Showing posts with label semitic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label semitic. Show all posts

origin of Brahmi Script

Brahmi Script
In the last centuries BC the script was divided into 3 varieties: northern, eastern, and southern. Dialectal differences consisted of the shape of the symbols, though the system remained the same. First separate branches emerged in the 5th century AD. The Brahmi script is the ancestor of all modern Indian writing systems, there are about 40 varieties of them nowadays, including Tibetan, Sinhalese, Sharada, Newari, Bengali, Oriya, Gujarati,Gurmukhi, , Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Thai, Devanagari. In addition, many other Asian scripts, even Japanese to a very small extent (vowel order), were also derived from Indian script. Languages which used Brahmi as their script: Indo-Aryan (Vedic, Sanskrit, Prakrits, Pali), Dravidian, Iranian (Sacian), Tocharic.

Brahmi origin
Brahmi origin has been controversial. one of the reason is the sudden appearance of fully developed script in the inscriptions during Ashokan period and l absence of inscriptions between Indus valley and Ashokan period(gap of 1500 years). Opinions of Brahmi is divided to into two camps Foreign origin by Foreigners and Indigenous independent development by Indians. Let us see the opinions behind claims.

Foreign origin
Foreign origin or derived script theory is based on the following theories
  • Failure to find and identify actual specimens of between indus valley and pre-Ashokan writing.
  • The testimony of Greek author Megasthenes to the absence of writing in India in the early Mauryan period
  • The evident influence of Indian phonetic and grammatical theory on the structure of the early scripts
  • Uniform appearance of Ashokan Brâhmî all over India.
Aramic origin
It is thought that the brāhmī drift of a Semitic writing like the imperial Aramean alphabet, as it is the case for the alphabet gāndhārī(khartoshi) which appeared at the same time in Northwest India, under the control of the empire of the Achéménides. Rhys Davids thinks that this writing could be introduced in India of the the Middle East by the merchants.The similarities between the scripts are just what one would expect from such an adaptation. For example, Aramaic did not distinguish dental from retroflex stops; in Brāhmī the dental and retroflex series are graphically very similar, as if both had been derived from a single prototype. Aramaic did not have Brāhmī’s aspirated consonants (k, t), whereas Brāhmī did not have Aramaic's emphatic consonants (q, ṭ, ṣ); and it appears that these emphatic letters were used for Brāhmī's aspirates: Aramaic q for Brāhmī kh, Aramaic (Θ) for Brāhmī th (ʘ). And just where Aramaic did not have a corresponding emphatic stop, p, Brāhmī seems to have doubled up for its aspirate: Brāhmī p and ph are graphically very similar, as if taken from the same source in Aramaic p. The first letters of the alphabets also match: Brāhmī a, which resembled a reversed κ, looks a lot like Aramaic alef, which resembled Hebrew .
Southern Semitic origin.
Brahmi is a syllabary, it consists of syllables only, if we state that single vowels are also syllables. Each character carries a consonant followed by the vowel "a", much like Old Persian or Meroïtic. However, unlike these two systems, Brahmi indicates the same consonant with a different vowel with extra strokes attached to the character. Brahmi is written from the left to the right. However in few coins right to left Brahmi is also found.

Phoenician Origin
Phoenician origin is based on the following points.
  • Writing from left to right unlike aramic which is right to left.
  • Striking similarity between theta and Brâhmî tha
Emphasising this two points to Brahmi phoenicaian origin is theory far fetched. Maybe there is influence but no such a thing as origin from Greek alphabet.

Greek and Brahmi
That the basic system of indication of post-consonantal vowels by diacritic marking was originally developed in and adapted from Khartoshi seems well established. But Falk's suggestion that the introduction into Brâhmî of distinct diacritics for short and long vowels was influenced by the model of Greek script is doubtful, since the notation of vowel quantity in Greek operates on entirely different principles. Whereas Greek uses distinct alphabetic characters, mostly derived from Semitic consonants, to represent, incompletely and inconsistently, short and long vowel pairs, Brâhmî has a complete and regular set of matched short/long pairs of post-consonantal diacritic signs.

Brahmi Numerals
Numerical notation system of Brâhmî. Because the use of distinct signs in Brâhmî for each of the digits (1 to 9) and the decades (10 to 90) a similar system used in early Chinese numerals. Also not only in system but also in the actual form of several of the numerical signs, between Brâhmî and heiratic and demotic Egyptian. we dont know which side influenced the other or Independent.

Indigenous origin

Independent origin
script appeared in India most certainly by the 6th century BC, but the fact it had many local variants, which suggests that its origin lies further back in time. The earliest inscription written in Brahmi date back to the 6th century BC in srilanka, and by 2nd century BC already there existed several varieties of it. Brahmi quickly became the official script of religious texts and cults, and therefore spread over all India.
Writting in Pre Ashokan Era
  • J.D.M. Derrett argues Megasthanese talks only about written Legal document not generally writting in India.
  • Nearchos, quoted by Strabo, to the Indians' practice of writing letters on cloth
  • Panini mentions Lipi (Writting)
  • Pali cannon makes reference to likhitako coro,lekha.m chindati (writting) in Vinaya-pi.taka
Ashoka Invention
Harry Falks believes as for him that the brāhmī was created under the Empire maurya. One often admits that it was an invention planned under the reign of Ashoka, necessary to the drafting of his edicts, case similar to that of the Hangul(Korean).

Indus origin
Brahmi script came from the Indus Valley Script. However, the lack of any inscription evidence between the end of the Harappan period at around 1900 BC and the first Brahmi and Kharosthi inscriptions at roughtly 500 BC makes the Indus origin of Brahmi highly questionable. However recent claims of deciphering the Indus script has strengthened this theory. Indus script have been found around 1500BC in Vaishai, bihar. And the theory derives the evidence from similarities as other theories. You can see in the picture .

Now the theory by western scholars is Khartoshi predated Brahmi and it was loose adoptation of Aramic. Khartoshi from Aramic is also not a good argument simply because several cases Khartoshi characters have different phonetic values from the Aramaic letters that they most closely resemble in shape. wide usage of Aramaicin the Ashokan Aramaic inscriptions, in the eastern regions of the Achaemenian empire.another theory is Brahmi is derived from Khartoshi. But this can be disproved on following points. Brâhmî ¤ ha , which can reasonably be derived from an Aramaic * he , but hardly from Khartoshi * ha , and * ta from Aramaic * taw ,
but not Khartoshi ¤ ta

We have to see that each theory putsforward the similarities and keeps silence on the other points. Brahmi is superior script all the others compared. And there is no easier explanation for the development of same.

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Myth of Sumerian Legacy

The term "Sumerian" is the common name given to the ancient inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia by their successors, the Semitic Akkadians. The Sumerians called themselves sag-giga, literally meaning "the black-headed people". The Akkadian word Shumer may represent this name in dialect, but it is unknown why the Akkadians called the southern land Shumeru. Biblical Shinar, Egyptian Sngr and Hittite Šanhar(a) could be western variants of Šumer

Severalpeople have claimed decendents of Sumerians or related to sumerians. Let us see the claims


Sumerian is generally believed today to be an isolate language without known close relatives, even though most will say it is the closest to the FinnUgor and Altaic language. Even the well known Sumerologist, Samuel Noah Kramer has hinted at the probability at times about the FinnUgor and Altaic links to Sumerian. Many others mention it also but then try to play it down and minimize the true extent of the links. Early pioneers as Jules Oppert (France), Archibald.H Sayce (England), A.H. Layard (England), Francis Lenormant (France), Delitzs (Germany), Coloman-Gabriel Gostony (France) and many others who are less known today such as Hungarian Sumerologists Dr Zsigmond Varga, a student of Delitz, and his student Dr Ida Bobula. Unfortunately the detailed work and sound correspondences needed by modern "historic" linguist, were only started by them, but never continued and refined by anyone, before it became a semi "taboo" topic to compare Sumerian to other language families.

The origin of this theory was explained by Ida Bobula this way: "When in the middle of the 19th century, under the debris of Mesopotamia the first written memories, the tiletable notched cuneiform and hieroglyphic text began to turn up, professionals recognized that those against the Assyrian-Babylonian texts were written in a non-Semitic structured language." The language proved to be agglutinatively structured. The pioneer orientalists, Julius Oppert, Rawlinson, and Archibald Sayce, spoke of the ancient Scythian and Turanian languages; the French scientist Lenormant decisively declared that the language of these "artificers of writing" is closest to Hungarian, and that it would prove to bear a relationship to the "Turanian" family similar to that of Sanskrit for the Indo-European family.

The second account has been related to Biblical history. The document starts with Tana, perhaps the same as the Sumerian Etana of the city of Kish, son of "Arwium", son of "Mashda". The Kushan Scythians also had an ancestor called Kush-Tana. In the Sumerian account, Etana of Kish was the first king who 'stabilised all the nations'. Some feel that Etana of Kish corresponds to the Biblical Cush, father of Nimrod.

In the Hungarian account, Tana's son is called Menrot, whose twin sons, Magor and Hunor dwelled by the Sea of Azov in the years following the flood, and took wives from the Alans, presumably meaning the ancestors of the Iranians (from the eponymous ancestor Aran).
Another version of this legend found in the Kepes Kronika makes Magor and Hunor the sons of Japheth rather than of Nimrod, equating Magor with Magog.Nimrod the hunter, founder of Erech, is more plausibly identified by David Rohl with Enmerkar, founder of Uruk (Sum. kar=hunter).

The mother of the twin sons in the Hungarian version is Eneth, Enech or Eneh, who is the wife of either Menrot (Nimrod) or of Japheth. If she is to be equated with the Sumerian goddess Inanna, she may have originally been the wife of both men, and a great many others beside.

The Sumerian legends of "Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta" describe vividly how the powerful Inanna, something of a kingmaker in her time, abandoned the king of Aratta, who is called Ensuhkeshdanna, and awarded the kingship of Erech to Enmerkar.Another argument sometimes used to link the Sumerians (who called their language Emegir) with the Magyars, involves the hereditary caste among the Medes and later Persians known as "Magi".

But the theory has many loopholes. Eventhough mountain of documents show Closest Europeon languge to Sumerian is Hungarian, the language is noticed only in 9th century AD , while the sumerians rule ended in 2000 BC. So how come they are related. The myth was created to show the Hungarians inferior to Europeons ruling societies. The Hungarian whose origin has been conflicting claims trace their origin to Huns. And Hungarian being close to Finnish is itself doubt.

Ur or Uru (=city) was a major city during Sumerian civilizatin times. The word Uru or Ooru ( village or township) has got into almost all Dravidan languages including Tulu.Possibly the the name of the once famous Sumerian city was extended to all civilized settlements later on.It is a common suffix now in most of the place names in southern India. Bengalur,Mangaluru,Mundkur,Tanjavur ,Trichur,Gudur etc.There are also other Sumerian/Dravidian words sharing similar sounding verb -ur. SumerianUru (2) (= firewood.) has similar words in Tulu, Kannada (Uri- is to burn) and other Dravidian languages. Similarly, Sumerian Uru (3)(=to till or grow) has Urpini/Ulpini (Tulu), Ulu(=to till) in Kannada.
One of the numbers,"five" in Sumerian was Ia or i (=five).It is ain in Tulu and aidu in Kannada.
Sig(=sun burnt clay tiles) has analogous Sike or seke (=sunny sultriness) and Sigadi (=fire place/oven) in Tulu and Kannada.
There may be more such analogous words in Sumerian and Tulu/Kannada/Dravidian languages.
The analogy is cited here to suggest that some early Tulu,Kannada and other Dravidian tribes might have migrated from Sumerian region to India.A genealogical relationship exist between the Black African, Dravidian, Elamite and Sumerian languages. But apart from these word similarities there is nothing else to say Sumerians and Dravidian are related.

Elam, lasting from around 2700 BC to 539 BC, is one of the oldest recorded civilizations. Elam was centered in the far west and southwest of modern-day Iran (the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, which takes its name from Elam), as well as parts of southern Iraq. It was preceded by what is known as the Proto-Elamite period, which began around 3200 BC when Susa (later capital of Elam) began to be influenced by the cultures of the Iranian plateau to the east.
The Elamite culture show influence of sumerian. But the elamite is seprate culture and language is seprate and still to be deciphered elamite text are different from Sumerian.

Hebrew belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family. Sumerian is a different language family. Hebrew is related to Akkadian, Aramaic, Egyptian and Phoenician.

The term "Sumerian" is the common name given to the ancient inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia by their successors, the Semitic Akkadians. Clearly this shows that Semitic and Sumer are different people. While semitic people are migrants from outside, sumerians are natives.

The Babylonian civilization, which endured from the 18th until the 6th century BC, was, like the Sumerian that preceded it, urban in character, although based on agriculture rather than industry. The country consisted of a dozen or so cities, surrounded by villages and hamlets. At the head of the political structure was the king, a more or less absolute monarch who exercised legislative and judicial as well as executive powers. Under him was a group of appointed governors and administrators. Mayors and councils of city elders were in charge of local administration.
The Babylonians modified and transformed their Sumerian heritage in accordance with their own culture and ethos. The resulting way of life proved to be so effective that it underwent relatively little change for some 1200 years. It exerted influence on all the neighboring countries, especially the kingdom of Assyria, which adopted Babylonian culture almost in its entirety. But sumerians are not babylonians as they are not semitic. Infact semitic babylonians named them numers.
Early Eastern Europe did have an important early local civilization, even before the coming of the Indo-Europeans, who are mistakenly claimed to bring agriculture to the natives. Most grain names or the name of bread in various major branches of Indo-European languages (Germanic, Latin, Slavic) cannot be derived from a common origin indicating that they weren't agriculturalist prior to their separation. The earliest appearance of Indo Europeans, from the east in Europe was around 2800BC with the first appearance of the ancestors of the early Greeks

The claims are based on some similarities , we dont know how the sumerians spoke . The Sumerians can be Elamaites or Semitic or Huns or Dravidians or East African we dont know. As the Mystery race they have claims from all over the world. The documents of Elam are decoded it may throw further light. Until then people will claim sumerian as their own

Myths of Indus script

The world of scholars was totally ignorant about the culture known as Indus Valley Civilization or Harappa Culture till the early twenties of this century. The excavations at Mohenjodaro in Sind and at Harappa in Panjab (now in Pakistan) in 1922-23 and later and the discovery of numerous steatite seals in these excavations pushed back, at one stroke, the history of Indian Civilization including writing to the third millennium before Christ. After partition of India in 1947 when Mohenjodaro and Harappa went to Pakistan, similar sites in Eastern Panjab, Western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat were discovered. Of these Ka#liban#gan in Rajasthan and Lothal in Gujarat are important ones which have also yielded seals (and sealings) and have contributed much in establishing the chronological sequence of early and late phases of Harappan Culture. During the last fifty years and more, different views have been expressed by scholars about the authors of this great and highly developed culture which is comparable to that of Sumer, Babylon, Egypt and Assyria. And the key to the understanding of it lies in the decipherment of the writing on the seals and sealings. But unfortunately, the decipherment of this writing has defied the attempts of several scholars during the past fifty years and more. While some scholars think that this writing is of indigenous origin, others feel that it is of foreign origin. Even amongst those who think of indigenous origin, one set of scholars propound the theory of Dravidian origin while the other set put forth the theory of Aryan origin. These different views may be briefly mentioned here.

As stated above, the Indus script appears on a large number of steatite seals which are beautifully prepared. From Lothal in Gujarat some sealings are also found. From these sealings, which are found in association with packing material:; such as cloth, matting and twisted cords, it has been suggested that the sealings were used as labels and affixed to the packages of goods were thus of commercial or merchandise value10.

Waddel was one of the earliest scholars to attempt the decipherment of the Indus script. He thought that the writing represents the Sumerian script and, based on the identity of Sumerians with Aryans, he read the names of Vedic and Epic persons11 . Pran Nath assigned alphabetic values to the script and suggested their connection with the later Bra#hmi# script12. Sankaranand and Barua also thought that the script was alphabetic. Sudhansu Kumar Ray also held a similar view. Hrozny tried to connect the script with the Hittite language. But Heras suggested that the script is picto-phonographic and connected it with Dravidian languages reading old Tamil on the seals. Hevesy sought to establish similarity between the Indus script and the script of the Eastern Islands in the Pacific ocean. Hunter felt that the Indus script is derived -partly from Egyptian script and partly from Mesopotamian script. Flinders Petrie also connected the Indus script with the Egyptian hieroglyphs and thought that the seals contained only the titles and not the names of the officials. He also assumed that the symbols were ideographs while Meriggi thought that while symbols were ideograms, others were phonemes so that the writing was of ideo-phonographic system. Amongst other early scholars who have attempted to read the Indus script may be mentioned Gadd, Sydney Smith and Langdon13 . David Diringer remarks "it seems obvious that the Indus Valley script which is rather schematic and linear on the extant inscriptions, was originally pictographic but it is impossible to decide whether it was truly indigenous or imported"14.

The above discussion would show how scholars are holding different views regarding the Indus script and how difficult the problem of decipherment of this script has been during the last several years. It is possible to decipher an unknown language in a known script or a known language in an unknown script. But in regard to Indus script, it is a case of deciphering an unknown language in an unknown script and hence it has baffled and defied the attempts of many a well-known scriptologist. For the success of such an attempt certain points of contact are necessary15. For example, the script of the Egyptian hieroglyphs remained undeciphered for a very long period until the discovery of the famous 'Rosetta Stone' inscription in 1799 by the French engineer Bouchard at the time of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt. This sensational discovery proved to be a turning point in understanding the nature of the hieroglyphic script, because the Rosetta Stone contained inscriptions in three different kinds of script, viz., hieroglyphic, demotic (or local script) and Greek. With the help of the Greek text attempts to decipher the other two scripts were made by pioneers like the French orientalist Silvestre de Sacy and the Swedish diplomat Akerblad. And it was left to the fortune and credit of Sacy's pupil and French scholar J. Fr. Champollion to finally and conclusively decipher the inscriptions of the Rosetta Stone in 1821-2216. Again, the decipherment of the Cretan Linear B inscription, whose language was unknown and for which no bilingual text was available, was made possible for Ventris and Chadwick by the existence of, similar scripts n Cypriot and in Greek mainland written in Greek language17. Similarly some points of contact are necessary to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of the decipherment of the Indus script like the biscriptal or bilingual inscriptions.We shall now review the recent attempts made by Indian and foreign scholars about the decipherment of the Indus or Harappan script. Amongst the foreign scholars, the Russian team consisting of Knorozov, Volcok and Gurov may be mentioned. They are credited to have taken the help of the computer machines. They assign word value to the signs and suggest that the script belonged to the Dravidian family of languages18. The Finnish team of scholars led by Asko Parpola also believed the language of the Indus script to be Dravidian. Amongst the Indian scholars I. Mahadevan and S.R. Rao have made a detailed study of the problem19. While the former is inclined to attribute the script to be Dravidian, the latter thinks it to be pre-Vedic. Mahadevan has also made use of the computer facilities and has attempted to achieve 'word-division' in the script assuming the language to be Dravidian. S.R. Rao claims that his approach is without any presumption and has tried to show that there has been a change in the script from its earlier phase to the later phase in that the number of signs which were more in the earlier period were reduced considerably in the later phase. He compares the signs of this later phase with the symbols of the North Semetic script of a comparative date and by showing similarity between them gives the same phonetic value to the Harappan script that is found in the Semetic script, other words, S.R. Rao suggests that there was evolution of the Indus script from an earlier period or mature peri9d (2500 B.C. to 1500 B.C.) and that the early syllabic-cum-alphabetic writing was disciplined into an alphabetic system by 1500 B.C. He also suggests that the Indus people spoke an Indo-European language which shows close affinity to Indo-Aryan in vocabulary, semantics and phonology. The names of the rulers and chiefs and of countries, sacrifices and divinities, as read by him, would suggest that the Harappans were the progenitors of the Vedic Aryans.

B.B. Lal has pointed out the difficulties in accepting the views of both I. Mahadevan and S.R. Rao20. Mahadevan himself has changed his views and methods of approach on more than one occasion and we have yet to wait and see what his final views in the matter of decipherment of the Harappan script are. In one of his latest papers entitled 'Study of the Indus Script : A Bilingual Approach'21 he has suggested that the problem should be studied from the point of view of interpreting the ideograms in the light of the Indian historical tradition which has come down to us in two main streams, viz., Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. This theory still remains to be tested by scholars before expressing any opinion.

As regards S.R. Rao's approach, viz., assigning the phonetic values of the Semitic script to the late Harappan script and reading it as pre-Vedic Sanskrit is also not decisive and final. As pointed out by Lal, Rao compares the symbols of the late Harappan with those of the Semitic ones and this material is not enough to arrive at any conclusion. Regarding the vowel sign Rao compares it not with any Semitic sign, since Semitic has no vowel signs, but with Sumerian sign for a following Waddel. And for some signs, Rao suggests different sources, viz., Akkadian and Ugaritic. This will be a difficult proposition. Moreover, while the late Harappan script, as suggested by Rao, has many vowel marks, the- Semitic script is completely devoid of any vowel marks. In justification of his approach, Rao says that he is proceeding from the known script (Semitic) to the unknown script (Harappan). But he is silent about the known origins of both these scripts which are different. While the Harappan is descended from the early Indus script according to Rao himself, the origin of the Semitic script is suggested to be Egyptian. So Rao has to explain at what stage the Semitic script acquired the phonetic values of the Indus script if his theory is to be supported. He has not attempted to answer these questions but has only instituted some comparison between the two scripts and has tried to establish some kind of phonetic relationship. Another defect in Rao's findings is that while he has given his reading as pre-Vedic or Indo-European, he has quoted not a single authority of Indo-European Linguistics or even an authority of Vedic language that the readings given by him can be accepted. In view of what is said above, it is not possible to accept Rao's claim that he has deciphered the Indus script. Of course, every scholar who makes an attempt at decipherment of a new script does claim that he has deciphered, but a new script can be taken as deciphered only when the world of scholars accept his views without any doubt22. So we can say, without any fear of contradiction, that the Indus script has defied the attempt of all scholars so far and has not yet been deciphered just as the Asokan Bra#hmhi# script has been deciphered. The discovery of longer record in the script or a bilingual or biscriptal writing or some definite contact point would help us in finding a satisfactory solution to this unknown script in an unknown language.
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