(CIVILIZATION in the INDUS VALLEY – continued)
The Indus River is surrounded by green. The Khyber Pass is at the top and left of center.
If rainfall had declined in the Indus Valley region between 1800 and 1700 BCE, around 1500 BCE it increased again, making the Indus Plain better able to support life. It has been estimated by various scholars that between 1500 and 1200 an illiterate, pastoral people migrated from the northwest, perhaps the steppe lands of central Russia through what is now Afghanistan, onto the Indus Plain. These migrants were to be called Aryans and to be classified as Indo-Europeans, their speech related to modern European languages except Basque, Finnish and Hungarian. Genetically they were related to some people of to the northwest of India.
It is argued that the migration might have been from the Indus Valley through the Khyber Pass northwest through what is today Afghanistan. At any rate, modern India was to be divided mainly between two language families, one Indo-European, who may have been descendants of Aryans, and the other Dravidian, their language called Harappa – a reference to the civilization in the Indus Valley that disappeared between 1800 and 1700 BCE.
The Aryans had a horse culture, and no evidence exists of horses among the many representations of animals of the lost Harappan civilization. The migration of Aryans appears to have been through the Khyber Pass into India.
It is believed by some that like other pastoral people, the Aryans were warriors. They had two-wheeled chariots like the Hyksos that they packed away on carts pulled by oxen.
The Aryans were familiar with prowling and hunting with bow and arrow. They enjoyed chariot racing, gambling and fighting. Like other pastoral peoples, men dominated the women. Like the pastoral Hebrews each family was ruled by an authoritarian male. And each Aryan tribe was ruled by a king who felt obliged to consult with tribal councils.
Aryan tribes were spread out across the Indus Valley region. They warred against local, non-Aryan people, and they settled in areas that provided them with pasture for their animals. They grouped in villages and built homes of bamboo or light wood – homes without statues or art. They began growing crops. Their environment supplied them with all they needed, but, responding to their traditions, and perhaps impulses, the different Aryan tribes warred against each other – wars that might begin with the stealing of cattle. The word for obtaining cattle, gosati, became synonymous with making war. And their warring grew in scale, including a war between what was said to be ten kings.
Gradually, Aryan tribal kings were changing from tribal leaders to autocratic rulers. Aryan kings had begun associating their power with the powers of their gods rather than the approval of their fellow tribesmen. They had begun allying themselves with priests. And, as in West Asia, kings were acquiring divinity. By taxing their subjects, these kings could create an army that was theirs rather than an instrument of the tribe. And these kings allied themselves with the horse-owning warrior aristocracy to which they often belonged.
Copyright © 1998-2011 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.