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Sunday, August 5, 2018

Blast from the past: The Poltavka outlier

The Rakhigarhi ancient DNA paper is coming soon. Very soon.

Yep, you've probably read this sort of thing many times in the last few years, including here. But this time, by all accounts, it's really happening. For the latest Indian press teaser on the topic check out: We Are All Harappans.

At least I don't have to write up a blog post for the occasion, because I already wrote one over two years ago, and it's still current, more or less. Click on the screen cap below to teleport yourselves back to January 2016. And make sure to peruse the comments under the article. Hilarious stuff.

Of course, since then I've written many more posts dealing with South Asian population history, including some that are based on recently published ancient DNA from the region. Here are my picks:

On the doorstep of India

The mystery of the Sintashta people

Yamnaya isn't from Iran just like R1a isn't from India

Indian confirmation bias

The protohistoric Swat Valley "Indo-Aryans" might not be exactly what we think they are

The Out-of-India Theory (OIT) challenge: can we hear a viable argument for once?


Davidski said...

I'm looking back at some of these discussions, and I can't believe I spent so much time arguing with these utter morons when they were claiming that, for instance, the ancestors of Yamnaya came from northern India. Or that R1a got to the steppe from India via Maykop.

Wow, just wow.

Palacista said...

I hope you are not waiting for apologies.

Ric Hern said...

Yes R1a and R1b on the Steppe and R1b in the Balkans during the Mesolithic and Neolithic certainly hit hard and the Mental Gymnastics of some that followed really was entertaining...Heheheeeh. Luckily I realized that I should follow the latest evidence and let go of my previous misconceptions.

Alex Desira said...

Hopefully the results will be clear-cut and decisive. While I'm all for a scientific debate, it's been clear for a long time now that OIT just isn't a credible scenario.
On another note, I wonder where the field will move onto next after this, now that the homeland question is essentially settled. With all the alternative homelands thoroughly debunked, I wonder what the next big question might be.

Ric Hern said...

@ Alex Desira

The next big question will maybe be "If Modern Humans originated in Spain or North Africa ?" ?

mzp1 said...

It all hinges on the sampling.

Davidski said...


You'll drop dead from old age before anyone finds the "correct" samples that back up any of your theories.

Davidski said...

@Alex and Ric

I think the next big thing in ancient DNA will be early historic Europe, and especially Migration Period Europe.

But the Indo-European homeland issue won't be settled once and for all until ancient DNA gives some strong positive clues about where the Indo-Hittite > Indo-European split took place.

I don't think negative evidence, like no steppe ancestry in Bronze Age Anatolia, or, conversely, no relatively recent south Caucasus/Caspian ancestry in Yamnaya etc. will cut it.

Grey said...

"I wonder what the next big question might be"

dunno but what i'd like to know more about is
- where cucuteni went (if anywhere)
- hittites/minoans/myceneans/gutians
- sea peoples
- role of intrusive miners generally
- steppe-Xia-Shang

Ric Hern said...

@ Davidski

Yes also possible.

And it is just a matter of time till More Steppe like people pops up in samples North of where the current samples comes from. Why they took samples of such Southern populations is a mystery especially when trying to pinpoint Hittite Ancestry...

SGR Ram said...

From article, Niraj rai says there is much Iranian ancestry in South India and Northies has no iranian Neolithic ancestry.
Can you please fact check this?
I think both have same amount of Iran_N component.

Sofia Aurora said...

how about instead of saying WE ARE HARAPPANS to say WE ARE ALL BIASED BUFOONS!!!

Samuel Andrews said...

That article is pretty honest. The Iranians & Aryans (Less loaded version: Indic) did come out of central Asia, both might have had a big chunk of BMAC-like stuff. A place in Central Asia for each was their launching pad into south/southwest Asia. But, they also need to be honest they were newcomers in Central Asia.

The package that made up most of who the first Iranians & Aryans (Indic) came from Europe & specifically Corded Ware. People make reference to British Bell Beaker's ultimate link to Russia which they should. Mainland NW Europe was its launching pad but the ball got rolling in Russia.

If, Neolithic Iranians can be called Iranian & EEF be called Near Eastern, Andronovo should be called European.

Kairali said...

It will be amazing to FINALLY see the Rakhigarhi paper whose results have been painfully slow in being disseminated. Kudos to the parts of the Indian media that published the actual results and what they meant, much respect to "The Hindu" (read Tony Joseph's articles) and "Outlook" (Sunil Menon's recent article "We are all Harappans" was a excellent rebuke to the "Tribune" piece with Dr. Shinde's confusing proclamation of the results). Also exciting is that we now know about the ancient peoples of the past such as the Zagros mountain Iranian Neolithic Farmers and the AASI (Ancient Ancentral South Indian) hunter gatherers, which became the ASI (Ancestral South Indians) which is the same ancestral makeup of the Harappans and give strong indication to a Dravidian language group as the IVC language, though we don't have concrete evidence, only that harappans look more related to south indian groups. Elamo-dravidian language group theory might still have some legs to it...

Arch Hades said...

I don't see why EEF isn't called European. Modern Sardinianscare much more related to the prehistoric Neoliylthic Anatolians than modern Turks are..much less Near Easterners.

Davidski said...

@SGR Ram

It's just a press article, so I wouldn't worry too much about the scientific details.

It seems like the author was trying to communicate something else but we'll find out what exactly when the paper is published.

Davidski said...


You forgot The Caravan, which was the very first Indian media outlet to correctly describe what the Rakhigarhi ancient DNA is going to reveal...

Missing Links - New DNA evidence is making the story of India’s past clearer than ever

Smart people, those journalists at The Caravan. :)

mzp1 said...

It just looks like absence of evidence at the moment, the same argument that was used with Chariots in South Asia.

I think the Swat IA samples are IVC (modern IAs) + BMAC. This is why SPGT has lower Steppe than later IAs, and why Steppe and ASI both increase at the same time in Swat...

"Later samples from the Swat time transect from the 1st millennium BCE had higher proportions of Steppe and AASI derived ancestry more similar to that found on the Indian Cline, showing that there was an increasing percolation of Steppe derived ancestry into the region and additional admixture with the ASI through time." (from Narasimhan)

The bolded makes no sense. It would require two movements of people, from opposite directions, at the same time.

What is more likely is that this is just one movement of people, from Northern South Asia, who had higher ASI/Steppe than SPGT(due to no BMAC influence).

Also, they didnt find any 'pure' (or significantly higher) ASI samples from SPGT, so who were the invaders mixing with?

And, they didnt find any 'pure' (or significantly higher) Steppe samples from SPGT, so where are the invaders?

This is backed up by the Y-DNA too.

The Narasimhan paper seems to absurdly claim that the modern IA genotype was already formed in Swat SPGT, and from that small region replaced the entire DNA of Northern India. Or is it just a big co-incidence they all end up with similar ancestry proportions?

Davidski said...


And, they didnt find any 'pure' (or significantly higher) Steppe samples from SPGT, so where are the invaders?

The southernmost Bronze Age burials that can be archaeologically classified as steppe or Andronovo are at Dashty-Kozi in Uzbekistan, but actually not that far from the Indian border.

The samples from this site are almost purely of steppe origin. So after these people moved south of Dashty-Kozi they obviously mixed heavily, but in varying degrees, with the indigenous folks.

And this is why SPGT are of mixed origin, but, at the same time, also why there's now so much steppe admixture and R1a in upper caste Indo-European-speaking Indians. So everything makes good sense.

Daedra said...

@Samuel Andrews The Swat Indo-Aryans did have a "big chunk" of BMAC ancestry, which confirms Viktor Sarianidi's hypothesis.

Aniasi said...

What hypothesis was that?

Daedra said...

That BMAC had an integral role in the formation of the Indo-Aryans.

Onur Dincer said...

@Arch Hades

I don't see why EEF isn't called European. Modern Sardinianscare much more related to the prehistoric Neoliylthic Anatolians than modern Turks are..much less Near Easterners.

Neolithic Anatolians were not genetically uniform. Northwestern Neolithic Anatolians such as Barcin were indeed genetically much closer to modern Sardinians than to modern Anatolian Turks, but the same can be said for modern Anatolian Greeks, that is, NW Neolithic Anatolians were genetically much closer to modern Sardinians than to modern Anatolian Greeks too. But when we look at the genetics of Neolithic central Anatolians such as Tepecik, we see a very different picture. Neolithic central Anatolians were genetically in the same distance to modern Sardinians and to modern Anatolian Greeks, and bit more distant to modern Anatolian Turks (obviously because of the East Eurasian admixture in Anatolian Turks). What is more, immediately after the Neolithic, Anatolia, including the western parts, became genetically even more like modern Anatolians (whether Greek or Turkish) and less like modern Sardinians with more CHG/Iran Neolithic-admixed migrations and, to a lesser extent, Levant Neolithic-admixed migrations from the east. NW Neolithic Anatolian type genetics is long gone in Anatolia, we do not see modern Sardinian-like genetics even in Chalcolithic Anatolia.