I think Aratta lies to west of river Indus and is known for horse breeding. Mahabharata talks about horses from Aratta used in wars. Aratta was also known for irreligious and matriarchal culture. A place with a combination of all these -breeding of war-horses, matriarchy and unchaste women - to be the location of Aratta which was ruled by Sindhu kings in Mahabharata times. I am even tempted to connect it to Susa. I am giving below the Mahabharata sources.
And smiling the while, several warriors on thy side, with a large number of steeds consisting of the best of the Kamvoja breed as also of those born in the country of the Rivers, and of those belonging to Aratta and Mahi and Sindhu, and of those of Vanayu also that were white in hue, and lastly those of hilly countries, surrounded the Pandava army
Mighty steeds of gigantic size, of the Aratta breed, bore the mighty-armed Vrihanta of red eyes mounted on his golden car, that prince, viz, who, rejecting the opinions of all the Bharatas, hath singly, from his reverence for Yudhishthira.
In former days a chaste woman was abducted by robbers hailing from Aratta.
From Karna Parva
Listen with close attention to what I say. Once on a time a brahmana came to our house as a guest. Observing our practices he became highly gratified and said unto us, I dwelt for a long time on a peak of the Himavat quite alone. Since then I have seen diverse countries following diverse religions. Never, however, have I seen all the people of a country act unrighteously. All the races I have met will admit that to be true religion which has been declared by persons conversant with the Vedas. Travelling through various countries following various religions, I at last, O king, came among the Vahikas. There I heard that one at first becomes a brahmana and then he becomes a kshatriya. Indeed, a Vahika would, after that, become a Vaishya, and then a Shudra, and then a barber. Having become a barber, he would then again become a brahmana.
Returning to the status of a brahmana, he would again become a slave. One person in a family becomes a brahmana: all the others, falling off from virtue, act as they like. The Gandharas, the Madrakas, and the Vahikas of little understanding are even such. Having travelled through the whole world I heard of these practices, destructive of virtue, of these sinful irregularities amongst the Vahikas' Thou shouldst know all this, O Shalya. I shall, however, again speak to thee about those ugly words that another said unto me regarding the Vahikas. In former days a chaste woman was abducted by robbers hailing from Aratta. Sinfully was she violated by them, upon which she cursed them, saying, Since ye have sinfully violated a helpless girl who am not without a husband, therefore, the women of your families shall all become unchaste. Ye lowest of men, never shall ye escape from the consequences of this dreadful sin' It is for this, O Shalya, that the sisters' sons of the Arattas, and not their own sons, become their heirs.
From: S. Kalyanaraman
In a remarkable monograph, Vishal Agarwal, concludes that there is no Vedic evidence for an Aryan immigration into India. I will cite excerpts from this work of Vishal Agarwal.
I will not digress on the arguments advanced to refute an Aryan Invasion Theory which was noted by an eminent linguist MB Emeneau as 'the linguistic doctrine' establishing the incursion of Indo-European in India. I will restrict the scope of this monograph to identifying and locating Aratta in Meluhha, in the context of my thesis on Meluhha -- a visible language.
In 1989, Witzel commented [Witzel, Michael. 'Tracing the Vedic Dialects'. In Dialectes dans les literatures indo-aryennes; Publications de l'Institute de Civilization Indienne, Serie in-8, Fascicule 55, ed. by C. Caillat, Diffusion de Boccard: Paris (1989)]:
"In the case of ancient N. India, we do not know anything about the immigration of various tribes and clans, except for a few elusive remarks in the RV (= Rigveda), SB (= Shatapatha Brahmana) or BSS ( = Baudhāyana śrautasūtra). This text retains at 18.44 :397.9 sqq. the most pregnant memory, perhaps, of an immigration of the Indo-Aryans into Northern India and of their split into two groups: pran Ayuh pravavraja. Tasyaite Kuru-Pancalah Kasi-Videha ity. Etad Ayavam pravrajam. Pratyan amavasus. Tasyaite
Gandharvarayas Parsavo 'ratta ity. Etad Amavasavam. "Ayu went eastwards. His (people) are the Kuru-Pancala and the Kasi Videha. This is the Ayava migration. (His other people) stayed at home in the West. His people are the Gandhari, Parsu and Aratta. This is the Amavasava (group)...the text makes a differentiation between the peoples of the Panjab and the territories West of it on one hand, and the "properly Vedic" tribes of Madhyadesa and the adjacent country East of it."
Koenraad Elst took issue with the translation made by Witzel, of the Baudhāyana śrautasūtra passage (pages 164-165 of K. Elst, 1999. Update the Aryan Invasion Debate. Aditya Prakashan: New Delhi):
The role of Mleccha speakers during the bronze age in an extended contact area is elaborated in the following monographs:
See: Notes on spread of lost-wax casting from Meluhha and tin trade from Meluhha
Meluhha hieroglyphs: 1. Dhokra kamar lost-wax metal caster; 2. Dance-step of Mohenjo-daro metal cast
Meluhha and tracking the Tin Road. After all, what is a Bronze Age without bronze?
The identification of Araṭṭa as a region outside of Aryavarta, but within the framework of Indus-Sarasvati Civilization core region of a sacred Vedic Sarasvati river basin, is consistent with the archaeological sites associated with the bronze age extending from Sohri-Sokhta to Rakhigarhi, from Shahdad to Dholavira, Lothal and Daimabad with most of about 2000 (or 80% of 2600) archaeological sites of the civilization located on the Sarasvati River Basin. The civilization sustained the bronze age initiatives in trade with the use of Meluhha hieroglyphs to communicate catalogs of metalware and stoneware.
Just as Paul Thieme and Satyaswarup Misra had traced proto-Indo-aryan words through Mesopotamia-Anatolia-Mitanni using Mitanni treaties, Koenraad Elst presents the following possibilities in the context of the ongoing search for urheimat of IE speakers:
"Their (Mitanni treaties) language was mature Indo-Aryan, not proto-Indo-Iranian. Satya Swarup Misra argues that the Mitannic languages already showed early Middle-Indo-Aryan traits, e.g. the assimilation of dissimilar plosives (sapta > satta), and the break-up of consonant clusters by interpolation of vowels (anaptyxis, Indra > Indara). This would imply that Middle-Indo-Aryan had developed a full millennium earlier than hitherto assumed, which in turn has implications for the chronology of the extant literature written in Middle-Indo-Aryan. In the centuries before the Mitanni texts, there was a Kassite dynasty in Mesopotamia, from the 18th to the 16th century BC. Linguistically assimilated, they preserved some purely Vedic names: Shuriash, Maruttash, Inda-Bugash, i.e. Surya, Marut, Indra-Bhaga (Bhaga meaning effectively 'god', cfr. Bhag-wAn, Slavic Bog). The Kassite and Mitanni peoples were definitely considered as foreign invaders. They are latecomers in the history of the IE dispersal, appearing at a time when, leaving India out of the argument, at least the area from Iran to France was already IE. They have little bearing on the Urheimat question, but they have all the more relevance for mapping the history of the Indo-Iranian group. Probably the Kassite and Mitannic tribes were part of the same migration, with the latter settling in a peripheral area and thereby retaining their identity a few centuries longer than the Kassites in the metropolitan area of Babylon. According to Babylonian sources, the Kassites came from the swampy area in what is now southern Iraq: unlike the Iranians, who migrated from India through Afghanistan, the Kassites must have come by sea from Sindh to southern Mesopotamia. While the Iranians migrated slowly, taking generations to take control gradually of the fertile areas to the south of the Aral Lake and of the Caspian Sea, the Kassites seem to have been a warrior group moving directly from India to Mesopotamia to carry out a planned invasion which immediately gave them control of the delta area, a bridgehead for further conquests of the Babylonian heartland. They were a conquering aristocracy, and having to marry native women, they lost their language within a few generations, just like the Vikings after their conquest of Normandy. If the earlier Kassite and the later Mitanni people were indeed part of the same migration, their sudden appearance falls neatly into place if we connect them with the migration wave caused by the dessiccation of the Saraswati area in ca. 2000 BCE. Indian-Mesopotamian connections relevant to the Urheimat question have to be sought in a much earlier period. Whether the country Araṭṭa of the Sumerian sources is really to be identified with a part of the Harappan area, is uncertain; the Sumerian legend Enmerkar and the Lord of Araṭṭa (late 3rd millennium BCE) mentions that Araṭṭa was the source of silver, gold and lapis lazuli, in exchange for grain which was transported not by ship but over land by donkeys; this would rather point to the mining centres in mountainous Afghanistan, arguably Harappan colonies but not the Harappan area itself. However, if this Araṭṭa is the same as the Indian Araṭṭa (in West Panjab) after all, it has far-reaching implications. Araṭṭa is Prakrit for A-rASTra, 'without kingdom'. The point here is not its meaning, but its almost Middle-Indo-Aryan shape. Like sapta becoming satta in the Mitannic text, it suggest that this stage of Indo-Aryan is much older than hitherto assumed, viz. earlier than 2000 BCE."
This brilliant linguistic analysis points to the word Araṭṭa itself as a Proto-Indo-Aryan gloss with the semantics 'without kingdom' treating the word as a Mleccha (Meluhha) or Proto-Prākṛt tadbhava from a-rāṣṭra (Arya vācas or Sanskrit of the Aryavarta, Ganga-Yamuna doab).
Since there are significant indicators in the Baudhāyana kalpasūtra texts pointing to the locus of Araṭṭa in West Punjab, the implications detailed by Koenraad Elst deserve to be taken note of and the identification of Araṭṭa in the extended region attempted by scholars like DT Potts and Steinkeller may have to be re-visited.
http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.in/2013/07/location-of-marhashi-and-cheetah-from.html In this note, I have argued that Marhashi and Meluhha are the same.
Potts and Steinkeller argue that Araṭṭa was Marhashi.
In my view, the evaluation of JF Hansman is close to the mark of identifying Araṭṭa as a region close to Shahr-i-Sokhta consistent with his earlier article in Iran 10 (1972): 118, n.97. Shahr-i-Sokhta is loated near the western border of Afghanistan. In his 1978 paper, Hansman refers to Majidzadeh suggesting the possibility of locating Araṭṭa in Kerman province, a district which ies to the west of Iranian Sistan. Majidzadeh locates Araṭṭa between the present city of Kerman and the town of Shahdad. Elsewhere, the Shahdad standard has been explained as a set of Meluhha hieroglyphs. It is possible that Meluhha speakers were settled in Shahdad.
In the light of the textual evidence from ancient Indian texts discussed in this monograph, the suggestions and critical comments made by JF Hansman have to be taken into account. He suggests that a system of direct trade existed between Araṭṭa and the Sumerian states of southern Mesopotamia. It is certainly not far-fetched to postulate donkey caravans moving from Meluhha into these Sumerian states. If Araṭṭa was in W. Punjab as the Indian texts seem to indicate, the trade from Araṭṭa could have been part of the trade with Meluhha using sea-faring means and using caravans on the Tin Road as mentioned in cuneiform texts.
There are lots of arguments about Araṭṭa . See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AAratta One comment says (2011) about a hypothesis of Afghanistan as Araṭṭa : "it has been universally agreed in recent years that the most famous Old World lapis lazuli mines, those on the upper reaches of the Kokcha river, a tributary of the Oxus (Amu Darya), in the Badakhshan district of Modern Afghanistan, described by Marco Polo (Yule 1929; i. 157), were the primary source for the ancient Near East and Egypt. Evidence for exploitation of these mines in the third millenium BC has been strengthened by the discovery of raw lapis lazuli and evidence of bead manufacture of Shortughai on the river Oxus (Francfort and Pottier 1978; Francfort 1987) in a settlement where the material culture is described as largely 'Harappan'".
As the conclusive identification of Araṭṭa can await further detail re-evaluations of many conjectures made, I submit that the Indian texts referred to in this note should also be taken into account within the context of use of Meluhha hieroglyphs on many metalware and stoneware trade transactions and I posit the hypothesis that Araṭṭa referred to a region in the present-day Western Punjab where Meluhha speakers were artisans/traders working in stoneware and metalware, with particular reference to tin trade along Tin Road and spread of lost-wax casting technologies exemplified by the Dancing Girl statue ofMohenjo-daro which finds an echo on a potsherd from Bhirrana on the banks of River Sarasvati. As the secular desiccation of River Sarasvati progressed with recurrent tectonic events resulting in river migrations depriving Sarasvati River from glacial sources, there could have been movements of Meluhha speaker artisans, say, from Dholavira to Bhirrana and eastwards upto Rakhigarhi.
A simple conclusion is that Araṭṭa was in Indus-Sarasvati civilization area referred to in the overall context of cuneiform text references as Meluhha and that Araṭṭa artisans/traders were Meluhha (mleccha) speakers.
Embedded are the following for ready reference:
- Vishal Agarwal's Vedic evidence for Aryan Migration Theories
- DT Pott's Exit Aratta
- Piotr Steinkeller's New light on Marhashi
- JF Hansman' Question of Araṭṭa