Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Harvard Scientist Debunks Hindu Nationalists "Racial Purity" Myth

Male ancestors of the vast majority of present-day South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) came from West Eurasia, Central Asia and Iran, according to the latest DNA research led by Harvard geneticist Dr. David Reich. Reich's team came to this conclusion after studying the Y-chromosomes of present-day Indians. Some Hindu Indian scientists have used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) samples, extracted from the bones of recently discovered ancient skeletal remains of a couple in Rakigarhi in Haryana, to claim the local indigenous origins of all Hindus. Y-chromosomes are passed from father to son while mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to children. The Harvard team's findings thoroughly debunk Hindu Nationalists' "racial purity" myth similar to that promoted by White Supremacist racists in the West.  Reich writes: "The Hindutva ideology that there was no major contribution to Indian culture from migrants from outside South Asia is undermined by the fact that approximately half of the ancestry of Indians today is derived from multiple waves of mass migration from Iran and the Eurasian steppe within the last five thousand years". 

David Reich's "Who We Are"

Reich's Indian counterparts were highly resistant to the Harvard team findings of foreign origins of modern-day South Asians. Here's an excerpt from David Reich's "Who We Are and How We Got Here":     

"Based on their own mitochondrial DNA studies, it was clear to them (Indians) that the great majority of mitochondrial DNA lineages present in India today had resided in the subcontinent for many tens of thousands of years.They did not want to be part of a study that suggested a major West Eurasian incursion into India without being absolutely certain as to how the whole-genome data could be reconciled with their mitochondrial DNA findings. They also implied that the suggestion of a migration from West Eurasia would be politically explosive. They did not explicitly say this, but it had obvious overtones of the idea that migration from outside India had a transformative effect on the (South Asian) subcontinent". 

To see why the Indian researchers believed the acceptance of West Eurasian origins of present-day Hindus would be political explosive, it is important to understand the myth of racial purity that underlies the Hindu Nationalists' racist ideology. Here's an excerpt from a book by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) :

"To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by." 

Based on DNA studies, Reich divides Indians into two major groups: Ancestral North Indians (ANI) and Ancestral South Indians (ASI). He finds that the ANI have much higher percentage of ancestral DNA from Central Asia and Iran than the ASI.  He also finds links between ancestral DNA and castes in India. Here is an excerpt:

"Groups of traditionally higher social status in the Indian caste system typically have a higher proportion of ANI ancestry than those of traditionally lower social status, even within the same state of India where everyone speaks the same language. For example, Brahmins, the priestly caste, tend to have more ANI ancestry than the groups they live among, even those speaking the same language. Although there are groups in India that are exceptions to these patterns, including well-documented cases where whole groups have shifted social status, the findings are statistically clear, and suggest that the ANI-ASI mixture in ancient India occurred in the context of social stratification".

South Asian Ancestry. Source: Arain Gang

Could there have been out-of-India migration that might explain common genetic origins of Indians and West Eurasians? This is a possibility raised by Indian researchers in response to the inward migration of West Eurasians to India. Reich doubts it based on the absence of any ASI ancestry in West Eurasia.  Here's how Reich responds to it: 

"Although (Indian researchers) Singh and Thangaraj entertained the possibility of a migration out of India and into points as far west as Europe to explain the relatedness between the ANI and West Eurasian populations, I have always thought, based on the absence of any trace of ASI ancestry in the great majority of West Eurasians today and the extreme geographic position of India within the present-day distribution of peoples bearing West Eurasian–related ancestry, that the shared ancestry likely reflected ancient migrations into South Asia from the north or west". 

1901 Indian Census of UP Muslims

Reich specifically refers to the racial purity myths of Nazis and Hindutva ideologues.  Here's an excerpt of his book: 

"The Nazi ideology of a “pure” Indo-European-speaking Aryan race with deep roots in Germany, traceable through artifacts of the Corded Ware culture, has been shattered by the finding that the people who used these artifacts came from a mass migration from the Russian steppe, a place that German nationalists would have despised as a source. The Hindutva ideology that there was no major contribution to Indian culture from migrants from outside South Asia is undermined by the fact that approximately half of the ancestry of Indians today is derived from multiple waves of mass migration from Iran and the Eurasian steppe within the last five thousand years. Similarly, the idea that the Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi have ancestry from West Eurasian farmers that Hutus do not—an idea that has been incorporated into arguments for genocide—is nonsense. We now know that nearly every group living today is the product of repeated population mixtures that have occurred over thousands and tens of thousands of years. Mixing is in human nature, and no one population is—or could be—“pure.”"

Light Skin Gene Distribution. Source: PLOS Genetics

Genetic studies of common ancestral origins have also shown that populations of the Middle East, Central Asia, Pakistan and North India share a light skin gene (allele of SLC24A5) that occurs in Europe. 

1901 India Census UP Hindu Population By Castes


Nayyar A. said...

The conflicting mitochondrial dna and Y chromosome dna data is easy to reconcile. Invaders from the north entered South Asia and killed the local males while taking the women as mates. Same thing happened in Europe as the Yamnaya people who spoke proto Indoeuropean took over.

Riaz Haq said...

Nayyar: "Invaders from the north entered South Asia and killed the local males while taking the women as mates"

Harvard's David Reich does not directly support the "Aryan invasion" theory but he does refer to the "massive sex bias" in favor of males and "higher social status" of males (Brahmins) with higher proportion of West Eurasians ancestry (ANI) in #India.

"Since the original excavations at Harappa, the “Aryan invasion theory” has been seized on by nationalists in both Europe and India, which makes the idea difficult to discuss in an objective way. European racists, including the Nazis, were drawn to the idea of an invasion of India in which the dark-skinned inhabitants were subdued by light-skinned warriors related to northern Europeans, who imposed on them a hierarchical caste system that forbade intermarriage across groups. To the Nazis and others, the distribution of the Indo-European language family, linking Europe to India and having little impact on the Near East with its Jews, spoke of an ancient conquest moving out of an ancestral homeland, displacing and subjugating the peoples of the conquered territories, an event that they wished to emulate.9 Some placed the ancestral homeland of the Indo-Aryans in northeast Europe, including Germany. They also adopted features of Vedic mythology as their own, calling themselves Aryans after the term in the Rig Veda, and appropriating the swastika, a traditional Hindu symbol of good fortune.10"

Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 150). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

"Massive sex bias in population mixture also occurred between four thousand and two thousand years ago during the formation of the present-day populations of India.35 As discussed in part II, endogamous groups in India with traditionally higher social status tend to have more West Eurasian–related ancestry than groups with traditionally lower social status,36 and the effect is highly sex-biased, as mitochondrial DNA tends to be largely of local origin, whereas a much higher proportion of Y-chromosome types have affinity to West Eurasians.37 This pattern plausibly reflects a history in which males of West Eurasian–related ancestry were more highly placed in the caste system and sometimes married lower-ranking females. It speaks to a dramatic coming together of socially unequal populations to form the present genetic structure of India"

Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 266). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Javed E. said...

There is a new super race born every minute. A conclusion arrived at by the super race brains reviewing decaying records that were trash trillion of minutes ago but found persuasive by the surviving trash of the super race.

Riaz Haq said...

The Light Skin Allele of SLC24A5 in South Asians and Europeans Shares Identity by Descent

Skin pigmentation is one of the most variable phenotypic traits in humans. A non-synonymous substitution (rs1426654) in the third exon of SLC24A5 accounts for lighter skin in Europeans but not in East Asians. A previous genome-wide association study carried out in a heterogeneous sample of UK immigrants of South Asian descent suggested that this gene also contributes significantly to skin pigmentation variation among South Asians. In the present study, we have quantitatively assessed skin pigmentation for a largely homogeneous cohort of 1228 individuals from the Southern region of the Indian subcontinent. Our data confirm significant association of rs1426654 SNP with skin pigmentation, explaining about 27% of total phenotypic variation in the cohort studied. Our extensive survey of the polymorphism in 1573 individuals from 54 ethnic populations across the Indian subcontinent reveals wide presence of the derived-A allele, although the frequencies vary substantially among populations. We also show that the geospatial pattern of this allele is complex, but most importantly, reflects strong influence of language, geography and demographic history of the populations. Sequencing 11.74 kb of SLC24A5 in 95 individuals worldwide reveals that the rs1426654-A alleles in South Asian and West Eurasian populations are monophyletic and occur on the background of a common haplotype that is characterized by low genetic diversity. We date the coalescence of the light skin associated allele at 22–28 KYA. Both our sequence and genome-wide genotype data confirm that this gene has been a target for positive selection among Europeans. However, the latter also shows additional evidence of selection in populations of the Middle East, Central Asia, Pakistan and North India but not in South India.

We also studied the geospatial pattern of rs1426654-A allele frequencies at the global level using 2763 subjects from previously published data (Table S7) and 1446 individuals from the present study (Table S5). The isofrequency map illustrates high frequencies of the rs1426654-A allele in Europe, Middle East, Pakistan, moderate to high frequencies in Northwest and Central Asia, while being almost absent in East Asians and Africans with notable exceptions in Bantu (Southwest), San, Mandeka, and Ethiopians (Table S7, Figure 2).

Hence, these observations confirm that SLC24A5 has been under strong selective pressure in Europeans. In addition to this, we also performed haplotype-based selection tests based on genome-wide data (see Materials and Methods) of 1035 individuals including 145 Indians. XP-EHH scores demonstrated that SLC24A5 ranks among the top 10 candidate genes for positive selection in Europe, Middle East and Pakistan, and among the top 1% in Central Asia, Iran and North India (Table S13). Likewise, scores from our iHS analysis had significant empirical p-values for Central Asia and North India (Table S13). It is interesting to note that both of our haplotype-based selection tests demonstrated evidence of positive selection in North Indians, but no such evidence of positive selection was found in South Indians (Table S13). The difference in detecting selection signals from genotype and sequence data has also been pinpointed in a previous study [31].

Riaz Haq said...

Two new genetic studies upheld Indo-Aryan migration. So why did Indian media report the opposite?
Science is proving India's incredible diversity. But this clashes directly with Hindutva’s racially nativist understanding of the subcontinent.

Another co-author on the Science paper, Niraj Rai chose his words carefully when it came to Shinde’s claim of equating the Indus Valley Civilisation with the culture that authored the Vedas. “This is not my statement; I don’t agree with this statement,” said the geneticist.

Nick Patterson, another co-author, and one of the main movers along with geneticist David Reich of the endeavour to genetically decode South Asian origins had much the same point to make while speaking to “While I am always willing to listen, I disagree with Dr Shinde that the people of the Indus Valley spoke an Indo-European language.”

The study of the genetics of ancient humans, using DNA to do the work of archeologists and historians in explaining our past, was pioneered at Harvard University by geneticist David Reich. However, till now, India has been one of the dark spots in this field of study. This is because, as Nick Patterson, a co-author on the two new papers and a close associate of Reich, told, “Genetic material survives best in cool and dry climates. And two words I would not use to describe India are cool and dry.”

However, researchers managed to extricate enough DNA from the ear bone of a woman who lived in the Indus Valley Civilisation 4,500 years ago from an archeological site in Rakhigarhi, Haryana. This DNA was analysed by Reich’s team in one paper published in Cell. Another analysis by Reich’s team in Science took a macro view, analysing genetic data from 523 ancient people spanning 8,000 years across Central and South Asia right up to the European Steppe – the largest study of ancient human DNA.

The picture that emerges is one of diverse origin for the modern South Asian population. The main building blocks at the time of the Bronze Age (around four millennia ago) are the Ancient Ancestral South Indians, the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation and a significant migration from the Pontic Steppe. None of these people exist today but it is their mixing that caused most of the modern Indian population to be formed.

Of these, the Ancient Ancestral South Indians are probably the least studied and were present across parts of the subcontinent that did not fall under the Indus Valley Civilisation. Their closest modern-day relatives are the tribes of the Andaman Islands.

Thanks to the Cell paper released on September 5, we now know that the people of the Indus Valley had no Steppe DNA. They mainly had a mixture of Iranian-farmer-related DNA as well as some DNA from Ancient Ancestral South Indians.

The Steppe population came in from grasslands in Eastern Europe corresponding to modern-day Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. The genetic research identifies that this Steppe ancestry burst into India during a “narrow time window” dated between 2,000 BC and 1,500 BC.

Once these Steppe people entered India, a great churning ensued. They mixed with the Indus Valley people to create what is now called the Ancestral North Indian grouping. However, a significant portion of the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation were pushed south when the Steppe people entered. They then mixed with the Ancient Ancestral South Indians to form a group known as the Ancestral South Indian population.

For the next 2,000 years, Indians mixed freely. As a result, most modern South Asians are some mix of Ancestral North Indian and Ancestral South Indian. However, this great churning stopped around 1,900 years ago when Indian society calcified into thousands of endogamous groups who do not intermarry across caste lines – a societal structure maintained till today.

Riaz Haq said...

Two new genetic studies upheld Indo-Aryan migration. So why did Indian media report the opposite?
Science is proving India's incredible diversity. But this clashes directly with Hindutva’s racially nativist understanding of the subcontinent.

There are however some exceptions to this narrative. The Bengalis and Mundas, an Adivasi people of eastern India, “have significant amounts of ancestry from South East Asia”, noted Razib Khan, and cannot be explained using this Ancestral North Indian-Ancestral South Indian model.

How this explains modern India
Perhaps the biggest learning from this genetic research is that it explains the various languages South Asians speak. “It is clear that the movement of people mirrors the information we have from linguistics on how different features of language families are shared between them,” explained Vagheesh Narasimhan of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, who has contributed to the research.

The main theory to which Narasimhan is referring deals with how a single language family, the Indo-European family stretches all the way from Britain to Bangladesh and encompasses more than half of the modern world’s population. It counts amongst its members ancient heavyweights such as Sanskrit, Greek, Roman and Pali as well as modern tongues like English, Persian and Hindi.

The people who spread the Indo-European language family across Eurasia are the same Steppe pastoralists who are key constituents in making up the modern Indian population. As the Science paper states, its results provide “evidence for the theory that these [Indo-European] languages spread from the Steppe”.

In South Asia, the Indo-European language family bought in by the Steppe people forked to give rise to the Indo-Aryan daughter branch. The first Indo-Aryan language in South Asia was Vedic Sanskrit, the language of the Rig Veda. In present-day South Asia, around 1.3 billion people speak an Indo-Aryan language. Each of the modern states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka use an Indo-Aryan language as their official language.

Much of this Steppe ancestry is male, the research shows. This means that Steppe migrants “were more successful at competing for local mates than men from the local groups” – which tells us something about the aggressive nature of Indo-Aryan migration into India. The Science paper concludes that there was an “asymmetric social interaction between descendants of Steppe pastoralists and peoples of the Indus Periphery Cline [Indus Valley Civilisation]”.

In simpler language, David Reich explains that the preponderence of male Steppe DNA means that this encounter between the Steppe pastoralists and the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation “cannot have been entirely friendly”.

This male bias is standard for Indo-European migration. In fact, when these Steppe pastoralists reached Europe, Reich’s research found an even larger proportion of male Steppe genes. In large parts of Western Europe, Steppe migrants almost completely displaced local males in a short time span, leading to one Danish archeologist postulating that the coming of these Indo-European speakers “must have been a kind of genocide”.

This pattern, wrote David Reich in his 2018 book Who We Are and How We Got Here, “is exactly what one would expect from an Indo-European-speaking people taking the reins of political and social power 4,000 years ago and mixing with the local peoples in a stratified society, with males from the groups in power having more success in finding mates than those from the disenfranchised groups”.

Riaz Haq said...

2,000-Year-Old #Buddhist Site Unearthed in #Swat #Pakistan. The site housed an “educational institution” that included a schooling area, an assembly hall, meditation shrines called stupas, and viharas, or small living quarters for monks. via @YahooNews

Archaeologists uncovered a 1,900 to 2,000-year-old Buddhist site on cattle grazing land in Pakistan’s Swat District, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reports.

According to lead archaeologist Saqib Raza, the site housed an “educational institution” that included a schooling area, an assembly hall, meditation shrines called stupas, and viharas, or small living quarters for monks. Raza said the complex is from the Kushan era and its structures were damaged over time by various groups that came to settle in the area, eventually including the Hindu Shahi dynasty and Muslims.

According to RFE/RL’s reporter on the ground, work on the site started in December of 2020 and was expected to continue until March of 2021, in preparation for the site to eventually open to visitors. Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via Storyful

Ranjit S. said...

Though I have come across many South Indians with very light skins and many North Indians including Kashmiris with dark skins.

Riaz Haq said...

YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND—Could men from Central Asia have brought Indo-European languages to India thousands of years ago? Live Science reports that archaeogeneticist Martin Richards of the University of Huddersfield and his colleagues conducted an analysis of genetic material collected from modern populations living in India, where ancient DNA rarely survives in the hot climate. The data from the study suggest that multiple waves of people migrated into the subcontinent from Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Iran over the past 20,000 years. In particular, Richards and his colleagues say between 4,000 and 3,800 years ago, the Y-chromosome subtype associated with men of the Yamnaya culture appeared in Indian populations. The Yamnaya lived between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, are known for their pit graves and wheeled horse chariots, and spoke a precursor of Indo-European languages. The Yamnaya subgroup is now carried by about 17.5 percent of Indian men—more often in the north than in the south. So, did Yamnaya warriors conquer northern India, or perhaps migrate there and have large families? “It’s very easy for Y-chromosome composition to change very quickly,” Richards said. “Just because individual men can have a lot more children than women can.” To read more about Bronze Age Indo-European cultures, go to "The Wolf Rites of Winter."


One of the major factors that has still kept the origin of the Indian caste system obscure is the unresolved question of the origin of Y-haplogroup R1a1*, at times associated with a male-mediated major genetic influx from Central Asia or Eurasia, which has contributed to the higher castes in India. Y-haplogroup R1a1* has a widespread distribution and high frequency across Eurasia, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, with scanty reports of its ancestral (R*, R1* and R1a*) and derived lineages (R1a1a, R1a1b and R1a1c). To resolve these issues, we screened 621 Y-chromosomes (of Brahmins occupying the upper-most caste position and schedule castes/tribals occupying the lower-most positions) with 55 Y-chromosomal binary markers and seven Y-microsatellite markers and compiled an extensive dataset of 2809 Y-chromosomes (681 Brahmins, and 2128 tribals and schedule castes) for conclusions. A peculiar observation of the highest frequency (up to 72.22%) of Y-haplogroup R1a1* in Brahmins hinted at its presence as a founder lineage for this caste group. Further, observation of R1a1* in different tribal population groups, existence of Y-haplogroup R1a* in ancestors and extended phylogenetic analyses of the pooled dataset of 530 Indians, 224 Pakistanis and 276 Central Asians and Eurasians bearing the R1a1* haplogroup supported the autochthonous origin of R1a1 lineage in India and a tribal link to Indian Brahmins. However, it is important to discover novel Y-chromosomal binary marker(s) for a higher resolution of R1a1* and confirm the present conclusions.

Riaz Haq said...

Haplogroup R1a (Y-DNA) in Pakistan

Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years before present). This haplogroup has been identified in the 24,000 year-old remains of the so-called "Mal'ta boy" from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia (Raghavan et al. 2013). This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic. Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have passed on its genes mostly to the modern populations of Europea and South Asia, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).

The series of mutations that made haplogroup R1* evolve into R1a probably took place during or soon after the Last Glacial Maxium. Little is know for certain about R1a's place of origin. Some think it might have originated in the Balkans or around Pakistan and Northwest India, due to the greater genetic diversity found in these regions. The diversity can be explained by other factors though. The Balkans have been subject to 5000 years of migrations from the Eurasian Steppes, each bringing new varieties of R1a. South Asia has had a much bigger population than any other parts of the world (occasionally equalled by China) for at least 10,000 years, and larger population bring about more genetic diversity. The most likely place of origin of R1a is Central Asia or southern Russia/Siberia.


The Indo-Iranian migrations progressed further south across the Hindu Kush. By 1700 BCE, horse-riding pastoralists had penetrated into Balochistan (south-west Pakistan). The Indus valley succumbed circa 1500 BCE, and the northern and central parts of the Indian subcontinent were taken over by 500 BCE. Westward migrations led Old Indic Sanskrit speakers riding war chariots to Assyria, where they became the Mitanni rulers from circa 1500 BCE. The Medes, Parthians and Persians, all Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture, moved into the Iranian plateau from 800 BCE. Those that stayed in Central Asia are remembered by history as the Scythians, while the Yamna descendants who remained in the Pontic-Caspian steppe became known as the Sarmatians to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The Indo-Iranian migrations have resulted in high R1a frequencies in southern Central Asia, Iran and the Indian subcontinent. The highest frequency of R1a (about 65%) is reached in a cluster around Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan. In India and Pakistan, R1a ranges from 15 to 50% of the population, depending on the region, ethnic group and caste. R1a is generally stronger is the North-West of the subcontinent, and weakest in the Dravidian-speaking South (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh) and from Bengal eastward. Over 70% of the Brahmins (highest caste in Hindusim) belong to R1a1, due to a founder effect.

Maternal lineages in South Asia are, however, overwhelmingly pre-Indo-European. For instance, India has over 75% of "native" mtDNA M and R lineages and 10% of East Asian lineages. In the residual 15% of haplogroups, approximately half are of Middle Eastern origin. Only about 7 or 8% could be of "Russian" (Pontic-Caspian steppe) origin, mostly in the form of haplogroup U2 and W (although the origin of U2 is still debated). European mtDNA lineages are much more common in Central Asia though, and even in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. This suggests that the Indo-European invasion of India was conducted mostly by men through war. The first major settlement of Indo-Aryan women was in northern Pakistan, western India (Punjab to Gujarat) and northern India (Uttar Pradesh), where haplogroups U2 and W are the most common today.

Riaz Haq said...

Where West Meets East: The Complex mtDNA Landscape of the Southwest and Central Asian Corridor

The southwestern Asian corridor is a wide geographical area that extends from Anatolia and the trans-Caucasus area through the Iranian plateau to the Indo-Gangetic plains of Pakistan and northwestern India. This region is characterized by a patchwork of different physical-anthropology types with complex boundaries and gradients and by the coexistence of several language families (e.g., Indo-European, Turkic, and Sino-Tibetan) as well as relict linguistic outliers. The southwestern Asian corridor, located at the crossroads of major population expansions, was the first portion of Eurasia to be inhabited by the Homo sapiens sapiens population(s) that left Africa ∼60,000 years before the present (YBP) (Tishkoff et al. 1996; Watson et al. 1997; Quintana-Murci et al. 1999), and from this region modern humans migrated to the rest of the world. Although Paleolithic and Mesolithic people left their mark in the area, major prehistorical and historical events with possible genetic consequences occurred during the Neolithic period and later. Important agricultural developments occurred in the eastern horn of the Fertile Crescent ∼8,000 YBP, notably in Elam (southwestern Iran). The highly urban Elamite civilization had close contacts with Mesopotamians but exhibited an extensive differentiation from the rest of the Fertile Crescent populations, including a language that is thought to belong to the Dravidian family. It is hypothesized that the proto-Elamo-Dravidian language (McAlpin 1974, 1981), spoken by the Elamites in southwestern Iran, spread eastwards with the movement of farmers from this region to the Indus Valley and the Indian subcontinent (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994; Cavalli-Sforza 1996; Renfrew 1996). Starting ∼5,000 YBP, animal domestication, particularly the horse, gave the inhabitants of the Central Asian steppes the opportunity to expand geographically in different directions (Zvelebil 1980). These Central Asian nomads, probably from the Andronovo and Srubnaya cultures, migrated through Iran and Afghanistan, reaching Pakistan and India, and their arrival is contemporaneous with the decline of the strong agricultural South Asian civilizations, such as the Harappans.


The approximate location of the 23 populations from which the 910 mtDNAs were sampled is shown in figure 1. Each sample comprises unrelated healthy donors from whom appropriate informed consent was obtained. For the preliminary part of the study, 208 individuals from three different geographic regions were analyzed: 58 individuals from the Caucasus, 50 from Turkey and 100 from southeastern Pakistan. The three samples were heterogeneous; the sample from the Caucasus region was made up of three different ethnic groups: Georgians, Balkarians, and Chechens. The sample from Turkey was collected mainly in Konya (Anatolia). The Pakistani sample was collected in Karachi and comprised mainly Sindhis, who are a mix of tribes of different religions and ethnicities from the southeastern province of Sindh. The extended population sample included 702 individuals from 20 different populations living in the Iranian plateau, the Indus Valley, the Karakorum and Hindu Kush mountains, and Central Asia. Further details of the whole sample collection are reported in table 1 and in the work of Wells et al. (2001) and Qamar et al. (2002). The term “Makrani” refers to the so-called “Negroid Makrani” population living in the Makran coast of Baluchistan, distinct from the Makrani Baluch population, which is not considered in this study.

Riaz Haq said...

Where West Meets East: The Complex mtDNA Landscape of the Southwest and Central Asian Corridor

Traces of Recent and Sexually Asymmetrical Events
The phylogeographical cross-comparison of mtDNA and Y-chromosomal data is very useful for tracing differential male and female histories. Some populations studied here (Iranian, Pakistani, and Central Asian) have been analyzed previously for Y-chromosomal variation (Quintana-Murci et al. 2001; Qamar et al. 2002; Zerjal et al. 2002). In most cases, mtDNA variation is in good agreement with the Y-chromosomal data, suggesting that the patterns reflect general population processes. A good, although surprising, example of concordance between the two systems is the Hazara, who claim to be the direct male-line descendants of Genghis Khan’s army. The presence and time depth of the Y-chromosomal haplogroup C* (xC3c) in the Hazara, along with its absence from neighboring populations, has been interpreted as the genetic legacy of Genghis Khan and his male relatives (Qamar et al. 2002; Zerjal et al. 2003). Our results indicate that the Hazara are also characterized by very high frequencies of eastern Eurasian mtDNAs (35%, table 2, fig. 1), which are virtually absent from bordering populations, suggesting that the male descendants of Genghis Khan, or other Mongols, were accompanied by women of East Asian ancestry.

In contrast to the parallelism between mtDNA and Y-chromosomal data in most populations, the Parsis and the Makrani both show a sharp contrast between these loci. The Parsis live in southeastern Pakistan, and historical records indicate an Iranian origin (Nanavutty 1997). These followers of the prophet Zoroaster started their migration from Iran in the 7th century a.d., settling in the northwestern Indian province of Gujarat around 900 a.d. and eventually moving to Mumbai in India and Karachi in Pakistan. Y-chromosome data show that they resemble Iranian populations rather than their neighbors in Pakistan: an admixture estimate of 100% from Iran was obtained (Qamar et al. 2002), supporting the historical records. However, when the Parsi mtDNA pool was compared with those of the Iranians and Gujaratis (their putative parental populations), a strong contrast with the Y-chromosomal data emerged. About 60% of their maternal gene pool belongs to South Asian haplogroups, which make up only 7% of the combined Iranian sample (table 2). The very high frequency of haplogroup M among the Parsis (55%), similar to those of Indian populations and much higher than that of the combined Iranian sample (1.7%), highlights their close affinities with India (fig. 6). Our results lead to an admixture estimate of 100% from Gujarat and provide a strong contrast between the maternal and paternal components of this population. Although the small population size of the Parsis (a few thousand) may have distorted haplogroup frequencies in this population, diversity of both Y-chromosome and mtDNA lineages remains high, making a strong drift effect unlikely. Our results therefore support a male-mediated migration of the ancestors of the present-day Parsi population from Iran to India, where they admixed with local females, or directional mating in Gujarat between Iranian males and local women, leading ultimately to the loss of mtDNAs of Iranian origin.

Riaz Haq said...

The fusion of these highly different populations into today’s West Eurasians is vividly evident in what might be considered the classic northern European look: blue eyes, light skin, and blond hair. Analysis of ancient DNA data shows that western European hunter-gatherers around eight thousand years ago had blue eyes but dark skin and dark hair, a combination that is rare today.33 The first farmers of Europe mostly had light skin but dark hair and brown eyes—thus light skin in Europe largely owes its origins to migrating farmers.34 The earliest known example of the classic European blond hair mutation is in an Ancient North Eurasian from the Lake Baikal region of eastern Siberia from seventeen thousand years ago.35 The hundreds of millions of copies of this mutation in central and western Europe today likely derive from a massive migration into the region of people bearing Ancient North Eurasian ancestry, an event that is related in the next chapter.36Since the original excavations at Harappa, the “Aryan invasion theory” has been seized on by nationalists in both Europe and India, which makes the idea difficult to discuss in an objective way. European racists, including the Nazis, were drawn to the idea of an invasion of India in which the dark-skinned inhabitants were subdued by light-skinned warriors related to northern Europeans, who imposed on them a hierarchical caste system that forbade intermarriage across groups. To the Nazis and others, the distribution of the Indo-European language family, linking Europe to India and having little impact on the Near East with its Jews, spoke of an ancient conquest moving out of an ancestral homeland, displacing and subjugating the peoples of the conquered territories, an event that they wished to emulate.9 Some placed the ancestral homeland of the Indo-Aryans in northeast Europe, including Germany. They also adopted features of Vedic mythology as their own, calling themselves Aryans after the term in the Rig Veda, and appropriating the swastika, a traditional Hindu symbol of good fortune.10 The Nazis’ interest in migrations and the spread of Indo-European languages has made it difficult for serious scholars in Europe to discuss the possibility of migrations spreading Indo-European languages.11 In India, the possibility that the Indus Valley Civilization fell at the hands of migrating Indo-European speakers coming from the north is also fraught, as it suggests that important elements of South Asian culture might have been influenced from the outside.

Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 150). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 121). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Anonymous said...

For Savarkar, in Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?, Hindutva is an inclusive term of everything Indic. The three essentials of Hindutva in Savarkar's definition were the common nation (rashtra), common race (jati), and common culture or civilisation (sanskriti). Savarkar used the words "Hindu" and "Sindhu" interchangeably.

Riaz Haq said...

Proponents of Indigenous Aryanism believe that the Indus Valley Civilisation was Aryan and Vedic.[7] There are two common objections against such a correlation: "the Rg Vedicculture was pastoral and horse-centered, while the Harappan culture was neither horse-centered nor pastoral";[note 1][3] and "the complete absence of the horse (equus caballus)."[note 2] Support for the idea of an indigenous Indo-Aryan origin of the Indus Valley Civilisation mostly exists among Indian scholars of Hindu religion and the history and archaeology of India,[8][9][10][11] and has no support in mainstream scholarship.[note 3]

The paucity of horse remains in pre-Vedic times could be explained by India's climatic factors which lead to decay of horse bones. Horse bones may also be rare because horses were probably not eaten or used in burials by the Harappans.[12][13] Remains and artifacts ascribed to domesticated horses are limited to Late Harappan times[14][3][note 10] indicating that horses may have been present at Late Harappan times,[1] "when the Vedic people had settled in the north-west part of the subcintinent."[3] It can therefor not be concluded that the horse was regularly used, or played a significant role, in the Harappan society.[2]

Horse remains from the Harappan site Surkotada (dated to 2400-1700 BC) have been identified by A.K. Sharma as Equus ferus caballus.[subnote 3] The horse specialist Sandor Bökönyi (1997) later confirmed these conclusions, and stated the excavated tooth specimens could "in all probability be considered remnants of true horses [i.e. Equus ferus caballus]".[subnote 4] Bökönyi, as cited by B.B. Lal, stated that "The occurrence of true horse (Equus caballus L.) was evidenced by the enamel pattern of the upper and lower cheek and teeth and by the size and form of incisors and phalanges (toe bones)."[subnote 5] However, archaeologists like Meadow (1997) disagree, on the grounds that the remains of the Equus ferus caballus horse are difficult to distinguish from other equid species such as Equus asinus (donkeys) or Equus hemionus (onagers).[21]

Riaz Haq said...

Traces of sub-Saharan and Middle Eastern lineages in Indian Muslim populations

Muthukrishnan Eaaswarkhanth, Ikramul Haque, Zeinab Ravesh, Irene Gallego Romero, Poorlin Ramakodi Meganathan, Bhawna Dubey, Faizan Ahmed Khan, Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Toomas Kivisild, Chris Tyler-Smith, Lalji Singh & Kumarasamy Thangaraj

We analyzed 472 samples for variation in mtDNA control regions and haplogroup-diagnostic coding region sites. Pooled haplogroup frequencies are shown in Table 1 and detailed haplogroup frequencies and definitions are given in Supplementary Tables 1 and 2 and Supplementary Figures 1 and 2. Altogether, haplogroups restricted to the Indian Subcontinent were observed at an average frequency of 63% in Indian Muslim populations as compared with 74% among the non-Muslim neighbors (Table 1). The average contribution of haplogroups of West Eurasian origin to Indian Muslims was 18%, which is not significantly higher than the value observed in non-Muslim populations (14%). In contrast, Iranian Shia Muslims exhibit a high frequency (54%) of West Eurasian lineages. It is interesting that the sub-Saharan African- and Arabian-specific L0a2a2 and R01 lineages were found only in Dawoodi Bohras (TN and GUJ), whereas these lineages were generally absent in Indian non-Muslims, although a related L0a2a2 lineage has been detected previously among the Sindhi population of Pakistan (Figure 2). The Central Asian lineages were found at a lower average frequency of 6% and the haplogroups U7 and W, which exist in similar frequencies in India and Iran, were observed at an average frequency of 6 and 3%, respectively, in Muslim populations. The gene diversity in Muslim populations ranged from 0.80±0.05 to 0.93±0.02, which is slightly higher than that among non-Muslim populations, 0.74±0.02 to 0.86±0.02 (Table 2), and reveals the prevalence of a comparatively high genetic diversity among Indian Muslims. We completely sequenced the mtDNA genome of nine M* samples, which harbor 16223–16275 substitutions in hypervariable segment I (HVS-I), to determine their potential source region. All nine samples were found to share common coding region variants, which enabled us to define a new autochthonous South Asian-specific haplogroup M52, which turned out to share a common origin with one of its sister branches, labeled here as M52a (Figure 3), detected among Indian non-Muslims. The same haplogroup has been recently reported in the Tharus of Nepal and in the Andhra Pradesh population.50 All nine sequences of Muslims are nested within the M52 lineage (Figure 3). Considering this phylogenetic structuring, the newly characterized haplogroup M52 is most likely to have an Indian rather than West Asian or Arabian origin. AMOVA yielded no statistically significant results for any group distinctions on the basis of religion (Indian Muslims and non-Muslims), geography (North India, South India and West India) or other criteria investigated (Supplementary Table 3).

Riaz Haq said...

When Ancient DNA Gets Politicized
What responsibility do archaeologists have when their research about prehistoric finds is appropriated to make 21st-century arguments about ethnicity?

The study analyzed DNA from ten individuals who had been buried at Ashkelon, a coastal city in Israel, between the Bronze Age and Iron Age. The results suggested that the appearance of new genetic signatures in four of the individuals coincided with changes in the archaeological record that have been associated with the arrival of the Philistines more than 3,000 years ago. These genetic traits resembled those of ancient people who lived in what is now Greece, Italy and Spain. The authors asserted that these findings supported the idea that the Philistines, a group of people made infamous in the Hebrew Bible as the enemies of the Israelites, originally migrated to the Levant from somewhere in southern Europe, but quickly mixed with local populations.

Commenting on the study, Netanyahu wrote: “There’s no connection between the ancient Philistines & the modern Palestinians, whose ancestors came from the Arabian Peninsula to the Land of Israel thousands of years later. The Palestinians’ connection to the Land of Israel is nothing compared to the 4,000 year connection that the Jewish people have with the land.”

The logic here for those who had read the study was confusing. The new research had nothing to say about the genetic history of Jews or Palestinians or the connection those modern populations have to the land. (Though the word "Palestinian" comes from "Philistine," Palestinians are not thought of as the descendants of Philistines; it appears that Netanyahu was using this unrelated point to launch into his argument.)

“To me it seemed like it just provided another opportunity—even if it's just tangential—to take a swipe at Palestinians,” says Michael Press, an independent scholar who studies the presentation of archaeology in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. “It's hard to blame the authors much here since Netanyahu's use of the study really was a non-sequitur.” (The authors of the study did not wish to comment but are preparing a formal response.)

Despite evidence that Jews and Palestinians are genetically closely related, Press and others were also torn about even addressing such inaccuracies in Netanyahu’s comments. Tom Booth, a researcher in the ancient genomics laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in London, worried that picking apart what the prime minister got wrong about the study would suggest that, in an alternate reality, where his interpretation was scientifically sound, Netanyahu would be justified in using such a study to support his claims about Palestinian rights. “You just need to condemn any attempt to use a study on the past in this way,” Booth says. “The way our ancestors were 4,000 years ago does not really bear on ideas of nation or identity, or it shouldn't in modern nation states.”

This incident has dredged up tensions that have been lurking in archaeology ever since ancient DNA studies started gaining wide attention a decade ago. Advances in technology have made it possible to extract and analyze DNA from ancient bones, teeth, and other sources, and the resulting studies have made discoveries that might otherwise be invisible in the archaeological record: that anatomically modern humans mated with Neanderthals; that ancient populations in Africa moved and mixed more than previously thought; that the ancestors of the first people to set foot in North America may have taken a 10,000-year pause in their migration route in the now-submerged landmass between Siberia and Alaska. “Without knowing whether populations are staying the same or changing, we ended up potentially misunderstanding what's happening in the archaeological record,” Booth says.

Riaz Haq said...

Middle-Eastern genomes fill historical gaps
137 full genomes from eight Middle-Eastern populations reveals links to agriculture

Despite being the cradle of agriculture, the birthplace of urbanisation and the land bridge that brought early hominins out of Africa, the Middle East as a region has flown relatively under the radar when it comes to genetic research. Now, a new study from the University of Birmingham and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK, has sequenced 137 full genomes from eight Middle-Eastern populations to reveal fascinating insights about human history.

“The Middle East is an important region to understand human history, migrations and evolution: it is where modern humans first expanded out of Africa, where hunter-gatherers first settled and transitioned into farmers, where the first writing systems developed, and where the first major known civilisations emerged,” says co-author Mohamed Almarri of the Wellcome Sanger Institute. With this in mind, many of our modern languages, cultures and behaviours can trace their roots to the region.

The team, led by Almarri and Marc Haber of the University of Birmingham, were able to reconstruct the genomic history of the region with unprecedented precision, noting that many of their findings vindicate theories in the fields of archaeology and linguistics.

The key findings included the identification of 4.8 million new gene variants that are specific to the Middle East, and that were not identified in the Human Genome Diversity Project. The authors say these genes could provide clues about population health specific to the region.

“These are variants that were not previously discovered in other populations,” Haber says. “Hundreds of thousands of these are common in the region, and any of them could hold medical relevance.”

Bastien Llamas, an expert in population genomics and ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide (who was not involved in the study), says expanding our knowledge of the human genome to cover these blind spots will confer many potential benefits.

“Downstream benefits include addressing health issues specific to these populations that are under-represented in global reference databases, but also improving our understanding of disease molecular mechanisms – and this could be relevant for all humans.”

Another finding was evidence of a population bloom coterminous with the development of agriculture in the Levant region during the transition to the Neolithic some 8,000-10,000 years ago, supporting the long-held belief among archaeologists that farming – and the sedentary lifestyle it afforded – would’ve boosted the region’s population. Meanwhile, the genomes showed evidence some 6,000 years ago of a massive population crash in Arabia, around the time the once-verdant region experienced a dramatic drying event.

Shining light on the field of linguistics, the study also found that population movement in the Bronze Age may have spread the Semitic languages (these form the basis for today’s Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic) out from the Levant into Arabia and East Asia.

Another key finding sheds light on the development of disease susceptibility, with the research showing an increase in the frequency of variants associated with type 2 diabetes in some Middle-Eastern populations over the past 2,000 years, showing that variants that may once have been evolutionarily beneficial can end up coding for disease.

“In this case, it looks like some genetic variants that are associated with diabetes in present-day Emirati populations were at high frequency in the population 2,000 years ago,” says Llamas. “It is entirely possible that these variants were positively selected to survive the arid environment and the nomadic herder lifestyle of the ancestors of Emirati people.”

Riaz Haq said...

Arabians Have Different Origins, Middle East Genomic Study Finds
The Arabians have deeper roots in Africa, while the Levantines’ roots lie in Europe and Anatolia in today’s Turkey. They differ in their amount of Neanderthal DNA as well

Apparently, it is so: Anatomically modern humans have been leaving Africa for almost a quarter million years, but they all went extinct until an exit around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. A new study of genomes in the Middle East shores up this hypothesis, finding no trace of the early humans in any of the genomes tested.

One of the routes out of Africa for hominins going back 2 million years, and later, for humans too, was the Levant, Iraq and Arabia. Indeed, researchers have found evidence of human and hominin exits in various places, including Israel and Saudi Arabia: stuff like the odd bone or a batch of stone tools.

The prevailing belief is that the groups taking part in the earliest migrations went extinct (though not before encountering other hominins in Eurasia). Then about 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, anatomical humans left Africa – and survived. They met and mixed with Neanderthals and heavens knows who else, and begat modern humanity.


“We used a new whole genome sequencing technology to study human populations from the Levant [Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank], Iraq and Arabia, and we reconstruct the population history of the region from over 125,000 years ago up to the last millennium,” Almarri says. “We show how changes in lifestyle and climate have affected the demography of human populations in the region.”

How does one test latter-day DNA for signals older than 60,000 years? By the density of mutations, he explains: “The more mutations there are, the older the segments will be.”

That’s a generalization; some genetic sequences are more evolutionarily conserved than others. If you check the sequence for the protein ubiquitin, it will be the same from a human to a tree frog and obviously, for earlier humans. But if a given segment has a ton of mutations (that didn’t kill the bearer), we may assume it’s old.

Riaz Haq said...

Arabians Have Different Origins, Middle East Genomic Study Finds
The Arabians have deeper roots in Africa, while the Levantines’ roots lie in Europe and Anatolia in today’s Turkey. They differ in their amount of Neanderthal DNA as well

And indeed, genomic studies of today’s non-African populations show a genetic bottleneck around that time, Almarri says. Non-Africans all descend from exiters around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago and are much less genetically diverse than sub-Saharan Africans, who suffered no bottleneck.

Moving on, Levantines and Iraqis share the same Neanderthal signals as Eurasians, the team found. Arabians on the other hand have less Neanderthal DNA.

Also, present-day Africans are believed to have a contribution from Neanderthals after all, a very small one, conferred by early humans who trekked in reverse – from Europe back to Africa – after mixing with Neanderthals.

Anyway, the Arabians of today apparently didn’t arise from early Levantine farmers but from Natufian hunter-gatherers who preceded these farmers and Africans, the study shows. Nor do the findings support the theory that Levantine farmers later replaced the indigenous Arabian population

It bears stressing that human fossil remains are incredibly rare; from the deep prehistoric past Saudi Arabia has so far produced one finger bone from 85,000 years ago, but it has also produced tools that may have been special to humans (as opposed to other hominins) from 125,000 years ago. In Israel there are a lot more very ancient human remains, starting with the 200,000-year-old jawbone found in Misliya, and there are more when you get to the Natufian period but they’re still very rare.

Another difference the genomic analysis indicated relates to the Neolithic Revolution – the “invention” of agriculture.

But here it bears stressing that the Middle East, Arabia and North Africa weren’t always baking-hot deserts. Sometimes, depending on planetary orbital cycles, they “greened.” Hippos and crocodiles cavorted in lakes and rivers, and hominins – and later, modern humans – could comfortably roam.

When the Neolithic Revolution – the gradual transition from a life of hunting and gathering to agriculture and animal husbandry – began over 10,000 years ago, Arabia and the Sahara were in such a lush period. The Arabian Desert as we know it today, the biggest sand desert in the world, didn’t exist. It began to form sometime between 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. (That might help explain the paucity of prehistoric human remains.)

Riaz Haq said...

#Nazis tried to trace #Aryan race myth in #Tibet. #Hitler believed that "Aryan" Nordic people entered #India from the north 1,500 years ago, & Aryans committed "crime" of mixing with the local "un-Aryan" people, losing attributes that made them "superior".

In 1938, Heinrich Himmler, a leading member of Germany's Nazi party and a key architect of the Holocaust, sent a five-member team to Tibet to search for the origins of the supposed Aryan race. Author Vaibhav Purandare recounts the fascinating story of this expedition, which passed through India.

A little over a year before World War Two began, a group of Germans landed surreptitiously along India's eastern borders.

They were on a mission to discover the "source of origin of the Aryan race".

Adolf Hitler believed that "Aryan" Nordic people had entered India from the north some 1,500 years earlier, and that the Aryans had committed the "crime" of mixing with the local "un-Aryan" people, losing the attributes that had made them racially superior to all other people on earth.

Hitler regularly expressed deep antipathy for the Indian people and their struggle for freedom, articulating his sentiments in his speeches, writings and debates.

Yet, according to Himmler, one of Hitler's top lieutenants and the head of the SS, the Indian subcontinent was still worth a close look.

This is where Tibet came into the picture.

Those who swore by the idea of a white Nordic superior race were believers in the tale of the imagined lost city of Atlantis, where people of "the purest blood" had apparently once lived. Believed to have been situated somewhere between England and Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean, this mythical island allegedly sunk after being struck by a divine thunderbolt.

All the Aryans who survived had supposedly moved on to more secure places. The Himalayan region was believed to be one such refuge, Tibet in particular because it was famous for being "the roof of the world".

In 1935, Himmler set up a unit within the SS called the Ahnenerbe - or Bureau of Ancestral Heritage - to find out where people from Atlantis had gone after the bolt from the blue and the deluge, and where traces of the great race still remained and could be discovered.

In 1938, he sent a team of five Germans to Tibet on this "search operation".

Two of the team's members stood out from the rest. One was Ernst Schafer, a gifted 28-year-old zoologist who had been to the India-China-Tibet border twice earlier. Schafer had joined the SS soon after the Nazi triumph of 1933, long before Himmler became his patron for the Tibet expedition.

Schafer was crazy about hunting and loved to gather trophies in his Berlin home. On one hunting expedition, while attempting to shoot a duck from a boat he and his wife were in, he slipped when taking aim and shot his wife in the head accidentally, killing her.

The second key man was Bruno Beger, a young anthropologist who had joined the SS in 1935. Beger would take measurements of the skulls and facial details of Tibetans and make face masks, he said, "especially to collect material about the proportions, origins, significance and development of the Nordic race in this region".

Riaz Haq said...

The Wire
Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a 'bhagwa archaeologist' for his spurious claims on Ayodhya. |


B.B. Lal and the Making of Hindutva Archaeology
Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a 'bhagwa archaeologist' for his spurious claims on Ayodhya.

If there is one name in the history of post-independent India that has had a towering influence on the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), it is Braj Basi Lal, who recently passed away last month at the age of 101.

Lal’s career biography ideologically maps the trajectory ASI took after India broke its colonial shackles. Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality as seen from his early writing in the ASI journal Ancient India in the 1950s. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a “bhagwa [saffron] archaeologist” for his spurious claims on Ayodhya, which provided an archaeological impetus to the eventual demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

As a young archaeologist, Lal was trained at the famous Taxila School of Archaeology in 1944. Led by Mortimer Wheeler – the last director general of the colonial ASI – this is considered to be the first school of field archaeology. It had an enduring impact on the trajectory of post-colonial Indian archaeology, as many students who attended went to become the director generals of the ASI, including B.B. Lal who headed the ASI from 1968 to 1972.

The first time I saw B.B. Lal was during unsavoury circumstances. It was a cold winter of 1994 during the Third World Archaeological Congress (WAC 3) held in Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi. As a young graduate student of archaeology, I was a delegate attending the WAC 3 – a gathering of international archaeologists held once in four years. The conference opened with disarray organisation, disordered logistics, and corruption allegations.

Palpably, an unofficial gag order prohibiting any discussion on the demolition of the Babri Masjid was floating in the glittering corridors of the five-star hotel. I heard muted voices of dissent and the simmering tension in the air threatened to disrupt the conference.

On the last day of the conference, an ugly fistfight broke out on the stage of the hotel’s regal ballroom. The national and international delegates sat in stunned silence. Amid a heated discussion and vociferous slogan shouting, a group of senior Indian archaeologists led by B.B. Lal and right-wing archaeologist S.P. Gupta were seen rushing onto the stage.

They snatched the microphone from the Indian delegates who had come up to the podium to read a petition for WAC-3 to pass a resolution condemning the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The conference ended wretchedly, with the WAC Council boycotting the official closing ceremony in protest.

B.B Lal’s role in transforming the ASI from a sedate government organisation excavating diverse pasts of this ancient nation to something that has been trying to prove the archaeological veracity of the ancient Hindu epic tradition is indelible.

Riaz Haq said...

B.B. Lal and the Making of Hindutva Archaeology

Lal’s most significant discovery was that of the earliest Jain terracotta figurine (4th century BCE) and Roman Rouletted Ware (1st-2nd century CE). This evidence showed that Ayodhya was not just part of the brisk ancient trade route, but it was a multicultural site. There was no mention of a Hindu temple at the site. The short excavation reportage in IAR ironically stated that the entire period after the 11th century “was devoid of special interest”.

However, it was in 1990 when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was jolting the political climate in India, and more than 10 years after he had excavated Ayodhya, Lal, in an influential article in a Hindu propaganda journal, Manthan, announced that he had recovered Hindu temple pillar-bases during the excavation.

Lal forcefully asserted his authority as an eminent ASI archaeologist behind his egregious claim that remains of a Hindu temple existed under the Babri Masjid. He allegedly provided false archaeological justification for the claim that the Hindutva fundamentalists were making about the Babri Masjid. Archaeology was irrevocably pushed into the greatest political crisis of postcolonial India.

Lal’s assertion about the presence of temple debris under the mosque had led to an acrimonious debate among archaeologists and historians in India. He led a group of historians and archaeologists, along with his collaborator S.P. Gupta, who provided archaeological justification to the political project of Hindu fundamentalism.

With this, the project of Hindutva’s appropriation of archaeology’s scientific legitimacy to pursue its divisive politics reached its logical conclusion on December 6, 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished.

Along with this project, Lal is also the progenitor of the other favourite Hindutva archaeological project – ‘Aryanization of the Indus Civilization’. This basically means deceptively force-fitting archaeological evidence of the Harappan civilisation (3300-1800 BCE) with the Vedic civilisation (1500-600 BCE) and creating a new ethnic category called the ‘Vedic-Harappans’ – the authors of the ‘Out of India’ theory.

This project disputes the movement of the Aryans from the West, and asserts, without much evidence, that the Harappans were indigenous Vedic Aryans. This is a speculative premise devoid of any material data on the ground through which the Harappan civilisation becomes the birthplace of the indigenous Aryans who spoke the proto-Indo-European language and spread throughout the Eurasian world.

The centre of this process of ‘Aryanization’ – the practice of reading Aryan elements into Harappan material culture – is the river Saraswati, which, thanks to specious scholarship by Lal, moved from the mythological to the archaeological realm. I say specious because in all of his official ASI publications that dealt with the Harappan site of Kalibangan that Lal excavated, he never used the word ‘Saraswati’.

He excavated the site of Kalibangan from 1960-69, but published the report only 34 years after the end of the excavation. In the meanwhile, in non-official publications, Lal routinely postulated the idea that the monsoon-fed Ghaggar-Hakra paleo-channel was actually the Vedic river Saraswati, without archaeological, geological, or hydrological evidence.

If Lord Rama was the divine centre of the property dispute at Ayodhya for Lal, then Goddess Saraswati was the celestial pivot of the making of the Vedic Harappans.

Anil Dutta said...

Your article "Harvard Scientist Debunks Hindu Nationalists "Racial Purity" Myth" is both informative and hilarious. I have read all your comments as well. I thank you for bringing so much information at one place.

You falter when you speak about Hindutwa, Hindu Nazis, Dr BB Lal. This part is hilarious and shows your blind biases. I would say you know nothing about these topics and are mouthing propagandist versions.

It hardly matters if 30 to 40% of our DNA is from Central Asians or Eurasians. We remain proud Indians. The mixing is common to every one in the world. Races have been totally replaced in some countries.

Yamnaya might have comne to India. And aggressively. However, they hardly had a culture but most rudimentary. How they suddenly created immediately on arrival a refined language like Sanskrit with so deep ideas. You contradict yourself. Onthe one hand you say Yamnayas or Central Asians et al came between 4000 to 3800 ya. Onthe other Mittanis ruled in West Asia 3500 Ya. They spoke LATER Vedic. Do you mean Yamnaya who lived like virtual savages while entering India, suddenly became so advanced culturally? If they were ruling in 1500 BC, they must have reached those areas atleast 200 years earlier.

Issue is not where we got our genes from. Issue is that our culture is unique and endogenous. It has come from Indus valley. Yamnaya genes in Europe have been unable to produce a matching level of philosophy. They failed even to develop a respectable culture till dark ages. Why the difference?

Dr BB Lal did not invent Saraswati. The river has been proved by German scientists. It looks logical too. Several centers of IVC lie around its path. many holy places of Hindus lie around its path. It dried up in 1800 BC. It flowed like a sea in 6000 BC. Vedas etc were written around its banks.

Please widen your reach. Research in genertics has just begun. Conclusions of Dr Reich cannot be final. He is a pioneer alright. So wait for more data to emerge.

It would be interesting to know which country on the subcontinent you belong to.

Riaz Haq said...

Per 1901 British Estimate for UP Muslims:

37% are Ashraf (Syed, Sheikh, Mughal, Pathan)

8% directly descend from Twice Born Upper-Castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas)

33% descend from Lower-Caste Shudras (artisans, cultivators)

21% descend from untouchable menials, Dalits.

Riaz Haq said...

Compare to figures for Hindus, where the Twice-Born Upper-Castes are evenly balanced with the Lowest-Caste Dalits at about 25% each.

Meanwhile the Shudras comprise the great mass of the Hindu population, at nearly 50% of the total.

Riaz Haq said...

How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate - The Hindu

Two new genetic studies upheld Indo-Aryan migration. So why did Indian media report the opposite?

Harrapa and the Aryan Invasion - Ancient India

Myth of one Hindu religion exploded

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Indians love the bling of billionaires like Trump Jr. They are the gods of ache din

Kerala govt selling ayurvedic medicine made from cow urine ...
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The use of cow dung and urine to cure COVID‐19 in India: A public health concern
by S Daria · 2021 · Cited by 37 — In Hinduism, the cow dung is used to clean homes and for prayer rituals. ... They believe that it has therapeutic and antiseptic properties. The ...

Hindu Fascism 101: What is Hindutva? - Medium

Ramachandra Guha: Hindutva has strong links with fascism

Virginia Raines said...

Airyana Vaējah |

The Rigveda & Bactria (1700 BC) - Okar Research

Aryan Homeland, Airyana Vaeja, in the Avesta. Aryan lands ...
The homeland of the Aryans was called Airyana Vaeja in the Zoroastrian scriptures, the Avesta and Arya Varta in the Hindu scriptures. The collection of first Aryan nations was called Airyanam Dakhyunam. Aryan lands are called Airyo Shayanem.

The truth about us Indians: Who are we, and why
Aug 23, 2019 — The only indigenous people in India are the Adivasis, who Nihar Ranjan Ray had described as 'the original autochthonous people of India'.

Indigenous people in India and the web of indifference
India is home to about 700 tribal groups with a population of 104 million, as per 2011 census.

India, largely a country of immigrants - The Hindu
UPDATED: DECEMBER 04, 2021 — A Supreme Court judgment projects the historical thesis that India is largely a country of old immigrants and that pre-Dravidian aborigines, ancestors of the present Adivasis, rather than Dravidians, were the original inhabitants of India.

Where Indians Come From, Part 2: Dravidians and Aryans
Jan 7, 2019 — Who were the people who made up ancient India and where did they come from?

Riaz Haq said...

Study links endogamy to persistence of harmful genetic variants in India

A large-scale medical genetics study aimed to identify unique genetic variants behind South Asia’s health problems.

In 2009, a study in Nature Genetics by the group of Kumarasamy Thangaraj, at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, reported a fascinating finding on why a small group of Indians were prone to cardiac failure at relatively young ages. They found that the DNA of such individuals lacked 25 base-pairs in a gene crucial for the rhythmic beating of the heart (scientists call it a 25-base-pair deletion).

Intriguingly, this deletion was unique to the Indian population and, barring a few groups in Southeast Asia, was not found elsewhere. They estimated that this deletion arose around 30,000 years ago, shortly after people began settling in the subcontinent, and affects roughly 4% of the Indian population today.

Riaz Haq said...

Why Endogamous Marriages Could Make Us An Unhealthy Population

Endogamous marriages are the ones that take place within a particular social group such as caste, clan, tribe, gotra, etc. The presence of thousands of castes and communities in India has led to the formation of a very fragmented and dissociated society.

Posted by Shivani Gual

When I look around my family and close relatives, I often find multiple family relations between two people. My father’s sister married a man whose sister married my mother’s brother. You might need a pen and a paper to figure that one out! What I intend to communicate here is that in small communities marriages among relatives is a common affair. This is known as endogamy.

Endogamous marriages are the ones that take place within a particular social group such as caste, clan, tribe, gotra, etc. The presence of thousands of castes and communities in India has led to the formation of a very fragmented and dissociated society. These castes, even though belonging to the same religion, are so different from each other that it is laborious to find similarities in their customs and traditions. As a result, marriages are found to be conventionally more successful when they are endogamous due to the familiarity between the two cultures.

Also read: Endogamous Love: On Love Jihad & Marriages In India

Endogamous marriages are the ones that take place within a particular social group such as caste, clan, tribe, gotra, etc. The presence of thousands of castes and communities in India has led to the formation of a very fragmented and dissociated society.

One of the most common endogamous groups is caste. Caste-system in India is primordial and it was first mentioned in Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu shastra. This division that varna-system created has lost its muscle today but the notion and attitudes remain in the minds of people. Every caste has its sub-castes and an imperceptible hierarchy exists which results in the formation of new endogamous groups. Due to the presence of a strong caste system in India, inter-caste marriages are overtly avoided even today.

The social and cultural gap between different endogamous groups is so significant that marriages among them are believed to destabilise and dismantle the society. Consequently, the choices for marriage unions are limited and restricted to the core primary group. When members of this group mate and have children, it is often found that these children suffer from genetic imperfections that their ancestors might have possessed. Inbreeding is one of the reasons for these ‘hereditary diseases’.

Inbreeding is a phenomenon where two close relatives mate with each other. While there is a huge demand for inbreeding in animals such as dogs and cows for various reasons, it is a taboo in many human societies. Inbreeding is infamous as it results in sub-optimal heritable attributes in the inbred offspring. When a child inherits a pair of recessive genes, one from each parent, it becomes dominant even though it might have been inactive in the parent. The chances of a recessive gene being present in close relatives are higher and therefore it is more likely that an inbred child will have a genetic disease.

In our fragmented society, there are over 4000 castes and communities, some of which comprise only a few hundred people. When a group of people indulges in marriage unions through generations, it results in an aggregated gene pool due to the absence of diversity. This limited gene pool is often responsible for the transmission of recessive genes from one generation to another creating a risk of chromosomal, genetic, or congenital abnormalities.