The Aryan Integration Theory (AIT)

Over the past week, there have been lots of reactions to the two papers which came out last week, The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia and An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian Farmers. The Insight is still on hiatus, but I managed to interview Vagheesh Narasimhan for my other podcast, so check that out. Like many people, Narasimhan is not keen on the “Aryan invasion theory.” Myself, I don’t have a problem with the term, but it turns out that many Indians dislike the connotations of “AIT” quite a bit.

Since I’m not very invested in semantics, I’m going to just move on and propose another term that identifies a real dynamic. I present then the new AIT, the “The Aryan Integration Theory.”

For various reasons, Narasimhan et al. propose that steppe pastoralists who flourished between 2000 and 1500 BCE are the most likely candidates for the “steppe” contribution to modern Indian genomes. In the Swat valley samples, which date initially to ~1000 BCE, the authors noticed over time the proportion of Iranian-farmer-related ancestry decreased over time to give way to steppe and Andamese-related ancestry.

This pattern over time is related to something you see in the geographical and communal distribution of ancestry in the “three-way admixture” you see:

GroupNRegion AHG Indus_Periphery Steppe
Kalash17 Pakistan 0.0420.6600.298
Pathan17 Pakistan 0.0670.6530.281
Lohana2 Gujarat 0.0950.6530.252
GujaratiA4 USA 0.1280.6230.249
Khatri3 Punjab 0.1380.5990.263
Pandit4 Jammu and Kashmir 0.1590.6160.225
Yadav_Rajasthan3 Rajasthan 0.1630.6110.226
Dogra5 Jammu and Kashmir 0.1780.6010.222
Brahmin_Haryana2 Haryana 0.1880.5780.234
Muslim_Kashmiri9 Jammu and Kashmir 0.1970.5990.204
Yadav_UP3 Uttar Pradesh 0.1970.5850.217
Baniya4 Haryana 0.2000.6050.195
Rajput3 Haryana 0.2050.5770.218
Bhumihar_Bihar7 Bihar 0.2080.5180.274
Sikh_Jatt41 Punjab 0.2120.5350.252
Brahmin_Tiwari16 Chhattisgarh 0.2320.5050.263
Bhumihar_UP8 Uttar Pradesh 0.2380.5230.239
Brahmin_UP7 Uttar Pradesh 0.2430.5030.254

For those of you vague on the geography, “Bihar” is the state on the eastern edge, near Bangladesh, south of Nepal. Gujarat is in the west, near to southern Pakistan.

What I want to observe is that there are groups in Bihar, such as the Bhumihar, who are higher in steppe ancestry, and, AHG ancestry, than many populations to their west. I believe this is related to the simultaneous increase of AHG and steppe in Swat.

In the revised interpretation of the above papers the Kalash of Chitral are reasonable proxies for “Ancestral North Indians.” They are a mix of Indus Valley Civilization or related peoples (~70% of their ancestry), and steppe peoples (~30% of their ancestry). The ~30% is a rough floor on their “Indo-Aryan” ancestry, because by the time the Indo-Aryans arrived in South Asia they may have been less than 100% “steppe”, accreting Iranian-like ancestry which has affinities to the IVC peoples.

An initial stylized model of the ethnogenesis of South Asian populations along the “ANI-ASI cline” (ASI being “Ancestral South Indians”), as these two populations mixed in various fractions. But it seems quite likely, and the authors of the Science paper admit as such, that period of the intrusion of the Indo-Aryans after 2000 BCE was marked by several distinctive populations interacting, mixing, and synthesizing.

It is a possibility (though not definitive) that while the Indo-Aryans were penetrating from the northwest, Austro-Asiatic farmers were pushing from the northeast. In northeast India, these people may have encountered “pure” AHG populations. Why pure? Because the cultural toolkit of the IVC civilization seemed to be optimized for the northwestern 25% of the subcontinent. In my reading, I have seen it suggested that though Gujarat and Maharashtra have toponyms of Dravidian linguistic origin, this is not the case in the Gangetic plain.

The simplest reason for the patterns of AHG, IVC-descended, and steppe, ancestry across the northern half of India, and the peculiar west to east pattern, is that relatively unmixed steppe tribes pushed eastward and mixed with local groups who lacked IVC-related ancestry. My intuition tells me (and some prior theory-reading) that a diffuse expansion along the frontier of Aryavarta would not exhibit this pattern. Rather, the Indo-Aryan tribes were highly mobile, and likely expanded into a patchy ecological landscape where they moved as socio-political units en masse.

South along the fringe of the Arabian Sea the Indo-Aryan expansion would have met denser agglomerations of IVC-descended populations. These regions were after all part of the broader IVC civilization. This explains part of the enrichment for IVC ancestry. In the Gangetic plain at a certain point, the Indo-Aryans clearly pushed beyond the limits of the IVC frontier and began mixing with non-IVC tribal people.

In the northwest of the subcontinent, the Indo-Aryans assimilated and were assimilated into, the local post-IVC populations. Over time the fraction of steppe ancestry declined in the Indo-Aryan speech community because that speech community eventually encompassed the whole population. But in the eastern frontier, the Indo-Aryans mixed with local groups. Their steppe fraction likely declined fast and stabilized quickly because it was probably a male migration, with few women.

But cultural assimilation was not uni-directional. Almost all Dravaidian-speaking South Indian groups have some steppe ancestry, and even some adivasi groups have high fractions of R1a1a associated with Indo-Europeans. This means that Indo-Aryan groups were assimilated very early into non-Indo-European speaking groups. Indo-Aryans that moved eastward along the Gangetic plain did not encounter a particularly sophisticated group of peoples (perhaps with the exception of Mundas). Cultural assimilation was toward the Aryan identity. In contrast, in the west and south, there were large numbers of non-Indo-European speaking groups with more sophisticated cultures. There were clearly cases where Indo-Aryan assimilated into the non-Aryan society.

The arrival of Indo-Aryans to South Asia seems to have coincided with a phase of admixture and integration across the subcontinent. The presence of Indo-Aryan Sinhalese in the far south is suggestive of the possibility that the non-Indo-Aryan cultures which came to light during the historical period did not have roots much deeper in the south than the Indo-Aryans in the north. An “Indo-Aryan” international probably developed in South Asia due to common speech religious rituals. But genetically there was a great deal of variance due to differential mixing with diverse local populations. The increase of AHG and steppe in Swat is probably due to the Indo-Aryanization of the region after 1000 BCE (remember than Burusho is found nearby, and it is an isolate). That process occurred partly through migration, and these cosmopolitan migrants naturally had more steppe and AHG.

Traditionally the Aryavarta has been restricted to a broad zone in northern India, the very conceptualization of territories ruled and dominated by people of common and comprehensible speech implies the existence of its converse. Though South India and Mesopotamia both were outside of the Aryavarta, the region south of the Vindhya mountains clearly exist in active and dynamic tension with the Aryan territories.

The Aryan invasion theory conjures up death, destruction, and physical domination. Some forms of the theory posit that barbarian invasions destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization. The fall of civilizations, especially Bronze Age ones, are overdetermined. It seems likely that the Indo-Aryans were able to intrude precisely because of the IVC was in decline, or decrepit. The Aryan integration theory is different because it emphasizes the creative energy and synthetic consequence of the arrival of the steppe pastoralists. Though the Indus Valley Civilization was massive compared to its Near Eastern analogs in geographical expanse, it was still sharply delimited compared to modern India. For whatever reason, it was the arrival of the Aryans which set the preconditions for the integration of diverse polities into a coherent civilization.

32 thoughts on “The Aryan Integration Theory (AIT)

  1. Why is everyone ignoring the fact that the Steppe Population itself had substantial Genetic and Cultural input from Iran/Indus Periphery via the Maikop Culture?

    *David Reich in this book “Who We Are, and How we got here” Pg 108-9 Chapter 5 “The Making of Modern Europe” *

    Our ancient DNA data also allowed us to learn how the Yamnaya themselves had formed from earlier populations. From seven thousand until five thousand years ago, we observed a steady influx into the steppe of a population whose ancestors traced their origin to the south—as it bore genetic affinity to ancient and present-day people of Armenia and Iran—eventually crystallizing in the Yamnaya, who were about a one-to-one ratio of ancestry from these two sources.22 A good guess is that the migration proceeded via the Caucasus isthmus between the Black and Caspian seas. Ancient DNA data produced by Wolfgang Haak, Johannes Krause, and their colleagues have shown that the populations of the northern Caucasus had ancestry of this type continuing up until the time of the Maikop culture, which just preceded the Yamnaya.
    The evidence that people of the Maikop culture or the people who proceeded them in the Caucasus made a genetic contribution to the Yamnaya is not surprising in light of the cultural influence the Maikop had on the Yamnaya. Not only did the Maikop pass on to the Yamnaya their technology of carts, but they were also the first to build the kurgans that characterized the steppe cultures for thousands of years afterward. The penetration of Maikop lands by Iranian- and Armenian-related ancestry from the south is also plausible in light of studies showing that Maikop goods were heavily influenced by elements of the Uruk civilization of Mesopotamia to the south, which was poor in metal resources and engaged in trade and exchange with the north as reflected in Uruk goods found in settlements of the northern Caucasus.23 Whatever cultural process allowed the people from the south to have such a demographic impact, once the Yamnaya formed, their descendants expanded in all directions.

  2. @Founthead: Because its wrong and the more Southern part of Yamnaya-related people came from North Caucasian people which were not from Iran and for sure not from Maykop.

    Originally I myself thought about Maykop being even part of the PIE root, but when the papers on their DNA and those of Steppe Maykop came out, that was it.

    Maykop might have had a cultural influence, traded and was, in an alliance with steppe Maykop, a competitor, but they didnt took part in the formation of PIE. No.

    Since Corded Ware is THE Center of Indo-European success and dispersion, not even Yamnaya, Western farmers had more of an influence culturally, but especially genetically, than Maykop.

    Anatolian languages, lets see, but they are not in the Center of later IE and probably from the Western steppe as well.

    @Razib: Good post, but it would be great to follow the genetic and cultural way of survival of the Dravidians as an independent ethnolinguistic entity.

    Do you agree on the idea that most modern Dravidian groups came from a small surviving center in the Central South like some claim, or do you see a more widespread continuity? Or something completely different…

  3. As I’ve noted in the past, it is striking that the more we discover about the genetic histories of Europe and South Asia, the more the two are broadly analogous.

    I mean, we already knew that in each case there were different groups of black-skinned Mesolithic hunter gatherers (who themselves were likely recent migrants) an influx of Neolithic farmers with origins in the Near East right by the fringes of each region, and then a steppe influx. But we also know in both cases now the Neolithic penetration was initially very patchy, with Near-Eastern derived people living in close proximity to hunter gatherers for millennia (perhaps analogous to pygmy-Bantu relations until recently). And we now know in both cases the coming of steppe people upended all of this, creating a situation of greater panmixia across South Asia, and causing something of a resurgence in hunter-gatherer proportions of the genome.

    Of course, the proportions involved are quite different – South Asia has a stronger remaining hunter-gatherer component, the steppe made a much lesser impact on North India than Northern Europe, and nothing akin to Dravidian survived in southern Europe. Still, it is striking.

    Although it involved different dynamics, I am wondering how much the peopling of Southeast Asia also fits the same general model. It does seem like Austro-Asiatic peoples were the first migrants out of South China – the original neolithic population. It also seems that their agricultural toolkit was much weaker than the later groups that penetrated the area, like the Austronesians, Tai, and Bamar (or the various southern Chinese groups who genetically mostly replaced the original Vietnamese population without language shift). While I am hesitant to talk about “rules” when it comes to cases like this with so few examples, it really does seem like the first groups of farmers to leave an agricultural heartland have the deck stacked against them in the longer run, being pretty likely to be supplanted – either genetically or culturally – by newer groups which can bring the innovation into an area which allows for local resources to be more comprehensively utilized.

  4. Do you agree on the idea that most modern Dravidian groups came from a small surviving center in the Central South like some claim, or do you see a more widespread continuity? Or something completely different…

    this post is more to trigger those who know more. i assume that modern ‘dravidian elites’ like reddy and nadar emerge out of a post-2000 BC mix/ineraction with indo-aryans in the sindh<=>maharashtra zone. but it could be earlier? idk. there were clearly some pastoralist types in south india during ivc period that were ancestors of ASI-proper of whom pulliyar are remnants.

    i think one model that i have in mind is the ancient near east, where across mesopatamia multiple ethnolinguistic groups coexisted/interacted for a long time. IF sumerian had persisted i think that might be a way to model dravidian…

  5. Razib: The simplest reason for the patterns of AHG, IVC-descended, and steppe, ancestry across the northern half of India, and the peculiar west to east pattern, is that relatively unmixed steppe tribes pushed eastward and mixed with local groups who lacked IVC-related ancestry.

    I would perhaps counter that a simpler reason may probably be just that there was probably ongoing two-way isolation-by-distance admixture with proto-Tajik like Iron Age populations from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan who were slightly richer in steppe ancestry. As well as ongoing contacts with places to the south with a richer AHG.

    (You could reject that if you think that Narasimhan’s sort of 4 way (“Indus_Periphery_West”+Steppe_MLBA)+(“Indus_Periphery_West”+AASI) model is strongly literally correct. I don’t think it’s literally correct of course.

    For one there’s no instance of a “Indus_Periphery_West” like population about so far, at least not living north of Swat, and for two it probably isn’t that easy to distinguish between Central Asian Copper-Bronze Age ancestry and Indus_Periphery_West, so the model doesn’t seem overly strong.)

    But it’s testable – if folk turn up the Indo-Gangetic plain with high ratios of steppe ancestry and more AHG than general run of the Swat folk, we’ll know.

  6. Great post Razib. I think it definitely provides a well reasoned perspective that challenges the Flying Chariot and Tiki Torch types that dominate this debate.

  7. @Karl, picture this; an expansion of neolithic farmers, mixing to some degree with local people, followed up by expansions out of the northern steppes, which mainly affect northern parts closest to the steppes (and the steppe are in turn are also affected by genetic backflow and turnover). Through the historical period, the north and south converge to some degree over time through further geneflow.

    That describes… the Han Chinese. At a certain level of abstraction, you can certainly see similarities. But I would say it is a certain level of abstraction.

  8. China is lot about its large river landscapes which are one geographical and climatic unit. They flow from West to East, not North to South, from one climate zone to another.

    It was more likely that one group of people began to dominate one river. And it was also likely that at some point one “river community” would become stronger and jump on the others, especially if being unified earlier.
    So China is peculiar with its huge river landscapes.

    Its not by chance Egypt was easier to unify than Mesopotamia.

  9. obs, compared to india, china and europe are like panmixias defined by classical pop-gen parameter of distance. india only “half” explained by distance.

    the ‘issue’ i have with isolation by distance models is they make more sense where there aren’t huge mountains/deserts btwn zones, and, those zones are culturally similar. not the case in matt’s model with turan/india

  10. This is a great post btw.

    I’m going to go off topic though. Razib you are a bit stubborn about making oput all early Indo Europeans, and especially the Aryans who went to India, to be not be “white”.

    I’m not going to end this argument and let you accuse me of racist motives because I think you are the only one with bad motives in the debate.

    You are right that Europe in recent part of its human population history, especially the northern half, went through a depigmentation process in mixed populations which created the Northern European pale/”white” skin color and blonde hair. And that before hand, Europeans were swarthy and sometimes brown skinned. To me, this is an interesting and unexpected detail about European origins.

    But, you are wrong when you say this depigmentation process in Europe began in the Bronze age long AFTER the Indo European expansions.

    The fact is, this depigemnattion process began in the Late Neolithic NOT the Bronze age. The fact is, this pigmentation process began DURING the Indo European expansions in early Indo European speakers.

    Bell Beaker is proof the depigemnattion process began during the early Indo European expansions. Bell Beaker had pigmentation SNP allele frequencies intermediate between modern Northern Europe & 4th millenium BC Europe. In other words Bell Beaker in 23000 BC was half way to modern pigmentation. The expansion of light pigmented (compared to earlier Europeans) Beaker folk in Western Europe was an expansion Late Proto-Indo European language.

    You are right Proto-Indo Europeans in 4000 BC didn’t look “White.” But, Sintashta/Andronovo weren’t Proto-Indo Europeans. They had signifcant (30%) farmer ancestry. They were apart of a 3rd millenium BC family of mixed peoples who spoke Indo European languages who lived from Russia to Ireland.

    By 2000 BC, the depigemnation process in those mixed Indo Euroepan speaking populations in Europe had already gone a long way (as shown by Bell Beaker). All pigmentation data I’ve seen from Sintashta/Andronovo other than yours indicate they had pigmentation even closer to Northern Europeans than bell Beaker did. Sintashta/Andronovo did look “white” according to modern standards.

    Also, Note, that in the 3rd millenium BC Europe only populations with high amounts of Steppe ancestry and who spoke Indo European languages became depigmentated. The non-Indo European farmer populations stayed “dark.” So there is a link between Late Proto-Indo European speakers (who had mixed ancestry) and depigemnattion.

    I’m not saying this because I want Sintashta/Andronovo to look white. I’m saying this because it was what the evidence indicates. I’m frustrated because it seems you refuse to admit this because of emotional reasons.

    Maybe you are will this information will offend your Indian readers and cause them to reject the Aryan migration story. But, you have no problem offending your European readers with posts like this.

    Inventing The Whites, What Hath Fog Wrought?.

  11. Of course, India plays in another league with peculiar rules, not the least sociocultural ones.

    However, religion and ethnicity are always key and can counter geographical distance. In Central Europe you had many different ethnoreligious groups between which little to no geneflow happened for many centuries.

    The different situation in India comes from the fact of largely uninterrupted continuity for some units since thousands of years and the huge distance between the very different ancestral components, especially AHG.

    But even though I knew all that, I was surprised to hear of the degree of endogamy of some social units like caste groups in India. Not just the highest ones, but sometimes some rather obscure groups which outsiders might not even notice as being so special and distinct.
    Yet some might have been endogamous, if its true, since before the time of Buddha, before Alexander the great and the rise of Rome.
    Well thats remarkable…if true.

  12. Nice post!

    I had posted some question about AASI in last post which Obs answered. Thanks for that Obs.
    AHG & AASI similarity was also discussed in your podcast by Vagheesh which made things even more clear.

    I also see from this post that you too think that Steppe people could have interacted directly with AASI/AHG without IVC contribution.

    Could you also comment on the last part of question?
    i.e. Instead of restricting to the hypothesis that north Indian brahmins migrated to south in historic times could it be possible that they represent ancient artifact of IVC + steppe interaction?
    Vagheesh seems to be of opinion that Steppe people did not contribute much to the prevailing culture in Europe or India when they migrated. Then what prevents us from postulating that the nascent vedic culture was appropriated and developed to the form we know in South Asia by the IVC people who mixed with Steppe migrants and learnt their Indo European language?
    That could answer all the elements that were carried over from IVC into present day Hinduism.


  13. sam andrews/john derby

    1) i never said selection began AFTER a particular late period. in fact, pigmentation selection occurs from the deep past to the present seems continuous

    2) All pigmentation data I’ve seen from Sintashta/Andronovo other than yours indicate these are not my data. they’re public data and a huge sample size. i pulled them and analyzed them (and i’ve done so before, so i know it’s not a coding error). do you do the same? you should! instead of writing long comments posturing.

    3) you seem fixated on terms like “white” and “swarthy”. perhaps you define white differently than me, but white people CAN be swarthy. the southern indo-europeans are definitely white by my definition, but a lot of them were probably also swarthy by my definition.

    4) your accusation of being emotional and in bad faith is hilarious. why would any white people be offended by my posts about white people? unless they have net-nazi sympathies and are fixated on a particular antiqueness (or not?). i don’t follow your comments that closely tbh, but you do seem a bit over-focused on european-origins stuff in the same way you’d probably make fun of in indians. but that’s not a huge sin so honestly i don’t care.

    basically, i’ve written/followed the pigmentation lit for 15 years. i know more about it than you in the generality, and even discuss the topic with ppl who are studying it academically (eg iain matheison), and a lot of the imputations you make about what i believe are even false. that really pisses me off more than anything else, which you know from reading me.

    i kind of hope you don’t comment again since you’re so long-winded and now have started to fight with a strawman, but if you do and piss me off even marginally, of course, i’m going to delete anything (perhaps to dissuade you).

    p.s. RUN HIRISPLEX! i don’t have time to code a pipeline and don’t see off the shelf batch scripts right now.

  14. Slightly off-topic but are you going to be updating the South Asian Genotype Project in the near future? I’d love to see what new insights you’ve gleaned based on the new literature.

  15. The 30% is probably not a cap if an entire group (Rors) is ~38% Krasnoyarsk on average (definitely more than the Kalash). I wouldn’t expect a modern south Asian to be 50% Krasnoyarsk (too deep into Tajik territory I think) but a 40s% value for a single individual is probably not out of question.

  16. Amused to see Nadars described as ‘elite’

    I was told that they were a mongrel caste, i.e. mix of many castes possibly landed, labourers etc

  17. @razib, I think I may have blundered into using the term isolation-by-distance wrongly here, and implying a lot more continuous exchange than I’m actually thinking of.

    My mental model is more of a series of relatively small scale pulses from and to the north of India+Pakistan, ongoing through the Iron Age and historical period, through the same corridor to the Swat valley that previous ancestry is thought to arrive from. (Something that’s not exactly a “one big pulse” model, nor continuous, constant migration). If the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor is a corridor of geneflow into India+Pakistan once, what are the chances it wouldn’t be again? And while we have estimates, I’m not sure we still really know, directly from adna, when strongly endogamous cultural formed and where, when and how tightly they were observed, only really that endogamy generally preserves a lot more non-geographical structure than is the case in Europe, ME, etc. Maybe they’re pretty good, maybe not.

  18. Totally off-topic, but…

    now have started to fight with a strawman

    One of the reasons I don’t comment much online anymore is because too many people reply to my comments with some variant of “You sat that, because you are Asian…” etc. type of argumentation and it’s almost always those with “Net Nazi” sympathies.

    At some point, I reached a point where I realized my wife was right about “wasting time arguing with morons on the internet.”

    My hats off to you for still putting up with internet morons and generating all this high quality output. Many thanks.

  19. Niraj Rai is going off the rails on Twitter now, saying that AIT advocates will have to revise to update their terminology to “Hugs with Aryans”. You make a fair point—who are Americans in “the year of our lord 2019” to judge? Still, such cringe.

  20. “Niraj Rai is going off the rails on Twitter now, saying that AIT advo”

    It is the geneticist on THIS list who have gone bonkers talking about the skin pigmentation of linguistically reconstructed hypothetical people called “Proto Indo Europeans” They should know that this proto language contains words that have unpronounceable sounds and look like mathematical equations. The Nazis are back.

  21. Hi Razib. Can you explain the latest posts on twitter Niraj Rai?
    Is it really something serious study or is it just nationalistic wishful thinking? Please explain something if you know. Thanks.

  22. Whole Indian twitter says,that local genetics found haplogroup R1a in India that dating more than 10000 bc. Someone will comment?

  23. Even if they would find R1a in India older than 10.000 years there would still be the same problems:
    – R1a is very unlikely to have been dominant in IVC, while it was dominant in adjacent steppe people. These steppe people even had the variant which spread together with steppe ancestry at the end of the IVC and the appearance of Indo-Aryans.
    – IVC people will have no closer relationship with other Indo-Europeans, but all good sampled Indo-Europeans have the same steppe ancestry.

    If Indo-Europeans would have survived only in South Asia, even then it would be a clear cut case. But since every theory needs to account for all Indo-Europeans, its not sane any more to deny AIT.

    Religious motives are never a good scientific guide. If you want to play the “Nazi-card” (which just proves you have to use everything for a counter), better learn that lesson before anything else.

    Truth and facts are not ideological, their interpretation might be. But while some interpretations are still at least arguable, others are just wrong or clear lies, because the facts cant be distorted so much to fit into the scheme without breaking.

    OIT is broken and even if people would be forced to comply,it would be still wrong.

    And no finding of R1a in India can change that,because its a complete package which brought the Indo-Aryans, not just one part of the puzzle.

    The best you can hope for are Paleolithic hunter gatherers which moved from South Asia to Central Asia and then to Europe. But that wouldnt have been the Indo-Aryans, but the ancestors of their ancestors of their..

  24. “Religious motives are never a good scientific guide. If you want to play the “Nazi-card” (which just proves you have to use everything for a counter), better learn that lesson before anything else.”

    The OIT never was and is still not a theory of domination of one race over another and is definitely not a theory of domination of any one religion over another. It just says that conditions were suitable for expansion of IE languages from modern day Pakistan and Afghanistan not too long after the end of the last ice age when we KNOW that farming entered Europe through modern day Turkey. It does not link genes and language at all. The linguistic case for such an expansion is indeed quite compelling.

    and the LINGUISTIC evidence for the so called “mainstream” Pontic Steppe model is weak to non existent.

    And according to the following expert even a genetic case can be built for OIT also, even though I have no expertise to judge it or what racial overtones it may have.

    OTOH Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) and even its watered down versions AMT has always been about race and continues to remain so. At the end of the following podcast geneticist Vagheesh Narsimhan’s interlocutor a geneticist himself by trade inevitably and predictably engages in blatant racism by interpreting the Rig Vedic battles as those between the white skinned “Aryans” and the dark skinned aboriginals who are often equated with speaker sso of any of the five other language families that also exist in South Asia, Dravidian in particular.

    And the obsession with skin color among geneticist continues here on this blog

    Karl Zimmerman wrote:

    “I mean, we already knew that in each case there were different groups of black-skinned Mesolithic hunter gatherers (who themselves were likely recent migrants) an influx of Neolithic farmers with origins in the Near East right by the fringes of each region, and then a steppe influx.”

    John Derby wrote:

    “You are right that Europe in recent part of its human population history, especially the northern half, went through a depigmentation process in mixed populations which created the Northern European pale/”white” skin color and blonde hair. And that before hand, Europeans were swarthy and sometimes brown skinned. To me, this is an interesting and unexpected detail about European origin”

    So one can see where this is going.

    “If somehow we can convince those “Hindu Nationalist” that the “steppe ancestry” people, a term that only the geneticist can fully understand, were not white/blond but maybe dusky, swarthy, chocalaty or something in between the Vedic people (aka Hindus) will accept a total negation of their history which is clearly written in the Rig Veda and the vast literature that follows it, and is abundantly reflected in the archaeological record in South Asia.

    The Western scholars just don’t get it. Its not about who came from where and when. The current view of human evolution makes everyone a migrant out of Africa anyway.

  25. The discussion about race and racial traits is not per se racism, but a debate about human differences which just exist.
    Its the interpretation of these differences which may be “racist” or not.

    But I am definitely the wrong person for discussing things like that with you.

    What you have to realise however, is the difference between race and ancestry. Race is not just about ancestry, but a special set of phenotypical traits a group of humans share.
    Its never about ancestry alone and the main reason for racial differences is adaptation. Adaptation to everything humans have to deal with, including themselves. That’s the background of human racial differences No 1, number 2 is drift and chance after a branching off. But skin color in particular has little to do with chance, because its distributIon would be different otherwise.

    But this has little to do with proving the AIT, because its proven with the mass immigration of actual “Aryans”, people related to Iranians and Scythians, as well as with other Indo-Europeans.

    If you look at the remains of Sintashta, you see a people and culture which just fits the bill in every respect.
    If you look at IVC, no matter from which perspective, you don’t find anything like that. There is just no connection to the other Indo-Europeans, just zero.

    Linguistic arguments are very “patient” and “versatile”. The further back you go, the more unreliable they become.
    And all reasonable interpretations of Proto-Indo-European point to a fairly developed, steppe influenced culture of Eastern Europe. Nothing points to India.

    The arguments you use and the anger you express point to you being personally affected and emotional about the issue.

    You mix moralistic, ideological and factual arguments in a way which make the debate difficult.

    Do you really think that branding (Nazi, racism, Colonialism, Western scholars etc.) make anything someone else said more or less true than it would be without?

    That’s religious and ideological talk, cant we discuss things without that?
    What the consequences of the truth and facts might be is a separate question. But some people just want to limit scientific research and debate to not having to deal with what might come up.

    That’s unscientific and bad for human development, regardless from where and whom it comes from.

    “The current view of human evolution makes everyone a migrant out of Africa anyway.”

    That’s true, but we all are primates and mammals as well. Every one of us shares a lot of genes with the next best worm which crawls along. Yet we are not the same. Heck not even my kids are the same like me. Its a question of perspective and circumstances. Ideological mantras can’t explain the World.

  26. A.I.T. is a fine term, but people should realize that doesn’t mean the chain of events described by early Indologists, of Steppe war-like pastoralists blitzkrieging through the IVC is the answer. It would have been a gradual colonization punctuated with wars. Akin to European colonization of the Americas.

    The caste system, the imposition of I.E. languages in the northern part of the SubContinent, the extinction of the pre-Aryan languages in the North, enslavement of non-Aryan castes by the Aryan castes and the intrusion of steppe genetic admixture all point to a hegemonic culture imposing itself , often violently , on the native population.

    AIT/ACT (Aryan Colonization Theory)

    Hindutva / upper caste South Asians have moved the overton window in their favor, such that geneticists, historians and Indologists are concerned with their(upper caste) sensibilities and consequently being overly guarded in assessments and tempering their words.

  27. Here’s the problem with even modified Aryan Colonization theories, we don’t know if Aryans imposed caste system.

    Why isn’t there a caste system or at least enough population structure among Yamnaya etc to justify strict endogamous caste system from aDNA?
    We do have enough samples to figure out difference between priests and warriors at least?

    What is hegemonic culture when it didn’t survive in places where there is near 100 percent population replacement by IE people? Why aren’t Greeks and Romans preserving Veda equivalents or other uninterrupted oral traditions and writing about their greatness? (e.g., like upanishads did within the same time frame)

    For all we know caste system existed in pre Aryan population, disrupted due to fall of IVC and movement of Aryans and reasserted itself once stable conditions returned.

    Admixture can only see the latest mixture and there isn’t enough aDNA to have clarity on pre Aryan population structure in India.

    Enslavement is a strong word to throw around when reality looks far different. Lower castes aren’t some undifferentiated masses but have their own distinct castes which they uphold amongst themselves. Makes no sense if an enslaved population was forced into castes, why there have to be so many different ones in the same locations.

  28. I thought about similarities between later Indo-Aryans and other Indo-Europeans.
    There are a lot especially to Greeks and Celts.

    More to the Celts than probably to any other people. They too had their special castes and priests, bondslaves and rituals.

    But where do caste like forms of social organisation are more common? Definitely where very different people meet which try to isolate themselves from each other. Where hierarchical and old inherited social roles play a big role and a lot of continuity visible, ancient customs could be preserved.

    There are castes in parts of Ethiopia and there were other places.

    However, its not simple-rational racial seggregation.

    The closest society to India in Central Europe was, interestingly, from my point of view, not ancient, but medieval Germany!

    Because you had many highly specialised groups of people which intermarried very little.
    The biggest difference was that priesthood was the least inheritable and socially most dynamic of social units. Quite the opposite but typical for Christianity and its egalitarian extreme.

    So what do they have in common? They both were highly developed, specialised and part-urban, yet not industrialised society.
    Germany was like that for about 5 centuries and never that petrified. It was a phase Germany entered, developed and left behind.

    So what I wantes to say is the “professional castes” and small social units fit the best in a developed, specialised, settled-sedentary society with urban centers. Which means it developed in situ on the base of pre-Aryan and Indo-Aryan influences.

    To this it fits that there was initially a lot of mixture, not indiscriminate, but still and just after this the small scale endogamy started.

    Such a complex caste system wasnt introduced by the Indo-Aryans, but it was the work of the New, already mixed local population after everything was organised and things should get a lot of structure and stability.

    Thats typical for the sedentary irrigation type societies with a lot of dependent farmers. They developed very fast to a high level. But when sustainability and stability was established, everything slowed down,got quite often petrified.

    That’s the difference to Europe and the steppe, they might have fallen back culturally to just rise again. There was more dynamic at the cost of stability.

    Thats why steppe and generally pastoralist people not just took control of the Oriental civilisations, but sometimes brought them forward with new impulses.

    Indo-Aryans might have been a huge Impulse resulting in a fast expansion of Aryan-Dravidian high culture in India, much further than IVC came initially.

    And after this was established, a lot petrified again. Leading to more than just a distinctive elite, middle class etc., probably along the lines of ancestry but much more distinctions.
    That’s a system of social organisation which doesnt expect big changes and wants to prevent them.

    I mean if you assign a whole population Segment to one duty which is typical to a specific stage of economic-technological development,it says a lot.
    But some similarities to Medieval Germany are striking actually.
    Similar even though it was one Germanic nation, just less extreme, also because of Christianity.
    I think in a lot of societies it was more of a stage, while in India it became formative.

  29. “Do you agree on the idea that most modern Dravidian groups came from a small surviving center in the Central South like some claim, or do you see a more widespread continuity? Or something completely different…”

    I think, particularly based on dates of inferred ANI/ASI admixture (earlier in the South, later in the North), and the lack of linguistic diversity in the Dravidian languages, that a narrative in which much of India was once home to a far more diverse Dravidian language family, then Indo-Aryan expansion led to language shift and religion except in one small corner probably in the Central or Eastern South. The religion shift struck leaving Hindus across India and a Brahmin elite with high steppe admixture everywhere, but the last outpost of the Dravidian languages reclaimed much but probably not quite all of former Dravidian territory in a sort of reconquista much like that in Spain that was facilitated by cultural affinity between the recapturing Dravidians and the recently conquered peoples whom they returned to their control. Brahmins probably decided to pledge loyalty to the new Dravidian rulers to preserve the religion rather than sticking their necks out for the Indo-Aryans (and most had admixed with locals by then and felt a cultural connection on both sides). Meanwhile, in the North, especially in areas that had never been Dravidian linguistically, there was continued influx of steppe Indo-Aryans beyond the first wave, which is why there is more total ANI and a more recent admixture date estimate (admixture estimates are sensitive to the date of last admixture).

    All subsequent Dravidian languages were descendants of the one remaining dialect that reclaimed former Dravidian territory. The fact that all other dialects of Dravidian were lost probably implies that the period of near complete Indo-Aryan rule was a generation or two long. The timing would have had to be between the estimated admixture dates in the South and in the North. I’d guess at least 50 years after the Southern admixture date but varying from place to place.

    I made an early version of this analysis with a reference to the key paper in 2013, and little since then had caused me to question this hypothesis.

  30. Worth noting that culturally, the integration of steppe culture and Harappan culture was not an entirely one way street, even if the Indo-European steppe impact was predominant in many respects.

    For example, the culinary dish, curry, and the use of dice, are both reliably dated to the pre-steppe culture, and there is a not insignificant linguistic substrate contribution to Sanskrit (in both vocabulary and grammar and phonemes), for example, in areas covering local flora and fauna, and some religious concepts, and “the vocabulary of toilet” as one author put it. Similarly, retroflexes, for example, are almost certainly a local contribution to Sanskrit.


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