This is the latest nonsense out of India purporting to undo the Aryan Migration Theory. It is written by high caste Hindu idiots for political reasons, namely to swipe back at South Indians and Dalits who claim that Aryans imposed caste Hinduism on them at the point of a sword. The fact is that South Indians misrepresent the case. The Aryans did not sweep into Northwest India, conquer the Dravidians, and push them south. The Aryans conquered in the north, and they bred in with and mixed with the locals. In time, caste Hinduism spread to the south of India.
Michael Witzel is probably the pre-eminent scholar of Sanskrit and the Aryan Migration question. Here is his response to this irresponsible study, which unfortunately was published in a peer reviewed journal. Briefly, the India Today piece completely misrepresents the study and the authors of the study also make many other misrepresentations of the data. I am afraid that this is the way Indians do science, just like they do everything else – with massive corruption and political overtones. As more and more Indians get into science, we can count on science becoming more and more corrupt and less and less scientific.
I asked Prof. M. Witzel about a popular news item in Indian English press.
Here is his reply.
From Michael Witzel answering my question.
Well, Ganesan, I have answered that, based on my genetic etc. background info and info from my geneticist friends [who include Thangaraj, Pitchappan 🙂 ] — but this msg. has not appeared on IDDOLOGY@yahooo yet, where this “news” was broadcast a few days earlier…
Here a copy:
The INDIA TODAY article (below) bristles with misrepresentations and outright misinformation, in part by the authors of the genetic study mentioned here:
On Dec 11, 2011, at 7:19 PM, Sri Venkat wrote:
> Dinesh C. Sharma New Delhi, December 10, 2011 | UPDATED 10:22 IST
> Indians are not descendants of Aryans, says new study.
Briefly, it is well known that “The origin of genetic diversity found in South Asia is much older than 3,500 years when the Indo-Aryans were supposed to have migrated to India”. Geneticists point to the Out of Africa movement around 65-75,000 years ago. As a result, Reich et al. have shown that two ancient population segments evolved in South Asia around 40 kya, the ‘Ancestral North Indians’ (ANI), (genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans) and the ‘Ancestral South Indians’. Add another, Neolithic migration from the Greater Near East some 10,000 y.a.
Then, it is usually said that “migration of Indo-European speakers from Central Asia … was responsible for the introduction of the Indo-European language family.” Indeed. Indo-Aryan language, religion, etc. have been imported from the Ural steppes/Central Asia. Note the many *early*, pre-Vedic loan-words into *early* Uralic language, and now also loans from the Bactria-Margiana culture (2400-1600 BCE) into Indo-Aryan. By people with one or another genetic set-up (see below on R1a).
The rest of the so-called “Aryan Invasion” is an outdated 19th century theory, just as the early 19th c. one that imagined Indo-Europeans migrated out of India (as some Hindutvavadins now reassert!). There was indeed a movement northward out of South Asia/Greater Near East during the warm period around c.40,000 y.a., but that is some 38,000 years BEFORE Indo-Aryans even came into existence. (Same mistake made in the 2005 CA schoolbook fiasco!)
> “Our study clearly shows that there was no genetic influx 3,500 years ago,” said Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj.
Absolute genetic dates (just as in linguistic reconstructions) need to be supported by outside evidence, such as finds of skeletons. For the period around 1500 BCE, we still have error bars of 3000 years in genetic reconstructions, which makes pronouncements about a non-existent “Aryan” move into South Asia very moot indeed.
We will have to await the further, so far very uncertain resolution of the early Y chromosome R1a haplogroup (c. some 20-34,000 years old), to form an opinion. Ra1 has been attributed to speakers of Indo-European (as it is prominent in Eastern Europe), but it also occurs throughout South Asia, tribal populations included. We need to know which one of its unresolved sub-strains moved, when and where. We do not know that…yet.
When L. Singh says, “It is high time we re-write India’s prehistory based on scientific evidence,” we can only agree.
However, not when he says, “There is no genetic evidence that Indo-Aryans invaded or migrated to India or even something such as Aryans existed”.
Dr Singh does not understand that Indo-Aryan language (and religion) simply could not exist in thin air. You need a population. Obviously they had Ural area ancestors, whatever their genetic set-up upon entering from Afghanistan.
Even his assertion, “If any migration from Central Asia to South Asia took place, it should have introduced apparent signals of East Asian ancestry into India” is patently wrong as Eastern elements entered Central Asia only much later.
For further details see my recent message to the IER list.
Sequel to my last, general comment:
1. First of all, it is rather unfortunate that the authors of the paper have highlighted the “Aryan Invasion Theory” in their summary and later on as well. That is 19th century talk!
Since at least the 1950s (FBJ Kuiper 1955, Przyluski even in 1920s, etc.), Indologists have stressed the complex interactions between Indo-Aryan speakers and local speakers both in the Greater Panjab and beyond, from the oldest text (Rgveda, c. 1200-1000 BCE) onward, which has some clear non-IA poets and kings. The great, late Kuiper’s last paper (2000) has the title a “bilingual poet”.
Since 1995, I too have written about acculturation, and that maybe “not one gene” of the Ural steppes people had survived by the time the pastoral Indo-Aryan speakers arrived in the Greater Panjab (via the Central Asian river pastures/Tienshan/Pamir meadows, the BMAC, Hindukush, etc., with many chances for gene flow from all these areas).
That Indo-Aryan language, religion, ritual etc. have been imported from the Urals/Central Asia (note the *early* loan-words into Uralic, and now also BMAC loans words into Indo-Aryan!) is beyond any reasonable doubt. By people with one or another genetic set up, — which one that is the question.
I will await the further resolution of the Y chromosome haplogroup Ra1* –note the “western” affinities in the paper of Brahmins and Ksatriyas even in U.P. — as to see exactly which genetic strain may have entered South Asia around 1500 BCE, — if any.
2. Co-author Lalji Singh says as per the article in DNA :
“We have conclusively proved that there never existed any Aryans or Dravidians in the Indian sub continent. The Aryan-Dravidian classification was nothing but a misinformation campaign carried out by people with vested interests,” Prof Lalji Singh, vice-chancellor, Banaras Hindu University, told DNA.”
Again harking back to *supposed* British interests in the 19th century. But, the two language groups definitely are as separate as they are from Bantu, Chinese or Papua. Indo-Aryan is definitely not = Dravidian language or its original culture, just as little as Basque, Uralic are not Indo-European. Confusion of language, genes, ethnicity, etc.
Well, Lalji has stayed at Hyderabad for a long time. Did he ever try to speak Hindi/Urdu to native, mono-lingual Kannada speakers? He would had have as little luck as I would have with any Indo-European language in Estonia, Finland or Hungary.
Why does he have to comment about things (language, culture) that he does not understand?
““The study effectively puts to rest the argument that south Indians are Dravidians and were driven to the peninsula by Aryans who invaded North India,” said Prof Singh, a molecular biologist and former chief of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.”
Same mistake. Of course, South Indians are Dravidian speaking. And they even are genetically (ASI) different from North Indians (ANI), which this co-author should know from his own (and D. Reich’s) paper. Same confusion of genetics, language, ethnicity (“race”)…
The idea of Aryans “driving Dravidians’ South”, too, is 19th century talk. See above. The reality is much more complex. For example, Frank Southworth has shown that Maharashtra was Dravidian speaking well into the Middle Ages, and Gujarat too has Drav. place names. There was a lot of give and take between the two language families, as is seen in the many Dravidian loans in Sanskrit, etc. and the many Indo-Aryan loans in Drav. languages.
3. Unfortunately, as some years earlier before, Gyaneshwer Chaubey chimes in: “According to Dr Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia, who was another Indian member of the team, the leaders of Dravidian political parties may have to find another answer for their raison d’être.”
A clear, political statement based on wrong science: see immediately below. By Dravidian parties he means those restricted to Tamil Nadu. Well, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra too speak Dravidian, as do many tribes in Central India (Gonds, etc.)
“We have proved that people all over India have common genetic traits and origin. All Indians have the same DNA structure. No foreign genes or DNA has entered the Indian mainstream in the last 60,000 years,” Dr Chaubey said.”
Sorry, *all Indians* with the same DNA structure? Their own paper says differently. He could also say that all ex-Africa populations have the same genetic origin…
And no “foreign” genes? What about all these Persians, Greek/Macedonians, Saka, Kushana, Huns, Arabs 711 CE+, Muslim Turks (1000+, 1200 CE+), Mughals, Afghans 1700 CE, Portuguese, etc., British….? Sure, they all never had Indian wives…
“Dr Chaubey had proved in 2009 itself that the Aryan invasion theory is bunkum. “That was based on low resolution genetic markers. This time we have used autosomes, which means all major 23 chromosomes, for our studies. The decoding of human genome and other advances in this area help us in unraveling the ancestry in 60,000 years,” he explained.”
I hope he will learn to distinguish between the Out Of Africa migration, the Neolithic one from western Asia around 10,000 y.a. (detailed in this very paper!), and the trickling in of Indo-Aryan pastoral speakers c.1500 BCE??
4. Said geneticists *still* cannot distinguish between speakers of a particular language and their genes. Writing in English — are Lalji Singh and Gyaneshwer both Anglo-Saxons? Or me, for that matter?
It is one thing to explain genetic results to the gullible public, but to confuse them with wrong data from linguistics, archaeology etc. is despicable.
5. “According to Prof Singh, Dr Chaubey, and Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj, another member of the team, the findings disprove the caste theory prevailing in India.”
“Interestingly, the team found that instead of Aryan invasion, it was Indians who moved from the subcontinent to Europe. “That’s the reason behind the findings of the same genetic traits in Eurasiain regions,” said Dr Thangaraj, senior scientist, CCMB.
Well, as detailed in my last note, the well-known northward movement into N. Eurasia from South Asia during the warm period around 40,000 years ago, has NOTHING to do with the 19th century’s “Aryan Invasion,” dated around 1500 BCE! I suppose they can count and calculate?
6. Finally, the unavoidable dot on the i, from the ubiquitous Dr K., — who has nothing to do with this genetic paper or topic. Bad choice by the DNA newspaper!
“Africans came to India through Central Asia during 80,000 to 60,000 BCE and they moved to Europe sometime around 30,000 BCE. The Indian Vedic literature and the epics are all silent about the Aryan-Dravidian conflict,” said Dr S Kalyanaraman, a proponent of the Saraswathi civilization which developed along the banks of the now defunct River Saraswathi.”
Through Central Asia?? There is no evidence at all for this, neither archaeologically or otherwise. Central Asia — deserts and all — was settled, pace Wells, only much later. Dr K. is not up to date: Rumania was reached
already by 42 kya…
As for “Vedic literature and the epics are all silent about the Aryan-Dravidian conflict”, he should re-read the Rgveda (in Sanskrit), not the outdated 100 year old English translation of Griffith. The non-Indo-Aryan speaking populations there (Dasyu, Daasa) clearly are in conflict with Indo-Aryan speakers…
Finally, having studied *administration* (PhD Manila), he is not up to date on archaeology either. The Harappan civilization developed in the Piedmont west of the subcontinent (see books by the late G. Possehl) and it spread eastward, also to the Ghagghar-Hakra river, which Dr K anachronistically calls, in Hindutva fashion, Sarasvati — well before the river got its Vedic name, c.1200 BCE.
In sum: for all discussants: as the old proverb has it, “shoemaker, stick to your own tools”!
On Dec 11, 2011, at 11:50 AM, Michael Witzel wrote:
> This paper has been out for a few days, and I got a copy from a co-author, one of my Estonian friends.
> I have immediately protested to them and have also critiqued the comments published by DNA. Note that the latter comments are attributed just to three (not all!) Indian co-authors, but do not come from the slew of other authors. The reason, as usual, seems to be politics and notoriety (to attract more finances?)
> To set the record straight, a few general remarks first:
> 1. There is nothing new in the result about an early Out of Africa movement (to South Asia) of *anatomically modern humans* (not Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo Erectus) at c. 65-75 kya. There are some hints about earlier dates but they are based on debatable stone artifacts, not skeletons.
> 2. And we also knew well about the movements from there to northern Eurasian areas during the warm period around c. 40,000 BCE: archaeologically attested by skeletons, both in the Beijing area (Zhoukoudian c.40 kya, via S.E. Asia), and in Europa (Rumania, c. 42 kya).
> See my friend Peter Underhill (Stanford) et al. 2010 paper:
> 3. Obviously this early movement has nothing to do with the current Hindutvavadin theory of an “Out Of India” move of the Indo-Europeans, who would have settled Europe: that would be tens of thousands of years later. (The same mistake was made during the CA schoolbook affair … by a CA biologist! They never learn…)
> For a popular overview with maps see St. Oppenheimer’s website or that of the National Geographic.
> Around 40,000 BCE there were neither “Aryans” nor Indo-Europeans around, not even speakers of the giant Nostratic language family, at best of the still earlier hypothetical Borean super-language family, proposed by my friend, the Africanist Harold Fleming (see WIKI). Likewise, no Dravidian language family yet, which may in fact be part of Nostratic anyhow.
> This northward move is a general phenomenon, as is the subsequent severe contraction southward during the last Ice age around 20 kya, when the four or five major human types (not “races”) developed in isolation: Europe, S.Asia, (Sunda Land: S.E. Asia), E. Asia, Sahul Land (New Guinea-Australia), — for example with two separate, independent mutations producing white skin color in Europe and in East Asia.
> 3. The paper by my Boston geneticist friend David Reich et al. has shown that South Asia has two ancient population segments evolving from the early Out of Africa people around 40 kya, the ‘Ancestral North Indians’ (ANI), (genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans) and the ‘Ancestral South Indians’ (ASI), so named after I had cautioned him and Nick Patterson about the political danger involving the naming of these groups. As you can see, even this nomenclature did not help to dispel preconceived Hindutva bias about “Aryans” and Dravidians.
> At 40 kya there were no “Aryans” and no “Dravidians” around yet.
> 4. If we then want to speak about “Aryans” (more correctly: speakers of Indo-Aryan language) and speakers of the early Dravidian language at all, we first of all have to disconnect language from ethnicity or “race”. I am not an Anglo-Saxon, just because I speak and write in English here, nor are Chaubey, Singh and Thangaraj.
> Language can change within 2 generations, as all Americans know and as Indians *should* know: not just in large cities, but also in tribal areas where people take over the dominant regional language, for obvious social reasons.
> The 3 Indian geneticists quote by DNA confuse language use with genetic setup, ethnicity, culture, religion etc. All of them easily (and *mutually*) transgress genetic boundaries.
> 5. If when then speak about Indo-Aryans or Dravidians at c. 3500 years ago, and want to link them with genetic data, we must take into account that all these studies are based on modern DNA, and depend on *assumed* mutation rates (going back to the Chimpazee-Human split of 5-7 million years ago); the genetic results thus provide good *relative* dates, but not absolute dates.
> Absolute dates (just as in linguistic reconstructions) need to be supported by outside evidence, such as finds of skeletons of anatomically modern humans, as mentioned above. (By the way these are earlier at Lake Mungo in Australia at c. 50 kya and Europe/China than in South Asia, where they only appear in Sri Lanka at c.30 kya. Facetiously: an Out of Australia migration to Eurasia?)
> 6. Worse, there are huge error bars in all these models. It may not matter very much if we have error bars of some 10,000 years for the Out of Africa move, but for the period around 1500 BCE, we still have error bars of 3000 years, which makes all pronouncements about a non-existent “Aryan” move into South Asia, based on current genetic data, very moot indeed.
> The “Western Asian/Central Asian” strain in northern India/Pakistan (as per this paper by Metspalu et al.) may well be due to Persian, Greek/Makedonian, Saka, Kushana, Hun, Arab (711 CE+), Islamic Turks 1000 CE/1200 CE, Portuguese etc. (1500 CE+) or British gene influx.
> I will await the further, so far very uncertain resolution of the Y chromosome R1a haplogroup to form an opinion. Ra1a has been attributed to speakers of Indo-European (as it is prominent in Eastern Europe) but it also occurs throughout South Asia, tribal populations included. We need to know which sub-strain moved: when and where.
> 7. All of which leaves most of the comments by Singh, Thangaraj and Chaubey high and dry. More about them in my next message.
> An interesting weekend, apparently. Luckily, the semester is over…
If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a contribution to support the continuation of the site. Donations are the only thing that keep the site operating.
Please follow and like us: