Dravidians and Africans


Dear Friends


The issue of the linkage between Africans and Dravidians is not something that can be dismissed as something that has no substance in it at all. Anyone who sees the Ethiopians and Tamils could see a remarkable physical resemblance and during my stay in London I mistook some Ethiopians in fact for Tamils. Perhaps some Dravidian tribes at least,  are people with intimate relationship with some Africans, a notion that deserves to be investigated further. Such studies were promoted at one time by the political leaders in Senegal and some books published by the anthropologist K.P. Aravanan, now the Vice Chancellor of a university in Tamil Nadu owe to this. One of them is the collection of articles, some quite rare indeed and edited by K.P. Aravanan, and   published under the title “Dravidians and Africans”. The copy I have was published in 1997 and Tamil Koottam holds the copyright.


The book also contains many photographs that reveal the presence Muruka worship among the East Africans where the Vel, the Spear and the Mayil, the peacock are unmistakably similar to those in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.


I shall select only some relevant parts from some of these essays so that they enjoy a wider publicity and the issue of the African connections, among others, of the Dravidians folks becomes a lively  again. This may also serve as an antidote to the very popular and highly publicized Aryan Racialism of many scholars both European and Indian.





Negrititude and Dravidian Culture


Leopold Sedar Sengkor (President of Senegal) (Lecture delivered in Madras under the auspices of the International Institute of Tamil Studies on the 23rd May, 1974)




 -------. Southern India is in the same latitude as Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. More than this, only the Indian Ocean separates the eastern coast of Africa from the south of India. As a matter of fact, geologists maintain that the Indian sub continent was formerly attached to East Africa. In this respect the findings of marine biology are of outstanding importance.


All that is needed, therefore, is for archeologists and pre historians to have a chance to explore the depths of the seas, to discover old lithic industries or human skeleton fossils, in the area stretching from East Africa to Southern India. Unless, of course, the Indian Ocean existed long before the human race appeared. In any case, Tamil legends refer to the existence, from time immemorial, of flourishing cities long since buried beneath the seas.


This is perhaps a reference to that stretch of land which was supposed to have linked India and Africa and was presumably engulfed by the ocean during the Neolithic revolution, that is to say, the period of prehistory when Homo Sapiens achieved his ‘first revolution’, by laying the foundation of the recorded civilizations through new techniques he had invented. I should like in passing to note that it is not at all fortuitous that early civilizations which arose in the valleys of the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates, and lastly of the Indus, bore the marks of black men.


It might, however, be quite simply a vague memory of the universal flood to which the cangkams tried to give a poetic interpretation in their oldest literary masterpieces, such as the Cillapatikaaram.


In any case, it is remarkable that the pithecanthrops - proconuls and australopithecs - who whilst not the ancestors of the human species, are zoologically their next of kin as infra and parahominins, proliferated simultaneously in East Africa and Southern India. Here is what Pierre Teilhard Chardin wrote in his book L’ Apparition de l’ Homme (The Appearance of man):


It was on a tropical and subtropical area of the Old World, an area which in fact extended across India to Malaysia, but basically located on the African continent, that the evolution of the higher primates gradually took place.”




Thus re-stated, this theory would not be too much at variance with Islamic belief, which claims that Adam, the father of mankind, appeared in India and Awa, our maternal ancestor, in Southern Arabia, and that they met at Harafat. It is curious coincidence that attan is the word for ’father’ in Tamil (-n and -m being interchangeable in that language) and ava, the word for ‘mother’ in Kannada (avvai in Tamil, av in Kota, ave in Kodagu)



Origin of the Dravidian Race


We know that some anthropologists tried to identify the Dravidians with what is known as “the Mediterranean race’. Such a general label which conceals gaps in our knowledge of anthropology is indeed confusing -- I had said dangerous, since it could suggest an interpretation of the concept of race in terms of geographical demarcation, whereas the notions of race, when stripped of certainly accessory details boils down essentially to skin colour. This is the sense in which we speak of ‘black race’, ‘ white race’ or ‘yellow race’.


Consequently, it might have been less ambiguous, as some experts have done, to call that Mediterranean race the “Negroid race” , since its characteristics are precisely those of the blacks in general: an elongated skull, dark or brown skin, these two adjectives being quite often euphemisms for ‘black’ . I refer you to Alexander Moret’s description of the ancient Mediterraneans. This is the place to mention once again the fact that the ancient Greeks did not label as white the former inhabitants of North-West Africa, that is to say, of the present Magreb_Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia  -- since they called the inhabitants Mauroi or ‘moors’, meaning men with ‘ a dark skin’. And Herodotus tells us that the Colchidians, a Middle East people, were as ‘Black as Egyptians”


( Notes(Loga). In Tamil there is a term ‘maRavar, maaRan’ etc  a name of a group of Tamils especially in Pandiya country. It is interesting that the root ‘maRu’ also means black )


In any case, as I stated in a lecture I gave at Cairo University in February 1967, on the Foundations of Africanity or Negritude and Arabism, my professor at the Ethnological Institute in Paris, Dr. Paul Rivet, used to say: ‘ there is a ratio of 4 to 18 per cent black blood around the Mediterranean sea’. He thus referred to the Negroids of the early Paleolithic and Mesolithic - Grimaldi Man and Caspian Man --  an important group of the Mediterranean populations until the Neolithic.




We shall not mention all the theories on the origins of the Dravidians, since the problem is still very much unsolved: we shall mention one only, namely, a black sub-race among the populations of Southern India. This said, we should not underrate the importance of the blood ties between Dravidians and the Black Africans , especially as the black Dravidian sub-race is the same as the black East African sub-race which is to be found in the same latitude. During my last visit to Addis Ababa, I was very much impressed with the large number of Ethiopians who, with their fine features, black skin and straight hair, look like Dravidians.  I mentioned this to the Emperor who, with a knowing air, merely smiled a royal smile.


In short, as we can see, the similarity between India and Black Africa, is essentially based on geography, anthropology and history.




Cultural Contacts


First, on the subject of ethnology, we have facts to which certain authors, particularly German ethnologists, have drawn attention.


Foremost among them is Leo Frobenius, who had defined ‘Eritrean Culture’, as being probably the survival of an ancient culture common to southern Asia - more particularly to India - and Black Africa. This culture probably came to Africa via the North and the South, on the one hand, from the Red Sea and Ethiopia, on the other, via the Mozambique coast.


Of the characteristics of this cultural cycle, I shall dwell mainly on metallurgy and cotton spinning, which will enable me to prove that, in actual fact, ‘Eritrean Culture’ is the survival of an ancient Indo African Culture. As a matter of fact, the vocabulary relating to metallurgy and cotton spinning is exactly the same in the Negro-African languages and the Dravidian languages of India.


As regards metallurgy, the following comparisons might be made: In Wolof xanjar, ‘bronze’; and in Telugu xancara, ‘work in bronze’; in Bambara numu, ‘forge’, and in Telugu inumu, ‘iron’; in Wolof kamara, ‘ name given to the blacksmith’s caste’, and in Telugu kamara, ‘name given to the blacksmith’s caste’. This latter name can be found in other Dravidian languages and in some Indo-Aryan ones as well. As to cotton spinning, the Wolof use of the eec, producing yarn from raw cotton’, which can be compared with the Pengo verb ec, meaning ‘to card cotton’.


After Leo Frobenius, G. Montandon defined seven cultural cycles in Balck Africa, four of which were supposed to be related to certain sectors in India, Malaysia and oceanic islands. Using D.P.de Pedral’s enumeration of the elements of these four cultural cycles, we have been able to detect the following elements:


(1) in the totemic cycle we have : totemism, the exogamic patriarchal clans, initiation tests for adolescent youth with sexual mutilations, the round hut with cone-shaped roof, the sheath of the penis or the phallic sheath and the use of the assegai.


(2) In the paleo-matriarchal cycle, we have : the matriachate, exogamic matrimonial classes, initiation ceremonies for women, secret societies for men wearing masks, ancestral worship, the mythology of the moon, magic, wooden drums, the use of the hoe for tilling and the square gabled hut.


(3) In the neo-matriarchal cycle, we have : the matriarchate, monogamay, ceremonies accompanying the first menstrual period, ancestor worship, magic, trellis-work, basket making, ceramics, the use of the hoe for tilling, the domestication of dogs and poultry, and houses on stilts or pillars.


(4) In the pastoral cycle we have: animal husbandry, breast-feeding, metallurgy, social classes, the round domed hut.


As you wil have noticed, we have, in each of these cultural cycles, deliberately underlined one or two elements  to indicate our intention to expand on them.



Cultural Contacts (continued)


As regards totemism, it should be noted that the word cubbaa , which connotes the ‘peacock’ in Kurukh, is to be found in the Wolof proper name joob, which is given to all the members of the clan whose totem is the peacock. People actually say, don’t they, jambee joob, which means, ‘the peacock’s name is Diob’. Or again, Jooba, Juba, which is a hypcoristic way of calling all the individual members of the group whose totem is the peacock. Morever, Mr. Cheik Tidiane N’Diaye has told me that he discovered, among other things, the rule of phonological similarity which is as follows: The sonorous palatal j in Wolof = the dull palatal c in Dravidian


As regard the use of the assegai, the Wolof word xeej, ‘assegai’. May be equated with the Gondi Muria terms kac, ‘assegai’. The following morpho-phonological rule should be noted in passing: Wolof CVVC, Dravidian CVCC.


On the question of the use of the hoe for tilling, the wolof word konko, ‘a curved hoe’ , is exactly the same as the naiki word konki, ‘a curved hoe’. I should like to refer you to the Dravidan Etymological Dictionary, 1689.


(Notes( Loga). There is word in Sumerian “kak’ which means  a hook and which corresponds to Ta, kokki . The Tamil word ‘kakam also means the arrow.Thus probably the original meaning of Su. kak/ Ta.kok is a shrap pointed tool , perhaps a hoe or a plough. In relation to joob above we have Su.gu Ta.kuuv meaning to call out normally said of birds)


Where the domestication of dogs and poultry is concerned, one can easily identify the Wolof kuti, ‘a pup’ with the Tamil word kutti, ‘a pup’; also the Wolof word kur, which is generally used to call poultry, with the kui kuur word used for calling poultry, as was noted by W.Winfield.


Lastly, turning to animal husbandry, the following comparisions are quite significant. In Wolof xar ‘sheep’, and in Barahui xar, ‘a ram’; in Wolof nag, ‘cow;, in Sere naak, in Poular nagge and in Tamil naaku, ‘a female buffalo’, in Tulu naaku, ‘heifer’, in Kota nag, ‘a young female buffalo from two to three years’; in Poular mbeewa, ‘a goat’  and in Parji meeva, ‘a goat’; in Sere bir, ‘to milk’; in Poular birde and Konda pur


( Notes(Loga) : If naaku means cattle or buffalo then it may be possible that the ancient group of people of Tamil Nad, the  naakarkaL, the nagas are in fact cattle breeders, or cowherds of a kind, also known as aayers closely linked with worship of KaNNan, the Black One)


Apart from Leo Frobenius and G.Montandon, H. Baumann and D. Westermann also had a word to say about the ethnic relations between India and Black Africa. Indeed, in their work entitled The People and Civilization of Africa, they hold the view that certain farming methods in the neo-Sudanese cultural cycle, ( manuring the ground, terracing, irrigation canals etc.) are due to the wave of men who came from Southern India via Abyssinia or Ethiopia. It would appear that the path they followed from Nile to Senegal, was studded with certain agricultural implements as well as with megalithic monuments associated with agrarian forms of worship.


Still on the subject of the ethnic kinship between Southern India and Black Africa, mention should be made of the works of Andri’e Leroi Giurhan and Jean Poirier who, in their book on the Ethnology of the Frebch Union, pointed out the similarity that existed between various articles found in Togo and those in India, such as war hatchets, daggers with ring-shaped hilts, ankle rings etc. It is these very articles that D.P. de Pedrals had picked out as being elements in Montaudon’s  ‘Sudanoid Cultural Cycle’, to which he had added jewels matched by comparable ones in India.


In short, it is in the context of all these ethnic affinities that Ratzel’s famous dictum must be set:  ‘Practically the whole of Africa seems to be one great unit of echoes from Asia attenuated in varying degrees.


Dravidian and Negro-African Languages


In the 19th Century, Alfredo Trombetti was one of the first to have the presentiment that Dravidian and Negro-African languages represented a common language, akin to Sumerian. Recently, in a letter to a Cameroonian friend, Father Englebert Mveng, on the deciphering of the writing of the first civilization recorded in the Indus Valley, I wrote as follows: ‘ You have probably thought, like me, of making a comparision between Egyptian, Dravidian and Sumerian writing. I have the impression that the same blood or, better still, the same spirit of the Blacks runs through those three civilizations.”


In any case, it was Negroid people who first occupied the valleys of Egypt, Mesopotamia and North-West India where they founded the first agrarian civilizations in the Neolithic; ‘ These first settlers of eastern valleys, wrote Alexander Moret, were Negroid peoples who came from regions in India and Africa, driven north when the forests were transformed into savannahs and later into steppe-lands.’


If I may make a digression on the relations between Sumerian and Dravidian, I would point out that A. Sathasivam of Colombo University, as everyone knows took up an unambiguous position in this matter: he was sure Sumerian writing was of Dravidian origin. Better still, Sumerian was a Dravidian language. I would refer you to the two following works: Sumerian, a Dravidian  Language ( Berkeley, 1965) and The Dravidian Origin of Sumerian Writing( Proceedings of the first International Conference of Tamil Studies, Kuala Lumpur, 1966)


This theory which it is difficult to refute, when one considers how pellucidly clear and profound the demonstration is, confirms the conclusions reached by Father H. Heras of Bombay, namely that the culture of Mohenja- Daro and Harappa pre-dates Sumerian culture and, very likely, the latter was produced by the former.


The only difficulty surrounding the controversy about the Indus Valley civilizations pre-dating the Sumerian, is that according to the archeologists, Sir John Marshall and Sir Mortimer Wheeler, to be precise, the Mohenja-Daro and Harappan civilization must have arisen during the third millennium before our era ( 2800 B.C.), while the Sumerian civilization was already in existence, 4000 B.C.


But , according to Father H. Heras, the Proto-Indian people, the Dravidian people, as it happens, had distributed their zodiac signs and devised their system for the divisions of time about 4980 B.C. This view was confirmed by Father A. Romana , who was at the time Director of l’Observatoria del Ebro, Tortosa, when he said that ‘the beginning of the Aries constellation, among the Mohenjadarians, coincided with the winter solstice that year ( 4980 B.C.). In this way, Father H. Heras, with this declaration as a basis and his own reading of the three inscriptions, asserted that :Mohenja-Daro belongs to the fifth millennium before our era’.



After this long digression, let us go back to the kinship between the Dravidian and Negro-African languages, taking a look at the authors who have dealt with the subject.


Miss Lilian Homburger, in Jules Bloch’s book The Grammatical Structure of Dravidian Languages, had recognized a number of morphemes which are to be met with in several Saharan idioms. Since then the idea of kinship between the Dravidian languages and certain Negro_African languages had become dear to her heart. And so she began to study in succession the Senegalese-Guinean languages, Mende Bantou and ancient Egyptian, comparing them with the Dravidian languages. This is what led her to publish the following articles in turn: Dravidian elements in Pheul. ( Journal de la Societe’ des Africanistes, Paris, 1950), The Telegu and Mende dialects (ibid, 1951) , The Canara- Bantou, A few elements common to the Egyptian and the Dravidian languages and Sibilants in Indo-African.



The point  worth noting is that Miss Homburger was convinced of two things:


(1)   She was sure that ‘ the Dravidian languages make it possible to explain the morphology of the Senegalese group, particularly Serer-Pheul.


(2)   She was also convinced that there is a kinship between Kannada and the Bantu languages.


Indeed, the Bantu  infinitive with a final -a , the subjunctive in -e, the preterite in -i or -idi, the doer’s name in -i, are to be found with similar values in Kannada and in other Dravidian languages. The Bantu causal suffix is -is, and in Kannada a suffix --is/-u performs a similar function. The dative -ku is characteristic of the Bantu groups and Kananda (and other Dravidian languages); it is a prefix in Bantu and a suffix in Kannada.


( Notes(Loga) Most of the grammatical particles mentioned above  are found also in Sumerian and some in archaic forms. A detailed study of these in comparision with Dravidian languages is something the  interested scholars can pursue. Perhaps then the studies of the type Homburger initiated can be pursued with greater scientific precisison)


Unfortunately, Miss Homburger did not live to carry her theories to completion.


It is also worth drawing attention to Edwin H. Tuttle’s publication on Nubian and Dravidian. The article, ten pages long approximately, is a brief census of facts rather than a detailed study. Besides, it sheds no light on the nature of the kinship between Nubian and Dravidian.


The only complete study so far undertaken is a thesis which is now being prepared by a Senegalese , Cheik Tidiane N’Diaye on the  Kinship between the Wolof and Dravidian languages. This thesis to which I attach great importance, deals with phonology, morphology, grammar (morphology and syntax) and lexicology. We hope the writer of the thesis has derived the maximum benefit from the three years he spent at Annamalai University as Senior Research fellow.




 The World’s Elder Sons


If I have endeavoured in this paper to advance reasons why the Institute fondomental de l’ Afrique noire (IFAN) has created a Department of Indo -African Studies, it is, as you can imagine, to come to the  following conclusion:  It is of great advantage  that  Dravidian and the Black people of Africa should get together and investigate, through fundamental research, the points of convergence or rather of kinship in the values of the civilizations characteristic of the two black worlds  -- the world of the Black Dravidian and the world of the Black Africa.


I should like, by way of conclusion, to return to Lilias Homberger, or to put it differently, to the time when, as a young professor of French, Latin and Greek, I also attended lectures in prehistory and linguistics at the Paris Institute of Ethnology and the Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes.


It was then that I began to develop a certain vision of the past of the black peoples. In the Neolithic period, they occupied our Fertile Crescent , and laid the foundations of Civilization. By ‘fertile crescent’ , in this particular context, I mean the arc of circle stretching from the straits of Gibralter to the north of Indo-Chinese peninsula. Actually, the Black peoples occupied the Mediterranean basin and the whole of Southern Asia with the Middles East, the Indian sub-continent  and the Indo-Chinese peninsula. It was they who laid the foundations of the first recorded civilizations of Egypt, Sumer and India.


The poetic works of the ancient Greeks were not mere flights of fancy, because they were in fact poiesis, that is to say, the expression of human realities. As far as the ancient Greeks were concerned, the Ethiopians, in other words, the blacks were the oldest inhabitants on earth and had religions and law, art and writing.


When in those happy years, I looked at pictures reproduced in books I mean pictures illustrating the pottery and sculpture of the early civilization of the Indus valley, I was struck by a similarity in their style and the style that obtained in Black Africa. Therefore, I was not in the least surprised when in 1969 a flash from UNESCO announced that the writing of the early civilization expressed a Dravidian language.


I managed to get hold of the phamphlet in which Mr. Asko Parpola of the Scandinavian Institute of Asiatic Studies told the story of how that writing was deciphered. The scholar whom I met last year, reveals the fact that the language was a Dravidian language and that Hinduism was nothing more than the religion of the ancient Egyptians with their animal gods, but a religion thought out afresh by Aryan minds.


This was the confirmation of the theory which, as a militant for Negritude in the years 1930, I upheld with my friends Aime Cesaire and Loan Damas. That theory was and still is that far from being ashamed of our black skin and our original values of civilization, we should be proud of them. For, in the words of Cesaire, who invented the term negritude, we are ‘the world’s elder sons’.  And I will say that before we became consumers, we had been for thousands of years the first producers of civilization.


And yet, the point is important, it is miscegenation which has led to the development of civilizations that history has known, whether Egypt, Sumer or India . A civilization with no admixture is a cultural ghetoo. As the French anthropologist Paul River pointed out, all the earliest civilizations in history which were produced in the Mediterranean latitudes were the results of miscegenation of Blacks and whites, or of the Black and the Yellow peoples. The merit of these civilizations and, above all, of Indian civilization, is that they have embodied the dichotomic reason of the Whites in the intuitive reason of the Blacks --  and it is said that the Yellow people have something of them both -- the purest mind in most rhythmic, the most living flesh. And this is the ideal of every great civilization. In any case, it is the ideals of Pan- Human Civilization which is being hammered out in this second half of the twentieth century, with the participation of all nations, particularly the three great ethnic groups and the offspring of their miscegenation.


( Sengkor’s essay concluded)




Dravidians And Africans -2


Links between Ur and the Indus


David Howard Day


1 Introduction


Archaeological discovery has rarely been as controversial or its ramifications so widespread as those connected with the origins of the Indus Valley civilization, and the extent of trade between the people of the Indus and those of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.


From prehistoric times, three great trade routes have connected India with the West. H.G. Rawlinson, credited with the decipherment of cuneiform, outlines these trade routes as follows: (1) the easiest and probably the oldest, was the Persian Gulf route running from the mouth of the Indus to the Euphrates; (2) the overland route from the Indian passes to Balkh, and thence to the Caspian, and (3) the rather circuitous sea route down the Persian and Arabian coasts to Aden, and up the Red Sea to Suez.


It is the primary aim of the present paper to examine selected archaeological sites along the Indus-Euphrates-Persian Gulf route focusing on the archipelago sheikdom of Bahrein ( or Bahrain) . We wish to comment on the extensive work of the Danish Archaeological Expedition to Bahrein and that of the Oxford University Expedition to the island Socotra in 1956.


In our investigation of the relationships between Mesopotamia, Bahrein and the cities of the Indus, an attempt will be made to illustrate the changing foci of archaeological research from mere dating and classification to the meeting of some of the following new ‘demands’ : data on population size and density; seasonal and climatic cycles; settlement patterns; rate of population growth; food production techniques; extent of the total exploited habitat; short and long-run changes in natural biodata; techno-environmental effects; incidence of warfare; size of food-producing and non-food-producing groups; nature of social organization defined in the terms of house groups, village , or town groups, and general or specific social change.


2. Background to Ancient Indian Trade


Due to their geographical situations, the pre-Harappan sites lying to the west of the Indus were not in a position to derive the benefits of the natural maritime highways of the Indus and as a result, became culturally and economically backward.  Meanwhile, a number of Harappan sits situated on the Indus rose to prominence. Marshall has pointed out that the remarkable cultural affinities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa presupposes the existence of routelink between the two, although they were some 350 miles apart.


The Urban culture of the Indus eventually stretched from the foothills of Simal in the North, to the site of Sutkagen-dor on the West Pakistani (or Makran) coast, and east into the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Port towns, thriving during what must have been the zenith of the Indus Valley civilization, have been located  primarily at Lothal, on the Gulf of cambat, western India and still further west along Makran coast at Sutkagen-dor



2. Background to Ancient Indian Trade(continued)


How the civilization of the Tigris- Euphrates on the one hand, and the Indus Valley on the other hand were connected, is not clearly known to us, though several elements of affinity linking the two distant civilizations have been indicated beyond doubt. It seems probable that the trade intercourse between India and Sumer was both by land and by Sea. A synthesis of various feasible land routes is provided by Srivastava in an unusually well-documented account of ancient Indian trade and commerce.


The maritime route by which the Indians could have reached Sumer must have been coastal. Most of the Makran-India coast remains unexplored, however, and no definite lines of voyage have been traced.


While the Indus is now three miles from Mohenjo-Daro, there is evidence that in ancient times the city stood on the east bank of the main river, or an important branch of i. We know in fact, that probably more than once, Mohenjo-Daro was flooded and temporarily deserted. As may have been the case at the head of the Persian Gulf the seacoast at the head of the Gulf of Cambay was probably further north in that epoch. Mackay, remarking in 1934 about recent discoveries of the two representations of “India” boats, suggests:


“The one with the mast could have been used for sea travel. Quite small vessels voyage today between Karachi and Aden, a distance of some 1,500 miles, keeping the shore in sight most of the way ,,,,,,,,,,. The number of small Arab dhows that range as far as Zanzibar from parts of the Indian coast and the Persian Gulf today is remarkable. A voyage in ancient times from the Indus cities to the ports of Mesopotamia and the Gulf and back would have a simple matter.


(Notes(Loga) In Su. there are several terms for boats of which ‘ma’ ‘ma-gur’ and ‘ma-kur-kur’ are most frequent. These can be equated with Ta. maa ( a log) maa-kuurai, a boat with a roof and maa-kuurkuurai: a boat with several roof tops. It may be possible that kuurai is the mast and in which case the maa-kuurkuurai might have the ocean going large boats which had several masts consistent with their size. Also in the account of Deluge here is a mention of boat-like a balloon sealed completely from all sides so that it will keep on floating in the ocean no matter how heavy the rains)


Lothal has yielded a single circular steatite seal which closely resembles the seals from the Persian Gulf islands found by the Danish expedition led by Glob and Bibby. Although we shall deal with Bahrein extensively below, it may be noted here that the principal ancient settlement on Bahrein lay at the northern end of the island at Ras-al-Qala. According to Wheeler, Bahrein was one of the coastal entrepots between the Gulf of Cambay and the head fo the Persian Gulf. A study of the Lothal seal and the seals from Bahrein aptly named by Wheeler as “Persian gulf Seals” indicate the existence of a coastal route between Lothal an Bahrein


W.F. Leemans found two words, Magan or Makkan and meluhha inscribed on clay tablets from the city of Ur. He and Glob identified with the sea coast of Makran in Pakistan and meluhha with the coast of western India including Sind and Sautrastra. It is probable that traders from both meuluhha and Makkan approached Bahrein, which Oppenheim idenfies with their counterparts from Ur. “From Telmun or Bahrein, Harappan traders who wanted to ahev direct approach to Mesopotamian markets, sailed for some proto-historic ports near Bundur Abbas and Bundur Bushir ,,,,,,,,,,, from Bundur Bushir Ur was approachable thorugh a coast-wise journey along the northern coast of the Persian gulf.




The Identity of  Sumerian Magan and Meluhha


There are many references to "magan" and "meluhha" in Sumerian literature  the identity of which is still in dispute. On the basis of my identification that Sumerian is Archaic Tamil, I am proposing here that Magan was probably India of those days  and which was  " maa-kaaN" a large territory , a word still in use in the form of " maa-kaaNam" : a large state, or large

landmass. I also propose that Meluhha is in fact Meru-aka ,  a land mass  in African- SEAsian region and from which the Sumerians themselves might have migrated or simply a ''desert land" . This word can be compared with place names such Moluccas Island as well as Melakka in Malaysia  and where the straits between Malaysia and Sumatra is named Malacca straits.


One of the references where both lands are mentioned come Gudea Cylinder A as Given by C.J. Gadd  in his  ' A Sumerian- Reading Book".  The following lines are taken from Text XIII pp. 97.


1.  e -nin-gir-su-ka (The temple of ningirsu) du-de (to build)


2. ........... nim ( the Elamite) nim-ta (from Elam) mu-na-tum (brought  to him)


3. INANNA.ERIN -e (the Susian ) INANNA.ERIN-ta (from susa) mu-na-tum (brought to him)


4. ma-gan me-luh-ha (Magan and Meluhha) kur-bi-ta (from their mountains )  gu-gis (a store of wood)


5. mu-na-ab-gal (provided for him) e-nin-gir-su-ka (and the temple of Ningirsu)


6. du-de (to build)  gu-de-a  (for Gudea) uru-ni-gir-su-(KI)-su ( to his city of Girsu)


7. gu-mu-na-si-si (they brought it together)


Thus we see here that  Elam (Nim-ta: from the hills) ma-gan and melluha were territories from  where  TRESS were  brought TOGETHER from their hills. This immediately rules out the possiblity that they were desert lands  and hence land masses in  Arabia.


These lands were with hills that supplied valuable timber, something the Sumerians LACKED as Sumer they occupied was largely on the shores of Tigris and Euphrates, and hence mainly alluvial plains .


Magan as Ta. maa-kaaN:  a large land mass: India ?


In Su.  ma  means "boat: as in ma-gur: a large boat (ship?) This  may correspond to Ta.maa,  maram : tree . It may in fact be a variant of Ta. muu-a: that which grows, perhaps a general term for trees and plants at first but later restricted to trees. The initial boats may be simply logs put together-- kattamaram- and hence a transfer  of meaning from tree to that which is made out of it.


In Su. ma, mah also means "great" corresponding to Ta. maa, makaa and Sk. maha. For ex. in line 18 of the same text we have  " mus-mah-am" meaning " a might dragon";  and in 24.  kar-mah-ka-sur-ra-ge: the main wharf at the boundary Gate . Note kar Ta. karai: banks, wharf.


Su. gan,  corresponds to Ta. kaN,  kaaN, kaaNi: land mass, cultivated land etc.


We have the use of this in this sense in following line in the same text


32. har-sag-urud-gan-ki-mas-ta: from the mountain of copper in the territory of Kimash. Thus here 'gan" means simply "territory"


Thus together "ma-gan" may be " maa-kaaN" :  a large territory and hence an archaic form of "maakaaNa-am"


Now  as it is  also understood as  a territory the hills of which contained large trees, and coming as it does after Elam, it may be possible that by "Maa-kaaN" is meant India, and more specifically that part of India along the West coast where probably teak wood was available and hence the coasts of ancient  Tamil Nadu.


Meluhha as Meru-a-ka


The Su. mel which may be a variant of 'mul" means something bright as in dingir.mul: radiant deity. In Ta. we have mul: bright, white; Ta. mel> veL: bright, white, clean . Ta. viL-a-kku: light, that which lights up.


We have also  Ta. meru, muru: bright, glistening, hot etc. In Malay we have "merah" : red


Such meanings point again to perhaps to Volcano , a meaning  also available in Su-meru or a DESERT, an intensely hot region (Arabia?)


(a)-ka corresonds to Ta. akam: inside, territory etc. as Tamiz-akam etc.


Thus it may be possible that meluhha is a variant of meru-aka, meeru-aka meaning a land of volcanic hills or simply that of blazing sun. )


2. Background to Ancient Indian Trade(continued)



While Ur seems to have  been the key port for entry into Mesopotamia between 2350 B.C. and 1700 B.C., we are told by Openheimer that during this period, Mesopotamia and Indian traders (or sometimes through their middlemen, such as those of Bahrein, as noted by the individual character of the seals found there) imported into Ur various Indian commodities like gold, silver, copper, lapis lazuli, carnelian, beads, exotic woods and inlay.


Trade between Ur and the ports on the Indian coast is divided by Wheeler into three periods summarized as (1) an initial trade period at the time of Sargon of Akkad(c.. 2350 B.C.) when traders from Meluhha were either directly approached by the Sumerians, or they themselves went to the Mesopotamian markets like Ur; (2) a second stage, under the third dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 B.C.). Meluhha, now out of direct trade contact with Ur, dealt with either Makkan or Telmun, and was dependent on Bahrein middlemen, and finally, (3) a third phase of Indo-Sumerian trade characterised by the dominance of Bahrein middlemen between the fall of the Larsa dynasty (c. 1950 B.C.) and the decline of the Hammurabi dynasty (c. 1700 b.C.)


The determination of India’s trade with the West during historical times has been greatly facilitated by references in the remarkable anonymous Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, of the first century A.D. It is known from the Periplus that the island of Socotra at the entrance to the red Sea, had a mixed population of Greeks, Arabs and Indians. The Periplus expressly mentions that Indians, among others, had ‘emigrated to carry on trade there”. It was also in the first century A.D. that Indian merchants began their expansion into what is now Southeast Asia.


Before discussing briefly the arts and crafts of the Indus Valley and the light they throw on he probability of links with Sumer and Elam, it is worth citing a neglected passage from Mackay concerning the similarity of building materials between the ancient nuclear areas:


“ A striking feature of the masonry of Mohenjo_daro is the frequent use of bricks laid in an unusual way. In one particular wall we have a link with Elam and Sumer, for D. Wooley has lately reported that mud bricks were laid in a similar manner in a building at Ur dated to about 2000 B.C. and I am told that an example of the same method of bricklaying has been found at Susa ,,,,,,,,,,,,


The outer walls of the houses had a better or inward slope, a very characteristic feature of the architecture of Mohenjo-daro and also found in ancient Sumerian and Egyptian buildings”


It is possible that certain types of Indus Valley pottery were exported. “ On a fragment of a stone-carved scene found by the French expedition to Susa some years ago, a man is seen carrying an offering-stand identical in design with those found in Mohenjo-daro;  and as none of these stands have been found at Susa it is reasonable to infer that the one represented was an importation from India, perhaps also that the figure is that of an Indian”


On the evidence of Indus Valley axes and adzes, Mackay observes that “ the usual types of axes and adzes by the Indus Valley people were plain blades of copper or bronze, almost identical in design with similar blades from Susa and early Egypt”


3: Bahrein : Its Archaeology and Geography


To this point we have been examining some of the evidence for, and ‘educated guesses’ about the likelihood and nature of Indo-Persian-Mesopotamian contacts. We now wish to describe one of the most important recent clusters of discoveries in archaeology, linking the two prominent civilizations of the third millennium B.C., that of the Indus and Sumer. These discoveries, as we shall see, have been made largely by the Danish Archaeological  Expedition on the Persian Gulf island of Bahrein over the course of the past seventeen years.


The Setting:


The state of Bahrein, whose ruler is His Highness Sheik Sulman bin Hamed Al-Khalifa, consists of a cluster of islands, the majority of which are inhabited, lying between Qatar, the prominent Persian Gulf peninsula and Saudi Arabia. The total area of the Bahrein group is 240 square miles, with a population in 1965 of 182,233. Of these 9,385 (or 5.1 % of the total population) are labelled in the 1965 Bahrein census as Asians. Though the breakdown of Asians by country is not known, it is likely that at least 3,000 of these are of Indian origin, with a still smaller minority of Pakistanis. The majority of the inhabitants are Moslem Arabs and the Shia and Sunni sects of Islam are about equally represented.


In the past Bahrein owed its importance to its position as the centre of the pearl industry of the Persian Gulf; today, however, it is better known for its oil filed and refinery.


James Belgrave, son of the former senu=ior British administrator in Bahrein, makes the following observations with regard to contemporary pottery making on the island:


“ All the processes which go into the making of pottery take place in small sheds,,,,,,,,,,,,, most of the ovens arebuilt in the prehistoric tumili south of the village (of Aali). A hole is made in the rof of the tomb and another at the side; in the former the objects to be baked are placed and the latter is filled with firewood. When the fires are lit the tombs become miniature volcanoes with thick smoke belching from their peaks,,,,,,,,,,,,,”


Now it was precisely the discovery of three main groups of tumuli that first attracted the Danish Archeological Expedition to the island in 1953. Before their arrival, however, Ernset Mackay (later of Mohenjo-Daro fame) had been sent from Egypt by Flinders Petrie to survey the bahrein mounds. The danes’ debt to mackay is summed up by Geoffrey Bibby himself:


“He had done a very competent job on the Bahrein mounds, opening nearly fifty of them ,,,,,,,,,, and listing contents,,,,,,,,,. He had shown that every one of them covered a stone-built chamber, lying roughly east-west, with its entrance to the west ,,,,,,,,,,, and there was very little in the graves other than bones and pot-sherds, only some fragments of worked ivory and worked copper being recovered ,,,,,,,,,, All the graves he opened had been plundered.”


But  there was a second and more basic reason for journeying to Bahrein and this was the desire to attempt to solve one of the major controversies in Measotamian scholarship, the question of the ancient land of Dilmun and its precise location.


Early theories concerning the provenance of the people who “used” the island as a graveyard are dramatic, but as we shall show incorrect. Mackay himself persisted in the belief that the Pre-Islamic people buried in the grave chambers were natives of the Arabian peninsula who had merely used the island of Bahrein as convenient burial site for their dead.


A second belief about the burial mounds is that they are Phonecian. Birish Museum analysis of ivory grave objects had suggested them to be of Phoenician workmanship. It was subsequently shown that not only did the ivories have nothing to do with Phoenicia, but they did not even resemble Bahrein statuettes. The Arabs of Bahrein had firmly believed that burial mounds to tbe the graves of the Portuguese who had garrisoned the island in the sixteenth century, A.D.


With the above background and aims, the Expedition set forth for Bahrein,,,,,,,,,,,




3: Bahrein : Its Archaeology and Geography



The Discoveries on Bahrein


News of the team’s activities in the Persian Gulf began to filter back to Europe where some of the ‘results’ from Bibby and his senior colleague, P.V. Glob were published. They began to demonstrate dramatically the ancient between the civilizations of Ur, Dilmun and those of the Indus Valley. In 1960 Glob was to remark explicitly that “Bahrein has proved to be the legendary Dilmun referred to in the cuneiform texts of Sumer, the bridge between that primary seat of the urban revolution and the civilization of Indus Valley in what is now Pakistan. “ in the same year Belgrave, with Glob’s exuberance, recorded the first finds of Bahrein:


“The three temples at Barbar ( North coast) were built one top of another, apparently dating back to the third millennium B.C. These well-built temples contained numerous copper figures, tools and weapons, gold ornaments, pottery and, the most spectacular find of all, a magnificent copper bull’s head”


Limestone for the construction of the temple of Barbar was imported from  Jeddah. The temple was dated somewhere between 2500 B.C. and 1800 B.C., largely on the basis of a copper figurine, os a male supplicant found within the temple. The figurine, or icon, was ‘very Sumerian in appearance. If he had been found in Mesopotamia he would certainly have been dated between 2500 and 1800 B.C. and he could not be of different date here. And one of the alabaster vases was of a shape known to have been used in Mesopotamia in the final centuries of the third millennium B.C. In the temple , near what was quite clearly an altar or pedestal in front of which libation were offered, Bibby and Glob found several lapis lazuli pendants of a type found in the cities of the Indus Valley. Whereas on the one hand, the Barbar temple “is thus reminiscent in its layout to the temples of early dynastic Sumer, but with its bathing pool, it also recalls the ritual baths of the Indus Valley cities”


(Notes: Just a note on the word ‘Barbar’ in the phrase of Temple of Barbar where it is not clear  whether a temple or a place that is being named thus. There is a Su. word ‘babbar’  which means both silver and the God Brahma as in ‘asimbabbar’ (Ta.aatimpaarpaar) occurring  in the Hymn to Inanna written by EnHudu anna( c. 2200 B.C.) This word occurs in Tamil as paarppaar which is also a name of Siva  VishnU and so forth as well as  the Brahmanahs given over to scriptural studies. Brahma is also known as the Veetan, the god of the scriptures. This deity may also be the same as the Sumerian Ea the Tamil version of which is ‘ayan’. This may be a variant “En-aa’ meaning the deity of the waters and which may be linked with the practice of ritual baths which is alive to this day. Almost all South Indian temples have a tank specially built for this purpose.)


One of the highlights of archaeological research operating in the span between the Indus and sites at Ur, has been the relatively frequent discovery of stone, or steatite stamp seals. Seals of cylindrical type have been associated with Mesopotamia while those indigenous to the Indus have been square. Yet a third, much rare type has been discovered in one of the most exciting finds at Bahrein.  Bibby puts it neatly:


It was ,,,,,,,, a round stamp seal. It was about an inch in diameter, flat on one side, with a design cut in the face, which I could already see depicted two human beings. The other side was a flat dome, pierced by a hole so that it cold be hung on a cord. And the dome was decorated with a band of three incised lines and with four incised circles, each with a dot in the middle. The material was steatite, a soft stone of rather greasy appearance and feel,,,,,,”


Now, among the thousands of cylindrical seals found in Mesopotamia, there are a mere seventeen of those round seals. “They were not native to Mesopotamia and appeared to date to the period between 2300 and 2000 B.C. Several bore inscriptions in the unknown language of the Indus Valley. Moreover, three examples of the same type of seal had been found in Mohenjo-Daro, though they were not native to Mohenjo-Daro, where, as we have asserted, larger, square seals have been shown to be the indigenous type. These three ‘intruder’ seals were, to reiterate, of the same type as the round stamp seals with the Indus script found by Wooley at Ur and published by Gadd”



3: Bahrein : Its Archaeology and Geography(continued)


Two points now emerge: (1) the presence of identical seals at Ur and Mohenjo-Daro proved that there had been contact between India and Mesopotamia at the time of the Indus civilization and (2) the round stamp seals were “foreign” both in India and in Mesopotamia. If the round seals were alien in India and in Mesopotamia, could it be that they were native to Bahrein?


It became apparent to glob and Bibby that the round seals were native to Bahrein and belonged to the people who traded with both Mesopotamia and India, and appear to have had a culture distinct from both. The seal evidence suggests , furthermore , that  in pre- or proto-historic times Bahrein may have been an important entreport of trade, a half-way house between the Indus and the markets or ports at Ur. Glob, in fact, was led in 1958 to stae that “,,,,,,,, Bahrein was inhabitd by big businessmen who led this trade. It is they and their families who lie buried in the 100,000 grave-mounds of Bahrein and it is presumably they who are described on the city clay tablets of Ur as the Alik Telmun ( the traders to  Dilmun)



[Notes(Loga): the word ‘alik Telmun’ taken as archaic Tamil means simply the people ( Ta. aaL, aaLu) of Telmun. This can be ascertained only by re-reading the original Ur text being mentioned here.]


A list of objects located at Bahrein sites but foreign to the area includes the steatite from which the locally used seals were made. Steatite may have come from Persia or Oman, as well as from points further a field. Copper fishhooks excavated at Bahrein, as wel as large amounts of unworked copper were also of uncertain origin, though copper would have been available in India and Persian Luristan. The ivory, however, “pointed more definitely to India, though not with absolute certainty. The carnelian bead, on the other hand, could only have come from India”


As far as its material goes, the perfect cube of polished flim, found on Bahrein could have originated there, yet it was recognized immediately as a weight of the type in common use in the cities of the Indus Valley and used nowhere else. Why had the merchants of Bahrein (Dilmun) used the standard weights of the Indus valley? For Bibby there can be only two explanations: either the first commercial impulses to have reached Dilmun must have come , not from Measopotamia but from India, or else India was a far more important commercial connection with Dilmun than was Mesopotamia( where a completely different weight system was in use)



3: Bahrein : Its Archaeology and Geography(continued)


Before proceeding to a discussion of the relevance of other Gulf sites to our topic, it is necessary to explicate the Bahrein-Dilmun equation.


In 1881, about 20 years after the first reading of cuneiform, there existed some half-dozen documents mentioning a land called ‘Dilmun’. Many such documents containing the names of scores of obscure lands and cities had emerged from the libraries of Assurbanipal. In 1880 Durand had found a cuneiform inscription on Bahrein. The author of the inscription described himself as “slave of the God Inzak”. In the British Museum tablet that Rawlinson had himself deciphered and published, “the God Inzak was defined as the ‘God Nabu”, in other words, the principle deity - ‘of Dilmun’. And Dilmun, according to the annals of Sargon of Assyria, was the land whose ruler dwell ‘thirty double-hours away in the midst of the sea of the rising sun’. Rawlinson, for what it was worth claimed that Bahrein was identical with Dilmun. We are, we must confess with Bibby, still away from knowing the exact location of Dilmun, although Bibby tens to agree with Rawlinson’s interpretation as the one best fitting the facts.


Another suggestive element is that our word “abyss” comes to us from the Sumerian word ‘abzu’ over a gap of more than 4000 years. “Abzu” meant “the fresh water below the earth”. Leonard Cottrell, Bibby’s reviewer, recounts that:


“ The Sumerians envisaged the earth as a crust, below which was a sea of sweet water and above was the salt or ‘bitter’ sea. Dilmun, according to their legends, was one of the places where the fresh water rose to the surface. It has become clear from the excavations in which Mr.Bibby has participated, that Bahrein was in ancient times, rich in fresh water springs and reservoirs.”


We note, finally, that as recently as 1964, Professor Kramer of the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the world’s great authorities on Sumerian, maintained his hypothesis that Dilmun may turn out to the Indus, or some part of it. Suggests Kraner, “The Mesopotamian people which settled in India and sparked the Indus civilization were ,,, not the Sumerians, but -- most probably -- the original settlers of “sumer’, the Ubaidians ,,,”



With the aid of cuneiform translations it is thus rather well established that Dilmun was aholy land in the eyes of the Sumerians. Bibby regards it as very appropriate that the first major building contemporary with Sumer that located on Bahrein, was that of a temple.



In order to pursue ancient trade route and to determine the extent of the homogeneity (or heterogeneity) of culture elements and artefacts along the south shore of the Gulf, the Danish team expanded west to the island of Failaka, and east to the borders of Muscat. It is to these areas, to Socotra, Dubai, and the Handramaut that we now turn.


4: The Lure of Other related Sites


While Bibby appears satisfied with the general Dilmun-Bahrein-area  equation, he is tantalized now by the riddle of the Ubaid  sites located by the team in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, just west of Bahrein.


A find of barbed and tangled arrowheads, flint implements, knives, scrapers, awls, thin greenish-yellow potsherds decorated with geometric patterns in dark-brown paint discovered at Tarut, near Dharan, was recognized at once by Bibby as Ubaid, Over the span of 1000 years the first agricultural settlers of the Tigris-Euphrates moved gradually into lower Mesopotamia, their pottery spreading to the already-settled regions of North Mesopotamia and Syria. This was the Al-Ubaid culture. The nearest known settlement of the Ubaid culture to Dharan (and earliest of them all) was at Eridu, 400 miles to the north, yet now, as Bibby explains, the Ubaid culture lay also in Arabia! Bibby summarizes the excitement generated by discovery of the Arabian Ubaid sites:


“The fifth millennium B.C, must, with all reservations, be the date of the Ubaid site on the coast. And it changed all our concepts of the history of the Gulf. Had civilization reached the Gulf from the north after all, and not from the east? Or had the Ubaid culture originated in east Arabia and spread from there to Mesopotamia? Was there some basis for the old Sumerian legend of the fish-man who had brought agriculture to Mesopotamia from Arabian Gulf? Whatever the answer, one thing was clear: Civilization was over a thousand years older in the Gulf lands than we believed, and somehow that for thousand years of history had to be filled. It was tantalizing to know that there was one place, and one place only, where missing centuries could be investigated. The tell of Tarut had Ubaid were in its lowest, and Barbar ware in its uppermost strata. In between would be the tale of how the one developed into the other”


Another piece to the puzzle of the growth and movement of the civilization of the Persian Gulf emerges from the tiny island of Failaka at the head of the Persian Gulf. The expedition, as guests of an Indian doctor on the island, found sherds of thin, red, ridged “Barbar” ware. The significance of Bahreini Barbar ware on Failaka in Kuwait (over 250 miles from Bahrein) lay in the likelihood that failaka too, was part of Dimun. In this case, Dilmun would be musch bigger than originally believed or, in Bibby’s words, “ the distance from Bahrein to Failaka was the distance from Eridu, the southernmost city of bayloan, to Eshunna, its northernmost city. In geographical extent, then, Dilmun could measure upto Babylonia itself”


Dubai and Socotra

Moving east along the coast of the Trucial Oman, we wish now to mention again only briefly that Indian contact with this region in historical times is abundantly documented in the Periplus of the Erythraen Sea, as translated by Schoff. The Periplus describes in remarkable detail the antiquity of Indian trade, not only with parts and people of makran coast, the Persian Gulf, Red Sea Greece and Rome, but on the coast of Eastern Africa.

The present writer suggests that the history of Indian  trade in various locations along the Gulf is, in fact, a continuing historical tradition. Reporting in the Hindustan Times in 1969,  A.K.Sen observes:

“ Indian  and Pakistani settlers in this tiny desert state (Dubai) have formed themselves into thriving smuggling syndicates. They use with impunity the British Protectorate  Sheikdom as a base for smuggling gold and consumer goods across the Arabian Sea into India,,,,,,,, The Dubai merchants exchange gold for Indian silver, tea and jute, cardamon, white and black pepper, cloves and cinnamon. The tea and jute are smuggled into Iran,,,,,,,,, There are financial rackets which have contracts with Indian settlers who send money home from Britain and East Africa.

India’s long and unguarded coast,,, has become a safe rendezvous for Indian and Dubai smugglers.”

A unique Indian bronze has been found at Khor Reiri, 45 kilometer east of Salaha in the province of Dhofar of Haudramat. Goetz suggests that Khor Reiri is perhaps identical with the ancient port of Sumhurun, or Moscha mentioned several times in the Periplus. Goetz dates the bronze to the third century A.D. “ We can regard it as certain that our bronze statuette came to Simhuran just at the time when, before the crisis of the Roman Empire just at the time when, before the crisis of the Roman Empire in the second and third quarters of the third century, the trade between Alexandria, South Arabia and India had been on its zenith”

As the bronze was unearthed in the ruins of a private house, it could not apparently belonged to the inventory of a temple or even of a public chapel, “but had been the private property of some rich Indian merchant, probably part of a house shrine, and having been damaged by some accident was left behind when the flat was vacated. The merchant probably was a member of the Jaina or Buddhists communities who represented the overwhelming majority of maritime traders.”

Socotra, Cape Guardaful

The island of Dioscordia ( Socotra) is mentioned in paragraph thirty of the Periplus, whose author remarks: “ The inhabitants are few and they live on the coast toward the north, which from this side faces the continent. They are foreigners, a mixture of Arabs and Indians and Greeks. . . . . There is also produced in this island cinnabar, that called Indian, which is collected in drops from the trees.” Both Ptolemy and the unknown author of the Periplus bear witness to the number of merchants engaged in the Indian trade, “ and the former draws much of his information about India from men who had voyaged there and even resided for long in that country?

During the 1956 Oxford Expedition to Socotra was the belief that : Socotra had been an important entrepot for trade between the Far East and the Mediterranean between the second century B.C. and the sixth century A.D.  Schoff states that “ the cloths and precious stones, the timbers and spices - particularly cinnamon --  brought from India largely by Indian vessels, were redistributed at Socotra or Guardfui, and carried to the Nile and the Mediterranean. Could these goods have been transshipped through Oppenheims’s and Glob’s ‘class’ of Alik Telmun?

Hoping to discover Roman ruins, P.L. Shinnie, a member of the expedition, made a survey of the eastern half of the island. Aside from Portuguese and Ethiopic ruins, however, “little else was found on the coast that gave any indication of important ancient settlement”.

The multi-disciplinary  Oxford Expedition, being not only archaeological, but geographical and medical, carried out a series of rather extensive blood-typing tests upon the Socotri Bedouin. A note in the expedition’s report is tantalizing, if vague: “ The overall results ( of the blood tests) are not very similar, generally, the Socotrans appear more Asiatic. . . . I personally, seeing that Socotra is a little nearer Africa than Asia, was expecting an African blood picture. . . .”

The roundheadedness and other physical features of the Bedouin suggested that the Socotran aboriginals are remnants of a Hamitic population once widespread in South Arabia, and later driven out by a long-headed Semitic race from the north. “ They may thus, perhaps, be called one of the few ‘genuine’ Arab communities. . . . .”

( Note: Could this roundhead Bedouins who are Blacks like the Africans or Ethiopians be a group of Dravidians somehow lost there? This may explain why the Telugus call the Tamil people ‘aravalu’ meaning perhaps people from Arabia. Just a thought - Loga)

This  description by Botting has relevance for what Laura Thompson calls the ‘integrated anthropology”. Realizing that the population of such small islands as Fiji, Guam, and Tahiti preserve relatively isolated gene pools, Thompson urges their study as favorable ‘model’ natural laboratories. Such remote and fast-disappearing populations might be investigated from at least two interrelated angles: “ (1) as evolving human breeding  populations of micro-races, and (2) as culture-creating and culture-transmitting historical groups, for purposes of research into related problems concerning the evolution of micro-cultures.” It is our opinion that the non-Bedouin (aboriginal) population of Socotra provides such a model population breeding unit, and bears immediate further study. It is regrettable that the medical results of the Oxford group’s researches have not been conclusive, nor have been made available for scrutiny by the wider scholars.


A final word is in order on the life-style of Socotra’s non-Bedouin inhabitants, who “constitute the muqqadam (headmen) and merchant class, acting as agents between the Bedouin and the visiting dhow captains. This means that they must travel round the country acquiring goods from the Bedouin by purchase or barter, and selling these goods to dhown traders from India, Abadan, Muscat, Mukalla and Aden.

5. Conclusion:

In our exploration of the intercourse between the civilizations of the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, Dilmun and other points, we have illustrated the continuing role of archaeological evidence, as well as that of historical documents or narratives, such as that of the Periplus. The reconstruction of the picture of India’s links with the West has been marked by tremendous zeal on the part of many Indian scholars, and by conservative optimism on the part f western scholars. The later are often hesitant to give credence to Rig Vedic, Upanisadic or Puranic evidence of the antiquity of India’s outside contact. Yet, on the basis of such recent evidence as that from Bahrein, ( for example, the Indus-type weights found in early Dilmun levels) it is conceivable that extensive trade contacts between India and the Persian Gulf existed even before the height of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Perhaps even more important, is the accumulating testimony of the advanced role of the Indian traders who, as we have attempted to show, may have carried their sphere of influence, as well as some of their products, to the gates of Ur itself.

A reading of Bibby impresses one with the importance of a sound methodology. Although we have not been able to deal deeply with archeological filed method in this paper, the interested reader will find in the works of the Danish team in the Gulf, a rare sensitivity to the myriad problems of field work in ‘new’ areas, and an underlying concern for the co-operation with host-country personnel, and traditional leaders which resulted in an enrichment of the latter’s appreciation of their own culturalhistory.



Dravidian and Negro-African

(Ethnic and LinguisticAffinities)

By U.Pupadhyaya Susheela O.Uphadyaya




The language spoken in the Indian sub-continent are classified into four groups. Among these four families of languages, the Dravidian, spoken mainly in South India occupies the second place next to Indo-Aryan sub-branch of the Indo-European family according to the number of speakers it has, but it occupies an equal - if not more important - position because of the contribution made by it to the totality of the literary and cultural heritage of India. Though the native tradition considers all these languages as derived from Sanskrit, modern scholarship has proved a century ago the four literary languages of the South, together with at least a score in the North-West and Assam in the East belong to a distinct linguistic stock different from the other three linguistic families namely Indo-Aryan, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman.

From he beginning of the 19th century, modern scholarship began to investigate the structure and parentage of the Dravidian family of languages. In the early decades of the century, William Carey, a missionary from Bengal noted that the languages of South India should be differentiated from the Aryan languages of the North. His opinion was further supported by the great linguists of those days Max Muller, Ellis and Stevenson. The epoch-making work of Bishop Robert Caldwell in 1856 named “ A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian languages” proved beyond doubt the existence of a separate language family and laid the foundation for a new era of linguistic scholarship in India. He not only proved that these languages belong to a distinct genetic group, but also showed the structure and characteristic features of this family of languages. In spite of the fact that the twentieth century scholarship has modified many of the conclusions arrived at by Caldwell, the monumental work produced by him proves to be an indispensable companion for a modern scholar because of the wealth of information contained in it.

Since then these languages have been considered to belong to a separate stock and the scholars have been interested in penetrating into the origin and antecedents of this linguistic and ethnic group. Were they really the autochthonos or the original inhabitants of India? If not, from where did they come to India? To which other ethnic stock of the world are they to be related? What were they like in their linguistic and cultural habits in the remote past? What is the nature of their contact or confrontation with other linguistic or ethnic groups within and outside India? What was their contribution to the evolution of pan-Indian civilization?

Of the four major ethnic groups of India, the Austrics are believed to be oldest inhabitants. This long-headed and medium sized race is considered to be one of the oldest offshoots of the so-called Mediterranean race, tough on their way from the Mediterranean to India they were much mixed with other peoples and acquired new characteristics. Before the Austrics there were certain Negrito people whose identity and origin is yet to be investigated. Dravidians and Sino-Tibetans came later, the former from the North-West and the latter from the east. Aryans, one of the sub-groups of the Indo-European stock, are the last to enter the sub-continent whose confrontation with the earlier inhabitants is now almost an accepted fact and also recorded in their literature. It is also believed that the composite culture of India is the creation of the incoming Aryans and the already established Dravidians.

The presence of Dravidian languages throughout the length and breath of the sub-continent, e.g. Brahui in Baluchistan and Afghanistan, Kudukh and Malto in the Eastern part of India and the numerous tribal languages spread throughout the hilly regions of Central India proves it beyond doubt that the Dravidians are not simply the inhabitants of South India, but have, at one time occupied the entire region of the sub-continent. The excavations of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro have also brought to light the fact that Dravidian Civilization reigned supreme in the North-Western part of the sub-continent in a period about three to four millennia before the Christian era : a period before what is termed the Aryan invasion of India. These factors have indicated the possibility of the Dravidians having come to India - if at all they came from outside - from the North -Western frontiers.

If this is to be taken for granted, which part of the North-Western region did they come from? Who are the kinsmen of these Dravidians who were left behind or who might have migrated to some other direction? Are they related to the ancient races like Aegean, Sumerian, Caucasion, Finnish, Elamite, Pelasgian, Basque etc? Or to the Proto-Hamitic-Semitic population whose descendents now occupy the North-West Africa and Arabia? Or to the Negro-Africans who are now completely extinct by the onslaughts of other races and hence whose descendents now survive only in India?

Caldwell, the pioneer of Dravidian linguistics is not unaware of the problem of the affiliation of these languages. He has discussed in some length the possible relationship of the Dravidian languages with what he termed Scythian tongues, the numerous languages once spoken in the Middle East region. The idea first expressed by a Danish scholar Rusk was elaborated by Caldwell in considerable detail. The translation of the inscriptions discovered at Behistun in Western Media in the language of the Scythians has thrown some light on the connection of the Dravidian languages with the Scythian group.

[ Note:The cover term Scythian of Caldwell includes the languages like the Finnish, the Turkish, the Mongolian, and the Tungusian families. But the later research has grouped the Finno-Ugric under a separate family and the Turkish, Mogolian, Tunguz and Korean are considered as belonging to the Altaic family.]

Caldwell cites instances like the presence of retroflexes, presence of stop consonants as voiceless in the initial position and as voiced in the medial position of a word, genitive forms ending in na and nina, dative suffixes ikki/ikka, accusative forms ending in un/in, use of relative participles etc. etc. which lead him to conclude: “ The Pre-Aryan inhabitants of the Deccan should appear, from the evidence furnished by their language alone, in the silence of history, in the absence of ordinary possibilities,  to be allied to the tribes that appear to have overspread Europe before the arrival of the Teutons and the Hellenes and even before the arrival of the Celts”

Caldwell has also noted that in the vocabulary of certain Dravidian languages, a few Semitic analogies may also be discovered which appeared to him to be of no significance and hence might be due to the contact of the Dravidians with the Semitic people their arrival in India. He also discusses the possibility of some relationship of the Dravidian languages with an African language Bornu and some Australian tongues, but this was not elaborated further due to the lack of information about these languages.

Up to the first few decades of the 20th Century, our sources of information were limited tot eh Dravidian languages and the history of Dravidians in South India. The advances made by the sister-disciplines like Archaeology and Anthropology during the middle of this century with development of the technique of historical reconstruction in Linguistics have thrown a flood of light on the problems connected with Dravidian ethnology

The Indus valley excavations and the interpretation offered by a host of scholars right from Father Heras to modern scholars like Asko Parpola of Scandinavia together with many other excavations conducted in different areas of middle East, Egypt and other Negro-African regions by the bands of English, German and French scholars during the first half of our century have widened the horizons of modern scholarship and directed our thinking about peoples of prehistoric times in an altogether new line. One of its great contributions is to uphold the supremacy of “ancient civilizations” which led us to believe that the Indo-European and Semitic races are not the only leaders of civilization in the world and numerous tribes spread over the vast continents of Africa, Europe and Asia had their own well-developed civilizations in Pre-Indo_European and Pre-Semitic times. This has not only led the scholars to estimate the contribution of these ancient civilizations in forming the composite cultures of these regions in the post-Christian era, but also focused the attention of the world on the possible links of these ancient civilizations which form the substrata.

Mohenjodaro and Harappa excavations have revealed the existence of well-organized urban civilization in India before the entry of Indo-Aryans. It has been an admitted fact that when Aryans came to India they were like semi-nomads whereas Dravidians at that time formed a settled community of agriculturists and herdsmen. They lived in cities with fortifications and they had many amenities of advanced city life like public bath, drainages etc. Exactly in the same manner Schlieman’s discovery of Pre-Hellenic Pelasgian sites among the ruins of the old cities of troy in Asia-Minor and in Mycenae in Greece revealed the existence of a highly advanced urban civilization in those regions. Similar Archaelogical excavations conducted in Egypt, Nubia, Ur and many other African, Mediterranean and Middle-eastern regions have proved the existence of advanced city civilizations in the regions from Africa to India.

As a result of these excavations the scholars in the first half of this century tried to link the Ancient Dravidians with the Mediterranean races of he Neolithic era. Nilakantha Sastri and Suniti Kumar Chatterjee the two great authorities on South Indian History and Indian linguistics respectively have demonstrated the identity of the Dravidian race with the Mediterranean races based on anthropological and linguistic evidences.  Lahovary has cited a number of linguistic evidences as well as toponymic evidences to prove the racial unity of the Basques, Caucasians and Dravidians. Though not organized systematically Lahovary’s work merits a serious consideration because of the wealth of information it contains about some phonetic and morphological features and hundreds of lexical items as well as toponymic items gathered from many ancient languages of the Middle East. He has rightly focused the attention of the scholars on the fruitfulness of toponymic studies in determining historical relations. As he observes” “ In toponymy there can be no questions of cultural or commercial loan-words, nor of fortuitous resemblances, for it is the direct and faithful mirror of the language of the people of a country at a given time and even long outlast it” Ramaswamy Aiyar too has noted many similarities between the toponymy of Dravidian India and Persia. Sadasivam has attempted to prove the common parentage of Dravidian and Sumerian languages and Tuttle has cited many lexical and grammatical resemblances between Nubian and Dravidian. Zvelebil attempted to prove that the Dravidians were a highlander folks who lived, sometime around 4000 BC  in the rugged mountainous regions of North-East Iran where they were in contact with the Ural_Altaic people and from there they migrated into the Indian Sub-continent  and played a leading role in the ethnographic composition of the Indus Valley peoples before they ultimately reached Southern India. McAlpin has cited many lexical and grammatical points to indicate the relationship of the Elamite and Dravidian.

Some French, German and African scholars have also attempted to trace the common heritage of ancient Dravidian India and Negro Africa in culture, language and civilization. As early as 1897 the German ethnologists Frobenius noticed some cultural similarities between Negro Africa and Ancient India. Baumann and Westermann in their monumental work on African ethnology and civilization have noticed the influence of Indian Culture on Neo-Sudanese Culture. Cheik Anta Diop has traced many resemblances between Negro-Africa, Egyptian and Oriental Civilization. Cheik Tidiane  N’Diaye has shown that many words and expressions denoted by the Indus Valley Script can be related to Dravidian as well as Senegalese languages like Wolof and Pular.

L. Homburger had brought to light for the first time, some phonetic, morphological and lexical parallels between certain African languages and Dravidian languages. Though her studies were limited to a few isolated languages of these groups, they have drawn the attention of the linguists and the statesmen like L.S. Senghor to make a deeper probe into the prehistoric ties of Negro-Dravidian-Mediterranean races which have laid the foundations of civilizations much before the dawn of modern western civilizations. The researches being carried out now at the “Institut Fundamental d’Afrique Noire” of the university of Dakar and the Center of Advanced Study in Linguistics of the Annamali University are expected to provide very strong linguistic evidence to support the hypothesis formed by the ethnologists about the ancient ties of these races which once occupied the entire region from Negro-Africa to south India through the Mediterranean and Middle-East.

Though the present inhabitants of the peninsula India and Negro-Africa have very few common physical characteristics due to mixture with different races, the pre-historic excavations go to prove the racial and cultural unity of these peoples. As Dravidians are considered to have come from the North-West of India and not to be original inhabitants of South India , it is also recognized that the Negroes of Africa are not the original inhabitants of their regions, though they have evolved in that region for a considerable period of time in the history of the continent. It is generally recognized that the Pygmies and Bushmen of the equatorial forests and the Kalahari desert are the survivals of the races which were spread over the whole of Africa before the arrival of Mediterranean peoples in the North and of darker skinned people in the North-East. The brown or black population seems to have invaded Africa from the East and tradition points to the regions east of the upper Niles as being those from which they spread South and West.

It is now generally accepted that in the Neolithic and early metal ages about 8th to 3rd millennia BC, the vast region of Western Asia with its extensions up to Niles and Indus, was occupied by what may be called a blackish race with its local variations like Proto-Mediterranean, Mediterranean  and Hamite. This race is characterized by blackish brown complexion, long head, long straight and narrow face etc. The racial features of these peoples are testified not only by anthropological considerations but also by the homogeneity of cultural considerations by the study of their monuments artifacts and tools unearthed in those regions. As Lahovary, points out, the Neolithic Civilizations, which have so profoundly influenced human evolution have had a single origin and a single center of diffusion-- namely the Near est. This region endowed with a good climate and blessed by the river irrigation facilities, contributed much to the evolution of civilizations and it was here that the arts of agriculture, cattle breeding, weaving and pottery developed and later spread into Europe and other regions through migration. It is from this area that Bronze-Age civilization was carried to and spread in Europe before the advent of the Indo-Europeans.  A series of migrations in different directions from that center until the break in the development of this civilization, was well testified by the archaeological discoveries. In spite of some local differences like the Prot-Mediterranean type in Egypt and India, Hamitic type in East_Africa and Ibero-insular Mediterranean type from Anatolia to Western India, we can see, on the whole a fundamental racial and cultural unity in all this part of the ancient world which is rightly called the ‘cradle of civilization”.

Three principle waves of migrations may be specially noted here. The first of these possessed no common name for metal and introduced Neolithic civilization into Europe together with the ribboned and incised pottery and a little later the painted ware. The second and third series of migrations gave Europe megalithic civilization and that of the first metal and bronze ages. The fourth series of migrations gave writing to Europe.

The fundamental unity of these Pre-Indo-European civilizations spread over this vast area from Dravidian India to Negro-Africa can be observed by the resemblances noticed in anthropological traits, social customs, religious beliefs, artifacts and linguistic features. Though due to pressure or onslaughts of the incoming races like Semites and Indo-Europeans many of them are either completely exterminated or survive in some remote corners in the mainland (like the Basques, Elamites, Caucasians etc), those who had earlier migrated into distant places like India and Africa survived preserving and developing their age-old customs and civilizations. These primitive people contributed a major share in the creation of the composite culture of the later periods with Indo-Europeans and Semitic peoples.

Anthropologists have shown many similarities between the human skeletons unearthed in Dravidian India and the Western regions of Neolithic times. Most of the skeletons found in Mohenjo Daro were very much like those of the megalithic civilizations of the Mediterranean regions. The skeletons found in Sialkot present great analogies with those of the pre-dynastic Egypt and of Mesopotamia. The conclusions arrived at by the Indus valley excavations are further supported by the epoch making discoveries made by the excavations at Jericho, Upper Galilee, Northern Iran, Egypt, Kenya, Tangkanyika and other regions.

The ancient matriarchal system of this civilization is found even today among the Dravidians, especially in Kerala and South Kanara, the Basques of Pyrenees, the Berbers of Sahara and many communities of Negro-Africa, where inheritance is transmitted through women.

The Cult of Serpent

The Cult of Serpent is another prominent feature of Dravidian India, Pre-Hellenistic Mediterranean world and Negro-Africa. Almost every village in Dravidian India, especially the wets coast belt, has what is known as sarpa-kavu or naga bana, a bush or a piece of land surrounded by the thick growth of trees and bushes wherein the stone-idols of serpents are worshipped. This is also associated with a variety of rituals in which we also find, among other things, dialogues between priest possessed by the serpent-god and the devotee. Many of the rituals associated with snake-worship in Africa find their parallels in the practices noticed in the Western Coast of South India. As the dead body of a serpent is cremated in Dravidian India with due funeral rites, it is buried by many Africans tribes with ritual formalities.



Worship of the Mother Goddess is an important religious rite commonly noticed among the followers of this culture and we find this custom practiced throughout this region. The later Indo-European ancestors of the Greeks and Aryans brought with them the worship of the gods who lived in the sky and who were just anthropomorphized forces of nature, In contrast with these heavenly gods the Dravidians, Aegeans and other folks of these regions worshipped primarily the great Mother Goddess residing on the earth. This goddess has a male counterpart who is a passive figure. The concept of Shakti and Shiva in India grew out of this Dravidian belief. It is worth noting here that she is considered as Black Goddess (kali) in India as well as the Pre-Hellenistic Greece. She is the source of all life and also the goddess of death. Some of the Sumerian rituals relating to the marriage of the Mother Goddess with the Moon g=god find their parallels in the temple rituals of South India especially in the marriage of the Mother Goddess with Shiva. The god Nyame of the Ashanti and other peoples of West Africa is considered to be female, the great mother who gives life to all and is symbolized by the moon. The name Great Mother is one of the epithets given to the supreme being in African regions. Murugan, the god of mountains, the son of the mother goddess is a prominent and typical deity of the Dravidian India. It is interesting to note that at least twenty-five tribes in East Africa worship ‘Murugu” as supreme god, and like the Dravidian god Murugan, the African Murungu resides in the sacred mountains.


During the first millennium BC, the cult of the mother goddess gradually lost its primacy in the Mediterranean regions and in the Middle East under the influence of religious transcendentalism and of the patriarchal culture of the Semitic and Indo-European peoples. Dravidian India and Northern Africa, comparatively less affected by these influences, have kept these ancient beliefs with some local modifications. Even today, in almost all villages of Southern India a form of the mother goddess is worshipped as a village deity and she is specially worshipped to ward off evil spirits and contagious diseases or epidemic and the rituals associated with this worship do not bear any influence of the Aryan customs and the Brahmanical ways of worship. The word amma used to refer this village goddess as well as the disease of small-pox etc caused or cured by her will have its parallel in the same word amma used by the Dogons of the French Sudan. As in Dravidian India, altars are built in those parts of African also for sacrifice and communal worship for the deity amma.


It is worth noting the contrast between the patriarchal system and the male gods of the later Indo-European culture and the matriarchal system and the mother goddess of the ancient cultures of this region.


The offering of hair by women for fulfilling a vow to god and the practices of offering a maiden to the service of gods in temples ( the so-called sacred prostitution or Devadasi System) are some of the rituals noticed in Ancient South Indian temples, Middle East and the Mediterranean areas. Similarly the worship of tress  -- fig, oak, or peepul - to fulfil a vow or to get boon , is also a common practice in Dravidian India, Mediterranean and African regions.




It is also believed that the cult of animism originated in Ancient Babylonia and made its way to Sub-Saharan Africa via the Carthaginian Civilization which called it the cult of Astarte. This cult was later on introduced to South America by African slaves. It is likely that some of the above mentioned beliefs common to Dravidian and Negro-Africans originated from the same source.


The practice of placing the dead body in terra cotta jars was current in Ancient South India, especially in the regions of Pondichery even up to the late iron Age. A similar practice was brought to light by the excavations in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean regions. It may be noticed here that resurrection is an important belief of the religions of this area and the departed soul will come back in course of time. The jar is perhaps believed to be womb of the mother goddess.


It is perhaps this belief in resurrection that led to ancestor worship. As in the case with Dravidian India, the Ancestral spirits play a prominent role in African and Mediterranean thought. The practice of offering sacrifice to ancestors at regular intervals is noticed in almost all African tribes from South Africa to Sahara. The Ancestors are believed to have survived death and to be living in a spiritual world, but still taking a lively interest in the affairs of their families. The Ancestors who have not received proper burial or funeral rites become ghosts and wander between this world and the next, causing considerable harm to the members of the family. But those who are properly buried according to accepting rituals attain divinity and rank with other gods and look after their descendents on the earth.


The common features noticed in the areas of religious and social customs find their parallel in art and architecture also. As early as 1918, James Hornett noticed similarities existing between the South Indian boat designs and the Ancient boat designs of the Nile and Mesopotamia. He observed that before splitting off from the original stock the Dravidians living around Mesopotamia borrowed or invented the circular coracle and the reed raft. Coomarasamy has noticed that the ancient ritual and decorative designs of the Aegeans and the Dravidians are very much alike. In the technique dying, jewellery and in the making of metal weapons the West African Peuls and the Dravidians show remarkable resemblances. The Gonds of Central India, a Dravidian tribe, even now erect the houses similar to those erected by the Gallas of Somaliland.


Archaeologists have also noticed resemblances between the megalithic structures, tombs and monuments of the Dravidian regions and the Mediterranean regions. The objects found in the Megalithic monuments of Hyderabad are similar to the objects discovered in the Egyptian regions belonging to the second dynasty. The ornaments of gold discovered in the tombs of Adichanallur of Dravidian India resemble those discovered in Enkomi, Cyprus and the surrounding regions of the Bronze Age. Nilakanta Sastri hs shown the existence of numerous analogues between certain types of pre-historic tombs of pre-dynastic Egypt and South India as well as between the Stone urn burials of South India and Syria. The bronze bowels discovered in Nigiris (South India) show remarkable resemblances  to those found in Ur (Sumer) of the third millennium BC and Assyria.


The art of making pottery with various designs on it, one of the achievements of the Paleolithic period, also aids us in discovering the possible relationship of these ancient races. Many archaeologists have noted resemblances between the pottery designs of Dravidian India and the Mediterranean regions)



In this vast territory of great civilizations, we can distinguish at least three important linguistic types. Of these three the Indo-European an inflectional type is evidently brought by the later conquerors of these regions. Hittite is the only one which is now considered to be related to the Indo-European family. The other ancient languages which  show  agglutinative and inflectional tendencies may be considered as belonging to two separate families. Of these two, the proto-Semitic forms the upper layer. Other languages which  show  an  agglutinating tendency with invariable roots using chains of detachable suffixes belong to the still earlier inhabitants of this region who founded the earliest civilizations.


It is perhaps due to the pressure of the Semitic stock that the earlier inhabitants speaking these agglutinative languages were dispersed from this area and went in eastern directions towards India and in Western directions towards Africa. The speakers of the Dravidian languages and the Negro-African languages represent these branches and hence continue to retain many of their original linguistic features in these remote areas. Other peoples of the same stock, who remained in their own regions were either completely assimilated to the conquering race or partially assimilated (like Hamites) and thus lost their linguistic heritage, or took refuge in distant mountain regions of the Caucasus, Pyrenees etc, preserving their languages like Caucasian, Basque and other languages which are now termed Asiatic languages.


Linguistic resemblances noticed among the Dravidians, Negro-African, Basque, Caucasian, Elamie, Sumerian, Nubian, Scythian and a host of other languages of this area go to prove this fact. It is true that certain points of resemblance may be noticed between Hamito-Semitic languages and the above-mentioned languages also. But these resemblances only lead us to postulate the impact of the Hamitic-Semitic languages on these languages due to socio-cultural contacts and hence mutual borrowing must have taken place. If the composite culture of India is the creation of the already settled Dravidians and the incoming Aryans, and the Greek culture is the creation of the earlier inhabitants like Aegeans and the incoming Greeks, the composite culture of Negro-Africa may also be considered as the creation of the already settled Negroes and the the incoming Semites and Hamites. Due to such cultural contact, conflict, coexistence and fusion, linguistic borrowing also might have taken place to a very large extent.


Linguitic similarities noticed among different language groups are to be considered as due to any one of the following (i) accidental similarity in certain vocabulary items, (ii) typological similarity due to parallel phonetic, morphological or syntactic structures, (iii) areal similarity due to convergence in linguistic features on account of geographical contiguity and mutual inflow of communication through a considerable period of time, and (iv) resemblance due to genetic relation because of their having developed from the same source. Since the resemblance noticed among the Dravidian, Negro-African and other ancient languages of the Near and Middle East are so numerous the first possibility is ruled out. The second possibility is also ruled as the resemblances are not typological alone but are also in the root elements relating to vocabulary items and grammatical structure. Since the languages under consideration are separated by geographical boundaries the third possibility is automatically ruled out. We are left with no other alternative but to accept the fourth possibility namely the genetic relationship. Since the languages share not only lexical and grammatical features but also display sound correspondences as described in the following pages our assumptions about common heritage is very much strengthened.




If the linguistic evidences go to strengthen the assumptions made by the anthropological and archaeological studies, the common parentage of the Dravidians, Negro-Africans and other ancient races of these region can be proved with convincing evidence.


It will be of interest to postulate that even after the original stock was dispersed in different directions towards India and Africa the member communities maintained contacts with one another through sea-route. After the Indus Valley Civilization of Dravidians was destroyed by the incoming Aryans – or the natural calamities as believed by some – the Dravidian Speakers must have come towards the south along the western coast. The maritime front of the Indus Civilization is well known. The great Dravidian Kings of South India had maritime relations with Mesopotamia, Arabia, Egypt and East Africa. They had excellent trade relations with the countries across the Arabian sea. Egyptian merchants were in the habit of trading on the Indian Ocean. The archaeological excavations conducted on the Arabian Coast, the Persian Gulf and other regions go to prove this fact.


One of the generals of Alexander the Great travelled through these coasts and recorded the presence of foreign traders in those regions. The fact that the burnt bricks were used both by the architect of Mohenjo Daro and those of the Egypt of the first dynasty is evidence of the mutual contact or the common origin of these peoples. The presence of a few Kannada words and sentences in a Greek play preserved in an Egyptian papyrus of the second century AD, further strengthens our assumptions. It is interesting to note that when Vasco da Gama reached Mombasa he found Indians already settled there and it was an Indian pilot who took him to Goa. The contributions made by the Dravidian immigrants in evolving the New Sudanic Civilization is rightly acknowledged by great historians like Baumann.


The examples of phonetic, morphological and lexical parallels between the Dravidian languages and the Senegalese languages like Wolof, Serer, Pular ( Fulani) and Joola (Dyola) and hints about sound correspondences presented in the following pages are based on the observations made during the course of about a year’s field wok carried out in Senegal with a view to making a comparative study of the Dravidian languages and the above-mentioned four languages belonging to the West-Atlantic sub-group of the Niger-Congko family.



The present study is not without its obvious limitations. First of all it is based on preliminary observations and a detailed study is being made. Many of the observations made now are subject to modifications after further analysis. The purpose of this preliminary report is only to indicate the possibilities and the fruitfulness of a detailed study which is being made now. It must also be noticed here that many pre-requisites are yet to be fulfilled before the parentage of the different groups of languages can be ascertained.  Reconstruction of the Prot-Language of the hundreds of Negro-African languages based on systemic synchronic descriptions and the methods of reconstruction - which will be the work of reconstructed proto-language is to be compared with the reconstructed proto-language of the Dravidian family. Though linguists have made some progress in reconstructing the Ancient Dravidian speech forms, practically no work of any significance is available so far for a bewildering variety of the Negro-African languages of this vast area. Any result obtained until that time is only tentative and subject to modifications. But however, it is hoped that the efforts now being made may certainly contribute towards that goal and stimulate further efforts in this direction to make a deeper probe into the subject.


For such ancient languages with poor documentation o written record, separated by geographical boundaries and having independent course of development or evolution over some millennia, any attempt to find rigid equivalences is bound to be met with failures. Or, within the frame-work of comparative linguistics, to what extend a regular sound correspondence can be set up or strict morphological parallels can be utilized and validated in the case of languages separated by such a long geographical and temporal gap is also a point open to dispute. It is only a rough approximation of general tendencies in their phonetic and morphological behavior that can be aimed at, at this stage of our understanding of these languages, which may help us to postulate the relationship and the original source of these linguistic features. Linguistic laws are not irrefutable because of the various disturbing factors.


During the course of their survival and evolution over some millennia, many losses and innovations might have taken place due to contact, borrowing, independent development etc. It is with this caution that the broad tendencies noticed among these languages specially in their phonetic, morphological and lexical elements are presented in the following pages. Syntactic features are not taken into consideration in this study because the order of the constituent elements is more free in the higher stage of construction in the immediate constituent hierarchy and the order of constituents is more susceptible to change due to areal convergence and hence may not prove to be a useful tool in determining genetic relationship.



Agglutinating tendency, absence of grammatical gender, absence of inner vowel-change, use of post-positions or prepositions instead of flexion are some of the prominent features in which the Negro-African and Dravidian languages differ from the Indo-European and Hamito-Semitic group. Other features shared both by the Negro-African and Dravidian are : a simple system of five basic vowels with short-long contrast, vowel harmony, absence of initial clusters of consonants, abundance of geminated consonants, distinction of inclusive and exclusive pronouns in the first person plural, absence of the degree of comparison for adjectives, lack of adjectives and adverbs as distinct morphological categories, consonant alternation or nominal increments noticed among the nouns of different classes, distinction of completed action and incomplete action among verbal paradigms as against specific tense distinctions, two separate sets of paradigms for declarative and negative forms of verbs, use of reduplicated forms fro emphasis etc. At the same time, the Negro-African languages also show some marked differences from the Dravidian languages especially in their baffling noun-classification system, consonant alternation, wealth of derived forms to modify the sense of verbs, use of wide variety of personal terminations for verbs etc.


[ Abbreviations used for language names:


Sn.= Senegalese languages. NA = Angro-African Land=gauges Dr. = Dravidian languages PDr. = Proto-Dravidian MDr. = Modern Dravidian SDr. = South Dravidian CDr. = Central Dravidian. W. = Wolof P. = Pulaar(Fulani) S. = Serer. J. = Joola(Dyola) Ta. = Tamil Ma. = Malayalam Ko. = Kota To. = Toda Ka. = Kannada KoD. = KoDagu Tu. = Tulu Te. = Telugu Kol. = Kolamai Nk. = Naiki Pa. = Parji Ga. = Gadaba Go. Gondi Konda. = Konda Kui. = Kui Mal. = Malto Br. = Brahui Bas. = Basque Su. = Sumerian Cau. = Caucasus Ber. = Berber]


Both Sn. And Dr. have a system of five basic vowels with a three-fold distinction of tongue-height (high, mid and low), a three-fold distinction of tongue-position (front, central and back), a two-fold distinction of lip rounding (rounded and unrounded), and a two=fold distinction of duration (short and long)


I               u               ii                      uu


     e    o                            ee        oo


        a                                       aa



Some languages belonging to both these groups have developed slightly lower or higher counterparts like I, E, U  -- -- -- (Note: could not type for lack phonetic symbols) . These sounds are noticed at phonetic level in some languages whereas in some other languages either some of them or all of them attained phonemic status. With very slight modifications this basic system can be noticed in all languages belonging to Sn. And Dr. group.  All these can occur as short or long in all positions of a word and pronounced evenly. Neither word-stress nor pitch is a phonologically distinct feature in these two groups of languages.




Though we assign six series of stop consonants for PDr., only five, namely bilabial, dental, retroflex, palatal and velar form a perfect system. Alveolar R in Dr. has a limited occurrence and it is restricted to certain positions only. Though the distinction between voiced and voiceless stops was at phonetic level only in PDr., almost all modern Dravidian languages have this distinction at phonemic level also. We find approximately a similar system in Sn. With the exception that in the place of dental and retroflex series, Sn. Have a single tip-alveolar series, which, to the ear of a Dravidian speaker sound more like the retroflex of Dr. Implosives stops --(?), d and y noticed in certain Sn. Languages like Pular and Serer must be later innovations. Both Sn. And Dr. do not also employ a wide variety of fricatives. As MDr. Developed some fricatives like s, s and h, Sn. Too developed f,x and h. Of these, some may perhaps be considered as due to Semitic borrowings while some like f may be due to borrowing as well as developments from primitive sounds like P. The two important features in which Sn. and Dr. together form a group as opposed to hamito-Semitic and Indo-European are the (i) absence of aspirated stop consonants and (ii) relatively little use of stops and fricatives in post-velaric regions.


Like Dr., Sn. too have a series of nasal corresponding to all stop consonants and the abundance of these nasals (including n like its counterpart in Malayalam even in word initial position) resemble Dravidian tendency. A more or less similar system of vovwels and consonants is noted for the ancient languages of the Mediterranean and Middle East regions also, especially Basque, Ligurian, Sumerian etc. The only exception is the Caucasion group which displays a wide variety of consonants different from the systems noted above.


The syllable pattern of Dr. and Sn. show many resemblances. We have in both the systems a greater tendency towards open syllables and avoidance of non-identical consonant clusters. Generally the accent falls on initial syllable of a word in both these groups. Since only a few languages of the Niger-Congo family bear phonologically significant tones it is doubtful whether it is to be attributed to the proto language of this family. Hiatus is avoided and prothetic vowels or the vowel glides are employed. Initial clusters of consonants are absent in both these groups. The sole exception is the presence of some nasalized stops  in the initial position in Sn. as well as the entire Niger-Congo group. It is likely that they might have developed from an earlier cluster by the loss of preceding vowel or due to later innovations.


Abundance of medial geminated consonants is a popular phenomenon noticed in Dr. and Sn. It is due ti their preference for open syllables that the final consonants are very rare in these languages. As opposed to Indo-European and Hamito-Semitic the verbal roots in Dr. have a vocalic ending. According Meinhof Proto-Bantu roots have all a vocalic ending. Nubian too has this tendency. Though we find some liquids and nasals in the word-final position in some Dr. languages, many languages of this group have a tendency to add a vocalic release at that end. We have also come across a good number of cases with consonantal endings in Sn. But two points deserve special mention here. First of all, the exact nature of the single stop consonants in the final position is not clear. The contrast between voiced and voiceless stop consonant in the final position is neutralized in many cases. It occurs as voiceless when followed by another vowel. When a slightly geminated, aspirated or tense consonant occurs in the final position a vocalic release can be noticed, in which case it is considered as geminated. This may lead us to postulate that originally these languages might have had a greater tendency towards vowel-ending words.



Vowel harmony in some form or other is a tendency noticed in the phonology of the Negro-African, Dravidian and many other ancient languages of the Mediterranean and the other regions of West Asia. In Te. the final ‘u’ or ‘i’ of many suffixes like dative, accusative, pronominal etc. depends on the stem-final vowel preceding it;  e.g. tammuni-ki, ‘to the brother’ qurramuna-ku ‘ to the horse’; kottina-nu ‘ I struck’ unti-ni ‘ I was’. The stem-final ‘i’ is assimilated to the following ‘u’ of the plural suffix ‘lu’ ; e.g katti “knife’ kattu-lu “knives’. The enunciative vowel ‘u’ or ‘i’ in many Dr. languages depends on the vowel in the preceding syllable; e.g. Tu. and- I ‘yes’, undu ‘this’, Ta. kotu ‘to give’, pati ‘to lie down’ etc. In NA languages vowel-harmony is noticed in the case of the respective tongue-heights of the vowels in consecutive syllables. Greenberg suggests that relative height is basic to all African systems of vowel harmony. Hence the vowels can be divided into two mutually exclusive sets like higher and lower or tense and lax, and the vowel is assimilated to the following or preceding vowels. (Notes: the examples omitted because lack of relevant  phonetic symbols)


Some prominent sound correspondences may be noted here. Alternation b & v is noted in Dr. e.g. Ta. v and Ka. b. W. b corresponds to Dr. b & v in a number of cases;


e.g W. baaram’ finger’, Ka. Beral; T. viral; W. biig ‘evening’; Ka. Bayqu; Ta. vayku; W. biir ’belly, pregnancy’ ; Ka.basaru, Ta. vayiRu, Ma. Vayaru, Tu. Banji; W. benn ‘one’ Ta. (wo_onRu; W.bey “tocultivate, cultivation’, Ka. Bele, Ta. viLay, Ma. Vila; W. bunt ‘door’, Ka. Baagilu, Ta. vaacal; W. bant ‘stick’, Ka. Badige, Tu. Badu, Ta. vati; W. bind ‘to write’ , Ka. Bare, Ta. vari etc.


W. f & Dr. p.


e.g. W. fukk ‘ten’, Ta. ma. Patti, Te. Padi, Tu. Patti; W. fekk “to find’ , Ta. piti ‘to hold’, Ka. Pidi, Tu. Patti; W. fab ‘to pick up’ , Kui.pebga, Kod. Pori, Ta. perukka, Tu. Peji; W. fen “to tell lie’, Tu.pani ‘to tell’, Ta. peecu; W. fog ‘to shake’ , Ta. pandi,; W. feex ‘fresh, cool’, Tu. Paji.


W. f & Dr. c/t/k.


 W. juroom ‘five’, Par. Cem, Go. Sayyum, Kui. Singi; W. jaan ‘snake’, Ta. cereal, Ka. Keere; W. jiit “scoprpion’, Ta. Ma. TeeL, Ka. Ceel; W. jaay ‘to sell;, jar ‘to cost’, Ta. celavu, Ma. Celka; W. jam ‘to piere’, Ta. ceruku, Ma. Cerutu, Ka. Cuccu.


W. & Dr. k


W. xar ‘sheep’ , Ka. Kuri, Ta. Ma. Kori, Kod. Koi; W. xeer ‘rock’ , Ta. Ma. Kal “stone’, Ka. Kallu, Br. Khal, Pa. Kel; W. xenx ‘red’, Ka. Tu. Kempu, Br. Khiisum; W. xerem ‘salt’, Ka. Kaar ‘pungent, saltiest, hot’ Br. Khareen ‘bitter’; W. xetti ‘to tear’, Ta. Kati ‘to cut’, Ma. Katikka, Te. Kaatu, Br. Gat; W. xarit ‘friend’, Ta. KeeLanm Ka. Keleyea,  geleya;  W. xuuge “hunch-back’, Ta. Ma. Kuuna, Ka. Guuna;  W. xam “to know’, Ta. Kal ‘to ;earn’, Ka. Kali;  W. xaar ‘to wait’, Ta. Kaay, Ka. Kayyu; W. xel ‘heart’, Ma. Karai, Ka. Karalu; W. xur ‘valley;, Ta. Kuri, To. Kos; W. xaj ‘dog’, te. Kukka. Also note: S. xoox ‘head’, Kur, kukk, Mal. Kuku.



Though Dr. does not display any system of noun classification similar to the one noticed in NA, some traces of such a system can be imagined for Dr. because of the augment apparing after nouns before case-suffixes and post-positions are added. Special mention may be made of the augment Ta. Ma. tt, Te. ti ti. Ka. d etc. occurring after non-human nouns ending in ‘a’, augment ‘n’ in most of Dr. languages after human nouns ending in ‘a’ etc. e.g. Ta. mara-tt-ai ‘the tree’(acc), Ka. Mara-d-a “tree’s’. Consomnant alternation when the membership of a root is changed into adifferent class or when suffixes are added may be noticed in instances like Ka. oodu ‘to run’, oota ‘running, race’ kodu, ‘to give’, kottano ‘he gave’, biilu ‘to fall’, bidd ‘ ‘fallen’ participle. In Sn. languages in general and S. and P. in particular the system of consonant alternation is highly developed, e.g. P. modo ara ‘I came’, eden ngara ‘we come’, hoore ‘head’, koye ‘heads’, S. gar ‘to come’ o ngara ‘they came, bind ‘to write’ o pind ale ‘writng;, xon ‘ todie’, o kon ohe ‘dead; and W. bind ‘to write’ , mbind ‘writing; garab ‘tree’ , ngarab ‘bush’.


Demonstrative bases in Sn. and Dr. show striking resemblances as can be seen from the following table. These are prefixed to the elements indicating person, place, manner etc in Dr. whereas they are suffixed in the case of Sn.


Bases indicating the sense of :


  Proximity  Distance            Intermediate indefinite/relative          Interrogative


W.     -i              -a, -e                         -u                             -n


S.      -e             -a                             -u                             -n/m


P.      -o             -a                                                             -m


J.      -e             -a                             -u                             -n


Dr.      i-             a-                              u- *                         -n/y- /e-



[* The Dr. ‘u’ is still in usage among Ceylon Tamils. Tolkappiyam and Cankam literature mention this ‘u’ - Editor]



The following participial and abstract noun formative suffixes of Sn. Corresponds to Dr. suffixes of similar signification.



P. -o past participial and -oowa agentive; J. -a agentive, Dr. -a, ava, e.g P. windudu ‘written’, windoowo ‘writer’, janginoowa ‘teacher’, J. leb ‘to talk’, allaba ‘talkative’, tep ‘to build’ , ateba ‘builder’, Ka. Bareda ‘written’ baredava ‘ one who wrote’ etc.


W. aay and J.ay abstract noun formative and Dr. ay. Ta. Ay K. e etc, e.g. W. baax ‘good’, baaxaay ‘goodness;, rafet ‘be beautiful’, raftetaay ‘beauty’, gudda ‘be lomg’ , kudday ‘length’; J. apala ‘friend’ bapalay ‘friendship’, leb ‘to tak’ mulebay ‘scandal’; Ka. Hiri ‘big’ , elder’ hirime ‘greatness’, Ta. Nal ‘good’, nanmay ‘goodness’


W. it, iit abstract noun formative suffix and Ka. ita, ta . e.g W. deg ‘to cut’ degit ‘sharpness’, des ‘to remain’ desit ‘residue’, Ka. hari ‘ to cut’, harita ‘sharpness’, kuni ‘ to dnace, kunita ‘dance’.


W. kaay and P. iki formative suffix and Ka. ike e.g. W. faj ‘to nurse’ fajukaay ‘hospital’,  ate ‘to judge’, attekeay ‘tribunal’ , bind ‘to write’ bindukaay ‘instrument for writing, pen’ , P. and ‘to knoe’, andiki ‘knowledge;, wind ‘to write’ , bindiki ‘writng’, yar ‘to drink’ , jarki ‘drinking’, Ka. Haasu ‘to spread’ haastike ‘bed’, aalu ‘to rule’, aalike ‘ domination, rule’.


P. past tense suffix ‘i’ ‘finished action’ corresponds to Dr. I, it/id past tense suffix and ‘i’ past participial suffix, e.g. P. a wari ‘ he came’ a andi ‘ he knew’ o tuuri ‘ he vomited’ and Ma. pooyi, went Ka. maadi ‘ having done‘ .


W. wul, ul ‘negative suffix’ and J. ul ‘suffix for negative derivation for verbs; correspond to Dr. al, il, illa etc, and P. a, ata ‘nef=gative suffix’ corresponds to Dr. a, ate, ade, ada ‘ negative participial/ gerundial suffix’. E.g. W. bey ‘ to cultivate’, beyul ‘negative’, indi ‘to bring’ indiwul ‘did not bring’; J. kik ‘to stich’, kikul ‘to unstich’, gadul ‘to unhook’, fehlul ‘to untie’;  Old ta. Nill al-an ‘ he will not stand’, Ka. Nill-alla “does not stand’. P. war ‘to come’ warata ‘not coming’ , ta. Var ‘to come’, varaata’ not coming’, Tu. Bori ‘to milk’, boriyada ‘don’t milk’; Old Ma. Ceyyaa ‘ I will not do’ and P. mi andi ‘ I knew’ mi andaa ‘ I do not know’ , Ka. Maadu ‘ to do’, maada ;he may not do’.


W. al/l ‘imperative suffix’ corresponds to Dr. ali, la, le , alaam ‘imperative/permissive, e.g W. bindal ‘write’, indil ‘bring’ Tu. barela ‘write’ , barele ‘write’, (pl) Ka. bareyali ‘let  . . . . .  write’, Ta. varalaam ‘may come’



Many pronouns and pronominal elements in verbal constructions (like personal suffixes) in the two groups of languages contain common elements, e.g. W. man ‘I’ naa  I. P.sg; Ka. naan ‘I’ ne/nu I.p.sg.; W. yew ’you’, ya II.p.sg., nga II.p/sg, ngeen IIp.pl. J. aw, nu ‘you’ g., Tu. ii’you’, Ta. niinga ‘you’ nga IIp.hon., sg.; W.meen ‘he’, nae III p.sg., P. omo ‘he’ J. e “he’, Ta. avan ‘he’ etc.



J. e, ere ‘reflexive suffix’ and P. o to form middle voice (with reflexive meaning) correspond to Dr. o, onu, ollu, kollu etc , e.g. J. buj ‘to kill’ bujere ‘to kill oneself’; P. laata “to become’ , laato ‘to become’, middle voice; Ka. Oodu ‘to read’ oodika ‘read oneself’; Tu. Bare ‘to write’ bareyonu ‘write oneself’.


Both Dr. and Sn. Employ reduplication of these bases to emphasize meaning or to modify the sense in a similar manner. E.g. J. fan ‘more’ fanfan ‘very much’; funak ‘day’ funako-funak ‘every day’; W. xam ‘to know’, xam-xam ‘knowledge’; siin ‘region of Sine”, siin-siin ‘native of Sime’; gam ‘to hurt’, gaam-gaam ‘wound’; Ka. Beega ‘quick’, beega beega ‘veru quick’, maadi ‘having done’, maadi-maadi ‘having done again again ‘, ondu ‘one’ ondondu ‘one each’ .




A few sample lexical items from the basic vocabulary list are given below. The numbers at the end denote the corresponding entries of the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary by Burrow and Emeneau.


In Pular and Serer entries the slash separates singular and plural forms.


  1. Nature, Flora and Fauna


Village, settlement. P. wuro, Ta. Ma. Nk. uur id. Ka. Tu. Te. uuru id. Br. ura id. 643, Su. uru id.


Mountain, rock. P. haayre, Ka. hare ‘rock’, Kuwi. hooru id. 2356


Valley, pit. W. xur, S. xulub id. Ta. Ma. kuri id. Tu. quri id. Pa. kurub id. 1511.


Stone W. xeer, Ta. Ma. kal id. To. kas id. Ka. kallu id. Pa. kal id. Br.khal id. 1511


Mud ,clay W. ban, Ta. Ma. maN id. Ka. mannu id. Ta. mannu id. 3517.


Cloud , water (i) W. niir “cloud’ , Ta. Ma. niir ‘water’, ka. Ta. niiru id. Br. Diir id 3057. (ii) W. ndox ‘water’ P.ndiiyam id. Br. diir id. Ta. Ma. niir id. 3057.


Stream W. wel, J. kal id. Te. velli id. Ko. kolli id. 4529, 1777.


Dawn W. fajarm, S. fajar id. Ta. pular, pularcci id. Ma. pularuka id. Te. pulva id. 3531


Day-time , warmth W. beceg, Ka. beccaqe id.


Evening . W. W. biiq, Ka. bayqu id. Tu. bayya id. Ta, Ma. Vaiku id. Te. veequ id . 4570


Night W. quddi, Pa. quddi ‘black’ 1399.


Mon, month J Ien, Pa. lewuru id. Kuwi. lennju id. Pa. nelin id. Ga. nelin id. Ta. Ma. nilaa id. Kod. nelaci id. 3131


Tree W. qarah ‘tree’ nqarah ‘bush’ Ta. Ma. maram ‘tree’, Ka. Kod. Tu. mara id. Ko. marm id. Te. mraanu id. 3856


Sheep W. xar, Ta. Ma. kori id. Ka. kuri id. Kod. kori id. Br. khar ‘ram’ 1799 , 913 Bas. akar id.


Goat W. bey P. mbeewa/beyi id. Pa. meeva ‘goat’, meeya ‘she-goat’, Ga. meege ‘goat’, Ka. meeke ‘she-goat’ Te. meeka id. 4174.


Cattle, cow W. ng P. nagge/nayi id. S. naak id. Tu. naaku ‘female calf’ Ko. Naag ‘female buffalo calf’ Ta. naaku ‘female buffalo’ 3010


Dog W. xaj ‘dog’ kuti ‘puppy’ Te. kukka ‘dog’ Ta. kukkal id. kuuran id. Ta. ma. kutti ‘puppy’ 1496, 1581, 1371.


Elephant W. ney P. niiwa id. S. faniig id. J.nnaab id. Ta. yaanay, aanay id. Ma. aanaa id. Ka. aane id. Te. eenuga id. Konda eeni id. Pa. eenu id. 3268.


Horse W. fas, pas, P. pucu id. S. pis id. J. piling id. Ta. Ma. Pari id. Tu. payyeru id. To. parc id 3268.


Tiger, panther, leopard W. segg ‘tiger’ P. cewungu id. J. smay id. Ma. Civinni ‘leopard’ Ka. sivangi ‘tiger-wolf’ Ta. civinki id. Te. civangi id 2126.


Bird W. picc, Te. pitta id. Kol. Go, pitte id. Kui. Pota id. 3418, 3673.


Snake (i) fangool/ pangool , Ta. Ma. paampu id. Te. paamu id. Pa. baam id. Ko.paab id. To. poob id 3361. (ii) W. jaan id. P.njaawa id. Pa. jeeri id. Go. seeri id. Ko.jeeringga id . 2314.


Spider W. jargon, P. njabale id. Ta. jaadajeeda, Tu. jaadye id.


Lizard P. pallardi, ta. Ma. Palli , 3294


Scorpian W. jeit Ta. Ma. teeL id. Ka. Tu. ceel id.


Tortoise (i) P. amere/ame Ta. aamai id. Ma. aama id. Ka. aamaa id. Tu. eeme id 4282 (ii) J. ekub id. Kur. ekka id. Mal. eke id. 660


II. Household and Agriculture


House, hut (i) P. galle J. elun id. Te. illu id. Ta. il id. Tu. ill id. Nk. ella id. 420. Bas. ili id. Nu. il (ii) W. ker id. Ta. kuti kuticai id. Ko. kurji id. Kui. kuuri id. Tu. kotta ‘hut’ 1713. Br. Kur id.


Door P. baafal W. bunt id. Ka. baagil id. Ta. vaacal, vaayil id. Ma. vaatil id. Te. vaakili id. 4386.


Corner W. kon S. koon id. Ta. koonai id. Ka. kone id. Ma. Konna id. 1808


Pestle. P. unugal Ta. ulakkai id. Ma. ulaka id. Ka. onake id . 580


Pot W. paana ‘metal pot’ Ta. paanai ‘eathern pot’ , Ma. pane id. Ka. bane id. Kod. paani id. Tu. paani id. 3394


Charcoal W. kerin P. kaata id. Ta. Ma. kari id. Ka. Tu. kari id. Ta. karu ‘black’ 1073


Smoke W. saxaar, J. fakor id. Ta. Ma. pukai id. Ka. Kod. poge id.  Te. poga id. Nk. pog id. 3483


Salt W. xoron Ta. kaar “to be saltish, pungent’, kaaram id. Ma. kaaram id. Ka. kaara id. Te. kaaru ‘salt’ Br. Khareen ‘bitter’ 1227


Clarified butter S. new Ta. Ma. Ka. Tu. ney id. Pa. nev id. Go. In id. Kui niiju id. Kuwi niiyu id 3104


Cultivation W. bey ‘to cultivate’ mbey ‘cultivation’ ambey ‘crop’ Tu. bey ‘ to cultivate’ benni ‘cultivation’ bule ‘crop’ Ka. bele ‘crop’ ‘to grow’ Ta. vilay id. 4473, 4464


Manure J. aroka Ta. eru id. To. Eruvu id. Ka. erubu, eeru id. 696


Net W. mbaal S. mbaal id. J. mabal id. Ka. bale id. Ta. valai id. Ma. Vala id. Ga. Valla id. 4326


Boat raft W. gal Ta. kool, koola id. Ka. kool id. Te. koolamu id. Pa. kulla id 1853


Rice W. eeb Ta. Ma. cooru ‘cooked rice’ 2360


Millot W. suuna, P. sunna id. Kol. sonna id. Kuwi. zoona id. To. joona id. Pa. jenne id. Go. jonaa id. 2359.



III Kinship Terms and Body Parts.


Person J.an S. kin id. W. nit id. Ta. Ma. Ka. aan ‘person, male’ , an ‘masculine suffix’ 342.


Mother W. yaay, S. yaay id. J. inaay id. Ta. aay, yaay, naay, taay id. Ka. aavi, taavi id. Ga. Aava id. Mal. avva id. 308, 53


Father W. baay, P. baaba id. S. baab id. J. ampa id. Ka. appa id. Ta. appan id. Te. appa id. Go. aapa id. 133 Su. ab id. Cau. ab id.


Child J. anil/kunil Ma. kunnu, kunci id. Ko. kuni id. Kod. kunni id. 1371.


Husband J. ata Ta. attaan ‘husband’, ‘maternal uncle’s son’ ‘ man of eminence’ ‘sister’s husband’ 121


Grandfather W. maammaat ‘great grand-father’ maam ‘greandfather’ P. maamiraado id. S. maamkor id. Ta. maama ‘uncle’ ‘a term of address to eladers’ muuttaar ‘aged persons’ mutu ‘aged, old’ Ka. mudimi id. 4057


Master W. berem, Ta. perum ‘great;, periya ‘great, elder’ Te. perime ‘authroity’ Ga. Berit ‘big’ Go. biriya ‘big’


Nephew J. anol ‘nephew’ alol ‘son-in-law, cousin’ Ka. aliya ‘son-in-law’ Tu. aliya id. Te. alludu id. Ma. Aniyan ‘younger brother’ 256.


Maiden W.janx, J. ajana id. W. jeeg ‘married woman’ Tu. jeevn ‘maiden’ 2311.


Friend W. xarit S. kuud id. Ma. kuuraan id. Ka. keleyan 1577, 1678.


Body W. yaram S. cer id. Ta. uru id. uruvam id. To. urp id. Kol. urp id 566.


Head (i) S. xoox J. fu-ko id. Kur. kukk id. Mal. kuku id. 1358. (ii) W. bapp id. Te. burra id. Ka. burude id. 3553. Bas. Buru id. (iii) P. hoore id. Ka. hore ‘head-load’ hour ‘to carry on head’.


Lip W. tun P. tondu id. Ta. Ka. titi Go. tote id. Kui. Tooda id. 2698


Eye-lash J. kamoy/umay Ta. imay id. Ka. Tu. ime id. 2097.


Ear J. kaos Br. khaf id. Ka. kivi id. Tu. kebi id. Kur. khebda id. 1645.


Neck P. geenul S. goddul id. Te. gontu id. Ka. gantalu id. 1428


Hand (i) J. kangen, kaban S. kand id. Ta. Ma. Ka. kay 1681


Finger W. baaram, Ka. beral id. Ta. Ma. viral id. Ko. bera id. 4436


Heart  W. xol J. xoor id. Ko. karl id. Ma. karal, kari id. Ka. karul id. 1070


Blood W. deret Br. Ditar id. Go. nattur id. Te. netturu id. Ka. nettaru id. 3106.


Belly W. biir Go. piir id. Ko. viir id. Ta. vayiRu id. Ka. basaru id. 4299.


Leg P. kovngal Ta. Ma. Kaal id. Ka. kaalu id. Na. kaalu id. Tu. kaari id. 1238.


Skin  P. nguru/guri Ta. uri, urivai id. Ma. Uri id 561.





IV Verbs of Common Action etc



Eat , lick W. an ‘eat’ naam’ lick’ P. naam ‘eat’ S. naam id. Ta. Ma. un ‘eat’ nakku’lick, Ka. unnu ‘eat’  nakku ‘lick’ Te. naaku id. Pa. neek id. Kui. Naaka id. Ka. nanju id. 516, 2945, 2956


Drink P. var S. var id. J. raan id. Ta. paruku id. Ma. parukuka id. Tu. par id. 3279.


Come P. ar , wara S. gari id. J. rin id. Ta. varu id. Ma. Varuka id. Ka. baru id. Br. Bar id. Mal. hare id. 4311.


Say W. ne Ta. en id.  Ma. ennuka id. Ka. en id. Ta. an id. Mal. anc id. Kur. aannaao id. 737.


Learn J. kaliken Ka. kali id. Tu. kalpu id. Ta. Ma. Kal id. 1090.


Beget , give birth to W. jur J. eron id. Ta. peru id. Ma. peruka id. Ka. per id. Kod. per id. 3622.


Die W. saay ‘to die’ used for king’s death. P. sooyta id. Ka. saay id. Tu. say id. Ta. caay id. Ma. caaka id. Ga. say id. Kui. Saava id. 2002.


Hope P. kori Ta. kooru id. Ma. kooruta id. Ka. Ta. kooru id. Ga. koor id. 1848


Want, desire W. begg Ka. beeku id. Tu. boodu id. Ta. veenum id. 4548.


Spill, vomit W. tuur, P. tuur id. Ka. Te. tuuru id. Ta. tuppu id. Te. tuppukku id. 2795, 2725.


Steal J. kuut S. kuud ‘thief’ Ka. kadi ‘to steal’, kalla ‘theirf’ Ta. kal ‘to steal To. Kol id. Tu. kalu id. 1156.


Milk P. bir, Tu. bori id. Br. Bir id.


End, finish W. muji Ta. Ma. Muti id. Ka. muqi id. Ma. Motiyuka id. Ko. murc id. Te. muudu id. 4031.