Lord Indra was a tan man

An angel of the Christian Era

I get a fair amount of email related to questions about Indian genetics, as well as calls for me to adjudicate various controversies. A major problem with any “Aryan invasion theory” or its descendants, which posit non-trivial gene flow from the Eurasian steppe, is the possibility that the Indo-Aryan ancestors of nearly all South Asians (albeit, in extremely varied proportions) were a thousand men with the bright faces, azure eyes, and flaxen locks. Paul Bettany times a thousand astride chariots.

The anachronistic neocolonialism obviously makes Indians uncomfortable. Or that’s my psychoanalysis. I don’t care much either way. What does Lord Indra’s scion care? We are the unbroken lineage, grasping Eurasia’s heart, from the Baltic to the Bay of Bengal!

The flip side of this is people of European ancestry, some of whom are white nationalists, do come close to making this claim. That is, that the Aryans were white Nordic people. The genetics from the Sintashta and Andronovo cultural complexes do indicate that they resemble many of the contemporaneous European populations. Their ultimate locus of origin probably is the Pontic steppe, which is in the geographic boundaries of Europe, as such. Finally, these steppe peoples exhibit genetic signatures of reflux from Europe. That is, they’re not just Yamna-descendants but derived from Yamna-like people who moved west, mixed with local indigenous Europeans, and moved back east along the Eurasian steppe corridor.

Lord Indra’s face? NO!

Looking at some of the ancient forensic DNA some of these individuals have suggested that I must admit that the Indo-Aryans were genetically like Europeans, and phenotypically like Europeans as well. They know that I won’t lie like some people, and just want me to admit this.

To be frank, I have gone back and forth on this question several times. The data is not thick on the ground, and each publication adds nuances and details. But I have now taken a tentative, and provisional, but definite, step toward concluding that the Indo-Aryans did not physically resemble white Europeans in the most salient of characteristics: they were not white. At least not white in a way that would please the sensibilities of the average frog-man.

The likes of him we shall never see on this turn of the wheel

There are two points I will make here. One of them is outlined at length on my other weblog: Inventing The Whites, What Hath Fog Wrought?. The evidence is starting to come together for me that several populations of Europeans whose present genetic character overall were assembled during the Bronze Age simultaneously and in parallel underwent depigmentation. And, that this selection process continued down into the historical era. The point with a South Asian relevance is that these selection processes were occurring long after the Indo-Aryans arrived in the subcontinent. I peg the arrival in the period between 1800 BC and 1400 BC, with a weighting toward a more recent date. Selection in far Northern Europe for the flaxen-haired archetypical Nordic coloring seems to have been occurring into historical time, well after the Christian Era began. To be fair, the physical description of Celts and Germans by Classical authors leaves no doubt that much of the process was already complete by the Iron Age. But this is well after the ancestors of the Sintashta will have separated from their European kin.

The second point is that I looked at the pigmentation alleles in the Reich lab’s merged data set. Specifically, I looked at Europeans, South Asians, and ancient populations. It is clear from this that Bronze Age Indo-Europeans, including the Sintastha, did not have the pigmentation profile of Northern Europeans today.

What did the Indo-Aryans look like? I didn’t run the HIrisPlex, but I’m 95% sure that Winston Churchill would have called them “wogs.” That being said, in the South Asian context, they would have been on the light-skinned. A pale golden shade perhaps?

And, they did bring the alleles for characteristics such as lactase persistence, as well as blue eyes, and much lighter skin (though some of this may have come with Iranian farmers as well, the alleles for light eyes was segregating at low frequencies across much of Western Eurasia it seems). It is simply that selection had not “fixed” these alleles in the same way that it did their distant cousins’ descendants in Northern Europe. The migrations of Indo-Europeans and the mixing of these people with the indigenous people of Europe resulted in a mix of variation which natural selection was able to use to produce a pale people indeed over thousands of years. But that is not how they were created on the open steppe under the eyes of the Sky-Father.

But what Razib gives, Razib takes away. I do think it will turn out that the Indo-Aryans are predominantly of the same genetic stock as the Corded Ware Culture of North Central and Eastern Europe. This will discomfit some dishonest Hindu nationalists, who have lied and shaded the truth for the past few years (here’s looking at you Sanjeev!), hoping that the forebears of the Indo-Aryans were Yamna people, who were only liminally European, and had little intercourse with the peoples of Europe. The Sintasha emerged out of a broader set of forest-steppe societies which likely spanned the whole zone from the modern Hungarian plain to the Altai. This is not surprising. The Scythians, and later the Turks created long-distance cultural complexes across this latitudinal zone. as well.

And, it seems that the genetic evidence is converging on the reality that a major thread of Sintashta ancestry comes from a back-migration of agro-pastoralists from Europe, into the Asian steppe.

But though their origins were European, many unique elements of their culture seem to have emerged in interaction with various peoples in Inner Asia and later on in Central Asia (e.g., the soma cult). Here on the edge of their world, facing the arid steppes of Asia, the Sintashta pioneered the light war chariot. This innovation spread like wildfire, reaching Egypt and China in a few centuries. And, it is likely that in various forms the scions of the Sintashta spread out across the Eurasian oikumene, with mixed results.

That is what I see now. The future may update my conclusions. But I am less and less sure confident that will happen. We are converging upon the truth.

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112 Replies to “Lord Indra was a tan man”

  1. The sky-father is dead

    I should mention that Indo-Europeans are not totally isopmorphic with Indo-Aryans.

    Indra Himself is not an IE god, but a non-IE one – possibly a remnant of the pre-Aryan BMAC culture. The name indraH itself has no IE cognates.

    As the RV goes, Indra killed dyauS pitA (the sky father) and usurped his role. We are the children of that revolution.

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        1. Never checked – but do national mythologies require genetics?

          I don’t see why Pakistan (or Iran) need to (in)validated by genetics; it doesn’t change of who is and isn’t influential.

          Most Paks wouldn’t have the faintest clue who Indra is..

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          1. what are you talking about? i’m talking about r1a1a-z93. don’t care about pakistan or ‘national mythologies’. you seem to be thinking i’m talking about unimportant made-up stuff that i’m not focused on 😉

            the baltic to the bay of bengal: https://indo-european.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/R1a-thegeneticatlas.png

            this isn’t made-up mythology or religion. it’s the paternal descendants of the all-father. hundreds of millions of a patrilineage. not lines on a map.

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          2. Tbf I was replying to SS about the whole Indra comment. Genetics is a pretty separate matter to history or heritage for that matter.

            Genes may make us who we are but we are also more than our genes..

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      1. // We as in “Hindus?” //
        I was writing in lighter vein. Just milking Razib’s metaphor.

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      1. I’ll take the reference to Greece as an excuse to leave my comment here:

        // I peg the arrival in the period between 1800 BC and 1400 BC, with a weighting toward a more recent date. Selection in far Northern Europe for the flaxen-haired archetypical Nordic coloring seems to have been occurring into historical time, well after the Christian Era began. To be fair, the physical description of Celts and Germans by Classical authors leaves no doubt that much of the process was already complete by the Iron Age. But this is well after the ancestors of the Sintashta will have separated from their European kin. //

        What do you think happened in Greece? It’s not just descriptions of Celts and Germans — Achilles is explicitly identified as having yellow hair. (More accurately, “ξανθός : reddish – yellow, blond or auburn (flavus); of horses, sorrel or cream-colored” according to the standard Homeric Greek dictionary.)

        I believe Greeks today are all dark-haired. Is Achilles’ blond phenotype more likely (1) spurious; (2) typical of Classical Greeks, but not Mycenaean Greeks; (3) typical of Mycenaean Greeks who invaded from elsewhere; (4) other? If (2), why did blondism develop and undevelop so suddenly in Greece? If (3), when did the Greeks come to the peninsula? (Bringing their yellow hair with them? They were certainly remote from the Baltic after that point.)

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    1. Early Indic Oedipus complex – or Indra complex.

      Indra also comes from early Tamil poetry – in Tamil called ‘vendan’. Varuna is also familiar from early Tamil poetry.

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    2. Early Indic Oedipus complex – or Indra complex.

      Indra also comes from early Tamil poetry – in Tamil called ‘vendan’. Varuna is also familiar from early Tamil poetry.

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    3. “Slapstik” wrote

      “Indra Himself is not an IE god, but a non-IE one – possibly a remnant of the pre-Aryan BMAC culture.”

      The fictitious pre Aryan language of the BMAC is a favorite of the invasionist. But a trained linguist can easily blow it away.

      https://www.academia.edu/33042091/An_alternative_vision_of_the_A._Lubotskys_list_of_Bactro-Margianisms_

      Also see

      http://omilosmeleton.gr/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Vedic_and_Avestan.pdf

      “7. The point about the preceding discussion is that all these non-IE words are found in
      the RV and the Avesta and most occur only in the late Maṇḍalas, i.e. 1, 5, 8, 9, 10 – not
      in the middle and early ones, i.e. 2, 4 and 3, 6, 7. ”

      Comment: If the IIr were indeed coming through BMAC these words should have been found in the earliest mandalas of the Rig Veda.

      “There are 59 common Sanskrit-Avestan words examined in §§6-7 which occur in post-rigvedic texts. Of these 59, 14 are, according to Lubotsky (2001), loanwords into Indo-Iranian. All these 14 are found in post-rigvedic texts. This means that either they were borrowed independently by Iranians and Indians after the Iranians split off, or that they were borrowed after the RV composition, during the common IIr period in larger Saptasindhu, and the Iranians took them along when they moved away northwestward.”

      Comment: The first possibility of the same 14 words being borrowed independently by incoming Indians and Iranians after their split outside of South /West Asia, would seem impossible to any rational person. Occam’s razor will speedily apply. The inevitable conclusion is that the, IIr lived together in South Asia and South Asia ONLY.

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    4. “Indra Himself is not an IE god, but a non-IE one – possibly a remnant of the pre-Aryan BMAC culture.”

      But what about the similarities with Indra and other thunder gods like Thor?

      Also the Narasimhan 2018 DNA study did not find any BMAC admixture from the original ‘Indo-Aryans’. So where is the evidence for Indo-Iranian interactions with the BMAC prior to their arrival in India as Indo-Aryans?

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    5. “Indra Himself is not an IE god, but a non-IE one – possibly a remnant of the pre-Aryan BMAC culture. The name indraH itself has no IE cognates.”

      There is a female given name Indre (derived from Indraja) in the Lithuanian language. It must be just a coincidence that it sounds so close to Lord Indra’s name.
      Lithuania Dievas/Deive (God/Goddess) are close to Sanskrit Devas, and these are words derived from Proto IE *deiwo-.

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      1. ‘Indo-European’ language and Indo-Europeans do not exist. No one can explain what is this term. For 200 years scholars have been in a quest for elusive ‘Indo-Europeans’. Previously, IE was ‘Indo-Germanishe’ for 100 years. Just replace IE with ‘Serbian’ and everything will become logical and will go to its place.

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      2. PS: Indra is a part of Serbian ancient mythology (so as later Lithuanian, Latvian, Prussian, etc) also known as Perun (i.e. Perkunas, Perkūns or Pērkons). It had also other names.

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  2. Genetics is a pretty separate matter to history or heritage for that matter.

    this is the ideal. the reality is different. if you are white, but raised in india, there are certain expectations good and bad. and conversely, if you are not white and raised in the west. though i think we are moving away from blood…

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  3. Genetics in science; history and heritage are part of culture and part of belief/perception complex. These 2 streams run separate even though informing each other occasionally.

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  4. It is clear from their allele calls in pigmentation SNPs, that Andornovo/Sintashta had the exact same complexion as modern northern Europeans.

    I wrote a small guest post at Eurogenes covering this last year.
    http://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2018/06/guest-post-we-owe-many-of-our-genetic.html

    I asked Davidski to test the dozens of Central Asian Andronovo samples from Daamgard 2018 for key pigmentation SNPs. The calls I got back, clearlly show they had the same complexion as modern northern Europeans.

    The results are consistent with Keyser 2009. Which found the same thing about Andronovo & its decendants.

    Keyser 2009.
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00439-009-0683-0
    “Finally, our data indicate that at the Bronze and Iron Age timeframe, south Siberians were blue (or green)-eyed, fair-skinned and light-haired people”

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    1. Razib says: It is clear from this that Bronze Age Indo-Europeans, including the Sintastha, did not have the pigmentation profile of Northern Europeans today.
      (“this” being alleles.)

      You say: It is clear from their allele calls in pigmentation SNPs, that Andornovo/Sintashta had the exact same complexion as modern northern Europeans.

      Only one of you two can be right.

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    2. i know the keyser results. that’s why i leaned your direction until last night.

      the estonian results are pretty sure. and they are WAY after 2600 (1200 to 400). there had to be heterogeneity. if you assume the CWC were already blonde/blue eyed, the central european bell beakers are WAY more old europe than i think they show genome-wide.

      something is off somewhere in the data, or the landscape is way more patchy than we had talked.

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    3. yeah, i double-checked. unless there is a serious artifactual or technical problem

      1) CWC looks tobe seriously heterogeneous. some (germany) are just as you say. but even in the reich data the estonian ones look like yamna on slc45a2

      2) the pigmentation profiles of the srubna/sintashta do not look like the german CWC. they look much darker.

      3) i am starting to think that the 2009 keyser paper gave the results it did because of the patch heterogeneous landscape of these cultural complexes

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      1. It could be complex. Maybe, some Corded Ware pops had undergone depigmentation & others not. The Corded Ware samples sequenced so far are more like Yamnaay in pigmentation alleles than modern northern Europe.

        But, I’m pretty confident some Corded Ware groups were depigmented. Particularally, the R1a Z93 clan. I’ve looked at the Keysar 2009 results first hand. Their allele calls are in a file under pay wall. From Bronze age to iron age, in some of Siberia, the Andronovo-derived people stayed mostly unadmixed.. They also remained mostly blue eyed, light skinned. The results are consistent enough across time to not be coincidence.

        Also, Davidski looked at Andronovo in Kazkhstan & Sintashta in Russia for me. Dozens samples, same results as in Keysar 2009. He also got results for Afanasievo & Yamnaya for me. They had complete opposite pigmentation allele calls than Andronovo. The consistency makes me think the results for Andronovo/Sintshta are also legit.

        The Srubnaya samples availble, are ‘darker.’ But overall, the R1a Z93 clan seems to have been fair pigmented.

        Bell Beaker also already shows a depigmentation, intermediate between modern frequencies & Neolithic/Yamnaay frequencies. SO, a depigmentation process had already taken place shortly after Corded Ware.

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    4. i feel like a dick for saying this: but at this point i do think we need to consider the possibility of contamination in the 2009 kayser paper. look at the author list.

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      1. There is a Tarim mummy with blonde hair. Media articles on them all the mummies looking like Thor & goldie locks were obviouly wrong. But, at least some of the mummies are probably Andronovo-derived people. Kangju, Wusun who lived there in later were 40-50% Androonovo. So, it is likely the mummy woman with blonde braids from 1000bc was mostly Andronovo & an early ancestor of Kangju, Wusun.

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  5. “Selection in far Northern Europe for the flaxen-haired archetypical Nordic coloring seems to have been occurring into historical time, well after the Christian Era began. ”

    Maybe. But by 2000bc, we see in Andronovo a population with the same high frequency of blonde hair as today. Not as frequent as in Finland & Nordic countries but….

    Ancient DNA, does make it obvious that northern Europeans’ ancestors originally were brunnete, olive skin like their relatives in southern Europe. That, their unique complexion is result of mostly Bronze age selective sweep.

    But, this selection may have begun in a few populations already in the Neolithic. So far, essentially all Neolithic farmers tested are swarthy. So, are all Yamnaya pops tested. But, Funnel Beaker & Globular Amphora, the farmer ancestors of Andronovo, Bell beaker, Corded Ware,modern northern Europeans has not been tested extensivly.

    Whatever the case, this selection certainly already was widespread in the Corded Ware zone in circa 2600bc.

    Andronovo was a descendant of Corded Ware. Bell beaker is probably a descendant of Corded Ware. In Andronovo we see pigmentation like modern northern Europe. In Bell beaker we see pigmentation alleles intermediate between old Europe (Neolithic farmers, Yamnaya) & modern northern Europe.

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          1. Ok, I guess he has new samples. 100+ is a lot. SO Sintashta & Andronovo were not homogenous for slc45a2. None the less they were close, much closer than Yamnaya & Neolithic farmers were. So, a shift in pigmentation already existed in Corded Ware And continued into the Bronze age.

            [the freq of ancestry slc45a2 is like modern sardinians alone among european populations…more to the point, northern europeans are ~98%. people who have het are notably darker of hair and skin in polish studies from what i recall, a homoz rate of .25 would mean 44% or so would be predicted by be rather darkly complected by modern n. european standards. so some looked like modern northern european, but some clearly would not -razib]

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  6. “their distant cousins’ descendants in Northern Europe”

    I hate to just complain. But, this not true. Andronovo is not a distant cousin of northern Europe. They are very related. They shared recent common ancestors.

    Corded Ware, basically laid foundation for all future generations of people in northern Europe. Germanic, Andronovo, Bell Beaker, Slavic, Celtic all trace their origins back to Corded Ware.

    Corded Ware mixed in with Globular Amphora & Funnel Beaker. That’s basically what all northern Europe is. Balts, Slavs also have significant Narva hunter gatherer as well. Andronvoo was the same mix but had significantly more Steppe/Corded Ware.

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  7. Razib, you summarize lots of details well in this post. It is interesting & easy to understand for people who aren’t into the topic. I just wanted to discuss the stuff I dis agree with.

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    1. take a look at that dropbox link. i converted the eigenstrat into bed into ped and 1234 allele coding into acgt. could that have scrambled %s? the outgroups look correct. the only reason why david’s old data might be off from the new stuff would be strand issues but i think reich lab took care of that.

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  8. In the girl’s photo above, is the skin dots on the face esp around the nose also part of the genetic inheritance? Is it only on white people or for other skins it merges into the background?

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  9. स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः
    Swasti Na Indro Vriddhashravah
    May God Indra of Great fame bless us

    स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः
    Swasti Na Poosha Vishwa-Vedaah
    May the Omniscient Poosha bless us

    स्वस्ति नस्ताक्षर्यो अरिष्टनेमिः
    Swasti Nastaaksharyo Arishtanemih
    May the Protector Garuda bless us

    स्वस्ति नो ब्रुहस्पतिर्दधातु
    Swasti No Brihaspatir-dadhaatu
    May Lord Brihaspati protect us

    ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
    Om, Shaanti Shaanti Shaanti
    Om, Peace, Peace, Peace

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        1. Take this like for example:

          Swasti Na Poosha Vishwa-Vedaah

          should be:

          svasti naH pUSA vishvavedAH

          Also, the translation is wrong:
          “May the Omniscient Poosha bless us”

          Should be:
          may the world-knowing pUSa-s (in plural!) be good for us

          The chap who translated this clearly does not know saMdhi rules nor noun inflections. Basically a mleccha 😉

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          1. Thanks for your version of the translation.

            The original transliteration and the meaning both seem to be within the range of “correct enough”. Eg viswavedah is translated as omniscient which comes quite close in meaning to ‘world knowing’. Even me with only school Sanskrit can decipher Vishwavedah as vishwa(world) and ‘vedah’ (knowledge).

            You seem like one of those ulta-pedantic Brahmanas who basically ensured any interest shown in Sanskrit by someone other than their coterie was brutally cut off. Or perpetually having fights about minor details of grammar while the world completely changed around them.

            I have another Sanskrit poem for you

            भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं
            गोविन्दं भज मूढमते ।
            सम्प्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले
            नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृङ्करणे ॥

            bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ
            govindaṁ bhaja mūḍha-mate |
            samprāpte sannihite kāle
            nahi nahi rakṣati ḍukṛṅkaraṇe ||

            Worship Govinda, worship Govinda,
            Worship Govinda, oh fool!
            At the time of your death,
            Rules of grammar will not save you.

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          2. // school Sanskrit can decipher Vishwavedah as vishwa(world) and ‘vedah’ (knowledge) //

            Lol. I could go on, but what’s the point. Better things to do on a Friday 🙂

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          3. In Janamejaya’s defense, anyone who doesn’t know IAST, and the ASCII adaptation of it, will get closer to the original pronunciation with his transliteration over yours. When you tyPe SanSKrit iT lOoKs liKE tHaT STuPid nEw tHinG wHeRe PeOple RaNdoMly cApitAliZE LEttErS FoR coMiC rhEtOriCAl eFfECt.

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        2. “You seem like one of those ulta-pedantic Brahmanas who basically ensured any interest shown in Sanskrit by someone other than their coterie was brutally cut off. ”

          In support of Janamejaya’s argument, here is my take..

          पोथी पढ़ि पढ़ि जग मुआ, पंडित भया न कोय, ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पंडित होय।

          Don’t lose the spirit perfecting the knowledge of letter.

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  10. “Here on the edge of their world, facing the arid steppes of Asia, the Sintashta pioneered the light war chariot. This innovation spread like wildfire, reaching Egypt and China in a few centuries.”

    What fascinating that something which looks more complex (the war chariot) was eventually phased out considering its useless-ness while something which SEEMS much more simpler (riding a horse and shooting arrows) was effective till the late 13th century. If i would be a betting man, i would have thought the complex one should have come later and be more effective rather than the simpler one. The world is such a strange place.

    P.S: Just watched Avengers for the 2nd time, read the caption”Lord Indra’s face? NO!” in Hemsworth’s voice in my head, chuckled in the office , folks staring at me now

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    1. “What fascinating that something which looks more complex (the war chariot) was eventually phased out considering its useless-ness while something which SEEMS much more simpler (riding a horse and shooting arrows) was effective till the late 13th century.”

      Chariots came before riding horses simply because ancient horses were small and riding equipment like saddles and stirrups which are look simple but really aren’t, hand’t been invented yet.

      Saddles distribute the load of a man all over the back of the horse rather than a single point and stirrups greatly increase the rider’s ability to stay in the saddle and control the mount, increasing the animal’s usefulness in warfare. Without proper saddles and stirrups one wouldnt be able to even swing a sword on a galloping horse without falling off to a brutal injury. These two technologies took literally hundreds of years to perfect.

      Also it was only by the middle ages that selective breeding by humans led to large war horses who could carry a man wearing armour on their backs.

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      1. “Also it was only by the middle ages that selective breeding by humans led to large war horses who could carry a man wearing armour on their backs.”

        Interesting. I knew that the invention of stirrups sort of changed everything. Didn’t know about the size of the horse. But wouldn;t it take more energy (for the comparatively smaller horses) to pull the chariot(with a heavy armored man /men in it) ,rather than just having just one person on top of it , notwithstanding how ineffective he is . I am sure even with the small horses they must have experimented trying to ride it “better”.

        I am not disputing what you have said. Just curious about the human mind to actually go for the complex thing, rather than trying to fix as to how to ride the horse better (perhaps would have lead to stirrups and saddles , few centuries earlier).

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        1. “But wouldn;t it take more energy (for the comparatively smaller horses) to pull the chariot(with a heavy armored man /men in it) ,rather than just having just one person on top of it ”

          Dude. This is precisely why wheels were invented. Pulling a heavy object on wheels is easier than lifting and carrying it. Rolling friction is very less.

          You probably can cycle much farther than you can walk.

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        2. Agreed. I am still not sure all elements considered (wheels and all) it still wasn’t more taxing on the horse /horses rather than just carrying a single person on his back(also more inefficient) . I could be wrong.

          It reminds me of my experience in Calcutta , where we still have what you call human drawn rickshaws. As a 7 year old, felt that the old man could carry me on his back(theoretically) longer, but with the rickshaw i felt he had to use much more energy. I know a stupid analogy lol

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          1. i think you are wrong about energy and wheels. speaking as someone who has wheeled heavy things before vs. lifting them. haven’t u done physical labor before?

            also note that lightness of frame and wheel were a major thing. that’s one of the ways sintastha excelled.

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  11. Getting beyond the genetics, the trajectories of these mass migrations are quite puzzling. Why would Corded Ware people migrate on masse towards the East, into Siberia? I can understand people already living in the Yamnaya horizon, or in Sintashta, trying to move south, especially given the incentives in terms of resources, people, and climate, after their chariot inventions. Also, is there evidence for Sintashta people invading west (back into Europe) again after they got chariots? Would there be genetic signals to inform us about such invasions if they occurred? Or, as Samuel says above, the hypothetical second-time invaders were genetically too similar to Europeans by then?

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    1. Why would Corded Ware people migrate on masse towards the East, into Siberia? I

      there is a wide zone of territory amenable to nomadic pastoralism. if you are mobile you can move east-west and west-east without too much trouble.

      Also, is there evidence for Sintashta people invading west (back into Europe) again after they got chariots?

      the scythians and sarmatians spoke iranian languages. so yeah.

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      1. briefly:
        Which Iranian languages? Since when is used the term ‘Iranian’? Spoken in today’s Ukraine for e.g.??? Sarmatians were Serbs. Who were Scythians? They spoke (one of?) Iranian lang? What was their mythology? On the map they occupied the whole Asia and a part of EU, what has happened with them? (I will write longer comment). Who spoke Sanskrit? Which language was spoken in Europe at that time when Iranian lang were spoken by S&S? Where is Vinca? Where is Vinca’s alphabet 5000 BC? Alphabet of which language? Maybe of “modern North Europeans” X 100 times in this blog? South Europe was uninhabited at that time? What about Serbian R1a which is 12000 years old, SA R1a is 3850 years old?? What does it mean

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  12. TBH I’d prefer Aryans were like Russians. I grew up as a Russophile reading Misha and Masha comics, and passed on the myth of baba yaga to my son who thinks she abducts kids who don’t behave and takes them to Siberia.

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    1. briefly:
      Aryans WERE Russians!!!!!! Russian name is used from 8th cAC. Before that were Serbs. Ergo, Aryans were Serbs.

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        1. G-L30 checking in.
          That is Stalin’s group. Boy, you have lot to live up to 🙂 .

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      1. If R1a is the line of the All-Father, what about R1b? Pretty sure the numbers are comparable, and the scions of All-Father1b have been much more successful in recent centuries than those of All-Father1a.

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      2. I am R-L266. Is that a branch of R2?

        Razib – Anything you can tell us about R-L266 or R2?

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        1. A good (and not too long) paper to read for those interested in North Indian paternal lineages:
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755252/

          Some interesting excerpts:

          [The synthesis of Y-genealogy and estimated diversity of several clades demonstrated that North Indians carry three Y-lineages, one derived from Central Asia or West Eurasia (R1a1★, R1b1b2★ and R2 haplogroups), one derived from the Middle East (J2★, Shia-specific E1b1b1, and to some extent G★ and L★ haplogroups), and the indigenous Indian Y-lineage marked by H1★, F★, O★ and C★ without the M217 transversion. Our data revealed that there may have been admixture between Sunni Muslims and Brahmins in North India.]

          R1 and R2 are the most common haplogroups among Indians, but disproportionately so among upper castes

          Haplogroup R (R1 and R2)
          There were a total of 256 Y chromosomes carrying the allele’s characteristic of haplogroup R, which accounted for 45.7% of the total sample studied. Haplogroup R was segregated into R1 by the presence of the M173-C allele and R2 by the presence of the M124-Tallele. Haplogroup R1, which was observed 133 times, was the most frequent (23.8%) and was found in all five populations. The frequency in each population was 24.0% (Bhargavas), 23.9% (Chaturvedis), 29.7% (Brahmins), 15.6% (Shias) and 28.8% (Sunnis), respectively (Figure 1). Interestingly, 130 of the 133 R1 lineages belonged to R1a1★ haplogroup, which carried a 1 bp deletion at M17 UEP in the lineage of M173-C allele. R1b1b2★ was only found in Bhargavas (once) and Brahmins (twice). Haplogroup R2 had a similar high frequency in the sample – it was observed 123 times. Its frequency in each group was 32.3% in Bhargavas, 31.8% in Chaturvedis, 20.3% in Brahmins, 13.0% in Shias, and 19.2% in Sunnis, respectively (Figure 1).

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    1. I don’t know what mine is. If you know a good DNA testing service in India, I’m willing to try it out and report back.

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  13. I am very curious about how chariots were used in actual warfare in ancient time and what was their general effectiveness.

    Ancient chariots were very light, built with spoked wheels and designed for moving fast. A single man could easily lift the ‘pod’ of the chariot. It seems they were the first engineering artifacts built exclusively for war or hunting.

    A possibly way to use them in war would be for one man (the Sarathi in Sankrit) to manage the horses and drive the chariot while the other person (the Rathi in Sanskrit) flings projectile weapons on the enemy (arrows, javelins etc). All this is done while moving fast towards the enemy and then quickly retreating before the chariot get surrounded by enemy foot-soldiers. Chariots from opposing sides will probably have a go at each other similarly though with much less effectiveness. They are primary a shock-and-awe weapon against the infantry. A kind of ancient battle-tank.

    However, because chariots are wheeled and light (built for speed rather than strength) I expect, they would be difficult to use unless the ground is completely even. Broken ground and uneven terrain will quickly make them immobile. Needless to say its very rare for any battlefield ground to be completely flat.

    Chariots will also become totally ineffective against infantry if the infantry has some good amount of discipline and is able to maintain formation against a chariot charge. Check out how Alexander nullified Persian chariots in the Battle of Gaugamela. Prior to this battle Darius had gone to the extent of flattening the battle field in order to give his chariots maneuvering advantage.

    So, I expect the people who the Ancient Indo-Europeans encountered did not have a culture of militarism and ancient battles were mob fights which the more disciplined IE people with their warrior ethos and mobile chariot advantage could overwhelm.

    Also chariots possibly gave only a little actual advantage in ancient battles considering how difficult it is to find conditions where they may be employed effectively.

    I feel chariots were more of a way to appear cool and dashing for ancient Indo-Europeans. Kind of like a ancient Ferrari. Any people they encountered were suitably impressed and wanted their own chariots. Who doesn’t want a red Ferrari in today’s world even though its actually useless.

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    1. you can dismount and fire arrows or fight.

      chariots allowed for a lot of mobility across the landscape in comparison to being on foot. some suggest chariots are not about fighting, but getting to the fight.

      3+
      1. Yeah. Good points. They could work like dragoons. But the ancients could use horse-drawn carts or ox drawn carts for that purpose as well. Carts can carry more load.

        Chariots were optimized for speed and movement. One should be able to use them like cavalry. eg. in a charge against enemy infantry or for exploring weak points in enemy formations, flanking movements, chasing down fleeing enemy soldiers, reconnaissance etc. Details from the Battle of Kadesh between Egyptians and Hittites do show that chariots were used like this when the conditions permitted.

        If one doesn’t use their speed in a battle to get an advantage over the enemy, it is a problem.

        Thats basically the reason why I think they went out of use in battles once riding horses became possible. They were then only used for ceremonial purposes or for chariot racing and such like.

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  14. “I feel chariots were more of a way to appear cool and dashing for ancient Indo-Europeans”

    Yeah ,always thought so. I mean , war elephants had a more productive effect (even the shock and awe factor) and longer life cycle than these chariots.

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    1. “war elephants had a more productive effect”

      As a descendant of Indians who mostly lost every battle employing war elephants against Central Asian invaders on horseback, I can tell you war-elephants are completely useless. Atleast chariots look cool and give you some real advantage.

      Elephants are difficult to control, scared easily and have gone on a rampage in most battles they were employed in; causing more damage to their side than the enemy. Against all sorts of Indian armies with war-elephants the Greeks under Alexander, the Turks etc found easy ways to provoke the elephants into a rampage. The elephants then proceeded to flee the battlefield trampling friend and foe alike. Heck, even Romans fighting Hanibal learnt not to fear elephants and in their last battle Scipio very quickly made them flee the battle (Battle of Zama).

      Horses have intelligence, spirit, a sense of loyalty and camaraderie with the rider and can be trained to not lose their heads in the shock of battle. They can even be trained to strike at the enemy with their feet or bite them.

      Many many poems and sagas (Indian as well as others), extoll horses. I can think of no Indian poem on any elephant. Starting from Rig Veda right down to ballads about Chetak (Rana Pratap’s horse), we can find examples of poems about the loyalty of horses and their effectiveness in battle and in saving their rider from getting killed.

      In comparison, the bond between humans and elephants never developed to any large extent. A reason could be that elephants can’t breed in captivity. Elephants only can be captured from the wild. They are intelligent and fiercely independent in their own way.

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      1. Even though elephants were proven useless in battle again and again mostly every invader who went on to rule india (Indo-Greeks, random Turks, Mughals) went on to employ war-elephants in the battle-field.

        Perhaps the false security of being 10 feet above the battle while your troops engaged was too alluring. Or maybe they felt it gave a good view into the state of the battle for the leaders.

        Sitting on an elephant also made you a good target. I remember reading that Hemu, Sher Shah Suri’s general who almost ended Mughal empire was hit by an arrow in his eye while he sat on his elephant. He died and Akbar went on to reestablish Mughal rule.

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        1. If you want to see real examples of the uselessness of war elephants, check out the Battle of Pelennor Fields scenes in the 3rd LOTR movie 🙂

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      2. I agree with your sentiment about war elephants losing lots of battles for our ancestors. But I saw a video earlier this week, where historian Thomas Trautman sang their praises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0lKAnYyHiw.

        According to him, Magadha came around to dominating the subcontinent (it was home ground for both the Mauryas and the Guptas) because of their greater access to (and proper use of) war elephants. Apparently, such elephants were much more abundant in the eastern parts of the Gangetic plain than in northwestern India.

        He also says that the deal Seleucus made with Chandragupta involved the latter getting Afghanistan in exchange for a number of war elephants, which allowed Seleucus to win his battles in Anatolia and Syria.

        Maybe there’s some truth to all of this. But clearly, elephants had lost their utility by the Middle Ages. The irony is that Babur, who defeated the forces of Lodi at Panipat by being clever (whereas his enemy brought elephants) somehow couldn’t pass on that wisdom to his descendants. The Mughal forces arrayed against Nadir Shah brought their own elephants, suffered a humiliating defeat, and pretty much lost their dynasty.

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        1. Babur defeated Both Lodi and Rana Sanga because (among other things) he had Gunpowder while his opponents didn’t, which we all can agree is pretty decisive (i think there is not even a comparison there like Chariots vs war elephants type )

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  15. I think you are being too tough on elephants. When initially used they did have the shock and awe factor, when Pyrrhus used them against Romans he did have success. Whatever few battles he won, elephants initially played a part. (This is after Alexander’s time, also I think Alexander should be out of syllabus type of thing , since nothing really worked against him, he literally won anyway LOL ). The reason Hannibal elephants were not as effective is because the romans had already devised method to fight them in battles with Pyrrus.

    I think the whole use of elephants even after war chariots lapsed does show that they had at least more use than war chariots.

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  16. Only tangentially related to this thread (Nordic/ Indic connection), but I thought this might be worth sharing since it’s puzzled me for some time:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7839111766

    That’s the famous `elephant gate’ at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen. Constructed in 1901, it was apparently loosely inspired by the Piazza del Minerva in Rome, but the thing that strikes me the most about these elephants — with the dots and the orientation… them’s proper Hindu swastikas. If someone knows more please correct me, but I’ve never seen the four dot motif on anything other than the Hindu iteration of the swastika.

    R1A1A represent!

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    1. Another Serbian bro…! Cheers eSPee!

      Your photo shows descendants of your ancient cousins. Denmark was populated by Serbian tribes so as Sweden. Old name for Denmark was Serbia. Swastika was found in Vinca 7000 years ago. It was a part of Serbian ancient alphabet (rising sun). Today, in modern alphabet are used 26/30 Vinca letters (the same for Etruscans scripts). Please have a look swastika on my photo. Also you can see thousands of Vinca and Lepenski Vir figurines, some 10000 years old (search on google ‘vinca figures’).

      Please someone to show me ‘modern North European’ or “Schytian” figurines.

      An excerpt: “Harald Haarmann, a German linguistic and cultural scientist, currently vice-president of the Institute of Archaeomythology , and leading specialist in ancient scripts and ancient languages, firmly supports the view that the Danube script is the oldest writing in the world. The tablets that were found are dated to 5,500 BC, and the glyphs on the tablets, according to Haarmann, are a form of language yet to be deciphered. The symbols, which are also called Vinca symbols, have been found in multiple archaeological sites throughout the Danube Valley areas, inscribed on pottery, figurines, spindles and other clay artifacts. The implications are huge. It could mean that the Danube Valley Civilization predates all other known civilizations today. Evidence also comes from thousands of artifacts that have been found.”

      Photos:

      https://www.reddit.com/r/ArtefactPorn/comments/61jict/votive_cart_with_anthropomorphic_idol_figurine/

      https://www.google.com/search?q=vinca+figures&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=ARvetGLLF32rGM%253A%252CzNYCmhX_GgnAuM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kSqkYya5lKCQyWF82u8k5Z7CWQ9GQ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjtjofgmZLiAhUF4o8KHa4OCVcQ9QEwAXoECAkQBA#imgrc=_&vet=1

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  17. Sickeningly patriarchal, MCP jerks you all!

    Proud M2a1a MtDNA haplogroup here. True son of mother India. (haplogroup -M is quintessentially Indian.)

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  18. Don’t let Razib R1a1 Supremacy get to you my R2 brothers. We brought barley and wheat from Elam and gave rise to the IVC. We are an honourable Peaple whose mythologies have been stolen by Europeans like Razib and decimenated as if it were their own. Zack, I know you are a fellow R2 brother of mine, you have noble characteristics, highly cultured. I pray you are a R2a2b1b2b3 like me. Rise up R2 folks!!!

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    1. who are you calling european??? judging by your name you have more steppe drift than i do.

      greatness knows no continent. r1a1a-z93 IS.

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      1. Im Bengali Mofo. Im sick of you belittling the esteemed progeny of R2 noblemen. We are ‘dasus’ etc. If we must divide ourselves along y chromosomal lines, then so be it, take your fish and run with it, I am here for my R2 bros. Zack, my fellow Brit, put the Bengali/Pakistani animosity to one side, we are R2 brothers, together we rise again!!!

        Also, my mtDNA is M49, hailing from a beautiful Khasi Austroasiatic tribes woman bringing along with her rice with which we make biryani and many other desi foods, Culture Upon Culture!!!!!

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  19. There is a noticeable absence of our Serbian brother, Anan… And Jaggu…
    Bring ’em and remaining 150+ millions of brothers in India to me to give them a brother’s hug!

    1+
  20. From the David Reich book – Pg 129-135

    Europeans are more closely related to the Indians than to the Chinese. Chinese are more closely related to the Indians than to the Europeans.

    So indians are the common link between the two and shouldn’t there be a model that takes Indians as the common link here. David Reich added a layer of proto indo-european ancestor as the common link and out of it came europeans and indians into two separate paths. Isn’t that an inherent bias or wrong curve fitting or whatever, as he was trying to validate the AIT/AMT?

    He’s basically a star in genome wide research globally, while X and Y chromosome is another path. But why is he adding a disputed model in his layer. Other indo-european speakers have also spoken against it. Its sort of a circular logic – there is something I want to prove and I’m gonna use that entity that i want to prove I’m gonna use as an assumption. Assume that conclusion, and then use data to prove it.

    Source Dr. Raj Vedam

    How are these anomalies taken as a valid base?

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    1. I thought you some of you intelligent guys would know what David Reich is saying and clarify in those pages. In layman’s terms, his model is biased is what I understood.

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  21. Razib,

    You’re absolutely right with respect to pigmentation variation among populations of the Bronze Age steppe; some were probably considerably darker (on average) than even contemporary southern Europeans (and thus wouldn’t fit the current North American idea of “white people”), while some (on average) were rather pale and light-eyed (and light haired). These populations were all genetically close, yet still rather heterogeneous with respect to their pigmentation genetics.

    They might seem surprising in the context of contemporary northern Europe. But as a Pashtun, this isn’t surprising to me on a personal level… because I have firsthand experience of seeing Pashtun tribesmen of different tribal backgrounds showing consistent differences in average skin pigmentation and frequencies of light eyes/hair, despite being very genetically close to each other (I’m talking about geographically proximal groups). Like the Safi, who are an unusually fair-skinned group, vs the nearby Shigiwal (who nearly approach Punjabi levels of darker skin). Probably nearly identical in terms of deep (and even recent) ancestry… but clear pigmentation differences. So, the pattern on the ancient steppe still exists in places where the selection hasn’t been as intense… like southern Central Asia, or even West Asia.

    And even though this is pure speculation, and I admit I might be wrong… I feel the Aryans weren’t at contemporary Northern European levels of depigmentation. I think we can surmise this by looking at current distributions of steppe ancestry. The Rors and Jatts of Haryana represent the peak of Sintashta-related admixture in South Asia. They’re at 35%… and if we count the Botai-related stuff, they’re almost 40% steppe. They’re essentially ancient steppe + ancient northern South Asian hybrids! Yet, despite being almost half BA steppe, they are not fair… at least going by pictures online. Perhaps Indian commentators could either back me up, or correct me.

    The Kalash are vastly more fair than Rors and Haryanvi Jatts (and those populations don’t have much more AASI. The Kalash are around 10% AASI, and the Rors are at 15%. Hardly a difference). Yet, the Kalash are only 25% Sintashta-related! Their fair pigmentation isn’t merely a function of steppe admixture (and an Indian population with more Sintashta-related and not much more AASI is much darker).

    All said and done, you hit the nail on the head.

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  22. They are more AASI than that. Indus Periphery was found to be 25% AASI in Narsimha et al 2018.

    Khatris are .610 Indus Periphery and .129 AASI.

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/292581v1.supplementary-material

    Link to the tables for raw data ^. The individuals that were counted as the baseline group for Indus periphery averaged 25% AASI.

    [(.25(.610))+.129]*100= 28.15% AASI for Khatris or Rors or Haryanvi Jats that cluster with them

    [(.25)(.679)+.032]*100= 20.175% AASI for Kalash.

    So your general point remains but you underestimated AASI. In old school anthropological, somewhat pseudo-scientific, terms these people are analogous to Castizos of Latin America, people who are of 3/4 caucasoid and 1/4 non caucasoid ancestry. Some of them can pass as fully phenotypically caucasoid.

    There isn’t massive homogeneity in caste for Y DNA haplogroups. Upper castes are about 23% H and 30% R. Kalash themselves are 20% H

    http://www.krepublishers.com/06-Special%20Volume-Journal/T-Anth-00-Special%20Volumes/T-Anth-SI-03-Anth-Today-Web/Anth-SI-03-31-Trivedi-R/Anth-SI-03-31-Trivedi-R-Tt.pdf

    I am of Bania caste. My paternal DNA is H M52 (believe variant found in many Romani people). My maternal DNA is U8b’c, found more to the West of the subcontinent. Most ethnic Indians, if one parent gave them a West Eurasian haplogroup, tend to have inherited it from their father. Interestingly, I got mine from my mother.

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    1. thewarlock,

      None of the Rors or Haryanvi Jatts cluster with Khatris. Khatris are less genetically European, and have a very slight skew towards ancient samples from the BMAC (a skew which Rors and Haryanvi Jatts lack). Also, that’s not really how the modelling works; you can’t reduce it to a matter of basic ratios. This gets a bit complicated… but for the sake of time, we’ll keep it very basic and simple.

      For example, the INP-related percentage will capture any excess ANE… which is a unique distinction held by the Kalasha. This is due to their extra affinity towards populations similar to Sarazm_Eneolithic (an ANE/West_Siberian-rich spin on Iran_N… although, it’s highly likely that Iran_N might just be a western spin on Sarazm_Eneolithic, or perhaps on the West Eurasian element which is at play with the ancestries of the IVC samples). Here’s a model of the Kalasha using aDNA:

      Sarazm_Eneolithic 25.6%
      IVC_West_Eurasian_Component 23.6%
      Sintashta 23.63%
      BMAC 16.3%
      AASI 10.60%

      For comparison, the Ror and Jatt of Haryana:

      IVC_West_Eurasian_Component 49.25%

      Sintashta_MLBA 30.85%
      Saka_Tian_Shan_o 4.4%
      West_Siberia_N 1.85%
      Scythian_AldyBel 1.5%
      (almost 40% Steppe-admixture !)

      AASI 12.15%

      Similar levels of AASI (around 10%-15%), but the Ror/Jatts have a much heftier share of steppe ancestry (40% vs 25%). Also, the Kalasha show a decent slice of BMAC-related admixture, while the Rors/Jatts show none. And the largest single component of Kalasha ancestry is something similar to Sarazm_Eneolithic, while again Rors/Jatts don’t show any signals. Furthermore, the Rors and Jatts are 50% IVC-affiliated West Eurasian, which along with 10%-15% AASI puts them at 60%-65% IVC-related ancestry… while the Kalasha are only 25% IVC-affiliated West Eurasian, which along with 10% AASI puts them at merely 35% IVC-related ancestry. Very different populations… in some ways that one would expect (Kalasha are clearly an ancient Central Asian relic, while the Rors and Jatts of Haryana are West Eurasians of a distinctly South Asian kind), and some ways that one wouldn’t (I wouldn’t expect the Haryanvi groups to be nearly 40% steppe, and the Kalash to be a little under 25%). Here’s a model of Brahmins (Uttar Pradesh):

      IVC_West_Eurasian_Component 56.15%
      AASI 29.9%
      Sintashta 13.95%

      Interesting differences.

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      1. Where are you calculating these percentages from? The papers I’ve seen that try to use ancient DNA to explore modern admixtures seem to arrive at different percentages (sometimes dramatically so) quite often.

        I think you are correct in what you are saying in terms of Haryana Jats having the highest Eurasian Steppe ancestry, I’m just not at all confident that the percentages described are accurate.

        2+
      2. What is break down for Banias and Tamil Brahmins from data you are using?

        Also, how come that Narsimha paper maxed at 30% for steppe for Kalash? Is that inaccurate? Do you think if they did Haryanvi Jatts they would see like 40% then? Are you saying that my ratios are fallacious because the sub components of Indus Periphery are different for different populations? Do you have a link to data for AASI proportions for different S Asian groups? Sorry for so many questions. I just want to clear up my misunderstandings.

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  23. Kalash are like 20% AASI

    Aroras and Khatris are like 25% AASI

    Reich lab picked individuals that averaged 25% AASI for their indus periphery marker. Both had about 60% Indus periphery with like 10% AASI for Khatris and 5% for Kalash. If you add the numbers you get the proportion AASI

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    1. Just met a Hindu Punjabi lady with blue eyes; I thought she was Greek. I can’t think of any Hindu Punjabis (apart from the Aroras/Mahajan who are Agricultural?) who aren’t Khatris..

      Very few Punjabi Brahmins

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      1. There is no Greek with blue eyes. That is the same thing as their blonde Gods. Their Gods do not look like Tsipras. Have a look Alexander the Great and you will know immediately that he was not a Greek. Spartans also were not Greeks. Greeks did not consider themselves white and because they gave such name to Celts (i.e Goths, i.e Galls).

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