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Thread: Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and other archaeological finds

  1. #11
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    How ancient Tamil history could be?

    Please read this.

    Interesting article.

    http://www.asiantribune.com/show_news.php?id=15377

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  3. #12
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    Adichanallur findings

    Friends,
    Can anybody link me to total details of Aadichanallur site please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aravindhan
    Quote Originally Posted by jaiganes
    Thanks aravindhan for posting the link. I was trying to get the link for a different thread. There seems to be very slow progress on this. Also Indian government's archaic archaeological survey is so guarded that it doesn't invite foreign scholars and teams which have better expertise in tools like carbon dating and bone fragment analysis in this venture. Adichanallur find IMHO is a National Geographic special.
    A National Geographic special is more than merited, but for now I'd even settle for a few blurred black and white paparazzi photos of what they have found, particularly any inscriptions!

    And yes, it would be really good to have the world's leading experts involved. But that's the way the ASI works - they found urns from around 500 BC with Tamil Brahmi inscriptions in Adichannulur a few weeks ago, and they didn't think of involving Iravatham Mahadevan who's right there in Chennai!
    Like all bureaucracies, the ASI has its own process to follow with their own set of experts. In due time, they will publish their findings so other also can do their value addition. The ASI works more like stringers and reporters reporting what they see with soem editorial work. While Iravatham Mahadevan is more like a columnist or editorial/op-ed writer. Imagine if we expect every stringer/reporter to involve an editor every time they churn out a story; the process becomes unsustainable.

    Also, there is a difference between archaelogical work and archaelogical interpretation. Mr. Mahadevan is in the latter category as are numerous other researchers.

    Rgds, Aravind Sitaraman

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    Re: New find at Adichanallur

    Quote Originally Posted by aravindhan
    From the Hindu:
    CHENNAI, APRIL 2. In an important discovery, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Chennai Circle, has located the habitational site of the Iron Age people who were buried in big urns at Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli town in Tamil Nadu. Although several urn burial sites such as at Amirthamangalam and Perumbair, both near Chengalpattu, have been discovered in the State, this is the first time the place where these people lived has been found.
    Actually, the burial process and urns is not a new discovery. It is only its location at Adichanallur as a possible ancient inhabitation site which is. If you go to Deccan College in Pune, you will see a lot of these urns from all over South India which seemed to be one way to dispose the dead; other than burning them.

    Rgds, Aravind Sitaraman

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    Senior Member Regular Hubber aravindhan's Avatar
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    Early writing discovered in Theni

    According to the Hindu, three early Tamil Brahmi "hero stone" inscriptions have recently been discovered in Theni district. It appears that the two newer inscriptions are from the 3rd century BC, with the third being older.

    http://www.hindu.com/2006/04/05/stor...0518340600.htm

    As you probably know, the "standard" modern account of the origin of Brahmi is that the script was invented under Ashoka as an adaption of the imperial Aramaic script, expressly for the purpose of engraving Ashoka's edicts. There are a number of problems with this theory, and the discovery of such early examples of the script outside Ashoka's empire casts even more doubt on it, and strongly suggests that Brahmi which Ashoka adapted for Prakrit was already in use in India.

    Perhaps it's time to revisit Nacchinakkiniyar's theory that the script was entirely derived from geometric patterns?

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    Senior Member Senior Hubber kannannn's Avatar
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    Re: Early writing discovered in Theni

    Wow Aravindhan. Thanks for the link.

    Quote Originally Posted by aravindhan
    Perhaps it's time to revisit Nacchinakkiniyar's theory that the script was entirely derived from geometric patterns?
    If it is not too much to ask, could you throw more light on this?
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    Aravindhan,
    I too could not find any thing on Nacchinakkiniyar by google. It will be nice if you can tell us about his theory sometime.
    An article by Stephan Baums and Andrew Glass (Proposal for encoding Brahmi...) has the following passage:
    "Puzzlingly, the main reason for abandoning inherent [a], namely the ability to write word-final consonants or non-homorganic consonant clusters conveniently, does not apply in the case of the Bhattiprolu inscriptions since Middle Indo-Aryan has neither of these phonetic
    features. This makes it likely that the dedicated long ÅmÇtrÇ, too, was first introduced in a Tamil context, and that the resulting system was only later imitated in Bhattiprolu. No such Tamil inscription has however been discovered yet."
    I refer to the last sentence. Does the discovery you mentioned provide this missing link? Thanks.
    Swarup

  9. #18
    Senior Member Regular Hubber aravindhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaddeswarup
    Aravindhan,
    I too could not find any thing on Nacchinakkiniyar by google. It will be nice if you can tell us about his theory sometime.
    Sorry, that was a typo. The name is actually Nacchinarkiniyar. Nacchinarkiniyar was a mediaeval commentator on the Tolkappiyam. In his commentary on the first verse of the Tolkappiyam's "Eluttatikaram", Nacchinarkiniyar suggests that the forms of the letters of the ancient Tamil script were derived entirely from geometric objects, such as the square, the circle, and the cross, which were combined with each other, and modified with other lines, to form the old script which the Tolkappiyam describes. Unfortunately, my copy of the Tol. only has Ilampuranar's commentary so I can't provide an exact translation of Nacchinarkiniyar's comments, but I think this is roughly what he said.

    There are certainly some resemblances in Brahmi between characters having similar sounds (the two "l"s and the two "n"s, for example), and if one takes variants into account, the core characters are quite geometrical, so one sees why he proposed this theory. If imperial Aramaic was not the source for Brahmi, it may well be worth examining the structure of each letter in the script to see if they support his theory.

    Quote Originally Posted by gaddeswarup
    This makes it likely that the dedicated long matra, too, was first introduced in a Tamil context, and that the resulting system was only later imitated in Bhattiprolu. No such Tamil inscription has however been discovered yet."
    I refer to the last sentence. Does the discovery you mentioned provide this missing link?
    Ah, that's an interesting question. Unfortunately, the inscription pictured in the Hindu (which, incidentally, is the second stone rather than the first) does not have any long "a"s, so one can't really say, and the transcription of the first inscription suggests it doesn't either. However, an inscription discovered in Arittapatti in late 2003 used the same system as the Bhattiprolu inscriptions - including the distinctive dedicated long "a" matra. That inscription, too, was dated to the 3rd century BC, so it's probably fairly good evidence that the long "a" matra of the Bhattiprolu inscriptions was actually introduced in a Tamil context, as Baums and Glass speculate.

    To give some background for the others, the main difference between Tamil Brahmi and Asokan Brahmi is that whereas in Asokan Brahmi a consonant sign has an inherent "a" sound, in Tamil Brahmi it does not, and a matra must be added to produce an "a". If you look at the last two symbols in the photograph in the Hindu's article, you'll see they're read as "ka" and "l". The little bar on top of the cross adds the "a" to the "k". The "l", lacking the bar, is a pure consonant. In Asokan Brahmi, these symbols would have represented "kaala" rather than "kal".

    The Bhattiprolu inscriptions, which are in Prakrit, use this system, and add a second feature. In Tamil Brahmi, "kaa" was written by drawing a cross (representing "k"), adding an overbar (adding a short "a"), and then writing the symbol for the independent vowel "a" next to it. The Bhattiprolu inscriptions, in contrast, have a dedicated matra to denote the long vowel "aa", which is basically the overbar for short "a" with a little vertical hook at the end. This system was thought to have been borrowed from Tamil Brahmi, but no actual Tamil inscriptions that used this system were known, until the discovery of the Arittapatti inscriptions a couple of years ago.


  10. #19
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    aravindhan,
    Many thanks for taking the trouble to reply. I did find a reference to the theory of script based on geometric shapes (without a reference to the commentator) in http://www.cmi.ac.in/gift/Epigraphy/...amilorigin.htm
    I am not really in to these things but it is good to see how history changes with new discoveries. Part of my curiosity stems from the fact that I used to live in a village Gudavalli near Bhattiprolu and used to pass by the stupa site whenever I visited my maternal grandparents. My sister-in-law tells me that once she found a stone in one of the roadside sewage pits in Gudavalli. When she got it removed and cleaned it up, it has some writing about the origins of the village. Amaravati is also nearby and many slabs there were used by farmers for making lime. It is good see that there are still some relics left which throw some light on our heritage.
    Swarup

  11. #20
    Senior Member Senior Hubber kannannn's Avatar
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    Thank you Aravindhan, for the explanation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aravindhan
    To give some background for the others, the main difference between Tamil Brahmi and Asokan Brahmi is that whereas in Asokan Brahmi a consonant sign has an inherent "a" sound, in Tamil Brahmi it does not, and a matra must be added to produce an "a". If you look at the last two symbols in the photograph in the Hindu's article, you'll see they're read as "ka" and "l". The little bar on top of the cross adds the "a" to the "k". The "l", lacking the bar, is a pure consonant. In Asokan Brahmi, these symbols would have represented "kaala" rather than "kal".
    Infact, Iravatham Mahadevan talks about the tamil version of the Mauryan Brahmi script in his commentary on the Mangulam cave inscriptions.

    An intriguing feature of the report in "The Hindu" is the inscription on the third stone that says the dead man belonged to 'Velur'. I am not sure about 'Kudallur' and 'Pedu' mentioned in the report, but is it the same 'Velur' we have now? Does it mean the name 'Velur' as we know now has remained unchanged over the past 2300 years?
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