1. The bed of a lost river has been found – it flowed south from a point close to the main cities mentioned in the Mahabharata (Hastinapur and Delhi, i.e. Indraprastha) satying to the west of the Aravalli Hills and finally turned towards Gujarat, going past the sea-swamp now called the Rann of Kutch and then splits into tributaries that empty into the Arabian sea. This river is lined with bronze-age settlements that were abandoned. Could that have happened when the river dried up? The evidence is not clear – dating such sites requires careful excavation and substantial resources that have simply not been applied to Indian archaeology.
The best we can say is that archaeologists have not determined the actual manner of leave-taking – whether in a hurry or in a more disciplined manner in which they planned what to take and where they were headed.
2. A number of SSC sites have been discovered east of the Aravallis in the Malwa plateau. The Malwa plateau is on the imagined “southern migration” path from Saurastra in the state of Gujarat as well as migrants from western Rajasthan who went south and then rounded the southern tip of the Aravalli range and came up through Malwa and finally ended up north of the Chambal ravines. All along this path, archaeologists have foiund sites that show progressive degradation in the quality of construction and loss of techniques compared to the older Harappan sites.
In this novel, I portray a migration to the north that turns east towards Hastinapur and takes place in a short period of time, fifty years or less, while the Malwa sites are spread over two centuries. The actual migration would have been much slower than the one I propose and possibly with less conflict
The second part of my novel takes place in 850 B.C.E., well after the beginning of the “Iron Age”. The reader should understand that this part of the book is truly completely made up and there is no extant text that even hints of scenario described here.
In the Hastinapur of 850 B.C.E., much has been forgotten about the past, but one critical feature has stayed the same – Hastinapur and all of South Asia is still an oral, non-literate civilisation! Despite that, I portray it as more advanced and more peaceful than the cultures to the West (this matches the way Western documents refer to India). Many other things have changed – traders go in large caravans that cross the Himalayas and even the Iranian desert west of Afghanistan. Knowledge of scripts is restricted to the merchants & traders who need to know it in their dealings with Westerners. Merchants are the glue that keep the entire trade route, from South-east Asia to Greece, going. In South Asia, there is some irritation with the overhead imposed by the oral-ity, but that is compensated for by a better regulated and ordered marketplace.
The need for a script to write down the oral history of Hastinapur, a script that can be used by a bard to reproduce an accurate recitation of the history, compels the Vyaasa and his scribe to create a new script. I like to imagine that after writing down the history of Hastinapur and the Great War, the new script was used to write down other useful oral texts, such as the grammar (Panini) and knowledge of medicine (Sushruta), followed by the Puranas, the Upanishads, and so on, triggering a viral spread of writing (and therefore the appearance of writing as a sudden phenomenon in South Asia).
- Jean-Claude Carriere – In Search of the Mahabharata, and, Peter Brook’s Mahabharata.
- There are many, many books about the Indo-Aryans as well as the Bronze Age – wiki reference..
- The “onager”: wiki
- The cost of Papyrus: wiki
- The “rebus” principe: wiki
- Standardisaton in the Indus Valley: wiki
- The lost river Saraswati: wiki
- Trade in the Ancient World: wiki
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