[INDOLOGY] a recent book on ancient DNA

Camillo Formigatti camillo.formigatti at bodleian.ox.ac.uk
Fri Dec 13 17:08:26 UTC 2019

Dear colleagues,

No, not again about this topic!

I hope this thread will not develop for the umpteenth time into a full-fledged battle between two warring factions. Please please please, I sincerely implore you, could you all refrain from discussing this book? I'm really bored of the endless discussions and insults hurled at each other.

Sorry for being so blunt, but in previous cases, discussions about this topic have been all but gentlemen- or ladylike.

Best wishes,


Dr Camillo A. Formigatti
John Clay Sanskrit Librarian

Bodleian Libraries
The Weston Library
Broad Street, Oxford
Email: camillo.formigatti at bodleian.ox.ac.uk<mailto:camillo.formigatti at bodleian.ox.ac.uk>
Tel. (office): 01865 (2)77208

in Oxford University's
Gardens, Libraries and Museums

From: Tieken, H.J.H. <H.J.H.Tieken at hum.leidenuniv.nl>
Sent: 13 December 2019 13:00
To: tiziana.lorenzetti at libero.it; indology at list.indology.info
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] a recent book on ancient DNA

As to the Out-of-India movement, have its proponents ever offered an explanation of why the Aryan speaking "Indians" did not at the time move into the Dravidian south? The Vindhyas do not form a greater obstacle than the mountainous corridors in the northwest. I have to admit I am not at home in the relevant literature, but the question comes up as I happen to be looking at the distribution of Aśoka's Minor Rock Edicts, which are the first evidence of the Maurya presence (not just knowledge of) as south as Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Herman Tieken
Stationsweg 58
2515 BP Den Haag
The Netherlands
00 31 (0)70 2208127
website: hermantieken.com<http://hermantieken.com/>
Van: INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at list.indology.info] namens tiziana via INDOLOGY [indology at list.indology.info]
Verzonden: vrijdag 13 december 2019 12:31
Aan: indology at list.indology.info<mailto:indology at list.indology.info>
Onderwerp: [INDOLOGY] a recent book on ancient DNA
Dear All,
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
Tiziana Lorenzetti


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