Why AMT is far from proven and why it makes no sense for Indian history

In the recent podcast and its follow-up post, an argument has been made that AIT/AMT or more specifically the steppe migration into South Asia in the 2nd millenium BC is already proven by genetics and that there is no hope for OIT. It has also been insinuated that OIT is being propogated more due to politics and that there is hardly any data or rationale behind it.

While in my two previous posts, I have shown data that supports OIT, I shall again breach this topic but I shall approach it in a different manner and also bring in a lot more data that I have not touched in my earlier posts.

I shall in this post, explain why AMT makes little sense. In the next post, I shall present archaeological and genetic data that supports OIT.

I see that a lot of people outside India can’t seem to get why Indians are so opposed to the AMT as apparently it is most ‘scientific’ and is supported by linguistics, archaeology and now genetics. Let me just put it in brief why Indians like me oppose AMT .


 

Many Hindus have grown up with stories from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the various Puranas. They have been told that this is the history of their ancient forebears. Most Hindus believe that it is history and they grow up being proud of this great heritage. And this has been happening since millenia. It is since millenia that Indians have been growing up with the stories of the Ramayana, Mahabharata & Puranas and of other Vedic literature. They have in the ancient period even spread this knowledge  across the vast expanse of SE Asia where the indigenous people still perform plays based on these Indian epics.

It is a well-known fact that the Puranas stop narrating history around the time when the Guptas were about to become the pre-eminent powers in South Asia i.e. around 2000 years ago. All the history narrated by Puranas is therefore of a period earlier than 2000 YBP. It is also well-known that without the help of the Puranas a lot of ancient Indian history would be still remain unknown. That the Puranas have historical information is unquestionable.

However, the Puranas date the ancient events it dates events like the ascension of Mahapadma Nanda, the Nanda emperor – a historical person, from the reference point of events mentioned in the Mahabharata like the birth of Parikshit who was born during the Great War of the epic.

The Mahabharata event is believed to have happened in the 32nd century BC and there is a very strong consistent tradition behind it. Astronomers such as Brahmagupta, for example, have said that there is  a lapse of 3179 years between the Saka Era of 78 CE and the Kaliyuga Era. The Aihole inscription of the Chalukya Emperor Pulakeshin (who defeated Harshavardhana), dates the inscription in both the Saka & the Kaliyuga Era. Kalhana mentions it as well though he seems to have fallen into confusion between Kaliyuga Era and the period of the Pandavas.

All traditional histories, whether it be the very ancient narratives of the Puranas or it be Kalhana’s Rajataringini (of Kashmir) or be it the Gopala Rajavamshavali (of Nepal) date their histories in reference of the Era of the Pandavas and the Kaliyuga.

And if that is not enough, as per the Epics and the Puranas, there are scores of Kings and leaders who preceded the kings of the Mahabharata period. In the Suryavamsha (the Solar Lineage), there is a list of 95 successor kings from the time of the Great Father of All, Manu Vaivasvata. Manu or Manusha is cognate with the father of Germanic people, Mannus. Therefore even his name is of IE origin.

Megasthenes, around 320 BC, relates and Indian tradition, which is no longer extant, according to which 6451 years and 154 kings have elapsed between the 1st Indian king, whom Megasthenes calls Dionysus, and Sandrocottus or Chandragupta. This Dionysus was none other than Prthu Vainya, who is said to lived even earlier to Manu Vaivasvata in the 6th epoch, while Manu Vaivasvata is the father of all mankind in the 7th epoch. Manu Vaivasvata is also the same person who is known in the Semitic tradition as Noah or Nuh (Arabic).

So all of this gargantum ancient tradition which is believed to be several thousands of years old and which has been handed down to Indians for millenia is to be thrown away ? Based on what ? What exactly have the Europeans shown that disproves of discredits this ancient tradition ?

William Jones in the late 18th century, laid the groundwork to bring down the great antiquity claimed by the Indians for their own history. He did this guided by the very ‘scientific’ belief of the enlightened Europeans of his age that Earth was only 6000 years old, so how the hell can the Indians claim such absurdly ancient dates for their history !

So in William Jones’ time began the effort by the British to cram down all of the ancient history claimed by the Indians from the time of Manu, in a timeframe not older than 2000 BC. It is in following this great tradition set by Jones, that Max Muller pulled out the date of 1500 BCE for the arrival of the Aryans. Ofcourse, in all of the ancient Vedic and Puranic or Epic tradition, which talks of great ancient events and personalities of importance, there is never a single mention of Indo-Aryans coming into South Asia from Central Asia or from anywhere else. Their sacred home and their sacred places are all in South Asia.

So, you want the Indians to believe that all of their ancient historical traditions which they have been handed down from their forefathers for thousands of years are of exaggerated antiquity and that they are in actual fact of much later time period and whats more so, the progenitors of this great cultural tradition of yours only came to South Asia in 1500 BC. Before that they were not here and all of your tradition that claims otherwise is worthless. It also does not matter that there is no mention of such migration in Indian tradition anywhere.


 

One may accept such a extraordinary proposition if it was based on some concrete data such as archaeological evidence. But where was archaeology in the late 18th and most of the 19th century when these theories were proposed ? Even after that, where has archaeology produced evidence of Indo-Aryan migration into South Asia ?

According to JP Mallory, who along with David Anthony is the leading proponent of the steppe theory,

The archaeological evidence for an expansion from the steppelands across historical Iran and India varies from the extremely meagre to total absence: both the Anatolian and the Kurgan theory find it extraordinarily difficult to explain the expansion of the Indo- European languages over a vast area of urbanized Asian populations, approximately the same area as that of Europe.

And,

This is indeed the problem for both the Near Eastern and the Pontic-Caspian models and, following the logic of this analysis, the Bouckaert model appears to be in the same boat. All of these models apparently require the Indo-European languages (including their attendant agri- cultural vocabulary) to be superimposed/adopted by at least several major complex societies of Central Asia and the Indus… In any event, all three models require some form of major language shift despite there being no credible archaeological evidence to demonstrate, through elite dominance or any other mechanism, the type of language shift required to explain, for example, the arrival and dominance of the Indo- Aryans in India… But all theories must still explain why relatively advanced agrarian societies in greater Iran and India abandoned their own languages for those of later Neolithic or Bronze Age Indo- Iranian intruders.

An archaeological supplement with a recent aDNA paper informs us thus –

This survey of the archaeological and biological record of southern Central Asia yields four important findings. First, contacts between the sedentary food-producing populations of the Namazga culture populations residing in Kopet Dagh piedmont and Geokyur oasis of southern Turkmenistan who likely established the outpost at Sarazm had little to no contact with populations residing in the southern steppe zone. Second, contacts between Bronze Age steppe populations and NMG V and BMAC populations appears to have been one in which the dynamic of cultural influence was stronger on the side of the well-established sedentary food- producing populations, and this resulted in the partial assimilation of these initial newcomers to the region both culturally and, to a lesser degree, biologically as well. Third, not all of those who emigrated from the north turned to farming but may have continued a semi-nomadic existence in the highlands, which were unsuitable for the kind of intensive farming practiced in the BMAC homelands or in the regions of Khorezm. Fourth, if there was any Central Asian influence on South Asian populations, that influence likely long predated any development of Iranian, let alone Indo-Aryan, languages, and most likely occurred during the late NMG IV to early NMG V period (ca. 2800–2300 BCE) and even earlier during the Eneolithic from Kelteminar culture groups (4000–3500 BCE).

 

So we have zero archaeological evidence of the so-called steppe migration of Indo-Iranians into Iran & South Asia and even in Central Asia, the interactions between the steppe people and BMAC was such that the former were assimilated into the latter groups (which would have led to them adopting the BMAC language(s)), yet we are to accept that the whole region from Iran, Central Asia and South Asia having some of the most densely populated and advanced civilizations of their time, simply just switched over to the languages of the steppe nomads (who are archaeologically invisible) in such a comprehensive manner that not a trace of the earlier languages of these advanced civilizations exist and what is ubiquitous today all across this vast region is only the language of these invisible steppe nomads. How Incredible !

To give you a perspective, around the same time, the IE Hittites and Mitanni ruled over vast kingdoms in Anatolia & Syria respectively, and that too for many centuries. Where are these Indo-Europeans now in the Near East ? Not a trace of them exists. Yet in South Asia (where the civilizational expanse was much vaster than in the Near East), where the steppe nomads are not even archaeologically visible, we are to believe that the IVC language became invisible while the steppe language reigned supreme.

 


 

So we have no archaeological evidence of even a trace of migration from the steppe when we would require a very substantial migration from the steppe to make such a major cultural, religious and linguistic impact on the IVC to make them totally adopt the steppe language and forsake their own languages. And we do not even have any mention of a migration in any of the ancient Indian texts which on the contrary claim a much greater antiquity of IE culture and tradition within South Asia. So why should we people of South Asian origin be compelled to accept this hopeless theory ? There is very good reason to believe that our history is being misinterpreted and our real history is being robbed from us. So why should we lie down and let them walk all over us ?

It may be noted that the very reason the Europeans started archaeological digs in the late 18th & early 19th century in the Near East which lead to the discovery of the great Bronze age civilization of Mesopotamia & Egypt was the mention of ancient Great civilizations in the Bible. So the historical memory preserved in religious texts is very important and not to be dismissed lightly. Moreover, the Bible and Torah are Semitic books written originally in a Semitic language that preserved a memory of Semitic people in Bronze Age Near East. We now know that Semitic speakers were widespread in Bronze Age Near East.

Similarly, the historical memory from ancient Indian texts can help us a great deal in reconstructing the early history of Indian civilization. According to the Vedic literature, the Saraswati region around Haryana and parts of Western UP was the Vedic homeland, and we may note that some of the earliest Early & Pre-Harappan sites such as Kunal, Bhiranna, Farmana, Rakhigarhi etc are now known from Haryana. The fact that this ancient memory of Indian civilization is preserved in an IE language (Sanskrit) should also give a clue that IE languages have a deep history in South Asia intimately connected with the IVC. This is just plain common sense. Or else, we would have to argue that the deep history of Indian civilization was noted by the IVC inhabitants in a Dravidian or some other unknown language and then with the invasion of the Indo-Aryans, they translated that knowledge into Sanskrit which is a bit of a stretch and is also unsustainable because the earliest figures of Vedic literature such as Manu are also early father figures in other IE tradition such as Germanic.

 


Finally, it may be argued that however dicy the arguments of AMT are and however little evidence there is to support it through archaeology or Sanskrit texts, genetic data has still managed to prove AMT.

Well, that is also not really proven.

We have aDNA from South Asia (dozens of them) that date only from 1200 – 300 BC i.e. well after the so-called AMT and they are mostly from North Pakistan.

We only have 3 Bronze Age samples designated as Indus_Periphery and that too not from South Asia but from Eastern Iran and Central Asia.

These 3 samples do have steppe-related ancestry but they have it less as compared to the Swat samples and many of the modern IE speakers from South Asia.

It has not however been proved that Steppe_mlba related ancestry was absent in Indus_Periphery and came into South Asia only after 1500 BC. It has only been proved that steppe_mlba related ancestry is found in greater proportion among Swat samples and among many of the modern IE groups.

But how does that prove that the extra steppe-related ancestry only came from the Steppe_mlba ? Especially when the y-dna marker of steppe_mlba groups R1a-Z93 is so clearly lacking in all the Swat samples.

And by no stretch of imagination can be assume that the 3 Indus_periphery samples are an accurate representation of the enormous genetic diversity that would have existed in the Indus civilization. Yet the research explicitly makes this assumption that Indus_Periphery captures the genetic diversity of the IVC. However, realistically, in all likelihood, there would have groups in the Indus civilization whose steppe-related ancestry was much higher than those of Indus_periphery. Therefore unless we make sure that such is not the case, how can one argue that the extra steppe-related ancestry in modern South Asia and in ancient Swat was because of a steppe migration,

-a migration for which there is no archaeological evidence,

-there is lack of steppe marker R1a-Z93 in Swat.

There is also little genetic evidence of steppe impact on BMAC and of BMAC genetic impact on South Asians.


All things considered, there is every reason from Indians and South Asians in general to be very skeptical of the AMT.

2+

42 thoughts on “Why AMT is far from proven and why it makes no sense for Indian history”

  1. you must be irritated. your previous posts were useful even if you disagreed with them (i did, others who read them also disagreed, but found them useful). but here you are using language that pretty much mischaracterizes many of those who disagree with you.

    So, you want the Indians to believe that all of their ancient historical traditions which they have been handed down from their forefathers for thousands of years are of exaggerated antiquity and that they are in actual fact of much later time period and whats more so, the progenitors of this great cultural tradition of yours only came to South Asia in 1500 BC. Before that they were not here and all of your tradition that claims otherwise is worthless. It also does not matter that there is no mention of such migration in Indian tradition anywhere.

    you’re using language like ‘worthless’ to appeal to emotions. which is great to rile up those who already agree with you. if that’s what you want.

    Yet in South Asia (where the civilizational expanse was much vaster than in the Near East),

    the indus valley was pretty impressive. but dismissing the near eastern societies like this is ridiculous. also, the nesa language of the hittites was probably a minority (hattic itself was not indo-european), and the indo-aryans in syria were linguistically absorbed by the hurrians even at the time of the mitanni. you probably know this, but the readers of this weblog are not too well informed on these things and so are going to be totally deceived at the comparison.

    Moreover, the Bible and Torah are Semitic books written originally in a Semitic language that preserved a memory of Semitic people in Bronze Age Near East. We now know that Semitic speakers were widespread in Bronze Age Near East.

    unlike india, we have written understanding of the ancient near east. we also have written evidence from mycenaean greece. we actually have a sense that the torah and the iliad and odyssey preserved some memory, but we also know that they are not to be read like historical annals or they will mislead.

    if you want to make the analogy tight, and i don’t see that you do judging by the credence you put in various chronologies, indian mythos should preserve a fair amount of factual information dating to an a very antique period, as well as interpolations and anachronisms from later periods. facts and events and peoples will also be garbled or mixed in various fashions. that’s what we see in the bible and the greek mythologies.

    also, this post deserves a you mad bro? GIF

    8+
  2. Yes I am a bit irritated by the presumption that AMT is fact and that genetics has already proven it.

    I mean people are at liberty to mess around and mischaracterise Indian history and the bar has been set pretty low in terms of burden of proof.

    And I was not being dismissive of Near Eastern socieites. On the contrary what I said is this – that though the Near Eastern civilizations were smaller in scale than IVC the Indo-Europeans were clearly absorbed among them so on what evidence do we presume that the reverse must be the case with IVC ?

    Anyway, here’s a brand new paper that is filled with lots of new and interesting data

    -https://tree.sci-hub.tw/ab53caa76bc490f1e999a18f8f0dabbd/10.1016@j.ajhg.2018.10.022.pdf

    The paper again shows – the steppe related ancestry is higher in Groups like Jats & Rors of Haryana than the Brahmins and it is not because of some later Iron Age or historical steppe migrations.

    0
  3. The paper again shows – the steppe related ancestry is higher in Groups like Jats & Rors of Haryana than the Brahmins and it is not because of some later Iron Age or historical steppe migrations.

    i read it earlier (including supplements). i pulled down the data too.

    actually, i think it does lend credence to the idea of iron age or historical age migrations. the ALDER shows admixture 1,500 years ago. i now lean to the proposition that at least in the NW of the subcontinent multiple indo-iranian migrations btwn 2000 BC and 500 AD were impactful.

    2+
  4. On the contrary what I said is this – that though the Near Eastern civilizations were smaller in scale than IVC the Indo-Europeans were clearly absorbed

    they were smaller in in scale when viewed individually. but not in the aggregate. turkey is about the same size as pakistan. the two civilized zones were about the same size overall….

    1+
  5. Firstly, you don’t represent all Hindus or what they ought to think or not think. Your interpretation need not be agreed upon. Infact its because of people like you who have invested in this idea or that a lot of misrepresentation has taken place with people feeding off the internet and taking stance on something most of them don’t understand. A scientist must first consider various possibilities and let evidence erode them one by one.

    https://www.livehistoryindia.com/cover-story/2018/12/03/sanaulis-mysterious-warriors

    3+
    1. How am I responsible for the misinterpretation ? Are you thinking clearly dear ?

      Show me one instance where I have lied or misinterpreted the data. I avoid making vague unsubstantiated arguments. Prove me wrong or shut up.

      0
      1. searching for evidence is science. And whatever the evidence reveals is what it is. And it is not for me to prove you wrong, it is what gets published and is accepted by scientific peers. You can be ignored. I am not going to waste time on that. I dont need to. I dont need to prove ufo stories are wrong either
        Your appeal to Hindu literature and interpretation of what that means or should mean in terms of evidence as being for all Hindus can be summarily be rejected.

        1+
        1. Science is about knowing and understanding things as they are.

          However, science is also about criticising theories which cannot be backed up by facts.

          The AMT was theorised in the 19th century – do tell me what is the evidence based on which it was postulated then and what is the evidence that has accumulated since then ?

          I have shown above that there is neither any textual nor any archaeological evidence that favours the AMT. So where is the evidence ?

          Holding onto a theory inspite of weak or negligible evidence available to support it is not science but dogma. You cannot first create a theory contravening all existing tradition and keep holding onto it for centuries inspite of no to little evidence.

          And yes, theories need to be modified or abandoned based on fresh evidence. What the AMT proponents do is that they have created a theory beforehand and when whatever fresh evidence comes, they selectively use the data that can help them sustain the theory and ignore or question all evidence that contradicts their theory.

          If this is acceptable to you, it’s your choice. But that does not invalidate what me or those of my ilk do.

          And you should know that the Indo-European homeland has been theorised largely based on linguistics and archaeology. I have already shown that the archaeological evidence for migration from the steppe into South Asia is non-existent. The only reason the steppe is held onto as the favoured IE homeland is because of Indo-European language contacts with the Uralic languages that exist across a vast region of the forest steppe in the north. But IE languages also show contacts with the Semitic, Karvelian, North Caucasian and even Sumerian languages. So how does one explain that ? Many such uncomfortable questions about the IE homeland theories have not been answered.

          Your comparison of textual evidence from Indian literature , with UFO stories shows how clueless you’re about ancient Indian literature. The comparison is just outlandish and ridiculous and can only come from a person who is thoroughly out of his depth regarding the subject at hand.

          4+
          1. One does make use of Bayesian inference.Especially regards to History since evidence doesnt survive much. What constitutes evidence is not going to be decided by you nor is how should one make sense of literature. My disagreement with you is that you do not consider the possibility of AMT and many dont, it too is a theory much like a theory you value. There is atleast no need to invest much emotions into this either way. But many in Hindu right have come to do so in past few decades, not to mention resistance in Indian scientific institutions on issues of genetics .There is no need for any of that.

            As to Ufos, to literature from 3000 yrs ago. It is contemporary, many claim evidence in terms of video,pilots, generals, people with much better knowledge and credibility, even governments have shown interest in them. And neither I nor others need to invest our time and energy to make a case for common sense, its clear it isnt so common. Should we also invest much of our time and resources to go after climate change deniers as well?. No, we dont have to.You have twice in this place made an emotion laden critique , thats not right thing to do. Go publish and have theory of yours be validated, not in a blog but by other scientists. Most of us dont have to learn every field of science or literature in order to make a case for common sense.

            1+
  6. “the interactions between the steppe people and BMAC was such that the former were assimilated into the latter groups (which would have led to them adopting the BMAC language(s)), yet we are to accept that the whole region from Iran, Central Asia and South Asia having some of the most densely populated and advanced civilizations of their time, simply just switched over to the languages of the steppe nomads (who are archaeologically invisible) in such a comprehensive manner that not a trace of the earlier languages of these advanced civilizations exist and what is ubiquitous today all across this vast region is only the language of these invisible steppe nomads. How Incredible !”

    1. The same thing happened historically with Turkic speakers in Anatolia, Azerbaijan, and Turkestan. Hungarians in Pannonia might be a better analog for what happened in India though, as both had seen a great recession of civilization by the time the steppe nomads arrived.
    2. Nomads naturally leave a light archaeological footprint, which will naturally be swamped by the footprint left by dense settled populations if they live together. Dense settled populations are also likely to have a much larger material cultural influence on nomads than the other way around. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, especially in these circumstances.
    3. Do you think the total lack of Indian archaeological influence across the vast majority of the Indo-European world invalidates OIT? Out of curiosity, in OIT, how did Indo-European languages spread out of India?

    2+
      1. is Greek mythology received from early Mycenaean period when Greeks arrived there just like what Rigveda is believed to do?

        0
        1. the mythology was brought together in the archaic period. 800-600 BC. the mycenaean period is 1500-1150 or so. i don’t believe we have tablets of any of the greek myths. but

          1) some of the myths have broad indo-european correspondences

          2) some of the gods are listed in Mycenaean tablets by their classical names as gods to whom they sacrificed

          3) the greeks of the classical period had forgotten their mycenanean ancestors. they hypothesized that the cyclopeaon walls of that period were built by cyclops. not their own greek bronze age ancestors

          1+
          1. Thanks. Applying similar model, IA should have settled in India for about 5 centuries before Rigveda.

            This would have significant implications since most AMT interpretation reads Rigveda as documenting IA migration to India through Afghanistan.

            0
    1. Fraxinicus,

      Regarding your 3rd point, I have written two posts on it, but in a day or two, I shall write upon it. Please do make it a point to pay a visit and comment.

      0
    2. To add to Fraxinicus’ point #3: the OIT model actually seems to be an OPT (Out of Punjab Theory) model, given that the initial portions of the Rig Veda are centered in that geographical area and glorify it. That model posits not just a spread towards the Middle East, and Europe via Central Asia, but also east and south into India proper.

      Jaydeepsinh:

      If psychological comfort in ancestor-glorification be your goal, I understand where you are coming from but I’m not sure you’ve thought it through. (Though I’m not a conservative or traditional person, I don’t decry those who find meaning from historical myths and lineages.)
      What are Dravidian speakers to make of your model? The Dravidian languages are clearly distinct from IA languages as well as native to peninsular India. What conclusion can be drawn from the OIT/OPT model other than that folks from the NW conquered and colonized them?

      In fact, a more psychologically comforting explanation was posited by Razib and others on their most recent podcast whereby Hindu mythology and culture spread through the subcontinent through the folk wanderings of both IA and Dravidian speakers, taking the IVC as the original zone of habitation.

      5+
      1. Given the fantastic insight by Numinous (i.e. OIT := OPT), I hereby re-christen OIT/OPT as Singh is King Theory.

        Can totally imagine hand-pump wielding proto-Singhs driving on their gaDDis like Sunny praa-ji conquering the world munching makkey-diyaN rotiyaN. The world is suddenly super cool again…

        2+
        1. Lol. But you do have to give it to punjabis dont you think? for a population of less than 5 percent of India, looks like half of the country wants to ape them already. If nothing at least within current day India there culture is really OPT.

          0
          1. The excessively nasalized sounds of Punjabi gives my ears a weird, highly irritating, ringing sensation.

            0
      2. Numinous,

        The Rigveda is centered around Haryana and Western UP. Present day Punjab is just to the West of it.

        The region may more appropriately be termed the Saraswati region.

        And I am not looking for psychological comfort. But I am interested in the true history of my country and people. The correct way to find out about a people’s history is to start by asking those people themselves. If they have a historical memory or tradition of their past, the next thing is to figure out if that native historical tradition can be supported by other facts. In India, no such thing has happened. Instead all our traditions have been summarily dismissed in the 19th century itself as exaggerated, unreliable and of little value beyond mythology. And yet so far there is no archaeological evidence for AMT. I find that totally unacceptable. Its not about vain glorification.

        As for South India, you should know that there is already a very strong historical tradition in South India, perhaps dating to the Sangam period itself that there was a migration of Agastya along with some people from the North. There is also a tradition of Yadava tribes (descending from Lord Krsna) migrating in South India. All ancient kingdoms in South India starting from the Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas to the later Ikshvakus, Chalukyas & others claimed descent from North India or from ancient Vedic & Puranic kings.

        2+
    3. Fraxinicus,

      Let me also answer in brief about the 2 points raised by you –

      1. The Turkic speakers in Turkestan live along with speakers of East Iranian languages. They do not have the entire Central Asian region to themselves while in South Asia, the vast and much more densely populated region from Eastern Iran to Assam in the East and Maharashtra and Orissa in the South, and including the deep mountain recesses of the Himalayas is heavily Indo-European. There is not justifiable comparison with the situation of Turkic speakers in Central Asia.

      The Turkish in Azerbaijan and Turkey come from Central Asian heavily Persianised and settled Turkic elites . They did not come directly from the steppe but were part of the numerous Turkic tribes that lived in Central Asia for centuries and had heavily imbibed Persianite culture while managing to retain their Turkish language. Further, two powerful and long lasting Turkic empires, the Seljuk and the Ottoman who had Turkic speaking elites helped to spread the Turkish language but still the entire stretch from Turkey to Central Asia has many regions that do not speak Turkish.

      2. The Indo-European migration into Europe has been argued based on very strong evidence in archaeology of steppe groups such as Yamnaya influencing and spreading their cultural package in Europe through cultures such as the Corded ware & Bell-Beaker. So the question of the light footprint of the nomad is not really a valid answer to explain the complete lack of steppe footprint in South Asia.

      0
      1. 1. I think you agree that Indo-Aryan culture was originally restricted to the Punjab. That’s an area comparable to the places that were conquered and assimilated by Turks or Magyars. Huge swathes of Turkestan were fully assimilated, with Iranian speakers surviving mostly in peripheral areas, the biggest cities (gone by the time the Aryans arrived in the Indus Valley), or in mountain holdouts (where today we many non-IA languages in northern South Asia).

        Don’t forget the Magyars – they gave their language to Pannonia with even less of a demographic impact than steppe people in the Indus Valley, and they came straight out of the steppe. It’s also possible that the proto-Indo-Aryan elite were more similar to the Seljuk Turks than the Magyars – the Aryans ran into the BMAC civilization first, and from there moved into the Indus Valley. For all we know, the early Aryan elite might have had a relation to BMAC culture similar to the relation of Islamicized Turks to Persian culture.

        2. My point was that the steppe nomad archaeological footprint would be swamped by that of any densely settled culture that they conquered. The Indus Valley, though in decline at the time of the arrival of the Aryans, would probably have been much more densely populated and more socially complex than the parts of Europe where we see a clear Yamnaya cultural influence.

        That being said, this is a tentative hypothesis, and I don’t rest my broader argument on it. Would be interested in the thoughts of others on whether this theory has good grounding.

        0
        1. i have no idea why Jaydeepsinh thinks agro-pastoralists couldn’t replace agriculturalists or city-dwelling people. that’s exactly what the turks did in transoxiana, and much of northern iran, and into turkey. genetically the impact of mongolian ancestry is 5-10% in turkey. higher in azeri iran. and reaches about 50% in much of central asia.

          we know this happened because the shift from iranian to turk happened in historical time, during the early islamic period.

          0
          1. I think he was trying to argue that the assimilation of Turkic elites to civilized Persianate high culture enabled them to assimilate settled peoples, and that pure unacculturated steppe nomads wouldn’t be able to.

            But even if you accept that faulty premise, it wouldn’t necessarily prove his wider point right.

            0
  7. This is a question to Razib/Rathod/Slapstik.

    What do you make of the silence of the vedic and later text on the migration of these people into the subcontinent. To me that has been one of the striking part of the whole issue. When these people are moving and taking up new lands, wouldn’t it make sense to mention something from their old lands. Or the migration was so piece meal/ slow paced that it didnt feel like moving into a new frontier at all. I know its not a genetic/linguistic question, just wanted to know your thoughts on what could be the explanation logically.

    3+
    1. As Razib says above, we have no record of migrations of Greeks. Ditto for Hittites I think, and for every other anciently attested IE language. Before the age of written history, memory faded fast, especially when people want it to, and it’s possible the ancient Aryans liked the idea of being primordially indigenous as much as modern ones.

      0
      1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t serious historians reject the historicity of the Exodus of the Hebrew “slaves” from Egypt into Canaan? If so, that’s a case where an indigenous people claim foreign origins for the purpose of cementing their religious precepts.

        0
        1. the hebrews claim abraham emigrated from ur of the chaldees. this is in southern iraq.

          though others claim this is a later interpolation, and that perhaps it was a city in city, though the chaldaeans were big when the bible was written.

          archaeology does seem to suggest that the davidic kingdom existed.

          0
          1. archaeology does seem to suggest that the davidic kingdom existed.

            Thanks, I have read this too, but I was wondering specifically about the Exodus story. You’ll know more about this than I do, but apart from the tenuous link with the Hyksos, there really isn’t any evidence to substantiate a large population of Semitic speakers in Egypt (held in bondage no less) migrating from Egypt to the Levant in the late Bronze Age, is there?

            0
    2. You have to understand that the Vedic scripture was not composed by your run-of-the-mill Arya feudal (rajanya) or farm-hand/worker (vaiSya) but the bard (kavi) of a brAhmaNa lineage.

      I believe this set of people had a huge cultural influence from the local IVC priesthood (IMO Dravidian speaking) – in effect giving causing the in-situ development of Classical Sanskrit from Vedic dialects – a process taking around a millennium.

      It is highly possible that there would have been some groups of Indo-Aryans opposed to the usage of local IVC traditions, and many internecine battles over ideological differences. Something like what the RV “remembers” as dasharAjna (battle of ten kings), pitting the trtsu-bharata-s against the anu-druhyu-s. Or the devAsura saGgrama (the war of the deva-s and the asura-s).

      The bottom line is that the winners were the Indic assimilationists and their redacted version of history is what survives in the RV. In short, it is the PoV of the Arya who went totally native in their promised land of hope and glory.

      1+
      1. bunch of different groups fighting it out, I think memory is useful if one is settled population and not a moving one. I think Indian astronomy begins its record also from about 1400-1200 bc . Also there is a study that points to 900 yr drought which ends curiously about the time of new vedic civilization. So climate + settled population + multiple competing groups fighting it out. Of course battles would have required recruitment,alliances with elites of the old and masses on all sides.

        so I do see history as different from genetics, history records beliefs of the people, disputes between people of similar ancestry and also of similar beliefs,alliances etc. And how things actually turned out changes our view accordingly.

        https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/900-year-drought-wiped-out-indus-civilisation-iit-kharagpur/articleshow/63776710.cms

        0
        1. bharat, – The drought article sites a scheduled publication that does not appear in journal stated. I will
          refer now to a 2017 report (title on request) https://doi..org/10.1016/j.jseas.2017.11.025

          De-urbanization of Harrapans in NW India’s Indus-Saravati River regions caused migrations & down-size resettlement after the good (rising ) rains of 4,000 BP (BP=before present). After that time rains fell fairly dramatically & did decline at the worst rate 3,700 BP.

          If IVC is accepted as declining 3,900 – 3,000 BP it coincides with drying experienced from after period of good rains up to 4,000 BP. Aside from the 3,700 BP sharp rainfall drop there were ” 5 sudden drought”; 3,400 & 3,200 & 2,500 through to 2,400 & 2,100 BP.

          From 3,000 to 2,900 BP rains were better. But the region got drier again 2,700 to 2,400 BP ; including that “major drought” from 2,500 -2,400 BP. It got rainy again 2,400 – 2,300 BP; then drier again 2,300 – 2,100 BP (with 2,100 BP the driest). Then 2,100 – 2,000 BP things got rainy again. (End of cited data.)

          As Razib contends from 2,000 BC (>4,000 BP) to 500 AD (>2,500 BP) multiple indo-iranian (“Zagros”) influxes occurred. I wonder if the de-urbanization was what made IE language impact so significant in spite of those migrants not coming all at once & being so numerically less than people already around. The following is in relation to original post (not you bharat) that dismissrd as unimaginable the few supplanting the many with an IE language.

          Might the IE language impact entail a dynamic that was less of imposition by conquest or population numbers & more of penetration. By this I mean trade, where the de-urbanized Harrapan heirs were in less contact with each other & instead significantly in contact with the mobile (horse using) pulses of incoming migrants.

          A parallel to this language intromission would be Swahilli, originally a coastal E. Africa idiom, that due to use in trade spread in use to remote interior regions. I think that aside from trade goods the penetration of de-urbanized Harrapan heirs included intinerant performers; by which I mean cultural interactions like oral traditions that became the Vedas with their early horse lore & subsequent additions.

          Vedic recitation engaged it’s listeners & that would have been like our contemporary drama. We quote stuff to each other about catchy movie dialogue, sing along to songs & as children imitated notable characters. (Even with social media’s spread people internalize the words of others when “like” a phrasing or express sonething by circulating a hashtag; English is now even full of letter series representing speech.) I envision after a Vedic recital the “locals” adding catchy phrases to their trading vocabulary & social interactions.

          0
    3. That is indeed a major stumbling block for the AMT proponents. So is the lack of archaeological evidence which is abundantly available for Europe.

      0
  8. Slapstik,

    I believe this set of people had a huge cultural influence from the local IVC priesthood

    You may know the Brahmanic priestly tradition has strong parallels in other IE cultures such as the Zoroastrians, Celtic Druids and the Romans.

    You may also know that the Deva Asura sangrams were essentially between the Indo-Aryans the Iranians. The Dasarajna & Varasagira battles were also essentially between a confederation of Iranian Anu tribes and a Bharatas’ led Indo-Aryan or Puru tribes.

    0
    1. // Brahmanic priestly tradition has strong parallels in other IE cultures such as the Zoroastrians, Celtic Druids and the Romans //

      Bardic tradition. Not priesthood. There is a big difference. Like the difference between the pre-Catholic Christian cults in Europe and the Roman Catholic church.

      You clearly under-estimate what a serious piece of organized undertaking composing the Vedic canon was. It is peerless in IE cultures. Too peerless to be a totally IE undertaking in the first place.

      Identifying asura-s with Iranic peoples is a silly and superficial reading of Vedic canon. In the Rk asura-s are not negative characters on anti-gods. They are just a class of gods.

      Also, the anu-druhyu-s are squarely Indo-Aryan.

      0
      1. Identifying asura-s with Iranic peoples is a silly and superficial reading of Vedic canon.

        Given that the Avesta celebrates “Ahura” (which I believe is cognate with “Asura”), isn’t such an identification reasonable?

        In what geographical/archaeological region do you believe the split in Indo-Iranian languages happened? Andronovo? BMAC? Or further south-east, on the periphery of the IVC?

        0
        1. ahura and asura are indeed cognates. As is Germanic æsir. Ultimately < PIE *h2énsus (to procreate, beget).

          Cf. MW entry on asura:
          mfn. ( √2. अस् Un2. ), spiritual , incorporeal , divine RV. AV. VS.
          (H2B) असुर [L=21048] m. a spirit , good spirit , supreme spirit (said of वरुण) RV. VS.

          The fact that the meaning survives into AV period (composed well after 1000 BCE), shows no deva-asura dichotomy in the composers of Vedic canon even after Zoroaster.

          nirukta derives asura from asu- (breath, life) and one of the chief deities of the Vedic canon, varuNa is an asura (not deva). Still a common Hindu name and the chief deity associated with the waters/seas.

          There must have been some sort of Indic assimilation/reform of the Old BMAC “Aryan” religion much after IA settlement in Punjab proper, causing asuras to be relegated as the other. Though given the importance of varuNa to this day, asuras still have not completely vanished.

          Indic/Iranic split – in linguistic terms – happened by 2000BCE, probably before Indo-Aryans settled in huge numbers in IVC. The religious split (due to Zoroaster’s) reform happened certainly *after* the sapta sindhu had already become Aryavarta. Basically for a while between 2000 BCE and 1000 BCE Indo-Aryans and Iranians existed as a loose linguistic sprachbund from Indus to Oxus.

          And it certainly wasn’t a unidirectional migration, but a slow shift of the dynamic cultural equilibrium. E.g. anu-druhyu-s are meant to have invaded back into C Asia after having settled Punjab according to Indian lore.

          1+
      2. Agreed, there is nothing like the undertaking of creating and preservation of vedas anywhere in the world from that time period.

        0
  9. Thanks, I have read this too, but I was wondering specifically about the Exodus story. You’ll know more about this than I do, but apart from the tenuous link with the Hyksos, there really isn’t any evidence to substantiate a large population of Semitic speakers in Egypt (held in bondage no less) migrating from Egypt to the Levant in the late Bronze Age, is there?

    yeah, no concrete evidence.

    0
  10. Another incongruent aspect of AMT that stands out is that no new breeds of sheep or cattle seem to have been introduced in India around 1500 BC, when the supposed migration occurred. Kind of surprising given the fact that Indo Aryans are presented as primarily a pastoral people.

    2+
  11. Hey, mzp1 here, you might remember me from Eurogenes.

    Anyway, you say the Indus Periphary samples do have Steppe DNA. Do you have more information about this because I thought it was clear they didnt?

    Thanks

    0
    1. I would like an answer for this question also form anyone; but this is my interpretation.

      Narasimhan et al. uses Indus_PE in two contexts, one, actual samples (3 or 4 I forget) that all have Steepe_MLBA and AASI. Confusingly, they also use Indus_PE is also used as one of the threeway admixture for most Indians, but in this form, they assume Indus_PE, AASI and Steppe-MLBA as (somewhat ) independent admixture components.

      This, of course, is not clearly stated to mean no steppe-DNA in Indus_PE, because that is not stated; however what is clearly stated is “No Significant Evidence for AASI-Related Gene Flow into Ancient Iranian Agriculturalists”. I do not know if I cleared up or confused you.

      0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.