Indus Valley civilization languages

Topic

Indus Valley civilization languages

 Context
A new research paper has provided some new insight on the linguistic culture of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC).
• Earlier, a study found that the diet of the people of IVC had a dominance of meat, including extensive eating of beef.
• In July 2021, UNESCO announced the Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat as India’s 40th world heritage site.

About
• Indus Valley civilization is the oldest urban civilization discovered to date. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River spreading across large parts of modern Pakistan, northwest and western India, and Afghanistan.
• The civilisation is noted for its urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, large and new techniques in handicraft.
• Moreover, the archaeological sites of the civilization have always been a topic of interest for the scholar since its discovery in 1926.
• However, the language that the people spoke is yet to be deciphered.

New Findings
What does the research paper have found?
1. The research paper has taken clues from the few words shared between the Indus Valley people and the cultures they came in contact with, such as the Persian Gulf as well as Mesopotamia,
2. Based on this evidence found, it has been said that Ancestral Dravidian languages were possibly spoken by a significant population in the Indus Valley civilization.

What is the evidence the researchers have found?
1. The researchers have analyzed linguistic, and historical evidence to learn how some words in ancient Persian records match with proto-Dravidian language.
2. For example, words used for elephant -pri, pru -and for ivory -pirus in the ancient Persian records were originally derived from ‘plu’, a proto-Dravidian term for the mammal.
3. Similarly, several Indic words refer to the ‘Salvadora persica’ as pilu.
o Salvadora Persica is better known as the toothbrush tree in the western world and as ‘Miswak’ in Arabic-speaking countries, since its branches are used as natural toothbrushes).
o This suggests that just like the elephant word- pilu, the name used for the tree too is rooted in the proto-Dravidian word for tooth.

Indus Valley Civilisazion and other Civilisations
• Few words in Akkadian (language spoken in ancient Mesopotamia) had roots in the Indus Valley.
o The study took into account the thriving trade relations between the IVC and the Persian Gulf as well as Mesopotamia.
o Mesopotamian civilizations formed on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is today Iraq and Kuwait.
• Elephant-ivory was one of the luxury goods coveted in the Near East, and archaeological, and zoological evidence confirms that Indus Valley was the sole supplier of ancient Near East’s ivory in the middle-third to early-second
millennium BC.
o Near East, usually the lands around the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, including northeastern Africa, southwestern Asia, and, occasionally, the Balkan Peninsula.
• Since people of ancient Persia had functioned as intermediaries between Mesopotamia and IVC traders, while exporting IVC’s ivory, they had arguably spread the Indic words to Mesopotamia as well.

Language family in India

Dravidian Roots
Proto-Dravidian Language
• It is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Dravidian languages. Proto-Dravidian gave rise to 21 Dravidian Languages.
Dravidian languages
• Dravidian languages, a family of some 70 languages spoken primarily in South Asia. They are spoken by more than 215 million people in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
• The Dravidian languages with the most speakers are (in descending order of number of speakers) Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam, all of which have long literary traditions. Smaller literary languages are Tulu and Kodava.
• There are also a number of Dravidian-speaking Scheduled Tribes, such as the Kurukh in Eastern India and Gondi in Central India.
• Dravidian place names along the Arabian Sea coasts and Dravidian grammatical influence such as clusivity in the Indo-Aryan languages, namely, Marathi, Gujarati, Marwari, and Sindhi, suggest that Dravidian languages were once
spoken more widely across the Indian subcontinent.