In still remoter times the ancestors of both the Iranian and the Indians had formed one people, identified as the proto-Indo-Iranians. They were a branch of the Indo-European family of nations, and they lived, it is thought, as pastoralists on the south Russian steppes, to the east of the Volga.
Two alternative dates for Zarathustra can be found in Greek sources: 5000 years before the Trojan War, i.e. 6000 BCE, or 258 years before Alexander, i.e. the 6th century BCE, the latter of which used to provide the conventional dating but has since been traced to a fictional Greek source.
Most linguists such as Burrow argue that the strong similarity between the Avestan language of the Gāthās—the oldest part of the Avesta—and the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rgveda pushes the dating of Zarathustra or at least the Gathas closer to the conventional Rgveda dating of 1500–1200 BCE, i.e. 1100 BCE, possibly earlier.
Boyce concurs with a lower date of 1100 BCE and tentatively proposes an upper date of 1500 BCE. Gnoli dates the Gathas to around 1000 BCE, as does Mallory (1989), with the caveat of a 400 year leeway on either side, i.e. between 1400 and 600 BCE. Therefore the date of the Avesta could also indicate the date of the Rigveda.
Kenneth A.R. Kennedy, a U.S. expert who has extensively studied such skeletal remains, observes, "Biological anthropologists remain unable to lend support to any of the theories concerning an Aryan biological or demographic entity." Chaubey et al. (2007) find that most of the India-specific mtDNA haplogroups show coalescent times of 40 to 60 millennia ago. Sahoo et al. (2006) states that "there is general agreement that Indian caste and tribal populations share a common late Pleistocene maternal ancestry in India" and that it is not necessary, based on the current evidence, to look beyond South Asia for the origins of the paternal heritage of the majority of Indians at the time of the onset of settled agriculture.
The perennial concept of people, language, and agriculture arriving to India together through the northwest corridor does not hold up to close scrutiny. Recent claims for a linkage of haplogroups J2, L, R1a, and R2 with a contemporaneous origin for the majority of the Indian castes' paternal lineages from outside the subcontinent are rejected, although our findings do support a local origin of haplogroups F* and H. Of the others, only J2 indicates an unambiguous recent external contribution, from West Asia rather than Central Asia. [the Parsees - Ish]
A 2002-03 study by T. Kivisild et al. concluded that the "Indian tribal and caste populations derive largely from the same genetic heritage of Pleistocene southern and western Asians and have received limited gene flow from external regions since the Holocene." A 2006 genetic study by the National Institute of Biologicals in India, testing a sample of men from 32 tribal and 45 caste groups, concluded that the Indians have acquired very few genes from Indo-European speakers....
Minimalist wrote:Yeah, I think that's putting the cart before the horse.
Many Indo-European branches show evidence for horse sacrifice, and comparative mythology suggests that they derive from a PIE ritual. In most instances, the horses are sacrificed in a funerary context, and interred with the deceased. There is evidence from three branches of Indo-European of a major horse sacrifice ritual based on a mythical union of Indo-European kingship and the horse. The clearest picture is afforded by the Indian Aśvamedha is the clearest evidence preserved, but vestiges from Latin and Celtic traditions allow the reconstruction of a few common attributes.
If you know what I mean.
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