We continue to have crazies coming here proposing the OIT (Out of India Theory) of Indo-European. The theory is a pitiful joke and has virtually no support among any mainstream academics. In fact, it is so ludicrous that the mainstream does not even bother to respond to the respond to the arguments, because they are deemed not worthy of response.
What is sad, and frightening, is that almost every intelligent or intellectual Indian I have ever met is a fervent supporter of the OIT. They have all the arguments down pat, and they roll them right out for you. Supporting the OIT goes along with opposition to the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT) which the Indians hate. The idea is that “our history came from the White man.”
Indians hate Whites, mostly due to British colonialism, so the idea that the White man came to India and gave them quite a bit of their civilization and their religion is resisted ferociously.
What’s pitiful is that the smartest Indians believe the most insane and stupid things. There is something deeply sick and wrong with Indians, and Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism are exemplary of that sickness. As with all fanatic nationalisms, Indian nationalism stems from deep-seated feelings of inferiority. This sense of inferiority was magnified by colonialism.
In recent years, the rejection has spread to all things Western. I know an Indian man who almost refuses to patronize Western medicine, I suppose because it is the medicine of the White man. Instead, he believes in some weirdness called Ayurvedic medicine. His fury and hatred towards Western medicine is shocking to behold.
Nevertheless, their ridiculous arguments must be refuted, because they have so much support inside India, along with some support outside of India.
That they have support outside India can be seen in the comments of Sojournertroof in the comments section. This fellow is an anti-White White man. He supports the OIT simply because it is anti-White, that is, the OIT is in opposition to the AMT which is seen as a pro-White theory.
Hydrology. Much of the OIT is based, believe it or not, on hydrology. It is true that rivers in the north of India all have Indo-Aryan names, not Dravidian or Munda names. Dravidian and Munda were the language families spoken in India before the arrival of the Indo-Aryans. The idea is that since the Indo-Aryans were migrants, some of the earlier names should have been retained. Since they were not, obviously, the Aryans must have been indigenous to India.
What must have occurred was total replacement of the earlier names with new names for the rivers. As language replacement in North India was total (all North Indians speak Indo-Aryan languages) apparently they changed the old names of the rivers to new Indo-Aryan names.
The Sarasvati River. This is one of their favorite arguments. The argument goes something along the lines that this river existed 6000 YBP, and therefore the OIT is correct.
No one quite knows what river we are referring to here. The Sarasvati appears to be two rivers. The earliest Rigveda references are probably to the Helmand River in Afghanistan. Later references are to the Ghaggar River. But the Sarasvati is always this sort of mystical unseen river in the Rigveda. It became fuzzy and mystical early on. So all arguments about the Sarasvati are null and void anyway.
The OIT is counterintuitive. Exactly what evidence is there that IE speakers left India, moving north towards the steppes 6500 YBP, then moved to Persia 5000 YBP, then moved to Arabia and Anatolia 4000 YBP? Yet somehow it took them a full 2,500 years to even cross the Ural River. The theory is insane.
After much debate, in the 1990’s, the Journal of Indo-European Studies (JIES) granted the OIT folks a chance to show their stuff. The issue was so contentious that JIES had to void peer review in order to publish the issue, which was authored by an OIT proponent named Kazanas. Kazanas is a crank operating out of Greece who has picked up on the OIT. In the next two issues of JIES, Kazanas was utterly demolished, and the matter has not come up again.
Lack of memories of an Urheimat. An Urheimat is a homeland. The homeland of the Indo-Aryans is in the north, on the steppes of Russia. Yet there is a lack of legends of memories of this homeland or any migration, so this is said to be evidence that there was no AMT. However, most peoples lack memories of their migrations from wherever they came from to wherever they ended up. This is true even in Europe. The Greeks had no memories of any immigration to their lands, though they clearly came from somewhere.
Nevertheless, Harvard professor and Sanskrit expert Michael Witzel notes:
It has frequently been denied that the Rig Veda contains any memory or information about the former homeland(s) of the Indo-Aryans. […] However, in the RV there are quite a few vague reminiscences of former habitats, that is, of the Bactria-Margiana area, situated to the north of Iran and Afghanistan, and even from further afield.
Such a connection can be detected in the retention by the Iranians of Indo-Aryan river names and in the many references in the RV to mountains and mountain passes.
Also, there are some sources in the Vedas or in the Gathas that point toward a migration of the Indo-Iranians from Central Asia, including the Zend Avesta – Vendidad: Fargard 1:
“…There (Airyanem Vaejah – “Land of the Aryans”) are ten winter months there, two summer months; and those are cold for the waters, cold for the earth, cold for the trees…”
That is a description of the cold steppes of Central Asia. There are also descriptions of warfare being waged by the semi-nomadic Vedic and Avestan populations against urbanized people who were not “Arya.”
The sequence of the AMT was as follows: The speakers of the linguistically slightly later, though still pre-Iron Age Indo-Aryan language, then moved into Arachosia (*Sarasvatī > Avestan Hara aitī), Swat (Suvåstu) and Punjab (Sapta Sindhu), before 3200-3000 YBP – depending on the local date of the introduction of iron.
We can trace the movements of the AMT by the introduction of iron, that is, they brought metals with them, in particular iron smelting technology. They also brought stone forts, chariots and horses. We can trace all of these things in the archeological record and they are powerful evidence for the AMT.
Recently, Armenians have come out with an Armenian Theory of Indo-European which states that Armenia was the homeland of Indo-European. It is almost universally rejected, yet pitifully it has much more support for it than there is for the OIT.
Genetic evidence. One of the major R1 clades, R1a1, associated with Indo-European, has indeed been traced back to India. However, this is not evidence for the OIT, since this clade goes back to 18,000 YBP, long before IE existed into far pre-IE times. Long after the clade was birthed, some members of the clade left India to go towards Europe and the steppes, where they became the IE peoples. There is a lot of debate going on now about R1a1, but none of the points being debated detract from the theory of Bronze Age Indo-Aryans moving into India.
There are also reports that there are little to no Central Asian genes in Indians, that is, there are few if any genetic markers of Aryan migration. Yet many invasions leave no genetic trace later on, and genetics generally gives little to no support for or against prehistoric migrations. It’s quite common. For instance, there is no trace of Italian genes in the British, but does this prove that there was no Roman invasion? Clearly, there was a Roman invasion.
There are also few to no Central Asian genes in Europeans either, but Europeans speak IE languages, and these languages came out of the steppes. By the way, there are also no South Asian genes in Europeans. We should expect some of those if OIT is correct, no?
Anthropomorphic evidence. What do IE speakers look like? They look like Europeans. Even the IE speakers in Central and South Asia look quite European. Afghans, Pakistanis, Iranians and North Indians look strikingly European. This is because of their IE roots. The IE people were an European/Caucasoid appearing people. Notice the striking difference in appearance between North Indians and South Indians or Dravidians.
If IE speakers all came out of India and moved to Europe, everyone should look like people from India. But this is not the case. Even Iranians don’t look like people from India. No one does. Only people from India look like Indians.
There is indeed a Dravidian substrate in Indo-Aryan, which is what would be expected if Dravidian speakers gave up speaking Dravidian and started speaking Indo-Aryan. It’s true that there are few Dravidian loans, and the substrate cannot be seen in hydrology. But the substrate is nevertheless clear, as is influence on Indo-Aryan from Munda languages.
Thomason and Kaufman note that the substrate looks like what we would expect in the case of language shift, and language shift is what occurred as Dravidian speakers shifted to Indo-Aryan. The Dravidian speakers appear to have shifted to Indo-Aryan yet retained their Dravidian accent.
Among IE tongues, only Indo-Aryan has a full set of phonemic contrasting retroflex consonants. Dravidian also has a full set of phonemic contrasting retroflex consonants dating all the way back to proto-Dravidian. Obviously, this set was borrowed from Dravidian into Indo-Aryan.
In terms of Dravidian loans, there are in fact some:
…numerous loanwords and even structural borrowings from Dravidian have been identified in Sanskrit texts composed in northwestern India at the end of the second and first half of the first millennium BCE, before any intensive contact between North and South India. External evidence thus suggests that the Harappans most probably spoke a Dravidian language.
The most obvious explanation of this situation is that the Dravidian languages once occupied nearly all of the Indian subcontinent, and it is the intrusion of Indo-Aryans that engulfed them in north India leaving but a few isolated enclaves.
Zero evidence of Munda and Dravidian influence in the rest of IE. If IE came out of India, all IE languages should show influence of Munda and Dravidian. Instead, only Indo-Aryan does. Therefore, Indo-Aryan moved into India and came in contact with Munda and Dravidian, and IE could not possibly have come out of India.
No accounting for IE once out of India. The OIT is great at talking about the Indian origin of IE, but is terrible at anything outside of that. There is no account of models of language development of IE after leaving India, or how IE is supposed to have spread elsewhere. Once IE is out of India, the OIT folks forget about their theory. It’s crazy.
Timeframes in the Rigveda. There is no reliable historical dating of anything in India prior to the 1500’s. So all Indian texts prior to that time must be treated very dubiously in terms of dating. There is no way to date anything in the Rigveda reliably, since the Rigveda uses no reliable method for dating.
Hindu culture is strongly ahistoric. It is not interested in dates and events. The fact that Hindu culture is so hostile to history itself and so lacking any sense of history is what opens up this whole field for debate. Hindus simply lack the ability to imagine that there is such a thing as historical change.
Archeoastronomy. This is a very dubious field. B. B. Lal uses archeoastronomy in an effort to buttress his OIT. However, the use of this method is treacherous. The model attempts to date astronomical events on the basis of astronomical calculations and is rife with error and speculation. Nevertheless, there are archeoastonomical journals. Lal’s theory has never been submitted to or discussed in any of these journals, therefore the validity of his claims is dubious. Even Lal notes that his theory is widely discredited.
The Bangani language. This language is referred to nowadays as Garhwali. Claus Peter Zoller claimed to have found Centum elements in Garhwali, which if true, would boost the OIT. Centum is part of the Satem-Centum split in IE that occurred about 4000 YBP with the splitoff of Indo-Aryan from the rest of IE. The split occurred on the steppes of Central Asia. Zoller made his claim eight years ago. No one believed him at the time, and that’s where the debate stands.
It appears that what he found instead dates from the Indo-Greek or Kushan periods of Indian history and has somehow persisted for about 2,000 years. That’s remarkable if true, but in no way does it support OIT. At any rate, most scholars don’t even believe that there is any Centum left in Garhwali, and most who do are fringe cases. Bangani-Centum is discredited and lies in ruins.
Occam’s Razor. OIT is so complex. India is a marginal area of IE distribution, not a central area. The main area of IE languages, with the greatest variety, is in Europe, especially southeastern Europe. This is obviously the linguistic center of gravity for IE. If OIT was true, we would not expect India to be such a marginal territory for IE languages.
OIT requires more and longer migrations than the standard theory in order for all of the branches to leave India. It requires a much more complex chronology in terms of isoglosses and archeology. The archaic shared isoglosses such as Satem/Centum are in Central Asia. Further, it requires the re-invention of the chariot by Indians, since they could not have acquired the Aryan chariot from Aryan migrants.
It requires all sorts of complex arguments of internal Indo-Aryan development to explain what appears to be substrate influence from Dravidian. In addition, all of this internal mess must have occurred in a short period of time – from the time between when the last Indic group left India to the beginning of the writing of the Rigveda. In contrast, the Dravidian substrate theory is much simpler.
The Kurgan theory is better. The Kurgan people fit the accepted time frame, expand their territory archeologically with time and have the basic cultural patterns of an IE people close to the center of linguistic diversity. Therefore, the Kurgan theory fits the IE model much better than OIT.
OIT requires an early dating of the Rigveda. The Rigveda is the ultimate book of Hindu literature. OIT proponents take the Rigveda back as far as 6000 years, but this is not possible, as the split between Indic and the rest of Indo-Aryan happened no earlier than 4000 years ago, even according to OIT. Furthermore, such an ancient date for the Vedas would have to reflect a Stone Age society, and the Vedas do not reflect that. The Rigveda cannot possibly be dated further back than 3,500-4000 YBP.
OIT seems to require a 7000 YBP date for the Rigveda. This is beyond the realm of possibility. Chariots? Horses? Stone forts? Metals? The culture of the early Rigveda is 2nd millennium BCE – 3,000-4,000 YBP. The Bronze Age. It’s as clear as air.
Vedic is much older than Hittite. This is a central claim of OIT folks and is necessary for their argument. It’s patently ridiculous.
Sanskrit is archaic. So what? So are Greek and Hittite, and none date back but a few thousand years. Ancient traits in IE are most commonly observed in Baltic and Hittite. Do IE reconstructions appear Vedic? Not at all. PIE look nothing like Vedic.
Horses. Horses are not indigenous to India. Horses are often seen on Vedic Aryan seals dating back 2,500-3,000 YBP. Obviously, horses, along with iron, came with the Aryan migrants.
PIE culture. The reconstructed PIE language does not fit with India. It fits with a much colder place, probably to the north of India on the steppes. India had a highly civilized culture before the arrival of the Aryans – these were the Dravidians. The PIE people did not have a highly civilized culture – instead, they were nomads, pastoralists and horse-riding warriors.
For OIT to be correct, the highly civilized Indians would have had to have lost the civilization and degenerated into a less civilized nomadic culture without writing or architecture (they lost their writing and architecture with the move to the steppes) after they left India, which then went to Europe.
This does not follow according to history. Less civilized cultures develop into more civilized ones and not the other way around. According the standard theory, less civilized Aryans contacted more civilized Dravidians and the result was Indian high culture – the Aryans went from a less civilized stage to a more civilized one, as we expect.
Early dates for Indo-Aryan don’t prove OIT. Early dates for Indo-Aryan are compatible with standard theories of IE development. The Anatolian homeland theory, which I subscribe to, pushes Indo-Aryan back to 4,600 YBP, which seems a stretch. Renfrew pushes Proto-Indo-Aryan all the way back to 5,000 YBP.
Red herrings. OIT proponents have all sorts of red herrings about the AMT. One of them is “there was no Aryan invasion.” But AMT proponents have abandoned the invasion theory a long time ago. Another is that there is no way that inferior horse-riding nomads of the steppes could have create the wonderfully complex language of Sanskrit, the Vedas, complex Indian culture, etc.
First of all, cultural complexity and linguistic complexity are not the same thing. Uncivilized peoples can speak very complex languages. Anyway, nomads did not bring fully-formed Sanskrit to India. Sanskrit, the Vedas, Hinduism, etc. were created in India by the confluence between Aryans and Dravidians.
This is a frankly racist argument anyway – that Central Asians were too stupid to create the great Indian culture – only wonderful Indians could do that. There is also a racist assumption that Sanskrit is better than other languages – or that it is the greatest language of all.
Physical anthropology. Skeletons look similar all over India for many thousands of years, so there is no evidence of an Aryan migration. Skeletons look similar all over Europe for thousands of years too. Continuity is typical in anthropology.
Northern Dravidian. There are isolated pockets of Dravidian speakers in the northern part of South Asia. These are obviously the remnants of a large area in northern South Asia that was entirely Dravidian speaking. Indo-Aryan speakers moved in, and there was mass language shift except for a few pockets here and there, the lingering pockets being just as we would expect in the case of mass language shift.
Horses. Horses have long been associated with IE societies, even in the Vedas. However, there were no horses in India at the time of the supposed migration out of India.
Impression of validity. Most of the arguments for the OIT are misleading, gratuitous, irrelevant or biased. They are pushed by kooks, nuts, chauvinists and fringe types. Mainstream academics usually don’t consider them worthy of a reply, contradiction or debunking, so the OIT arguments remain unanswered. This gives the impression that the theory carries some kind of weight. This is the case with a lot of fringe science, and OIT is very much fringe science.
Linguistic center of gravity. The linguistic center of gravity for IE is in Europe, specifically somewhere around the Balkans. Most branches are in Europe – Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Albanian, Greek and various extinct branches. The Balkans seems to be the center of gravity for IE, clearly not where IE originated, but possibly a secondary spread inside of Europe. Central and South Asia appear to be ruled out.
Confusion of arguments. Typically, OIT arguments take the form of, “There was no Aryan migration into India.” That is, they argue against the AMT and not for the OIT. They waste all their breath on the AMT, attempting to disprove it, but then when evidence comes for migration out of India as required by the OIT, they are silent. OIT and AMT are separate arguments. You do not prove OIT by “disproving” AMT.
- Mallory, JP. 1998. “A European Perspective on Indo-Europeans in Asia.” In: The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern and Central Asia. Ed. Mair. Washington DC: Institute for the Study of Man.
Parpola, Asko. 1998. “Aryan Languages, Archaeological Cultures, and Sinkiang: Where Did Proto-Iranian Come into Being and How Did It Spread?”, in Mair, The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern and Central Asia. Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of Man.
Witzel, Michael. May 2001. Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts. Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 7(3): 1-11.