Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Kharoshthi in Anantnag

Jammu and Kashmir Archaeology Department has made some discoveries in Anantnag

Excavators have stumbled into the remains of a bustling ancient urban settlement in Anantnag district of south Kashmir with tiled pavements “stamped in colourful human and animal motifs” and inscriptions in the now defunct Karoshti script.

It consisted of a tiled pavement in concentric circles with a “full-blown lotus” at the centre. “The pavement was laid out in such a wonderful sequence that it left the excavators baffled,” Zahid told PTI.

He said it’s tiles were “stamped in a variety of colourful motifs of humans, animals, mystical creatures, flowers and other abstract designs… Most of the tiles are inscribed in the Karoshthi script” prevalent in civilisations of north- western India circa AD 3rd-4th century. “The features speak of some highly advanced urban civilisation which looks to have flourished on this plateau in the ancient period,” Zahid said and claimed the human-animal motifs on the few exposed tiles were the first to be noticed at any archaeological site. [KASHMIR-DISCOVERY via IndiaArchaeology]

Most most history books don’t mention kharoshthi and the only reference I could find were in the books of Romila Thapar[3, 5]. Sometime before 530 B.C., Cyrus the Achaemenid emperor of Persia converted Gandhara into his satrapy, the most famous city of which was Takshashila where Iranian, Indian and Hellenistic Greek learning mingled. The language of the Achaemenid empire was Aramaic (the same language supposedly spoken by Jesus Christ) and kharoshthi was derived from it.


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Terracota figurines of Mother Godess has been found in three locations in Tamil Nadu, of which one has been dated to pre-Christian era and the others to 8-9th century AD.

Archaeologists estimate that the two figurines found at Andipatti belong to 8th to 12th century A.D. They also found three potsherds with Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions there.

One reads “kan narpo” and department epigraphists date it between 4th and 5th century A.D. The other two Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions, written on pot lids, read: “… aa th tha… ” and “…ku ma… ” They may belong to an earlier period.

T.S. Sridhar, Special Commissioner, said the 12 trenches dug at Andipatti in Chengam taluq of Tiruvannamalai district yielded a cornucopia of artefacts.

They included a figurine of Goddess Durga, a bull, coarse red ware, black and red ware, a few pieces of Roman pottery, terracotta beads, spindle whorls, iron knife and nails, copper objects, an incomplete well, bangles made of conch shell with beautiful designs, human torso made of terracotta and so on.

“On the basis of the unearthed antiquities, it can be deduced that Andipatti was inhabited by humans from the 1st century B.C. to 12th century A.D. Andipatti was a megalithic site. The discovery of spindle whorls and iron objects shows the industrial activity in the area,” he said.

The Mother Goddess cult is one of the earliest cults in India. It was prevalent during the Harappan period (circa 3,500 B.C.). It was a fertility cult. Mother Goddess figurines have been found in several places in Tamil Nadu such as Adichanallur near Tirunelveli, Melaperumballam near Poompuhar and Poluvaampatti near Coimbatore. All of them are made of terracotta. If the figurine is depicted in the nude, it “definitely signifies a fertility cult,” said an archaeologist.

Fifteen trenches were dug at Modur in Palacode taluq of Dharmapuri district. They yielded spectacular objects such as celts, polishing and grinding stones, hammers made of stones and cylindrical pestles belonging to the Neolithic period. The megalithic objects found were black and red ware, grey ware and red slipped ware. Artefacts such as terracotta figurines, decorative potsherds, spindle whorls, shell bangles, well-crafted smoking pipes and graffiti potsherds belonged to the historical period after 1st century A.D. [ Mother Goddess figurines found in Tamil Nadu]

The Brahmi script was initially thought to be bought to the South by Jain and Buddhist monks in 3rd century BC, but later discoveries refined the date to Buddha’s time. From this news, it looks like the Brahmi script was in use till the 5th century AD. The Wikipedia entry on Tamil says that the language was initially written in Brahmi, then moved to the Grantha script into the current vattezhuthu script sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries AD.

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