I've recently delved into the historical roots of chess and have come across some intriguing information that I'd like some further insight on. As per the History of chess , Chaturanga is recognized as the most ancient predecessor of modern-day chess. The term "Chaturanga" itself is derived from Sanskrit, a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages.

Furthermore, the article specifically pertaining to "Chaturanga" suggests that its origins lie in the Indus Valley Civilisation, which was a Bronze Age civilization in South Asia. Yet, Indo-Aryan migrations states that the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization predates the Indo-Aryan migrations.

Given this information, it appears that there's a potential disconnect between the nomenclature of Chaturanga and its actual roots. Could this suggest that the earliest known precursor of chess might not have direct ties to Indo-European culture? I'd be grateful for any clarifications from individuals more versed in this topic.

  • Can someone explain why this received downvotes? :(
    – user62125
    Aug 18, 2023 at 10:16
  • 4
    Not my downvote, but It is preferred to edit questions to reflect changes. Please don't delete a question, especially one which has received an answer, but instead edit the existing question to address any issues raised in comments or answers. (Note that many users here have enough rep to see deleted questions, and many users here were involved in voting to get the original question reopened after it was closed the first time, so are aware of the existence of the original question before you deleted it.)
    – justCal
    Aug 18, 2023 at 13:29
  • 1
    Not a downvoter-- but your question seems to be primarily concerned with what might be considered a meaningless distinction in nomenclature: if the Indian game Chaturanga has some roots in a much-earlier and undescribed game that may have existed prior to the Indo-Aryan migration, does this somehow mean that Indo-European is incorrectly applied to chess, which has well-documented origins in India and was further adapted in Persia, the Middle East and Europe?
    – antlersoft
    Aug 18, 2023 at 13:46
  • @antlersoft I am just asking why a pre IE game has a Sanskrit name, do you have any evidence for such an undescribed game?
    – user62125
    Aug 18, 2023 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


... the article specifically pertaining to "Chaturanga" suggests that its origins lie in the Indus Valley Civilisation, which was a Bronze Age civilization in South Asia.

Well, what Wikipedia actually says in its article on Chaturanga is:

Archeological remains from 2000 to 3000 BC have been found from the city of Lothal (of the Indus Valley civilisation) of pieces on a board that resemble chess.

This is very thin evidence that Chaturanga originates in the IVC. Maybe it did, and the name it acquired in Sanskrit replaced its name in the language(s) of the IVC, but we have no grounds for confidence in that idea.

The earliest mention of Chaturanga is apparently from the Bhavishya Purana, but reliably dating any passages of that text seems to be impractical, and its earliest dates are 5th to 7th CE, at least 1,800 years after the end of the IVC.

It seems at least plausible that the IVC had an 8x8 board game that wasn't an ancestor of Chaturanga, but again, we have no way to know.

We just don't have enough information to claim that the name is inconsistent with the origins of the game.

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