Journal : Alternate History

 Presentation of evidence for Indo-European homeland continues …

after the researched linguistic evidence earlier placed before you.

Florentine merchant Filippo Sassetti travelled to the Indian subcontinent, and was among the first European observers to study the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit. Writing in 1585, he noted some word similarities between Sanskrit and Italian, e.g. deva/dio, “God”, sarpa/serpe, “snake”,sapta/sette, “seven”, ashta/otto, “eight”, nava/nove, “nine”. This observation is today credited to have foreshadowed the later discovery of the Indo-European language family.



We have already examined the evidence in the Rig Veda which proves that the original Indo-Iranian habitat was in India and that the Iranians migrated westward and north-westward from India. 

We will now examine further literary evidence regarding the location of the original Indo-European homeland in India, under the following heads : 

A. Tribes and Priests.
B. The Three Priestly Classes.
C. The Anu-Druhyu Migrations.


Tribes and Priests

The political history of the Vedic period involves various segregate communities who fall within its contemporary ambit. They are the five major tribal groups mentioned in Rig Veda : Yadus, TurvaSas, Anus, Druhyus and Purus. Tthe TRkSis are not included because they are referred to as people beyond the Vedic Aryan realm. 

It is emphasised however that the Rig Veda hymns are composed under the patronage of Purus, who alone among the five named above are Aryas or Aryans, as is meant in the text. Only the PUrus are addressed as “Arya” in the Rig Veda. The other four may or may not have been of the same racial stock but, to the Rigvedic people and the composers of Rig Veda hymns, they are considered and termed as non-Aryans or “an-Arya”. 

This brings us to the second division of people, of those whom the Rig Veda hymns include in mention and references : with Aryas – the Purus – on one part, and the other part comprising of Yadus, TurvaSas, Anus and Druhyus, 

But there are two distinct words by which the Rig Veda refers to these others :

a. DAsas 

b. Dasyus 

It is necessary to understand the distinction between the two words. 

The word DAsa is found in 54 hymns (63 verses) :

I.   32.11; 92.8; 103.3; 104.2; 158.5; 174.7; 

II.  11.2, 4; 12.4; 13.8; 20.6, 7; 

III.  12.6; 34.1; 

IV.  18.9; 28.4; 30.14, 15, 21; 32.10; 

V.  30.5, 7-9; 33.4; 34.6; 

VI.  20.6, 10; 22.10; 25.2; 26.5; 33.3;  47.21; 60.6; 

VII.  19.2; 83.1; 86.7; 99.4; 

VIII.  5.31; 24.27; 32.2; 40.6; 46.32; 51.9;  56.3, 70.10, 96.18; 

X.  22.8; 23.2; 38.3; 49.6, 7; 54.1; 62.10; 69.6;
73.7; 83.1; 86.19; 99.6; 102.3; 120.2;  138.3; 148.2.


The word Dasyu is found in 65 hymns (80 verses) :

I   33.4, 7, 9; 36.18; 51.5, 6, 8; 53.4; 59.6;
63.4; 78.4; 100.18; 101.5; 103.3, 4; 104.5;
117.3, 21; 175.3. 

II 11.18, 19; 12.10; 13.9: 15.9; 20.8;
III. 29.9; 34.6, 9; 49.2
IV. 16.9, 10, 12; 28.3, 4; 38.1;
V. 4.6; 7.10; 14.4; 29.10; 30.9; 31.5, 7; 70.3;
VI. 14.3; 16.15; 18.3; 23.2; 24.8; 29.6; 31.4; 45.24;
VII. 5.6; 6.3; 19.4;
VIII. 6.14; 14.14; 39.8; 50.8; 70.11; 76.11; 77.3;  98.6;
IX. 41.2; 47.2; 88.4; 92.5;
X. 22.8; 47.4; 48.2; 49.3; 55.8; 73.5; 83.3, 6;
95.7; 99.7, 8; 105.7, 11; 170.2.

There are two distinct aspects that differentiates the DAsas and Dasyus : 

  1. The term DAsa clearly refers to other tribes (ie. non-PUru tribes)

while the term Dasyu refers to their priestly classes (ie. non-Vedic priestly classes).

[This is apart from the fact that both the terms are freely used to refer to the atmospheric demons as much as to human enemies to whom they basically refer.]

a.  According to IV. 28.4, the Dasyus are a section among the DAsas.

b.  The Dasyus are referred to in terms which clearly show

      that the cause of hostility is religious in nature : 

ayajña (worshipless): VII.6.3.
ayajvan (worshipless): I.33.4; VIII.70.11.
avrata (riteless): I.51.8; 175.3; VI.14.3; IX.41.2.
akarmA (riteless): X.22.8.
adeva (godless): VIII.70.11.
aSraddha (faithless): VII.6.3.
amanyamAna (faithless): I.33.9; 11.22.10.
anyavrata (followers of different rites): VIII.70.11; X.22.8.
abrahma (prayerless): IV.16.9.

Not one of these abusive terms are used even once in reference to Dasas. 

c.  The family-wise pattern of references to them also shows

that the Dasyus are priestly rivals while the DAsas are secular rivals.

The Dasyus are referred to by all the nine priestly families of RSis,

but never by the non-priestly family of RSis (the Bharatas).

The DAsas are referred to by the Bharatas (X.69.6; 102.3) also but not by the most purely ritualistic family of RSis, the KaSyapas, nor in the purely ritualistic of MaNDalas, the MaNDala IX. 

d.  The Dasyus, being priestly entities, do not figure as powerful persons or persons to be feared, but the DAsas, being secular entities (tribes, tribal warriors, kings, etc.) do figure as powerful persons or persons to be feared:

In three references (VIII.5.31; 46.32; 51.9), the DAsas are rich patrons.

In seven references, the DAsas are powerful enemies from whose fury and powerful weapons the composers ask the Gods for protection (I.104.2; VIII.24.27; X.22.8; 54.1; 69.6; 102.3) or from whom the Gods rescue the RSis (I.158.5).

In three others, the word DAsa refers to powerful atmospheric demons who hold the celestial waters in their thrall (I.32.11; V.30.5; VIII.96.18).

In contrast, Dasyus never figure as rich or powerful enemies. They are depicted as sly enemies who incite others into acts of boldness (VI.24.8). 

e. While both DAsas and Dasyus are referred to as enemies of the Aryas, it is only the DAsas, and never the Dasyus, who are sometimes bracketed together with the Aryas.

Seven verses refer to both Aryas and DAsas as enemies (VI.22.10; 33.3; 60.6; VII.83.1; X.38.3; 69.6; 83.1; 102.3) and one verse refers to both Aryas and DAsas together in friendly terms (VIII.51.9).

This is because both, the word DAsa and the word Arya, refer to broad secular or tribal entities, while the word Dasyu refers to priestly entities : thus, one would generally say “both Christians and Muslims”, or “both padres and mullahs”, but not “both Christians and mullahs” or “both Muslims and padres”. 

2. The second difference is in the degree of hostility towards the two. 

     The Dasyus are clearly regarded with uncompromising hostility,

     while that towards the DAsas is relatively mild and tempered :

a.  The word Dasyu has a purely hostile connotation even when it occurs in the name or title of heroes :

Trasadasyu = “tormentor of the Dasyus”.
DasyavevRka = “a wolf towards the Dasyus”. 

On the other hand, the word DAsa has an etymological meaning beyond the identity of the DAsas.  When it occurs in the name or title of a hero, it has a benevolent connotation :

DivodAsa = “light of Heaven” or “slave of Heaven”. 

b.  All the 80 verses which refer to Dasyus are uncompromisingly hostile.

On the other hand, of the 63 verses which refer to DAsas, 3 are friendly references (VIII.5.31; 46.32; 51.9); and in one more, the word means “slave” in a benevolent sense (VII.86.7: “slave-like, may I do service to the Bounteous”, ie. to VaruNa). 

c.  Of the 80 verses which refer to Dasyus, 76 verses talk of direct, violent, physical action against them, ie. they talk of killing, subduing or driving away the Dasyus. On the other hand, of the 63 verses which refer to DAsas, only 38 talk of such direct physical action against them. 

The importance of this analysis is that it brings to the fore two basic points about the rivalries and hostilities in the Rigvedic period :

a. The rivalries or hostilities were on two levels: the secular level and the priestly level.

b. The rivalries on the priestly level were more sharp and uncompromising.

Hence, any analysis of the political history of the Rigvedic period must pay at least as much attention, if not more, to the priestly categories as to secular or tribal categories.

The Three Priestly Classes

The basic tribal spectrum of the Rigveda includes the five tribal groupings of Yadus, TurvaSas, Anus, Druhyus and PUrus, and of these the PUrus alone represent the Vedic Aryans, while the other four represent the Others

But among these four it is clear that the Yadus and TurvaSas represent more distant tribes (they are mostly referred to in tandem, and are also referred to as residing far away from the Vedic Aryans), while the Anus and Druhyus fall into a closer cultural spectrum with the Purus : 

a.  In the PurANas, the Yadus and TurvaSas are classified together as descendants of sons of DevayAnI, and the Anus, Druhyus and PUrus are classified together as descendants of sons of SarmiSThA. 

b.  The geographical descriptions of the five tribes, as described in the PurANas, place the Yadus and TurvaSas together in the more southern parts (of northern India), and the Anus, Druhyus and PUrus together in the more northern parts. 

c.  The Rigveda itself, where it refers to the five tribes together (I.108.8) refers to the Yadus and the TurvaSas in one breath, and the Druhyus, Anus and PUrus in another: “yad IndrAgni YaduSu TurvaSeSu, yad DruhyuSu AnuSu PUruSu sthaH”

But, the PUrus represent the various branches of the Vedic Aryans, and the Anus represent various branches of Iranians.  It is clear, therefore, that the Druhyus represent the third entity in this cultural spectrum, and that it is mainly the Druhyus who will take us beyond the Indo-Iranian arena onto the wider Indo-European context; and appropriately, while the PUrus are located in the heartland of North India (U.P.-Delhi-Haryana) and the Anus in the northwest (Punjab), the Druhyus are located beyond the Indian frontiers, in Afghanistan and beyond. 

The priestly categories, as we have seen, play a more important role in the rivalries and hostilities in the Rigvedic period than the secular categories. In the earliest period, the only two families of Rsis, from among the families who figure as composers in the Rig Veda, were the ANgiras and the BhRgus, who were the priests of PUrus and Anus respectively.  Logically, there must have been a priestly class among the Druhyus as well, but no such priestly class figures among the composers of Rigvedic hymns. 

The explanation for this is simple : the Druhyus were a rival and non-PUru (DAsa) tribe, hence their priests do not figure as composers in the Rigveda.  Of course, the BhRgus, who were also the priests of a rival and non-PUru tribe, do figure as composers in the Rigveda, but that is because a section of BhRgus (after Jamadagni) aligned themselves with Vedic Aryans and joined the Vedic mainstream where, in fact, they later superseded all the other priestly families in importance, and became the dominant priests of Vedic tradition. 

But since the Druhyus figure in the Rigveda, the name of their priestly class must also be found in the text, even if not as the name of a family of composers. Since no such name appears, it seems logical that the name Druhyu itself must originally have been the name of this third priestly class : since priestly categories were more important for the composers of the Rigveda than the secular categories; and since the tribes for whom the Druhyus functioned as priests were an amorphous lot located far out on the frontiers of India and beyond, the name of the priestly classes became a general appellation for the tribes themselves. 

Therefore, there were three tribal groupings with their three priestly classes:

PUrus  –  Angiras.
Anus  – BhRgus and AtharvaNas.
Druhyus – Druhyus.

This trinary situation tallies with the Indo-European situation : outside of the Vedic and Iranian cultures, the only other priestly class of a similar kind is found among the Celts and the related Italics.  While the Italics called their priests by the general name flAmen (cognate to Sanskrit brAhmaNa, “priest”), the priests of the Celts were called Drui (genitive Druad, hence Druids). 

Shan M.M. Winn notes that “India, Rome, Ireland and Iran” are the “areas in which priesthoods are known to have been significant”; and he describes this phenomenon as follows: “Long after the dispersion of Indo-Europeans, we find a priestly class in Britain in the west, in Italy to the South, and in India and Iran to the east.  Though these cultures are geographically distant from one another… they have striking similarities in priestly ritual, and even in religious terminology.  For example, taboos pertaining to the Roman flAmen (priest) closely correspond to the taboos observed by the Brahmans, the priests of India.” Like the Indian priesthood, the curriculum of the “Celtic Druids … involved years of instruction and memorization of innumerable verses, as the sacred tradition was an oral one”. 

After noting, in some detail, the similarities in their priestly systems, rituals, religious and legal terminology, Winn concludes that the “Celts, Romans and Indo-Iranians shared a religious heritage dating to an early Indo-European period…” 

While the three priesthoods flourished only in these areas, they must originally have been the priests of all the branches of Indo-Europeans in early Indo-European period.  Though they themselves did not survive elsewhere, the names of the three priesthoods did survive in different ways.  An examination of these words helps us to classify the various Indo-European branches into three groups : 

1. PURUS : Indo-Aryan.

In the Rigveda, hymn VII.18, the DASarAjña battle hymn, refers to the enemy confederation once in secular (tribal) terms as “Anus and Druhyus” (VII.18.14), and once in what is clearly priestly terms as “BhRgus and Druhyus” (VII.18.6: the only reference in the whole of the Rigveda which directly refers to the BhRgus as enemies).  Once, it may be noted, it also refers to the kings of the two tribal groupings as “KavaSa and the Druhyu” (VII. 1.8.12. Thus, even here, the general appellation “Druhyu” is used instead of the specific name of the king of the Druhyus). 

The words Druh/Drugh/Drogha occur throughout the Rigveda in the sense of “demon” or “enemy”. (The word BhRgu, for obvious reasons, does not suffer the same fate.) 

2. ANUS : Iranian, Thraco-Phrygian, Hellenic.

a.  Iranian : In the Avesta, in Fargard 19 of the VendidAd, it is an Angra (ANgiras) and a Druj (Druhyu) who try to tempt Zarathushtra away from the path of Ahura Mazda. 

The priests of the Iranians were the Athravans (AtharvaNas = BhRgus), and the words  Angra and  Druj occur throughout the Avesta as epithets for the demon enemies of Ahura Mazda and Zarathushtra. 

b.  Thraco-Phrygian : While the Armenians, the only surviving members of this branch, have not retained any tradition about any of these priestly classes, it is significant that one of the most prominent groups belonging to this branch were known as the Phryge (BhRgu). 

c.  Hellenic : The fire-.priests of the Greeks were known as the Phleguai (BhRgu).

What is more, Greek mythology retains memories of both the other priestly classes, though not in a hostile sense, as the names of mythical beings : Angelos (ANgiras) or divine messengers, and Dryad (Druhyu) or tree-nymphs. 

3. DRUHYUS: Baltic and Slavonic, Italic and Celtic, Germanic.

a.  Baltic and Slavonic: The word Druhyu occurs in the languages of these two branches in exactly the opposite sense of the Vedic Druh / Drugh / Drogha and the Iranian Druj. In Baltic (eg.  Lithuanan  Draugas) and Slavonic (eg. Russian Drug) the word means “friend”. 

b. Italic and Celtic: While the Italic people did not retain the name of the priestly class (and called their priests flAmen = BrAhmaNa), the Celtic priests, as we have seen, were called the Drui (genitive Druad, hence Druid). 

A significant factor, showing that the Celtic priests must have separated from the other priestly classes before the priestly hostilities became intense, is that the BhRgus appear to be indirectly remembered in Celtic mythology in a friendly sense

The Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology notes : “whereas the Celtic Gods were specifically Celtic… the goddesses were restatements of an age-old theme”. And two of the three Great Goddesses of the Celts were named Anu and Brigit (Anu and BhRgu?).  And while all the Goddesses in general were associated with fertility cults, “Brigit, however, had additional functions as a tutelary deity of learning, culture and skills”. 

The main activity of the Drui, as already stated, was to undergo “years of instruction and the memorization of innumerable verses, as the sacred tradition was an oral one”. The fact that the Goddess of learning was named Brigit would appear to suggest that the Drui remembered the ancient BhRgus in a mythical sense, as the persons who originally introduced various priestly rituals among them (a debt which is also remembered by the ANgiras in the MaNDalas of the Early Period of the Rig Veda.

The BhRgus, by joint testimony of Vedic and Celtic mythology, would thus appear to have been the oldest or most dominant and innovative of the three priestly classes.

c.  Germanic: The word Druhyu occurs in the Germanic branch as well.  However the meaning (although the words are cognate to the Russian Drug and Lithuanian Draugas) is more militant : Gothic driugan, “do military service” and ga-drauhts, “soldier”; and Old Norse (Icelandic) drOtt, Old English dryht and Old German truht, all meaning “multitude, people, army”. 

The meanings of the word Druhyu as it occurs in the Celtic branch (“priest”), the Germanic branch (“soldier”, etc. or “people”) and the Baltic-Slavonic branches (“friend”) clearly correspond with the word in the Rigveda and Avesta, where Druhyu / Druh / Drugh / Drogha and Druj represent enemy priests, soldiers or people. 

Thus, to sum up :

1. PUru (priests Angiras) : Indo-Aryan. 

2. Anu (priests BhRgus/AtharvaNas) : Iranian, Thraco-Phrygian, Hellenic. 

3. Druhyu (priests Druhyus): Celtic-Italic, Baltic-Slavonic, Germanic.

The Anu-Druhyu Migrations

The evidence of the Rig Veda, and Indian tradition, clearly shows that the Anus and Druhyus were Indian tribes. If they were also the ancestors of the Indo-European branches outside India, as is indicated by the evidence of the names of their priestly classes, then it is clear that the Rig Veda and Indian tradition should retain memories of the migrations of these two groups from India. 

Significantly, this is exactly the case: the Rig Veda and the PurANas, between them, record two great historical events which led to the emigration of precisely these two tribes from India : 

1. The first historical emigration recorded is that of the Druhyus.  This emigration is recorded in the PurANas, and it is so historically and geographically specific that no honest, student of the Puranic tradition has been able to ignore either this event or its implications for Indo-European history (even without arriving at the equation PUrus = Vedic Aryans). 

The PurANas (VAyu 99.11-12; BrahmANDa III.74.11-12; Matsya 48.9; ViSNu IV.17.5; BhAgavata IX.23.15-16) record: PracetasaH putra-Satam rAjAnAH sarva eva te, mleccha-rASTrAdhipAH sarve hyudIcIm diSam AsritAH.

As Pargiter points out : “Indian tradition knows nothing of any Aila or Aryan invasion of India from Afghanistan, nor of any gradual advance from thence eastwards.” On the contrary, “Indian tradition distinctly asserts that there was an Aila outflow of the Druhyus through the northwest into the countries beyond where they founded various kingdoms.” 

P.L. Bhargava also notes this reference to the Druhyu emigration: “Five PurANas add that Pracetas’ descendants spread out into the mleccha countries to the north beyond India and founded kingdoms there.”This incident is considered to be the earliest prominent historical event in traditional memory. The Druhyus, inhabitants of the Punjab, started conquering eastwards and southwards, and their conquest brought them into conflict with all the other tribes and people : the Anus, PUrus, Yadus.  TurvaSas, and even the IkSvAkus. 

This led to a concerted opposition by the other tribes against the Druhyus. AD Pusalker records : “As a result of the successful campaigns of SaSabindu, YuvanASva, MAndhAtRI and Sibi, the Druhyus were pushed back from RAjputAna and were cornered into the northwestern portion of the Punjab.  MAndhAtRI killed their king ANgAra, and the Druhyu settlements in the Punjab came to be known as GAndhAra after the name of one of ANgAra’s successors.  After a time, being overpopulated, the Druhyus crossed the borders of India and founded many principalities in the Mleccha territories in the north, and probably carried the Aryan culture beyond the frontiers of India.” 

This first historical emigration represents an outflow of the Druhyus into the areas to the north of Afghanistan (ie. into Central Asia and beyond). 

2. The second historical emigration recorded is that of the Anus and the residual Druhyus, which took place after the DASarAjña battle in the Early Period of the Rig Veda. 

As we have already seen in our chapter on the Indo-Iranian homeland, the hymns record the names of ten tribes (from among the two main tribal groupings of Anus and Druhyus) who took part in the confederacy against SudAs. Six of these are clearly purely Iranian people :

a. PRthus or PArthavas (VII.83.1): Parthians.
b. ParSus or ParSavas (VII.83.1): Persians.
c. Pakthas (VII.18.7): Pakhtoons.
d. BhalAnas (VII.18.7): Baluchis.
e. Sivas (VII.18.7): Khivas.
f. ViSANins (VII.18.7): Pishachas (Dards). 

One more Anu tribe, not named in the Rig Veda, is that of the Madras : Medes. 

All these Iranian people are found in later historical times in the historical Iranian areas proper : Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia. Two of the other tribes named in the hymns are Iranian people who are found in later historical times on the northwestern periphery of the Iranian areas, ie. in the Caucasus area :

a.  Simyus (VII.18.5) : Sarmatians (Avesta = Sairimas).

b.  Alinas (VII.18.7) : Alans.

And the name of one more tribe is clearly the name of another branch of Indo-Europeans … non-Iranians, but closely associated with the Iranians … found in later historical times in the area to the west of the Iranians, ie. in Anatolia or Turkey : the BhRgus (VII.18.6) – Phrygians. 

Significantly, the names of the two tribes found on the northwestern periphery of the Iranian area are also identifiable with the names of two other branches of Indo-Europeans, found to the west of Anatolia or Turkey.

a. Simyus (VII.18.5) : Sirmios (ancient Albanians).
b. Alinas (VII.18.7) : Hellenes (ancient Greeks). 

The DASarAjña battle ( of Ten Kings ) hymns record the emigration of these tribes westward from the Punjab after their defeat in the battle. 

Taken together, the two emigrations provide us with a very logical and plausible scenario of the expansions and migrations of the Indo-European family of languages from an original homeland in India : 

  1. The two tribal groupings of Anus and Druhyus were located more or less in the Punjab and Afghanistan respectively after the Druhyu versus non-Druhyu wars in the earliest pre-Rigvedic period. 
  1. The first series of migrations, of the Druhyus, took place shortly afterwards, with major sections of Druhyus migrating northwards from Afghanistan into Central Asia in different waves.  From Central Asia many Druhyu tribes, in the course of time, migrated westwards, reaching as far as western Europe. 

These migrations must have included the ancestors of the following branches (which are not mentioned in the DASarAjña battle hymns) :

a. Hittite. 

b. Tocharian. 

c. Italic. 

d. Celtic. 

e. Germanic. 

f. Baltic. 

g. Slavonic. 

3. The second series of migrations of Anus and Druhyus, took place much later, in the Early Period of the Rig Veda, with various tribes migrating westwards from the Punjab into Afghanistan, many later on migrating further westwards as far as West Asia and southwestern Europe.

These migrations must have included the ancestors of the following branches (which are mentioned in the DASrAjña battle hymns):

a. Iranian.
b. Thraco-Phrygian (Armenian).
c. Illyrian (Albanian).
d. Hellenic. 

The whole process gives a clear picture of the ebb-and-flow of migratory movements, where remnants of migrating groups, which remain behind, get slowly absorbed into the linguistic and cultural mainstream of the other groups among whom they continue to live, retaining only, at the most, their separate names and distinctive identities : 

1. The Druhyus, by and large, spread out northwards from northwestern Punjab and Afghanistan into Central Asia (and beyond) in the first Great Migration. A few sections of them, who remained behind, retained their distinctive names and identities (as Druhyus), but were linguistically and culturally absorbed into the Anu mainstream. 

2. The Anus (including the remnants of the Druhyus), by and large, spread out westwards from the Punjab into Afghanistan in the second Great Migration after the DASarAjña battle. A few sections of them, who remained behind, retained their distinctive names and identities (as Anus), but linguistically and culturally, they were absorbed into the PUru mainstream and they remained on the northwestern periphery of the Indo-Aryan cultural world as the Madras (remnants of the Madas or Medes), Kekayas, etc. 

3. Further migrations took place from among the Anus in Afghanistan, with non-Iranian Anu groups, such as the BhRgus (Phryges, Thraco-Phrygians), Alinas (Hellenes, Greeks) and Simyus (Sirmios, Illyrians or Albanians) migrating westwards from Afghanistan, as far as Anatolia and south-eastern Europe. A few sections of these non-Iranian Anus who remained behind, retained their distinctive names and identities but, linguistically and culturally, they were absorbed into the Iranian mainstream, and could be found on the north-western periphery of the Iranian cultural world among Armenians (who, though greatly influenced by the Iranian, retained much of their original language), the Alans (remnant of the Hellenes or Greeks) and Sarmations (remnant of the Sirmios or Albanians). 

The literary evidence of Rig Veda thus provides us with a very logical and plausible scenario of the schedule and process of migrations of various Indo-European branches from India. 

At this point, we may recall the archaeological evidence in respect of Europe, already noted by us.  As we have seen, the Corded Ware culture (Kurgan Wave # 3) expanded from the east into northern and central Europe, and the “territory inhabited by the Corded Ware/Battle Axe culture, after its expansion, qualifies it to be the ancestor of Western or European language branches : Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic and Italic”. 

The origins of the Kurgan culture have been traced as far east as Turkmenistan in 4500 BC. This fits in perfectly with our theory that the seven branches of Indo-Europeans, not specifically mentioned in the DASarAjña hymns, migrated northwards into Central Asia during the first Great Migration.  Five of these, the five European branches mentioned above, later migrated westwards into Europe while the other two, Hittite and Tocharian, remained behind in parts of Central Asia till the Hittites, at a much later date, migrated southwestwards into Anatolia. 

These two branches that remained behind in Central Asia, possibly retained contact with Indo-Aryans and the Iranians further south. The fact that Hittite mythology is the only mythology outside the Indo-Iranian cultural world which mentions Indra (as Inar) may be evidence of that connect. Even more significant, from the viewpoint of literary evidence, is the fact that Indian tradition remembers two important people located to the north of the Himalayas who are called the Uttara Kurus and the Uttara Madras : “The Uttara Kurus along with the Uttara Madras are located beyond the HimAlayas.  Though regarded as mythical in the epic and later literature, the Uttara Kurus still appear as a historical community in the Aitareya BrAhmaNa (VII.23).” 

It is possible that the Uttarakurus and the Uttaramadras were the Tocharian (Uttara Kuru = Tokhri) and Hittite branch of Indo-Europeans located to the north of the Himalayas. The scenario we have reconstructed from the literary evidence in the Rigveda fits in perfectly with the linguistic scenario of the migration schedule of the various Indo-European branches, as reconstructed by the linguists from the evidence of isoglosses, which we will now be examining. 



A linguistic isogloss is a linguistic feature found in some branches of the family, and not in the others. Their study is of great help to linguists in chalking out the likely migration schedule of the various Indo-European branches from their original homeland.

This feature may, of course, be either an original feature of the Proto-Indo-European language that has been lost in some of the daughter branches but retained in others, or a linguistic innovation not found in the parent language and developed only in some of the daughter branches. But this feature is useful in establishing early historico-geographical links between branches which share the same isogloss. We will examine the evidence of the isoglosses as follows : 

A. The Isoglosses …
B. The Homeland Indicated by the Isoglosses …

The Isoglosses

There are, as Winn points out, “ten ‘living branches’… Two branches, Indic (Indo-Aryan) and Iranian, dominate the eastern cluster.  Because of the close links between their classical forms – Sanskrit and Avestan respectively – these languages are often grouped together as a single Indo-Iranian branch.”But Meillet notes : “It remains quite clear, however, that Indic and Iranian evolved from different Indo-European dialects whose period of common development was not long enough to effect total fusion.” 

Besides these ten living branches, there are two extinct branches : Anatolian (Hittite) and Tocharian. 

Of these twelve branches, one branch, Illyrian (Albanian), is of little use in this study of isoglosses : “Albanian… has undergone so many influences that it is difficult to be certain of its relationships to the other Indo-European languages.” 

An examination of the isoglosses which cover the other eleven branches (living and extinct) gives a more or less clear picture of the schedule of migrations of the different Indo-European branches from the original homeland. 

Whatever the dispute about the exact order in which the different branches migrated away from the homeland, the linguists are generally agreed on two important points : 

  1. Anatolian (Hittite) was the first branch to leave the homeland : “The Anatolian languages, of which Hittite is the best known, display many archaic features that distinguish them from other Indo-European languages.  They apparently represent an earlier stage of Indo-European, and are regarded by many as the first group to break away from the proto-language.” 
  1. Four branches, Indic, Iranian, Hellenic (Greek) and Thraco-Phrygian (Armenian) were the last branches remaining behind in the original homeland after the other branches had dispersed : “After the dispersals of the early PIE dialects,… there were still those who remained… Among them were the ancestors of the Greeks and Indo-Iranians… 

Greek and Sanskrit share many complex grammatical features; this is why many earlier linguists were misled into regarding them as examples of the most archaic stage of Proto-Indo-European. However, the similarities between the two languages are now regarded as innovations that took place during a late period of PIE, which we call stage III.  One of these Indo-Greek innovations was also shared by Armenian and all these (three) languages, it seems, existed in an area of mutual interaction.” 

Thus we get : “Greek Armenian, Phrygian, Thracian and Indo-Iranian.  These languages may represent a comparatively late form of Indo-European, including linguistic innovations not present in earlier stages.  In particular, Greek and Indic share a number of distinctive grammatical features……”

The following are some of the innovations shared only by Indic, Iranian, Greek and Armenian (Thraco-Phrygian) … features which distinguish them from the other branches, especially the living ones : 

a. “The prohibitive negation *mE is attested only in Indo-Iranian (mA), Greek (mE) and Armenian (mi); elsewhere, it is totally lacking… and there is no difference in this respect between the ancient and modern stages of Greek, Armenian or Persian” or, for that matter, sections of Indic (e.g. the prohibitive negation mat in Hindi). 

b. “In the formation of the Perfect also, there is a clear ‘distinction’ between Indo-Iranian and Armenian and Greek, on the one hand, and all the other languages, on the other.” 

c. The “Indo-European voiceless aspirated stops are completely attested only in Indo-Iranian and Armenian… Greek… clearly preserves two of the three voiceless aspirated stops whose existence is established by the correspondence of Indo-Iranian and Armenian.” All the other branches show “complete fusion” of these voiceless aspirated stops. 

d. “The suffix *-tero-, *-toro-, *-tro- serves in bell Indo-European languages to mark the opposition of two qualities, but only in two languages, Greek and Indo-Iranian, is the use of the suffix extended to include the formation of secondary adjectival comparatives… This development, by its very difference, points to the significance of the Greek and Indo-Iranian convergence… Armenian, which has a completely new formation, is not instructive in this regard.” But, “Latin, Irish, Germanic, Lithuanian and Slavic, on the other hand, borrow their secondary comparative from the original primary type.” 

e. “The augment is attested only in Indo-Iranian, Armenian and Greek; it is found nowhere else.” And it is “significant that the augment is not found in any of the other Indo-European languages… The total absence of the augment in even the earliest texts, and in all the dialects of Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic, is characteristic.”

Hence, “the manner in which Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic eliminated the imperfect, and came to express the preterite, presupposes an original Indo-European absence of the augment throughout this group of languages.  We thus have grounds for positing two distinct Indo-European dialect groups.” 

f. The division of the Indo-European branches into two distinct groups is confirmed by what Meillet calls the Vocabulary of the Northwest : “There is quite a large group of words that appear in the dialects of the North and West (Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, Celtic and Italic) but are not found in the others (Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek)… their occurrence in the dialects of the North and West would indicate a cultural development peculiar to the peoples who spread these dialects.” 

While Anatolian (Hittite) was “the first group to break away from the proto-language”, and Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek were “those who remained” after “the dispersals of the early PIE dialects”, the other branches share isoglosses which can help in placing them between these two extremes : 

  1. Hittite, the first to separate itself, shares many isoglosses with Germanic and Tocharian.” 
  1. Celtic, Italic, Hittite, Tocharian and (probably) Phrygian share an interesting isogloss : the use of ‘r’ to indicate the passive forms of verbs.  This feature… does not occur in any other Indo-European language.” 
  1. Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavonic constitute one distinct group, in contra-distinction to the other distinct group consisting of Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek. 

However, within themselves, these five branches link together as follows :

a. Italic and Celtic : “Comparative linguists have long been aware of the links between Italic and Celtic, which share a number of archaic features.  These links suggest that the two branches developed together.” Among other things: “Vocabulary is identical in parts; this is true of some very important words, particularly prepositions and preverbs.”

b. Baltic and Slavonic : “The general resemblance of Baltic and Slavic is so apparent that no-one challenges the notion of a period of common development… Baltic and Slavic are the descendants of almost identical Indo-European dialects.  No important isogloss divides Baltic from Slavic… the vocabularies of Slavic and Baltic show numerous cognates – more precisely, cognates that are found nowhere else or cognates that in Baltic and Slavic have a form different from their form in other languages.”

c. Italic, Celtic and Germanic : “The Germanic, Celtic and Italic idioms present… certain common innovational tendencies.” But, Italic apparently separated from the other two earlier: “Germanic, Celtic and Italic underwent similar influences.  After the Italic-Celtic period, Italic ceased undergoing these influences and underwent others… Germanic and Celtic, remaining in adjacent regions, developed in part along parallel lines.”

d. Germanic, Baltic and Slavonic : “Because Germanic shares certain important features with Baltic and Slavic, we may speculate that the history of the three groups is linked in some way.” 

To go into more precise detail… “The difference between a dative plural with *-bh-, eg.  Skr.-bhyah, Av. -byO, Lat. -bus, O.Osc. -fs, O.Ir.-ib, Gr. -fi(n), and one with *-m-, eg.  Goth. -m, O.Lith. -mus, Ol.Sl. -mU, is one of the first things to have drawn attention to the problem of Indo-European dialectology.  Since it has been established, principally by A. Leskien, that there was no unity of Germanic, Baltic and Slavic postdating the period of Indo-European unity, the very striking similarity of Germanic, Baltic and Slavic which we observe here cannot… be explained except by a dialectical variation within common Indo-European.” It is, therefore, clear “that these three languages arose from Indo-European dialects exhibiting certain common features.” 

To sum up, we get two distinct groups of branches :

Group A: Hittite, Tocharian, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Slavonic.

Group B: Indic, Iranian, Thraco-Phrygian (Armenian), Hellenic (Greek). 

No major isogloss cuts across the dividing line between the two groups to suggest any alternative grouping : the phenomenon of palatalization appears to do so, but it is now recognized as “a late phenomenon” which took place in “a post-PIE era in which whatever unity that once existed had broken down and most of the dialect groups had dispersed”, and we will examine the importance of this phenomenon later on. 

Other similarities between languages or branches which lie on opposite sides of the above dividing line are recognizable as phenomena which took place after the concerned branches had reached their historical habitats, and do not therefore throw any light on the location of the original homeland or the migration-schedule of the branches. 

The following are two examples of such similarities :  

  1. The Phrygian language appears to share the “r-isogloss” which is found only in the Hittite, Tocharian, Italic and Celtic branches.  However : 

a. The Phrygian language is known only from fragments, and many of the linguistic features attributed to it are speculative.  About the “r-isogloss”, it may be noted, Winn points out that it is shared by “Celtic, Italic, Hittite, Tocharian and (probably) Phrygian”.

b. Armenian, the only living member of the Thraco-Phrygian branch, does not share the “r-isogloss”, and nor did the ancient Thracian language.

c. The seeming presence of this isogloss in Phrygian is clearly due to the influence of Hittite, with which it shared its historical habitat : “Phrygian later replaced Hittite as the dominant language of Central Anatolia.” 

  1. Greek and Italic alone share the change of Proto-Indo-European voiced aspirated stops (bh, dh, gh) into voiceless aspirated stops (ph, th, kh).  Sanskrit is the only language to have retained the original voiced aspirated stops, while all the other branches, except Greek and Italic, converted them into unaspirated stops (b, d, g). 

But this similarity between Greek and Italic is because “when Indo-European languages were brought to Mediterranean people unfamiliar with voiced aspirated stops, this element brought about the process of unvoicing”, and this change took place in the two branches “both independently and along parallel lines”. Hence, this is not an isogloss linking the two branches. 

Therefore, it is clear that the two groups represent two distinct divisions of the Indo-European family.

The Homeland Indicated by the Isoglosses

The pattern of isoglosses shows the following order of migration of the branches of Group A:

1. Hittite.
2. Tocharian.
3. Italic-Celtic.
4. Germanic.
5. Baltic-Slavonic.

Some of these branches share certain isoglosses among themselves that represent innovations which they must have developed in common after their departure from the original homeland, since the remaining branches (Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek) do not share these isoglosses. 

This clearly indicates the presence of a secondary homeland, outside the exit-point from the original homeland, which must have functioned as an area of settlement and common development for the migrating branches. 

The only homeland theory which fits in with the evidence of the isoglosses is the Indian homeland theory : 

The exit-point for the migrating branches was Afghanistan, and these branches migrated towards the north from Afghanistan into Central Asia, which clearly functioned as the secondary homeland for emigrating branches. 

As Winn points out : “Evidence from isoglosses… shows that the dispersal cannot be traced to one particular event; rather it seems to have occured in bursts or stages.” 

Hittite was the first to emigrate from Afghanistan into Central Asia, followed by Tocharian. 

Italic-Celtic represented the next stage of emigration. The four branches developed the “r-isogloss” in common. 

Germanic was the next branch to enter the secondary homeland, and it developed some isoglosses in common with Hittite and Tocharian.

The Baltic-Slavonic movement apparently represented the last major emigration.  And its sojourn in the secondary homeland was apparently not long enough for it to develop any isoglosses in common with Hittite or Tocharian. 

The five branches (Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavonic, in that order) later moved further off, north-westwards, into the area to the north of the Caspian Sea, and subsequently formed part of the Kurgan III migrations into Europe.  The Slavonic and Baltic branches settled down in the eastern parts of Europe, while the other three proceeded further into Europe.  Later, the Italic branch moved towards the south, while the Germanic and Celtic branches moved to the north and west. 

Meanwhile the other branches barring Indic… the Greek, Armenian and Iranian, as also perhaps the one branch (Illyrian or Albanian) which we have not taken into consideration so far, migrated westwards from India by a different and southern route.

Scholars now generally accept the evidence of the isoglosses so far as it concerns the schedule of migrations of the different Indo-European branches from the original homeland or the inter-relationships between different branches.  However, when it comes to determining the actual location of the original homeland, on the basis of this evidence, they abandon their objective approach and try to make it appear as if the evidence fits in with the particular homeland theory advocated by them, even when it is as clear as daylight that they are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.

The homeland theory generally advocated by the scholars is the South Russian homeland theory.  Shan M.M. Winn advocates the “Pontic-Caspian area” within this region as the particular location of the homeland. 

An examination shows that the South Russian homeland theory (“Pontic-Caspian” or otherwise) is totally incompatible with the evidence of the isoglosses :

  1. To begin with, it is clear that we have two distinct groups of branches, which we have already classified as Group A and Group B. 

As per the evidence of the isoglosses, the branches in Group A are the branches which migrated away from the original homeland, and those in Group B are the branches which remained behind in the homeland after the other branches had departed. 

At the same time, all the branches in Group A are found to the north of the Eurasian mountain chain (except for Hittite in Anatolia, but this branch is known to have migrated into Anatolia from the north-east), while all the branches in Group B are found to the south of the Eurasian mountain chain (the northernmost, Greek, is known to have migrated into southeastern Europe from the south-east). 

The logical corollary should have been that the original homeland is also to the south of the Eurasian mountain chain, and that it is located in the historical habitat of one of the branches in Group B. 

However, the scholars regularly advocate homeland theories which place the homeland in the area of one or the other of the branches in Group A. 

  1. The branches in Group A developed certain isoglosses in common after they had migrated away from the homeland.  As we have pointed out, this makes it likely that there was a secondary homeland where they must have developed these isoglosses. 

However, any homeland theory which locates the homeland in a central area, like South Russia or any area around it, makes the location of this secondary homeland a problem : the Tocharian branch is historically located well to the east of South Russia, the Hittite branch is located well to the south of South Russia, and the Germanic and Italic-Celtic branches are located well to the west of South Russia.  It is difficult to think of a way in which all these branches could have moved together in one direction from South Russia before parting from each other and moving off in totally opposite directions. 

It is perhaps to avoid this problem that Winn suggests that the isoglosses shared in common by these branches are not innovations developed by these branches in common, but archaic features which have been retained by otherwise separately migrating branches. 

In respect of the r-isogloss, for example, Winn puts it as follows : “Celtic, Italic, Hittite, Tocharian, and (probably) Phrygian share an interesting isogloss : the use of ‘r’ to indicate the passive forms of verbs.  This feature, which does not occur in any other Indo-European language, is probably an example of the ‘archaism of the fringe’ phenomenon.  When a language is spread over a large territory, speakers at the fringe of that territory are likely to be detached from what goes on at the core.  Linguistic innovations that take place at the core may never find their way out to peripheral areas; hence dialects spoken on the fringe tend to preserve archaic features that have long since disappeared from the mainstream… Tocharian… was so remote from the center that it could hardly have taken part in any innovations.” 

However, it is more logical to treat this isogloss as an innovation developed in common by a few branches after their departure from the homeland, than to postulate that all the other otherwise disparate branches eliminated an original “use of ‘r’ to indicate the passive forms of verbs”. 

  1. What is indeed an example of the “archaism of the fringe” phenomenon is the phenomenon of palatalization. 

Winn describes it as follows : “Palatalization must have been a late phenomenon; that is, we date it to a post-PIE era, in which whatever unity that once existed had now broken down, and most of the dialect groups had dispersed : looking at the geographical distribution of this isogloss, we may note its absence from the peripheral languages : Germanic (at the northwest limit of Indo-European language distribution); Celtic (western limit); Italic, Greek and Hittite (southern limit); and Tocharian (eastern limit).  It is the languages at the center that have changed.  Here, at the core, a trend towards palatalization started; then gradually spread outward.  It never reached far enough to have any effect on the outlying languages.” 

Note that Winn calls it a “post-PIE era, in which whatever unity that once existed had now broken down, and most of the dialect groups had dispersed”, and that he locates every single other branch (except Indic and Iranian), including Greek, in its historical habitat.  He does not specifically name Baltic-Slavonic and Armenian, but it is understood that they are also located in their historical habitats, since he implies that they are “the languages at the centre” (I.e. languages in and around South Russia, which is anyway the historical habitat of these branches). 

Indic and Iranian alone are not located by him in their historical habitats, since that would clearly characterize them as the most “peripheral” or “outlying” branches of all, being located at the extreme southern as well as extreme eastern limit of the Indo-European language distribution.  And this would completely upset his pretty picture of an evolving “center” with archaic “outlying languages”, since the most outlying of the branches would turn out to be the most palatalized of them all.  Hence Winn, without being explicit but implicit in his argument, locates all the other branches, including Greek, in their historical habitats with only the Indic and Iranian branches well outside their historical habitats and still in South Russia, and keeps his fingers crossed over the possibility of the anomaly being noticed. 

Here we see, once again, how the manipulation required to locate the Indo-European homeland in South Russia compels the scholars, again and again, to postulate weird and unnatural schedules of migrations which make the Indo-Iranians the last to leave South Russia, and which locate them in South Russia long after all the other branches, including Greek, are already settled in their historical habitats : a picture which clashes sharply with, among other things, the extremely representative nature of the Rigvedic language and mythology, the purely Indian geographical milieu of the Rig Veda and the movement depicted in it from east to west, and the evidence of the names of places and rivers in northern India right from the period of Rig Veda itself. 

The “late phenomenon” of a “trend towards palatalization” which started “at the core” and “then gradually -spread outward” … and “never reached far enough to have any effect on the outlying languages” … can be explained naturally only on the basis of the Indian homeland theory : the trend started in the “core area”, in north and northwest India, and spread outwards as far as the innermost of the branches in Group A : Baltic and Slavonic, but not as far as the outermost of the branches in Group B : Greek. 

Incidentally, here is how Meillet depicts the interrelationships between the various extant branches … he does not include Hittite and Tocharian in the picture, but it is clear that they will fall in the same group as Germanic, Celtic and Italic … 

While the north-south axis clearly divides the non-palatalized branches in the west from the palatalized branches in the east, where we must locate the “core” area where palatalization started, the northeast-southwest axes neatly divides the branches into the three tribal groupings testified by Indian literary records, (click on links).

Click Here

Click Here 

  1. More than anything else, the one aspect of the evidence of isoglosses that disproves the South Russian theory is the close relationship between Indic or Indo-Iranian and the Greek, which is not satisfactorily explained by any homeland theory other than the Indian homeland theory. 

In dismissing Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian homeland theory, Winn cites this as the single most important factor in disproving the theory : “All the migrations postulated by Renfrew ultimately stem from a single catalyst : the crossing of Anatolian farmers into Greece… For all practical purposes, Renfrew’s hypothesis disregards Tocharian and Indo-Iranian.” 

Supporters of Renfrew’s theory, Winn points out, “have tried to render the Indo-Iranian problem moot. They argue that the Indo-Iranian branch was somehow divided from the main body of Proto-Indo-European before the colonists brought agriculture to the Balkans.  Greek and Indic are thus separated by millenniums of linguistic change – despite the close grammatical correspondences between them (as we saw, these correspondences probably represent shared innovations from the last stage of PIE).” 

Winn’s very valid argument against the Anatolian theory is just as applicable to the South Russian homeland theory, or any other theory which seeks to bring Indic and Iranian into their historical habitats through Central Asia : this involves an extremely long period of separation from Greek which does not fit into the evidence of the isoglosses that shows that Indic and Greek have many “shared innovations from the last stage of PIE”. 

Archaeology, for one, completely rules out any links between the alleged Proto-Indo-Iranians located by these scholars in Central Asia, and the Greeks. Winn tries to identify the Andronovo culture which “covers much of the Central Asian steppe east of the Ural river and Caspian Sea”, with the “Proto-Indo-Iranians” during their alleged sojourn in Central Asia. 

However, not only does he admit that “it is still a hazardous task to connect (this) archaeological evidence of Indo-Iranians in the Central Asian steppe with the appearance of Iranian (Aryan) and Indic (Indo-Aryan) tribes in Iran, Afghanistan and India,” but he also accepts that these so-called Proto-Indo-Iranians in Central Asia have “no links with… south-eastern Europe”, I.e. with the Greeks. 

It is only the Indian homeland theory which fits in with the evidence of the isoglosses. 

It may be noted again that :

a. The evidence of the isoglosses suggests that the Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek branches, as well as the Albanian branch, were the last to remain behind in the original homeland after the departure of the other branches.

b. These (naturally, barring Indic) are also the same branches which show connections with the BhRgus/ AtharvaNas, while those which departed show connections with the Druhyus.

c. Again, all these branches form a long belt to the south of the Eurasian mountain chain, while the other (departed) branches are found to its north.

d. And, finally, these are the only branches which are actually recorded in the DASarAjña hymns as being present in the Punjab area during the time of SudAs.

 *  *  *

We shall next present the “Inter-Familial Literary Evidence” …

Please refer and links therein for previous adaptations from the most brilliant, insightful analysis ever undertaken …

by Shrikant G. Talageri available @



6 thoughts on “Journal : Alternate History

  1. It is my understanding that proto IE was around 4000 bc, IE was around 3000 bc, and by 2000 bc the language had differentiated into it’s daughter languages and was considered obsolete. Around 1800 bc there was a trading culture called the BMAC by the Aral Sea and just after this Zoroasterism (East Iranian Plateau) was considered the Aryan religion of fire temples that then moved into the Punjab and North India where the Avesta and Rig Veda was orally recorded and written down almost a thousand years later. What I am saying is that the Indo-Iranian language was around after the tail end of this language, after the original language became obsolete and was most probably another daughter language. It has been found that R1b bodies were found on Rathin Island in the UK around 2500 bc and both “Celt” and Germanic People were around before 2500 bc. The archaeology around the North Black Sea Is pretty overwelming for the place where horses, chariots, copper metallurgy, and the composite bow was found– see book ” The Horse, the Wheel, and Language” tells all. Also the south Ural city of Arkaim was a Sintaska town of bronze age metallurgy. It was all pre Andronovo. There are m
    ulti books withh language, archaeology, and genetics involved that seem to back up this area in time and place for the LANGUAGE homeland.

    1. I can say with certainty that your time frame for Proto Indo Europeans is way too recent. By how much ? Anywhere between 6000 to 60,000 years.

      That, in part, is cause for your later conclusions.

  2. Just a tiny footnote: In pre-Norman (probably even in pre-Christian) Gaelic Ireland, the judges were known as Brehons, the complicated legal systems are known as Brehon Law. I’ve always been struck by the obvious linguistic similarity to Brahmin. And with your deep knowledge of the whole subject, you’ll probably find many similarities between older Indian society and the Celtic Gaelic society decribed in the link. (Though there is a lot of discussion about the whole meaning of the word “Celt” and the concept of some kind of common Celtic culture!)

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