Economic Botany

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 98–112 | Cite as

Cucurbits, Sanskrit, and the Indo-Aryas 1

  • Deena S. Decker-Walters


Vedic and early post-Vedic Sanskrit works describe Indo-Aryan life in northern India during 2000–200 B.C. Wild and cultivated plants of the Cucurbitaceae played an important role in Indo-Aryan food, medicine, and culture; over 300 words describing cucurbits are found in the Sanskrit texts. These words, their etymological relationships, and the geographies of the cucurbit taxa were compared. Results indicate that the Indo-Aryas knew only a handful of cucurbits before entering the Indian subcontinent from the west. They learned of at least 11 more species from their neighbors in India, who were speakers of Dravidian or Munda languages.

Key Words

Cucurbitaceae Sanskrit Indo-Aryas India, biogeography 

Las cucÚrbitas, el sÁnscrito, y los indoarios


La literatura de sónscrito védico y post-védico antiguo describe la vida indoario en el norte de la India durante 2000—200 a. de J.C. Las cucurbitócea silvestres y domesticadas eran importante para la comida, la medicina, y la cultura indoario: mós que 300 palabras describen las cucúrbitas en la literatura sónscrito. Estas palabras, sus etimologías, y las geografías de las cucúrbitas eran estudiado. Resultos indican que los indoarios sabían solamente unos cucúrbitas antes de entrar en el subcontinente indio desde el oeste. Aprendiaron de II especies más de parte de sus vecinos en la India, ellos quienes hablaban un idioma drávida o austroasiático.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deena S. Decker-Walters
    • 1
  1. 1.The Cucurbit NetworkMiami

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