Jean-François Jarrige

French archaeologist (1940-2014)

Jean-François Jarrige (August 5, 1940, Lourdes – November 18, 2014, Paris) was a French archaeologist specializing in South Asian archaeology and Sindhology. He held a doctorate from the University of Paris in oriental archaeology. He carried out the excavations in Baluchistan, Mehrgarh and Pirak. In 2004, he became the director of the Musée Guimet in Paris.

Jean-François Jarrige (1993)


  • “Another element of continuity between ceramics of the third millennium Baluchistan and those of the second millennium can be found in the decoration. While the geometric painted designs on pottery from Pirak may be quite different from those on Harappan pottery, they are very much in the older ‘Quetta-Amri’ tradition. In our report on Pirak we pointed out similarities which we feel are too close to be explained merely as a result of coincidence. We postulated that such traditional styles of decoration survived in regions which were at the periphery of the principal zone of Harappan influence... ...Should the origins for these transformations of the second millennium be sought in exogeneous events, in colonization of the area by new peoples, by a sudden influx of refugees bringing new crops and animals with them? Probably not, since the processes which I have briefly described are too complex to be attributed to the arrival of invaders who at the same time would have had to have introduced rice from the Ganges, sorghum from the Arabian Gulf, and camels and horses from Central Asia. It is also not likely that the newcomers, whether they be a ruling elite or refugees, would have had the impetus to change an agricultural system still capable of being intensified without the introduction of new crops and, for rice, new irrigation practices.”
    • JARRIGE, Jean-Francois. 1985. ‘Continuity and Change in the North Kachi Plain (Baluchistan, Pakistan) at the Beginning of the Second Millennium BC. Pages. 42-60 in J. Schotsmans and M. Taddei (eds.), South Asian Archeology, 1983. Naples: Instituto Universatirio Orientale
  • Phoenix-like, the theory of the invaders, preferably Indo-Europeans, always rises from its ashes.
    • Attributed in Michel Danino - The Invasion That Never Was (2004), (source: The Invasion That Never Was - By Michel Danino and Sujata Nahar)
  • Along the same lines, the antiquities discovered at Quetta in 1985, which are also sometimes connected with intruding Indo-Aryans (i.e., e.g. Allchin 1995), can also sim- ply be viewed as reflecting "the economic dynamism of the area extending from South Central Asia to the Indus Valley." The fact that similar objects are also found in graves and deposits in northern Iran, eastern Iran, northwestern Afghanistan, South Turkmenia, and Baluchistan might simply indicate "a wide distribution of common beliefs and ritual practices" (Jarrige and Hassan (1985) 1989, 162-163). Jarrige and Hassan reject the idea that these finds were associated with invaders related to the Hissar III C complex, since "there is nothing in the Gorgan Plain and at Hissar to prove that northern Iran has been a relay station for invading people. The . . . grey ware can very well be explained within its local context" (163-164). Nor are these scholars partial to the northern steppe Andronov alternatives, since: We leave to the linguists the problem of whether Indo-European languages were introduced into the Middle Asian regions from a still unknown part of the Eurasian steppes in the course of the third millennium or if Indo-Iranian languages have been associated with these regions for a much longer period. As far as archaeology is concerned, we do think that it is increasingly necessary for specialists in Indo-lranian studies to pay attention to the . . . interrelated cultural entities of the late third and early second millennium in the regions between Mesopotamia and the Indus. It is a direction of research that is likely to be more fruitful than are traditional attempts to locate remains left by nomads from "the Steppes," attempts that were in fashion when the Indo-Iranian Borderlands were thought to be a cultural vacuum. (164)
    • in Bryant, E. F. (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : the Indo-Aryan migration debate. Oxford University Press. chapter 10
  • Despite inviting linguists to reconsider the northern steppe hypothesis in favor of the southern route, it can be inferred from Jarrige and Hassan, as from the work of a number of archaeologists considering the problem of Indo-Aryan origins, that the Indo-Aryan- locating project exists solely due to linguistic exigencies: The development of original but closely interrelated cultural units at the end of the third and the beginning of the second millennium cannot be explained just by the wandering of a single group of invaders. The processes were obviously multidirectional in regions with strong and ancient cultural traditions. This does not preclude the fact that movement of population and military expeditions . . . may have played an important historical part but, as far as archaeology is concerned, there is nothing to substantiate a simplistic model of invasion to account for the complex economic and cultural phenomena manifest at the end of the third millennium in the regions between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. (164)
    • in Bryant, E. F. (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : the Indo-Aryan migration debate. Oxford University Press. chapter 10
  • Jarrige (1985) specifically mentions that the existence of the Indo-Aryans has "so far only been deduced on the basis of linguistic evidence" (62; ). Otherwise, "what we see is a dynamic system of multidirectional contacts and 'influences' extending throughout a vast area from southern Central Asia to the Ganges valley and continuing from the beginning of the 2nd millennium into the 1st millennium BC" (62).
    • Bryant, E. F. (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : the Indo-Aryan migration debate. Oxford University Press.
  • From the Neolithic time till almost today there has never been, in spite of spectacular changes in the course of time, a definite gap or break in the history of the subcontinent.
    • Jarrige, Jean-François, ‘Du néolithique à la civilisation de l’Inde ancienne’, p. Danino, M. (2010). The lost river : on the trail of the Sarasvatī. Penguin Books India.
  • ‘This famous vacuum that was sometimes called Vedic night . . . has been filling up more and more thanks to numerous findings.’93 In his opinion, the considerable changes that followed the end of the Indus cities are to be understood ‘within the framework of a continuity with the preceding millennia, without any radical break of the sort too often proposed earlier’.
    • Jarrige, Jean-François, ‘Du néolithique à la civilisation de l’Inde ancienne’,, p. Danino, M. (2010). The lost river : on the trail of the Sarasvatī. Penguin Books India.
  • Nothing, in the present state of archaeological research ... enables us to reconstruct convincingly invasions that could be clearly attributed to Aryan groups.
    • quoted in Danino, M. (2009). A BRIEF NOTE ON THE ARYAN INVASION THEORY. PRAGATI| April-June 2009
    • Jean-François Jarrige, “Du néolithique à la civilisation de l’Inde ancienne” (Paris: Arts Asiatiques,vol. L-1995), p.24, 21
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