Yet Another nail in the Aryan coffin

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by Singh, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Feb 23, 2009
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    Let me know if this topic deserves a separate thread or should we merge it with another threads on the topic.


    The Aryan theory has gone through many revisions: Historians and archaeologists like A L Basham and Mortimer Wheeler advocated an invasion theory where invaders triumphed over the natives due their military prowess and superior weapons. These invaders originated in Central Asia: one branch migrated to Europe and the other to Iran, eventually reaching India. By the time of historian Romila Thapar, the invasion theory morphed into a migration theory. According to Ms Thapar there is no evidence of large scale invasion, but migrations by Indo-Aryan speakers who bought their language and culture to India.

    Though the theory changed, two factors remained constant: the existence of two separate groups (Dravidians and Aryans) and their identification as natives and foreigners. The scholarly consensus is that the Indo-Aryan speakers arrived in North-East India following the decline of the Harappan civilisation. These horse riding migrants introduced Vedic religion and Sanskrit language and culturally transformed a region bigger than ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt combined, non-violently.

    Now a new paper published in the American Journal of Human Genetics states that current Indian population is derived from two ancestral populations—the Ancestral North Indians (ANI) and Ancestral South Indians (ASI)—both of which are older than 3500 Years Before Present (YBP). Though this seems to confirm the Aryan-Dravidian divide and the migration which happened after 1900 BCE, the paper actually does the opposite; it refutes the large scale migration version of the Aryan theory.

    Researchers led by Mait Metspalu of Evolutionary Biology Group of Estonia studied 600,000 Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) markers among 30 ethnic groups in India. The human genomes consists of chromosomes, represented by the double helix and specific locations on the chromosome can be identified using markers with the common ones being micro-satellite markers and SNP markers. Among the two, SNP markers are popular for gene fine mapping. The study takes data from existing genetic studies and combines it with new data from North Indian and South Indian population to trace the external influences from Europe.

    One of the ancestral components—the ANI—is common not just in South Asia, but also in West Asia and Caucasus while the ASI is limited to South Asia. While this may seem to clearly demarcate the natives and the foreign migrants, it does not. Except for some Astroasiatic tribes and two small Dravidian tribes in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, all other South Indians have more than 40% of the ANI component. This means that everyone except these few groups are not purely native.

    The important question then is this: When did the ANI mix with the ASI?. If that period is between 1900 BCE and 1500 BCE, then it would confirm the many versions of Aryan theory in existence right now. When these researchers modeled the data, they could not find any evidence of a dramatic Central Asian migration for this period. So they went back and till about 12500 Years Before Present (YBP) they could not find any evidence. Thus the mixing of the ANI and ASI did not happen 140 generations before as was believed, but probably more than 500 generations back (Each generation is 25 years). The paper explicitly mentions Max Muller’s theory and says that it is hard to find evidence for such a migration following the collapse of the Harappan civilization.

    Few years back, researchers working on this project suggested that the ANI emerged 40,000 years back and mixed with the ASI at a later date. So as it stands now, the mixing between the two groups happened some time between 40,000 YBP and 12,500 YBP. So if there is a European component in Indian genes, that event happened much earlier than the decline of the Harappan civilisation and not because of the hypothetical Aryan migration around 1500 BCE.

    Going back 12,500 years we have to wonder what event was responsible for this shared ancestry between the ANI and Europeans? Did it happen during the Out of Africa migration phase? Humans reached India first before moving to Europe in which case the European gene pool would be derived from the much diverse South Asian pool. Or was there any other incident much later which was responsible for this?

    Coming back to the period following the decline of the Harappan civilisation there are more questions for scholarly head scratching. Even though the ANI-ASI mixture may happened quite earlier, there must have been constant migration of people in both directions which was not large enough to leave a genetic footprint. If you accept that premise, how did this minor trickle of people change the region culturally. If these are the people who bought horses to India, why don’t we see a proliferation of horse bones following this period?

    The current models don’t have a convincing explanation for many such questions.

    Another nail in the Aryan coffin | varnam
    maomao, panduranghari and parijataka like this.
  3. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

    Mar 10, 2009
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    EST, USA
    I think we should let this be an independent thread for the time being and later it can be merged with existing threads where we have already has much discussion on this subject.
  4. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    Well I was surprised that a website on considers discussing Aryan migration theory as a important point of debate vis a vis national interest and has an entire section on varnas.

    This debate is so politically charged in India that it is impossible to discuss this rationally. You can't even discuss beef eating in ancient times for example so you can effectively forget about discussing racial theories. Maybe another 50 years from now, this will not be such hot button issue and more rational discussion can take place.

    However, the author atleast correctly states that Romila Thapar does not advocate the Aryan invasion theory which many seem to forget. But Romila never takes Aryans and Dravidians as distinct racial groupings like the author is mischaracterising her to do. Infact, she says that there was most likely hardly any racial or skin colour difference between the two. Also, the author admits as well that the study identifies two distinct groups ANIs and ASIs as well. The main contention is that how can small groups of "migrants/invaders" culturally/linguistically transger large populations.

    And this is not really that difficult to explain. European colonisation is not that long ago and we see how small numbers of Europeans were able to vastly transforms the culture and language of their native populations. IF someone does a genetic analysis of the Brazilian population or other South American countries for example, they will find very little DNA correlation between the natives there and Spanish or Portugese DNA. Usually the more affluent and politically powerful do have European ancestry or mixed ancestry but the bulk of the population are native to South America. But still you see that these native populations are fervent and devout followers of Catholicism even more than the Europeans are and speak Spanish or Portugese.
    Another example is present day South East Asia which was deeply influenced by South Indian/Chola rule. If you did a DNA analysis of people living in Indonesia or Cambodia e.t.c., you will hardly find any South Indian ancestry, but their religious beliefs as well as language was deeply influenced by the populace in this region as is so to this day.

    If anyone has read Romila Thapar seriously, you will note that Aryans is more of a linguistic term rather than a racial term which some Europeans (and some Indians) tend to make the biggest mistake about when discussing Aryan "race".

    If we look at other studies that Justice Katju cited in his judgement along with three other SC judges, we find that even Dravidians or more accurately dravidian speakers are migrants into India and probably took the same path as the Indo-Aryan speakers later and so on. And this seems to be confirmed by this study. As the author says
    Here is for example one study done in Calcutta as part of the genome project that shows some ideas about DNA differences although don't expect this to get coverage in the media.
  5. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

    Jul 2, 2010
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    Interesting. Karthic Sri mentioned that his ancestors lived near the Ganges :troll:
  6. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 15, 2010
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    Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh(INDIA)
    VEDA is common in both the cultures of ARYAN and DRAVIDIAN. All belong to the same VEDIC TRADITION...........
    maomao likes this.
  7. solbear

    solbear Regular Member

    Apr 27, 2012
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    This is true. Indo-Aryan and Dravidian are both linguistic groups. However, it's their correlation to genetic differences that influence current theories. See, a Kashmiri and a Marathi are both Indo-Aryan speakers but the former is more likely to be largely Caucasian while the latter will lean more towards Australoids. Similarly, a Brahui and a Tamil are both Dravidian speakers but the former will be more Caucasian while the latter more Australoid. This is all speaking in general terms, of course. The Sub-Continent has experienced a lot of racial mixing so clear cut lines are not present.
    maomao and KS like this.
  8. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

    Sep 28, 2011
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    North Carolina, USA
    Indian History Rewritten | ®
    maomao likes this.

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