Henri-Paul Francfort

French archaeologist

Henri-Paul Francfort is a French archaeologist and member ("directeur de recherche") of the CNRS. He is noted for his excavations at Shortugai.


  • Apart from the time-space expectations, there is not much in the archaeological material that could be taken as tags for tracing the Indo- Iranians/ Indo-Aryans [...] no one of these archaeological correlates is beyond question [...] Briefly, not only have they nothing strictly Indo-European or Indo- Iranian or Indo-Aryan in them, but if we look closely at them in their general cultural context, they appear to be selected isolated traits not always compatible with each other [...and] are attested in various cultural contexts, not all necessarily Indo-European... [the whole process is based on] the simple linguistic space-time argument for locating the speakers, in which case a study of the archaeological record is useless since anything goes [...] there is no factual evidence apart from the linguistically reconstructed time-space predictions [...] There is no point in trying to illustrate ethno-linguistic theories by irrelevant or uninterpretable archaeological material.... [the material culture cited] proves nothing about the language of their owners. Otherwise we would have to admit that the Bronze Age Chinese were Indo-European.
    • The Archaeology of Proto-historic Central Asia and the Problems of Identifying Indo-European and Uralic-speaking Populations. Francfort, H.P. pp. 151-163 in ―Early Contacts between Uralic and Indo-European: Linguistic and Archaeological Considerations‖, ed. Carpelan, Parpola, Koskikallio Suomalais- Ugrilainen Seura, Helsinki, 2001.. Quoted in Talageri, S. G. (2010). The Rigveda and the Avesta. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • In short, apart from the time-space expectations, there is nothing in the archaeological material that could be taken as tags for tracing the Indo-Iranians/Indo-Aryans.
    • (FRANCFORT 2001:153). Francfort, H.P, quoted in Talageri, S. G. (2010). The Rigveda and the Avesta. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Recent hypotheses connecting the Oxus civilization with the Indo- Iranians or the Indo-Aryans are of two kinds: the first consider the Oxus civilization as an emanation of the Indo-Iranians / Indo-Aryans (Sarianidi, Hiebert); the second hold that newcomers from the steppes succeeded the Oxus civilization (Kuzmina) or took possession of it (Parpola, Mallory). This wide uncertainty, which may appear surprising, is due to the fact that no trace of invasion is noticed on the ground, no cultural transformation is marked by the presence of archaeological material whose origin could be attributed to peripheral regions. Expressions like “elite dominance” or “infiltration,” despite their great evocative power, are nothing but rhetorical devices. They do not manage to mask our present inability to account for a supposed historical phenomenon. [...] In neither of the two regions, steppes and oases, do we find an archaeological material that could be indisputably attributed to Indo-Iranians, Indo- Aryans, or Iranians.
    • quoted in Danino, M. (2009). A BRIEF NOTE ON THE ARYAN INVASION THEORY. PRAGATI| April-June 2009
    • Henri-Paul Francfort, “Oxus Civilization, or BMAC, Indo-Iranians and Indo-Aryans” in Âryas, Aryens et Iraniens en Asie Centrale, by Gérard Fussman, Jean Kellens, Henri- Paul Francfort & Xavier Tremblay (Paris: Collège de France & Institut de civilisation indienne, 2005, p. 262.
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