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LANGUAGE PROXIMITY OF CENTRAL ASIA SUPPORTED BY ARCHAEOLOGY

WITH THE

UPPER INDUS

Given that the Rig Veda is commonly thought to have been written in the Upper Indus region, we have yet one more reason to look at the area immediately to the north and north-west of the upper Indus Valley i.e. the Pamir-Badakhshan region as being a strong candidate for the homeland of the ancient Aryans, the so-called Proto IndoIranians. The language of the Rig Veda and the Old Avesta are so close that they are commonly thought to be dialects such as that spoken in two neighbouring provinces and that further, they emerged from a common language philologists call Proto Indo-Iranian, another name for the language of united ancient Aryans. [Also see our page on Languages.] Panini, the author of a grammar on Classical Sanskrit which was derived from the Vedic language was a resident of Pushkalavati, Gandhara, which is now part of modern-day Charsadda District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as the NorthWest Frontier Province of Pakistan and which included the Swat Valley now in northern Pakistan as well. In the Swat-Chitral region, numerous archaeological sites have yielded graveyards dating between the second quarter of the second millennium BCE and the late centuries BCE, and with associated features leading the sites to be categorized as the Gandhara Grave Culture. The artefacts excavated from the sites show similarities and links with Central Asian as well as lower Indus Valley sites. The use of shell, coral and ivory were likely brought in via trade routes from the lower Indus plains and foothills. A significant rock shelter site was excavated in the spring of 1967 near the township of Ghaligai / Ghalegay located on the east bank of the Swat River, some 12-15 km south of Mingora towards Barikot. At Ghaligai, the Swat Valley is a kilometres wide, flat, flood plain. Here, the river has many branches and frequently changes course. The valley itself is well cultivated and the crop fields slope gently down towards the river. Watercress and pumpkins are popular crops. Hills rise sharply for the valley. The eastern hills separate the Swat Valley from the Indus and Buner valleys while on the other side the western hills lie the Dir and Chitral valleys. The site has provided evidence of uninterrupted occupation for 3500 years starting from the second half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Three Carbon 14 dates of the earliest/lowest level give date from 2970 to 2930 BCE. artefacts from this level include pottery some with their inner surfaces burnished (presumably to make them water-proof from the inside). Some pottery shapes are similar to those found in Turkmenistan sites (Murgab Delta and the Kopet Dag hill base). Other artefacts found at Ghaligai as levell as Kili, Gul Hohammad, Sarai Kala, Jalilpur and Gumla show striking similarities and eveidence of trade of nonnative materials primarily within the Aryan nations but also as far as the Arabian

peninsula and China. In a valley to the west of Ghaligai, archaeological finds at the Balambat site near Timergara (also spelt Timurgarh/Timargarha) and dated to 1500-600 BCE, show links with artefacts found in the lower Indus Valley site Mehrgarh as well as in Central Asian sites. [Balambat lies on the west bank of River Panjkora while Timergara lies across the river on the east bank. The name mean Timurgarh place of Timur (the Mohgul king). The Wikipedia page states that fire altars have also been found at Balambat indicating the resident to be "fire-worshippers" (sic). We are not concerned with the insulting language used in the Wikipedia page - rather, indications of the close links to an early Aryan settlement.