Since the Harvard-CCMB study came out about the Indian genetic make up and the realization that no new genes were introduced in the last 10,000 years in context of the North-South genetic pool, there are some die-hard Aryan Invasion Theorists who just won’t let go of the dinosaur!
In the Indian context, we are now familiar with the work of U.S anthropologists Kenneth Kennedy, John Lukacs and Brian Hemphill.3 Their chief conclusion, as far as the Aryan debate is concerned, is that there is no trace of “demographic disruption” in the North-West of the subcontinent between 4500 and 800 BCE; this negates the possibility of any massive intrusion, by so-called Indo-Aryans or other populations, during that period.
The Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and Ancestral South Indian (ASI) population strains came to India from Africa, according to the study 40,000 to 65,000 years back. Even the most enthusiastic supporters of the so-called “Aryan Invasion Theory” cannot claim that the alleged Aryan Invasion occured THAT far back!!
In that sense, the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) lies in shambles!
What, however, the study cannot clearly provide genetic evidence for is, if ANI strain came from Africa to India via Europe first or if those who settled in India moved to Europe. The reason why it probably cannot prove clearly is because of the scope and the sample of the study. But that DOES NOT mean that Aryan Invasion Theory has NOT been CONCLUSIVELY laid to rest!
However, based on timelines itself of the ANI and ASI movements point to the possibility of the ANI strain having moved out of India to Europe.
“We are now going to answer several key questions going forward,” says Dr Lalji Singh, former director of the CCMB and a senior scientist on genetic research.”We are always told that people from different parts of the planet migrated into India. But we were never told that people from India, too, had wandered out. The ANI have similarity to Europeans and to Iranians. When you look at the origin of the Indian population, the Onges in the Andaman Islands are dated to about 65,000 years ago, and the European population is dated to 40,000 years ago. So the question of Europeans coming to India does not arise.
The ANI must have given rise to the European population. We would now like to confirm this,” he says.
NOTE: Now, there are two lines of argument that the AIT enthusiasts take:
1. Semi and Pseudo-scholarly: Where they argue with some twist to the existing studies that conclude clearly that AIT was a myth.. and somehow forward half-baked, old, and in scholarly rigor studies lacking in clear indications that AIT ever happened.
2. When those who want to find the truth do discuss the AIT clearly and hit the over-enthusiastic AIT folks, then these guys turn to another tactic – discussing alleged “intentions” of those opposing them. Where the argument goes “You are just obsessed with proving AIT wrong.. because you have a need to prove superiority of the “Indian race””. The idea is simple, if a ludicrous argument cannot be won by logic and evidence, then shouting and casting aspersion is a good way to deflect the crushing defeat!
Therefore, I submit that:
One, AIT is FOOLISH AND MYTHICAL
Two, if despite the utter lack of any evidence, some still try and argue AIT enthusiastically, then they are afflicted by Hallucinations and what is often known as “Stockholm Syndrome”.
This is not the first study to have pointed to this. At least 9 studies have had the same conclusions. Some of these studies were even done by researchers who had earlier backed the Aryan Invasion theory.
The first such study dates back to 1999 and was conducted by the Estonian biologist Toomas Kivisild, a pioneer in the field, with fourteen co-authors from various nationalities (including M. J. Bamshad).9 It relied on 550 samples of mtDNA and identified a haplogroup called “U” as indicating a deep connection between Indian and Western-Eurasian populations. However, the authors opted for a very remote separation of the two branches, rather than a recent population movement towards India; in fact, “the subcontinent served as a pathway for eastward migration of modern humans” from Africa, some 40,000 years ago:
“We found an extensive deep late Pleistocene genetic link between contemporary Europeans and Indians, provided by the mtDNA haplogroup U, which encompasses roughly a fifth of mtDNA lineages of both populations. Our estimate for this split [between Europeans and Indians] is close to the suggested time for the peopling of Asia and the first expansion of anatomically modern humans in Eurasia and likely pre-dates their spread to Europe.”
From this it is clear that the western Caucasoids10 strain could not have been introduced in the 3000-4000 years back.
The second study was published just a month later. Authored by U.S. biological anthropologist Todd R. Disotell,11 it dealt with the first migration of modern man from Africa towards Asia, and found that migrations into India “did occur, but rarely from western Eurasian populations.” Disotell made observations very similar to those of the preceding paper:
“The supposed Aryan invasion of India 3,000–4,000 years before present therefore did not make a major splash in the Indian gene pool. This is especially counter-indicated by the presence of equal, though very low, frequencies of the western Eurasian mtDNA types in both southern and northern India. Thus, the ‘caucasoid’ features of south Asians may best be considered ‘pre-caucasoid’ — that is, part of a diverse north or north-east African gene pool that yielded separate origins for western Eurasian and southern Asian populations over 50,000 years ago.”
So, sure migrations may have taken place into India at the time of 3-4000 years back, but it was surmised that such migrations were rarely, if at all, from the Western Eurasian population.
A year later, thirteen Indian scientists led by Susanta Roychoudhury studied 644 samples of mtDNA from some ten Indian ethnic groups, especially from the East and South.12 They found “a fundamental unity of mtDNA lineages in India, in spite of the extensive cultural and linguistic diversity,” pointing to “a relatively small founding group of females in India.” Significantly, “most of the mtDNA diversity observed in Indian populations is between individuals within populations; there is no significant structuring of haplotype diversity by socio-religious affiliation, geographical location of habitat or linguistic affiliation.” That is a crucial observation, which later studies will endorse: on the maternal side at least, there is no such thing as a “Hindu” or “Muslim” genetic identity, nor even a high- or low-caste one, a North- or South-Indian one — hence the expressive title of the study: “Fundamental genomic unity of ethnic India is revealed by analysis of mitochondrial DNA.”
According to this one, the haplogroup “U” and haplogroup “M” markers, usually forwarded as evidence of an invasion were found in 60% of the population, irrespective of the Geography or Habitat. In fact, the Tribal populations have a HIGHER frequence of haplogroup “M” markers than the “Higher Castes”.
Also in 2000, twenty authors headed by Kivisild contributed a chapter to a book on the “archaeogenetics” of Europe.13 They first stressed the importance of the mtDNA haplogroup “M” common to India (with a frequency of 60%), Central and Eastern Asia (40% on average), and even to American Indians; however, this frequency drops to 0.6% in Europe, which is “inconsistent with the ‘general Caucasoidness’ of Indians.”
This shows, once again, that “the Indian maternal gene pool has come largely through an autochthonous history since the Late Pleistocene.” The authors then studied the “U” haplogroup, finding its frequency to be 13% in India, almost 14% in North-West Africa, and 24% from Europe to Anatolia; but, in their opinion, “Indian and western Eurasian haplogroup U varieties differ profoundly; the split has occurred about as early as the split between the Indian and eastern Asian haplogroup M varieties. The data show that both M and U exhibited an expansion phase some 50,000 years ago, which should have happened after the corresponding splits.” In other words, there is a genetic connection between India and Europe, but a far more ancient one than was thought.
In fact this study also pointed to a Maternal Lineage sharing of OVER 80% between the “Higher Castes” and Tribals, which strikes at the root of an ‘Invasion” theory!
The study finally concluded:
“We believe that there are now enough reasons not only to question a ‘recent Indo-Aryan invasion’ into India some 4000 BP, but alternatively to consider India as a part of the common gene pool ancestral to the diversity of human maternal lineages in Europe.”
Again, use of “ancestral” is interesting and points to Europe’s ancestry lying elsewhere.
Study # 5
After a gap of three years, Kivisild directed two fresh studies. The first, with nine
colleagues, dealt with the origin of languages and agriculture in India.14 Those biologists stressed India’s genetic complexity and antiquity, since “present-day Indians [possess] at least 90 per cent of what we think of as autochthonous Upper Palaeolithic maternal lineages.” They also observed that “the Indian mtDNA tree in general [is] not subdivided according to linguistic (Indo-European, Dravidian) or caste affiliations,” which again demonstrates the old error of conflating language and race or ethnic group.
Then, in a new development, they punched holes in the methodology followed by studies basing themselves on the Y-DNA (the paternal line) to establish the Aryan invasion, and point out that if one were to extend their logic to populations of Eastern and Southern India, one would be led to an exactly opposite result: “the straightforward suggestion would be that both Neolithic (agriculture) and Indo-European languages arose in India and from there, spread to Europe.” The authors do not defend this thesis, but simply guard against “misleading interpretations” based on limited samples and faulty methodology.
This conclusion is even more interesting in its suggestion!
Study # 6
The second study of 2003, a particularly detailed one dealing with the genetic heritage of India’s earliest settlers, had seventeen co-authors with Kivisild (including L. Cavalli-Sforza and P. A. Underhill), and relied on nearly a thousand samples from the subcontinent, including two Dravidian-speaking tribes from Andhra Pradesh.15 Among other important findings, it stressed that the Y-DNA haplogroup “M17,” regarded till recently as a marker of the Aryan invasion, and indeed frequent in Central Asia, is equally found in the two tribes under consideration, which is inconsistent with the invasionist framework. Moreover, one of the two tribes, the Chenchus, is genetically close to several castes, so that there is a “lack of clear distinction between Indian castes and tribes,” a fact that can hardly be overemphasized.
Time and again, different studies are mentioning that there is not much distinctions between the gene pool of different castes and tribes on any lines – language or geographic.
The next year, Mait Metspalu and fifteen co-authors analyzed 796 Indian (including both tribal and caste populations from different parts of India) and 436 Iranian mtDNAs.16 Of relevance here is the following observation, which once again highlights the pitfalls of any facile ethnic-linguistic equation:
“Language families present today in India, such as Indo-European, Dravidic and Austro-Asiatic, are all much younger than the majority of indigenous mtDNA lineages found among their present-day speakers at high frequencies. It would make it highly speculative to infer, from the extant mtDNA pools of their speakers, whether one of the listed above linguistically defined group in India should be considered more ‘autochthonous’ than any other in respect of its presence in the subcontinent.”
Again even this is very clear.
Then in 2006, two studies were done:
The first was headed by Indian biologist Sanghamitra Sengupta and involved fourteen other co-authors, including L. Cavalli-Sforza, Partha P. Majumder, and P. A. Underhill.17 Based on 728 samples covering 36 Indian populations, it announced in its very title how its findings revealed a “Minor Genetic Influence of Central Asian Pastoralists,” i.e. of the mythical Indo- Aryans, and stated its general agreement with the previous study. For instance, the authors rejected the identification of some Y-DNA genetic markers with an “Indo- European expansion,” an identification they called “convenient but incorrect … overly simplistic.” To them, the subcontinent’s genetic landscape was formed much earlier than the dates proposed for an Indo-Aryan immigration: “The influence of Central Asia on the pre-existing gene pool was minor. … There is no evidence whatsoever to conclude that Central Asia has been necessarily the recent donor and not the receptor of the R1a lineages.” This is also highly suggestive (the R1a lineages being a different way to denote the haplogroup M17).
Same point made here as well!! That the alleged Aryan Invasion proposed timeline is too recent.
Finally, and significantly, this study indirectly rejected a “Dravidian” authorship of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, since it noted, “Our data are also more consistent with a peninsular origin of Dravidian speakers than a source with proximity to the Indus….” They found, in conclusion, “overwhelming support for an Indian origin of Dravidian speakers.”
Another Indian biologist, Sanghamitra Sahoo, headed eleven colleagues, including T. Kivisild and V. K. Kashyap, for a study of the Y-DNA of 936 samples covering 77 Indian populations, 32 of them tribes.18 The authors left no room for doubt:
“The sharing of some Y-chromosomal haplogroups between Indian and Central Asian populations is most parsimoniously explained by a deep, common ancestry between the two regions, with diffusion of some Indian- specific lineages northward.”
So the southward gene flow that had been imprinted on our minds for two centuries was wrong, after all: the flow was out of, not into, India. The authors continue:
“The Y-chromosomal data consistently suggest a largely South Asian origin for Indian caste communities and therefore argue against any major influx, from regions north and west of India, of people associated either with the development of agriculture or the spread of the Indo-Aryan language family.”
The consensus by authorities in different fields is really astonishing in denying any AIT.
The overall picture emerging from these studies is, first, an unequivocal rejection of a 3500-BP arrival of a “Caucasoid” or Central Asian gene pool. Just as the imaginary Aryan invasion / migration left no trace in Indian literature, in the archaeological and the anthropological record, it is invisible at the genetic level. The agreement between these different fields is remarkable by any standard, and offers hope for a grand synthesis in the near future, which will also integrate agriculture and linguistics.
In fact as Allman points out, in all probability the opposite happened!
“indeed, nearly all Europeans — and by extension, many Americans — can trace their ancestors to only four mtDNA lines, which appeared between 10,000 and 50,000 years ago and originated from South Asia.”
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