Martin Schwartz, "Sārtha- and Other Caravan Words"


The Sanskrit word Sārtha- 'caravan' has lacked an etymology. In its long history, it and its compounds had a durable influence on Central Asiatic languages and the attendant culture. It is suggested here that the word in question originated in the trade routes between the Arabian peninsula, and that a South Arabic word for 'caravan' (or the Arabic word for 'caravan' as transmitted via Southern Arabia) entered India, were it was remodeled to yield Sārtha-. Data on other interesting traveling caravan terms, etc. are also provided.