PRESS STATEMENTInternational Symposium on Origins of CivilizationCenter for Indic StudiesUniversity of Massachusetts DartmouthDartmouth, MA 02747July 7 and 8, 2011
The Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth just concluded a two-dayInternational symposium on Origins of civilization, held on July7 and 8, 2011. Participants includedscholars from the U.S., India, U.K. and Europe.Several noteworthy changes were in evidence since the last Symposium held in 2006, also at theCenter for Indic Studies. First, once popular pseudo-historical theories ba
sed on invasions by ‘Aryans’
have given way to scientific methods based on natural history and population genetics. Archaeologist Dr.Jim Shaffer of Case Western Reserve University pointed out that there is no archaeological record of anyinvasion or large scale migrations into India in ancient times, and all changes can be accounted for byindigenous developments.Historian of science Dr. N.S. Rajaram pointed out that these conclusions based on archaeologyare supported by genetic data (DNA and Y-chromosome) which show that Indians have lived where theyare today for at least 40,000 years and the contribution of outsiders to the gene pool is negligible to non-existent. He further pointed out that the symbolism of Harappan archaeology shows the strong influenceof Vedic thought and it is illogical to try to separate Harappan archaeology and Vedic literature, both of which evolved in the same geographical and ecological milieu.Similar change of emphasis was noticeable in linguistics also. Dr. Girish Jha of Jawaharlal NehruUniversity, New Delhi pointed out that classical linguistics based on Panini is proving effective inmodeling and implementation of languages and methods on the computer, and comparative linguisticslacks the degree of rigor needed for computer analysis and implementation. Dr. Jha and several othersexpressed the view that linguistic reconstructions like Proto Indo European cannot be compared toSanskrit since they are hypothetical languages while Sanskrit is real with a vast literature going back thousands of years.Dr. Angela Marantonio of the University of Rome (La Sapienza) and Dr. James Caldick [spelling?] of Cambridge stated in their presentation that comparative linguistics and Indo Europeanstudies can be used for a general study of languages and cannot be used to draw conclusions about historyculture or movements of peoples in ancient times. This was supported also by Dr. Nicolas Kazanas of Greece who showed the great impact made by the
on other languages and literary works of Indiaand Europe. Dr. Koenraad Elst of Belgium drew comparisons between Indian, Persian and Europeantraditions and literature.All the participants expressed happiness at the program, both its content and the arrangements,and thanked the Center Director Dr. Bal Ram Singh for organizing an outstanding symposium.