Book announcement: Harosheth Hagoyim - Smithy of nations (S. Kalyanaraman,
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Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Sarasvati Research Center (August 22, 2012)
El-Ahwat excavations in Israel identify the location as Harosheth hagoyim.
The original word is pronounced khar-o-sheth. The place is mentioned in
Judges 4.2 of the Bible, Old Testament. Bronze-age contacts extended from
El-Ahwat on Kishon river to Rakhigarhi on Sarasvati River.
Seafaring merchants traded across the Persian Gulf and from Mt. Mustagh Ata
of Tocharian speakers of Turkmenistan who traded in ancu ‘iron’ (cognate
amsu ‘soma’) to Caspian Sea across many regions of Ancient Near East
This Harosheth hagoyim, ‘smithy of nations’ also evolved early writing
systems like Indus script, cuneiform, Aramaic and kharosti. This is a
multi-disciplinary account of cultural contacts – discovered in
archaeological, metallurgical and language studies -- with inventions in
smelting, alloying, chariot-making and writing systems, in an extensive
region of 2nd millennium BCE with links between Harosheth hagoyim and
Proto-Indian speakers/artisans/traders of the smithy of nations.
The raison d’etre for this account is to call for more studies to unravel
the nature and chronological evolution of the smithy of nations spurred by
contacts among traders, artisans and technology innovators of ancient
civilizations surrounding the Ancient Near East. During the 3rd millennium
BCE, a veritable revolution in the history of civilizations was unleashed
with the invention of the smithy supported by the crucible and the forge.
The ability to identify metallic minerals, to smelt them, to alloy them to
create new metals provided for the next stages of casting ingots and
forging metal tools and weapons including ploughshares for the plows, axes,
harrows, sickles, swords, knives, linchpins to hold the hubs of axles of
spoked-wheels of carts and chariots. These resultant technological
developments led to the establishment of state power using improved
mobility of troops engaged in warfare, issues of coins from mints and
development of markets involving improved seafaring and rapid
land-transport of surplus products in bulk for trade activities by caravans
of manufactory artisan guilds, merchants’ guilds.
Social institutions got transformed beyond recognition as cultures evolved
from the chalcolithic era into the bronze-age. The invention of smithy was
thus developed further as a trans-state institution of smithy of nations, a
development recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible, calling this
Harosheth hagoyim. The smithy guilds operating in a variety of new
corporate forms, extended their reach beyond state boundaries to become the
smithy of nations to meet the demand for metals, metallic tools and weapons
produced in the smithy and merchandising them across an expansive
interaction area of Eurasia. This development, together with the associated
invention of writing systems for bills of lading and other trade
transactions, transformed the lebensraum (living space) of bronze-age
civilizations of the Ancient Near East.
A profound cultural consequence was the formation/evolution of linguistic
areas (language unions or sprachbunds such as the Indian sprachbund) with
free exchanges of semantic clusters and other language features. The
reconstruction of glosses and other language features of Proto-Indian will
help evaluate, conclusively, the claims of decipherment of Indus writing.
This monograph has not attempted to resolve the polemics of dating and
relative chronology of Rigveda and Avestan and directions of migrations of
Proto-Indian people. Further studies in the identification of isoglosses,
demarcating several linguistic features relatable Indian sprachbund will
complement the contributions by studies in Proto-Indo-European and help
delineate the cultural framework of the formation and evolution of
languages in Indian *sprachbund*. The apparent semantic links between
Tocharian and Indian sprachbund call for a rethink of Proto-Indo-European
(PIE) dispersal theories.
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