Questions for Vagheesh

In ~48 hours I will be recording a podcast with Vagheesh Narasimhan, first author of The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia, and the second author of An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian Farmers. We’ll have lots to talk about but open to taking questions from readers as well.

As per usual I’ll be posting it for patrons first.

(I’m also recording a podcast with ex-academic Justin Murphy)


61 Replies to “Questions for Vagheesh”

  1. Ask him why does HE think their report is being mis-characterized by Indian media as “No aryan Invasion” and stuff. Is there some real political pressure on either their study or the co -authors (which he knows of)? Is according to him, people in his field in S-Asia have soft Hindu-nationalist tendencies (which he knows of), and that;s why they are giving statements in the media while (perhaps) saying the opposite in private.

    Its time that we at least understand if there is genuine pressure/leanings or its just “being on the safe side, since we don’t know enough”

    1. “Is according to him, people in his field in S-Asia have soft Hindu-nationalist tendencies (which he knows of), and that;s why they are giving statements in the media while (perhaps) saying the opposite in private.”

      Good line of questioning Saurav. For example if you just look at one of the authors,Niraj Rai’s twitter feed, you strongly suspect his hindutva leanings/bias. Would be very interested in a straight answer on the contradicting statements in media and the research that is actually being published.

      1. I have my doubts on either scenario. I feel sometimes that all this Hindutva leanings in blown out of proportion by the the left .For all the hue and cry about textbook rewriting in India, my nephew in India is still essentially studying the same Romila Thapar et all, which i myself studied. Some changes here and there but not much.

        Add to that all this geneticist folks are not your run of the mill Hindutva quack scientist (with pushpak vimana and stuff) who would fall for Hindtuva science. Also these people (if studied in India) would essentially have studied in Nehruvian institutes (that too long before 2014’s Modi era) and would follow that world view. For them to lean right to me is a bit odd. In India only tech and management studies are right of centre/Hindutva for some part.

        Just wanted to be clear on what’s actually going on here.

        1. “I have my doubts on either scenario. I feel sometimes that all this Hindutva leanings in blown out of proportion by the the left .For all the hue and cry about textbook rewriting in India, my nephew in India is still essentially studying the same Romila Thapar et all, which i myself studied. Some changes here and there but not much.”

          That’s very interesting Saurav, what part of India does your nephew live? As far as being blown out of proportion,if you look at Niraj Rai’s twitters it’s pretty obvious he sympathize’s at the very least. He retweets David Frawley ( white american vedic hippie of some sort, popular in hindutva supremacist circles) quite a bit. These are not religious platitudes either, this is an example of the latest one Niraj retweets from Frawley about AIT/AMT :

          Niraj Rai Retweeted

          Dr David Frawley

          Verified account

          Follow Follow @davidfrawleyved
          India was more an independent center of ancient civilization than borrowing from Middle East or Central Asia. No genetic evidence of Aryan Invasion or Migration. Vedic literature should be taken seriously as India’s civilizational record from a very early era. @NirajRai3

          1:40 AM – 6 Sep 2019

          I don’t know what David Frawley’s ranting about, IVC was always known as an independent civilization from south asia, I feel like these hindutva types are always spitting out straw man arguments to create fake victim mentalities, must be popular with the constituents.

          1. Bro i was wrong, i just finished listening to Rai podcast with Kushal Mehra. He is not a sympathiser , he is the apparatchik.

            If this guy is conducting genetic research than i dont think RSS even needs anyone.I half expected Rai will break into Namaste Sada Vatsale (RSS anthem) at the end. Not sure how this guy passed through the Nehruvian chokehold of education system. And that too in pre 2014 era.

            BTW my nephew studies in Delhi (CBSE) only. I would still say the history books are by and far the same, reminiscent of soft hindu tendencies, similar to NDA 1(1998-2004) time when i studied. I remember studying a chapter on Savarkar at that time. But broadly its not much.

  2. Does the IVC genes being the base of all south Asian individuals in any way challenge the “Mulnivasi narrative” or “Dravidian Narrative” as being the True Inhibitors of the land ?

    Can we find how much of the ancestry is male driven & female driven esp. with regards to regions & periods ? Is there any chance of such a report anytime soon ?

    How much of Cultural impact can we attest to steppe Pastrolists ? Should Sanskrit be termed as their language i.e. they brought the language or did they spoke a precursor language which later mixed with regional languages {Of Steppe path} to form Sanskrit as well as various North Indian languages that fall under PIE category ?

  3. Glad to see a young man with such achievements so far. There is a great perspective for him if he succeeds to stay away from politics. Good luck!

    My previous questions never been asked before but I will give one another shot.

    If only one question:

    1) What are the ages of R1A in Yamnaya, northern Europe, Vinca and Hindustan?

    Nice to hear:

    2) Which genes were present in Yamnaya’s “European stream”?
    3) Which language was spoken in Yamnaya?
    4) Which language(s) was spoken in Europe for 5000 years before Yamnaya guys with their Indo-European language(s) reached Europe in 2700BC?
    5) Reich (+121) said (The genomic history of south-eastern Europe, 2018) that R gene was present in Lepenski Vir (Iron Gates) 6000BC. Which one exactly?
    6) What’s happened with people who lived in Lepenski Vir (9000-6000BC) and Vinca (5700-4500BC)?
    7) Pls explain the term ‘Indo-European’.


  4. I noticed that Steppe related ancestry esp. in the region of M.P. seems to be much lower than the high amt. of steppe ancestry that has been recorded from other parts of the nation. Other problem i noticed is that prevalence of certain regions within samples like Tamil Nadu, UP or Andhra Pradesh which must be addressed.

    Is there any chance of doing Caste-wise DNA analysis for steppe ancestry for each Indian state ?

  5. I have a couple of questions for Vagheesh –

    1. Given the absolute lack of archaeological evidence of steppe artifacts in South Asia – which they acknowledge in the paper – how can he be so certain that steppe migration did happen and even if he did how certainly can it be linked to Indo-Iranian migration given how even at BMAC, the steppe groups got assimilated into the local culture rather than vice-versa ?

    2. Closely linked to the 1st question – how confident is he that the IVC cline represents the genetic diversity of all Harappans, given how most IVC cline samples come from Shahr I Sokhta – which received migration from Baluchistan – a region where the present day groups like Baloch still remain offcline from modern Indian cline ?

    1. I’ve teased you before but I’m being serious now.

      1.) The fact that there’s no Steppe-DNA in South-Asia before the date of the Aryan arrival, and after that date, there is suddenly Steppe-DNA in South-Asia, is literally irrefutable evidence of AIT. The lack of archaeological evidence doesn’t anymore dent this theory, than does the lack of a fossilized “missing-link” dent the theory of evolution.

      2.) Even if the peripheral IVC (and Rakhigarhi) samples aren’t representative of the general IVC population, the fact that none of them have Steppe-DNA is also pretty irrefutable. If, as OIT holds, the IVC was actually an Aryan stronghold, there is virtually not a single individual who would be completely without Steppe DNA, regardless of how diluted his DNA had become by proximity/mixing with Iranic or South-Indian peoples.

      1. IndThings,

        Have you pondered upon what exactly is steppe DNA ?

        The steppe DNA over a period of time has kept changing as we can observe from the numerous steppe samples we have spread over a large timeframe (something we can only fantasise about wrt South Asia)

        The ‘Steppe’ DNA which is said to have come to South Asia is composed of 4 major ancestral components :-

        1. EHG or EEHG – Eastern European Hunter Gatherer (itself descended from Ancestral North Eurasian or ANE)

        2. Iran N or CHG

        3. WHG (Western European Hunter Gatherer)

        4. EEF – Early European Farmer (majorly descended from Anatolian Neolithic Farmer or ANF)


        The earliest steppe samples we have are only ANE or EHG – they do not have ancestry of the other 3 components. Perhaps there may have been some deeply related WHG but that’s about it.

        In the last 6000 years, the EEF & WHG ancestry has come and admixed into the steppe populations from the farmers of Europe to their west. Around the same time, the Iran N/CHG ancestry has only arrived on the steppe from the South. This southern admixture also likely brought domestic goats & sheep on the steppe.

        It is only those cultures that developed on the steppe after these outside influences, which are considered as speculated to be PIE or late PIE.

        Now, if you were paying a little attention you would know that the geneticists like David Reich have been arguing that steppe is unlikely to be PIE but rather Late PIE, since whatever ancient samples we have from Hittite territory have Iran N type ancestry but no steppe ancestry i.e. EHG or ANE type ancestry.

        Instead, David Reich & others believe that PIE must be from where the Iran N ancestry came into the steppe, which in their opinion was Iran.

        But now we know that there was a native Iran N like group even in South Asia which separated from its Iranian & Caucasus cousins more than 12 kya.

        So how do we know whether the Iran N on the steppe did not come from South Asia ? The answer is we don’t. No one knows as yet. Infact, the Iran N that admixed into steppe populations is said now to have already admixed in the Eneolithic period that preceded Yamnaya and it did not have ANF ancestry. All Iranian samples from 6000 BC & later have ANF admixture so they cannot have spread the pure Iran N admixture. This could have therefore come from the East in SC Asia where ANF ancestry was negligible.

        So that being the case the PIE could still have come from South Asia.

        Once this is understood, even if we believe no steppe MLBA ancestry came into South Asia after 2000 BC, how can we be sure that it brought Indo-Iranian languages ? Could not the IE & Indo-Iranian not be already present from the earlier Iran N like groups ?


        Coming to another aspect, as I said, the earlier steppe component is the ANE ancestry component. This ancestry component is already quite deep rooted in South Asia. Y-DNA R & Q are most closely associated with ANE ancestry. Both these lineages have a deep ancestry in the Indo-Iranian region. Y-DNA R2 is nowhere found on the steppe but is present everywhere in South Asia and even in Central Asia. It was only found in Neolithic Iranian samples. The deepest split of y-DNA Q dates to 17 kya and is between India & Iran. The steppe has younger clades. There is also an upcoming paper on Indian R1a which has 10 k samples of R1a from India which has enough diversity to posit the presence of R1a in South Asia from atleast 15 kya.


        So the only thing of the steppe ancestry that is missing in ancient South Asia is ANF & WHG. An admixture from ANF also increases affinity to WHG which is distantly related to ANF. ANF is absent in Indus Periphery samples but steppe ancestry is present in the form of WSHG.But it is ANF which is missing and which is apparently present today in Some North Indian & Pakistani, Afghani populations in marginal quantity.

        So when the Reich team argues that steppe mlba came to South Asia, in effect they are saying that ANF/EEF rich steppe groups admixed into South Asians. But ANF ancestry could have also come via Eastern Iran or BMAC where it was already present since the Chalcolithic.

        The only problem is see is that the Indus Periphery samples like the modern Baluchis who live in Baluchistan have low WSHG to high Iran N ratio. While many modern Indian groups like the Jats, Pashtuns, Kalash & Brahmins have high WSHG to Iran N ratio.

        So if we only use Indus Periphery as native Harappans, how do you account for the ANF & extra ANE/WSHG ancestry in these modern groups. While ANF could plausibly come from BMAC or Eastern Iran, where did the extra ANE come from ?

        This is why steppe mlba comes across as a good fit in the models of Reich & team. But IMHO, the Harappans from core areas of Punjab & Haryana have not yet been sampled. That was also the core Vedic area and it is in these regions where the ‘steppe’ ancestry ratio is highest in South Asians. I am willing to bet that a good handful of high coverage Harappan samples from these regions will show higher steppe/WSHG ancestry compared to the Indus P we have now.

        1. @Jaydeep
          Hold on, I am fairly certain that there was some Yamnaya-like input in Hittites. It was fairly low and indeed Hittites were genetically mostly like their non-IE ancestors. Isn’t that the defining characteristic of the elite replacement scenario? Kind of like a new component that introduced G2a in Anatolia during the late neolithic without making much of an autosomal impact.

          That and the Iran neolithic related ancestry was first proposed back in 2016 but the addition didn’t make a better model. Heck it probably made for a worse model. This was a strange move on their part. As far as I know they do have access to samples that the public doesn’t, so if they know something that we don’t and if this thing indeed proves Iran HG (not CHG) ancestry in PIE then they should definitely release the info instead of taking the ‘trust the authority’ route.

          The thing is, CHG and Iran HG paternal markers split some 18,700 years ago when the Baradostian period ended (one population would have moved north while the other expanded eastward), so they are definitely differentiated populations which can explain why CHG cannot simply be replaced by Iran HGs in a PIE model (and why it would make for a worse fit).

  6. 1) What do your findings say about the relationship between Harappan civilisation and Vedic culture?

    2) Is there any evidence to suggest that Harappan people migrated in large numbers to other parts of India and to other parts of Asia?

  7. 1) The AIT theory as I understood it from Indian history text books seemed to imply that IVC and Vedic people were completely different. It implied that the Indo-aryans either killed off most of the IVC people or made them flee south. This finding demonstrates that largest source of ancestry of all Indians is the from the IVC. This suggests continuity of the Indic people from the IVC times even if they mixed with Steppe people afterwards.

    2) The AIT theory as propagated by the British implied that all good things about Indic civilization came from outside India. This continued to be propagated in history textbooks after independence. The fact that the people of the subcontinent transitioned into farming independently and created a complex civilization of which we are the genetic inheritors, calls into question this aspect of the theory

    3) The AIT theory propagated the view that the Dravidians were the IVC who fled from the Indo-Aryans. It implied that North Indians were not related to the IVC and that the Dravidians were the original inhabitants of India. This theory was used to fuel the secessionist tendencies in Tamil Nadu. This new finding demonstrates that both North and South Indians are inheritors of the IVC.

    4) Lastly, given the continuity of the people from IVC to later periods, there may be much more cultural continuity than implied by the history text books which suggested that the IVC and the Vedic culture were completely divorced from each other. The extent of the influence of the two cultures on each other remains open to debate.

    The above 4 reasons are why the Indian media is reporting that AIT as it is propagated in Indian history text books is wrong

    1. 4 is quite likely right, and there’s been a lot of commentary on this blog about that (not sure if you are new here?)

      2 and 3 have been commented on here too, a fair amount. I think 2 is the main cause of angst about AIT/AMT among that theory’s opponents.

      On 2, I think many people in India are out-of-step with the modern west, where (apart from fringe alt-right groups) there is no appetite for denigration of India or other countries in the way the British colonialists did. They really don’t need to be so prickly about the research coming from the west and challenge everything they find uncomfortable as a conspiracy.

      Also they need to understand what research has revealed about other countries: there is no country in the world that has pristine genetic and cultural lineage from primordial times, so any insult flung by colonial Brits at us can be flung back at them (they were themselves an amalgam of Celts, Romans, Saxons, Normans, etc.) But I’m not sure they are curious enough about the rest of the world or have the willingness to broaden their field of study to know all this. (Some are, like folks who argue the OIT case on this blog, but most laypeople aren’t.)

      1. ” I think 2 is the main cause of angst about AIT/AMT among that theory’s opponents.”

        I would slightly disagree, In my view (2) is perhaps the last reason. Indians are well too cocooned to really care about what the British/west thinks about AIT/OIT . And tha’s true of the west too. Indian folks irritation of the western media is on more contemporary issues “rape capital”, “Poverty and ISRO” etc and not necessarily on older British AIT . India’s sort of relying on pseudo science (“we invented everything”) is a phenomena independent of (2) and its more on lines resurgent nationalism which we see across the world. All nationalism think of themselves as having a golden age to hark back to.

        Its more of (1) and (3) where essentially one is trying to say that Indians/Hindus are foreigners and they cannot claim to be “son of the soil” or call any other group in the subcontinent invaders/foreigners

        1. “Its more of (1) and (3) where essentially one is trying to say that Indians/Hindus are foreigners and they cannot claim to be “son of the soil” or call any other group in the subcontinent invaders/foreigners”

          Well the genetic and historical evidence proves that (1) and (3) are ludicrous.

          FACT – Over 55% of the ancestry of both North and South Indians is from the IVC.

          FACT – Hinduism quite clearly is a fusion of IVC and Arya religious practices.

          This is not surprising considering where most of Indian ancestry is from.

          In fact, I would argue that most of modern Hinduism is rooted in the traditions of the IVC, though in an Arya garb (Vedic rituals, hymns etc).

          One could argue that the Nordics who have more steppes ancestry preserved more of the essence of Proto-Indo-European religion than the Brahmins who are mainly IVC in ancestry.

          1. There is not a shred of evidence that the IVC had any impact on the formation of Hinduism.

            People say it to be nice to Hindus, and because there must have been some type of cultural fusion between the Aryans and Indians, but we have no actual evidence that IVC culture contributed in any meaningful way.

          2. “There is not a shred of evidence that the IVC had any impact on the formation of Hinduism.”

            So says the moron who does not know what a linga is.

        2. Most mainstream Indians do not believe that Indians invented everything. A small fringe section is possible reacting to the Marxist narrative of “Nothing worthy in this society” with “Flying chariots invented here”. The solution would be to highlight these findings and other documented achievements which will assuage prickliness and prevent any latent inferiority complex from the colonial experience from morphing into bizarre claims.
          I’m not sure why AIT and OIT are the only two dichotomies presented. The AIT is discredited because it very closely linked to the other 4 ideas. A theory that there was broad continuity in people and culture with some Steppe influences on a natively developed culture is what I am presuming happened. But some outside influence is not the same as the Marxist propagated AIT theories.

          1. I’m not sure why AIT and OIT are the only two dichotomies presented.

            Sure, they should not be treated as theories of everything.

            But the core question is one of language spread: in the AIT model, branches of the IE language came into India in the 2nd millenium BC, whereas in the OIT model, Proto IE was born in India a long long time ago and disseminated from there. It can only be one or the other; either the language came into India or was born in India and dispersed elsewhere (likely through people migration, hence “Out of India”). There is literally and logically no third option.

            The cultural, material, even genetic stuff, can be up for debate, and they don’t have to be fit into this binary model, but the language question has to. (Hope this is clear; I frequently pose this question to OIT proponents and the conversation usually stops there, perhaps because they don’t like the implications.)

          2. Numinous,
            From a language perspective I understand and agree with your argument that a language can either come “Into India” or “Out of India”. But then Into India theory cannot be called AIT. Because AIT smuggles in assumptions of “Invasion” and shuts down the debate on culture, genetics and materials. The AITs dubious origins by colonialists and German Indologists is strongly related to the 4 points. The AIT is more strongly associated in Indian textbooks and public discourse with culture and genetics than language. The Indian media and public will continue to de-bunk the AIT. Given the assumptions tightly bundled in with AIT, the onus is on the propagators of that theory to de-bunk or prove the language, genetics and cultural assumptions. My humble suggestion is to re-christen the language debate as “Into India” theory or “Proto-Indo European language Steppe origin theory”. This way the Steppe language origin theorists will not have to support disproved assumptions regarding the genetics or culture as their theory will be appropriately limited to the language claim.

          3. @IVC:

            AMT (Aryan Migration Theory) is often used these days as an alternative to AIT. AIT tends to get used partly out of inertia, as shorthand. “Aryan” is used because the composers of the Rig Veda (who must have been among the oldest speakers of that language) called themselves “Arya”.

            But then the people who challenge AIT state, not without justification, that any “Into India” theory of IE languages must imply an invasion. Why? Because the natives of India outnumbered the people who came in and spread those languages (this is now proved by genetics.) How is it possible for a minority migrant group to make a host population adopt its language (even with adaptations) unless that minority group came to gain dominance? This seems like an invasion, no? Like what the Spaniards did in Latin America?

            But, though plausible, this is not the only possibility. The spread could have been gradual, with progressively more mixing as IE speakers spread from the NW towards the SE. Perhaps they weren’t even seen as outsiders during that spread; just people who spoke a different-sounding language.

          4. @IVC:
            The AIT is more strongly associated in Indian textbooks and public discourse with culture and genetics than language.

            This I agree with. From my own middle school history books, I recall the strong suggestion that the “dasas/dasyus” were Dravidians/Southerners. As a Tamil in North India, that did invite some snide comments from other kids. Indeed, I never even thought about the language question seriously, and had no knowledge about its pan-Eurasian implications, until I read David Anthony’s book less than a decade ago. That book put me in the AIT camp (I mean strictly in the linguistics sense.)

          5. Pretty good Numi. I can see that you have open mind and readiness to constantly learn. Yep, the linguistcs is the next to talk about, genecitists should take a break. I will make couple comments. Can you find someone to explain the term ‘Indo-European language(s)’ (and cow worshipping in the last thread)? Cheers.

          6. Arya is a honorific and not a tribe. There is no archaeological data to prove invasion on any Harappan site. Also no change in materials, DNA of pastoral animals etc. I give greater weight to archaeological and genetic data in comparison to linguistic patterns. There is more genetic and archaeological data to come as per researchers and the jury is out on whether it was slow migration in or out movement responsible for spread of language.

      2. “On 2, I think many people in India are out-of-step with the modern west, where (apart from fringe alt-right groups) there is no appetite for denigration of India or other countries in the way the British colonialists did. They really don’t need to be so prickly about the research coming from the west and challenge everything they find uncomfortable as a conspiracy.”

        While I agree that mentalities have significantly changed, to some extent the same biases are still expressed in more subtle ways, which in some ways is even more pernicious because it’s deniable. I definitely agree about not being prickly about it; that’s unbecoming.

      3. Agree with you that most Britishers and other Westerners do not care about India. However, Indian history textbooks propagated by the leftist and Marxist historians care about preserving the narrative that mainstream Indics achieved nothing worthy enough to feel proud of. Possibly they fear that this pride will heighten nationalism. However, these fears don’t seem warranted.

  8. @Jaydeep:

    So that being the case the PIE could still have come from South Asia.
    This is assuming a VERY late admixture between Iran N and AASI, right? (Hope I’m framing the question correctly.) Like 2nd millenium BC at the earliest. Because otherwise, wouldn’t we see AASI in, say, Sintashta?
    Is this plausible?

  9. I have one question: any hypotheses as to what the genetic landscape of India looked like prior to the advent of agriculture? Particularly, what was the boundary between “Iran-like” hunter-gatherers (as mentioned in this paper) and more “Andaman-like” HGs? Which was more indigenous to South Asia?

  10. Great! Wonderful to see Vagheesh on the podcast! 🙂

    Question 1: The Indian media report some strange stories about “Aryan invasion theory being disproved” after the results of the Rakhigarhi study. It seems the scientist Vasant Shinde made some statements to this regard. Any comments?

    Question 2: Are there any more sites identified in Indian subcontinent where ancient DNA can be found?

    Question 3:Can we expect a book from Vagheesh some time in the future explaining all his research findings in layman’s terms?

      1. Haha OK 🙂
        Another one.
        Question 4: Any thoughts on how more and more common people can be made aware of general principles of genetics, genomics etc? This way, many of the public confusions about the research being done by Reich lab can be addressed.

        Somehow, many sections of the Indian public have been misinformed and a lot of people seem to think “Aryan invasion” or “Aryan migration” theory is some wild, crazy thing that could destroy the country. If you ask many Hindus, they will rank “Aryan migration/migration” on the same level of ISIS or some kind of terrorism 🙂

        Some sanity can be restored if some basic education can be provided to the public about genomics/genetics/DNA research

  11. Thank you for doing this, Razib. Question for Narasimhan about the study:

    We see yDNA I2a2a1b1b1, as well as E-Y31991 (and its PF4428 subclade) in the Swat Valley – the last one being from the family graves at Udegram. Considering the first seems to be European in origin, and the latter also – or only, since it was its only instance until now – found on a Central Saka outlier from Damgaard’s study (sample DA19, which wasn’t present in this study’s Table S1) is it likely that both haplogroups were also brought from Central Asia, alongside the ubiquitous R1a-Z93, into the Swat Valley?

    Thank you both for your time, and congratulations on a wonderful work

    1. Thanks for your information related to I2, Helio. I overlooked this important, maybe crucial, thing. I2 is a typical Serbian gene, often called ‘Dynaric’ because of its epicentre in the mountain Dinara in Serbia. Please see the I2 gene map:

      Characteristics of these people are – they are tall, long legs and arms, skinish, muscular, fighters – typically basketballers’ build. For example, Novak Djokovic is I2. For those who are interested, on the map they can see also Sardinia, Prussia and Denmark, which I mentioned in my past comments.

      R1A (more ‘flat lander/steppe’ than ‘mountain’ type) is a slightly less percentage among Serbs than among other Slavics because of the huge genocide by R1B during the ancient time. R1A is for example Nikola Tesla and it is very present in South Asia. Some SA examples are Razib, Karan, SP, at least one from DTC bunch (doodlebug, taki&concentric) and few other gringos and punditos.

  12. Questions:

    How basal is this formerly “Iranian” component? Is it autochthonous to the Arabian Sea region?

    Is AHG/AASI a southeast Asian component intrusive to the region, or is it part of a cline?

    Could he elucidate on the “holocene south Eurasian Cline” in one of the graphics, that has no description?

  13. I would like to know if iron age Iranians had Steppe_MLBA since they expanded into Iran at the same time the Indo-Aryans did into India.

    Also, what does Vagheesh think the skin colours of the incoming Steppe_MLBA and extant IVC populations were ?

  14. I would like to know if iron age Iranians had Steppe_MLBA since they expanded into Iran at the same time the Indo-Aryans did into India.

    yes there is. has been an iron age sample which showed this

  15. I remember a tweet from Vagheesh last year (after the pre-publication of this paper) that he definitely believes that the Rig Veda was composed within south asia. Does he still believe that? Has his thinking evolved in the past year about Chronology of Rig Veda? (Also, what does he think mentions of Saraswati in Rigveda refer to?)

  16. So says the moron who does not know what a linga is.

    this was rude to say. but INDTHINGS your ignorance of something so basic updated a lot of peoples’ priors. so no one is going to listen to you opining on the origins of hinduism pretty much ever right or wrong 😉 you don’t know anything about the religion and haven’t bothered to learn.

    there are lots of aspects of the ‘vedic religion’ which don’t resemble other indo-european religions. some aspects are pre-indian. the homa/soma stuff is probably BMAC [epehdra]. but a lot of it is almost certainly accretions from IVC. the comparative cultural analysis would probably be beneficial here, but a lot of the Y chromosomal haplogroups seem to date to the IVC people. the brahmins integrated non-aryan men into their society at the highest level.

    your comment is as valid as saying it’s stupid to talk about greek religion as having non-indo-european aspects. unless you are stupid you wouldn’t say that, because it does, and some of the aspects are well known (dionysious and aphrodite are near eastern clearly), but a lot of it is just by nature of the reality that only a few core aspects and motifs are indo-european (zeus is the only olympian with clear and indisputable indo-european genealogy).

    anyway, it’s not to be nice to peoples’ feelings. unlike you, i actually take an interest in this topic from an intellectual perspective. your attitude and stances are just to win stupid interweb arguments. mental masturbation.

    1. @Razib: What do you think about the origin of the Upanishads? They seem to be somewhat distinct from the themes of the earliest Vedas as far as I know. How likely is it that they were a combination of Vedic (Andronovo) and IVC traditions/philosophies?

      1. Upanishads owe more to Yogic philosophy which is an Indus invention.

        However, the later layers of Rig Veda, particularly the hymns of Agastya also betray Yogic philosophy.

        Generally, the earlier the hymns of Rig Veda, the less Indus you get.

        The incorporation of native Indus tribes and populations into the ‘Arya’ fold is clearly suggested in the later layers of the Rig Veda.

  17. I don’t want to divert the thread but there are couple things for now:

    Greek (instant) mythology is a replica of much older Serbian mythology. In Iliad there are involved gods from the Olymp. Greek colonists at that time maybe just started coming to the Med islands, the nearest to Egypt. They did not know for Olymp and they haven’t seen this mountian for almost a thousand of years after that. Who are dionysious and aphrodite?

    Surprise, surprise – D. is the first Aryan leader (Baccus, Nimrod, Belus), the founder of Babylon, Baghdad got the name after him (also – Belus>Belići> Balochi>Balochistan). Aphrodite is a replica of Priya!!! (much older Serbian goddess of love), her later replica was Roman’s Venus i.e. Priya(nka)=Aphrodite=Venus.

    1. PS: RE: naming the names (sorry forgot)

      Even I do not disagree with Karan (not only becuase he is r1a) I would be using different wording. Sometimes, the same content you can present in a different form. If guys play the real sports (not cricket) they would be knowing for the rules – play the ball not the man or keep eyes on the ball.
      I would be using (maybe it is just me) something as:

      Taki, Big M, you are an intelectually challenged boy…!

  18. Numinous,

    What you ask is a difficult question to resolve at this moment because we do not have old samples from South Asia dating to 3500 BC or earlier.

    We need such old samples from North India/Pakistan or Afghanistan because the dispersal of early IE languages from its homeland is dated to around this period.

    Unfortunately the archaeology of that period in South Asia is not so well defined and well dated. Much work needs to be done. At this moment, we have decent no of sites from Haryana but I do not know how many of them have been stratigraphically well-defined and dated.

    I think a similar situation exists in Baluchistan as well. So it is difficult at this moment to see when we will have a good aDNA sample size from our Chalcolithic period.

    Let me say that a migration from Central Asia into the steppe in the 4000 BC period is very much possible. We have archaeological evidence of Central Asian influence into the Maykop culture of the North Caucasus which I have already detailed in one of my blog posts. There is evidence of things such as cotton which is South Asian and even lost wax technique which is earliest evidenced from Mehrgarh. There is some genetic evidence too. But now the latest aDNA we have from Maykop argues against significant genetic influence of Maykop on the steppe people.

    We have to therefore see if there is an alternative route by which Central Asian genetic influence could have reached the steppe.

    A German friend named Frank who blogs at and is a very well informed person on archaeology argues that there is some migration into the steppe around 4500-4000 BC from east of the Caspian. This ties up with genetic evidence that the Sarazm EN samples or Geoksiur EN samples come across as good fits for the Iran N ancestry in Peidmont Eneolithic samples which are genetically the direct ancestors of Yamnaya.

    Such being the case – we only have to see if there is some genetic link between South & Central Asia during the Chalcolithic period. There is some tantalising evidence of similarities between the Baluchistani Chalcolithic and Central Asian Chalcolithic. There is also solid evidence of links between Sarazm and Early Harappan. But all this needs to be studied and documented much better than what we have now.

    Genetically, I expect that the Early Harappans should have very low AASI which then progressively increases from roughly 3500 BC to the Bronze Age & Iron Age. There was certainly an independent domestication of rice in the Gangetic plains and it manages to reach the Sites in Haryana during the Early Harappan phase.

    So maybe this is when additional AASI ancestry began infiltrating the Harappan civilization. Who knows ?

  19. Numinous:
    “On 2, I think many people in India are out-of-step with the modern west, where (apart from fringe alt-right groups) there is no appetite for denigration of India or other countries in the way the British colonialists did. They really don’t need to be so prickly about the research coming from the west and challenge everything they find uncomfortable as a conspiracy”

    The chief editor of the journal of Indo-European studies, James Mallory, is on video joking that PIE could not have come from South Asia as PIE had words for bathing. Now I’m not arguing for a South Asian origin of PIE, and I understand it is not politically correct these days to call people racist/bigoted for their racist/bigoted statements, I think it’s a stretch to somehow imagine that European scholars of proto Indo-European are completely free of bias.

    Ultimately, I think genetics will do much more to discover the PIE homeland rather than linguistics and archaeology as it would be impossible to fudge the data (e.g. proto-uralic homeland based on genetics might lead to a Siberian homeland and considering its supposed interaction with PIE this can’t be handwaved away). Just read Elena Kuzminas book about the indo-iranians and how laughable many of the statements are in light of the new DNA evidence (e.g. woman couldn’t have made the journey from the steppe to the Swat Valley as it was too dangerous so only steppe men were involved in the migration/invasion).

    Finally, the methodology used to arrive at conclusions in PIE debates is highly suspect (e.g. James Mallory’s kultur Kugel model). I’m not sure why one couldn’t assume that Maykop is IE speaking (as Yamnaya is assumed to be) as maykop has many of the cultural traits associated with PIE (e.g. kurgans, horses, vehicles, people buried alongside their vehicles/animals) and that Maykop Indo europeanized the steppe through similar methods that are employed to explain the steppe theory (e.g. kultur Kugel, elite dominance, pot lucks, etc.). David Anthony admits that many of the cultural innovations from Maykop spread to the steppe and it’s clear that their is Botai admixture in Maykop so any arguments based around horses shouldn’t hold water. Just consider how amplified this point would be if the direction was reversed (i.e. the cultural innovations of wagon burials went from the steppe to maykop) and you can see the outrageous hypocrisy and unscientific nature of these ‘unbiased’ archaeologists and linguists.

    Anyways, my question for Vagheesh would be if he can share brief outlines of any upcoming papers from the Reich lab and their associated and what their timelines might be (e.g. a paper about the Balkans covering pre and post Mycenaean Greece coming early next year). I completely understand if he’s not allowed to speak freely about this.

    Also, David Reich’s book proposes an Iranian origin of PIE. Does he know whether this position has changed in light of new data and what it has changed too.

    Thanks to Razib if he asks either question.

    1. Do you have a link to the Mallory video? (Given the IVC’s penchant for baths, and my assumption that people were not too fond of bathing in the cold steppe, such a joke would be wrong-headed in addition to being racist.)

      I do know that Pearson, the founder of the IE Journal, was a genuine white supremacist, so I agree with you that a number of unsavory characters in the West have been inordinately interested in this quest. But I do trust the peer review process to weed these people out. Perhaps I’m too optimistic?

      Anyway, the concern for Indians generally is: did Sanskrit come from outside or did it descend from indigenous languages. Whether Maykop is the origin of IE or the Pontic-Caspian steppe makes no difference. Though if Jaydeep’s conjecture, that late Maykop is a derivative of IVC, proves to be correct, that’ll be a shot in the arm for OIT (actually OPT == Out of Punjab Theory, as the theory implies that IE spread everyone from a fulcrum in the Indus-Saraswati belt.)

  20. Hi Razib,

    Are the earliest parts of Rig Veda created in the steppes?

    Since it now evident that steppe people brought the language and therefore the PIE religion to india.

  21. Busy right now at work but I’ll post the video in about 5-6 hours. He actually said it at a conference about Indo European languages which makes it so much worse as he is surrounded by others in the field but noone makes any protest against the comment/joke.

    Also, it isn’t just people like Mallory, but maybe I’ll expand on this point when I post the video.

    While I don’t hold any proposed location for PIE as based in any solid grounding, I don’t believe it came from India. Maybe Iran as David Reich suggested in his book but that position might have changed now.

    Finally, while the peer review process is trust worthy, I doubt it is the same if your submitting to IE journals. The list of priors one holds in Indo European studies isn’t the same as if your were submitting to a journal about chemistry, physics etc. I doubt there are any physicists or chemists that have nationalism intertwined with what evidence they are willing to accept (ignoring the Deutsch/Aryan physics of the 1930s).

  22. My question to Vageesh is whether there is any hope for further light being shed on pre-Steppe genetic profile of South Asians given the lack of usable aDNA in South Asia.

  23. @Blavid

    I recall the video you’re talking about. That comment by Mallory was racially insensitive even if you find it funny, and it’s more the kind of joke that you genrally make between friends or if you belong to the in-group it’s directed to, but as far as PIE is concerned, he’s been a very moderate and generally agnostic researcher, even if he’s had a certain preference for the Don-Volga steppe, as I interpret his writings, which I personally think has been vindicated. Overall he was very careful and very fair to all propositions in his work.

    As for genetics vs linguistics, I see the former more as sealing the deal than anything more. If linguistics told us that PIE was more likely an Anatolian Neolithic language, why couldn’t we take that population as its origin? After all the EEF component is found in all Indo-European speaking cultures and one could argue its spread and admixture onto early steppe cultures was responsible for their linguistic Indo-Europeanization. Someone could make an argument about Y-DNA instead but we know that some early J was in Khvalynsk and that Yamnaya picked up some I2a2 so the association between Y-DNA and language could also be explained in other ways, loss via founder effects and the like. For example, many later Neolithic European cultures further west and north end up I2 dominated and it’s not unlikely that they still spoke languages from their Anatolia_N side.

    Also if we look carefully at the data, plenty of those myths you’re talking about are also being demolished on the European side as well and you have to take some creative interpretations or fudging to preserve them imo. Not to mention the still ongoing intellectual infighting among some people about whether R1a or R1b or both or others too are relevant for PIE and whether Bell Beaker was unrelated and only Indo-Europeanized by Corded Ware or whether the latter had nothing to do with the R1b-dominated steppe. 😀

  24. @Numinous

    There you go. If the link doesn’t begin at the exact time-point, its about 11:15 into the video.

    Yeah I don’t mean to cast aspersions on Mallory and I usually find him more level headed than others in this area. Hopefully genetics can clear up the debate!


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.