indo iranian

Ancient sanctuary from obscure religion that competed with Christianity unearthed in Corsica

A sanctuary dedicated to the god of an ancient and mysterious religion known as Mithraism has been discovered on the French island of Corsica for the first time. The structure was erected in the Roman city of Mariana, created around 100 BCE.

The local authorities were planning roadworks in the vicinity of this major site, so they called the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) to conduct excavations and make sure that no significant archaeological remains would be standing in the way.

A team, led by archaeologist Philippe Chapon, started working in Mariana in November 2016. It is thought that this little Roman town was at its peak in the third and fourth century and that it derived its strength from its commercial harbour, a point of contact for maritime exchanges with the whole Mediterranean.

After months of work at the site, the archaeologists can now reveal that they have identified a worship room and its antechamber. They appear to have been part of a religious sanctuary dedicated the Indo-Iranian deity Mithra. Read more.

The Kalash people as an ancient cultural continuum between South Asia and Europe

The Kalash people practice an ancient form of Indo-European [polytheism] in an unbroken tradition having survived against all odds in a remote mountain region of northern Pakistan. The isolated Chitral Valley is home to Dardic people who speak an ancient Indo-European language called Nuristani. This is what remained when the Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan subgroups cleaved off after their invasion of the Indian subcontinent. Their religion descends from the Rigvedic period and they have close genetic ties to modern Europeans.

Some of their religious customs echo pre-christian Slavic ones – a cosmic dualism pitting a thunder god against a chthonic rival, a polymorphic fertility deity, animal sacrifice, use of wooden idols and a corpus of nature spirits. Their pantheon even includes a female deity of death named Mara. The women’s clothing bare remarkable resemblance to Slavic folk costume, especially the Ukrainian type. 

Whats more, the Kalash have a winter solstice ritual that may yield precious clues to the meaning behind Slavic yule log (Bozic/Badnjak/Budnik) tradition. Here a young boy assumes the role of the polymorphic solar fertility hero by taking to the hills during summer. He returns to his community and completes the rite of passage during the night of the winter solstice. Per Wikipedia,“This includes the Festival of the Budulak (buḍáḷak, the ‘shepherd king’). In this festival, a strong prepubescent boy is sent up into the mountains to live with the goats for the summer. He is supposed to get fat and strong from the goat milk. When the festival comes he is allowed for a 24-hour period only to have sexual intercourse with any woman he wants, including even the wife of another man, or a young virgin. Any child born of this 24-hour period is considered to be blessed. “

missalsfromiram  asked:

Do "wheel" and "chakra" - I feel like most people familiar with IE would know this one but to most non-linguists it would be pretty stunning

That is a good one!

So, the word “chakra” is a borrowing from the Sanskrit cakra, whose primary meaning is “wheel” or “circle”.  The word’s mystical sense derives from the belief that there are certain spots in the spiritual body, represented by circles, with spiritual importance.  Cakra derives from the Proto-Indo-European *kʷékʷlos.  In the Indo-Iranian branch, as in other satem languages, kʷ and k merged as /k/, which became palatized before front vowels, such as /e/, hence the initial c (representing /t͡ɕ/).  Afterwards, /e/ /a/ and /o/ merged as /a/.

In Proto-Germanic, following Grimm’s Law, *kʷékʷlos became *hwehwlą, which became Old English hwēol, the ancestor of Modern English wheel.

Another descendant of *kʷékʷlos is Greek kúklos, which was borrowed into Latin as cyclus, the source of our word cycle.

anonymous asked:

Why are Iranians called indo-Europeans? I was looking online and it said that we're indo Europeans but I don't understand that

Indo-European is a language family. Iranic languages like Persian are a member of Indo-European languages and classified as such. 

Nuristani father and son in Eastern Afghanistan.

In the mid-1890s, after the establishment of the Durand Line when Afghanistan ceded various frontier areas to the British Empire, Emir Abdur Rahman Khan conducted a military campaign in Nuristan (then known as Kafiristan) and followed up his conquest with conversion of the Nuristanis to Islam; the region thenceforth being known as Nuristan, the “Land of Light”. Before their conversion, the Nuristanis (then known as “Kafiristanis”) practiced an Indo-Iranian polytheistic Rigvedic religion. Non-Muslim religious practices endure in Nuristan today to some degree as folk customs.

Writing about a Civilization with Little Information

anonymous asked:

Hi, I’m really interested in the Indus Valley Civilization, the Harappans. I’ve thought about using what little is known about them for an alternate world or fantasy setting, but since I’m white I’ve stepped back to think. There’s a lot to be fascinated with, but there’s a lack of information compared to Mesopotamia and Egypt, and archaeology isn’t always the most reliable thing to begin with. So I wonder if it might not be a good idea. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you.

The Indus Valley Civilization

We know everything there is to know about the IVC, except who they were, how they got there, and where they went.  Though contemporaneous with Sumer and ancient Egypt, civilizations we know quite a bit about through archeological and linguistic methods, we know a lot less about the IVC.  Archeology may not always be the most reliable method, but it’s the best one we have for uncovering the material past, and an unbiased look at the evidence is the best way to infer something that is likely to be close to what the truth actually was.  The problem is not with the method, but with human biases in using it, and what archeology has been able to tell us about the IVC is this:

  • At its peak, it may have had a population of over 5 million
  • They had sophisticated metallurgical technology, urban planning techniques, drainage and irrigation systems—this was clearly an urban society
  • They traded with surrounding societies, particularly Sumer and Mesopotamia, probably with pre-Indo-Aryan or Indo-Iranian nomadic/pastoral societies to the north
  • Excavated statuary seems to show people phenotypically similar to modern South Asians—the people of the IVC probably looked quite similar to people living in eastern Pakistan/western India today
  • They may have had stringed musical instruments
  • They had wheeled transport similar to modern bullock carts, and boats—there is no evidence for horse-drawn chariots and whether the wheels were spoked or solid is uncertain

What we’re given is pretty thin is some respects, and though the ruins excavated are singularly impressive for their scale and organization, we’re left to infer and hypothesize about pretty much everything else.  These were clearly cities, but what of the people of lived in them?

Competing Theories

What we know about the IVC comes primarily from three sources: archeology, culture, and language.  These are listed in descending order of how much they’ve contributed to our knowledge.  I’ve discussed what the archeological record show above, and there’s plenty of research and hypothesizing out there.

From culture, we see elements in modern Hinduism and India that don’t seem to have come from another source (such as Vedic society), and we find things in the archeological record that suggest connections to those elements.  One example might be cremation as a Hindu funerary rite.

We know basically nothing of the language of the IVC, but words show up as early as Vedic Sanskrit, a very old Indo-European language, that aren’t Indo-European root words, so they must have come from somewhere else.  A language often borrows words for novel concepts, so when we find loan words into Sanskrit that refers to things like “threshing floor” and “brick” and “irrigation canal,” it suggests that they came from some other culture that had those things.  Once again, the archeological record shows that the IVC had those.  It’s not a concrete connection but it’s a plausible one.  If we find that those ancient loan words have relatives in modern languages from a different family, it opens the possibility that the language of the donor culture was also related to those modern languages.  Indeed, there seem to be some Dravidian loan words in Sanskrit for these novel concepts that the Vedic tribes didn’t have but that the IVC perhaps did.  So one possibility that has some evidence behind it is that the people of the IVC were a Dravidian-speaking people.

Of course I should discuss the infamous “Indigenous Aryans” theory.  This is basically that the Vedic Aryans were the people of the IVC and that they, who Hindu nationalists often consider the sole progenitors of classical and modern Indian civilization, spawned the IVC’s sophisticated culture and even take it to the level of having advanced scientific knowledge (think the show Ancient Aliens), which blatantly flies in the face of available evidence.

They seem to be allergic to the idea that “Indians” could ever have come from somewhere else, but they ignore much of the evidence.  Sanskrit is clearly an Indo-European language whose relatives are found all across the Old (and now New) World, and whose linguistic and cultural ancestors are vanishingly unlikely to have been indigenous to the subcontinent.  Modern India continues some elements of Vedic society but many, many other influences shine through as well.  Syncretism was the order of the day in prehistory.

Having examined the evidence and weighed it, I come down in favor of the Dravidian theory for the IVC.

Can You Write About It?

Can you write about it?  Can you be inspired by it?  Sure, I don’t see why not.  I feel like the dearth of evidence and the fact that we may never know much more is itself appealing, which maybe plays into the human need for a coherent story.  It is indeed tantalizing, but because we don’t know so much, what we do know becomes extraordinarily important, and must be treated with respect.

It’s likely that daughter and sister cultural elements from the IVC are continued in modern Hinduism and South Indian Dravidian societies, but they’ve undergone at least four thousand years of change.  To make an analogy to a related issue, should I refrain from attempting to write accurately about Vedic pastoralists because I might offend modern Hindu nationalists?  I think not.  They key is to treat the evidence with due respect, and to be accurate to what you can.  Do not instead kowtow to historical revisionism just because it comes from people of color.  (The recent incarnation of the Hindu nationalist movement have repeatedly shown themselves to be a bunch of lying bastards anyway, so screw ‘em.)

I don’t really see much that could be construed as either appropriation or erasure, as long as you don’t go off and do something wildly incongruous with the available evidence, like pretending the IVC were white Europeans, or that aliens built their cities.

Depending on what theory you subscribe you about the IVC (and like I said, some are definitely better than others), you can use sources for what you take to be cultures related to the IVC as inspiration.  For instance, I subscribe to the Dravidian theory so I might look to Old Tamil literature from the Sangam period.  There is a 1400 year gap between the IVC and the Sangams, but we have examples from other cultures of cultural elements persisting for much longer and also you’re writing fantasy, not a peer-reviewed archeology article.  When filling in the gaps from elsewhere, you just have you use sources that are more likely to be connected than that are certain to be connected, because we don’t know what those are.

Yes, you run the risk of writing something and then having new evidence come to light that invalidates it.  But you know what?  Who the heck cares?  Andy Weir wrote The Martian, became a bestseller, and had a movie of his book come out not two weeks before NASA discovered possible evidence of running water on Mars—evidence that could have derailed his entire plot line.  Isaac Asimov thought computers would still be running on punch cards and tape in 2061.  There are forward-looking examples, but the principle still applies to unknowns in archeology and uncovering the past.  You’re writing fantasy, building a territory using a blinkered view of reality as the map.  Good news: “The map is not the territory” — Alfred Korzybski.

Doesn’t mean you can get away with not doing the work.  Go forth and be inspired, but know that a good product is 10% inspiration and 100% hard, disciplined work (yeah, I know that’s 110%—that’s how important the work part of things is).

~Mod Nikhil

In the Old Turkic religion, the Earth is seen as square, covered by a circumscribed sky dome, the four corners of the earth lying outside the shelter of the sky.   The Mongol yurt dwelling (a circular tent) with its pillar an axis mundi, or world axis, is seen as a microcosm of the universe.    Some questions concerning the origin of the circle-and-square cosmology—whether, for example, the Turks and Mongols got their cosmological notions from the Indo-Iranians or from the Chinese—may be difficult to answer.  One link which seems easy to identify is the influence of Indo-Iranian or Indo-European concepts on Buddhist cosmology and architecture.  The plan of the Buddhist stupa was based on the square (Earth) and the circle (Heaven).   The use of the circle and the square in complex ways is obvious in the ground plans of the Rawak Vihara at Khotan, in Xinjiang, of the Kanishka stupa at Peshawar, in Pakistan, and of the vast Tope-e-Rustam stupa at Balkh, in Afghanistan.   The stupa at the center of the vihara (monastery) at Rawak is based on a large square platform with staircases projecting at the quarters, creating a cruciform shape.   The ruins of Miran, south of Lop Nor in Xinjiang, excavated by Aurel Stein show the principal building was a massive square.  On a circular base inside a round room stood a stupa not visible from the outside.  Wall paintings there date from 300 A.D.   And finally, the word ‘mandala’ means ‘circle.’ The mandalas central to so many forms of Buddhism are either a circle within a square or a square within a circle within a square.   We will return later to the questions of historical links between similar cosmological concepts in cultures distant from each other, and will suggest that this evidence shows the religious unity of the ancient world.

Old Persian Mother Goddess Anahit (Armenian: Անահիտ, Aredvi Sura Anahita ~ Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā) the Avestan language name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological goddess venerated as the divinity of ‘the Waters’ (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom in Armenian mythology. In early periods she was also the goddess of war. By the 5th century BC she was the main deity in Armenia along with Aramazd.

anonymous asked:

Same anon here! So can I ask what do you study? And why exactly persian or, say, not arabic?

I am a Classics student. Considering the fact that Persian and Greek ancient history are linked together and that the Persian language and culture belong to the oldest ones in Central Asia I was very happy to get the opportunity to study it. Also, I love Persian poetry and I felt I should learn more about the language and its respective literature. Indo-Iranian languages have always fascinated me and they are related to most of the languages spoken in Europe, but this fact seems to be a little forgotten here where I live (like 90% of my friends have no idea that Persian and Slovak come from the same big language group). I think the cultures and languages of Central Asia deserve to be distinguished, as they are so diverse and unique and some of them are closer to us then we might have thought.

In my book ‘Noah’s Ark: The Anthropology of Genesis,’ the origins of the dragon myth and it’s occurrence in many cultures is examined. Many scholars have attempted to understand and explain how this creature, (which is both complex in it’s physical characteristics, and not found in nature) could show up in so many mythologies. Pictured here is a Scythian golden torc from Central Asia dating between the 2nd century BCE - 1st CE. This was over 1000 years prior to the arrival of the Mongol hordes and the tragic decimation of the Indo-European populations of the area. The Scythians were cousins to the Persians and spoke a language that was mutually understandable without the need of translators. Upon the arrival of the Huns, and later Mongols, most of the Scythians left their ancient homelands of the great Eurasian steppes and fled to settle finally in Iran, the Carpathians, France, and Spain. -H.J.N.

the-z-part  asked:

Hey! I love this blog, but I thought you should know that, while Tolkien's dwarves were based on Jews, Wagner, a contemporary of his who wrote a fantasy opera, based HIS dwarves on Jews first, and more obviously, and much more negatively. Tolkien made his Jewish dwarves much more complex and protagonist-y sort of as a "I don't think Jews are evil" move against Wagner. So it's still not great, but it's better.

Look, Wagner was one of the worst anti-semites of the last 200 years. He was a key figure in the growth of German anti-semitism in the 19th century. His writings and music were direct inspirations for Hitler. You are damning Tolkien with faint praise. 

Now, if we want to recognize Tolkien giving Jews a solid moment of allyship, follow this link. The short version is that Tolkien, when asked by the potential publisher of the German Language Edition of The Hobbit to prove his Aryan credentials, not only did Tolkien refuse, he mailed them a letter containing one of the great all time slams:


Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, G*psy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject - which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

Neo-Elamite Phiale Mesomphalos with Decorated Center, 7th-6th Century BC

See it in 360° on video

A silver phiale mesompholos with intersecting bulbous petals to the base, flaring rim and to the centre a central boss decorated with rosette and framed by lines.

Elam was an ancient pre-Iranian civilization with its capital at Susa. Its culture played a crucial role during the Persian Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded Elam, when the Elamite language remained among those in official use. Elamite is generally accepted to be a language isolate and thus unrelated to the much later arriving Persian and Iranic languages.

The neo-Elamite period is distinguished by the migration of Indo-European speaking Iranian peoples into the area, known as Medes from ancient sources. Among these pressuring tribes were the Parsu, first recorded in 844 BC as living on the southeastern shore of Lake Urmiah, but who by the end of this period would cause the Elamites’ original home, the Iranian Plateau, to be renamed Persia proper.

Phiale mesomphalos were the most popular form of drinking vessels and were produced in a number of materials, from clay through to silver and gold. They were used in banquets held by the nobility, but were also used to pour libations at religious festivals. They were a common gift from the king to the nobility which helped cement alliances among the different tribes of the Empire. They were also used as diplomatic gifts to visiting dignitaries and they were extremely popular in the kingdom of Macedonia where they were used for purely religious purposes.

Slavic earth goddess, Mokosh, at Harvest.

by John McCannon
Goddess of the earth worshipped by the ancient Slavs; one of the most primeval deities in the pagan Slavic pantheon. Mokos is most likely a later and more strongly personified variant of the Slavs’ elder earth goddess, “Damp Mother Earth,” or Mati syra zemlya. According to Roman Jakobson and Marija Gimbutas, the worship of such a primal earth goddess was widespread among the Slavs and their neighbors; this is attested to by the fact that the earth deities of a number of Baltic, Phrygian, and Finno-Ugric peoples exhibit similar characteristics and seem to derive from the Indo-Iranian Ardvi Sura Anahita (“Humid Mother of the Earth”). Just prior to the conversion of the Eastern Slavs to Christianity, Mokos was worshipped officially in Kievan Rus, along with Perun and other deities mentioned in the Primary Chronicle.
As the only female god of note to be worshipped by the Slavs, Mokos assumed a broad range of divine roles. She was first and foremost a symbol of the earth’s fertility. During the early spring, it was taboo to spit on or strike the ground, since Mokos was said to be pregnant then. Holidays were dedicated to her in the autumn, after the harvest. The belief that Mokos invested the earth with divinity was reflected in peasant practices that, in some parts of Russia, Ukraine, and Belorussia, persisted into the 19th century: the swallowing of a lump of soil to consecrate wedding vows, the placing of earth upon one’s head to seal oaths, the confession of one’s sins to a hole in the ground instead of a priest.
Over time, Mokos became a patron of women, especially those bearing children or giving birth. She oversaw women’s work, such as spinning and weaving. By some groups, such as the Czechs, her name was invoked in times of drought. She was also thought to protect flocks of sheep. The strength of her cult remained substantial, even after the Christianization of the Slavs; as late as the 17th century, Orthodox priests attempted to uncover Mokos-worshippers among the peasantry, asking women whether or not they had “gone to Mokos.” In Russia, Mokos was partially absorbed into Orthodox worship, in the guise of St. Paraskeva-Piatnitsa (“Paraskeva-Friday”), whose name day fell in late October, around the time of Mokos’s former harvest celebration.

just saw a tumblr post calling Arab people Indo-Aryans and saying any ancient Egyptians that were not “pitch black” are not real Egyptians but Arab colonisers.

tumblr social justice, always ‘defending’ non-US “POC” by continuously carelessly erasing our diversity and vomiting US-centric and modern racial constructs terms all over ancient history where they have no place. Africans are diverse as fuck, and this notion that they had to all be pitch black to be “real Africans” or “real ancient Egyptians” is actually a nauseating perpetuation of colonialist narratives. Please stop using terms like “white” and “black” carelessly when you’re actually talking about anthropology because RACE IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT. People should be classified by ethnicity and genetic haplogroups, 

Carelessly using racial terms only serves to entrench European colonial narratives by entrenching the colourist construct of racism that does no justice to the diversity of our species and was certainly not how people in ancient history saw each other.

P.S Arabs are a semitic people, indo-aryans are Indians, Iranians and various other Central Asian ethnic groups like Tajiks. YES, many Arabs and Indo-Aryan peoples are Muslim today but it DOESN’T MEAN THEY HAVE THE SAME ORIGINS!

Magic Panel (SDCC 2015)

This post compiles all new information from today’s panel presented through social media. I’ll update it as they appear.


  • There’s a shift in Magic’s storytelling, and this means “a central cast of characters, a continuous story, getting stories on cards and tying up loose threads”.
  • Each of the five planeswalkers from Magic Origins will be the protagonist of one of the upcoming blocks.
  • The next Uncharted Realms tales will prepare us to Battle for Zendikar.
  • Nissa and Gideon as a team in BFZ!

I guess there’s a kor (usually white) and a vampire (usually black) behind Gideon. Enemy-color pairs theme?

  • “Here’s an example of a pivotal event from Battle for Zendikar! Three key words: Gate. Slaughter. Sea.”
  • Ob Nixilis attacks a kor and sacrifices an eldrazi.
  • Ugin and Jace among hedrons.
  • Spell mastery is an example of how flavorful R&D wants mechanics to be from now on.
  • Kor, vampire and human allies unite against the eldrazi threat!
  • Gideon is indo-iranian-inspired. Racial and ethnic representation will be expanded in the game.
  • Magic Duels is not going to be released for Android, …but, if there is sufficient customer demand, things may change.
  • Wizards is “working on a way to bring the older stories (novels, etc) online“.
  • From the Vault: Angels spoilers.

Mesopotamian Bronze Chariot Hunter, Early Dynastic, Mid-3rd Millennium BC

A very rare diorama on a rectangular framework base comprising: two stationary horses with halters attached to a round-section blustered yoke; a two-wheeled hunting chariot with stepped axle-tree and linch-pins to the solid wheels; a kilted hunter standing bare-chested and bearded holding the reins (part absent), with a slaughtered animal across the frame before him, game-bag behind to his left and quiver with arrows to his right; to the rear, a small hunting dog riding on the chariot’s beam.

The horse was first domesticated on the Eurasian steppe, its original habitat, perhaps as early as the 4th millennium BC; it may have been bred as a food source initially, but its use as a traction animal had begun by the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, replacing the ox for this purpose. Wheeled vehicles had already appeared in the 3rd millennium BC, but the spoked wheel is not evidenced until the late 2nd millennium BC. The earliest known physical remains of chariots are in the chariot burials of the Andronovo Culture, an Indo-Iranian population in the area of modern Russia and Kazakhstan dating to around 2000 BC.

The combination of multiple horses and light-framed two-wheeled vehicles offered the possibility of travel at speed, both for war and for hunting. Chariot warfare originated with the Hittites, with the invention of spoked wheels around 1900 BC. Depictions of hunting in a chariot appear in Egypt after the vehicle’s introduction by the Hyksos in the 16th century BC, notably at Abu Simbel where the Battle of Kadesh fought in 1274 BC is represented, showing Ramses II fighting from a chariot with two archers accompanying him (photo). There is a similar example made from gold that forms part of the Oxus Treasure now in the British museum.

नमस्ते (namaste): from Sanskrit नमः (namaḥ) "bowing" + ते (te), dative of त्वं (tvam) “you” (singular), from Indo-Iranian *namas (”prostration”) and *tai, probably from Indo-European *nem(o)s (”distribution”, “allotment”) and *toi.

It means “hello”, “greetings”, “salutations.”  (Think of it like “goodbye”, a contraction of “god be with you”—doesn’t mean you’re actually wishing a god’s favor on anyone).  Like, even at its most flowery, namaste means “[I] bow to you.”  We have other words for all the rest of this stuff.  For the most part, we really don’t care about the place of peace, light, and truth in you.  We have jobs and stuff, and when you cut me off on the highway, I wish to destroy the entire universe inside you.

Indians are not all mystics packing a dozen concepts into a single letter and spooking around the ether.