After a rather long hiatus, and while we wait for the long anticipated final version of Narasimhan et al. (hopefully out very soon), here’s a quick post commenting on a few things that have been published lately.
Tracking Five Millennia of Horse Management with Extensive Ancient Genome Time Series
A follow up to their previous paper, briefly commented on a previous post, that brings some new information about the history of domestic horses, though far from clarifying things it makes everything less clear opening new questions. Here is their graphical abstract:
And the key findings regarding early history of domestication:
- Two now-extinct horse lineages lived in Iberia and Siberia some 5,000 years ago
- Iberian and Siberian horses contributed limited ancestry to modern domesticates
These newly found extinct lineages of early domestic horses add to the Botai ones, which didn’t go extinct but apparently went feral and survive in the form of Przewalski horses, as found in an even earlier paper (Gaunitz et al. 2018).
So let’s start to look at this puzzle and try to put a few pieces together. We have a horse lineage in Siberia living up until 5000 years ago that didn’t contribute any significant ancestry to the main (and for a long time the only) domestic lineage. Then we have another lineage further west, in Kazakhstan, that was domesticated c. 3500 BC but that also didn’t contribute much to main domestic horses. And finally we have a lineage in Iberia that we domesticated somewhere in the late Chalcolithic, and while it seems to have been used for a while as an early domestic horse in Europe it also ultimately went extinct without contributing much to the main domestic lineage.
A closer look at the data from this latter Iberian lineage brings us some additional interesting information: There is a sample from 2600 BC (note that this predates the arrival of R1b/steppe people) belonging to this domestic lineage (native to Iberia). But then another Iberian samples from 1900 BC (note that his is 500 years after the arrival of R1b/steppe Bell Beaker folk) is still of the same kind. Furthermore, a sample from Hungary c. 2100 BC shows some 12% admixture from this Iberian lineage (the rest of its makeup being from main domestic horses and another unknown lineage).
What this suggests is something rather surprising: R1b/steppe Bel Beakers don’t seem to have carried horses with them to Western Europe. Otherwise those would have largely replaced the local Iberian ones. Instead, it seems that Bell Beaker horses were those who they found in Iberia and might have traded with them all the way to Hungary. Indeed, this comes to reinforce the scarce evidence for the use of domestic horses in EBA steppe related cultures. Not much evidence in the Corded Ware Culture (for example, domestic horses only arrived to the east Baltic in the Iron Age, in spite of the area being occupied by early CWC population).
So where did domestic horses come from? That’s the min question right now. Traditionally, the Pontic-Caspian steppe has been the main candidate for it. However, the previous paper from this same team, based on climatic simulations and found remains, seemed to discard that area as suitable for horses at the time of probable domestication. Now this new study adds to that hypothesis by providing no evidence of the people coming from that area to Europe in the early 3rd mill. bringing their own domestic horses. Unfortunately, this study had 2 or 3 samples that could represent the Pontic-Caspian steppe wild horses, but they all yielded a very low amount of endogenous DNA to be included in any autosomal analysis. So that question remains open.
The thing is that the first good evidence of clear and extensive use of domestic horses of the main lineage comes from Sintashta, c. 2000 BC. So where did those horses came from? It’s unlikely that they were local, given the proximity with the Botai Culture area (and in west Siberia), where we know that very divergent lineages existed. To me it seems that they could have arrived there from anywhere. And it might not be that relevat after all. The place where the main domestic lineage originated might be rather unimportant, given that for all we know this domestication seems to have occurred quite later than first thought (closer to 2500 BC than to the previously suggested 3500 BC), and it may have been the Sintashta people the first ones who found a real use for them, no matter where they got them from. Whatever the case, it seems that the history of domestic horses is also turning out to be quite different from what was previously thought. Hopefully the next paper before the year’s end will shed some light in all of this.
Whole-genome sequencing of 128 camels across Asia provides insights into origin and migration of domestic Bactrian camels
Lian Ming et al. 2019 (preprint)
This one is a modern DNA study dealing with the domestication fo the Bactrian camel. Though I’m not sold on their idea that Bactrian camels were domesticated 10.000 year ago, the rest of the hypothesis looks good (as far as modern DNA can be informative). An image and a few excerpts summarise it well.
The origin of domestic dromedaries was recently revealed by world-wide sequencing of modern and ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which suggested that they were at first domesticated in the southeast Arabian Peninsula . However, the origin of domestic Bactrian camels is still a mystery. One intuitive possibility was the extant wild Bactrian camels were the progenitor of the domestic form, which were then dispersed from the Mongolian Plateau to west gradually [7, 12].[…]
Another possible place of origin was Iran , where early skeletal remains of domestic Bactrain camels (around 2,500-3,000 BC) were discovered .[…]
The wild Bactrian camels made also little contribution to the ancestry of domestic ones. Among the domestic Bactrian camels, those from Iran exhibited the largest genetic distance from others, and were the first population to separate in the phylogeny. Although evident admixture was observed between domestic Bactrian camels and dromedaries living around the Caspian Sea, the large genetic distance and basal position of Iranian Bactrian camels could not be explained by introgression alone. Taken together, our study favored the Iranian origin of domestic Bactrian camels, which were then immigrated eastward to Mongolia where the native wild Bactrian camels inhabited.[…]
This scenario could well resolve the mystery why the wild and domestic Bactrian camels from the Mongolian Plateau have so large genetic distance.[…]
Despite the insights gleaned from our data, it was important to note that the direct wild progenitor of domestic Bactrian camels were not found in Iran now, which may no longer exist.[…]
In future work, sequencing of ancient genomes from camel fossils will add to the picture of their early domestication.
Not much to add, really. They looked with an extensive set of modern camel DNA at the two different scenarios proposed for domestication and concluded that their data favoured the Iranian one, in spite of wild camels no longer existing in Iran, contrary to Mongolia (where they exist but are very divergent from domestic ones, just like the horses).
We’ll wait for ancient DNA to either confirm or deny this.
The population history of northeastern Siberia since the Pleistocene
I already commented quite extensively on the very interesting and well written paper when the preprint was out last year. Now it’s been finally published and hopefully the genomes will be made available (if they aren’t already). I was glad to see that the only problem I found with the preprint (their hypothesis about ANS surviving somewhere in Beringia and mixing with East Asian populations to form the Native American one, which seemed to me incompatible with the genetic data presented, due to Native Americans sharing more alleles with Malta and AfontovaGora3 than with the Yana samples) has been addressed in the final versions:
For both Ancient Palaeo-Siberians and Native Americans, ANS-related ancestry is more closely related to Mal’ta than to the Yana individuals (Extended Data Fig. 3f), which rejects the hypothesis that the Yana lineage contributed directly to later Ancient Palaeo-Siberians or Native American groups.
So unfortunately for them, these Yana population seems to have died out during the LGM, something not too surprising when such climatic event catches you in the Arctic.
232 thoughts on “Of horses, camels and extinct lineages”
See also, as amendment to my previous post:
Linguistic aspects are further elaborated upon by Zoller 2016. He concludes (emphasis is mine):
“I have shown that at the time of Old Indo-Aryan there must have existed a linkage of lects, with Vedic just one of them. These lectal differentiations seem to suggest that the standard model of the three branches of Indo-Iranian is in need of a revision. Their existence also supports the idea of the earlier immigration of the ancestor(s) of the Outer Language which led to a strong encounter with Munda/Austro-Asiatic languages (but to a weak encounter in case of Vedic and Classical Sanskrit) which must have dominated the prehistoric linguistic area of northern India. This dominance must have extended far into prehistory because of the many parallels in the language isolate Burushaski. ”
“Any new paper on that subject that deals with the Anatolian influence in Thrace and the demise your refer to? This is pretty much a work in progress (for what I know) so still many details are poorly known. Maybe some aDNA could help too…”
Indeed; but as mentioned; they are clearer
I’ve sent you the info (listed & outlined also on the ‘Bronze age’ thread previously).
Got it, thanks.
Yes, it would still be great to see that 3rd part of your CHG on the steppe series. After your HD crash I could never get to you by mail, but you still have access to continue with the post. If you have some new mail contact me when you’d like to write it or publish it.
I do agree with the spirit that you convey, but think language = culture (and vice-versa) inevitably.
In this vein, Mallory’s attempt to define I-E and Swadesh lists are effective somewhat.
The verboten topic in genetics is whether culture derives from genes. No use poking that bear for the moment.
Personally, as I’ve shared with Rob before, I think it is more effective to think in terms of Complexes when discussing a subject as expansive as this one.
Don’t think it’s obvious that centum. s -> h more likely as noticed in other Iranic languages.
In your theory what would be the actual PIE/Indo-Hittite culture? Hajji Firuz?
“and I find it very hard to imagine another place in time and space where/when IIA and Proto-Uralic could have interacted.”
The thing is we do not know the actual PU homeland to pin point the actual relation between PU and II. Currently there are many theories on the PU homeland that, in my opinion, it’s very easy to imagine many other scenarios.
A few examples:
1. BMAC- Seima Turbino interactions
2. BMAC-Andronovo interactions (if CW is Uralic as some claim)
3. Issedones and other Scythian groups
I do think that there is a PIE culture. We cannot fully construct it but we there are a few core ideas in all known IE cultures and religions. Eg. The stories of Kingship, the holy abode, the three brothers…etc. Some of them are unique to Indo-Europeans. Sure the stories of the thunder god change over time but at their core it’s a story of a god/king challenged by a serpent, and it is an okay representation of the ideology of those people.
@FrankN “My understanding is there is some of that, especially in Dardic. Kashmiri hata “hundred”, e.g., is obviously not Satem, but Centum, as is Kashmiri hun “dog”. Similarly, Khowar kuy “where?”, kyobachen ” for what?” seem to have conserved non-satemised traces of PIE “kw””
kyobachen, kuy of khowar is seen as preserving kw is debatable. If so there are more mainstream words:
when(eng), kabhI(hindi), keMvhA(marathi), kabE(bengali) etc where the NIA forms cannot be directly derived from kadA(sanskrit) which is strangely closer to latin derived forms (quand, quando) and slavic (kada, kedy)
Even the often used kahAN (where in Hindi) is an odd one out vs other NIA (kitthE, kothay, kuThE) and Sanskrit(kutra) English (whither, where). None of these is conclusive by itself but I suspect that a structured study of such phenomenon does not exist.
I was told that the English pair whither/tither is not related to kuThe, tithe (Marathi), kothay, tathAy(bengali), kutra, tatra(Sanskrit).
don’t fully buy this … seems like inadequate research. As far as other reflexes of *kw in NIA we see a backed vowel after k in some cases but not after t and so forth. Is this significant or just random traits?… I don’t know yet and won’t have bandwidth to explore for a long time
@FrankN, if you imagine a PIE migration from Iran Chalc to Central Asia, then parts of South Asia are on the way and probably would not be circumvented.
In regard to Franks model
* I have been interested in long duree models, however I presently agree with Kristiina in that languages are more likely to have been burst phenomena,.
* The concern is that the social-demographic phenomena pointed to in the model seem too disparate to have carried strong language-cohering forces. Even more problematically, it would mean that half of Asia was Indo-European speaking, until the Bronze Age when it all suddenly reversed
* It is likely that CHG ”arrived in the steppe” via the Caucasus, because at c. 4500 BC it peaks in Progress Eneolithic, not the Samara bend. But in any case, as Alberto pointed out, it really doesn’t matter which exact direction they arrived from, as they were 6th millenium forager-hunters (even if Kelteminar had some goats, etc)
I’m surprised by the cadence and meter of the language.
It is strongly moratimed.
resembling both dravidian languages with frequent gemination as well as classical Sanskrit because of frequent compounds.
These traits are long lived and not easily transmitted. They transcend language families.
“The concern is that the social-demographic phenomena pointed to in the model seem too disparate to have carried strong language-cohering forces. ”
Well, I didn’t yet elaborate on social-demographic features. But some are obvious:
– Spread of Copper metalurgy,
– Long-distance trade in precious stones (Carneol, Lapis Lazuli) and metals (gold, tin),
– Wool sheep as key agricultural innovation (plus, in general, (south-)eastward spread of Iranian domesticates,
– Non-light sensitive barley, originating on the Iranian Plateau, better adapted to moderate/ continental/ mountain climates than Fertile Crescent/Mediterranean varieties, and less draught-sensitive than wheat, allowing for effective exploitation of the Caucasus uplands (Sioni, KA), the Steppe, plus low-precipitation parts of Central Europe such as Kujawy, Bohemia and the Saale area after the end of the (humid) Holocene Climate Optimum.
“Even more problematically, it would mean that half of Asia was Indo-European speaking, until the Bronze Age when it all suddenly reversed.”
Well, for once, a good part of Asia, including Tajikistan, is still IE speaking. The reversal occured rather during the late IA to the Medieval (in Anatolia as late as 1923) via the Turkic/Mongolic expansions. That reversal equally affected the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, pre-dominantly Turkic (Khazars, Tartars) until Catherine the Great’s times, so I don’t really get your point.
Otherwise, the village of Jastorf (the eponymous culture is commonly regarded as West Germanic homeland) lies just on the border between predominantly Germanic and Slavic toponymy. Austronesian is well alive and kicking, except for its Taiwanese homeland, where it has been relegated to endangered minority language status. Algic had virtually disappeared from the presumed homeland around Kennewick already in pre-European times, to instead stretch all the way from the Rockies to Newfoundland, and so on. Such geographic shifts were apparently anything but uncommon…
Cool. Looking forward to part III
I think Shakas were there by the time Alexander came in. Definitely in greater Punjab if Greek and Persian records are to be believed.
Not sure what you were meaning by stating you are Indian but I gather you mean it’s of particular interest to you.
A group of Early Medieval South Asians from Uttarakhand had J2, H, R2 and E1b (n=8 for the males). Interesting.
The data is interesting.
Their suppositions are idiotic.
“Four individuals are very tall, with height in the range 184.41-187.55 cm.” Very tall? Plenty of people this tall in India.
“it is tempting to hypothesize that the tall and robust individuals correspond to the Roopkund_B cluster of Mediterranean origin.”
“It is tempting to hypothesize that the Roopkund_B individuals descend from Indo-Greek populations established after the time of Alexander the Great…”
They should use their research money and travel to Crete and the Mediterranean to see all those exceptionally tall people. A cheaper option is to read historical records of the height of Alexander’s troops compared to the found locals in the Punjab.
Also includes R1a, G2a, and T1. None of the haplogroups are surprising. Ignoring my above gripes, I’ve long suspected E1b (which is found in NW populations) is of Greek origin.
This data will be useful to everyone other than the people on this paper. But still very good to have this data.
The R1a, G2 etc. are from 1800 C. E, the R1a being typically Slavic. . The Roopkund_A group on the other hand is dated to ca 800 C.E. . So for Medieval Uttarakhand we have:
If the hypotheses regarding Proto-Bangani are correct, these samples are right from the area with a complex and supposedly very old presence of IE languages. See Franks comments as well.
And yeah, Cretans probably aren’t particularly tall – weird conclusions. Seems very unlikely that they were Indo-Greeks, though. Maybe Ottoman merchants.
Which haplogroup group do you find intriguing? Which do you find rare? All of these are present in India in fairly old communities.
As for languages, it’s useless to try and equalize language and haplgroups, especially from 800 c.e. The only time I see that as useful, in respect to early Indo-European languages, is the Bronze Age. Before and after that, useless. This in part, is how I predicted J2 in Mycenaea and Hittite ahead of the samples. The power of prediction is what confirms the strength of a model. Unfortunately, modern-day academia does not work like this so instead, most are forced to plod and waddle towards a proper model.
I saw FrankN’s comments. I disagree with his premises; mainly because I see many of his starting premises as incorrect.
I find it interesting that the individuals from Group A (800 CE), and specifically those in cluster 1 within the group, are quite similar to the Swat Valley samples that go from 1200 BC to 1 CE. Now we see that population (with similar genetic structure and still no R1a) in a different location, 2000 years later than the earliest ones from Swat.
One wonders if the R1a-rich groups were in very specific areas until after 800 CE and then started to become prevalent. The diversity of the haplogroup suggests a different story, so it might be just for random reasons that there’s still no R1a-rich samples from ancient India.
Re; R1a in India, it is often presumed that priestly groups in India have more R1a and steppe related ancestry because they ‘preserve’ to a stronger extent an ‘original’ Indo-Aryan group rich in both. (And this as evidence for an Indo-Aryan migration directly from groups very rich in steppe related ancestry).
But I wonder if depending on when endogamous norms formed, and the norms of Hinduism may formed more recently than often thought*, it may be that these groups (and some military ones) were actually instead just more open and simply engaged in much more long distance exchange of migrants with Central Asia during the Iron Age to early Classical period, before endogamous norms took shape.
*The “Hindu Synthesis” may have formed relatively late – “develop(ing) between 500 BCE and 300 CE” – and as Razib Khan states on a long period of development, “the reality that I have seen … is that Indian Buddhism and Indian Hinduism existed in dialectical tension for 1,500 years between 500 BCE and 1000 CE (when Indian Buddhism was intellectually and culturally exhausted, more or less)”.
Alberto, Rob & other friends,
Recently I saw some parts of a David Reich lecture recorded more than 6 months.
One thing that struck me which I hadn’t realised earlier was that out of a total of 14 Indus Periphery samples which are going to be published in the final version of Narasimhan et al, 10 are from the site of Shahr I Sokhta itself.
Now, Shahr I Sokhta is a very peculiar site. It is a site with the earliest evidence of woollen textiles and also the Bactrian camel from what I can recall.
But more relevant to our discussion is the fact that the site suddenly came into existence around 3200 BC and does not have any earlier phase.
While there is a western input in its formation there is also a strong input from the east, more particularly from the Chalcolithic cultures of Baluchistan. There is a strong evidence of Baluchistani cultural influence on Shahr I Sokhta which had led scholars to argue even a probable migration to the site from the east.
It is also fascinating to observe, out of the hundreds of cattle figurines from the site, the vast majority of them are of Zebu cattle – clearly an import from the east.
So, IMHO, the Indus Periphery samples that we find in Shahr I Sokhta most definitely look like migrants from Baluchistan or atleast should have come to the site via Baluchistan.
In this context, can we find how the modern Baluchis, Brahui, Sindhi compared with these Indus Periphery samples ?
We also have 4 Indus Periphery samples from the site of Gonur in BMAC.
While their provenance appears less clear, they could have come from Shahr I Sokhta rather than from the Harappans proper, since the archaeologists discern some cultural influence of the Helmand civilization and more particularly from Shahr I Sokhta in the formation of BMAC.
So the Indus Periphery samples are not representative of the human diversity of the Harappans, rather they may be part of the ancestral groups of the Baluchistan – Sindh region. I would like you folks to share your views on this – especially if we can muster some relevant genetic data on this subject.
Jaydeep, I’m not 100% willing to comment on that precise statement of archaeology and modelling (will leave that to others), but it is certainly a bit of an assumption open to question in the paper to assume that these subjects are representative first generation migrants from Harappa/IVC.
In my view they are likely to be locally admixed, and as you say, even if they are migrants, may be representative of cultures along a cline between Harappa/IVC and the sampled sites (such as the cultures in Balochistan at this time).
To solidify their assumption that these people are first generation migrants actually from IVC, they would at least need careful biomineral oxygen isotope data and probably strengthen that by analysis of grave goods. Maybe this will come in their finished paper, but it does not seem to be there at present.
(Though there’s nothing distinctive about grave goods in existing outliers as described by supplement, however, other than that I8726 has an alabaster vessel which ” a distinctive pottery type in this furnishing belongs to a distinctive cluster of graves and is, “possibly local or northeast oriented (Kandahar area)” and same vessel seems to be present in I8728’s grave.
Note that I8728 is the sample which is much richer in ASI and is later in the Bronze Age; I8726 is at 3200-3000 BCE, I8728 at 2550-2450 BCE.
At Gonur, I2123 outlier is dated 2452-2140 BCE, and is an infant, suggesting being locally born.).
The following relates to discussion here, but also that I have recently been having at Davidski’s place, and I am aware there is a bit of cross traffic on discussions here and there:
I mean, thinking about what Narasimhan 2018 does, in hindsight what they does seem kinda strange, and maybe this has held up the paper in peer review:
1) Narasimhan preprint identify outliers at Gonur and Shahr-i-Sohkta with South Asian (AASI) ancestry.
2) Rather than assume that these samples are outliers admixed with locals at Gonur and SiS, they seem to assume that their average (which is in first preprint dependent on 3 varying samples!) is representative of a population hundreds of miles away in South Asia.
3) Because the present-day populations of India are obviously not on the same cline as the outliers, they then assemble a model where a population represented by the outliers fused with separate AASI and Steppe_MLBA populations to create two ANI and ASI population, which then actually do (mostly) explain the cline.
This seems like a pretty questionable chain of assumptions, looking at it with a bit of distance of time.
The simpler explanation would probably be that the outliers are themselves admixed, that ASI already existed (SiS3 is close to that point anyway) and only one new population formed and entered South Asia, a population that exists beyond the present day North-South Asia cline and exists only today in form diluted by ASI.
Hence I’d imagine them going back to the lab again to try and find more outliers and more forcefully make their claim, or to remove it in favour of remaining agnostic on the actual autosomal identity of IVC (which I would imagine they do not want to do).
Not that I’m quite sure how more outliers at sites well outside South Asia would strengthen their case (a larger set of admixed outliers to use as a basis for their model, it is still based on a set of outliers from well outside South Asia)…
(Jaydeep, you may differ on the model I propose for of the genesis of the ANI, but I think in any case you will find the other points stand?).
To add, one implication of Narasimhan’s model of ASI being created late from Indus_Diaspora+AASI is that it would tend to suggest constraining the entry of Austroasiatic languages to India until after late IVC, since those populations represent an end-point of ASI+Austroasiatic ancestry. This contrasts with Witzel’s view that widespread Munda+para-Munda was already present in South Asia, and with analysis of split times within Austroasiatic (https://www.eva.mpg.de/fileadmin/content_files/linguistics/conferences/2015-diversity-linguistics/Sidwell_slides.pdf). That’s not necessary if you do away with Narasimhan 2018’s assumption of a late genesis of ASI….
Others may have noted all the above, and I may be a latecomer in these comments. I had a look over Alberto’s treatment of the Steppe MLBA / CHG / West Siberia admixed BMAC outliers in his posts from July last year, when having a recent look again myself, and it seems like that analysis was pretty good and quite insightful.
Effectively as I see it, no indication of a sustained enrichment of Steppe_MLBA ancestry in BMAC (or really even that late outliers presented so far preferentially are Steppe_MLBA admixed, ancestry seeming being most plausibly in models for other sources for essentially all outliers apart from two at early Gonur, which we can’t test with G25).
This obliges that models suggesting mediation of BMAC to Indo-Aryan are correct and proposing an early “takeover” of BMAC (circa 2000-1900 BCE), there is a substantial genetic as well as archaeological ‘kulturkugel’ effect required. But genetic and material ‘kulturkugel’ proposals in a general sense are something Reich lab seems to be trying to dodge… (Because if one genetic ‘kulturkugel’ is admitted, much of their wider framework falls into question. E.g. in this instance why a North->South language dispersal without genetic change, rather than the converse? Etc. for other proposed instances of language change).
Alternatively there is the direct migration model across the IAMC directly into Swat, which the paper seems to have plumped for. But this will not work if Indus_Diaspora is not actually representative of IVC and the ground truth is more heavily ASI like.
Re: R1a in India, it’s still a very open question. It’s true that high castes are more likely to engage in long distance exogamy (army men probably too, for mobility reasons), so that could somewhat explain the higher steppe ancestry and higher R1a frequencies, yes.
Another point to take into account is that there may be two different stories about R1a in India. The one about R1a-L657 (parallel branch to the steppe R1a-Z2124) so far looks like some sort of founder effect, give it’s never been found on the steppe in spite of the very large number of samples carrying R1a-Z93+ (from Sintashta, Andronovo, Srubnaya, Scythians, para-Scythians, post-Scythians…). It’s story could be not too historically relevant, and this is in fact the main clade in India and the one prevalent in Brahmins, for example.
More important historically ma be the presence of R1a-Z2124, but this clade is relatively minor in modern India, with its frequencies rising in some groups from Pakistan and further north (Pashtun, Tajik) which have a more obvious relationship to the steppe. Though this clade could have expanded in SC Asia quite later than the 2nd mill. BC fo the little we know so far.
No way to really know until we get aDNA from the relevant time and place(s). For me, the presence of R1a-Z93 in Sintashta had always been the single strongest point for a steppe to India migration related to IE languages. But the data from Narasimhan et al. preprint somehow diluted the strength of it, and these latest peripheral samples from Roopkund, whoever they were, but from 800 AD and some of them with 20%+ steppe levels but no R1a looks surprising again for what we would expect given modern frequencies.
I agree too that it’s difficult to make much out of the 3 Indus periphery samples. We can be quite sure that they were migrants from India, but we can’t know if mixed or unadmixed, if representative of the main population of the IVC or not.
Continuing with the Indus periphery samples and SiS origins, I don’t think I can say much about that subject. Both modern populations available from Balochistan are outliers both genetically and linguistically. Genetically they have more Iranian ancestry (Chalcolithic Iranian type, containing ANF) than the rest of the populations from South Asia, and therefor no special affinity to the Indus Periphery samples. But both of them may be rather recent migrants to the area, so who knows.
The samples we have from the BA which is not labelled as Indus periphery are very similar to the populations from BMAC area, so if they came from India, it must have been at a time where there was hardly any AASI in India. Or else, they are native to the area or migrants from the North East.
What would you guys say would be a good representative sample of the early Indo-Aryans? It is my belief that with the exception of the Dardic groups, they did not extend much beyond the greater Punjab in the early Vedic period, so I would be very surprised if we found anything substantially different from the Gandhara grave population.
Granted it is a bit more complicated than Greece and Anatolia, but if in addition to the Gandhara samples we had a few samples from farther south in the Punjab, that would settle the case IMHO.
The basal diversity of R1a-L657 seems to be concentrated in the east and the south of the subcontinent in any case, that’s why I suspect that in the original Vedic regions there might have been some turnover.
While it’s hard to say the extent of early Indo-Aryans as a whole, at least the early Vedic ones should indeed be in the greater Punjab region, estimated around the first half of the 2nd mill. So samples from that time and place would indeed clarify the situation greatly.
Here is the talk by David Reich I mentioned above (from the point it starts talking about South Asia). He talks about he formation of the clines that Matt mentioned above (indeed a bit complicated scenario, but I became sceptic about modern clines – Europe’s one does not reflect its genetic history very well, going from modern Crete to around SHG, which is pretty meaningless). But here’s the sentence I was referring to:
And then in individuals from Pakistan from 3000 y.a., from Northern Pakistan, in Swat Valley, we see through these chunks of DNA that have fragmented, that the steppe ancestry has been there for at least 500 years. So we now can limit when this steppe ancestry got injected into South Asia to a relatively narrow window between 4000 to 3500 y.a.
So indeed it seems that they are going for that scenario where the Sintashta people expanded simultaneously throughout Kazakhstan (Andronovo Culture) and North India (Cemetery H, OCP) c. 1900-1400 BC. Which is indeed what would be required for the Steppe Hypothesis to work, but that doesn’t seem the most likely scenario with the (admittedly sparse) current genetic data or the archaeological data (we would expect clear Sintashta parallels if such thing happened in North India).
Let’s see if now that the summer is ending they finally decide to publish the final version and we can see exactly what they have and what they’re arguing for.
@Alberto, cheers, the structural difference in R1a-Z93 subclades is interesting to me, (though I don’t know quite how to take it at present – the split is not as deep as the split within R1b-M269 that is still a bit mysterious in the somewhat analogous case in Europe, for ex, and there’s not any sudden explosion in the adna record, so in this case it seems easier to explain by sampling gaps. For the time being, at least…).
Yes, certainly there is ultimately some broader South Asian migrant background in the outliers, though whether from places that are within Pakistan / India today or Afghanistan, and how through many generations of residence elsewhere, we don’t know.
I’m really leveling my objection here at the assumption that they are representative first generation migrants, then a complicated model based on this.
In no other case where outliers have been found well outside a given region under study have outliers been treated as likely to be anything other than locally admixed and representative of a population from another region.
(Imagine if we had a different history of sampling, where steppe admixed outliers in SE Europe had come to light before Yamnaya samples, and been treated as representative of an unadmixed steppe population which then must have later admixed with EHG and CHG to form Steppe EMBA! Seems similar to what Reich lab is doing with the Indus_Diaspora samples and ASI… Perhaps the model works, but it departs strongly from parsimony and you really need a transect, other lines of evidence that subjects are direct migrants, etc to make it viable, IMO.).
While Alberto is right to be somewhat skeptical about estimating ancient structure from present day clines*, I do think they can drop hints, and I was having a look at the G25 reprocessed PCA of South Asia data today, and it seems to me like there may be a subtle South Indian tribal population cline that is distinct from the both the Austroasiatic cline and the general cline of increasing AASI within most of India.
Essentially the above graphics show that it seems that a few South Indian populations in G25 (including the Irula, Paniya and Pulliyars) seem to be enriched in “Eastern Non-African”, but are neither a linear extrapolation of the general South Asian cline of increasing ASI, nor are they shifted towards East Asia (as Austroasiatics).
Interestingly, this cline to me seems to suggest that it may represent the product of a population fairly close to the Shahr-I-Sohkta BA3 sample with a distinct population from South Asia which is both more similar to the source of most of Shahr-I-Sohkta BA3’s ancestry than to the bulk of ancestry in Austroasiatic groups, but somewhat distinct as well.
That may reflect a model where Harappa / IVC was represented by Shahr-I-Sohkta BA3, and there really was further introgression as a population . This is similar to Reich lab’s model of ASI (as in the graphic from “Caravan” magazine included in the above gallery), but would have involved far less “new” introgression of AASI and AASI of a distinct type, and been more regionally circumscribed within India.
*Reich lab might argue that castes in India means structure is much more preserved and clines much more information, but I’m not so sure about this!
I’ll just point out that Reich Lab (incl. Narasimhan), Davidski, Razib Khan, and most commenters do not understand caste; or rather all understand it in the same erroneous way. Because of this, significant bias and errors are taking place. Ergo, none of the above are intellectual authorities on this subject and should not be quoted on the subject.
Most understandings of “Brahmins” specifically, including those here, are flawed.
This is one example: “It’s true that high castes are more likely to engage in long distance exogamy (army men probably too, for mobility reasons), so that could somewhat explain the higher steppe ancestry and higher R1a frequencies, yes.”
Just look at data and forget current misunderstandings; just observe. The data then leads to proper conclusions imo.
Let me start from your last point addressed to me. Witzel’s para-Munda hypothesis does not have any leg to stand upon. It is pure guesswork with very little evidence to support it. It is nothing more than nonsense. The problem the likes of Witzel and other linguists are bedeviled with is this – if Indo-Aryan is not native to South Asia, and if Dravidian too is not native to North India atleast, what were the Harappans speaking. So they try to come up with weird theories to shore up their untenable positions.
Austro-asiatic ancestry in South Asia is recent and is defined by y-dna O2a-M95 which is only present in some Central Eastern Indian tribals like the Munda, and nowhere else. They could have entered South Asia as recently as 4000 YBP. So their ancestry type is far from being representative of the native South Asian ASI ancestry.
As far as the ASI ancestry or AASI is concerned, what no one so far has thought about is this – if as per Narasimhan et al, AASI split up from Onge, Papuan and other ENA ancestries since 47 kya, could it have managed to remain monolithic all these years ? I mean surely, if it was spread across the vastness of South Asia, it could not have managed to remain as a single population but rather got diversified into several different population groups by the time the Neolithic began. And in the meantime, would there have been no genetic interactions between South Asia and West Eurasia ?
Infact as I see it, South Asian populations were not simply all AASI clones before the onset of Neolithic. Rather, there was likely composed of 3 ancestral components, one being AASI, the other Iran_N/CHG like and the last being ANE-like. There is also some deep connection between Iran_N & AASI on the one hand and AASI-ANE on the other. The Dzudzuana paper clearly showed that there is some ENA admixture in Iran_N & CHG, and going by admixture graphs, this ENA mostly likely corresponds to AASI. Similarly, MA-1 clearly has some ENA admixture which could come from some AASI like population. And the fact that the ancestor of y-dna R & Q, P1 comes from SE Asia (where AASI ancestry is likely rooted) is also quite revealing.
Once, one is willing to acknowledge this deep complexity of South Asian genetic history, only then can one come around to understand more recent population mixtures.
As far as the Indus Periphery samples are concerned, if I am not wrong, just like Indus Periphery, the Baluchis and Brahui are also off-cline from the modern South Asian cline. This is, correct me if I am wrong, because of less steppe and less AASI ancestry and excess Iran_N. So we need to check if there is some special closeness of these Western populations like Baluchis to Indus Periphery samples.
The origin of as many as 10 of these samples from Shahr-i-Sokhta, a site which most likely received human migration from Baluchistan in its formative phase starting around 3200 BC (the SiS2 incidently dates to this very period), makes this a very valid avenue of inquiry.
Rather interestingly, Shahr-i-Sokhta not only has ceramic parallels with Baluchistan and Mundigak (Afghanistan) but also with Namazga in Central Asia. To complete the picture, even Sarazm had ceramic parallels both with Namazga and with Afghanistan, Baluchistan and even the Greater Indus Valley.
So there was quite early a large interaction zone already in place, which stretched from NW South Asia to Eastern Iran and into Southern Central Asia, right from the SE Caspian (Kopet Degh mountains) to the Zeravshan valley in Tajikistan. How people moved about in this sphere and what was its genetic legacy we do not know much but it should be an interesting area of focus.
Coming back to Indus Periphery samples, the fact that :-
1. They do not have ANF ancestry,
2. They are the closest to the Indian tribal Birhors among all ancient Central Asian samples ( as shown in the Narasimhan et al Supplement),
3. They have significantly higher AASI ancestry than the other Iranian and Central Asian samples,
4. They are quite close to the Iron Age Swat samples
make their origins in South Asia, a very tempting proposition.
At any rate, I do not accept the idea that any population native to South Asia should necessarily have had very high AASI ancestry by default and that therefore SiS3 is more South Asian and others less so. Thats an unreasonable proposition.
However, as I said, their geographic origins within South Asia could just as well be restricted to the Baluchistan and regions close to it. The fact that most of the Indus Periphery samples come from Shahr-i-Sokhta where a lot of Baluchistani people might have migrated and settled right from its formative phase i.e. right at its beginning, also means that those Indus Periphery samples could perfectly well have received no admixture, settling as they were in virgin territory. But ofcourse we cannot be 100 % sure. But any admixture they received surely could not have come from a population already admixed with ANF – which was well spread otherwise in Central Asia & even present in SiS1 samples.
The Indus Periphery samples from Gonur in Central Asia are a different matter. The 1 sample we have in the preprint dates to around 2500-2400 BCE, which is right when the BMAC begins to take shape. And around this period, they was already an Indus civilization colony at Shortughai in North Afghanistan, close to Sarazm, which lasted for 3 to 4 centuries. Gonur itself, shows significant influence from Indus civilization. But it appears to me that there were greater parallels between BMAC and the slightly older cultures from Eastern Iran (the Helmand & Jiroft civilizations) especially when it came to ideology and religion. This inclines me to think that perhaps the Gonur_BA2 sample may have its origins in Eastern Iran from where most of the Indus Periphery samples originate.
Overall, I think that the Indus Periphery samples are definitely not a good proxy for the main population group of the Indus civilization which centred around the greater Punjab region (stretching from western UP & Haryana to the margins of Afghanistan and northern Baluchistan). Let us wait for the Rakhigarhi dna. The samples, if in decent coverage, will be better proxies forBronze Age South Asian populations without a doubt. However there is one caveat, we should not expect that the populations across the vast spread of the Indus civilization were all homogenous. There is every possibility that there were regional population structures already in place. On the other hand, at cosmopolitan sites like Rakhigarhi, Harappa or Mohenjodaro, we can expect groups from different geographic origins and therefore different ancestry compositions coming and interacting. So we need decent sample sizes from such locations.
Jaydeep, I would suggest that SIS2 and Gonur2, samples *could* represent unadmixed individuals from Harappa, they also can be modelled perfectly well with SIS / Gonur and SIS3. There is nothing evident in my view in the Global25 data for them that rejects such a model, and nothing off cline about them.
That is, there is no reason they *have* to be from Harappa, in a composition of ancestry that could not be explained by Harappa being like. (In the case of Gonur2, it is particularly unlikely that this infant was not born locally to Gonur).
I also only say that it is less likely that outlier samples we find in a particular place are unadmixed locally than that they are locally admixed, as it is predominantly the experience in all other locations. That a sample is unadmixed and representative of another region requires more general evidence than the contrary, particularly if they are variable outliers and not one of a homogenous cluster.
On the other points those seem like rehashes of the “pseudo-steppe ancestry from population structure in South Asia which is vastly complex and huge” argument which has been discussed before and doesn’t need any fresh comment (and still isn’t believable IMO). I would note also I don’t cite Witzel as being correct that Harappa spoke Austroasiatic / “para-Munda”, but that evidence points to an early entry of Austroasiatic to India, earlier than seems to me is suggested by a late formation of “ASI” as per Reich’s model.
“Ignoring my above gripes, I’ve long suspected E1b (which is found in NW populations) is of Greek origin.” — @ Atri∂r, iirc, there were a few E1b males in Narsimhan’s pre-print in South Asian IA samples. If i am not wrong then Greek incursions into NW India started from around 400 BCE. Thus, i am not sure if all the E1b in NW populations are of Greek origin.
Expanding on Alberto’s comments, I would be very interested to know when the herders entered the arid plains of southern Afghanistan and Baluchistan. This might then have significant implications for the population history of the subcontinent as well, especially Gujarat and more southerly regions south of the Thar via the Bolan pass.
R1a-L657 seems to have some presence on both sides of the Persian Gulf in any case, and I suspect this is the result of a somewhat older presence there, seeing the distribution of the basal haplotypes. A somewhat older Iranian study supposedly found Iron Age Elamites to be strongly dominated by R1a-M417. Never published in western journals, so to be taken with a grain of salt, but I don’t see any reason to doubt it, either.
“Most understandings of “Brahmins” specifically, including those here, are flawed.
I’ll just point out that Reich Lab (incl. Narasimhan), Davidski, Razib Khan, and most commenters do not understand caste; ” —- @Atri∂r, very true, imo , jaati is a constantly evolving structure( i can witness it’s ‘evolution’ even today). Few of the well-known jaatis were still in their formative phase in the early 20th century (e.g Yadavs of North india).
Similarly, Rajputs are quite a heterogenous bunch themselves.
Yeah, some good examples.
The answer you’re looking for is in your own comment. 😉
@Alberto, FrankN, Rob or anyone,
Concerning my previous reference here to some online discussion of genetic associations between Dzungharia and Tibet, Kristiina has since detailed some specific indications of Tibetan connections to the ancient Shirenzigou samples over at anthrogenica, in posts 2797 and 2799.
From this, the pre-Buddhist contact between Tibet and the region is firstly confirmed, going back to at least the period of the sampled ancient Shirenzigou inhabitants, and is possibly to be tied to the shamanistic forms that linked the two regions before Buddhism. But secondly, it also indicates that the eventual and general Tibetan Buddhist persecution of Mongolian and related shamanism, was not accompanied by largescale genocide of the population or took other forms, at least in this region.
However, do we have genetic samples from the modern inhabitants of the Dzunghar Basin, to confirm the reported scale of the more recent Qing era genocide and Turkic replacement of the native Dzunghar population that was at the time significantly Tibetan Buddhist? Any (un)published samples you know of that can be compared to the Shirenzigou ancients?
I’m not aware of any modern population from the Dzungar Basin that is labelled as such. The area, as far as I know, is currently populated by Uyghurs, Xibo or Han people (which are not ethnic Dzungars), but even among those ones it’s not specified which samples may be from Dzungaria and which ones not so we could check for any genetic admixture from the original Dzungars (and we don’t have ancient DNA from this population either to know exactly how they were genetically).
I guess we’ll have to wait for a specific study about this. But given the political implications (even if not so relevant today) is may not happen anytime soon.
Thanks as always, Alberto.
I’ve been unable to find any published modern samples from that part of Asia myself. You’re right, it’s possible it may be considered a sensitive subject despite the time that’s elapsed.
Discussion at Anthrogenica has it that the Indus Valley paper will appear between today and tomorrow. This may be the paper that was expected two or three years ago around this time, now appearing quite suddenly after anticipation dropped ever since samples were eventually said to be too low quality to provide meaningful genetic data. Data from an unsampled part of Asia, should be fascinating.
The rakhigarhi paper is online folks
Yes, also Narasimhan et al. 2019:
I’ll try to have some post about them soon.
It looks pretty bad, atleast as far as them speculating about how IE got to India, but I’ve only read a short snippet.
The Rakhigarhi paper has been delayed for years due to quality issues, and never because of political ones as many people speculated. I’m glad to see it finally published, though it’s just one sample they could salvage.
I’m not too sure about the quality of the sample given some contradictory results we can see in the graphs. However, it seems to be within the IVC cline, which gives more confidence on the outliers from other sites published in Narasimhan et al. as being representative of the IVC population (though we have to cautious still, given it’s one sample and not very clear if it’s high or low AASI one).
Regarding the no migration from the early West Iranian farmers, it was more or less known that you can’t model neither the Indus_periphery samples, nor modern populations from the area as Zagros_Neolithic + AASI (or adding Sintashta for modern pops), since it requires the extra ANE seen in East Iranian farmers. And no one would expect that the Mesolithic IV area was a mix of ANE and AASI.
That said, the analysis is not very nuanced. It’s not an all or nothing kind of thing. One can still place a decent amount of West Iranian farmer ancestry + East Iranian ancestry + AASI. It all depends on how eastern or western was the original Iranian-related ancestry. I guess I’ll have to write a post about this to explain it in more detail.
The other thing I’ll need to explore in more detail is the IVC cline and its possible meanings. It’s probably the most interesting part but none of the papers cared to even look into it. We can still only speculate about it, but at least it will be interesting to explore the possible scenarios and their possible meaning.
Alberto and Atrior talked about it here, the very close relationship between BS and IA, and they do as well.Unfortunately the authors got their vectors wrong or maybe reversed.Maybe the third time is s charm?
Well, I didn’t have high hopes about the interpretation of the data after what I was reading lately from the people involved. So that was more or less expected. Still, about Narasimhan et al. there are a few improvements, but we should expect better. I’ll mention the good and the bad as soon as I can read it in more detail.
I am somewhat disappointed, the samples I had hoped forr aren’t really there, just more of the same.
One of the interesting bits is the addition of Late Medieval samples from Swat – by then R1a had become the dominant lineage. In the metal ages E-Z827 stands out as perhaps the most frequent haplogroup. Does anyone know if these calls are reliable?
Also interesting: the presence of Q1 of both northern and southern variety.
Yes, after one and a half years it’s a bit of a shame that the new samples in Narasimhan et al. only add quantity, with very few exceptions.
I noticed that interesting trend of R1a frequencies rising in the middle ages in samples from Swat Valley. It’s good that they added that the steppe admixture in the Swat IA samples is female biased (a suspicious omission in the preprint, that made no mention to the surprising lack of R1a samples), but then they had to spoil it with a speculative assertion that in other parts of India it is the other way around based on modern frequencies of R1a. It seems they didn’t even pay attention to the graph they cared to make about it, showing very poor correlation between R1a frequencies and steppe admixture. Pity they didn’t do the same with mtDNA (steppe mtDNA vs. steppe admixture) to check if that correlation is significantly better or not.
I only had a brief look at the haplogroup data and the paper.
A couple of things I noticed:
“Kushan empire context individuals from Ksirov, Tajikistan (n=5) ”
3/5 Kushan samples are mtDNA U2e1e. Maybe Kushan movements explain the source of this steppe mtDNA in modern South Asia? One of the remaining 2 Kushan samples was R1a1a1b2a2a, which is R-Z2123.
An (eastern) Scythian from a much earlier paper was also U2e1e and R1aZ93. Maybe related to the Kushan people?
The second item is that the paper says “the R1a Y chromosome associated with Central_Steppe_MLBA ancestry in South Asia is also present in the Swat District Late Bronze and Iron Age individuals (two copies)”
So both copies found in Swat are of the R1aZ93 subclades characterising Steppe MLBA, meaning R-Z2124? I wonder when the other R1aZ93, the one said to be more common in South Asians, will be found.
Alberto and others, how solid do you think their autosomal models are? I don’t see very strong evidence of a steppe introgression in the mtDNA (no U5 in particular). To be honest, I don’t find their clinal models very helpful, and I think that if we ever get pre-Neolithic South and Central Asian DNA they’ll be shown inaccurate.
As for mtDNA and steppe admixture, I strongly suspect the latter was mediated through a third population like the Burusho, hence the paucity of northern uniparentals.
I guess without DNA from PGWC and such these questions won’t be resolved.
“(though we have to cautious still, given it’s one sample and not very clear if it’s high or low AASI one).” — @Alberto, the paper says that the only fitting two-way
models were mixtures of a group related to herders from the
western Zagros mountains of Iran and also to either Andamanese hunter-gatherers (73% ± 6% Iranian-related ancestry; p = 0.103 for overall model fit) or East Siberian hunter-gatherers (63% ± 6% Iranian-related ancestry; p = 0.24). They also say that the estimated proportion of ancestry related to tribal groups in southern India in I6113 is smaller than in present day groups, suggesting that since the time of the IVC there has been gene flow into the part of South Asia where Rakhigarhi lies from both the northwest (bringing more Steppe ancestry)
and southeast (bringing more ancestry related to tribal groups
in southern India).
To come back to a point that I had made earlier, if the Painted Grey Ware horizon turns out to be similar to Gandhara, it might be possible that groups more similar to contemporary Brahmins (i. e. rich in R1a) have entered the subcontinent from the Bolan pass, for example with the horse-breeding Pirak culture.
I suppose it will be years until we have samples from those sites at the current pacee, unfortunately.
Of the groups in the subcontinent, Brahui/Baloch/Makrani still diverge most strongly towards West Eurasia, so something is going on there for what it’s worth:
R1a in 1000 BC is pretty compelling data. The other evidence which is cited is that after 1000 BC; the Kazakh steppe acquires ENA admixture. As well as the Bustan outlier c 1500 BC – “we find that one of the outliers, Bustan_BA_o2, is consistent with being admixed between an individual related to people on the Indus Periphery Cline and Middle to Late Bronze Age Steppe pastoralists, a type of admixture event we also observe in the Late Bronze-Iron Age Swat Valley”
There is also the possibility that R1a enriched groups passed through the Swat valley and onlx started to settle in the Indo-Gangetic plain, hence the importance of Painted Grey Ware.
The main problem as I see it is that it would be difficult to derive modern North Indians from these samples as far as the uniparentals are concerned. The Ghazanavid samples look a lot lime modern North Indians, however.
If the suggestions of Narasimhan are correct; it would mean that IE Indians formed deep in South Asia; all the more that Swat samples lie in a slightly different cline ?
I must have missed that part, Rob. I can see how that would make sense from a genetic point of view – modern Indians having both more steppe and Onge ancestry than those samples.
I really doubt that Indo-Aryan has an all too ancient presence deeper in the subcontinent than the Painted Grey Ware horizon, though, considering the significant presence of other language families. If there were samples from this area, one would at least have a reference as to what a population which can be said to have spoken I-A with some certainty would have looked like.
That also begs the question whether the original Indo-Aryan regions succumbed to migrations from groups who carried both more steppe ancestry and more Onge ancestry. The Medieval R1a-L657 from the Himalayas seems to have been autosomally close to Tamils. I think that region doesn’t have a long Indo-Aryan presence.
‘Deep’ as in within South Asia; not very very ancient
It’s certainly an interesting proposal, Rob. How would you say could it be tested? What if the Painted Grey Ware culture turns out to be similar to the Swat valley samples (I still think it could have had lots of R1a) ? It’s all quite confusing with samples from only a few geographical regions.
How would the Indo-Aryans have reached deep South Asia? From the Bolan, the Khunjerab etc. ?
Is there a pass near Kabul ?
If so, c. 1500 BC
Yes, the Khyber, which like the Khunjerab leads directly into the Swat valley. That’s why I speculated that groups of herders might have simply passed through these areas into the Indo-Gangetic plain, with limited mingling with the local Swat population.
That hypothesis could be tested with PGW samples.
I’ve tried to get some insights with the already available samples for the modelling, but for now I don’t have any specific conclusions to share. Maybe with the new samples things will be a bit more clear.
I think that the Swat Valley should represent the early presence of steppe admixture in North India. I don’t think that a strong steppe presence in the 2000-1500 period is justified by any line of evidence at this point. That’s the period when BMAC people and steppe people started to mix (and rather slowly). So overall I do think that R1a/steppe in the surroundings of 1000 BCE is the most reasonable scenario.
It would certainly be great to have PGW samples, though the culture represents the middle-late Vedic period. We’d need earlier samples to know who were the early Vedic Aryans.
Alberto, do you think Cemetary H could have been Vedic already, then?
Meh. Of course the paper didn’t add much. This new bypass theory doesn’t make any sense. Their proposed date of 2000-1500 BCE doesn’t seem convincing either. 1200BCE is too late for Mitanni and RV. The whole thing doesn’t add up and Harvard’s not willing willing to admit their mistakes.
PGW is also simply way too late for the RV.
Ideologues and puppets are in charge of this whole thing. It’s kinda sad.
Yes, I think Cemetery H is in the right place and time for early Vedic people to be found.
Maybe steppe people did go directly to India for some reason. Clearly the mountains and deserts of SC Asia are not a natural habitat for steppe pastoralists, so maybe they were much more attracted by the plains of North India and went early and directly there. But this is just a speculative possibility that right now is not supported by the available data, either archaeological or the peripheral genetic one we have.
We’ll have to wait a bit more. But hopefully the Rakhigarhi paper is the starting point for more aDNA from India to be published relatively soon.
Yes, it’s just a few weeks ago in this same thread that I expressed my hope for a clear step forward in the upcoming papers, just to abandon it after some comments referring to the authors’ public statements in the last few months.
The good thing is that more data keeps coming out and it won’t stop. And the genetic data is publicly available, so slowly but surely we’ll get to know all that is possible to know with our current technology. We should not worry too much about whatever we can see as dubious claims. None of them will matter in the long run.
Alberto ; Marko
I think also as part of critique one has to consider what are alternative explanations to account for IE & if they’re more parsimonious; and I don’t think Majkop is
I don’t think so. The most popular theory of PIE has been going on for decades now despite contradicting archaeology and linguistics. I mean the Northwest IE BB thingy is still a thing.
Also, I’m not sure why everyone is celebrating on eurogenes. This paper literally flushes down all of Mallory’s, Kuzmina’s, Witzel’s and Parpola’s arguments down the toilet. Even if Witzel, Harmatta and Blazek are incorrect about the relationship between IA and the Near East there is still a text that dates to 1760 BCE mentioning the maryannu warriors.
The data from Anatolia plus this is basically game of over.
How do we explain late enrichment of steppe MLBA in modern north India bypassing expected early routes It could have been a gradual process. assimilation of IAMC people partially descended from Andronovo in places like Kashmir up to the early Buddhist period and their much later assimilation in Northern India as scholars and administrators. It probably has nothing to do with chariot riders and language change.
I prefer to wait for the definitive data. No one can be sure that when we get samples from North India dating to c. 1900-1500 BCE they won’t be clearly descendants of the Sintashta culture. There’s still the possibility that they will.
The case of Anatolian is relatively clear against the steppe model, but we still need further sampling to confirm it in a more definitive way. From Greece we clearly need more samples too. We also need Tocharian samples, the upcoming Italian samples, etc…
I agree. And this is why I’m never saying things like “the steppe hypothesis is dead” or “it’s game over”. I have no interest whatsoever in getting ahead of the data, nor anything against the steppe hypothesis turning out to be correct. As I’ve expressed before, the steppe hypothesis has to be looked at objectively, but then also put into perspective compared to the alternatives. And right now I don’t see any specific alternative that solves all the problems of the steppe model without introducing equivalent ones.
So back to the specific case of Indo-Iranian, as I said above to Vara we first have to wait for the relevant samples. If those deny the possibility of I-I arriving from the steppe in a definitive way, then we can (and must) look for alternatives. If on the contrary they support the steppe model, we should still consider that as a good option at least for I-I.
The reason why me (or you, or others here) have to constantly highlight the problems of the steppe model is, well, because someone has to do it. I wish the paper would have conclusions along the lines of “The hypothesis that Indo-Aryan languages arrived to India from the steppe cannot be discarded. However, our current data does not favour it. We still need samples from the most relevant place and time in order to answer this question”. That would be a much more objective and scientific conclusion.
Re: Majkop, I agree it’s not an option. If the steppe model fails to explain the arrival of IE languages to SC Asia we have to think of an Iranian (north and east, more than west) homeland.
I don’t think that modern populations for inferring prehistorical events is the way to go. Unfortunately in India we don’t have much alternatives, but that still means we have to be very careful with drawing conclusions based on them. I recently illustrated this problem in a closed list by using the example of Estonia where we now have better sampling, so I’ll reproduce it here (even if this is just merely illustrative of a very generic issue and not meant to show more than what it does):
“For example, from Estonia we now have samples from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Medieval periods. Modelling modern Estonians using those three populations shows some small but significant amount of Mycenaean-like admixture:
That’s 6.5% admixture (5.8% Mycenaean + 0.7% Armenian_MBA) after the middle ages from an unrealistically southern population that didn’t exist anymore in Europe in the middle ages. Using modern Greek instead (which is more realistic for what could exist in Southern Europe from the middle ages), it’s like this:
Does this prove that there was a migration from Greece to Estonia after the Middle Age? Not at all. This is just a product of isolation-by-distance where a population mixes with an adjacent one, who in turn mixes with another adjacent one, etc… which in this case results in a Greek like admixture in modern Estonians acquired only in the last 1000 years or so.
If instead I remove the MA samples to measure it since the Iron Age, it’s like this:
And further removing the IA samples, like this:
Or going back to using Mycenaean instead of modern Greek:
So apparently, there was a Greek invasion of Estonia since the Bronze Age. Something that actually never happened. So we have to be careful with this kind of conclusions based on models using prehistorical sources for modern targets.”
The point is that we need a whole sequence of aDNA data from India in order to draw correct conclusions about its genetic history. Otherwise it’s all too speculative.
What’s a bit disheartening is that the authors chose to cite extremely pseudoscientific evidence to support their hypotheses, like the supposed evidence that the Indus language was Dravidian.
Witzel, for instance, has his biases, but his writings would provide a very good basis for a discussion about the language situation in northern India. One thing he has demonstrated convincingly is that it is very unlikely that Dravidian was spoken in the Punjab, much less in the Swat valley.
Just read the paper. Why is everyone disheartened? This is showing correctly what is going on. It matches the various historical records from across cultures too. When Y-haplos will be found expect J2.
All the data in the world is there to have a new model. New samples will help refine that model, but no one should have any doubt at this point.
Need a strong argument why this is not a big (albeit short) paper.
“Ideologues and puppets are in charge of this whole thing. It’s kinda sad.”
Perfect observation. I’ve been trying to think of a successful way to disrupt this stranglehold over “science” to no avail. Ideas?
@Atrior Max Planck had model a few years ago, I don’t know if it’s still what they think, and you commented how it was very solid.It seems to be a lot better than what Harvard is doing, apparently just doubting Anatolian is from the steppe.Anthony is also involved, which judging from what I’ve read about his linguistic knowledge is not good.They just have confirmation bias I think, and the steppe does work for some IE languages so it’s the whole Rubiks cube thing and trying to make things fit.At this point it seems like IE will be solved online before academia catches up, they don’t have to deal with the political considerations.
If I remember correctly, I think I was meaning that they were thinking outside the box with their model, which is what is needed.
Harvard got it wrong. Their data is good though. I’m using it.
And it confirms my models so that’s satisfying.
What’s shocking is how much more value is put in pots over historical testimony. It’s absurd. Actually, it’s just inflated academia egos.
Alberto: I’m not too sure about the quality of the sample given some contradictory results we can see in the graphs. However, it seems to be within the IVC cline, which gives more confidence on the outliers from other sites published in Narasimhan et al. as being representative of the IVC population (though we have to cautious still, given it’s one sample and not very clear if it’s high or low AASI one).
In relation to this, you may be interested in the following: I’m a bit dubious about the estimate of “AASI” in the Harappa sample I6113 as given by the paper, so I’ve tried a couple of methods to estimate the Rakhigarhi samples’s AASI using the data from Narasimhan’s online data explorer (you can find it here – https://scholar.harvard.edu/vagheesh/centralsouthasia).
I’ve basically taken the West Eurasia PC1 position from there, and the red component in the ADMIXTURE which seem to correlate perfectly with one another and plausibly correlate with AASI shift. Narasimhan’s paper gives a range of 11-50% AASI in their samples, so I’ve assumed that the differences in these predict in this range, and that this relationship transfers to I6613. (Ideally I’d have their estimates of AASI to compare directly, but they haven’t released those, so you do what you can!).
Once I’ve done that, then, the estimated AASI based on Narasimhan’s red component and West Eurasia PC1 position for I6113 is 33%.
(Full Datasheet here if anyone is interested -https://pastebin.com/qrf1T0zj).
That’s really consistent with Shinde’s simple two way modelling, which estimates 27-37% Eastern Non-African in I6113, using either Onge or East Siberian HG (Devil’s Gate), which would be mean 32% between them.
I think the levels of AASI that Narasimhan’s paper estimates for Indus_Periphery might be a little low though. If you look at the f4 stat in Fig S49 (https://imgur.com/a/4k227B0), then assume that the Irula represent about 62% AASI (consistent with how they convert with Onge in Chad’s models) and that BustanBA_o3 represents 0%.
Then based on the f4 stat, I’d guess there’s probably about 4-7% more AASI in the Indus Periphery than the think, at the low and high ends, so the minimum is like 14% and max sample (I10409 from Gonur) 57%, and really quite close to the Irula. (I will leave more detail until Chad or someone gets their hands on the Indus_Periphery samples to do detailed modelling).
I’d add that this estimate fits well with the estimates of raw AASI+Turan+Steppe that Reich took to lectures last year, where the max sample from Indus Periphery had levels very similar to “ASI” – possibly before they realized that it doesn’t look good for their claims that Indus_Periphery aren’t locally admixed with Turan people to be showing ternary plots where one corner is labelled Turan and so decided to present with the “Indus_Periphery_West” instead!
So my best guess so far is I6113 is more of a mid-range sample. In her AASI level she’s probably comparable to many people across India from not particularly unusual groups. Based on the ADMIXTURE and PCA, no way she’s low AASI compared to present day people.
Under the above assumptions SISBA3, aka Indus_Periphery_9 probably has 48% AASI, which would be pretty consistent with Chad’s modelling of the sample as about 72-79% Irula.
(Semi-cross posted with a comment at Razib Khan’s place that went into more detail but seems to have been blocked by his filters. Probably best placed here since certain other places online seem to have gone a bit bonkers recently or otherwise aren’t showing much interest in some of the contradictions in Shinde’s paper.)
It’s more complex than just about being descendants of Sintashta. There’s little cultural impact from Sintashta south of “Turan”. There’s a reason the Kulturkugel model was come up with in the first place.
“Clearly the mountains and deserts of SC Asia are not a natural habitat for steppe pastoralists”
That didn’t stop the Scythians, Hephthalites and Kushans, who actually impacted the region as testified by archaeology, history and modern day Pashtun culture, or did it?
And why doesn’t the Caucasus work for PIE? Not only can it be connected to Greece, Anatolia and SCA but also it is the place with the oldest actual IE ritual.
Who knows. I learned that there are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes in academia when I was researching PEDs.
“What’s shocking is how much more value is put in pots over historical testimony.”
Re; last comment, I’d actually walk that back a little. Playing around with Narasimhan’s data explorer and looking at the position of the present day South Asian (small yellow dots) – https://imgur.com/a/Nr2YNC6
(PCAs are as in Narasimhan’s paper, with a few extras, such as ShamankaN defining the East Asian pole, Iron Gates, some EEFs)
That’s nice if you want to dive into the structure of the South Asian populations and see where they sit.
One thing I tried was to use the Onge’s position as 1 (totally AHG) and Zagros as 0 (no AHG), and it does look like this produces a pretty similar range of estimates of AHG as Narasimhan’s paper talks about, and I6113 in the range of 34% AHG again. So I don’t know. That’s one for the other side I guess.
I suspect that the ‘CHG’ -type ancestry in Mycenaeans is twofold; one earlier Krepost-related; and a later Levant shifted one (mediated via the city- merchant exchange system operating , 3500-2200 BC). I don’t think it’s direct Majkop influence (as you know; I spent quite some time thinking about it). As I suggested to Alberto; Anatolian & Greek can be fairly comfortably explained via a complex series of interaction between the zones
Thanks, I’ll try to take a look at that tool from the Narasimhan paper when I get some time. For now I tried a different approach to the problem of the Indus Cline:
First I tried to check what’s the best approximation to the West Eurasian part in SiS3, given that this is the sample with the highest probability of being unadmixed with non-IVC populations (or at any rate the least admixed of the 3 samples available). The two closest individuals seem to be TJK_Sarazm_En:I4910 and TKM_Parkhai_En:I4634, though the two are different and the the best approximation is something between the two.
For the SiS2 and Gonur_BA2 samples, the most parsimonious explanation if there were admixed with local populations would be that they would be best modelled as two way mixes of SiS3 and the main clusters of the two sites where they were found. So I checked that here.
Both samples prefer SiS1 rather than each preferring their respective populations. So then I added the two individuals mentioned above that best approximate the West Eurasian part of SiS3 and got this. Both prefer a similar combination to what SiS3 prefers.
It’s no too much to go for, but I’ll check with all the other samples when they become available to see if there is a consistent pattern.
The reason why I think the an Indus Cline is interesting is because it means that admixture between two populations was still ongoing (one East Iranian similar to the Eneolithic samples from SC Asia and one AHG related). Ad this bring up the question of who of the two were locals and who were migrants. Which is a very interesting question for the genetic prehistory of South Asia.
I wanted to explore that side of things (not done in the papers), but I don’t think I can do much with the current samples. One stating point is what we know from physical anthropology (Kennedy, Lukacs & Hemphill), which is able to identify some change c. 4500 BC and then continuity until 800 BC (note that they don’t see any change in the Swat Valley samples they examined, which I guess it’s normal since detecting some 10% steppe admixture -they operate with averages- in a mostly West Eurasian population is not within the reach of the method).
So the question here would be, if they were able to detect a change in the Chalcolithic c. 4500 BC, what happened back then? Did AHG start to enter the Neolithic territory of an East Iranian population or did an east Iranian population entered the Neolithic territory of a high AHG population?
Interestingly, Narasimhan at el. provides an estimate of admixture between an Iranian-related population and an AHG related one:
The estimated date of admixture between Iranian farmer–related and AHG-related ancestry in the outliers is several millennia before the time they lived (71 ± 15 generations, corresponding to a 95% confidence interval of ~5400 to 3700 BCE assuming 28 years per generation)
Which gives an average date close to 4500 BC. But we’ll have to wait for samples to start looking into this, since for now I couldn’t find a good way to even speculate about it.
I hope that at some point you will give us some clues or even the full details about your model. You keep it quite mysteriously to yourself 😉
If at any point you’d like to write about it, you’d be very welcome to write a guest post here with your thoughts about this all.
Invitation extended to @Vara and anyone else who has some interesting thoughts to share that require more than a comments section.
Yes, pastoralists eventually occupied many different landscapes and adapted to them. I was just mentioning that as a possible reason to explain the otherwise strange hypothesis of the Steppe_MLBA people moving straight into North India from the Southern Urals. Not that I’m convinced by the reason in any way.
Re: Maykop, I don’t see any evidence of a movement from the Caucasus to SC Asia at that time that could have brought Indo-Iranian languages (plus Tocharian) to the area. I’d also admit that I have a natural tendency to prefer movements of people east to west rather than the other way around, as well as movements into Europe rather than out of Europe. So if you have some good reasons to prefer Maykop (or some other culture from the Caucasus), I’d be glad to hear them.
Thanks for the Estonian example. It wold be strange to claim Uraliic came to Estonia from Greece through elite dominance.
Similarly modern greeks show more steppe than Mycenaean Greeks through historic migration of slavic speakers.
In India west eurasian ancestries did not happen in one shot. Some Modern Indians show higher steppe MLBA due to gradual diffusion.
Some anthropological/historical context can help in digging deeper. Sanskrit scholars and translators were in high demand in Central Asia and The spread of buddhism could not happen in vacuum without locals. People with Andronovo ancestry from the IAMC would definitely capitalize and get recruited and train in places like Kashmir and Nalanda. The Kashmir scholarly tradition was prolific and highly regarded all over India with a lot of exchange.
Scholarship would provide a path to assimilation into the Indian caste hierarchy. For example the origin stories of brahmins like the chitpavans hints at such assimilation.
So the early 1000 bc SPGT are examples of local admixture that did not have much demographic impact . More sampling will tell if thats true
The Levantine shift Rob mentioned is also present in the samples from the Luwian and Hittite regions, as well as in the unpublished samples from Arslantepe. I suppose the source of that cannot be the Caucasus or Armenia. I can’t be the only one thinking that Mesopotamia might be very important in this regard, no?
I think it relates to establishment of “higher centres” ; of a cultural model flowing from Mesopotamia. The curious thing is that this model was under threat from various fronts. Firstly; the conquest of Arslantepe c. 3000 BC by pastoralists of K-A or Majkop affinity; who then might have something to do with the founding of Alaca Hoyuk royal graves. And come 2200 BC; a more generalised collapse occurs; as we know- from Aegean to Levant.
The recovery phase – differed in east and west Anatolia. The latter remained rural and small scale; the east soon became even more centralised; anticipating the Karum period.
Ikiztepe will be interesting because it links between Arslantepe & Balkans; and direct dating from samples there might help solve the long held problem of chronology
very interesting – it is tempting to try to relate these developments to language families, but I suppose it is way too early to do that without veering too much into speculation.
One of the things I’m looking forward to is the publication from Italy, because I would expect the ‘Mesopotamian network’ you mentioned to have branched out into the Mediterranean. Italy was presumably not as densely populated as the Aegean, so I suspect that groups of maritime migrants might have had a rather significant demic impact there. We’ll see, but judging by the circulating ‘leaks’ I don’t think Greek colonies are a sufficient explanation for the Near Eastern shift seen in peninsular Italy.
Yep Italy will be very interesting. In particular the Mesolithic , Neolithic, if samples go back that far.
W.r.t. the Bronze Age, Im sure itll be diverse; although what’s being said is that ? it relates to Greek colonists & emigrants during the Roman period 🙂
I guess that’s the amateur explanation right now? I doubt that Greeks and Near Easterners had a significantly demic impact in Rome.
I might just take you on that offer. We can Skype ahead of time so that you feel comfortable with it. Been prepping materials for a video, but keep putting it aside. I’ve dropped enough hints, I think at least. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it.
Of course, part of what holds me back a bit is that it may cause a bit of turmoil once its implications are digested. Not for anyone here, or anyone interested in the history of it all… but it may support the adage “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it…”
Glad to hear that. I’ll email you so we can talk about it. Don’t worry about its implications. This is a civilised place 🙂 We just ask for well argued and substantiated ideas that we can learn from.
The movements of the Gray Ware and the Painted Ware, the first is later associated with the Mitanni and late BMAC while the latter with Early BMAC, are from West to East 3200-2800BCE (Pre Urban phase), which IMO is the best time for the arrival of Indo-Iranian. There’s also more than that.
I am not really sure about Tocharian. I keep going back and forth because at the moment I really don’t see a definitive model that works in terms of linguistics.
I can go over my I-I model in a guest post in a week or two. Though, I might need more than one guest post if you’re okay with that.
PS. Can you model these new samples? 🙂
Tocharian is always problematic 😉
Sounds good about a guest post. I’ll email you about it soon.
Sorry if this is off-topic but has anyone done any modelling on Roma Gypsy genomes to give us a better picture of how and when they left India?
Since I was a bit curious about that in the past and played around with the Roma sample included in the Eurogenes G25, whose specific nationality I’m unsure of, it seems to come out as South Asian + (pre-Turkic) Anatolian-Aegean + Balkan to me. It’s possible something between the former and the latter area is lost in the modelling.
Trying to model them using modern populations, which might work well enough considering their roots and subsequent mixing in the Anatolian-European area seem late medieval based on written accounts, Chamar looks like a good general proxy for their South Asian ancestry.
Here’s a model with the general contemporary populations they show preference to, with good distance:
Trying to model them using ancient sources and combining what seems South Asian in their ancestry, I get:
 “1. CLOSEST SINGLE ITEM DISTANCE%”
Velamas Gujarati Kol Kanjar Piramalai Yadava Punjabi_Lahore Dharkar
1.660185 2.598313 2.644764 2.981535 2.998546 3.009626 3.290111 3.320977
Kurumba Dusadh Maratha Uttar_Pradesh Chamar Iyer Brahmin_Tamil_Nadu Sakilli
3.402287 3.638234 3.804747 3.914455 4.527030 4.620372 5.002567 5.361620
Bengali_Bangladesh Gupta Chenchu Kshatriya Brahmin_West_Bengal Pallan Relli Brahmin_Uttar_Pradesh
5.409220 5.539753 5.606308 5.711868 5.839357 5.930938 6.374694 6.574370
North_Kannadi Madiga Hakkipikki Mala Brahmin_Gujarat Irula
6.769170 6.790572 7.017430 7.611343 8.617596 10.591759
The smallest distance is with Velamas but that might be due to part of their South Asian ancestry (steppe and Iran_N/CHG-like) being eaten/confounded by other sources and the generally short distances between some of these populations. My impression is of a northwest South Asian population of low caste or something along those lines based on the populations that come up both here and with their relative preference for Chamar (unsure of the exact provenance of the sample but reading wiki, they seem to have a general epicenter in northwest South Asia?) but I’m sure there are better methods. You can be even more meticulous with G25 itself if you spend more time. There probably have been decent studies on the Roma but I can’t remember them off the top of my head.
The how and why is an interesting question though. The one thing I do know is that the historical sources give the impression that they appear in Byzantine territory, in Anatolia and even the Balkans, by around the 12th century but I haven’t come across, or at least don’t recall, specific and solid speculation about why they undertook their trek. The relatively low distance of the hypothetical ancestor to Kanjar seems interesting too by reading on that community in wiki. Apparently a traditionally semi-nomadic population of the northwest.
Also lots of interesting new commentary here during the summer that I missed, might add my own two speculative cents and own questions on a few things I’m curious about when I have more time.
I haven’t tried models myself, but I’ not sure they could easily tell us when then left India and when did they arrive to Europe. Probably historical sources (or ancient DNA from Roma populations) are the best option to know that.
There have been papers on the subject, like Moorjani et al. 2013.
Edit: @Egg already posted some more and interesting information about it while I was answering. Thanks!
“Another point to take into account is that there may be two different stories about R1a in India. The one about R1a-L657 (parallel branch to the steppe R1a-Z2124) so far looks like some sort of founder effect, give it’s never been found on the steppe in spite of the very large number of samples carrying R1a-Z93+” —- The story about south asian/indian R1a might be a bit more complicated . There’s an upcoming paper involving modern indian groups which has samples having non-Z93 subclades .
does anyone have a clue as to why J2a1 appears in Minoans, mycenaens, and hittite anatolian BA? arey they the same subclade? do they have anything to do with shahr i soktha j2a1?
Yeah, because IEs expanded in two directions out of South Asia, one taking Iranians languages to the Steppe through Zerafshan and one West which became the Centum languages.
@Egg, thanks for the info. I am skeptical of a more Northern Indian origin tbh, having travelled around the area. Would be interesting to see a breakdown in terms of adna.
Off-topic: the mtDNA reported in this paper for Puerto Rico 1000 BP is somewhat strange – looks partly West Eurasian. Is this a mistake?
The story about south asian/indian R1a might be a bit more complicated . There’s an upcoming paper involving modern indian groups which has samples having non-Z93 subclades .
Yes, we’ve seen before old clades of R1a in Asia (Iran and surroundings), so it’s not too surprising to find non-Z93 R1a in India. What I don’t know if the relevance it may have. The dominant clade is still Z93 and that’s the one that seems to matter.
I’m more intrigued by other claims that apparently Niraj Rai made in some interview about upcoming papers (hopefully before the end of the year), so let’s see what they have.
Yes, J2a1 appears in all early IE speakers, but it’s too old to tell us something without having much higher resolution about the subclades. And this information is mostly lacking. J2a1 was already present in Kotias CHG, for example. J is very old in general, without a clear expansion of a specific clade during the Bronze Age. So it’s hard to tell much about its relevance.
I had a quick look at the paper, but didn’t find anything that looked clearly West Eurasian. I’m rather ignorant about mtDNA, but A, B, C and D are typically Amerindian or East Eurasian, as far as I know. Are you referring to some other clades I didn’t find? Or some specific subclades of those that are West Eurasian?
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