From: Piotr Gasiorowski
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2003 6:41 AM
Subject: Re: [tied] Why are Horses Vedic Again?
> Piotr, with much respect for your reasoned approach to this, I have to ask you what "good reasons there are to believe that the split of Indo-Iranian into smaller groups took place about 2000 BC"? You mention the historical migrations and "We know of a language with Indic features (but in some respects more archaic than Vedic) that came into contact with Mitanni Hurrian about 1400 BC. This suggests that pre-Indo-Aryan
was spreading across the region alongside early forms of Iranian." If this is the extent of the evidence in favor of the last unity of I-Ir happening at 2000BC, I have to suggest it is not very compelling. From the best I can tell, the Mitanni evidence doesn't point to Indo-Iranian but to an already separate Indic branch of I-Ir. So how would that date proto-IIr?
That dates Proto-IIr. before 1400 BC, of course. There are early Finno-Ugric loans from seems to be still undifferentiated IIr. somewhere near the FU homeland -- more likely the Volga basin than India. In Vedic/Avestan times Indic and Iranian the differentiation of Indo-Iranian was not yet very far advanced. Whole sentences from the Rigveda or the Avesta can be translated into the other language word-for-word and morpheme-for-morpheme, just taking into account the phonological correspondences (like Skt. s- : Av. h-, Skt. s' : Av. s, etc.). Arguments based on expected rates of change are inherently shaky, but, presumably due to the complex contact situation in Central Asia and India, the tempo of change in both groups was rather high -- it's enough to look at the dramatic changes between Old and Middle Indic, or Old and Middle Iranian. It depends on what features you look at, but in many respects Avestan and Vedic can be considered less different than Old English and Old Norse. It's hard to believe that their separate development was longer than a few centuries.
A late 3rd millennium date for Proto-Indo-Iranian (with Indic breaking off ca. 2000 BC if not slightly later) also allows us to fit the branch ito a more general scenario of IE dispersals, allowing sufficient time for the rise and fragmentation of the Satem block, etc. I don't claim to have incontrovertible proofs for such dates, but there's a lot of "distributed" evidence that makes sense cumulatively if we accept it. Note that there are absolutely no traces of contacts between any Indo-Iranian groups and the literate peoples of the Middle East and Mezopotamia before ca. 1400 BC.