Whenever I read an article on ancient Indian history, I see people only writing about the Indus valley civilization and the Aryans. But what about Dravidians? Didn't they exist even before the Aryans came to India? Also I see a lot of other languages follow the Dravidian script or something similar like the Georgian, Korean, Sri Lankan etc.

Check out this link, some of the comments might be funny but someone says there is actually a lot of similarity in Asian languages to the Dravidian script. Am I missing something?

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    The theory of sunken landmass has been rendered obsolete by the plate tectonic theory. So the references to a sunken landmass found in literary works called kumari kandam cannot be considered as a credible source for the coming to a conclusion that Dravidians came from there.
    – kartshan
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 17:11
  • 4
    Are you asking if Dravidians existed before the Aryans came to India? Or are you asking why you don't see as much writing about the Dravidians as about the other groups?
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 21, 2012 at 2:33
  • news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/01/… Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 17:20

12 Answers 12


I think the OP knows that the Dravidians were in India before the Aryans, and is asking why historians don't talk more about them.

The answer is that Sanskrit (Aryan) scholarship has been going on in the west for centuries, while we still can't read the Indus Valley (probably Dravidian) script. Most of what we know about the Indus Valley civilization is based on archeology.

In other words, a) we don't know much about them, and b) what we do know is pretty dry reading. Written records let you tell stories about individual people, which tends to get more popular attention because it's more fun to read than the results of a carbon dating test.

Anyone interested in the subject should take a look at India: A History by John Keay. Unlike most popular histories of India, it pays a lot of attention to the times and areas for which we don't have written records. The first couple of chapters are the best writing I've found about the Dravidian/Aryan encounters.

  • 10
    As to the claim of similarities between Dravidian and Georgian, don't take anything you read on Reddit too seriously. As far as I can tell, no one there is seriously suggesting a connection between the two cultures; they're just saying that all non-Roman alphabets look funny to them.
    – Rose Ames
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 16:59
  • Yea I didn't just wondered if its true :)
    – Jayaram
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 16:06
  • If so I couldn't find any references to it. Welcome to the site!
    – Rose Ames
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 16:14
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    The idea that the Indus Valley civilization spoke (or wrote) Dravidian is quite disputed. We just don't know. Even the Dravidian/Aryan encounters are really more hot air than any certain facts we can be sure of; I recommend the survey The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate by Edwin Bryant (Oxford University Press, 2001). Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 12:24

This question raises a lot of passion among Indians and others alike for obvious reasons.

The Aryan Invasion theory is not an Indian concept per se. This has been brought in by the so-called etymologists from Europe.

Many of the latest studies which include cellular biology and genetics have revealed that there were never separate Aryans and Dravidians. To quote from the article:

We have conclusively proved that there never existed any Aryans or Dravidians in the Indian sub continent. The Aryan-Dravidian classification was nothing but a misinformation campaign carried out by people with vested interests

I would not get into the details of who all had vested interests and why as that is not the part of this question.

One such source: "New research debunks Aryan invasion theory" at DNA

As far as the question is concerned, there is no separate Dravidian History. The history of the Indian peninsula is pretty much the same thing. However you are right in mentioning that historical events south of Vindhyas has not been given due importance.

P.S.: I am not a historian but have keen interest in ancient history.

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    "so called etymologists from Europe " ??
    – Rohit
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 12:33
  • Recent article which articulated this blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-edit-page/…
    – PravinCG
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 15:09
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    This is horrendous, how does this have so many upvotes? The Aryan migration theory is extremely widely accepted amongst historians. Opposition to it comes from Hindu nationalists, who like all nationalists love nothing more than destroying history to fit their political agenda. This is sheer nonsense.
    – ubadub
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 5:34
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    The Aryan migration theory is extremely widely discarded amongst historians. Opposition to it comes from western colonialist, who like all colonialists love nothing more than destroying history to fit their political agenda. This is sheer nonsense. ;-)
    – PravinCG
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 6:49
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    @ubadub Looks like that but sites.google.com/site/r2dnainfo/R2-Home/Aryans/… Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 17:21

Dravidians came to India much before the Aryans did. Their origins are uncertain. According to Tamil legend, the Dravidians came to India from the lost island of Kumari Khandam. It is possible that the residents of the lost Indus Valley civilisation may have been Dravidians.

Dravidians' Indus Valley civilization:

The Dravidians had a civilization called Indus Valley civilization. They were peaceful farmers. In about 2000 BC, a large group of tribes called the Aryans probably settled down about the Dravidians when many Aryans moved from Central Asia searching for new grasslands. As more and more Aryans began arriving, there was not enough land for everyone and so there were many battles between the Aryans and Dravidians. Unfortunately for the Dravidians, they were not trained for war and so they could not stand a chance against Aryans who were rough, fierce and good fighters and had fast chariots, metal weapons and leather armor. Many villages and towns were destroyed in these battles. By 1000 BC, most of the Dravidians had disappeared, many had been killed and some had fled to south to start a new civilization in the Deccan. Some had become slaves or workers for the conquerors.

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    And that's how the caste system got developed. The aryan must have thought, well this people are great farmers. Let them farm and let us do what we do best, killing each other.
    – user4951
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 2:55
  • @JimThio, Exactly Jim that's what happened in early India. Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 5:05
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    That the Indus Valley civilization was Dravidian is still contraversial. I happen to believe it is (mostly) true, but it should be mentioned that not everyone is convinced of this.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 12, 2012 at 18:11
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    It should also be mentioned that the source of the excerpt is from an encyclopaedia targeting 8-12 year olds and sounds like it was written by said target audience :) Large grain of salt is recommended. Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 19:44
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    @Vijin Paulraj " Exactly Jim that's what happened in early India." You should not speak of your speculation, rather, inclination so authoritatively
    – Rohit
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 12:41

Source: Time of Dravidians

Different views are expressed in the world of research on Indus Valley Civilization. Some say it is of the Aryans while others opine that it is of the Dravidians.

On the basis of the four Vedas, the theory that the Indus Valley Civilization is of the Aryans was built up. Hence, the analysation of the Vedas throws much light on this line.

If Indus Valley Civilzation is of the Aryans, mother goddess worship that plays an important role in the Indus Valley Civilization should be described in the Vedas. But in the Vedas only minor female deities are mentioned. The Indus Valley deities normally have horns, whereas the deities of the Vedas are not portrayed with horns.1 Sivalinkas which are found in the Indus Valley Civilization is later on degraded in the Vedas.

The Vedas describe the wheels of the Chariots with spokes, but the wheels that are seen on the seals and vehicles of clay in Indus valley do not have wheels with spokes.2

Following analysation of Sir John Marshall on the Indus Valley Civilization here are given some clues.

  1. "The picture of Indo-Aryan society portrayed in the Vedas is that of a partly pastoral, partly agricultural people, who have not yet emerged from the village state, who have no knowledge of life in cities or of the complex economic organization which such life implies, and whose houses are nondescript affairs constructed largely of bamboo.

At Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, on the other hand, we have densely populated cities with solid, commodious houses of brick equipped with a adequate sanitation, bathrooms, wells, and other amenities.

  1. The metals which the Indo-Aryans used in the time of the Rigveda are gold and copper or bronze; but a little late, in the time of the Yajurveda and Atharvaveda, these metals are supplemented by silver and iron.

Among the Indus people silver is commoner than gold, and utensils and vessels are sometimes made of stone - a relic of the Neolithic Age - as well as of copper and bronze. Of iron there is no vestige.

  1. For offensive weapons the Vedic-Aryans have the bow and arrow, spear, dagger, and axe, and for defensive armour the helmet and coat of mail.

The Indus people also have the bow and arrow, spear, dagger and axe, but, like the Mesopotamians and Egyptians, they have the mace as well, sometimes of stone, sometimes of metal; while on the other hand, defensive armour is quite unknown to them - a fact which must have told against them in any contest with mailed and helmeted foes.

  1. The Vedic-Aryans are a nation of meat-eaters, who appear to have had a general aversion to fish, since ther is no direct mention of fishing in the Vedas.

With the Indus people fish is a common article of diet, and so, too, are molluscs, turtles, and other aquatic creatures.

  1. In the lives of the Vedic-Aryans the horse plays an important part, as it did in the lives of many nations from the northern grasslands.

To the people of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa the horse seems to have been unknown

  1. By the Vedic Aryans the cow is prized above all other animals and regarded with special veneration.

Among the Indus people the cow is of no particular account, its place with them being taken by the bull, the popularity of whose cult is attested by the numerous figurines and other representations of this animal.

  1. Of the tiger there is no mention in theVedas, and of the elephant but little.

Both these animals are familiar to the Indus people.

  1. In the Vedic pantheon the female element is almost wholly subordinate to the male.......

Among the Indus cults...........the female elements appear to be co-equal with, if not to predominate over the male.

As times goes on, doubtless many other salient points of difference will be revealed, but for the moment the above will suffice to demonstrate how wide is the gulf between the Indus and Vedic Civilizations. Now it may, perhaps, be argued that the difference between them is a difference of time only; that the Vedic civilization was either the progenitor or the lineal descendant of the Indus civilization........ Let us assume, in the first place, that the Vedic civilization preceded an led up to the Indus civilization. On this hypothesis the progress from the village to the city state and from the nondescript houses of the Vedic period to the massive brick architecture of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa would find a logical explanation, though we should have to postulate a long interval of time in order to account for the evolution. But what about other cultural features?

If the Vedic culture antedated the Indus, how comes it that iron and defensive armour and the horse, which are characteristic of the former, are unknown to the latter? Or how comes it that the bull replaces the cow as an object of worship in the Indus period, only to be displaced agains by the cow in succeeding ages? Or, again, how comes it that the Indus culture betrays so many survivals of the Neolitihic Age - in the shape of stone implements and vessels - if the coper or bronze and iron culture of the Indo-Aryans intervened between the two? Clearly these considerations put out of court any solution of the problem which postulates an earlier date for the Vedic than for the Indus Civilization. But if it was not earlier, are there any grounds for supposing that it was evolved out of the latter? In other words, could the Indo-Aryans have been the authors of the Indus as well as of the Vedic Civilization?

Here, again, we are faced with a like dilemma. For, though on this assumption we could account for such phenomena as the introduction of iron, of the horse, and of body armour, all of which might have signalized merely a later phase of the same culture, we are wholly at a loss to explain how the Indo-Aryans came to relapse from the city to the village state, or how, having once evolved excellent houses of brick, they afterwards conteneted themselves with inferior sturctures of bamboo; or how, having once worshipped the linga and the Mother Goddess, they ceased to do so in the Vedic Period, but returned to their worship later; or how, having once occupied Sind, they subsequently lost all memory of that country of the Lower Indus".3

Opinions of Asco Parpolo regarding Indus civilization and the review of Mahadevan on Asco Parpolo's view are given as follows.

The Survival of Brahui; a Dravidian language, spoken even today by large numbers of people in Baluchistan and the adjoining areas in Afghanistan and Iran, is an important factor in the identification of the Indus Civilization as Dravidian. Brahui belongs linguistically to the North Dravidian group with several shared innovations with Kurukh and Malto; no dialectal features connect it with the South or Central Dravidian languages. Hence Parpola cocludes that Brahui represents the remnants of the Dravidian language spoken in the area by the descendants of the Harappan population.4

Survival of place-names is generally a good indicator of the linguistic pre-history of a region. Parpola points out several place-names in the north western region like nagara. Palli, Pattana and Kotta with good Dravidian etymologies.5

Parpolo also points out that syntactical analysis of the Indus inscriptions has revealed Dravidian like typological characteristics, especially the attribute preceding the headword.6

It has often been pointed out that the complete absence of the horse among the animals so prominently featured on the Indus seals is good evidence for the non-Aryan character of the Indus Civilization.

  • I should also add that, the fact that there were at one point of time two races (Aryan and Dravidian) is proved beyond doubt by looking at history, culture and especially linguistics. However Over 2500 years of genetic mixing has led to a single indian race. There is no more pure Aryan or Dravidian now. All Indians belong to a common race although there maybe small variations across India.
    – Rajdutt
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 6:49
  • Regarding the Question, It is (sadly) true that Dravidian History is grossly misrepresented in the history syllabus of India with The Pre-Chola Era non Existent and the Chola, Pandya and Chera Empires being taught within a single chapter in Both CBSE and ICSE syllabus while entire sections being dedicated to the Maurya, Gupta, Mughal Empires as well as other Kingdoms like the Rajputs and Marathas. Even the wikipedia article on History of India is only about the history of North India. :(
    – Rajdutt
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 6:59
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    The History of South India has been written seperately here. Quite sad seeing we are one country.
    – Rajdutt
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 12:12
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    Personally, for our site I'd much rather see a condensing of this information with a link provided rather than a huge post that is nothing more than a quote from someone else's work.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 13:25

The main problem here is that the civilizations of India were almost completely illiterate before the Aryan movements. So what is known about the Dravidian people before that time has to come either from archeology, speculative linguistic studies, or from the writings of their Aryan enemies (clearly not the most reliable of sources there).

Now it is true that the Indus Valley boasted one of the world's first literate societies. Sadly, their script is still undeciphered, and, as one of my sources put it, the only truly distinguishing charactaristic of their civilization seems to have been the totality of its collapse. But nobody is even sure exactly who they were. The theory I find most compelling at the moment is that they were part of a larger Elamo-Dravidian language group stretching from Iran to India.

So if you are willing to be a bit expansive with your definitions, then being related to the Indus Valley civilization, as well as the Elamites in Iran (I believe even mentioned in The Bible in a couple of places) is probably the Dravidian peoples' best claim to fame in the ancient world.

  • I don't agree when you say Dravidians are completely illiterate. Dravidians were only afraid of aryans because they had better weapons which I think is one of the reasons they moved further south. Though aryans were good at some stuff, they were also afraid of the dravidian hyms, tantric mantras, black magic and curses which is why Aryans didn't follow dravidians the whole way. But after a while, I think there have been settlements and an exchange of knowledge between the two. Most of the Indian mythological/historical books though written by the aryans it is the knowledge of the dravidians.
    – Jayaram
    Commented Apr 12, 2012 at 22:44
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    @Jayaram - Please note that "illiterate" doesn't mean "stupid". It just means that their language(s) didn't have a script associated with it. Note that there's only proof of completely independent development of literacy in two places on earth in all of history, so its not really any kind of hit on the Dravidians that they didn't borrow the idea from a neighbor before the Aryans did. But it does mean they didn't leave their own written record for us to peruse (with the possible exception of the Indus Valley Hieroglyphs, which we don't know how read yet).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 14:25
  • Can anyone tell me what exactly aryan mean in this context .
    – kartshan
    Commented Apr 16, 2012 at 9:46
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    @kartshan - I'd suggest asking that as a question, because it would be a good one IMHO. The short answer is that we're referring to a set of Iranian (Indo-European speaking) tribes that invaded India roughly 1500 BCE.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 16, 2012 at 12:52
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    @kartshan - Yeah...not that. The term was borrowed from there, but we're using it in more of an ethnolinguistic sense.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 16, 2012 at 18:02

The whole Aryan invasion theory has come under serious debate with new research and studies coming to the fore. Since there is a political element attached to some of these studies and there are accusations of biased viewpoints influenced by ideologies rather than scholarly curiosity, it's always good to study both sides of the argument and attempt to arrive at one's own conclusions.

Till we have definitive evidence for one or the other, the OP's question cannot be answered satisfactorily as it contains certain presuppositions which might not be correct.

Here are some links I have found helpful in studying these newer viewpoints

A list of critiques about "Eurocentrism" - http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/h_rs/h_rs_malho_euro_frameset.htm

P.S. Like the OP, I am no historian but an amateur with an interest in history.

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    "Author presents positive evidence in support of his own thesis that India is the original homeland of the Aryans" - this is complete bullshit, contradicting all modern research.
    – Anixx
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 11:39
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    @Anixx I can see that this subject raises passions. I don't claim to be an expert, so maybe you can point out the relevant researches that you cite?
    – talonx
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 17:50
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    Armenians claim "true Aryans" lived in Armenia, Ukrainians claim "true Aryans" spoke Ukrainian, each country has their own theory. There is nothing special with India. Proto-Indo-European language is well reconstructed, and Sanskrit is at thousands of years distance from it. It had words for things and animals that do not live in India. The time of the supposed ancient Indian civilizations is much later than the estimated Indo-European unity. That is at the time of the Saraswati river civilization, 1600 years b.c. there was already Homer in Greece.
    – Anixx
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 18:27
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    Fortson, Indo-European language and culture, p.35. Chapter "Archaelogy and PIE homeland question". This is a texbook that explains basic things such as what gods protoindoeuropeans worshipped, what myths they had, what were their customs and family relations, what names they bore, what was their poetry like, what technologies they knew, when and where they lived and then it gives the complete grammar of their language and evolution path of all branches.
    – Anixx
    Commented Apr 12, 2012 at 3:35
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    -1. The article you cite and the various claims it contains should not fool an "amateur with an interest in history". S.R. Rao's claim that the Phoenician alphabet is an evol of the Harappan script is ludicrous: the filiation of the Phoenician alphabet from Egyptian hieroglyphs is well established. Plus I don't understand how "a distinguished linguist" can claim that a 4000 or even 400 signs only script "does not use vowels". That's a lot of consonants to pronounce if this is not a syllabic or ideographic script. In addition to all the args pointed out by @Anixx (which are not his "opinion"). Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 12:58

Regardless of what the Hindu nationalists vehemently claim, the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) has not been disproven. Merely called into question. It is India's version of America's bitter controversy about creation or evolution. In America our big disagreement is: Did we come from Adam and Eve, or from ape-like creatures? In India the issue is: Was it white people who migrated to ancient India and gradually became small and brown, or was it Puranic Hindus who migrated to prehistoric Europe and gradually became large and white?

Forget the dramatic differences in color between Indians and Europeans. Those are easily explained by differences of sunlight intensity. Study the facial features and hair-texture of these people, and you can easily tell that these are our bleached cousins. The languages of Europe have a long list of similarities with those of India. Ancient Roman and Greek mythologies contain deities and legends found in Hindu mythology with different names. The days of the week in both continent are named after the same gods.

Even the dhoti which my grandfather wore was a warm climate cousin of the Roman senator's toga. Anyone ignoring the fact that Europeans and Indians have some kind of distant kinship ignores the light of the sun.

  • Dramatic differences in color between Europeans and which Indians? I know people from southern India that are about as dark as any African; others from northern India that are about as light as a typical southern European. We also shouldn't overlook the fact that there was considerable trade between Greece/Rome and India, e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Roman_trade_relations
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 20:08
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    I don't see how this answers the question
    – two sheds
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 20:18

There is a blog entry that tackles some questions. Opinionated, but has useful information.

Check out this genetic analysis of South Asians. It shows that Ancient South Indians and Ancient North Indians were "mixed up" long before 1500 BCE.

The Mahabharata has a lot of references to Dravidas, Andhras, Keralas and Karnatakis!


Dr Clyde Winters has done extensive research and answered for lot of questions above with detail proofs.

Especially the book "The Dravido-Harappans of Inner Asia" is very informative.

  • 1
    Welcome to History.SE, Dr.! To make this a better answer, it would be great if you could pull out some relevant passages from Winters' book. Otherwise, your response would be more properly left as a comment. Once you get to 50 reputation, you can leave comments everywhere on the site.
    – two sheds
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 22:32

No references have been made to Dravidian mathematics and its use in the Tigris and Euphrates River Valley region (now Iran / Iraq), Elamatie and African presence in the Tigris and Euphrates River Valley region, sometimes referred to as "Mesopotamia." There are scientific reports in science magazine and other reputable sources concerning same, including Walter A Fairservis, Jr, The Script of the Indus Valley Civilization and Runoko Rashidi, More Light on Sumer, Elam and India in African Presence in Early Asia, Editors: Iva Van Sertima and Runoko Rashidi

  • "Sumer (a region of Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq) was the birthplace of writing, and many other innovations, The Sumerians developed the earliest known writing system - a pictographic writing system known as cuneiform script, using wedge-shaped characters inscribed on baked clay tablets. As in Egypt, Sumerian mathematics initially developed largely as a response to bureaucratic needs when their civilization settled and developed agriculture (possibly as early as the 6th millennium BC) for the measurement of plots of land, the taxation of individuals, etc." Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 10:05
  • I was asked to delete much of the post indicating it was too long. So sources were indicated in the following: : www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 10:11
  • This source indicates the 3rd millennium. - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaPrehistoric Sexagesimal (base 60) is a numeral system with sixty as its base. It originated with the ancient Sumerians in the 3rd millennium BC, it was passed down to the ancient Babylonians, and it is still used—in a modified form—for measuring time, angles, and geographic coordinates. The number 60, a superior highly composite number, has twelve factors, namely {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60}, of which 2, 3, and 5 are prime numbers. Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 10:28
  • I don't understand who asked you to delete what. And I'm not sure you have clarified "why dravidian history is ignored". You seem to be talking about Sumerian Maths.
    – Rajib
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 14:30

I would suggest reading Chapter 4 of the book Hidden Horizons. This dispels all the old myths.

  • 5
    Which myths? How does it dispel them. Please clarify your answer.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jul 21, 2012 at 16:22

The indus valley culture was belonged to Dravidian. I heard that India's former prime minister Mr.Jawahar lal nehru wrote about this in his book Discovery of India, But i never read it before.

Till today, the mystery behind the destroyed indus valley culture is unresolved completely.

But there is an assumption that Aryan were used long range weapons (i.e. bows and arrows) where as Dravidian used short range weapons (i.e. spears). So that they lost in war and migrated to south india. But there is no proved evidence for this assumption.

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