The mystery of the origin of the Indian civilization is revealed
The mystery of the origin of the Indian civilization is revealed

A large-scale genetic census of the ancient peoples of Central and South Asia helped scientists to uncover the mystery of the origin of the Indian civilization. Their findings are published in the electronic library

"Our study sheds light on the mystery of the origin of those Indo-European languages ​​spoken in India and Europe. It is extremely noteworthy that all speakers of these dialects inherited part of their genome from the Caspian pastoralists. This suggests that the late Proto-Indo-European language, a common" ancestor "of all Indo-European dialects, was the native language of these nomads," write David Reich of Harvard (USA) and his colleagues.

The Indian, or Harappan, civilization is one of the three most ancient civilizations, along with the ancient Egyptian and Sumerian. It originated about five thousand years ago in the Indus Valley on the border between modern India and Pakistan and reached its peak in 2200-1900 BC.

During this period, a system of intercity and "international" trade emerged, planning of urban settlements, sanitary facilities, measures and weights were standardized, and the influence of the Indian civilization spread to the entire subcontinent. After 1900 BC, it sharply fell into decay - the megacities of the ancient Indians mysteriously became empty, and their tribes moved to small villages at the foot of the Himalayas.

Scientists, as Reich notes, have long been interested not only in the causes of the collapse of this ancient civilization, but also in its origin. The fact is that the study of the monuments of culture, religion and language of the Indian civilization has generated a lot of controversy among historians, archaeologists and linguists about the role it played in the further development of Ancient India.

For example, while historians and language specialists cannot understand how it was associated with the spread of the Dravidian languages ​​across the Indian subcontinent, whether it influenced the formation of the classical Indian pantheon and other "pillars" of Vedism, and how its existence or death was associated with the Indo-Aryan tribes …

Reich and his colleagues took a big step towards getting answers to all these questions by deciphering and studying the structure of almost four hundred genomes of the ancient inhabitants of the Russian Urals, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and northern Pakistan. These included both contemporaries of the Harappan civilization and people who lived much later, during the Iron Age, when the "Aryans" had already formed in India.

By comparing sets of small mutations in their genomes, as well as comparing them with the DNA of modern inhabitants of these regions of the Earth, paleogeneticists compiled a migration map of ancient peoples, which confirmed their past conclusions about the "Caspian" origin of the Indo-European language family and revealed several new and unexpected features in their evolution.

For example, scientists have found that the earliest farmers of the Earth, who lived in Anatolia and the Middle East, were genetically related not only to the first farmers in Europe, but also to their "colleagues" from the future Asian republics of the Soviet Union and Iran. This came as a surprise to historians, since they used to think that agriculture and cattle breeding came here much later, together with people from the Black Sea and Caspian steppes.

Migration map of ancient people in Eurasia

In addition, the genomes of the later inhabitants of Iran and its environs did not contain interspersed DNA from representatives of the Caspian Yamnaya culture. This suggests that the ancestors of the future "Aryan" peoples did not pass through its territory during the "Great Migration" to the south, moving through the Turan lowland, and penetrated the territory of this part of Asia much later.

In addition, scientists have not found any traces of the relatively late migrations of the steppe peoples to South and Southeast Asia. This suggests that all traces of Indo-European DNA were inherited by them from the first migrants from the Caspian region, who penetrated the Indus Valley about four thousand years ago.

These people, as Reich and his colleagues found out, played a significant role in the formation of the gene pool of both modern and ancient inhabitants of India, including representatives of the late Harappan civilization. Their invasion of the Indus Valley, according to paleogeneticists, led to the formation of two very different groups of people - the "Aryan" northern and "autochthonous" southern ancient Indians, differing both at the genetic and linguistic levels.

Interestingly, the proportion of "steppe" DNA was noticeably higher among those Indian castes and peoples, whose representatives, for example, the Brahmins, played an important role in the spread of Vedism in antiquity. According to scientists, this testifies in favor of the fact that the invasion of the Indo-Aryan tribes really influenced the formation of classical Hinduism.

All this, according to Reich and his colleagues, strengthens the position of the Caspian hypothesis of the origin of the Indo-European language family, and also suggests that the Indian civilization did not disappear without a trace. She became, thanks to the invasion of the Indo-Aryan tribes, the progenitor of both the northern and southern peoples of India, which are so much different from each other culturally and linguistically today.

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