Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni

Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni

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Some theonyms, proper names and other terminology of the Mitanni
Mitanni
Mitanni or Hanigalbat was a loosely organized Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC...

exhibit an Indo-Aryan
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

 superstrate
, suggesting that an Indo-Aryan
Indo-Aryans
Indo-Aryan is an ethno-linguistic term referring to the wide collection of peoples united as native speakers of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian family of Indo-European languages...

 elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion
Indo-Aryan migration
Models of the Indo-Aryan migration discuss scenarios of prehistoric migrations of the proto-Indo-Aryans to their historically attested areas of settlement in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent...

.

In a treaty between the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 and the Mitanni (between Suppiluliuma and Matiwaza, ca. 1380 BC
1380s BC
The 1380s BC refers to the period between 1389 BC and 1380 BC, the 1380s was the second decade of the 14th century BC.-Events and Trends:* Decline of the Minoan Culture in Crete.* Pharaoh Amenhotep III of Egypt marries Tiy, his Chief Queen....

), the deities Mitra
Mitra
*Mitra was an important Indo-Iranian divinity. Following the prehistoric cultural split of Indo-Aryan and Iranian cultures, names descended from *mitra were used for the following religious entities:...

, Varuna
Varuna
In Vedic religion, Varuna is a god of the sky, of water and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law and of the underworld...

, Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

, and Nasatya (Ashvins) are invoked. Kikkuli
Kikkuli
Kikkuli, "master horse trainer of the land Mitanni" was the author of a chariot horse training text written in the Hittite language, dating to the Hittite New Kingdom...

's horse training text (circa 1400 BC) includes technical terms such as aika (eka, one), tera (tri, three), panza (pancha, five), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine), vartana (vartana, round). The numeral aika "one" is of particular importance because it places the superstrate in the vicinity of Indo-Aryan proper as opposed to Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranian peoples are a linguistic group consisting of the Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dardic and Nuristani peoples; that is, speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family....

 or early Iranian (which has "aiva") in general.

Another text has babru'(-nnu)' ('"babhru, brown), parita(-nnu) (palita, grey), and pinkara(-nnu) (pingala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of the solstice
Solstice
A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun's apparent position in the sky, as viewed from Earth, reaches its northernmost or southernmost extremes...

 (vishuva) which was common in most cultures in the ancient world. The Mitanni warriors were called marya (Hurrian: maria-nnu), the term for (young) warrior in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 as well ; note mišta-nnu (= miẓḍha,~ Sanskrit mīḍha) "payment (for catching a fugitive)" (Mayrhofer II 358).

Sanskritic interpretations of Mitanni names render Artashumara (artaššumara) as Arta-smara "who thinks of Arta/Ṛta" (Mayrhofer II 780), Biridashva (biridašṷa, biriiašṷa) as Prītāśva "whose horse is dear" (Mayrhofer II 182), Priyamazda (priiamazda) as Priyamedha "whose wisdom is dear" (Mayrhofer II 189, II378), Citrarata as citraratha "whose chariot is shining" (Mayrhofer I 553), Indaruda/Endaruta as Indrota "helped by Indra" (Mayrhofer I 134), Shativaza (šattiṷaza) as Sātivāja "winning the race price" (Mayrhofer II 540, 696), Šubandhu as Subandhu 'having good relatives" (a name in Palestine, Mayrhofer II 209, 735),
Tushratta (tṷišeratta, tušratta, etc.) as *tṷaiašaratha, Vedic Tveṣaratha "whose chariot is vehement" (Mayrhofer I 686, I 736).

Archaeologists have attested a striking parallel in the spread to Syria of a distinct pottery type associated with what they call the Kura-Araxes culture
Kura-Araxes culture
The Kura-Araxes culture or the Early trans-Caucasian culture, was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC, and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the...

.

Literature

  • James P. Mallory
    JP Mallory
    James Patrick Mallory is an Irish-American archaeologist and Indo-Europeanist. Mallory is a professor at the Queen's University, Belfast.-Biography:...

    , "Kuro-Araxes Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture
    Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture
    The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture is an encyclopedia of Indo-European studies and the Proto-Indo-Europeans. The encyclopedia was edited by J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams and published in 1997 by Fitzroy Dearborn...

    , Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
  • Manfred Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen, Heidelberg 1986-2000.
  • Manfred Mayrhofer, 'Welches Material aus dem Indo-arischen von Mitanni verbleibt für eine selektive Darstellung?' In: E. Neu (Hrsh.), Investigationes philologicae et comparativae: Gedenkschrift für Heinz Kronasser (Wiesbaden, O. Harrassowitz 1982), 72-90.
  • Paul Thieme, The 'Aryan Gods' of the Mitanni Treaties, Journal of the American Oriental Society 80, 301-317 (1960)