[INDOLOGY] a recent book on ancient DNA
tiziana.lorenzetti at libero.it
tiziana.lorenzetti at libero.it
Fri Dec 13 11:31:42 UTC 2019
I would like to call your attention on the recent book of the Harvard geneticist David Reich ‘ Who We Are and How We Got Here. Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past’, Oxford 2018. It represents the summa of the international research project on ancient DNA, reconstructing 10.000 years of migrations from Caucasus towards Europe and India.
Many of you must have known about this project, as a few articles related to it have been already published and – if I am not mistaken– discussed on the list. What it seems to me worth mentioning from the book is:
1. the incontrovertible evidence that groups of the pastoral Yamnaya – of which the Indo-European Vedic Aryans were a branch – migrated from their original homeland in Eurasian steppes to Europe and Northern India, where they arrived in the first half of the second millennium BC.
2. The Vedic Aryans propagated the Indo-European (Sanskritistic) culture and language. It is hard to believe that genetic studies can have the last word on language debates. But they can. Indeed, if it is true that the DNA studies do not tell us which languages the Vedic Aryans spoke, it is also true that the spread of the Indo-European languages follows the route of the Yamnaya migration (who spoke Indo-European idioms): not by accident, the Indians of the North (ANI), particularly those who speak indo-European idioms, have a high percentage of dna from the steppe, much higher compared to the Indians of the South (ASI), who generally speak dravidian idioms.
Moreover, thanks to the endogamy of the caste system (in use for millennia, as proven by the DNA) the social group which shows more percentage of DNA of the steppe (y chromosomes) compared to the other social groups, are the Brahmins of the North. They, as the author says, were and still are the guardians of the Indo-European tradition propagated by population whose ancestors originated from the steppe.
It is also fascinating to learn the most likely reason whereby the Yamnaya, a small but genetically cohesive population, had been able, during their migrations, to have such a great impact over the European and Indian resident population (See pag. 155 the evidence of the bacteria Yersinia pestis).
Thanks to these studies, we are now aware that the hypothesis of the autochthonous Vedic Aryans’ homeland is nothing more than a political propaganda. However, notwithstanding the evidence, this fake news is hard to die, as the author himself writes. Indeed, while he was in Hyderabad to present the conclusions of the research project, the Indian microbiologists Lalji Singh e Kumaraswamy Thangaraj, who were also involved in the project, obstructed, even tried to hypothesize a reverse migration, from India to the West, something that genetic data categorically excluded. Reich who, as geneticist, could not understand the reason of his Indian colleague’s obstructionism, went through tense days. Then, he realized the devastating political impact that the project results would have had amongst the Hindu nationalists. Something that we indologists have long known.
If you are interested in the matter, see also
Best wishes to you all
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