 2005, just days after the MoU with the Tatas was signed? And that the Jungle Warfare Training School in Bastar was set up just around then? What are we to make of the fact that two weeks ago, on 12 October, the mandatory public hearing for Tata Steel's steel project in Lohandiguda, Dantewada, was held in a small hall inside the collectorate, cordoned off with massive security, with an audience of 50 tribal people brought in from two Bastar villages in a convoy of government jeeps? (The public hearing was declared a success and the district collector congratulated the people of Bastar for their co-operation.) What are we to make of the fact that just around the time the prime minister began to call the Maoists the "single largest internal security threat" (which was a signal that the government was getting ready to go after them), the share prices of many of the mining companies in the region skyrocketed? The mining companies desperately need this "war". They will be the beneficiaries if the impact of the violence drives out the people who have so far managed to resist the attempts that have been made to evict them. Whether this will indeed be the outcome, or whether it'll simply swell the ranks of the Maoists remains to be seen. Reversing this argument, Dr Ashok Mitra, former finance minister of West Bengal, in an article called "The Phantom Enemy", argues that the "grisly serial murders" that the Maoists are committing are a classic tactic, learned from guerrilla warfare textbooks. He suggests that they have built and trained a guerrilla army that is now ready to take on the Indian state, and that the Maoist "rampage" is a deliberate attempt on their part to invite the wrath of a blundering, angry Indian state which the Maoists hope will commit acts of cruelty that will enrage the adivasis. That rage, Dr Mitra says, is what the Maoists hope can be harvested and transformed into an insurrection. This, of course, is the charge of "adventurism" that several currents of the left have always levelled at the Maoists. It suggests that Maoist ideologues are not above inviting destruction on the very people they claim to represent in order to bring about a revolution that will bring them to power. Ashok Mitra is an old Communist who had a ringside seat during the Naxalite uprising of the 60s and 70s in West Bengal. His views cannot be summarily dismissed. But it's worth keeping in mind that the adivasi people have a long and courageous history of resistance that predates the birth of Maoism. To look upon them as brainless puppets being manipulated by a few middle-class Maoist ideologues is to do them a disservice. Presumably Dr Mitra is talking about the situation in Lalgarh where, up to now, there has been no talk of mineral wealth. (Lest we forget – the current uprising in Lalgarh was sparked off over the chief minister's visit to inaugurate a Jindal Steel factory. And where there's a steel factory, can the iron ore be very far away?) The people's anger has to do with their desperate poverty, and the decades of suffering at the hands of the police and the Harmads, the armed militia of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that has ruled West Bengal for more than 30 years. Even if, for argument's sake, we don't ask what tens of thousands of police and paramilitary troops are doing in Lalgarh, and we accept the theory of Maoist "adventurism", it would still be only a very small part of the picture. The real problem is that the flagship of India's miraculous "growth" story has run aground. It came at a huge social and environmental cost. And now, as the rivers dry up and forests disappear, as the water table recedes and as people realise what is being done to them, the chickens are coming home to roost. All over the country, there's unrest, there are protests by people refusing to give up their land and their access to resources, refusing to believe false promises any more. Suddenly, it's beginning to look as though the 10% growth rate and democracy are mutually incompatible. To get the bauxite out of the flat-topped hills, to get iron ore out from under the forest floor, to get 85% of India's people off their land and into the cities (which is what Chidambaram says he'd like to see), India has to become a police state. The government has to militarise. To justify that militarisation, it needs an enemy. The Maoists are that enemy. They are to corporate fundamentalists what the Muslims are to Hindu fundamentalists. (Is there a fraternity of fundamentalists? Is that why the RSS has expressed open admiration for Chidambaram?) It would be a grave mistake to imagine that the paramilitary troops, the Rajnandgaon air base, the Bilaspur brigade headquarters, the unlawful activities act, the Chhattisgarh special public security act and Operation Green Hunt are all being put in place just to flush out a few thousand Maoists from the forests. In all the talk of Operation Green Hunt, whether or not Chidambaram goes ahead and "presses the button", I detect the kernel of a coming state of emergency. (Here's a maths question: If it takes 600,000 soldiers to hold down the tiny valley of Kashmir, how many will it take to contain the mounting rage of hundreds of millions of people?) Instead of narco-analysing Kobad Ghandy, the recently arrested Maoist leader, it might be a better idea to talk to him. In the meanwhile, will someone who's going to the climate change conference in Copenhagen later this year please ask the only question worth asking: Can we leave the bauxite in the mountain? Leave A Comment & Share Your Insights Comments (14) Comment Policy Fair Use Notice -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ShareThis Share

donderdag 8 oktober 2009

kyoto for Cindy

13th Harvard University Round Table
Kyoto Session
Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN)
Kyoto, Japan
30 – 31 May 2009
13th Harvard University Round Table
Kyoto Session, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN)
30 – 31 May 2009
May 30
09:00-09:10 Introduction Narifumi Tachimoto
Discussion on the dispersal of agriculture and domestic animals in Asia, especially South Asia
09:10-09:15 Section summary Yo-Ichiro Sato
09:15-10:15 Late Harappan “collapse”, the opening of central Asia and long-distance
crop movements Dorian Q Fuller
10:15-11:15 Cropping Strategies and the Indus Civilization: New Crops, Regional
Variation, and Climatic Adjustments Steven A. Weber
11:15-12:15 Two very different millets: Setaria itralica and Spodiopogon formosanus, in
Asia Emiko Takei
12:15-13:15 Lunch
13:15-14:15 The Spread of Domestic Animals in South and East Asia Richard Meadow
Current Trends in Harappan Archaeology
14:15-14:20 Section summary Toshiki Osada
14:20-15:20 Cemetery Assemblages, Stratigraphy, and Chronology: A view from
Harappa Jonathan M. Kenoyer
15:20-15:35 Break
15:35-16:35 Harappa: The Role of an Urbanized Bronze Age Populace in the Population
History of South Asia Brian Hemphill
16:35-17:35 Human Burial Customs during 3rd and 2nd Millennia BC in Haryana
and Kuch: An Analytical Approach Vasant Shinde
The Harappan Burials in Gujarat P. Ajithprasad
May 31
Discussion on wide connection between South Asia and Gulf including issue of the Indus script
09:00-09:05 Section summary Toshiki Osada
09:05-10:05 The collapse of the Indus-script thesis, five years later: Massive non-literate
urban civilizations of ancient Eurasia Steve Farmer
10:05-11:05 Four World Quarters in the late 3rd millennium BC: Ur <> Shimashki <>
Meluhha <> Magan (and the bits in between) Daniel Potts
11:05-12:05 The Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus) in Harappan, Dravidian and Indo-
Iranian record Asko Parpola
12:05-13:00 Lunch
On the diversity of wheat varieties types and linguistic diversity in India: A hot spot of DNA
and languages
13:00-13:05 Section summary Michael Witzel, Yo-Ichiro Sato and Toshiki Osada
13:05-14:05 Genetic diversity of Afghan wheat landraces and their potential for future
breeding Tsuneo Sasanuma
14:05-15:05 Traditional management of agrobiodiversity of Rukai aboriginal peoples in
Taiwan Hsin-Fu Yen
15:05-15:20 Break
15:20-16:20 A hot spot of linguistic diversity in the Greater Hindukush/Pamir area: The
names of agricultural plants Michael Witzel
Preface (M. Witzel)…………………………………………………………………… 1
Discussion on the dispersal of agriculture and domestic animals in Asia, especially South Asia
Late Harappan “collapse”, the opening of central Asia and long-distance crop movements
(D.Q Fu l l e r ) ………………………………………………………………………… 3
Cropping Strategies and the Indus Civilization: New Crops, Regional Variation,
and Climatic Adjustments (S.A. Weber)……………………………………………12
Two very different millets: Setaria itralica and Spodiopogon formosanus, in Asia
(E. Takei)…………………………………………………………………………………13
The Spread of Domestic Animals in South and East Asia (R. Meadow)………………16
Current Trends in Harappan Archaeology
Cemetery Assemblages, Stratigraphy, and Chronology: A view from Harappa
(J.M. Kenoyer)…………………………………………………………………………17
Harappa: The Role of an Urbanized Bronze Age Populace in the Population
History of South Asia (B. Hemphill)……………………………………………………19
Human Burial Customs during 3rd and 2nd Millennia BC in Haryana and Kuch:
An Analytical Approach (V. Shinde)………………………………………………………22
The Harappan Burials in Gujarat (P. Ajithprasad)…………………………………………24
Discussion on wide connection between South Asia and Gulf including issue of the Indus script
Four World Quarters in the late 3rd millennium BC: Ur <> Shimashki <> Meluhha <>
Magan(and the bits in between) (D. Potts)………………………………………………29
The collapse of the Indus-script thesis, five years later: Massive non-literate urban
civilizations of ancient Eurasia (S. Farmer)………………………………………………31
The Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus) in Harappan, Dravidian and Indo-Iranian record
(A. Parpola)………………………………………………………………………………33
On the diversity of wheat varieties types and linguistic diversity in India: A hot spot of DNA and languages
Genetic diversity of Afghan wheat landraces and their potential for future breeding
(T. Sasanuma)……………………………………………………………………………36
Traditional management of agrobiodiversity of Rukai aboriginal peoples in Taiwan
(H.-F. Yen)………………………………………………………………………………38
A hot spot of linguistic diversity in the Greater Hindukush/Pamir area:
The names of agricultural plants (M. Witzel)……………………………………………40
Our series of Round Tables began ten years ago with the cooperation between Harvard
archaeologists, linguists and textual scholars. Our aims stated in 1999 remain the same now:
we want to ascertain and describe the present state of the art in our respective disciplines
and we try to overcome the existing mutual incomprehension between our respective fields.
We aim to avoid using the partial results of disciplines other than our own without first
gaining a closer understanding of their background, procedures and limitations, as this has
lead, all too frequently, to circular feedback and argumentation. What is needed instead, we
feel, is more direct interaction, especially between archeologists, geneticists, anthropologists,
textual and linguistic scholars as each of our fields represents only one sector of the evidence
available for the historical problems at hand.
From the beginning, we have stressed that, preferably, an overlap of large sections
of the data available in our fields should be established; close interdisciplinary cooperation
would enable comparison of such data with as little initial interpretation as possible. Our
stress thus was and is on more, consistent cooperation.
During our meetings, we have always aimed at relative short presentations,
followed by extensive interdisciplinary discussion. At our Harvard meetings they famously
were nearly ‘endless’ ones – so that all participants were satisfied with the answers given to
their questions. While we will not have the same amount of time at this year’s meeting,
a significant section (20 minutes) as been set apart for detailed discussion. This time limit
must be respected for the sake of scholarly exchange, and presentations must be restricted to
the allotted time frame of 40 minutes.
Over the years, we have consistently expanded the areas covered by our Round
Tables: since 2001 by human and plant genetics and since 2004 by comparative mythology.
In 2005, due to the kind invitation of and skillful organization by RHIN
sanctioned by its then Director-General T. Hidaka, we could hold an international meeting
here at Kyoto. Its results have promptly been published by T. Osada -- something we had
not done before. We are very grateful for the invitation, organization, and ready assistance in
all practical matters of this memorable Round Table that covered most areas of Asia.
In some other years, on the contrary, we have dealt at length with just one
particular topic, such as in October 2006 in a meeting on Southeast Asian and Sahul Land
linguistic problems, on the respective remnant languages and substrates, or in May 2006 in a
meeting at Peking University devoted to comparative mythology; this topic has subsequently
been split off, after our section during the 2005 RHIN meeting, and is now dealt with at
length by a separate organization, the International Association for Comparative Mythology,
IACM. We will have a separate meeting about this topic at the Kokugakuin University,
Tokyo, on May 23/24 of this year.
Since 2006, we have also returned to our earlier format of Round Tables, and
have held a small but well attended Round Table at Harvard last year that was attended by
Professors T. Osada and Y.I. Sato -- an invitation that they kindly have returned to us now
by organizing the present Round Table and by bringing a large number scholars of Indus
archeology and related fields to Kyoto, for which we are very grateful. We wish this meeting
the same great success that RHIN has achieved in organizing the 2005 Round Table.
By constantly keeping up our dialogue between the various disciplines dealing
with early South and Central Asia (and often beyond), we have, to a large degree, succeeded
in a better mutual understanding of our individual aims, methods and the limits of our
respective fields, resulting in a better evaluation of our individual results.
It must be admitted, though, that in spite of constant interaction, our terminology
is not yet always the same -- as we will also notice in the present symposium-- and that some
engrained conceptions remain, due to the individual pathway dependencies of our respective
fields. Continuing with our dialogue thus is of great importance.
In addition, some serious issues remain unresolved among participants; some of
them will be picked up during this year’s Round Table. We hope that the present meeting
will lead to still a better mutual understanding between our respective disciplines.
We thank the authorities of RHIN and all those who helped in preparing this
Round Table for their extensive efforts, expressing our hope that the results of this Round
Table will be as significant, or even more so than those of the memorable 2005 one
organized by RHIN.
Michael Witzel
Framing a Middle Asian corridor of crop exchange and agricultural innovation
Dorian Q Fuller
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK
(currently visiting research fellow at Research Institute for Humanity & Nature, project 9)
This presentation explores the archaeobotanical patterns from Asia through Eastern
Africa at a large comparative scale, reviewing the evidence for exchanged of crops (cereals,
pulses fruits), and cropping systems, over long distances and between very different
cultural traditions. The “Middle Asian” region, stretching from the Arabian Peninsula
through the Iranian Plateau and Central Asia, represents both the frontier between
monsoonal and winter-rain climates, but also a corridor of smaller-scale more mobile
societies that seems to have played a key role to moving crops and innovations, starting
from the Third Millennium BC. It will assess the selective spread and adoption of crops
as they entered new agricultural and culinary worlds: wheat, barley and pastoralism
Figure 1. Map of general zones of early agricultural origins in the eastern Old World.
moved East into China before 2000 BC; select Chinese cultivars, including seed crops and
fruits, spread to Central Asia, the Indus region and beyond to Yemen and Africa; African
staple crops moved East to South Asia and beyond. At a later period, at the End of Bronze
Age or Iron Age, innovations in irrigation and labour intensive crops like cotton may have
followed similar pathways. The processes of selected crop spreads must been understood
within a local context of suitability to existing systems of food production and food
consumption, and the ability of systems to adapt existing systems of agricultural labour.
Archaeobotanical research has a key role to play in better documenting these processes,
and more effort is called for to fill in major geographical and chronological gaps in current
evidence. The background for this paper lies in our improved understanding of the separate
origins of agriculture across several parts of the Old World. A selection of domestication
centres is summarized on the map in Figure 1, indicating paired millet and rice foci in both
India and China, as well as two unconfirmed plausibly central Asian regions for additional
millet domestications. (Note that this map lumps some of the distinct sub-centres of early
agriculture in South Asia, which the author has outlined in detail elsewhere). In broad terms
the Old World grain cultures can be divided into the summer, monsoon-driven systems of
East Asia, South Asia and sub-Saharan African and the uniquely winter-rain-based system of
southwest Asia. There were also probably multiple eutropical vegecultural centres of origins
(like that indicated for New Guinea/Indonesia). Exchanges of crop species between these
centres of origin took place both across the seasonality frontier, i.e. as winter crops moved
east into China and India, but also between the different summer crop zones. This will
highlight our current understanding of the evidence for these crop transfers, which seem to
have been remarkably simultaneous, with exchanges starting sometime around ca. 2500 BC
and finished by perhaps ca. 1800-1600 BC.
The selective uptake of Western Domesticates in Chalcolithic China
Chinese agriculture today and historically includes an important component of
dry-crops, including both native millets and introduced wheat and barley. These are crops
native to Southwest Asia that spread eastwards with the initial Neolithic as far as Pakistan
and Turkmenistan, where they were established before 6000 BC. By contrast the first
appearance of wheat and barley in China is dated to ca. 2600 BC, and for much of central
China, where Chinese Shang civilization emerged, they appear only in the Bronze Age, from
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
ca. 1800 BC. In addition, central China received domesticated taurine cattle and sheep from
the West, ultimately from southwest Asia. Both of these animal domesticates appear between
2500-2000 BC, i..e in the Longshan period. For all of these domesticates it is clear that their
adoption was a selective process, which must have been governed by local agricultural and
culinary preferences in China. Of the Near Eastern crops it is only bread wheat which is
widespread, tetraploids wheats (emmer and durum), so frequent in Western Asia are absent,
barley is extremely rare as an accompaniment to wheat, and the other Near Eastern founders
crops (pulses, flax) are entirely absent. Amongst animals, goats seem to have made little
headway in central China. This same process of diffusion is suggested to have introduced
copper metallurgy.
Chinese millets outside China
The earliest agriculture in China was based on broomcorn millet (Panicum
miliaceum) and common foxtail millet (Setaria italica), both probably domesticated by
ca. 6000 BC in northern China. It remains a point of some debate as to whether either of
these species had additional regions of domestication outside of China, such as in western
Central Asia, around the Caucasus perhaps (for Panicum) or northern Afghanistan (for
Setaria) (see Figure 1). One hypothesis suggests that Panicum miliaceum alone spread early
in the middle Holocene across the northern steppes of Asia to reach eastern Europe by the
Neolithic at around 5000 BC. While that hypothesis remains unsubstantiated, unambiguous
evidence for Panicum miliaceum in central Asia comes from the mid-late Third Millennium
BC. This same period also sees reports of Panicum miliaceum on the Arabia peninsula,
suggesting that it may have spread south from Iran. By ca. 1900 BC this millet is found in
Pakistan and possibly Gujarat. It also spread beyond Yemen to Africa, as indicated by finds
from the Kerma period in Nubia (by. 1700-1600 BC) and later Iron Age cultivation. The
period that this species first occurs in South Asia, after 2000 BC might also be when the
other Chinese millet, Setaria italica arrived there. This raises another area of continuing
uncertainly over the antiquity of Setaria italica in South Asia. While it has been suggested to
be in Gujarat as early as 2600 BC, difficulties with species level identification in the genus
Setaria, and between Setaria and Brachiaria ramosa raises reasons to doubt earlier reports,
which is equally true of early Setaria reports from Arabia, Iran and central Asia. I propose
the hypothesis that both Chinese millets saw their main period of spread from China to
Framing a Middle Asian corridor of crop exchange and agricultural innovation (D. Q Fuller)
central Asia and southwards towards India and Africa in the late Third and Early Second
Millennia BC, together with less ambiguous evidence for several other crop plants and some
technologies of Chinese origin.
Figure 2. A schematic map of crop exchanges between Africa-India,
China-India with approximate dates.
A Chinese horizon in Northwestern South Asia: Other crops & technology
Archaeobotanical evidence indicates that a few other crops, originating in China,
have their first appearances outside China in northwestern South Asia, during the Late
Harappan time Horizon (Figure 2). These include two fruit tree crops, apricot and peach,
both of which have a rich archaeobotanical record in Central China, from the Yellow River
to the Yangzte, from 6000 BC onwards. While it is unclear when they came to be cultivated
as opposed to collected, it seems likely that they were cultivated by later Neolithic/Longshan
times, and they must have been cultivars when these species began to planted beyond their
wild distribution (which extends westwards to the Tian Shan Mountains). Thus finds from
the Late Neolithic of Kashmir (at Burzahom and Semthan) which date to after 2000 BC
provide the earliest unequivocal evidence of their cultivation, and their transport outside
China. Interestingly these sites also provide evidence for a technology of Chinese origin, the
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
hand held harvest knife, which traces its roots to the Cishan-Peiligang Neolithic in China,
but occurs outside China in the Late Harappan era both in Kashmir, where such tools had
earlier been absent, and in Swat. Although in China these are initially associated with millet
cultivation, and later with Yangtze rice, the spread to Kashmir represents a selective adoption
of this technology into a culture where agriculture was focused on wheat and barley.
Rice may also have spread from China at this time, although the history of rice
is complex and likely involves more than one source. In all likelihood early finds of rice
in Harappan contexts (e.g. Kunal) and in Swat from the Third Millennium BC are likely
to represent a spread of primitive indica cultivars, indigenous to the Ganges. However,
modern indica cultivars contain genes borrowed from East Asian japonica rice, indicating
that hybridization between these two lineages of rice was essential to improved productivity
and success of monsoon-adapted indica rices. The Late Harappan ‘Chinese’ horizon in the
northwest, which included finger knives, may have included japonica rice as well. Short
rice grains, a trait typical of temperate japonica and short-stalked bulliform phytoliths (also
typical of japonica) both occur at Late Harappan Pirak, Baluchistan, strongly suggesting that
some japonica rice strains had been introduced by ca. 1900 BC.
A final crop which makes its first appearance in India at this time, but which has
earlier origins in East Asia is Cannabis sativa. Genetic proxies suggest that East and South
Asian Cannabis varieties, especially for drug use, are related. There is plausibly a second
separate derivation in western Central Asia/ Eastern Europe. The earliest archaeobotanical
finds comes from near Obama Bay Japan, at the Torihama Shell Midden, before 3500 BC,
with Late Yangshao finds reported from northern China. In South Asia this species occurs at
Senuwar Period 2 (after 2000 BC) in the Middle Ganges, Phytoliths from Harappan Period
4/5 (after 2000 BC) and Harappan Kunal (Period 1C, but inadequate publication and
overlying later deposits suggest some caution).
For all of the above reasons, I am prone to reject more dubious claims for earlier
dispersals of Chinese millets and to suggest that these also came into northwest South Asia in
this same general “Chinese” horizon at the start of the Second Millennium BC, or perhaps
the late Third Millennium (Figure 2). The earliest evidence for possible contacts between
China and India via the Bengal-Assam-Yunnan route are later (perhaps from ca. 1200 BC?,
as indicated by the first Gangetic find of the fibre crop ramie), although archaeological
evidence from this region is extremely sparse.
Framing a Middle Asian corridor of crop exchange and agricultural innovation (D. Q Fuller)
The African horizon in savannah India
The importance of the early appearance of African domesticates in South Asia
has long been noted. These included Sorghum and hyacinth beans from the Eastern
savannahs, pearl millet and cowpea from the western Savannahs, and finger millet from
the East African hilly zones. Although there remain some debates over the antiquity and
identification of some finds, especially of finger millet, there is no doubt that several Africa
domesticates were established in parts of South Asia by Late Harappan times. A focus of
early African crop diversity outside Africa was Late Harappan Gujarat (2000-1700 BC)
and some of these species had spread to the South Indian savannahs by 1600-1500 BC,
confirmed by direct AMS dates on hyacinth bean. Early finds in the Ganges are perhaps a
couple of centuries later, although some reports from the Eastern Harappan zone may be
early but remains poorly documented. Some of these crops spread further east, including
finger millet to Yunnan and northern Southeast Asia and sorghum to China, but these
dispersal remain undocumented. As with the spread of Chinese crops, of Western crops
Figure 3. A generalized map of important cultural zones of the Eastern
Old World at ca. 3000 BC.
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
to China, the adoption of African crops in India appears to have been a piecemeal process, as
they were selectively added as fairly minor supplements to established indigenous agricultural
systems. In the longer term they played an important role in increasing agricultural diversity
and adaptability.
A role for small scale societies: central Asian horsemen and Arabian boatmen
The evidence for the movement of domesticates, presumably through contacts of
long distance trade, raises the question as to who were the players in such trade and who
were the principle transporters. Similar questions surround the identity of those who moved
crops from Africa to India, and vice-versa, by ca. 2000 BC or shortly thereafter. While the
obvious candidates might seem to be the major urban civilizations, which we know to have
been part of trade networks, the hard evidence suggests that this was not the case. However,
I will argue that it was not the big players and better known urban states that were involved,
but rather the smaller-scale, less centralized and more mobile societies that operated on
the interstices. A comparison of the Asian works at around 3000 BC, the era of the Early
Figure 4. A generalized map of important cultural zones of the Eastern
Old World at ca. 3000 BC.
Framing a Middle Asian corridor of crop exchange and agricultural innovation (D. Q Fuller)
Harappan period, Sumer, the Late Yangshao and Liangzhu Neolithics of China, is one in
which there are fairly clearly defined foci on increasing population density, sedentism, and
trade of raw materials, mainly mineral, from peripheries. Trade links were relatively limited
(e.g. the upper Persian Gulf, the Iranian plateau, between Egypt, Nubia and the Red Sea;
between the Shandong Peninsula and the Lower Yangtze). By contrast the world at closer to
2000 BC is very different.
For one thing, the civilizations of the Indus and the Yellow river (the Longshan
horizon) had expanded, and trade in and around these spheres increased, as did that between
Egypt and Kerma. Also, however, there is important evidence for the spatial expansion of
cultural connections across the Asian steppe (the Andronov horizon) and in Arabia (with the
Wadi Suq/Dilmun horizon). The expanding connections of these latter, less-sedentary and
more mobile groups, aided no doubt by increased use of camel and horses on the on hand
and improved boats on the other, may have been the key component in transmitting crops
over long distances as part of expanding trade contacts. These mobile groups helped to stitch
together the previously separate worlds, of the jade-focused trading sphere of China (Late
Yangshao-Qiujialing-Dawenkou-Liangzhu) and the metal-trading sphere of western Asia
(in which tin and copper figured importantly). On the Arabia end of the world the incense
trade, which is at the roots of the later extensive spice trade, became linked to Middle Asian
exchanges. The fact that this period also witnessed the decline of the many urban/ proto-
Urban societies, such as the Harappan cities, is probably also important. It suggests that
innovations in trade and agriculture may have contributed to undermining established urban
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
Figure 5. A schematic of the two major Asian trading spheres of the Third Millennium BC
which become increasingly inter-linked through mobile small scale societies in
between 2500 and 1900 BC. A similar role is implicated for Arabian coastal boating
communities for linking the Red Sea and Arabian Sea trade networks.
Framing a Middle Asian corridor of crop exchange and agricultural innovation (D. Q Fuller)
Cropping Strategies and the Indus Civilization: New Crops,
Regional Variation, and Climatic Adjustments
Steven A. Weber
Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, USA
Agricultural practices within the Indus Civilization were continually evolving like all aspects
of culture. The introduction of new crops alongside shifts in climate have either allowed
or required new cropping strategies to develop. When cultural, ecological and botanical
variables are taken into consideration the complexity of the Indus strategy becomes clear.
This paper explores this complexity and offers alternative avenues for archaeobotanical
research. A thorough examination of the archaeobotanical record will give us insights into
the link between ecology and culture, which in turn will help us better understand the
evolution of the Indus civilization.
Patterns in Harappan agriculture. Pie
charts represent the summed presence
of crops across the sites in three areas
of the Harappan civilization during the
Mature Period. Blue shades indicate
winter crops; red, summer crops.
Presence of major crops/crop groups is
indicated with whiskers. Locations of
sites with only Early or Late Harappan
evidence also indicated, but not
included in the sum. Western sites (1-
10), Northern/Eastern sites (17-25),
Southeasterrn sites (31-38). (Map by
D.Q Fuller)
Two very different millets: Setaria italica and Spodiopogon formosanus in Asia
Emiko Takei
Distribution and Communication Sciences, Osaka Gakuin University, Japan
In Asia, there are many small-grained cereal species known as millets. In this paper I compare
just two examples, the wide-ranging Setaria italica and the local-endemic Spodiopogon
Setaria italica also known as foxtail millet is an annual grass cultivated almost
throughout Eurasia, in cool temperate to fully tropical areas. It is historically important
as a crop that can be grown in very diverse environments. The wild type, Setaria viridis, is
itself widespread and easily dispersed as a weed species, and is now cosmopolitan. Within
foxtail millet, we can find many local landraces and varieties that display variation in plant
height, tillering, panicle number and size, daylight sensitivity, glume and seed color, and
starch qualities. As starch qualities there are distinct glutinous and non-glutinous forms. The
glutinous form is found in East and Southeast Asia, and diversified use is developed such as
sticky steamed cakes and fermented drinks. In the Ryukyu archipelago and Taiwan, sowing
and harvesting of foxtail millet were objects of major seasonal rituals.
Spodiopgon formosanus is a little-known endemic crop of Taiwan. This perennial
grass was first described by Rendle in 1904, on the basis of one specimen collected in
Southern Taiwan. The genus Spodiopgon has about ten known species, and ranges from
West to Northeast Asia. S. formosanus is the only species that has been reported in
cultivation, and is only cultivated by the Taiwan native people. This plant was collected
by Japanese botanists during the Japanese occupation period (1895-1945), but was not
well documented as cultivated plant, and was misidentified by ethnographers. For want
of a proper name, ethnographers referred to it as "hie", the Japanese name for Ehinochloa
utilis, Japanese barnyard millet, a crop that is common in Japan but never grown in Taiwan.
Through this and other confusions in naming, Spodiopgon formosanus has been almost
invisible, in literature, for over a century.
Two closely related wild species are known in Taiwan, S. cotulifer and S.
tainanensis. S. cotulifer is widespread in warm temperate areas from Northeast India, to
China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. In Japan it is a common grass on sunny hillside with
moderate and infrequent human disturbance. On the other hand, S. tainanensis is endemic
to Taiwan, an alpine grass growing on mountain slopes. Both relatives have the same
chromosome number as S. formosanus, 2n=40, but only S. cotulifer is common in settled
areas, in ruderal habitats. From its proximity in habitat, and similarity in morphology, S.
cotulifer is an obvious candidate progenitor for S. formosanus, but this possibility has not
yet been investigated.
Historical and oral reports indicate that S. formosanus was grown in the shifting
cultivations of mountain villages from North to South in Taiwan, as well as foxtail millet.
Now it is cultivated in just a few villages in the central and southern mountains, by Bunun,
Rukai, Paiwan people. The plant is perennial, tillering, with non-shattering panicles, and has
oily stems and seeds. After dehusking, the grains are made into porridge. Although different
ethnic groups in different areas have been growing this plant, almost no variation is evident
among cultivars, except for the presence or absence of red pigmentation on the plant. The
starch is non-glutinous, and informants clearly state that the crop is not suitable for making
sticky steamed cakes. Agricultural rituals were previously recorded for this crop, but the
rituals have disappeared.
From archaeology, and from the differentiation of many landraces throughout
its range, we can see that foxtail millet must be an ancient crop even though we cannot be
sure exactly when and where it was domesticated. Although there is no comparable body of
information, Spodiopgon formosanus could be an ancient domesticate in Taiwan, but one
that never spread beyond the island. Most crops in the country are introductions of greater
or lesser antiquity. Foxtail millet is certainly one of the older introduced crops.
Despite their very different historical records, foxtail millet and Spodiopogon
formosanus may have been domesticated in similar ways. The likely progenitors of both
grasses can easily grow in disturbed, open habitats in the vicinity of settlements, and in both
grasses -- as in other cereal crops -- selection for the non-shattering seed habit may have been
of primary importance for domestication. However, because Spodiopogon formosanus has
remained endemic within Taiwan, it has not been exposed to selection in diverse physical
and social environments, and has had no opportunity to diversify into numerous local
landraces and varieties.
The continued survival of this crop is not certain. It is clear that its abundance and
range in cultivation declined throughout the 20th century. Over the same period, the most
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
obvious changes in local economy have been the expansion of cash-cropping and a decline in
local production of staple foods. Among the many indigenous crops in Taiwan, Spodiopgon
formosanus may face the greatest risk of extinction. I can see some hope for this crop within
Taiwan indigenous movements to maintain, restore and develop cultural traditions.
Two very different millets: Setaria italica and Spodiopogon formosanus in Asia (E. Takei)
Setaria italica field, Kurnool District, India (Photo by D.Q Fuller)
The Spread of Domestic Animals in South and East Asia
Richard Meadow
Peabody Museum and Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, USA
Archaeological, zoorchaeological, and genetic research over the last decade shows that South
Asia was a significant player in bovid domestication and the development of pastoralism.
Recent analysis particularly of mtDNA from modern cattle and water buffalo indicate that
wild forms of these animals native to northwestern South Asia contributed in differing
degrees to the genomes of their domestic descendants. The spread of these domestic forms
into East Asia, as suggested by recent zooarchaeological research in China, underlines the
importance of South Asia in the development of pastoral practices in surrounding regions as
Bos & Bubalus herd, Kurnool District, India (Photo by D.Q Fuller)
Cemetery Assemblages, Stratigraphy, and Chronology: A view from Harappa
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer
Department of Archaeology, University of Wisconsin, USA
The main focus of this paper will be on the analysis of artifact assemblages from the
excavations of the Harappan cemetery (R-37) at Harappa undertaken from 1986-1988
and also in 1994. These excavations by the Harappa Archaeological Research project have
provided new insight into the types of artifacts included in Harappan burials, as well as
complex issues relating to the site formation processes of the cemetery itself. Due to the
intensive use of the Harappan period cemetery over approximately 700 years, many burials
were cut and disturbed by later interments. The problems of interpreting the stratigraphy
and also the chronology of the burials will be examined. Excavation of a Late Harappan
burial pot that was discovered in 2007 will also be discussed.
The site of Harappa is unique among all of the Indus settlements, because of the
fact that is has cemeteries dating from the Harappan period (2600-1900 BC) as well as
from the Late Harappan period (1700-1300 BC). Excavations carried out by Daya Ram
Sahni and M. S. Vats in the 1920s-30s focused on the Late Harappan burials in Cemetery
H, and Harappan burials in Area G. In Cemetery H they uncovered two layers of burials
representing two different types of burial traditions and also two different periods of burial.
K. N. Sastri who was the Curator of Harappa Museum discovered and excavated Cemetery
R-37 in 1937, but his report was never published. This cemetery however was clearly earlier
than the ones discovered by Vats and dated to the Harappan period. Some ten years later
in 1947, Sir Mortimer Wheeler excavated a trench between Cemetery H and R-37 in order
to resolve the chronology of the two cemetery areas, but many aspects of the pottery and
burial practices were still unclear. Dr. Muhammad Rafique Mughal also undertook small
scale excavations in 1966, focusing on the area of cemetery R-37 to the south and east of the
earlier excavations. His preliminary report provided some additional insights, but no final
report was published. Renewed excavations of a much more extensive area of cemetery R-37
were carried out by the Harappa Archaeological Research Project in collaboration with the
Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan between 1986-1988.
The initial excavations were under the direction of the late Dr. George F. Dales and Dr. J.
Mark Kenoyer. Additional excavations were carried out in 1994 under the direction of Dr.
Richard H. Meadow and Dr. J. Mark Kenoyer. Most recently, in 2007, Dr. J. M. Kenoyer
was able to excavate an urn burial of the Late Harappan period.
The major objectives of the renewed excavations of the Harappan cemetery by the
Harappa Archaeological Research Project were 1) to better define the assemblages associated
with the burials, including pottery and other artifacts; 2) to determine the chronology of
the burials using relative stratigraphic approaches as well as radiometric techniques; 3) to
obtain a wide range of skeletal materials representing the ancient populations of Harappa
in order to better understand their physical nature, health and mortality. In the following
paper I will summarize the findings from the first two categories of evidence. Four physical
anthropologists associated with the excavations have already published summaries of the
ancient populations and the full cemetery excavation report is soon to be published.
The detailed examination of stratigraphic relationships and post-depositional
processes have made it possible to understand that the cemetery area was continuously being
disturbed and reorganized by the excavation of new burial pits, the exhumation of earlier
burials and the redeposition of skeletal materials in collective burials or dumps. The pottery
and other artifacts associated with the burials can be related to specific occupations on the
various mounds of Harappa, indicating that the individuals in this cemetery lived in all the
major walled areas of the ancient city. Based on radiocarbon dates and ceramic comparisons,
the chronology of the cemetery as a whole can now be more precisely related to the rest of
the site and to other sites of the Indus Valley.
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
Harappa: The Role of an Urbanized Bronze Age Populace
in the Population History of South Asia
Brian E. Hemphill
Centre for South Asian Dental Research and Department of Sociology and Anthropology,
California State University, USA
The Indus Civilization represents one of the signal developments in the prehistory of South
Asia. Linking together urban centers of the Indus Valley and beyond, it is logical to suspect
that this early urban development wielded significant impacts upon the biological structure
of human populations; not only of the Indus Valley, but beyond into peninsular India.
The current study examines the impact of Indus Civilization populations on the biological
history of human populations of South Asia through multivariate statistical analyses of three
genetically controlled systems of human variation: craniometry, odontometry, and dental
Craniometric variation is compared between human remains recovered
from Cemeteries R37 and H at Harappa with those obtained from 29 skeletal samples
encompassing 1,505 individuals (845 males, 660 females). These samples range in antiquity
from the Early Bronze Age (c. 3500 B.C.) to the modern era and derive from the Indus
Valley, Iran, the Russo-Kazahk steppe, southern Central Asia, western China, Nepal and
Tibet. Odontometric variation of all permanent teeth except third molars is compared
between human remains recovered from Cemetery R37 at Harappa with data obtained
from 21 samples. Together, odontometric data encompasses a total of 2,166 individuals who
range in antiquity from the aceramic Neolithic (c. 6000 B.C.) to the modern era and derive
from the Indus Valley, the Hindu Kush highlands, southern Central Asia, and peninsular
India. Sample differences in frequencies of 17 dental morphology tooth-trait combinations
are compared between individuals recovered from Cemetery R 37 at Harappa with data
obtained from 20 additional samples. These samples account for a total of 2,105 individuals
ranging in antiquity from the aceramic Neolithic to the modern era and derive from the
Indus Valley, the Hindu Kush highlands, southern Central Asia, and peninsular India.
Results from neighbor-joining cluster analysis and principal coordinates analysis of
inter-sample variation in cranial dimensions are concordant and indicate affinities between
Mature Phase Harappans and Gandharan Grave Culture inhabitants of Timargarha, but
more distant affinities to those interred in Cemetery H at Harappa. Intriguingly, Cemetery
H individuals exhibit no affinities to Bronze Age inhabitants of either the Russo-Kazakh
steppe or southern Central Asia—the alleged homeland of purported “Indo-Aryan invaders”
into South Asia. Instead, Cemetery H individuals, and by extension other Indus Valley
inhabitants from Cemetery R37 at Harappa and Timargarha, show consistent affinities to
Late Bronze and Early Iron Age inhabitants of the Tarim Basin of Xinjiang, western China.
Results from neighbor-joining cluster analysis and principal coordinates analysis
of inter-sample variation in dental dimensions are also concordant and suggest a pattern of
long-standing biological continuity within the Indus Valley from aceramic Neolithic times
until the dawn of the Christian Era. However, Indus valley samples appear to have left little,
if any, genetic legacy among the living peoples of peninsular India, for the only affinities
between the peoples of these two regions is a prehistoric connection between mature phase
Harappans and the Late Jorwe occupants of Inamgaon in western Maharashtra. Living
inhabitants of the Hindu Kush highlands possess no affinities to prehistoric inhabitants of
the Indus Valley and in one instance, the Khowars of Chitral District, express close affinities
to the Bronze Age occupants of Oxus Civilization urban centers of southern Central Asia.
Results from neighbor-joining cluster analysis and principal coordinates analysis
of inter-sample variation in dental morphology trait frequencies yield somewhat discordant
results. The neighbor-joining tree identifies prehistoric Indus Valley samples as extremely
diverse, with Mature Phase Harappans exhibiting distant affinities to the Late Bronze/
Early Iron Age inhabitants of Sarai Khola and to living Dravidian-speaking inhabitants of
southeastern peninsular India. By contrast, the Neolithic inhabitants of Mehrgarh possess
affinities to living inhabitants of west-central peninsular India, while the Chalcolithic
inhabitants of this same site are identified as possessing affinities to living populations of
the Hindu Kush highlands. Principal coordinates analysis, on the other hand, identifies
greater biological homogeneity among prehistoric inhabitants of the Indus Valley, with
Mature Phase Harappans possessing far closer affinities to prehistoric samples that postdate
them (Timargarha, Sarai Khola), than to samples that antedate them (Neolithic, and
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
Harappa: The Role of an Urbanized Bronze Age Populace in the Population History of South Asia (B.E. Hemphill)
especially, Chalcolithic Mehrgarh). In this latter case, it is the Chalcolithic inhabitants of
Mehrgarh, rather than Mature Phase Harappans, who are identified as possessing affinities to
Dravidian-speaking populations of peninsular India. Nevertheless, the Neolithic inhabitants
of Mehrgarh are once again identified as possessing affinities to living populations of westcentral
peninsular India.
Overall, the results of analyses of these three systems of biological variation
provide rather strong evidence that Indus Valley populations, including the Mature Phase
inhabitants of Harappa, appear to have played little role in the establishment of the living
populations of either peninsular India or even the Hindu Kush highlands. The ultimate
source of peninsular Indian populations remains unknown, but likely dates to the initial
dispersal of anatomically modern humans out of Africa during the Mid- Pleistocene. The
results of this analysis offer no support for any “Indo-Aryan” invasion during the midsecond
millennium B.C. Instead, what Central Asian biological impact may be found
among South Asian populations appears limited to the extreme northwestern periphery of
the subcontinent and likely reflect historic population movements that post-date the dawn
of the Christian Era.
Human Burial Customs during 3rd and 2nd Millennia BC in Haryana and Kuch:
An Analytical Approach
Vasant Shinde
Department of Archaeology, Deccan College,
Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Deemed University, India
The human burial tradition is very old in the Indian subcontinent dating back to the 7th
millennium BC. Though the burial custom started in the Mesolithic period in this part of
the world, it has remained steady from the Neolithic period and continued through the
Chalcolithic and Megalithic periods. The Neolithic and Chalcolithic people buried dead
bodies within the habitation, either beneath the living floor or in courtyards. However,
it was the Harappan culture which introduced the tradition of burying dead in separate
graveyards, slightly away from the habitation sites. It was one of the most important customs
of the Harappan people, who accorded lot of importance and significance to it as is evident
from many sites. The dead bodies were carefully buried in separate pits or clay coffins and
pots, ornaments and weapons were offered as burial goods. This no doubt indicates that
the Harappans believed in life after death. Though, archaeologists have not discovered
a cemetery in the proximity of every Harappan site, it should be safely presumed that it
existed but the remains have either not been located or they have been destroyed.
The Harappan burial custom was not uniform and one can see a lot of regional
variations. In the recently excavated Harappan cemetery at Farmana, there are three different
levels and three different customs. The site of Kalibangan, though located in the Ghaggar
Basin presents variations in the burial customs. The cosmopolitan city like Dholavira in
Kuch has numerous burial types indicating presence of a number of different groups within
the settlement who practiced different customs. Some of the burial types like Cist found at
Dholavira continued until the Megalithic times in many parts of the country. It is possible
to identify the social and economic status of families or communities on the basis of burial
customs and the quantity and quality of burial goods. There is neither uniformity in the
location of the cemeteries or in their customs which was thought to be uniform. Burial
is an important primary source of history as it contains not only human skeletal remains
Human Burial Customs during 3rd and 2nd Millennia BC in Haryana and Kuch: An Analytical Approach (V. Shinde)
but also numerous artifacts as burial goods, which remain in a good state of preservation.
The present paper shows similarities and differences between Mature Harappan and Late
Harappan burials customs in Haryana and Kutch and presents regional variations in the
burial customs.
Burials at Farmana (Photo by Akinori Uesugi, Indus Project, RIHN)
The Harappan Burials in Gujarat
P. Ajithprasad
Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Faculty of Arts,
The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India
Burials certainly were one of the most favoured modes of disposal of the dead among the
Harappans. It is also one of the easily discernable features in the archaeological record;
especially that dealing with rites, rituals and beliefs. One is not sure of, apart from different
types of burials, any other modes of disposal of the dead practiced by the Harappans.
Cremation of the body as a popular custom among the Harappan has been suggested by
several scholars, although no direct conclusive evidence for this has been reported from any
of the sites. Nevertheless, it is quite possible that cremation would have been practiced by
the Harappans.
Generally, the Harappan burials stand apart form contemporary Mesopotamian
and Egyptian burials in their simplicity and the matter of fact symbolism that one may
attach to them. The opulence and the architectural splendour of the pyramids or the royal
tombs of Mesopotamian rulers are almost completely absent in the Harappan burials. The
frugality of Harappan burials certainly has something to do with the customs and belief
systems the Harappans attached to death and the role of the dead in the society of the living
population, which would have been different from the contemporary Mesopotamian and
the Egyptian civilization. Whatever it may be, the apparent simplicity does not necessarily
suggest homogeneity or absence of any sort of variation. The fact that the Harappans
practiced two or three different types of burials in addition to the possible practice of
cremation bespeaks the inherent heterogeneity in their funerary practices and beliefs. The
difference and variation one comes across in the Harappan funerary practices are rather
subtle suggestions than loud statements about the society and the beliefs associated with the
disposal itself.
In view of these, burials are an important body of evidence that bear significant
information for reconstructing the Harappan society and its approach and attitude towards
fellow beings. Ideally speaking, most of the sites should have some burials associated with
them. Unfortunately, burials have actually been identified only from a few sites. This is
primarily due to the difficulty in locating burials, which normally does not leave behind
any clue for their identification. Besides, burial grounds are often segregated from the main
habitation area making the investigation quite speculative and based on a trial and error
method. No wonder many of the burials are actually discovered by sheer accident.
Burials are an important form of the funerary practices of the Harappans. They
are reported not only from sites in the Indus Valley proper in Pakistan but also from sites in
the Gagghar – Saraswati system in the east and sites in Kachchh and Gujarat in the south.
Generally the burial grounds or the cemeteries were segregated from the main habitation or
settlement, often choosing grounds some distance away from the habitation. Fore instance,
the Harappan burial R-37 is about 250m southwest of the main mound at Harappa. Recent
excavations at Fermana in Hariyana revealed a series of burials, probably the largest in
number in India almost a kilometre away from the site.
Gujarat has more than five hundred Harappan affiliated Chalcolithic sites,
primarily spread in the region of Kachchh, Saurashtra and north Gujarat. However, burials
are reported only from five or six sites: Dholavira and Surkotada in Kachchh, Nagwada,
Santhali and Loteashwar in north Gujarat and Lothal in Saurashtra (Fig.1). The cemetery
at Surkotada in Kachchh is about 300m northwest of the acropolis; so is the location of the
cemetery at Dholavira, the largest Harappan settlement in Gujarat. However, the burials
at Lothal are found closer to the settlement. On the other hand, in smaller and rural sites
such as Nagwada and Santhli the burials are found within the habitation area. It is therefore
apparent that the location of burials to some extend reflects the concerns of the city planners
in addressing the issues of space management and social concerns of the Harappans.
A fluxed burial reported from the Chalacolithic levels at Loteshwar probably
may be the earliest Chalcolithic burial in Gujarat. Although no Chalcolithic burial goods
have been reported with the skeleton, stratigraphically the burial appears to be part of the
Chalcolithic habitation that has been dated from 3600BC to 2900BC. The Harappan burials
The Harappan Burials in Gujarat (P. Ajithprasad)
Fig.1. The Harappan and other Chalcolithic burial sites in Gujarat.
from Lothal, Dholavira, Surkotada and the north Gujarat burials are certainly later in date.
They include both inhumation burials and symbolic pot burials. The latter ones do not have
any skeleton but a number of different pottery vessels deliberately buried in the burial pit.
A number of burials showing this feature have been reported from Nagwada, Surkotada and
Dholavira in fact has yet another large tumuli-like hemispherical structure in
the cemetery area. This had a central square pit and spokes-like radiating walls. It also had
a series of rectangular chambers marked by stone slabs arranged in a radial fashion at the
periphery of the circular tumuli. They contained neither pottery nor skeletons. Some of the
pot-burials in Surkotada have either a stone slab or a small heap of rubbles demarcating the
burial pit.
The burials form Nagwada and Santhali in north Gujarat are particularly
interesting for the burial pottery. Of the five burials reported from Nagwada two are
inhumation burials and the remaining three are symbolic pot-burials (Fig. 2). These burials
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
The Harappan Burials in Gujarat (P. Ajithprasad)
Fig.2. Pot-burial from Nagwada, North Gujarat.
have no burial goods except different pottery vessels whose number varied from just two to
twelve. Large storage jars of different size and shape, tulip shaped jars with convergent
rims, beakers, dish-on-stands with upturned straight rims, shallow bowls and medium size
pots with a constricted rim and squat profile etc. are the main vessels found in association
with the burials. These vessels are comparable in typo-technological features to the Early
Harappan pottery reported from Sindh and Baluchistan sites, especially Kot-Diji, Balakot,
Amri and Damb Sadaat etc. Moreover, the regular habitation levels at Nagwada do not
incorporate the pottery found in the burials. This certainly suggested that the pottery found
in the burials was earmarked for that purpose at the site.
Two more burials having similar pottery were excavated from Santhali, about
30km north of Nagwada (fig.3). The flimsy Chalcolithic habitation at this site had the same
kind of early Harappan pottery in the habitation level too. Yet another site that showed
substantial habitation deposit incorporating the Early Harappan pottery in the region is
Moti-Pipli. Nevertheless, there are no burials reported from this site. Besides, there are
about ten sites in north Gujarat that showed a similar early Harappan ceramic affiliation.
This is an indication of the fact that the food producing Chalcolithic communities from
Sindh and Baluchistan have already started moving towards south and had settled in
north Gujarat in the Early Harappan times. Burials from Surkotada present even on more
convincing picture of this movement as many of the burials in fact incorporated Early
Harappan pottery, although no Early Harappan pottery was reported from the regular
habitation layers. Probably, as at Nagwada, this pottery was an intentional choice as a burial
good and was produced for that purpose.
A close examination of most of the published burial pottery from Lothal in
Saurashtra shows that a large majority of them are of the Micaceous Red ware belonging
to the local tradition which is believed to original in the region. Some of the burials do
show the Harappan pottery and the Micaceous red ware together; probably suggesting the
level of integration that existed between the two traditions. Evidence from the burials is
therefore instructive in understanding the social configuration to a large extent. In so far as
the burials from Lothal, Nagwada and Surkotda are concerned, they not only illustrate the
heterogeneity of the Harappan society but also point towards its divergent roots.
Fig.3. The double burial from Santhali, North Gujarat.
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
Four World Quarters in the late 3rd millennium BC:
Ur <> Shimashki <> Meluhha <> Magan (and the bits in between)
Daniel Potts
Department of Archaeology, The University of Sydney, Australia
The royal Akkadian rhetoric, according to which kings proclaimed themselves ‘king of
the four world quarters’, was first used by Naram-Sin, most probably after he had literally
campaigned to the north, south, east and west of Agade. As we learn more and more about
the world of the late 3rd millennium B.C., however, the notion of ‘four world quarters’
takes on new meaning. Excavations in Iran, Central Asia, the Indus Valley and the Persian
Gulf during the past few decades have begun to bring into focus what can be thought of as
a diamond-shaped region of interacting countries to the east of Mesopotamia. The rough
boundaries of this diamond may be drawn from Ur in the west, to Gonur Depe in the
north, to the Harappan sites of Gujarat in the east, and the Oman peninsula in the south,
and back up to Ur along a line running up the Persian Gulf. Naturally, this is a gross oversimplification,
and the world of the late 3rd millennium obviously extended westwards and
northwards as well, but there are abundant data now available attesting to the interactions
between the constituent parts of this ‘Eastern Diamond’. Ceramic, soft-stone, alabaster,
precious metal, base metal, glyptic and other indicators reflect exchanges between each
of these major poles, and between smaller regions within the broadly outlined diamond.
Clearly, traffic was not all one way, as we can see by the presence of both exports and imports
from each of these four areas in each of the other ones. Cuneiform texts, particularly of
the Ur III period, allow us to suggest names for some of the participating regions, moving
beyond the anonymity of the archaeological record. The identifications that can be proposed
allow us to consider many aspects of human behaviour - not merely political or commercial
- but social, ritual, and reciprocal as well, underlying the patterns of artifact distribution
that we can document archaeologically. Historical geography, sterile when pursued on its
own, becomes more compelling as we recognise just how many different types of materials
were moving between these different areas. It would be wrong, however, to assume a centreperiphery
model in seeking to understand the interactions between Sumer, Elam, Anshan,
Shimashki, Zabshali, Marhashi, Meluhha, Magan and Dilmun. The Eastern Diamond is
better conceived of as a mosaic than as a series of centres with concentric rings of influence.
This talk will illustrate the artifactual signatures of the interactions occurring within this
broad region, and make an attempt to place this material in the context of the historical
geography of the Eastern Diamond as imperfectly attested in Ur III cuneiform sources.
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
Map by D.T. Potts 2003 "Anshan, Liyan, and Magan circa 2000 BCE." N.F. Miller, K. Abdi and
W.M. Summer (eds.) Yeki Bud, Yeki Nabud: Essays on the Archaeology of Iran in Honor of William M.
Sumner (Monographs Series (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at Ucla), 48,) , pp.156-160.
The collapse of the Indus-script thesis, five years later:
Massive non-literate urban civilizations of ancient Eurasia
Steve Farmer*, Richard Sproat** and Michael Witzel***
The Cultural Modeling Research Group, Palo Alto, California, USA*
Center for Spoken Language Understanding,
Division of Biomedical Computer Science, Oregon Health and Science University, USA**
Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University, USA***
Five years ago the three of us published “Collapse of the Indus-Script Thesis: The Myth of
a Literate Harappan Civilization” (reprint at http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf ). Our talk
today discusses developments in studies of the Indus symbol system in the half decade since
that paper was published and takes a quick look at the future. The talk is divided into four
1. The talk begins by discussing the often heated political and scholarly reactions
to our article, which has spawned a number of special colloquia and extensive if
distorted discussions in the press, over Internet, and in archaeological
conferences and academic studies. This part of the talk quickly reviews the best-
known attempts to defend the old script thesis, including claimed statistical data
introduced for that end in a recent paper in Science by Rao et al. It then
discusses new evidence that Harappan society was non-literate that has emerged
from analyses of the symbols over the past five years.
2. The paper continues by noting unexpectedly wide variation in symbol
frequencies that show up on ritual objects in different Indus regions and periods;
these data contradict older assumptions tied to the script model that picturm4 ed
the symbols as being largely uniform in use everywhere and “frozen” in time.
Discussion is raised of the light this evidence throws on apparent political
structures in Indus society and regional differences in agricultural rituals in
the various microecologies associated with different Indus regions (Weber, this
conference). Counterbalancing recent tendencies in the press to overemphasize
the Indus civilization as a third-millennium trading power, evidence is
underlined in the symbol system as a whole of the overwhelmingly agricultural
and predominantly local nature of the Indus economy.
3. The paper then expands discussion of a non-literate Indus society in light of a
wide range of continguous urban civilizations in Central Asia, SE Iran, and in
the Gulf (cf. D. Potts, this conference) — all regions that, despite occasional
claims otherwise, apparently remained non-literate from the third millennium
BCE well into the first millennium BCE. All these findings take on greater
significance in light of recent finds discussed in this conference by the Research
Institute for Humanity and Nature (RHIN) and their colleagues in Indus sites
distant from what has traditionally been viewed as Indus territories — making
the Indus the largest non-literate urban civilization of which we have evidence in
the new or old worlds.
4. We conclude by quickly listing popular myths about the Indus civilization
besides those involving the so-called script thesis that continue to distort Indus
studies; and take a quick look at the future by making a proposal, backed by
major private funding, of a collaborative project aimed at exploiting the massive
store of untapped data in Indus symbols to study the evolution of this unique
civilization in novel ways.
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
The Asiatic wild ass in Harappan, Dravidian and Indo-Iranian record
Asko Parpola
University of Helsinki, Finland
This abstract summarizes my part of a longer paper written in collaboration with Juha
Janhunen (who deals with the Turkic, Mongolic and Tibetan terms), entitled "The Asiatic
wild asses (Equus hemionus & Equus kiang) and their vernacular names", to be published in
full in the Proceedings of this roundtable.
After an introduction on the taxonomy and geographical distribution of the
different ass species and subspecies, I discuss one grapheme of the Indus script (no. 46 in
the sign list of Parpola 1994: fig.5.1), proposing that it depicts the wild ass. The sign has
realistic (cf. fig.1 a & b) and schematic variants (fig.1 c). The wild ass is present in the
Harappan osteological record at least in Baluchistan, Sindh and Gujarat, but probably also
in the Punjab and Rajasthan. Moreover, there are terracotta figurines of the wild ass, but it is
not among the "heraldic" animals of the Indus seals, probably because the ass was already an
animal of ill omen: later on it was associated with Nirrti
The principal Harappan language, and apparently the only one in which the Indus
texts from South Asia were written, was Proto-Dravidian (cf. Parpola 1994). Attested in
13 Dravidian languages, representing all the subgroups except North Dravidian, is a word
for 'ass' (DEDR no. 1364). Bhadriraju Krishnamurti (2003: 12 and 525) reconstructs this
etymon for Proto-Dravidian as *kaz-
-ut-ay. Franklin Southworth (2005: 269-270) accepts
this recontruction, proposing that instead of the domestic ass, the word originally denoted
the wild ass, and that this animal was once present even in South India. This does not
seem impossible in view of the continuous belt of semi-arid thorn-desert and dry tropical
savannah from Kutch to Tamil Nadu, although there is little osteological support for this
hypothesis. The wild ass assumption is endorsed by a new etymology that I propose for the
word, as a Proto-Dravidian compound of *kaz-
- 'salt desert' (DEDR no. 1359 + Turner 1966
no. 2954) and *utay 'kick' (DEDR no. 616). Desert, especially salt desert, is the habitat of
the wild ass, and figures in the names of the onager in Sumerian (anše-eden-na) and Persian
(χar-e daštī). On the other hand, the ass is famous for its kicking, and represented as kicking
in the myth of the (wild) ass demon Dhenuka (cf. Harivamśa
Sanskrit gardabha- 'ass' is very probably derived, with the animal name suffix
-bha- (of PIE origin but still productive in Indo-Aryan), from the Dravidian word for 'ass',
as proposed by Thomas Burrow and Murray Emeneau. One of the native terms for the
wild ass is khara-gardabha, not to be found in any Hindi, Urdu or Sanskrit dictionary, but
recorded as such in 1832 by James Tod and in 1834 by Alexander Burnes, and attested in
118,61 (turamgān
Rāsabha- 'ass' is an archaic word, and the Rigveda uses it of the main animal of
the Aśvins. It pulls the chariot of the Aśvins and wins for them the prize-contest of Yama (RV
1,116,2). In another race, connected with the marriage of the solar maiden Sūryā, the asschariot
of the Aśvins surpasses the mule-chariot of Agni, the cow-chariot of Us4 as and even
the horse-chariot of Indra. The wild ass is the speediest of all equids, which is undoubtedly
reflected in this myth, even though the Aitareya-Brāhmana
(4,7-9) concludes by stating that
because the ass won, its speed was spent and it became the slowest of the beasts of burden.
Partly its connection with the Aśvins is due to their funeral function (cf. Parpola 2005: 29-
36; and in addition Rāmāyana
2,63,14-16). According to Herodotus (7,86), the chariots
of the Indians serving in the Persian army of Xerxes in 480 BCE were drawn by horses and
by wild asses (ónoi ágrioi). In the apadāna stairway of Persepolis two men from the province
of Hinduš, i.e. Sindh, bring a wild ass to the great king. In the Kharaputta-Jātaka, mules
(kharaputta) from Sindh pull the chariot of the king (rathe yuttasindhavā).
Khara- 'ass, donkey' is not in the Rigveda, but in the Paippalāda-Samhitā (20,39,2);
in Hindi it is khar. Ultimately probably a loanword from Semitic, cognates are found in
most Iranian languages, including Avestan χara-, Ossetic χæræg, Middle & New Persian and
Baluchi χar; from Baluchi χar has come to Dravidian Brahui as well. The zoological term
khur (1827) is, with anglicized spelling, Hindi khar or Persian χar.
In Middle and New Persian, the wild ass is usually called gōr or gōr-χar. James
Tod in 1832 mentioned gorkhur as a local name of the wild ass of Kutch, and gora-khara is
known from the Jaina text Pannavanāsutta
(1) written in Ardhamāgadhī. In the 9th century
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit glossary Mahāvyutpatti (no. 4797) gaura-khara is equated with
Tibetan rgyan4 'Tibetan wild ass'; this native Tibetan word is behind the zoological term kiang
for Equus kiang. Sanskrit gaurakhara in Matsya-Purāna
118,58 seems to refer to the kiang,
since it belongs to a list of wild animals near the source of River Ravi. The oldest Sanskrit
reference is in Vasist 4 4ha-Dharmasūtra 21,1-3, where krsn 4 4 4 a-khara, gaura-khara and śveta-khara
13th Harvard University Round Table on the ESCA, Kyoto Session, RIHN, 30 – 31 May 2009
The Asiatic wild ass in Harappan, Dravidian and Indo-Iranian record (A. Parpola)
are alternative mounts of a Brahmin woman involved in adultery; for purification she has to
ride the ass naked. Many authors since 1835 speak of ghor-khar; the aspiration seems to be
due to a folk-etymological transformation into 'horse-ass', although ghor-
-khar is not found
in Hindi dictionaries. The Yaśastilakacampū of the Jaina author Somadevasūri, written in
Ujjain in 951, records for 'wild ass' gaura-khura and khara-khura, ending in Sanskrit khura
'hoof' (possibly a loanword from Dravidian).
Gaura- is primarily an adjective, 'white, yellowish, pale red, fair-skinned',
etymologically probably 'cow-coloured', from gav- 'cow', with unusual long grade ablaut.
In Iranian, the only cognate in this meaning is Baluchi gōraγ (cf. *gaura-ka- > Hindi gōrā-).
Persian gōr 'wild ass' corresponds to Sanskrit gaura- m., which in Vedic texts does not denote
'the gaur bison (Bos gaurus)', as all dictionaries and translations have it, but 'wild ass'. In
Middle Vedic texts, gaura- or gaura-mrga-
is the wild counterpart of the horse (cf. e.g. VS
13,41-51 and ŚB 7,5,2,14-36), and in the Rigveda, gaura- is an animal that rushes down
to a water depression of saline soil to slake its great thirst (RV 8,4,3 yáthā gauró apā krtám
4yann éty áverínam).
Fig.1a. Sign 46 in M-1097 Fig.1b. Sign 46 in M-290 A Fig.1c. Sign 46 in M-516 A bis
Genetic diversity of Afghan wheat landraces
and their potential for future breeding
Tsuneo Sasanuma
Faculty of Agriculture, Yamagata University, Japan
Landraces, the crop varieties cultivated for a long time in a local area, are considered to be
an important genetic resource in crop breeding because they possess the high level of genetic
diversity and the adaptability with the local environments. Numerous numbers of studies
have been conducted to reveal the genetic diversity in landraces of various crops. In some
cases, the landraces have practically contributed to modern breeding as a genetic resource.
One of the most famous contributions of the landraces to wheat breeding is the “Green
Revolution”, in which a Japanese landrace “Daruma” was used as a donor of the semi-dwarf
In our present research project, we focus the Afghan wheat landraces. Afghanistan
is a country located in the geographical and historical crossroad of several civilizations,
Arabic, Persian, Indian, and Chinese, so that it is expected that genetic variation should
accumulate in the country via human interactions among the civilizations. Furthermore,
Afghanistan is close to the place of the origin of wheat, thus it might be a center of diversity
of cultivated wheat. In spite of such importance, the wheat landraces in Afghanistan stand
on the edge of a precipite of genetic erosion caused by a social confusion and serious natural
The Japanese genebank, the Plant Germ-plasm Institute in Kyoto University,
have maintained about 450 accessions of Afghan wheat landraces. These materials were
collected by three different expeditions in different periods, that is, the Kyoto University
Scientific Expedition in 1955, the British Scientist Thomas’ expedition in 1965, and the
Kyoto University Scientific Expedition to Southwestern Eurasia in 1978. Using these
Afghan wheat collections, we investigated the diversity of the morphological traits and the
component of high molecular weight (HMW) glutenin subunit that is a storage protein
of wheat grain essentially affecting the bread making quality. The morphological analysis
showed that they have primitive forms, that is, a tall plant height and a long and rough
spike. This result indicates that these collections refrect typical landraces, in other words,
they were not polluted by modern breeding, although the most recent materials were
collected about a decade later than the beginning of the wheat green revolution. The
analysis on the component of HMW glutenin subunit demonstrated that the majority of
the Afghan wheat landraces have subunits with a low bread making quality, which is the
typical component of the eastern Asian wheat landraces. As for the level of diversity, it
was unexpectedly revealed that the Afghan wheat contains a lower level of diversity than
the wheat landraces of the neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan.
These genetic characteristics of the Afghan wheat collection seems unattractive
from the viewpoint of breeding. However, we have found a new type of the HMW
glutenin subunit in an accession of Afghan wheat. The micro-sedimentation test suggested
that this novel subunit has a unique and good bread making quality. This finding can
be strong evidence that the Afghan wheat collection has a potential as a genetic resource
for wheat breeding. Above all, we would like to emphasize that these landraces have
been cultivated in the local areas of Afghanistan for a long time and are adapted to
their individual environment. Since Afghanistan has a complex topography and various
climates within each of its counties, each of the wheat varieties should have adapted to
the regional climate. The fact that the Afghan wheat collection contains original endemic
genetic features suggests that they should have environmental adaptability in Afghanistan.
Throughout this research project, we have set as our final goal that we return the Afghan
wheat landraces maintained in a Japanese genebank to their home country. We try to
make them contribute towards reconstructing the sustainable agriculture destroyed by the
continuing wars and social upheaval in Afghanistan.
Genetic diversity of Afghan wheat landraces and their potential for future breeding (T. Sasanuma)
Traditional Management of Agrobiodiversity of Rukai aboriginal peoples in Taiwan
Hsin-Fu Yen
National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan
There are 14 tribes of aboriginal peoples in Taiwan. The Rukai tribe lives in southern Taiwan
in the region of about 1000 meters altitude. They have many kinds of food crops which are
cultivated in the fields, for example lettuce (Lactuca sativa), sugar cane (Saccharum sinensis),
musky winter squash (Cucurbita moschata), chayote (Sechium edule), peanut (Arachis
hypogea), pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus), cowpea (Vigna
unguiculata), Taiwan goosefoot (Chenopodium formosanum), Job's tears (Coix lacrymajobi),
foxtail millet (Setaria italica), Eccoilopus formosanus, sorghum (Sorghum bicolor),
corn (Zea mays), taro (Colocasia esculenta), tannia (Xanthosoma sagittifolium), sweet potato
(Ipomoea batatas), cassava (Manihot esculenta), yam (Dioscorea alata) and ginger (Zingiber
officinale), etc. Some food crops have a few cultivars, especially foxtail millet and taro.
Foxtail millet and taro are more important food crops for the Rukai tribe.
There are little cultivars of foxtail millet in other aboriginal tribes of Taiwan except for the
Rukai tribe. People of Rukai in Wutai have over 15 cultivars of foxtail millet, including
‘ababake’, ‘cipaerane’, ‘cipaerane ka ladwadwane’, ‘cipaerane ka sinamecyane’, ‘darangidangi’,
‘darangidangi ka ciparepare’, ‘darangidangi ka paedeane’, ‘eape ki talralreba’, ‘lrulrubungu’,
‘tirukale’, ‘makasasagarane’, ‘paedeane’, ‘palralraamu’, ‘saidhipane’ and ‘salalaai’. Incidentally,
they have over 11 cultivars of taro, including ‘gadaiyano’, ‘gulailaily’, ‘galalologo’, ‘gololalu’,
‘kalailaily’, ‘lilobo’, ‘logo’, ‘magapagalogalo’, ‘olisiliyuo’, ‘zago’ and ‘zasiliyo’.
There are two cultivars ‘davaliquan’ and ‘gacumusano’ in sugar cane, ‘zabyabyak’
and ‘dilololo’ in musky winter squash, ‘lalabon’ and ‘icuculo’ in hyacinth bean, ‘lamulam’
and ‘dalankili’ in ginger. Although there were many kinds of cultivars in sweet potato,
people forget them. The tannia is not a traditional food crop. The Japanese introduced it
from Southeast Asian a long time ago.
People sow the seeds of different foxtail millet cultivars in one field at the same
time, but harvest them by the character of cultivars at different times. The taro crops are
operated in the field following the same model. On the other hand, you can see many kinds
of crops cultivated in the same field at different seasons. For examples, taro, sweet potato
and foxtail millet are alternate cultivates at the same field.
People plant sweet potato in monoculture during June. They harvest the sweet
potato one by one six months after planting. They do not harvest sweet potato together at
the same time.
People have many experiments in taro cultivation. Typhoon damage has a relation
with yield and quality. If typhoons affect many times, the production and quality of taro
will go down. Although the production is increased by fertilizer, it will make the quality go
down, and pest, rot ratio will rise. People cultivated taro in upland fields, but some cultivars
will be suitable in paddy fields.
The Rukai aboriginal people have lived in the mountain area for a long time.
They still maintain many crops cultivars and biodiversity in agriculture. Their traditional
knowledge of agriculture will benefit modern agriculture.
Traditional Management of Agrobiodiversity on Rukai aboriginal peoples in Taiwan (H.-F. Yen)
A hot spot of linguistic diversity in the Greater Hindukush/Pamir area:
The names of agricultural plants
Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University, USA / RHIN, Japan
This investigation is based both on our earliest texts (the Vedic Sanskrit (Rgveda), the Old
Iranian Avesta), as well as on the descendant languages of Old Iranian, Old Indo-Aryan
and Nuristani, such as modern Persian, Pashto, Hindi, etc. A study of their names for
domesticated plants indicates that the Rg-Veda contains just a few words that can be traced
back to Indo-European, but most of the others are of local origin. This is not surprising for a
mainly pastoral people such as the Indo-Iranians and Vedic Indo-Aryans.
Local (substrate) words can be isolated by linguistic means, including unusual
sounds and word structure, as well as the lack of a convincing Indo-European etymology.
This evidence can be counterchecked and expanded by their attestation in medieval (if any)
and in modern languages.
It then appears that the greater Hindukush/Pamir area was and is a hotspot of
linguistic diversity, which is also reflected by the names of domesticated plants of the area.
Beginning with the oldest texts, there is but a small number of Indo-European
terms, that are rapidly diminishing as we move further east from the home of the pre-Indo-
Aryans and Iranians, first in northern and then in southern Central Asia.
Some residue Indo-European and Indo-Iranian terms are still to be found in the
Hindukush-Pamir area in the local Iranian, Nuristani or the Indo-Aryan Dardic languages,
but they increasingly diminish in number, and finally disappear in the other Indo-Aryan
languages of the subcontinent.
Instead, the use of local plant names in Indo-Aryan languages is steadily increasing
when moving further into the subcontinent. They stem from the unknown prefixing
A hot spot of linguistic diversity in the Greater Hindukush/Pamir area: The names of agricultural plants (M. Witzel)
Indus language(s), from an equally unknown, generally North Indian substrate language
(“Language X,” as reflected in Hindi, etc.), as well as, later on, also from Dravidian (not
present in the Panjab until well after the post-Harappan period), and from Munda.
This result can now be correlated with the archaeobotanical study of plants as
carried out by Dorian Fuller (see detailed abstract, this conference).
Language X
Bhili Korku
T I B E T O - B U R M E S E
Isolated languages
Inferred languages
Other Austro-Asiatic
Munda languages
After F. Southworth, 2005
Map of Indus civilization sites (Map by Hirofumi Teramura, Indus Project, RIHN)
Front and back cover: Faience tablet or standard from Harappa, Pakistan (photo by Harappa.com)
Courtesy of J.M. Kenoyer and R. Meadow
Edited by Hitoshi Endo (Indus Project, RIHN)
Published by Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN)
Small pot painted with a pair bulls, from Farmana, India
Drawn by Akinori Uesugi, Indus Project, RIHN
13th Harvard University Round Table
Kyoto Session
30 – 31 May 2009
Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN)
Kyoto, Japan