Dravidian people

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A Mediterranean people?

Dr. Lahovary’s work, 1963

SIRPI BALASUBRAMANIAM, June 23, 2010: The Hindu

Theories abound on the origin and diffusion of the Dravidian race and its languages. Australian, African, Lemurian and Harappan origins have been widely discussed by anthropologists, historians and philologists again and again.

In 1963, a scholarly work Dravidian origins and the west by Dr. N. Lahovary, translated from his original French work, was published in English and sadly it did not receive the attention it richly deserved. In the words of eminent historian K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, Lahovary seeks to demonstrate that just as the Indo-Aryan Languages of Northern India are related to the Indo-European languages of Northern and Eastern Europe, so also the Dravidian Languages of South India are more or less closely related to a near Eastern and Mediterranean agglutinative group of languages of Pre Indoa-European Times. Mr. Lahovary tries to establish a close relationship between the oldest elements in Basque – a Pre-Indo-European Language which still survives in the Pyrenness on the border land between France and Spain. Mr. Lahovary is of the opinion that the near east (comprising Syria, Palestine, Persia, Mesopotamia with its extension to India ) is the cradle of the first civilization from where the ancestors of the Dravidians fanned out to the West and East in successive migrations. The Worship of Mother Goddess, Aphonomenin, if Dravidians still survive in the sub-consciousness of the Mediterranean Christianity through the veneration paid to the ‘Black Virgin's' in Italy, Spain and France. The emblem of the Mother Goddess was fist and reminds us of Minakshi of Madurai. As mother of plants she is symbolised by the fig tree in Asia minor and in Mediterranean Europe. This symbolism finds and echo in the binding of peepul branches in the marriage court yards in Tamil country. The mother goddess is also connected with the serpent worship, in the Pre-Hellenic Mediterranean world and the worship of the serpent is still in existence in South India. It is also said that other ties between the Pre – Indo – European civilisations of the Mediterranean and the Pre- Aryan India is noticeable in the Megalithic structure in the Dravidian India and the Mediterranean Europe. As found in ancient Mesopotamia and parts of Mediterranean world the placing of the dead in terra-cota jars was frequent in ancient South India.

Tamil or Dravida was probably Dramil or Dramiza in its oldest forms according to the author. The Lycians of Asia minor, a pre-Indo-European Mediterranean people called themselves Trimmili. Herodotus has noted that the Lucians, the Original inhabitants of Crete, were known by the name ‘Termilai.' After devoting a chapter on the similarities of phonetic peculiarities in Basque and Dravidian languages. Lahovary concludes that they have the closest ties among all the languages of the peri-mediterranean family.

When he deals with the structural and morphological parallels, the author is convinced of the essentially suffixial nature of basque and Dravidian which separates them from Western Hermitic. Dr. Lahovary sets apart half of the book giving example of etymological parallels. The reader will be surprised at the large number of common words in Basque and Dravidian languages.

Some examples: Dravidian and Basque – AL (male), Ar (male); Odal (body), Odal (blood); Mukku (nose), moko (beak); Kella (thief), Kaldar (thief); Ubbu (swelling), Ug-atz (breast); Wisar (sweat), Izerdi (sweat); Kuru (small), Korro (small); Alal (crying), Aldia (lament). In spite of its short comings, Dr. Lahovary has unraveled the distant relationship between Dravidian languages and pre-Europen Languages especially Basque.When the book was published in 1963 in English, the author did not live to see the happy event.

The Pharaoh a Dravidian from south India?

Malini SeshadriMalini Seshadri, February 27, 2014 India Today

Was the great-grandfather of Pharaoh Tutankhamen a Dravidian from south India?

The great-grandfather of the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamen was a Dravidian from south India. Absurd? Perhaps not, in the light of an increasing body of evidence which suggests that waves of Dravidian migrations westward culminated in the establishment of the great Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations, and later, the Indus Valley culture.

The great-grandfather of the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamen was a Dravidian from south India. Absurd? Perhaps not, in the light of an increasing body of evidence which suggests that waves of Dravidian migrations westward culminated in the establishment of the great Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations, and later, the Indus Valley culture.

According to some scholars, quite a few truths support this theory. These include the mathematical precision, the directional orientation, and the use of stone in the pyramids of Gizeh, skills unknown in the Egypt of those times; the ancient Egyptian belief in rebirth; the adaptation of the dhoti worn by male figures in Egyptian drawings: the illustrations of irrigation methods in Egyptian panels, similar to those known to have been practised by the Dravidians of south India; the conspicuously large holes pierced in the ear-lobes of the Pharaohs and other members of the nobility; and the ruins of Luxor in Egypt, which bear a striking resemblance to ancient ruins in south India.

Disease Map: Now, to reinforce the theory of historical affinity between the Dravidian and the Mediterranean peoples, comes medical science. Professor S. Kameswaran, director of the Institute of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology at the Government General Hospital, Madras, mapped the occurrence of certain hereditarily transmitted diseases and determined their geographical distribution. Spread over four years, the studies show that no fewer than five such diseases are exclusive to the Mediterranean people, the people of south India, and the inhabitants of some Arabian Sea islands. These are:

Sickle-cell anaemia, in which the patient's red blood corpuscles tend to break into sickle-shaped cells and lose their function. This is a potentially fatal condition. Otosclerosis, a condition leading to gradual loss of hearing. It occurs mostly among adolescents, and is caused by a progressive ossification of the middle ear.

Submucous fibrosis of the palate and cheek, which manifests itself as a gradual formation of cartilage in the tissues of the mouth, sometimes making it difficult for the person even to open his mouth.

Nasopharyngeal angiofibroma, a benign but potentially cancerous growth behind and under the nose which gradually grows and even distorts the features. Operational procedures for this condition have been described by surgeons from Egypt where it is widely prevalent.

Retinitis pigmentosa, a congenital condition of the retina which results in partial or total blindness among young people.

All these diseases are virtually unknown in the Negroid, Mongoloid and Australoid races, and the analysis suggests that one of Tutankhamen's ancestors would, indeed, have been a Dravidian. What makes such revealing comparative studies possible are genes. Carriers of heredity as these are, they hold the clue to the ethnic history of various peoples. "You can bury yourself in the deepest cave or thickest forest," affirms a geneticist, "you can change your life-style or even your features, thanks to plastic surgery, but you can never escape your genes." However, delving into the ethnic past is fruitful only when, in any given community, characteristic traits have been reinforced by successive in-breeding, making it possible to draw historical conclusions from medical data.

In south India, people have lived in closed communities for millions of years, and consanguineous marriages have been the rule. These conditions have also been true of the inhabitants of the Mediterranean sea lands, at least until recently. As such, both are fertile hunting grounds for an archaeologist using biological tools, and the studies suggest that the East and the West sprang from the same ethnic roots.

Successes: Along with genetic analysis blood type studies have also helped in deciding controversies. Asserts Kameswaran; "For instance, some historians and research scholars have postulated that the Tamils of south India have racial affinity with the aborigines of Australia. But this can be categorically disproved through blood tests." The aborigines blood, it turns out, is different from that of true Dravidians, though it bears a great resemblance to that of certain non-Dravidian hill tribes of south India known as Paniyans.

Despite such successes, "medical archaeology", as Kameswaran dubs it. is very much in its infancy. He admits that in the course of his studies, he has had to take several "intuitive leaps" to complete his theories. "But so many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are fitting so neatly into place," he says, "that I am convinced that an interesting picture is in the making." Meanwhile, more analysis on a wider scale may help establish ethnic patterns on a more scientific footing. However, while the new archaeological tool comes into its own, the tested methods of 'digs' will continue, as the traditional archaeologists pore over muddy artefacts and dusty parchment in an effort to unravel the dead past. The past is not all dead, though, but lives on in the miniscule genes, which, in times to come, could give up their long-hidden secrets.

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