Meluhha



Meluhha was the name given by the Akkadians and then the Sumerians of the Ur III dynasty (this term appears in the cuneiforms around 2350) to a prosperous region which seems to be situated beyond the ancient lands of Dilmun (a priori the island of Bahrain) and Magan (probably the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, from the Sultanate of Oman to Yemen) and which is generally identified with the Civilization of the Indus Valley.

Beyond the allusions made in the Mesopotamian tablets, which evoke a country situated to the east beyond Dilmun and Magan, it is above all the undeniable archaeological evidence of an important commercial traffic between the Harappan civilization and late Mesopotamia. which corroborates the idea that Meluhha designated, for the Mesopotamians, the Civilization of the valley of the Indus. Mesopotamian motifs are numerous in the seals of the Indus, and certain Indusian motifs are also found in the Mesopotamian iconography, while the indus seals found in Mesopotamia were frequent: the commercial exchanges between the two regions were clearly of great importance. magnitude. In addition, the collapse of the Harrapean civilization coincided with the scarcity of Meluhha records in the cuneiforms, which ceased completely after the period of the Isin and Larsa kingdoms.

The meaning of the terms Magan and Meluhha in the cuneiforms changed during the course of the Assyrian texts designated by these names regions clearly related to Egypt. According to Bernard Sergent, Meluhha may have been attached to the melanodermal populations of the current Dravidians, who would come from the Nilo-Saharan regions to the Horn of Africa, which would explain the dispersion of this toponym, which would actually hide an ethnonym. On the other hand, it is unclear whether the term transcribed “me-luḫ-ḫa” into cuneiform was the autoethnonym of the Indusians transcribed phonetically by the Sumero-Agadean, if on the contrary it was a purely Sumerian name given by the Mesopotamian merchants to their trading partners. of the lower Indus Valley, or if it was a term borrowed by the Sumerians from a third people (eg Elamites) to designate the people of the Indus before the Mesopotamians themselves knew them directly. .

The semantic similarities in explaining Meluhha with other well-known terms are not lacking, and some are rather far-fetched.

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