Monday, June 25, 2018

Still Waiting For Harappan Ancient DNA

A much awaited paper analyzing ancient DNA from Harappan subjects from Rakhigarhi in North India remains unpublished although it is supposed to appear on bioRxiv any day now and many rumors about it have been released. Apparently, only two samples produced autosomal results, one of which was contaminated partially by investigator DNA from Korea, there is Y-DNA L-M20 in the sample, the samples date to ca. 2500 BCE to 2250 BCE or so, and lack steppe ancestry.  The mtDNA (which is passed from mother to children) in the samples is also supposed to be very local in character. Leaks of the results have been seeping out for at least sixteen months.

This is as they should in the Aryan invasion theory (AIT), which is overwhelmingly supported by other linguistic evidence, archaeological evidence, modern genetic evidence and ancient DNA from adjacent regions, because the invasion was supposed to have not taken place until sometime ca. 2000 BCE to 1500 BCE. If there was no steppe ancestry in this area in two random individuals from 2500 BCE to 2250 BCE, and there is now a great deal of such ancestry (which is found in earlier time periods in ancient DNA from the steppe itself), then it had to come from somewhere and cause and effect aren't difficult to determine.

Based on other data, the samples are widely expected to be a mix of Caucasian/Iranian farmer and South Asian hunter-gatherer DNA.

The delays in the paper's release appear to be political, because AIT is very unpopular with the powerful Hindu Nationalist political forces whose political party is currently part of the governing coalition in India. A newspaper account in India reports this latest rumor about a lack of steppe ancestry in the ancient DNA under the headline that it "junks the Aryan invasion theory" of South Asian genetic origins even though this result does exactly the opposite.

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