Updated Feb 12, 2008: Ganesh and Karthik have raised excellent questions on methodology. I had included a segment on the methodology I used. You would have seen that part if you had read my post on Sunday. Later I took it out because the post was already way too long. Here is the methodology I used. As always critiques are welcome.
In the previous post, I explained how the Neolithic Plate was united by a common religion. In this post, we look at the economics of the Neolithic Plate, the other big aspect of civilizations. Not only did the Sumerian package include agricultural elements, it included supply chain economics and a written script. Why is all this context important? I believe with this context we can pass judgement on whether AIT is valid or invalid with certainty.
Pentagonal Supply Chain:
This episode in my journey of discovery started when I read the following lines in Page 88 of Romila Thapar’s The Penguin History of Early India:
The harappan system was a network linking the urban to the rural and some features could have been maintained in the rural areas, even if these areas suffered administratively and economically from the removal of this protective system.
Maybe other historians have also said this, but somehow this statement took my imaginaton by storm. I saw many things about IVC in a new light – they had a complex system of weights and measures, workshops for manufacture, seals, various tools and techniques, advanced town planning, a covered sewer system, fancy multi-storeyed buildings and of course the now famous Great Bath.
I also came across a news item in the Hindu newspaper about an Indus seal depicting Bull Leaping. I already knew by then that the same bull leaping was there in the Minoan Civilization in Crete, Greece that I talked about in my previous post. I even found this fresco of the Minoan Bull Leaping which is eerily similar to the Indus seal. This time, I read some more about the Minoans and I realized they have a similar mother goddess worship, a great lily pond (similar to the Great Bath), palaces, complex weights and measures, covered sewer and water management systems, advanced town planning and also a heiroglyphic like script that has not yet been deciphered.
Since I already came up with the realization that this entire region was acting like a continental plate – Neolithic Plate as I called it, this set of evidences told me that the connection between Minoans and IVC was much stronger.
Armed with this interpretation, I now went back into looking at Sumer and I came across the fact that there were several references to 3 places Magan, Dilmun and Meluhha from where they received ships. This clearly told me that there was some kind of trade network that Sumer was having with these three trading partners.
1. Meluhha – Asko Parpola, the f***ing brilliant Finnish Indologist had already proven that Meluhha was Mel Ahha (which he further derived to Met Agam = High Abode in Tamil, don’t know why he chose Met when Mel itself suffices) and it was the IVC. He also concluded that the Sanskrit term “Mileccha” meaning foreigner was a derivative of Meluhha. Al though i was convinced of this, i was not completely satisfied because I didn’t understand why people in the Indian subcontinent and Sumeria call the IVC by a term that means foreigner! So i thought about this further and I realized that “Mel” means “Upper”, “Agam” means Inside or House (as in Ezhil Agam or Thamizh Agam). Therefore Meluhha = Upper House, corroborated by evidence that houses in the IVC cities were often multi-storied and also included a citadel which could be called Upper House.
2. Dilmun -Researchers have already shown that Dilmun is Bahrain, a sea port in the persian gulf and a key part of the Arabian Peninsula. Interestingly, they simply used the IVC weights and measures. It is not clear if they also had their own script and IVC, Minoa like urban infrastructure. But without a doubt, they were a key trading partner of Sumeria and IVC.
3. Magan – Current research places Magan either in Oman or Yemen, but it also says the place is not known with certainty. Somehow this placement of Magan struck me as odd because when I was researching the Minoan civilization, i found that they were also a mercantile people who did trading. Not just any trading: it was a trading network that hooked together UK, Cyprus etc and traded with Mesopotamia as well!
At this point i made the intutive leap that Magan is the Minoan civilization. So i started to look for proof and went back to look at the Minoan as well as the Mycenaean that immediately succeeded the Minoans.
Interestingly, it turns out the decipherment of the Mycenaean Linear B script has shown that the name “Mycenaean” is incorrect, when applied to the civilization of mainland Greece.
At this point, I began to run out of steam. How do i connect Magan to Minoa – I got a couple of ideas – from my trip to Greece, I knew that there is a place called Mykanos which is a Mycenean place. In Greece, K and G are interchangeable – for example Knossos is also Gnossos. So Myganos maybe equivalent of Mykanos [Citation Needed] and if you strip the OS which is a standard Greek suffix, you get Mygan, pretty close to Magan.
Another thing I realized is that when Arthur Evans discovered the Minoan civilization, he simply named it after the King Minos. So this is another mistake in the Greek Historical Nomenclature. Now I was almost convinced that Magan = Mycaenae which is actually Minoa.
To see if i could find any other evidence, i looked to Egypt another culture which had a history of writing since 3200 BC to see if they had any references to Magan. It turns out Amenhotep III, refers to a place called Mwkinu or Mycaneae. Amenhotep III’s time is past the Minoan civilization but i think the name of the place wouldn’t have changed within 300 years of the decline of Minoa.
Need for a Complex Supply Chain:
Now, I landed in another problem – i didn’t understand why they had such a complex supply chain moving goods from Magan, Dilmun, IVC and Sumer because it looked like any other ordinary trading going on between countries since time immemorial.
As i wracked my brains, it dawned on me that we were dealing with the Bronze Age, which means one of the key metals is Bronze which is an alloy of Copper and Tin. I had read that Sumer, IVC, Minoan, Egypt all had Copper [Citation Needed]. Additionally I found with Priya Raju’s help that Tin is significantly rarer than Copper [2.5 ppm for Tin vs. 75 ppm for Copper].
Aha! that maybe what is driving this supply chain. I went back to Minoa again and started looking and voila, one of the main exports of the Minoans was Tin which they imported from Celtic UK!
Now that i knew that it was the metal trade that was driving this supply chain, it was pretty easy to connect Egypt to the network, it had Nubian Gold and Papyrus, as the fourth arm. From my Egypt trip, I knew that they had an alloy of Gold and Silver called Electrum. So i needed to find a source of Silver and it was right there in Anatolia (Luwia) near Catal Hoyuk which i wrote about in my previous post. Curiously Luwia also had Anatolian Hieroglyphics.
The Pentagonal Supply Chain is complete – Magan, Dilmun, Meluhha, Egypt and Luwia with Sumer being the orchestrator of the supply chain – can you believe this – a multi-hub-and-spoke model from 5000-6000 years ago!
One small problem remained – Magan is in the Mediterranen Sea and it needs to cross over to the Red Sea to reach Sumer. I guessed that Suez Canal which connects these 2 seas in the modern day may have been a small canal through which small boats might have passed through in ancient times [Citation Needed].
Next week I will show how the context we have established helped me decipher parts of the Indus Script. I started with this seal:
Check out Parpola’s interpretation of this seal
I will prove next week that aside from the brilliant connection to the Pleaides, Parpola’s interpretation is not completely correct. You all can also try your hand at interpreting this seal [Priya Raju is excluded because she knows the answer].