DNA anal­y­sis of Rakhi­garhi re­mains chal­lenges Aryan in­va­sion the­ory

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - TIMES NEWS NET­WORK

New Delhi: A newly pub­lished ar­chae­o­log­i­cal study based on DNA anal­y­sis of skele­tal re­mains at the Rakhi­garhi site in Haryana has claimed that in­hab­i­tants of the In­dus Val­ley Civil­i­sa­tion (IVC) were a dis­tinct indige­nous peo­ple and chal­lenges the the­ory of an “Aryan in­va­sion” end­ing Har­ra­pan cul­ture.

The study says IVC peo­ple were a south Asian group of indige­nous peo­ple whose con­ti­nu­ity of ex­is­tence is traced back to be­fore 7000 BC. The study, which is based on the genome sam­ple ob­tained from one in­di­vid­ual whose skele­ton was ex­tracted, sug­gests no no­tice­able mi­gra­tion of peo­ple and claims to have dis­man­tled the Aryan the­ory.

“This break­through re­search com­pletely sets aside the Aryan mi­gra­tion-in­va­sion the­ory. The skele­ton re­mains found in the up­per part of the Ci­tadel area of Mo­henjo Daro be­longed to those who died due to floods and were not mas­sa­cred by Aryans as hy­poth­e­sised by Sir Mor­timer Wheeler. The Aryan in­va­sion the­ory is based on very flimsy grounds,” said Vas­ant Shinde, for­mer vice-chan­cel­lor of Dec­can Col­lege, and one of the au­thors of the study.

The team of 28 re­searchers was led by Vas­ant Shinde of Dec­can Col­lege of Pune and in­cluded Vageesh Narasimhan and David Re­ich of Har­vard Med­i­cal School and Ni­raj Rai of the Bir­bal Sahni In­sti­tute of Palaeo­sciences among oth­ers.

The find­ings also lay bare the note­wor­thy progress the In­dian cul­ture had al­ready made at the time, putting it on a par with the 2000 BC Me­sopotamian civil­i­sa­tion. Among its key find­ings, the study sug­gests that farm­ing was indige­nous to In­dia, con­tra­dict­ing an ear­lier beli

➤ The study re­ports an an­cient genome from the In­dus Val­ley Civil­i­sa­tion where one in­di­vid­ual has been se­quenced by the re­port’s au­thors

➤ It speaks of who the Harap­pans were

➤ The re­port ar­gues that the sam­pled an­cient genomes from the Ira­nian plateau and In­dus Val­ley Civil­i­sa­tion descend from dif­fer­ent groups of hunter­gath­er­ers who be­gan farm­ing with­out be­ing con­nected by substantia­l move­ment

ef that it was brought to the re­gion through mi­gra­tions from Iran, and, most sig­nif­i­cantly, that Harap­pan genes are present in vary­ing quan­ti­ties in all south Asians.

The study ar­gues that the DNA anal­y­sis shows that the peo­ple at Rakhi­garhi, and the in­di­vid­ual whose skele­ton was ex­am­ined, are from a pop­u­la­tion that is the largest source of an­ces­try for south Asians. “The Ira­nian-re­lated an­ces­try in IVC de­rives from a lin­eage lead­ing to early Ira­nian farm­ers, herders, and hunter gath­er­ers be­fore their an­ces­tors sep­a­rated, con­tra­dict­ing the hy­poth­e­sis that the shared an­ces­try be­tween early Ira­ni­ans and south Asians re­flects a large-scale spread of west­ern Ira­nian farm­ers east,” the study says, ar­gu­ing that this con­tra­dicts sig­nif­i­cant mi­gra­tions dur­ing the IVC pe­riod.

The study ex­plains the spread of Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages to likely later mi­gra­tions. “...a nat­u­ral route for Indo-Euro­pean lan­gua

ges to have spread into south Asia is from east­ern Europe via cen­tral Asia in the first half of the 2nd mil­len­nium BCE, a chain of trans­mis­sion that did oc­cur as has been doc­u­mented in de­tail with an­cient DNA. The fact that Steppe pas­toral­ist an­ces­try in south Asia matches that in Bronze Age east­ern Europe pro­vides ad­di­tional ev­i­dence for this the­ory, as it el­e­gantly ex­plains the shared dis­tinc­tive fea­tures of Bal­toSlavic and Indo-Ira­nian lan­guages.” The ma­ture IVC was spread over north­west In­dia be­tween 2600-1900 BCE.

Speak­ing to TOI, Dr Ni­raj Rai of the Bir­bal Sahni In­sti­tute of Pa­le­o­sciences, who con­ducted the ge­netic re­search on the Rakhi­garhi skeletons, de­fended the ex­trap­o­la­tion of data on the ba­sis of one genome sam­ple.

“One sam­ple means a bil­lion peo­ple. That is the power of ge­net­ics. We have con­clu­sive data and ev­i­dence to prove that there was no Ary

an in­va­sion. Also, there is con­clu­sive ev­i­dence that shows farm­ing was indige­nous to In­dia,” he said.

Rai also said that ex­ca­va­tions found ev­i­dence that indige­nous peo­ple mi­grated from the north to south In­dia be­tween 1800 BC and 1600 BC, likely fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the In­dus Val­ley Civil­i­sa­tion by fac­tors like dry­ing up of the Saraswati basin.

This was nearly 100 years be­fore Ara­bi­ans and cen­tral Asian Steppe pop­u­la­tion ar­rived in In­dia. “Since the first batch of mi­gra­tion to the south took place be­fore the ar­rival of the Steppe pop­u­la­tion, the pop­u­la­tion in north In­dia had a greater affin­ity to the Steppe peo­ple than the ones who mi­grated to the south,” he said.

The 28-mem­ber team of ex­perts who col­lab­o­rated on the study also said hunter-gath­er­ers in south Asia had an in­de­pen­dent ori­gin and were au­thors of the set­tled way of life in this part of the world.

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