including Afghanistan and a part of Persia. It also included parts of Bactria
and Sogdia to its north. Megasthenes speaks of ‘Arianois’ as one of the three
peoples inhabiting the countries adjacent to India.
Use of Horse and Chariot
Textual References to Horse The horse plays a crucial role in the life of
the Indo-Europeans and is, therefore, regarded as an important indicator of
their presence. The term asva and its cognates are found in Sanskrit, the
Avestan language, Latin, Greek and other Indo-European languages. In the
ancient Indo-European texts many personal names are horse-centred. This is
particularly true of the Vedic and Avestan texts. In its various forms the term
asva is mentioned 215 times in the Rig Veda, while the term go is similarly
mentioned 176 times. The horse is praised in two complete hymns of the Rig
Veda and its importance is evident from many other references. The Asvins
are two horse-riders who occupy high positions in the Vedic pantheon.
Almost all the Vedic gods are associated with the horse, and this is
particularly true of Indra and his fighting companions, the Maruts. The horse
symbolises strength and is generally employed as a metaphor for might. The
Vedic people prayed for horses in addition to praja and pasu.
Linguistic References to Chariot The Indo-Europeans are distinguished
by horse-drawn chariots which are amply attested to by Vedic, Avestan and
Homeric texts. The chariot race prescribed in the vajapeya sacrifice of the
later Vedic texts was also a Greek practice, and is fully described by Homer.
It is held that the chariot originated in western Asia in the fourth millennium
BC, reaching the steppes in south Russia in the same millennium. This might
be proved true because the chariot does not appear in the steppes until 3000
BC or so. However, it is significant that the Proto-Indo-Europeans were very
well acquainted with the wheeled wagon.