Nail, Coffin, Aryans

This one does not need any commentary.

Widely believed theory of Indo-Aryan invasion, often used to explain early settlements in the Indian subcontinent is a myth, a new study by Indian geneticists says. “Our study clearly shows that there was no genetic influx 3,500 years ago,” said Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj of CCMB, who led the research team, which included scientists from the University of Tartu, Estonia, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Chennai and Banaras Hindu University. “It is high time we re-write India’s prehistory based on scientific evidence,” said Dr Lalji Singh, former director of CCMB. “There is no genetic evidence that Indo-Aryans invaded or migrated to India or even something such as Aryans existed”. Singh, vice-chancellor of BHU, is a coauthor.[Indians are not descendants of Aryans, says new study]

Here is a link to the paper.

Summing up, our results confirm both ancestry and temporal complexity shaping the still on-going process of genetic structuring of South Asian populations. This intricacy cannot be readily explained by the putative recent influx of Indo-Aryans alone but suggests multiple gene flows to the South Asian gene pool, both from the west and east, over a much longer time span. We highlight a few genes as candidates of positive selection in South Asia that could have implications in lipid metabolism and etiology of type 2 diabetes. Further studies on data sets without ascertainment and allele frequency biases such as sequence data will be needed to validate the signals for selection.

The point is that nothing exciting happened following the decline of the Harappan civilization. The Dravidian folklore is just that – folklore. Migrations did happen to the region, but they date to much earlier period before there were Dravidian and Indo-European languages.

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17 Responses to Nail, Coffin, Aryans

  1. T.R.Ramaswami January 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    The following questions are still unanswered:
    1. When did the Kurukshetra war take place? When so many numerical facts of the story, including how many wives, children, size of the army, etc are faithfully recorded, why is there so much fog over the date? What are people scared of?

    2. Have we found any evidence of the Kurukshetra war or even made a honest attempt? Why not? Are we scared that we will find nothing in which case the story is just a myth or are we scared of finding something that will overturn all presently touted “facts” that are politically and socially convenient?

    3. Why is the Indus Valley script so difficult to decipher? Is the paucity of material deliberate so that it cannot or should not be deciphered as it may reveal inconvenient truths?

    4. Will anyone who wants to study the genetic structure be allowed or only those who have assured that pre-decided convenient conclusions will be revealed, be allowed to conduct studies?

    • Virendra January 22, 2012 at 2:17 am #

      “1. When did the Kurukshetra war take place? When so many numerical facts of the story, including how many wives, children, size of the army, etc are faithfully recorded, why is there so much fog over the date? What are people scared of?”
      ———————————————————————————-
      Ramaswami Ji,
      Most of the astronomical research and existing manuscripts (again affluent with verifiable astrnomical references) points to dates between 3000 BC and 3200 BC.
      3076 BC, 3128 BC are two dates with maximum support.
      Please read up “The Plot in Indian Chronology” by Kota Venkatachelam written during Independence days. This man didn’t have the facilities of research level astrnomical equipment and computer simulation models for past timeline skies. Yet he has presented his case strongly. Among the recent ones, you can refer to Professor B. N. Narahari Achar’s research.
      Visit here for a wholesome view of this debate: http://ignca.nic.in/nl002503.htm

      “3. Why is the Indus Valley script so difficult to decipher? Is the paucity of material deliberate so that it cannot or should not be deciphered as it may reveal inconvenient truths? ”
      The script is made of extremely low number of symbols and hence the decipher is very difficult as has been accepted by the experts. With time and continuous research I hope we will gradually see more insight from the scholars/experts.

  2. Neil January 10, 2012 at 5:10 am #

    When will our “eminent historians” decide to accept this and move on…Till that happens our textbooks would continue to write about the crap that is the Aryan invasion theory. I wonder how to incorporate the results of new research of the last 2 decades into the outdated history syllabus?

  3. Vinod January 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Ramaswamy,

    I think no one cares about the date of Mbh because it is pure fiction written by Vyasa (or by some unknown guy) and edited by lot of folks until it reached the present form.

    For the religious folks, it does not matter at all because the religion does not depend on if Mbh actually happened or not. So they too don’t care.

    • T.R.Ramaswami January 12, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

      As long as people accept that it is pure fiction I have no problems. But what about the list of “eminent” historians and others who have guessed the date from 3200 BCE to 700 BCE?

      Now if the Mahabharata is fiction, then next question – how much more fiction is the Ramayana?

  4. jayarava February 5, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    The theory of an Aryan invasion is no longer “widely believed” – in fact almost no one believes this any more. The world has moved on. Catch up!

    On the one hand the article says “There is no genetic evidence that Indo-Aryans invaded or migrated to India or even something such as Aryans existed” but then also says “This intricacy cannot be readily explained by the putative recent influx of Indo-Aryans alone but suggests multiple gene flows to the South Asian gene pool, both from the west and east, over a much longer time span”

    Precisely – there was a flow of multiples genes from *the west*. (and the east which is interesting, but note *from the west*).

    West of India is where the Aryas came from. The same people settled in Iran (i.e. Īrān = Iranian for ārya). And they did come, bringing with them languages and culture that transformed Indian. But they did not “invade”. The influx of austro-asiatic people from the east is also interesting, especially when considering the development of North East India (and the rise of Buddhism and Jainism).

    No one is even talking about an “invasion” of Aryas anymore, but they are still talking about just how Indo-European languages became the dominant tongues of North India, and how distinctively Central Asia technologies such as domesticated horses and spoked wheeled chariots got into India.

    Other genetic studies (Sengupta et. al. 2005, Carvalho-Silva et. al. 2006, Reich et al. 2009, Majumder 2010) show that there is a small admixture of genetic material from the Central Asia steppes, mainly from males (which is seen by comparing mitrochondrial and Y chromosome data). This suggests that the people who brought Sanskrit, horses, and chariots with them were relatively few and intermarried leaving little trace on the gene pool, but transformed North India at the societal level.

    So what the research really shows is that people did enter India from the west over a considerable time period. This gels with what we see in other domains such as language and culture. And let us not forget that genetics are not very accurate guides to time frames. Different genes seem to evolve at different speeds and estimating the rate of change is not much better than guessing. Date are probably only accurate to within a 1000 years or so – which is not much help in the arguments about when Aryan language and culture began to influence India.

    I’m very surprised to see a website advertising “the case against Hindutva” giving space to screwy nationalist interpretations of genetic studies.

  5. Vinod February 5, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    The theory of an Aryan invasion is no longer “widely believed” – in fact almost no one believes this any more. The world has moved on. Catch up!

    Really. Shows your profound ignorance of what is happening in India where Aryan Invasion is still mentioned in textbooks and taught to school kids. Also, you may not know that Aryan Invasion is one of the major political statements by a Dravidian party based in South-India which uses it to divide Indians against Indians. And BTW, all these are done by Non-Hindutva agents.

    • Jayarava February 7, 2012 at 3:27 am #

      Hi Vinod

      No doubt I am ignorant of Indian school textbooks, and Indian politics. I read what scholars are saying about Indian history however and it is clear that is decades since anyone took the idea of an invasion of aryas seriously.

      However if such an idea is still widely believed in Indian then, yes, that is a problem.

  6. Vinod February 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    No one is even talking about an “invasion” of Aryas anymore, but they are still talking about just how Indo-European languages became the dominant tongues of North India, and how distinctively Central Asia technologies such as domesticated horses and spoked wheeled chariots got into India.

    In your opinion when did this happen?

    • Jayarava February 7, 2012 at 4:14 am #

      My opinion is only based on what I read. The consensus amongst the scholars I read is that people speaking Indo-Aryan languages must have begun migrating into India between about 1900 and 1500 BCE. After the Indus Valley people had abandoned their cities and moved north into the Upper Ganges Valley, and south into Gujarat, Northern Maharashtra, the Deccan and the Vindhya Hills. The Aryas might have come by different routes, via the Khyber Pass or the mountain passes of the Pamirs. Perhaps both. They are associated with the arrival of domesticated horses and chariots, but note that we do not know what race they were.

      Linguistic evidence suggests at least two waves of migration. A 1st wave speaking a language which split off from Indo-Iranian a little earlier than the Ṛgvedic dialect. The 2nd wave being the composers of the Ṛgveda. The 1st wave were likely displaced east into the Central Ganges region where they formed a non-Vedic society that was distinct in many ways from the Kuru-Pañcāla state that existed by 1000 BCE.

      I’m interested in the idea of another migration ca. 850 BCE linked to a major change in climate at that time. I believe it caused Iranian/Zoroastrian ideas to find their way into North-Eastern Indian where they influenced the development of Buddhism. A draft of the essay where I explore this is online here: http://is.gd/UGLzjy

      People have come and gone through the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountains from time immemorial. Some left their mark and others faded from history.

  7. Vinod February 5, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    One more link. Jayarava quotes studies by Sengupta et. al. 2005, Carvalho-Silva et. al. 2006,. This is what I found

    We finally jump to 2006 and end with two studies. 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).

    • Jayarava February 7, 2012 at 3:55 am #

      Yes. Well I think we must be very cautious about conflating genes, culture, and language. Don’t forget that genes do not follow Indic/Dravidian language divisions either! Nor do genetic patterns appear to follow cultural divisions such as caste. Endogamy in castes cannot disguise the fundamental genetic relatedness of all Indians. Caste is superimposed upon this common origin. Genetic mutations are a very blunt instrument so far, though every year brings advances, and I suspect they will shed more light on this issue. As will climate change data which I use in my essay mentioned above.

      It is clear that the genetic contribution from Indo-Aryans is small, but note that it is not zero. *Not zero*. But it is equally clear that their linguistic and cultural contribution was pervasive. There is simply no doubt that the Vedic language came from outside India. As did domesticated horses. This small group of outsiders had an influence far beyond what we might expect from their genetic input. As far as I know the dynamics are still being explored and there are competing explanations for the process. But one might compare the situation with the Magyars in Hungary for instance, who invaded, changed the culture and language but rapidly blended genetically.

  8. Vinod February 10, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Thanks for the replies. I agree that there was non-zero number of people who must have migrated. But to claim that they bought horses to India is without any evidence. It is true that horses are not native to India and they were domesticated in the Caucases. If these “Aryans” got horses to India in 1900 – 1500 BC, then we would see large number of horse bones in India following this period. Data says otherwise. You see an increase in horse bones after a millennia. Please see

    http://www.omilosmeleton.gr/pdf/en/indology/The_horse_and_the_Aryan_Debate.pdf

  9. jayarava February 11, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Hi Vinod,

    Yes. Interesting. Though the tone of the article is rather triumphalist in tone, it does appear to be confirmed by other authors. I will give it some more thought.

    • jk February 11, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      Jayarava,

      Thanks for stopping by. As I see it, there is linguistics which suggests that Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan language families derived from Indo-European. This in turn suggests that the Indo-Aryan speakers should have followed the path from a place where Indo-European was spoken. Now on the other side, there are many genetic studies which contradict this. Not just that there is no archaeological evidence for such a migration. Thus it is possible that the migrants were few. But how did few migrants change the region — which was bigger than ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt combined — is a mystery. As Vinod pointed out, the horse evidence is suspect. So we don’t have a good model to explain this change. So I do not believe in the linguistic theory alone and believe that something more complex happened.

      Regarding your other point that Aryan Invasion Theory is not believed by scholars, I disagree. Just couple of years back, it was being taught in Columbia University by an Iranian specialist. I blogged about it here

      http://varnam.nationalinterest.in/2010/10/in-pragati-an-outdated-syllabus/

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  1. Yet another final nail in the coffin of Aryan Invasion theory - January 12, 2012

    [...] another final nail in the coffin of Aryan Invasion theory Nail, Coffin, AryansThis one does not need any commentary. Widely believed theory of Indo-Aryan invasion, often used [...]

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