Why Aryan Migration Theory (“AMT”) is probably true, but it might not matter

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People now and then ask me why JR contributes to this weblog when I think he’s profoundly wrong on some issues. First, being wrong is no sin. Even being offensive is no sin. I am a traditionalist in regards to expression.

Second, JR presents what I believe to be the wrong position with a reasonable command of the sources and in a logical and coherent manner. He has not convinced me, but I have sharpened my own views (and to be frank, I believe that both of us have changed positions over the last four years as new data has emerged). Unfortunately, this is in contrast with the bluster, ad hominem and incoherence of many opponents of the idea of the exogenous origins of the Indo-Aryans. I used to think these people were malicious, but I think a lot of them are just stupid. So I hold it less against them.

JR presents what strikes me as an Indocentric view. He is quite clear that he sees his project as compensatory and reactive to the traditional Eurocentric view. My own position is quite naively positivistic, and I attempt to be cross-cultural. Of course in the details, I fail because to be subjective is to be human (my own view is going to be Eurocentric because my cultural orientation is American). Knowledge of the empirical world accumulates despite our shortcomings. JR has made an appeal to me as a person of subcontinental origin on occasion, but this lever is pulling on a string of emptiness. I am one of the Last Men who are weak in regards to racial self-conception.

Sometimes you really know what people are about by what they don’t talk about. Americans don’t talk directly about money, but we care about it a great deal. Indians don’t talk about caste directly in personal detail, but clearly they care about it a great deal. And the converse is also true. Much of my bluster about R1a1a-Z93 is that I find lineage to be a humorous and frivolous fixation, though I am latitudinarian is accepting that others may differ with me on this. It is a matter of disposition for me, not a deep principle. AMT or OIT has little emotional valence for me.

Finally, I have to admit that I have become disillusioned with the calm and conscious lying and obfuscation which I know to occur in sciences with which I am familiar. When Westerners have strong ideological priors and beliefs at stake, scholars abandon fidelity to the truth so as to tack to the winds and align themselves with the regnant ideologies of the age. They are servile creatures who bend to power. I do not have it within me to look down upon Indians for their bias and motivated reasoning when I know that Janus reigns supreme in Western academia. I thought “we” were better than this. I know now that that was a delusion. The courage of men fails. They will forsake friends and break bonds of fellowship. The truth is nothing next to these betrayals.

But I still vainly hold to the ideals of the old religion. Truth above all, strive for it even when it discomfits, and when you miss the mark so often. Knowledge is its own regard.

JR’s post, The Unravelling of the AMT, consists primarily of marshaling evidence from archaeology and linguistics (genetics being secondary). The contention is that the lack of archaeological disruption during the period between 2000 BC and 1000 BC, as well as no evidence in the extant literature of Indo-Aryan recollections of foreign homeless, should argue against an exogenous origin for Indo-Aryans. As I have no deep knowledge of these two fields, let us grant these assertions.

The reason that JR’s extensive argumentation does not convince me is that even granting the low probability of AMT conditional on the facts which he brings to the table, the probability of OIT is even lower conditional on the facts we know about other Indo-European societies. Alone, and isolated, if I grant the level of archaeological disruption to be minor, and if I grant that indeed Indian oral history does not record an external homeland, the model of mass migration in the period between 2000 and 1000 BC does strike me as unlikely (let’s put the genetics to the side).

But, if you reject AMT for this period, then we must explain Indo-Europeans in Europe and in the Near East. Logically the rejection of AMT entails OIT, and OIT presents far greater problems to me than AMT. From a cross-cultural perspective, a model that explains the current distribution of Indo-European languages must explain all of the different branches and their locations as parsimoniously as possible. There will be errors and loose ends in the model, but we have to iterate from a plausible starting point. AMT resolves more problems than it creates. OIT creates more problems than it resolves.

And yet to be entirely frank…I do think JR’s arguments will gain more and more traction with Indians. Indians are entirely Indocentric quite often, so arguments that operate within this framework will be persuasive. I find this personally uncongenial, but I am getting the sense as I get older that I have an abnormal interest in a disparate array of cultures and societies (some commentators, who may or may not have low IQs, express frustration that I refer to other societies and cultures since they are clearly ignorant of things beyond their shores). Here in the United States, there are “Ethnic Studies” departments that seem to exist so that people of a particular ethnicity can study their own history. They are quite popular and ideologically motivated.

The broad world out there is fading for the positivist vision. The age of science is giving way to the age of magic. The time for public discussion and calm inquisition of the facts has probably passed us by. Truth, understanding the shape of reality for its own sake, is a small cultic affair. And yet do well to remember, the lies that give you comfort are lies nevertheless!

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81 Replies to “Why Aryan Migration Theory (“AMT”) is probably true, but it might not matter”

  1. “Indians are entirely Indocentric quite often”.

    A quote from Al Beruni on this topic.

    “The Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs…. Their haughtiness is such that, if you tell them of any science or scholar in Khorasan and Persis, they will think you to be both an ignoramus and a liar. If they traveled and mixed with other nations, they would soon change their mind, for their ancestors were not as narrow-minded as the present generation is.”

    1. “The Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs..”

      yeah, but isn’t this true. 😉

      1. All civilizations have this same self perception. Had he met the Chinese, he would have said the same stuff about them too

    2. All the way from Al-Beruni to Nirad Chaudhry to Indthings have thrown this quote at Indians and it does not sting one bit. Pehaps if Al Beruni had said the same thing in Sanskrit , which he reportedly learnt, that would have made Hindus sit up and think.

      1. well i was actually being inclusive of all south asians. not just indian hindus. most cultures and peoples too. the narrow focus on ‘self’ is really pervasive.

    3. ”if you tell them of any science or scholar in Khorasan and Persis, they will think you to be both an ignoramus and a liar.”

      Khorasan ? I’d have to agree with them.

    4. ”if you tell them of any science or scholar in Khorasan and Persis, they will think you to be both an ignoramus and a liar.”

      Khorasan ? I’d have to agree with them.

  2. Excellent post. and the gnxp blog. In the higher levels of Indian educational institutions , science as opposed to identity politics used to rule. Now less I think

    1. @VijayVan:

      Ideologically-driven science denial seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. In the West, scientists made fun in the 1990s of six-day creationists and until recently have made fun of Global Warming deniers. The shoe seems to be changing feet. Nowadays, notwithstanding the P.C./closeted left “mainstream” culture/media/academy horror at the supposed or real anti-intellectualism of Trump or Orban or their supporters, it has become current money in the world of science to deny the validity of any conclusion which seems to fly in the face of the intersectionalist narrative. I remember Southern conservative scholar Clyde Wilson predicted this about a decade ago. His premise was, to simplify a bit, that the humanities in the West were being gutted for politically correct reasons, and that because Western science had grown out of the culture and mentality created by those humanities its decline would not be far behind.

      Martin Hutchinson not long ago suggested that the Chinese and Indians might take up the relay of hard sciences and save humanity, materially speaking. If Khan’s and your intuitions are correct, then he may have been too optimistic about India. As for China, theirs is a society which has been remarkably capable of making peace with paradox and contradiction, so whatever happens on the ground they may be able to take what they want from the hard sciences. However, I have my doubts even the age-old and sturdy Chinese society can withstand its ongoing demographic collapse.

  3. We have seen this map already. Yamnaya west stream came to Europe 2700BC. In Europe we already had Lepenski Vir (Iron Gates) 9000BC, Blagotin (7-8000BC) and Vinca 6-7000BC (so far about 850 sites discovered). Yamnaya east stream came to SA about 2000BC. Which genes carried Yamnaya people? If R1a – what were LV and Vinca genes? What were their language(s) for 6000 years (longer than btw Yamnaya and us) if Yamnaya carried IE language(s)? If not R1a – it means Yamnaya were not Aryans in SA. How R1a got to SA and who were Aryans? If Yamnaya did not carry IE language(s) how and when languages in Europe and SA got connected? Let not say anything about mythology and toponyms.

  4. Well I want to conclude some important points
    After reading About OIT.
    – IF There was mass migration out of india why did the people going to europe and central asia have no oral stories and writings similar to the 4 VEDAS!!
    – Why do people outside of southasia don’t have the AASI component? Because that’s the component that makes Indian distinct from West eurasia.
    – As people in india say that 19th century geneticist were baised and have a very racist view then they are making the same assumption to say nobody came to india everyone was already there.
    – Every nationalistic society( not all indians) which is distinct and regards their culture to highest order wants to be a Source poulation. Language also plays a part in that.
    – Even if they came of not doesn’t change today’s problem with Caste, Racism, Unemployment, freedom of speech issues etc. in our country.
    – This assimilation of indo – european tribes show both sides of humans : tribalism and assimilation. FIRST they assimilated and after their group/jati/tribe were large enough(in millions) they started not mixing with lower caste/varna/jati groups.
    – And even they were from India doesn’t mean anything most of the people derive most ancestry from Indus _Periphery and AASI.
    – Why do people don’t look at the appearance (facial features etc)of north Indian Brahmin/Jat etc and the tribals of Jharkhand and not notice the Difference. Its clearly seen they have a different phenotype than other upper caste groups.
    – Even communities I have been in and talk(Jats mostly) to people didn’t believe in Aryan migration theory but still they consider themselves distinct from Other groups like Bengali, Bihari etc
    – Some communities straight up talk vulgar,racist things to rags pickers, cobblers, sewage worker etc and the people in most of the cases are Jats or upper Cast.(my experience). This give the signal they have a distinct sense of identity than other groups as every group have in India.
    – This doesn’t mean Aryans (or whatever you might call them ) were not indian they accepted these lands and most probably dont have a civilised high culture . This made assimilation easier.
    – I have seen people going in sewer naked to remove blocked pipes and covered in Sh*t. This is as low the modern day caste system can get. You won’t see a Jatt Punjabi,Khatri,Upper caste doing this sewage workers . Only valmikis do this work. Shame on the government who cannot provide safety gears to them.
    That went in a different direction as the passage went on.

    1. I am not sure which OIT you read. But good job switching from trying-to-know-the-truth to people-I-see-act-shitty.
      This is exactly the simplistic summaries that Razib and JR are going against. You don’t need OIT as a counter argument to AMT. They are not symmetrical. People have considered language diffusion, elite dominance, and other mechanisms of culture spread without massive migrations. The issue is also about timing of events and population dynamics. Lack of AASI outside of India is currently a weak argument when a gradient of AASI exists within Indus-periphery samples.

      So you see shitty caste behaviour. Powerful people don’t care for truth but any story that keeps them in power. Look at the world (outside India and west) and how that works. Do a case study on samurai culture of Japan.

      Please don’t fall for easily available narratives without examining your own biases.

      1. First of all I am not a geneticist , nor have done
        Extended research in this genetic data. As a person living in the northern part of india I just wanted to share my view , which is not influenced by eurocentrism, it’s just the way the overall society in India looked like from My perspective.
        Also On baises everyone has some biases in thier own view. I do not negate the possibilty of OIT if its true doesn’t make a difference in my life . This caste will not get abolished if The OIT because heirachies are very common and found almost every societies. Nowadays anybody with money can climb the ladder up the heirachy.
        The language theory seems correct in my view.
        By “Outside of india” I meant in west asia and eastern europe.
        I have seen shitty caste behaviour many times in my life that the reality. That’s why I wrote about it.
        I haven’t any personal grudge against you but I think you took it too seriously.
        I am an uninformed person and genetics and data could be better presented by Razib so I just wrote about how I feel about it as I have spent 23 years in India(since birth).
        Sorry If I have said something wrong.

        P.S : I AM NEW TO THIS AND ALSO I AM NOT A NATIVE SPEAKER SO MIND THE GRAMMAR

        1. Mate, I am not a genecist either and you lived as much time in India as I did. Biggest difference though is that I am almost twice as old as you.

          This is the time for you to grow and see the world as it is though, imho.
          That’s why the appeal to look at the world other than the one you happened to know by the accident of birth. What luck that you have internet and Google in India when you are only 23! (Internet cost 100 rupees for 30 min in my time, no Google, and I wasn’t that rich to spend couple of 100s reading blogs)

          There are multiple hierarchies that exist simulatenously. One can climb up a few with money or education but other are to be lived with. Please don’t fixate on only a few. Anyway, that’s only if you care to change any of it.

          Good luck!

    2. It’s intresting that I live in India but I really can’t tell a person’s caste by his facial features !
      Moreover a good number of modern manual sewer cleaners are Brahmins. Caste prejudices exist less among highest caste Brahmins(except for ritualistic purpose and we know Brahmins are least vocal and least violent lot in India) and more among lower rung caste groups like Jaats.
      By the way is there any society which didn’t have social divisions like India had?

      1. Yeah mate it could be true. I’ve lived mainly in Haryana and Delhi and that’s my experience in the society.

  5. Great post Razib!
    This is what makes it worthwhile to visit gnxp and BP. I am also beginning to recognize more and more Tolkien in your text. 😀

    I used to think AMT had a strong case after ANI-ASI cline. After Iran-HG and recent dates of splitting of Indo-Iran-HG, I am not so sure. The only strong element of AMT seems to be R1a1a star phylogeny.

    However, that doesn’t explain the language question and human migrations doesn’t seem to follow Occum’s Razor ( what’s with Denisovans?). Parsimonious explanation of incomplete data will only lead to an overfit model. (Data issues is not just on genetics but also deciphering Indus script).

    Elst seems to produce a reasonable alternative explanation for language. But it hasn’t reached consensus yet and maybe never if the direction of researchers is not the search for truth anymore.

    Our kind had a good run when world was connected and knowledge was free. And yes, men are weak. 😀

  6. I hope it won’t be out of place here to ask JR if he still believes in K. D. Sethna’s chronology of ancient Indian history, which puts Ashoka’s reign somewhere around the 10th century BC. I do recall him mentioning once that he did.

  7. “Americans don’t talk directly about money, but we care about it a great deal. Indians don’t talk about caste directly in personal detail, but clearly they care about it a great deal.”

    The issue is that Indians can figure out your caste and your origin from your surname, it’s not something any knowledgeable person needs to discuss. And the people that aren’t knowledgeable about it don’t care much about it anyways.

    I agree with your larger point (eg there’s a reason medical students never talk about their licensing exam scores), but I don’t think it’s quite applicable to India.

  8. Razib Khan wrote:

    “JR’s post, The Unravelling of the AMT, consists primarily of marshaling evidence from archaeology and linguistics (genetics being secondary). ”

    The problem of the origin of IE LANGUAGE family IS a linguistic problem posed by linguists and ultimately to be solved by them. For starters, the FIRE WORSHIPING Iranians do NOT have the most commonly used words for fire that are found in all other language families (agni and puhuur type of words) and are also found in abundance in Indo Aryan languages. Therefore, there is simply no way that there ever was an earlier “Indo-Iranian” stage that separated AS A UNIT from the parent IE stock. The Iranians were the LAST ones to depart from the homeland wherever that homeland may have been AFTER all the other families had departed. Northwest South Asia and ONLY Northwest South Asia meets that criterion. IT JUST CANNOT BE ANY OTHER WAY. If saying that makes me Ethnocentric, Indocentric, racist, bigoted, nationalist, so be it.

  9. “Finally, I have to admit that I have become disillusioned with the calm and conscious lying and obfuscation which I know to occur in sciences with which I am familiar.”

    Heh, I just saw a Twitter biologist (primatologist) waxing poetic about gender spectrums, in service of her larger ideological cause.

    Let people have OIT and whatever else, they’ll never be as bad as the Westerners who tell you race and sex don’t exist.

  10. The only strong element of AMT seems to be R1a1a star phylogeny.

    no, that’s not the strongest right now. the strongest is that 10-20% of the ancestry in northern india/s asia is ‘steppe’ and dates to after 2000 BC.

  11. where we are now genetically

    – looks like ASI/AHG may have been intrusive to NW subcontinent (6 K BP time scale)
    – iranian-like farmer ancestors may have been indigenous at least since late pleistocene (12 K BP time scale)
    – swat shows little r1a
    – swat transect shows increase in in steppe & AHG over time (late bronze/early iron)

    this complicates/reduces certainty rejecting “OIT” based on what indian ‘is’ since that’s so recent (e.g., could they be indus periphery with almost no AHG?)

    but converse

    – we now know the ‘steppe’ element, which has elements of ‘european farmer’ reflux, was not present before ~2000 BC in khorasan
    – the earliest this component existed is probably ~2500 BC (time for east->west->east
    – this steppe-like component arrives in the vast majority of the indo-european speaking territory in the range of 3000-1000 BC
    – steppe-like component increases in iran during bronze agee

    so again, focusing on india makes AMT less compelling than when you look at it synoptically.

    the possibility that out-of-india may have lacked AHG opens up a particular angle for OIT, but more granularity of understanding how and where the steppe component spread makes AMT even more likely than earlier (at least in interval of certainty and model specificity).

    1. Razib,

      Thanks for the summary. Reading eurogenes gave me the impression that R1a is the strongest argument since someone in the comments were discussing if “steppe” definition is precise enough, but I gave up trying to actually track the PCA components anymore. Too many moving too fast and being renamed before you can blink.

      Also, is ‘steppe’ a specific combination or just left-over fit after Iran-HG and ASHG are taken out in Indian pops? Because, an older argument was about slow influx of many invaders introducing steppe autosomal DNA into the Indian populations.

      Perhaps you may summarize the science behind the timing of these combinations from data analysis of aDNA sometime (or point if someone is doing this? blogs are dead and commoners are lost). Many thanks for keeping the flame going though.

  12. @Razibb Khan,
    “JR presents what strikes me as an Indocentric view. He is quite clear that he sees his project as compensatory and reactive to the traditional Eurocentric view. ”

    What are you talking about? Eurocentric view. The view that IE languages didn’t originate in India is Eurocentric? It isn’t. We know it isn’t because ancient DNA is proving it correct.

    The only centrics are the Indocentrics. You shouldn’t justify their Indocentrism by saying they are reacting to evil white racists. Because, they’re not. What it is is no one is brave enough today to condemn non-white people of their ethnocentrism.

    Well, European researchers do have bias when discussing Indo European language origins. Except, it isn’t a Eurocentric bias. It is a anti-European bias.

    This is why the Harvard geneticists call the “Eurasian Steppe” the homeland of Indo European languages. This is why they supported a “southern hypothesis” (Yamnaya’s Near Eastern ancestry). The southern hypothesis has been proven wrong by ancient DNA. So, now they call the Indo European homeland the “Eurasian Steppe.”

    In realitty, the Indo-European homeland was in Eastern Europe. Safetly within the borders of Europe. Moreover, the Indo-Iranians origainted even deeper in Europe which is why they had European farmer admixture. But, the Western reseachers are not comfortable for a European origin of Indo-European languages so they ignore these inconvinent facts.

    It is absurd to in 2019, speak of Eurocentrism. It doesn’t exist in any place in the elite of the Western World including academics.

    1. you need to calm down.

      most of the people are reacting to 19th-century theories.

      Well, European researchers do have bias when discussing Indo European language origins. Except, it isn’t a Eurocentric bias. It is a anti-European bias.

      i think this maybe true a bit for modern researchers.

  13. “my own view is going to be Eurocentric because my cultural orientation is American”

    You’re buying into bull shit philosophy on the subjectivity of truth. It doesn’t matter if you’re Chinese, Indian, English, American you can understand what the ancient DNA data says.

    The fact is, there’s a bunch of Indocentrists. There are no Eurocentrists. The only people who are willingly bias are Indians. You need to call them out. Stop, calling Western people who understand the OBJECTIVE facts Eurocentrists.

  14. i would ask readers to not react too strongly with SIA outburst above. may have to close thread if it’s a flame-war. (though the details differ SIA outburt kind of reminds me of hindu nationalists!)

  15. I for one embrace our Polack heritage.
    Time for some pierogis and kielbasa, and maybe a nice Tyskie to wash it down.

    1. Sounds very tasty. Hope that islam does not prevent you from drinking Polish beer. Only, at that time the name ‘Polish’ did not exist, they were Serbian tribes and spoke Serbian language. Is there any chance that some of them (at least some Aryan sluts) crossed the Indian border as gene smugglers? OIT could be interested in this.

  16. Razib,

    I’d be very interested to know if you have any thoughts on the possibility of Brahmins not descending from a common group? ( basically, are there any implications of interest to this possibility, with respect to “Aryanization” and the structural emergence of the caste system?)

    Personally though, the Jatts are a continual source of puzzlement. I mean, I’ve read some historical sources in which there are claims of Jatts being subject to tremendous oppression and poverty (around the time of the first Islamic invasions into the northwestern periphery of India. The group seems to have been very marginalized). And if I’m not mistaken (Indian commentators are free to correct me), Jatts are “technically” Shudra.

    Yet, Steppe_MLBA peaks among these people. The Jatts of Indian Punjab seem to have around 30% admixture for Sintashta/Andronovo-related ancestry (depending on method, the range is 25%-35%. Approximately 30% is the most common outcome).

    And the Jatts and Rors (not sure what the Rors are; Indian commentators can explain the cultural anthropology) of Haryana seem to be around 40% (the range is 35%-45%…. but 40% is the most consistent outcome across all methods)!

    Do these facts demonstrate that the process of AMT involved complexities not properly parsed in the original musings of 19th century European scholars?

    1. *35% for **Rors, would be lower for Punjab Jats and considerably lower than that for Pakistani Jats. No group in modern day south Asia is 40% Sintashta on average.

    2. @commentator

      I have a theory on why Jats ended up in their social status in spite of their steppe ancestry. I think it might have something to do with the prevalence of the L-M20 lineage among them. Perhaps L-M20 ancestors survived the invasion better than other IVC lineages and this would have made L-M20 descendants kind of like social adversaries of the R1a descended tribes.

      1. I think they straight up just lived on indus periphery and escaped deeper in with invasions

        that would explain their central asian claims too. brahmanical order was already established so they had to be shudras

        granted running away violates their whole narrative as the greatest most martial race ever like presented on jatwiki

        1. I don’t see any proof of the Jat claims of migrations since they aren’t particularly close to modern populations in the Indus periphery such as Sindhis. The whole Scythian/migration ancestry theory is baseless as discussed earlier on various occasions. The L-M20 populations like Jat, Balochis, Saurishantrians and Kalash .etc seem to be like the south Asian equivalent to the Japanese yDNA D which thrived in spite of a disturbance in the old order. Though even here the frequency of L-M20 vs R1a would differ among various L-M20 heavy populations. Apparently Sikh Jats have a lot more R1a than eastern Jats and Saurashtrians have plenty of R1a as well. So the group could be further divided in L-M20 populations which also have a lot of R1a and L-M20 populations with a low amount of R1a.
          I don’t have access to details of Jat mtDNA but I am willing to bet that the steppe ydna/steppe mtdna ratio would end up being more like what is seen in Kalash than what is seen in the regular castes, or maybe half-way in between. The reason for this is because of a ~25% frequency of R1a (which is around the south Asian average, if not lower) specifically in eastern Jats along with a higher steppe autosomal ancestry than other south Asian groups sans Rors perhaps. Castes in the old Brahmanical order came from a mixture that was overwhelmingly in the form of Steppe men mixing with local women, while the outcastes might have come from a less extreme form of sex-bias where the local male lineages weren’t toppled.
          L-M20 is a haplogroup that I can’t seem to pin on one social group, it is found in appreciable frequencies in the mercantile Saurashtra people, among the farmer Jat people, among Sri Lankans, and among outcastes like Kalash and some subsets of Gujjars (other subsets don’t have a lot of L-M20 and instead have plenty of R1a). I don’t know if these can be explained by a late common IVC ancestry or if their L-M20 ancestors were already living in different regions of south Asia during the IVC period.
          As far as your doubts of the amount of steppe ancestry is concerned, anything similar to a 65% ‘mlba’ comes from that late 2018 paper which doesn’t distinguish between BMAC type ancestry, extra Tyumen type ancestry and actual Sintashta ancestry, co-authored by Pathak and Niraj Rai along with others. Looking back at it, it seems a bit sketchy to me and somewhat like a platform made to launch their next ‘local Indian R1a paper’ so I am suspicious of anything presented in it. Definitely discard any claims of 65% mlba ancestry in any south Asian ethnicity that anyone makes. Not even Tajiks are 65% mlba on average, heck not even the most extreme steppe-rich Tajiks should be 65% mlba on a high end level. An equivalent to 65% mlba is like the kind of steppe ancestry that you would expect from northwestern and northern Europeans.
          You shouldn’t be surprised by results of 35% steppe in certain south Asian groups on average however, since regardless of if I use only Sintashta or Sintashta + partial Sintashta ancestral inputs (like Kangju), I always end up getting a total of ~35% Sintashta ancestry on average for the most steppe-rich south Asian groups.

          1. most of my family mercantile Saurasthra. That’s the side with the mitochondrial K1a. Wonder if some of the men are L. would be cool to get their DNA tested

          2. @thewarlocke
            If you had asked me 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have suspected a mercantile + farmer L-M20 combo to best represent a resistance against the steppe invasions.

  17. I’d be very interested to know if you have any thoughts on the possibility of Brahmins not descending from a common group? ( basically, are there any implications of interest to this possibility, with respect to “Aryanization” and the structural emergence of the caste system?)

    i am mildly agnostic on this. not sure they have the power to make a definitive conclusion about common ancestry. i think the most likely possibility is that brahmins (at least n. indian ones) come out of indo-aryan groups which took on priestly vocations. not from the priestly caste of indo-aryans per se. (brahmins outside of core n india look like n indian brahmins + natives)

    Do these facts demonstrate that the process of AMT involved complexities not properly parsed in the original musings of 19th century European scholars?

    they are going to be loose ends. eg finns are off-cline in europe. the jatts probably do have some later gene flow imo…

  18. “The broad world out there is fading for the positivist vision. The age of science is giving way to the age of magic. The time for public discussion and calm inquisition of the facts has probably passed us by.”

    that is so melancholic, but sadly true.

    i call it Trump effect. the age of “alternative facts” is upon us.

  19. Great piece as always!

    Luwian is an older attestation of the same language group to which RV belongs, i.e. there exists a unique set of consistent lexicon and morphology such that the number of algebraic transformations from Luwian to that set is less than the number of transformations from RV. That hypothetical set is called Proto Indo European and its descendant Luwian, spoken in the Fertile Crescent, is the oldest attested member of the family. And it is attested not just in speech but in inscription – both directly in Luwian but also 1000-1500 BCE references to it in Old Greek and Hittite.

    This places IEans way outside India from a very early period centuries before the oldest hymns of RV. One can do all kinds of mental gymnastics (i.e. posit unfalsifiable, super-caveated fudges) to weasel one’s way out of the inescapable but I must say I have very little time for that brand of horse manure – or should I say ashvakarISa.

    On an entirely separate note I don’t buy Razib’s note of despondency at what he calls the age of magic (I prefer age of outrage!). Of course science as we know it can end. But I think the argument of its demise is overdone. These are the effects of an information (including nonsense) surplus, that the Western culture is only beginning to get used to. Yet this problem is in principle no different from earlier forms of professional curmudgeonry the West has successfully overcome.

    1. ” Yet this problem is in principle no different from earlier forms of professional curmudgeonry the West has successfully overcome.”

      The West was in a growth period of wealth that led it to successfully overcome other issues. Does this hold moving forward? If the wealth declines can scientific progress be sustained with the same objectivity?

      1. I think the dichotomy of creation of wealth and scientific progress is false. Ultimately the question is the same. Doing science (and enabling technology) is the fastest method of creating knowledge to understand and control physical resources, and therefore generate wealth. So the only question really is whether the West remains conducive to scientific progress.

        In my opinion, nothing guarantees progress, but nothing makes problems impeding progress insurmountable either. We just have to wait and see 🙂

        1. I think the issue is for research that is not focused on resources extraction.

          Also, resource extraction knowledge is not always public domain knowledge. Neither Exxon nor Google (or Apple or Facebook) is going to release their proprietary research to public consumption.

          If they hired a Newton, we are not getting calculus. 😐

  20. That hypothetical set is called Proto Indo European and its descendant Luwian, spoken in the Fertile Crescent, is the oldest attested member of the family.

    hittite is a bit older i think. but same branch.

    also, the mitanni indo-aryans seem to be around the same time (1750 BC?).

    the hittite samples don’t show steppe, so that’s a spanner in the works. otoh, there is some confusion about the provenance of samples is what i heard from the reich lab. we’ll see if the results from iran replicate in anatolia with larger sample sizes (steppe during the bronze age).

    1. Luwian-Hittite weren’t just related but likely formed a sprachbund. Luwian shows more archaisms, but Hittite inscriptions are slightly older in attestation.

      Mitanni is ~1400 BCE I believe. Closer to Indo-Iranian than Indic proper in my view (though some posit the IA flavour of it too). And in any case linguistically underivable from RV and certainly closer to PIE than oldest RV.

      1. most of the records are from 1400. but i’ve seen publications which suggest that the genesis of the mitanni-hurrian kingdom date to ~1750 bc. i can go searching again to see if the citation is fuzzy.

  21. Excellent comment Samuel. I mentioned couple things above. It is strange (‘anti-European bias’) that none (actually, just starting) consider IronGates/Vinca as ‘Indo-European homeland’ even they had a high civilisation for more than 6000 years before Yamnaya. There was an alphabet (and calendar, used until 19th c.AC) 3000 years before Yamnaya which many still try to boycott as the oldest in the world. And we have an OIT inclined geneticist who says that Roman Empire spread Indo-European (what does it mean?) languages and there was a Conduit (!) for spreading IE languages in South Asia, probably to avoid to clearly say that someone from outside had to come to today’s India.

    I invited couple times OIT proponents for a discussion, but they autistically ignore this. As Razib said their main problem is the rejection of any probability that, at least something, of AIT is correct. They publish ‘findings’ without any timeline, without causes and consequences, with a myopic (Indocentric) view which ignore surrounding areas (Tibet, C.Asia, China, Iran, Russia, etc). They even not try to give any theory/speculation about how and when so-called IE languages (and people) spread from India to Europe. If they found similarities between some Vedic books and Irish mythology, what is the missing link? If extended family relationships (e.g. husband’s brother’s wife, wife’s sister’s husband, etc) which are pre-Vedic are similar in Serbian and Sanskrit, how to explain this? If there are thousands of Aryan toponyms in CA, Tibet, China, Afghanistan (soon, in India) – there is no any comment.

    And, maybe Razib should clear this confusion by saying – what is the age of R1a in India, in Russia, in Europe, in Vinca. No archaeology is needed for this.

    In fact, OIT is not concerned with potential ancient arrives, people were coming and leaving, their main concern is the culture, which they think, will be perceived as ‘imported’. Because, some who see inevitability of Aryan existence, state that they were barbarians without any culture. But, this cannot explain how their language got domination, similarities of mythologies and we start circulus vitiosus again.

  22. Just feel a bit sad. Are we really at the end of Science? Even though i am pretty nihilistic , i hoped that we are moving towards a better world. Perhaps it was an illusion after all.

    We are perhaps the last generation of common sense

    1. “We are perhaps the last generation of common sense”

      LOL. I don’t think we are. There are always people with common sense and sometimes common sense dictates people to speak what keeps them alive than what is truth they see. 🙂

  23. I don’t see the Guti of the 3rd millennium BC in the map above. Razib, have you ever discussed the Guti and the widespread belief that they were the first Indoeuropeans to come into direct contact with the Semitic kingdoms of Sumer/Mesopotamia? Just wondering about your views on this theory. Cheers.

  24. I want Reich lab to publish on Rors to extend their cline beyond Kalash for steppe. I keep hearing claims of steppe from 40%-65%. Then people link models from papers with different sampling and methodologies.

    1. @thewarlocke
      Depends on the method that you use, ADMIXTURE results would be different from global25/Vahaduo and these would probably be different from qpAdm. I have looked at a bunch of different combinations using g25/Vahaduo, and the Ror average comes out as 35% and not 40% on average. Tried to account for as many things as possible including extra Tyumen and even Mongolian. However, all estimations are incomplete without a mesolithic AASI sample.

      https://imgur.com/a/rQfLNc7

      EDIT: You could try doing this with your own results if you have your coordinates.
      Here is the tool: https://vahaduo.github.io/vahaduo/

      And here are the inputs: http://bga101.blogspot.com/2019/07/getting-most-out-of-global25.html

  25. I see this PIE homeland question as a large complex multi-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. If a solution doesn’t fit along one dimension, or in one part, then it doesn’t work. (Thats what you are saying too, Razib). Now, of course, shapes of pieces in this puzzle are hazy and elastic, but still one can discern non-fits reasonably.
    Now look at it from “Indo-centric” way. By that I only mean, let us start with Rigveda; and from the perspective of a non-expert reasonably intelligent lay-person with scientific attitude.
    1. We are told (by authorities on both sides.. consensus scientific opinion) that Vedas have been persevered verbatim, syllable-by-syllable, since at least 1200 BC if not longer.
    2. Vedas speak of mighty Saraswati river, in a sequence of rivers thats geographical, and that puts it between Yamuna and Sutlej.
    3. But a mighty river in that spot dried up (at least as a perrenial snow fed river) by 2500-2000 BC.
    Ergo, Veda’s predate that date.
    What is a good counter argument to that? Hearing none (except the Afghan Saraswati (Helmand) or mythical Saraswati argument which doesn’t pass Occam’s razor by a wide margin. ), I have to reject the idea that Vedas were written by invaders who arrived after 1500 BC. (I don’t know where your 3000 BC bound comes from Razib. Never heard any AMT theory make that claim. But maybe thats one way to resolve this issue).
    Add to this the philological evidence presented by Talageri, for which I have not read a good *recent* rebuttal (please point me to one if it exists), and I feel I need to give a respectful hearing to OIT.
    Now Razib’s point is valid, that OIT then has to explain spread of IE to its current area (and not be content with Rigveda genesis). But it doesn’t seem any harder than disproving the Rigveda based argument. And Koenraad Elst makes progress in that direction.
    Now, many of you may be dismissive of Vedas as soft evidence, but that is not the view of experts. Because of its unique preservation via oral tradition, direct chronological inferences from it are as hard evidence as an eye-witness account from the past. Not about some metaphors about Rudra and Maruts, but if a hymn says Saraswati is a mighty river, then it very likely was when that hymn was composed.
    Now, this may be into-centric, but tell me: doesn’t any PIE homeland theory have to pass the info-centric tests too?
    The scientist in us has to be happy. We seem to have a situation analogous to when black body radiation at low frequencies and high frequencies needed different laws (theories, if you will), and the radical invention of quantization of energy by Planck was needed to resolve the conundrum. I think some interesting and delicious solution awaits us here.

  26. The Rigveda was written in India after 1500BC, i.e. after the Aryans came into India. Yet the oldest parts of the RV maintain an oral tradition at least 500 years old. Now let us look at some facts.

    1) The Mitanni knew the oldest RV around about the same time 1500BC.

    2) The oldest RV mentions the mighty Saraswati that flows into a desert creating a sea in the desert. This fact can only ascribe to the Caspian sea, and the river had to be the Volga. The Volga passes through Sintashta territory.

    3) The burial practices described in the oldest RV are exactly the Sintashta burial practices.

    Conclusion.

    The initial composition of RV occurred in Sintashta territory. Sintashta were the proto Indo Aryans. It then spread both east and west. We only see the western spread among the Mitanni and seems to have died out in the west.

    The eastern migration of the proto indo aryans thrived. Route taken. Sintashta -> Altai -> Inner asian mountain corridor -> Valleys to the south of tarim basin (including swat) -> India proper.

    Along the way RV was refined adding concepts they found on the way (e.g. Soma).

    Clearly the Sintashta where the original Indo aryans.

      1. “I read this three times and was simply horrified. A river can create a sea in a desert?”

        what is worse is that such a horror actually occurs on earth! amu darya and syr darya create a sea in the desert called aral sea!

    1. \The oldest RV mentions the mighty Saraswati that flows into a desert creating a sea in the desert. This fact can only ascribe to the Caspian sea, and the river had to be the Volga\
      Even the perspicacious linguistic analysis of Witzel of trying to get “distant memory” of Volga in RgVeda looks least convincing. He does not take Sarasvati as a starting point of his analysis. To connect sarasvati to Volga is historical and linguistic la la land.

      \composition of RV occurred in Sintashta territory.\ Even the most fervent Aryan Invasionists don’t claim that.

      Do read some literature on the subject

      OTOH, feel free for some imaginative lit

  27. “The Mitanni knew the oldest RV around about the same time 1500B”

    All the names found in the Mitanni records correspond to the names mentioned in the LATER books of the Rig Veda. Not even Oldenberg and Hopkins (1896) have ever disputed the order of the Rig Vedic books.

    See section 3 below:

    https://talageri.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-recorded-history-of-indo-european_27.html

    “”Not a single hymn in the Old Books has a composer with a name with these prefixes or suffixes (found in the Mitanni names).” Parenthesis added.

    This clearly shows an OIT migration and not an AIT one.

    “to the Caspian sea,”

    The Caspian sea is a LAKE.

    “and the river had to be the Volga.”

    Does the Volga have Yamnuna and Suturdi (Sutlaj) to its east and west respectively as mentioned in the Nadisukta?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadistuti_sukta

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-53489-4

    “Here, we present unequivocal evidence for the Ghaggar’s perennial past by studying temporal changes of sediment provenance along a 300 km stretch of the river basin. This is achieved using 40Ar/39Ar ages of detrital muscovite and Sr-Nd isotopic ratios of siliciclastic sediment in fluvial sequences, dated by radiocarbon and luminescence methods. “

  28. The oldest RV mentions the mighty Saraswati that flows into a desert creating a sea in the desert. This fact can only ascribe to the Caspian sea, and the river had to be the Volga.”

    too far fetched. in the RV aryans describe their homeland as sapta-sindhu desh. 6 of the 7 rivers are punjab rivers (indus + its 5 tributaries, though there is some ambiguity here). there is no way the 7th river could be far off volga.

  29. Mahabharata contains 200 thousand lines of verses in 18 books. In one of them ‘Forest’ saint sources, rivers and lakes are described. Rivers and lakes of the country called by epic ‘Bharata’, i.e. land of Da’Aryans and H’Aryans. The largest river of Central Russia – Volga till 2nd c.BC was called Ra, in the Avesta was called ‘Ranha’, in Rig Veda and Mahabharata ‘Ganges’.

    Ancient Indian legends call Yamuna the only large tributary of Ganges (Volga), flowing from south-west, what corresponds modern Oka. Tributaries of Oka and rivers of Volga-Oka basin have got names: Yamna, Yam, Ima, Imyev, Yaran (Sunny, Light), Urga (Light Movement), Sura (Sunny) Alatyr (Saint Stone), Lama (Spiritual teacher), Moksha (Enlightenment) and others. According to texts of ancient India, second name of the river Yamuna was Kala, and till nowadays estuary of Yamuna is called by the locals as estuary of Kala.

    In Rigveda and Mahabharata other large rivers and towns are mentioned. Thus, not far from river head of Yamuna (Oka) there is a river head of Sindhu (in Sanskrit – flow, sea) – modern Don, flowing to the East and South and falling into Red Sea (how Black Sea was called by ancient tribes). On the coast of this Sea nation Sindi lived and there was situated town Sind (Anapa). Town Manusha correlates with modern Moscow, town Rama geographically corresponds Kolomna, Sita-to Serpukhov, Shiva-to Ryazan, Soma-to Suzdal, Vamana – to Murom and others.

    1. “Saraswati in Malyalam might be pronounced Volga”

      LOL! Saurav if you are going to make fun of us, please get the spelling right, it is: Malayalam. Remember one of our points of pride is that the word is a palindrome, spelt forward and backwards the same, sacrilege if otherwise, you are taking away one of our claims to fame! 😉

  30. Mahabharata contains 200 thousand lines of verses in 18 books. In one of them ‘Forest’ saint sources, rivers and lakes are described. Rivers and lakes of the country called by epic ‘Bharata’, i.e. land of Da’Aryans and H’Aryans. The largest river of Central Russia – Volga till 2nd c.BC was called Ra, in the Avesta was called ‘Ranha’, in Rig Veda and Mahabharata ‘Ganges’.

  31. “JR presents what strikes me as an Indocentric view. He is quite clear that he sees his project as compensatory and reactive to the traditional Eurocentric view. ”

    Razib just to make my comment a bit clearer, you’re not saying eurocentric view (i.e. came from Europe) as opposed to indocentric view (i.e. came from India)? The reason I am bringing that up if you’re saying this is what most “europeans/westerners” think or what most “Indians” think then I wanted to voice a disagreement. I think a large minority of Indians embrace or want to embrace JR OITish view, but a large portion of Indians, myself included would not have a problem with AMT. You can get a very skewed representation in America because most Indian immigrants (albeit a slight majority) are upper caste Hindus, the rest are India’s minority religions, but larger portions, i.e. Sikhs, Jains, Muslims and Christians (for example who are around 18% of Indian americans alone at last pew poll). Even then I don’t think that many Hindu americans necessarily promote OIT, but unfortunately the reactionary Hindu elements are very savvy to the internet (supposedly there are even BJP/RSS IT shakas/cells) and employ trolls and marketing out of proportion to their numbers (Modi is the epitome of this, his marketing campaign bought nothing but the best). There is no “euro” investment in AMT, even anything when results have come out, they have been so slow in acknowledging there was actual population movement that it allowed the right-wing elements in India to continually say that “AMT is dead”, repeatedly in newspapers and media for years. No corresponding “OIT is dead” has been coming out in the west in newspaper headlines and it only has been started to be mentioned recently in India in reaction to the Hindutva corruption of Indian academics to give out confusing answers on the real results. I totally agree about the part of western academics starting to give a knee to ideological elements, I’m especially annoyed at anything that must consider the “feelings ” of the “spectrum” minorities. I feel you might be just referencing the small vocal reactionaries who have slyly played the game you referred western science is currently bowing to the ideologues. Western academics (Harvard no less) has already given an ideological knee to the OIT people when they started using “ANI” and “ASI’ terms to make it seem like there had been just been two indigenous separate populations in India/south Asia. Suffice to say I disagree with the term “indocentric” if you’re saying that’s what all or a majority of Indians believe (I’ve seen no polls or documentation on this at least) when you only can get the voices of those who are mostly upper caste or reactionary. and considering the diversity in India. Just as a comparison, rightwing/evangelical christians are not appeased by anyone just because they are loud and have a greater media presence, we are not worried that mainstream media is not giving enough airtime to the creationists who have actually well written and pseudo-coherent arguments for their positions just like you mentioned JR’s are which I believe a better term would be “Hindutva centric” , because what is at stake is ideology not ethnicity or people.

    1. Nothing is really at stake. The importance of whole AIT vs OIT debate on the larger ideological fight is negligible.

  32. It doesn’t matter who Aryans were, Dravidians still exist, AustroAsiatic speakers still exist. Ancient tribes such as Mundas still exist and are part of India. Hinduism is nothing but a repository of all the Cultures that existed within India, Animal worship, Polytheism, Monotheism. Tree worship etc etc

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