India’s ‘great debate’: DNA unraveling story of settling of continent by ancient English-speaking ‘Aryans’

Aryan soldiers

[Editor’s note: Michel Danino is a professor at IIT Gandhinagar, where he assists the growth of its Archaeological Sciences Centre, and a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research.]

Tony Joseph’s article (“How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate, June 16) on how recent genetic studies of Indian populations might be “settling the Aryan migration debate” attempts to summarize polemical as well as technical aspects of the contribution of genetics to the debate in question….

[Excerpt from prior Joseph article: “The thorniest, most fought-over question in Indian history is slowly but surely getting answered: did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus Valley civilisation came to an end, bringing with them Sanskrit and a distinctive set of cultural practices? Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer: yes, they did.”]

In the Bronze Age, all archaeological evidence brandished in support of an Aryan migration into the Subcontinent has failed in the end, as none of the second-millennium B.C.E. material cultures earlier attributed to immigrating Indo-Aryans has been shown to be intrusive; on the other hand, we do have clear archaeological trails for a Harappan presence in central Asia, across Iran, in the Persian Gulf (with a few Harappan colonies, outposts or “enclaves” all the way to Mesopotamia). Those are not isolated, punctual cases, but occurrences repeated over several centuries.

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…Contrary to Mr. Joseph’s thesis that “genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate”, no single discipline will ever be able to do so on its own.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: The problematics of genetics and the Aryan issue

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