, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 142-148

First online:

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Rice in Dravidian

  • Franklin SouthworthAffiliated withSouth Asian Linguistics (Emeritus), University of Pennsylvania Email author 


The Dravidian languages, now spoken mainly in peninsular India, form one of two main branches of the Zagrosian language family, whose other main branch consists of Elamitic and Brahui. Proto-Dravidian, the oldest reconstructible form of Dravidian, shows a society whose economy is based mainly on herding. While the speakers of Proto-Dravidian had some agricultural knowledge, they do not appear to have brought cereals with them when they moved from western Iran to the borderlands of South Asia in the fourth millennium BCE. Linguistic evidence shows that they had contact with Indo-Iranian speakers, and some groups of Dravidian speakers entered the Indus Valley before or during the period of the Harappan civilization. Dravidian-speaking groups played a significant role in herding and agriculture during that period and later, and may have been the first to cultivate rice on a large scale in the Indus Valley.


Dravidian Elamite Indo-Aryan South Asia Iran Central Asia Millets