Ötzi man’s Tuscany copper axe proof of migration from Harappan Dwarka
by Jayasree Saranathan on 01 May 2021 0 Comment

Ötzi man is in news again. (Ötzi was the oldest well-preserved remains of a man found on the highs of Alps in 2017, and dated at around 3300 BCE Wikipedia article). (Disclaimer: this article is not about the migration of Ötzi man).


After a recent discovery of the presence of the Indian-origin H.pylori bacterium in his stomach, establishing his ancestral origins in India (see here), now comes a research finding that says that the copper for his axe came from Tuscany in Italy. The name Tuscany induces interest for two reasons:

(1) The presence of a specific subclade of mtDNA U, namely U1a is found only in Tuscany and also in Kerala in India.


(2) The once thriving of Urnfield culture in the same region of Tuscany at Veii of Villanovan settlements having parallels to Vel people who migrated from Dwarka to Tamil lands at the end of Harappan culture (around 1500 BCE). Kerala and its adjoining regions in Tamilnadu and Karnataka housed these people. There even existed a region called “VeNadu” (Vel Nadu – meaning land of Vels) somewhere here in the later period of Sangam age.


Urnfield culture rings a familiarity with Indians, particularly those in Tamilnadu, as it refers to the deposition of ashes and bones after cremation in an urn and burying it underground. Such burials have been found in Adicchanallur and Sembian Kandiyur in Tamilnadu and were mentioned in many Sangma age poems. This practice of collecting incinerated bones and ashes in pots is Vedic in origin as the very process of collection of the ashes and bones is done to the uttering of Veda mantras. The only difference is that the pots are disposed in running waters along with the collected items – here again guided by the Veda mantras.


A practice which is entirely Vedic in origin and present in India made its appearance in Tuscany and some other regions of western and central Europe that once had Celtic presence. The duration of this practice in these regions was between 1300 BC – 750 BCE. The period 1300 BCE roughly coincides with the end of Harappan civilization when Vel people of Dwarka migrated to Tamil lands. A similar Urn culture appearing in Tuscany and West Europe around the same time gives rise to an opinion that another group of people of the same Harappan region having the same cultural habit had left for Europe and Tuscany in Italy.


The Ötzi man’s copper axe made of copper from Tuscany gives more hints on links with Tuscany for Harappan people of Dwarka.


Ötzi man’s copper axe


The date of Ötzi man is older than the period of Urn culture by nearly two millennia. What is of interest is the discovery that copper was mined in Tuscany as early as 5000 years BP. This date rings a familiarity to us, as that was when the mature phase of Harappan culture started with a sudden hike in commercial trade with Central Asia and Europe. In the absence of evidence of manufacture of copper items in Tuscany at that period, the Ötzi man’s copper axe must have been made in another place. As of today there is no clue on the region where it was produced. At the present level of available records, Gola Dhoro, a Harappan site in the Kutch region of Gujarat stands a better chance to fit in.


The date of Gola Dhoro (2500–2000 BCE) is behind Ötzi man’s time by nearly 800 years. But there is scope to believe that Gola Dhoro existed much before the currently dated period. At the time of its end, Gola Dhoro was a shell and gem artefact factory. But this site also has items made of copper. Copper axes, spear heads and the like are found in this site leading to a conjecture that commercial production of copper items must have existed here before it became a shell factory. It remains to be seen if the copper axe of Ötzi man has any similarities with Harappan copper tools.


Even in the absence of a research on establishing the origin of this axe to a Harappan site, there is room to believe that Harappan manufacturers of copper goods must have had knowledge of copper mining regions from where they received their supply of copper. Copper works must have been at its advanced stage even as early as 5000 years ago known from the reference to copper-walls around Krishna’s city of Dwarka in Tamil Sangam poems.  So the manufacturers of Kutch region must have had a good knowledge of copper mines of Europe and could have even visited those places out of professional interest.


The copper walls around Dwarka mentioned by Sangam poets must have been in effect copper plated walls. The ruins at Bet Dwarka caused by upsurge of sea water belonged to the period that saw the end of Harappan culture. That was around 1500 BCE. It was at that time, 18 clans of royalty connected with Krishna’s family and 18 groups of different types of artisans who originally belonged to the regions around the Ganges (who moved over to Dwarka along with Krishna) made a migration to Tamil lands. A major group among them was expert in pottery! Potters were known as Vels in Tamil.


Evidence of Vel Migration on the route to South


The presence and migration of Vels from Gujarat (Gurjara) to south is established from the names of places in and around Gujarat and also on their route to the South. For example, Ellora was one of the Vel settlements which is known from its name mentioned as “Velur” or “Veluragam” in the inscriptions.


Sholapur was originally “Velapur”. Similar names with “Vel” or “Vela” are found on Maharashtra. Coming further south, Belgaum was known as “Vel Gramam” in inscriptions. Belhutti was “Vel patti” according some researchers. More of this information has been given by Mu. Raghava Iyengar in his book “Velir Varalaru” written a century ago.


Each of the 18 groups of artisans was engaged in a different kind of art or metal work. They brought everything from stone works (both building and inscribing) to pottery and copper works to gold smithy. Tamilnadu was enriched by these artisans only.


The urn culture of burying the pots underground is associated with Vels only. Earlier also potters had existed in Tamilnadu, but the huge burial pots made their appearance only with the arrival of Vel people. Until then urn pots must have been smaller in size and disposal of them was by throwing them into water as is done by Tamil Brahmins even today.


Urnfield culture of Tuscany and Europe


The appearance of urn culture around the same time in Tuscany and spreading to adjacent regions could not have been a mere coincidence. When Dwarka (Bet Dwarka) suffered ruins, the people had left the city as had happened when Krishna left the world 5000 years ago. A part of them had come to South India. Another group must have gone to Tuscany.


This could have happened only if those people had some prior connection or familiarity with Tuscany. Such a connection is seen in the trade links with Tuscany from where they received their copper resources. There was a greater chance of the copper workers having made their destination to Tuscany as that could ensure continuing their profession there. They had taken along with them the Vedic practice of cremation and collecting the incinerated bones in pots. This required them to take along with them the Vels, the potters!


The name of a town as Veii having phonetic resemblance to Vel with the Urn culture in that region gives an indication of a migration from Gujarat region of the Harappan culture which was very much Vedic in essence.


Veii’s culture resembled everything that one can associate with the coastal people of Dwarka. An interesting element in their culture is their patron Goddess Juno. She was the Goddess of prosperity and fertility and many more added after she was adopted by Roman culture. But her origin is traced to Veii people and this brings it back to Vedic concepts. That concept was none other than that of Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and wealth in Vedic society. To understand this link, the concept of how Lakshmi got connected with Kardama is discussed below.


Lakshmi, daughter of Kardama


Lakshmi is a popular Goddess of Vedic religion. There is hymn dedicated to her in Rig Veda. Known as Sri Sooktham it says that Lakshmi or Sri is the daughter of Kardama rishi.


Who was Kardama? Sages had always given the concepts in amazing forms of riddles and stories and based on the etymology we have to unlock them. The story of Kardama is one such thing. The very personification of Kardama can be best understood from Valmiki Ramayana and further unlocked from Srimad Bhagavata.


In chapter 3-14 of Valmiki Ramayana, Rama meets Jatayu, the eagle on the way. Jatayu tells Rama about his identity by tracing the very creation of all beings from the beginning. An analysis of this description by Jatayu shows a remarkable concept of how mankind evolved with its works.


The first creation was Kardama. Kardama means mud. This refers to the land we stand on and also the availability of mud as a means for the betterment of man’s life.


The 2nd creation was Sesha. Though it means the left-over, it refers to snakes.


The 3rd creation was Samshraya. It means residence or a dwelling place. Snakes make holes in the mud (ground) and make their living. It is from snakes man perhaps learned to make dwelling places. Earliest dwellings were supposed to be subterranean. Such dwellings are found in Mehrgarh dated at 9000 years BP.


Then came Sthanu, the 4th creation. Sthanu means firm or immovable. Man came to live in permanent dwellings. 


The 5th one was MarIchi. MarIchi means ray of light or just ray. Perhaps this refers to harnessing light or making fire.


The 6th creation is Atri. Atri means the devourer. Perhaps this refers to the losses suffered as is known from the next creation.


The 7th creation was Kratu. It means sacrifice. Perhaps this refers to conceiving the idea of Almighty, an unseen power that can protect man. This idea could have come only when man suffered losses beyond his control. So Atri (6th) as devourer makes sense. When mankind after settling down suffered losses, the prayer to an unseen power sprang up.


The 8th creation was Pulasthya, the name associated with birth of demons. Perhaps with knowledge of the Almighty and ways to tap its benefits, man became arrogant. The case of Hiranyakashipu is a good example to relate with.


The 9th creation was Angira. He stands for Agni – of the kind used for yajnas.


The 10th creation was Pracheta. This word means clever and wise. By now man has become clever, in tapping material and Godly benefits.


Then came Pualaha, Daksha, Vivaswan and Kashyapa.


The last 4 are mankind-proper that indicates birth of man as thinking and civilised person. Of them Kashyapa was the progenitor of mankind. Even now, if someone does not know the gotra, the priests in the temple would mention Kashyapa as one’s gotra and do puja in their name for the deity. The basic components or stages of growth and maturity of mankind are explained through these names.


Then came the daughters. They were married to these men mentioned above. Kashyapa married 8 daughters of Daksha according to Jatayu in that narration. It refers to the various genetic traits (mtDNA perhaps) that gave rise to diversified growth of mankind.

For this article, I am confining myself with the issues connected with Vel, the potter.


Lakshmi was Kardama’s daughter. Kardama refers to the mud and objects connected with mud. Lakshmi as daughter of Kardama refers to the wealth and prosperity that man could make from mud. The first houses were made of mud only. That was the first level of betterment in man’s life. That is why Lakshmi is connected with Kardama from the very basic level.


Kardama had another daughter called “Shraddha” which means effort. Shraddha was married to Angiras, the Agni. With shraddha when man works with mud (kardama) and fire (Angira), the result is a pot! After learning to make pots, which was the first innovation and industry of mankind, man became prosperous. The pot became an inevitable object for everything from birth to death and kitchen to Yajna. The increase in his standard of living was therefore attributed to the daughter of Kardama, Lakshmi. Juno of Veii people has all the trappings of Lakshmi.


The group that left Dwarka/Kutch region in the wake of loss of habitat around 1500 BC found a home in Tuscany where copper workers found a new lease of life. [Conditions were no longer available to get copper imports in their previous abodes in Harappan sites. This forced them to move to regions where copper was available].


With them went the potters and their Goddess. Due to lack of contact with ancestral culture, the newly established culture in Tuscany underwent changes with successive generations. Their memories faded but their habits and allegiance to their Goddess continued with modifications.


With the coming of Greeks, every name and form was altered. Today their links can be established only through genetics. The genetic link is already established in the presence of Haplogroup U1a in Tuscany and Kerala besides very less presence in East Europe, which only indicates the route of this migration through East Europe.




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