A latest study by a team of archaeologists has busted the previously believed theories that all South Asians have an Aryan ancestry. Instead, the study led by Vasant Shinde, former Vice-Chancellor of Deccan College, Pune, has found that the present-day South Asians are descendants of some indigenous population that already practised farming and hunting-gathering. The South Asians who lived in the Indus Valley civilisation belonged to a completely different group of hunter-gatherers, who began farming much earlier. This is in contradiction to the theory that the Iranians and South Asians shared ancestry, the study, published on September 6, revealed.
- The researchers gathered and performed DNA analysis on 61 skeletal samples found within one kilometre of the famous Harappan site of Rakhigarhi cemetery in present day Haryana.
- This is for the first time that archaeologists have conducted DNA testing of the skeletal samples that has now revealed the clear ancestries of the Harappans.
- The study, titled ‘An Ancient Harappan Genome lacks DNA from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian farmers’, has traced and confirmed that the lineage of people of the Indus Valley civilisation diverged from the lineage of ancient Iranians who were hunter-gatherers, farmers and herders.
- The Iranian-lineage ancestry found in the Indus Valley Civilization individuals split before 8000 BCE Ganj Dareh individuals, who lived in the Zagros mountains of the Iranian plateau before the emergence of crop farming around 7000 to 6000 BCE, the researchers suggest.
- The research team has also studied the spread of languages into South Asia, contradicting that it was contributed by the movement of Aryans.
- The Indo-European languages may have spread into South Asian from Eastern Europe via Central Asia during the first half of the 2nd millennium of BCE, the study said.
- The study suggests farming skills have been developed indigenously contrary to prevalent theories that these came with migrants from the Steppes and Anatolian farmers.
- As the paper states: “(These findings) in South Asia as in Europe, the advent of farming was not mediated directly by descendants of the world’s first farmers who lived in the fertile crescent.
- Instead populations of hunter-gatherers — in Eastern Anatolia in the case of Europe and in a yet unsampled location in the case of South Asia — began farming without large-scale movement of people into these regions.
- The paper claims: “Multiple lines of evidence suggest the genetic similarity of (the Rakhigarhi burial DNA) to the Indus Periphery Cline individuals is due to gene flow from South Asia rather than in the reverse direction.”