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Recent findings in Archeogenetics and the Aryan Migration Theory


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It had been argued [in the December 2, 2005 Curriculum Commission hearing] by the Vedic Foundation (VF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) supporters on the basis of a 1999 paper by Toomas Kivisild et al that the Aryan Invasion Theory has been “conclusively disproved” and should therefore be discarded from 6th grade school textbooks currently in the review process. Based upon these arguments, the Curriculum Commission had decided to accept many changes proposed by VF/HEF relating to the question of Aryan origin. 

The study by Kivisild et al primarily focused on the question of the original migration of the human race from Africa some 50,000 years ago, and as such was not meant to determine the question of Aryan origin that is said to have happened around 3,500 years back. Further, the study was restrictive in that it dwelt primarily on the evolution/mutation of maternal genetic material (mitochondrial DNA) and did not take paternal genetic inheritance into account. Additionally, DNA dates work well for the periods of the Exodus out of Africa (c. 60,000 BCE); but by the time of the Indo-Aryan influx into South Asia (c. 1500 BCE) any DNA calculation has huge temporal error bars that render the exercise useless for the question at hand, at least at the present state of research. Lastly, the presently acknowledged Aryan Influx Theory is based on a combination of cultural-linguistic migration of Indo-European people into India. Since genes and languages do not necessarily migrate in tandem, the findings of genetic migration patterns from Archeogenetic studies are not central to the determination of Aryan origin. 

Nonetheless, since the 1999 paper by Kivisild was offered by HEF/VF supporters as “proof” of the indigenous origins of Aryan/Vedic people, we are presenting below a brief summary of more recent Archeogenetic studies as relates to the question of Aryan origin and related theories of Aryan invasion, influx or migration. The several papers cited and included here are more recent than the Kivisild paper and have argued in favor of an Indo-European genetic migration into India. These papers have not been acknowledged by the VF/HEF in the partisan promotion of their Aryan Indigenity Theory. 

Abstracts of key studies referred to below along with links/references to the full publication are included at the end of this document. 


A 2001 examination of male Y-DNA by Indian and American scientists [which also incidentally includes Toomas Kivisild as one of the authors] indicated that higher castes are genetically closer to West Eurasians than are individuals from lower castes, whose genetic profiles are similar to other Asians. These results indicate that at some point male West Eurasians provided a significant genetic input into the higher castes, a result which supports the notion that the caste system was an attempt by these predominantly male arrivals to keep themselves separate from the native population. (http://jorde-lab.genetics.utah.edu/elibrary/Bamshad_2001a.pdf) 

The genetic studies by Michael J Bamshad and his team (2001) from University of Utah and Dr. Spencer Wells (2003) give strong backing to the Aryan invasion/migration theory. 

In the study by M.J Bamshad and his team [4] they wrote, "Our results demonstrate that for biparentally inherited autosomal markers, genetic distances between upper, middle, and lower castes are significantly correlated with rank; upper castes are more similar to Europeans than to Asians; and upper castes are significantly more similar to Europeans than are lower castes."


The genetic study involves the analysis of genetic material known as the Mitochondrial DNA which is only passed maternally and so it is used to study female inheritance. The male-determining Y chromosome, is passed along paternally and is therefore used to study male inheritance. The evidence implies that few millennia ago group of males with (Eastern) European affinities invaded the Indian subcontinent from the Northwest of the sub-continent. 

The researchers went on to state that genetic variations between upper castes and lower castes is the evidence to the origin of the caste system. The people who were either migrating or invading the sub-continent had descendants in the male population largely in the higher castes than in the lower castes. The researchers state that these invading or migrating people might have instituted the caste system. 

In the abstract to their paper the researchers stated, "In the most recent of these waves, Indo-European -speaking people from West Eurasia entered India from the Northwest and diffused throughout the subcontinent. They purportedly admixed with or displaced indigenous Dravidic-speaking populations. Subsequently they may have established the Hindu caste system and placed themselves primarily in castes of higher rank." 

The study also revealed another classic anthropological observation, that of women being significantly more mobile in terms of caste and hierarchical class than men, who are almost not socially mobile at all in terms of caste and hierarchical class. Genetic evidence reveals that over millennia men have married women from lower castes but women have rarely married men from lower castes. Thus the researchers imply that caste and class to a large extent is perpetuated by women and has also thereby contributed to the minimal mixing of Aryan blood with the natives. 

A study conducted by Quintana-Murci [2000] present genetic evidence for the occurrence of two major population movements, supporting a model of demic diffusion of early farmers from southwestern Iranand of pastoral nomads from western and central Asiainto India, associated with Dravidian and Indo-Europeanlanguage dispersals, respectively. 

A study conducted by R Spencer Wells et al focuses on the non-recombining portion of the Y-chromosome and provide an insight into the earliest patterns of settlement of anatomically modern humans on the Eurasian continent. Central Asia is revealed to be an important reservoir of genetic diversity, and the source of at least three major waves of migration leading into Europe, the Americas, and India. The genetic results are interpreted in the context of Eurasian linguistic patterns. 

In the 2003 study, Basu et al provide genomic evidence that (1) there is an underlying unity of female lineages in India, indicating that the initial number of female settlers may have been small; (2) the tribal and the caste populations are highly differentiated; (3) the Austro-Asiatic tribals are the earliest settlers in India, providing support to one anthropological hypothesis while refuting some others; (4) a major wave of humans entered India through the northeast; (5) the Tibeto-Burman tribals share considerable genetic commonalities with the Austro-Asiatic tribals, supporting the hypothesis that they may have shared a common habitat in southern China, but the two groups of tribals can be differentiated on the basis of Y-chromosomal haplotypes; (6) the Dravidian tribals were possibly widespread throughout India before the arrival of the Indo-European-speaking nomads, but retreated to southern India to avoid dominance; (7) formation of populations by fission that resulted in founder and drift effects have left their imprints on the genetic structures of contemporary populations; (8) the upper castes show closer genetic affinities with Central Asian populations, although those of southern India are more distant than those of northern India; (9) historical gene flow into India has contributed to a considerable obliteration of genetic histories of contemporary populations so that there is at present no clear congruence of genetic and geographical or sociocultural affinities. 

In a recent research paper in Current Biology, Cordaux et. al. confirms the Bamshad (2001) results and concludes that the paternal lineages of Indian caste groups are primarily descendants of Indo-European speakers who migrated from central Asia about 3,500 years ago. [cordaux:2004 (http://www.eva.mpg.de/genetics/pdf/CordauxCurBiol2004.pdf)] 


The above summary and attached documents are provided to demonstrate the selective promotion of research material by the supporters of Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation and the suppression of other, more recently available research that undermines their thesis is reflective of their priorities in promoting their ideological agendas over a factual, methodical and unbiased study of history. Further, this desire by VF/HEF supporters to “prove” by any means that Aryans are “indigenous” people directly relate to their contemporary political agenda back in India of distinguishing the “indigenous Aryan Hindus” from “foreign Muslim and Christian invaders” and thereby characterizing India’s Muslim and Christian minorities as “traitors” that need to be marginalized and persecuted. It is disturbing to witness how dangerously close these Hindu nationalist groups have come to whitewashing California’s school textbooks with their unsavory political agendas.

Abstracts of key studies-->> 


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