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David Reich has a interview (with video) up at Edge. If you see someone featured on Edge, it’s usually because you’ll hear from them in the future.

There’s not too much that close readers of this weblog will find surprising. But it was interesting to see David explicitly assert that West Eurasian ancestral input into modern Indians was male mediated. This is clear if you compare the frequency of West Eurasian Y lineages (e.g., R1a1a) and the India specific M haplogroup. But I suspect that they’ve looked closely at X chromosomes, which spend 2/3 of their time in females, and these are probably enriched for Ancestral South Indian (ASI).

David emphasizes the admixture event that occurred on the order of ~3,000 years ago between Ancestral North Indians (ANI) and Ancestral South Indians (ASI) in the ethnogenesis of the genetic landscape of South Asia. But as I’ve stated here before I believe that the West Eurasian admixture pre-dates this. In particular, I believe that the Dravidian languages probably have a West Asian provenance. So here’s a revised model of what happened in South Asia. First, the West Asian intrusion resulted in a mixed population during the period of the Indus Valley civilization. But this was limited to the northwest corner of the subcontinent. It was with the arrival of the Indo-Aryan cultural toolkit that the rest of India, inhabited by predominantly ASI populations, was opened up to demographic expansion from the Northwest. Note that this does not mean that most of the ancestry was derived from the steppe.* Just that the intrusion for the steppe may have triggered a cultural shift which reshaped the landscape, rather like how the arrival of Huns on the Roman frontier triggered folk wanderings by German and Iranic (Sarmatian) peoples.

* I don’t know if David misspoke, but he stated that Ancient North Eurasians contributed a lot of ancestry to Indians.

 
• Category: History • Tags: David Reich 
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  1. Nicky says:

    My impression from these and other interviews is that Reich’s lab has no aDNA from South Asia. From the other hand, they do have samples from Russian Far East, ranging from Neolithic to Middle Ages. There are rumours about incoming papers by Reich and Willerslev teams. I wonder whether Willerslev’s lab has samples from Ancient South Asia, since he is involved in this project:

    2015-2019 ARC LP150100583 (Lambert et al.) Investigating Holocene India – Australia Connections using Ancient Genomics; $570,000

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  2. ohwilleke says: • Website

    “Dravidian languages probably have a West Asian provenance. ”

    I think the case for the lost Harappan language having a West Asian provenance is much stronger than the case of Dravidian languages having this origin. The case that Dravidian language or culture are derived from Harappan culture is pretty weak IMHO. But, to give you the benefit of the doubt, have there been any recent studies on the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis (the best well known fit to your hypothesis on Dravidian languages) published?

    My sense is that the pre-IE overlap between West Asia and South Asia is strongest in the areas that have historically been part of the IVC (or its diaspora on the Ganges), and that a lot of ANI reflects this deeper layer rather than just an Indo-Aryan layer.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Davidski
    Hey Andrew, you seen this? Check out the map on page 145.

    Elam: A bridge between Ancient Near East and Dravidian India?

    https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi6q5iQ3Y_LAhUMkJQKHfngCeYQFggzMAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.safarmer.com%2FIndo-Eurasian%2FBlazek.pdf&usg=AFQjCNESW-FVacva-XdwMSNuGAJWltDVaA&sig2=nozOaduYEF5yppD-qRcfow&bvm=bv.114733917,d.dGo
    , @Zimriel
    I tend to agree. The Brahui, Dravidians in Pakistan, seem not to be a relic but a mediaeval backwash from south/central India. That means we cannot use the Brahui as proof for an ancient Dravidian presence in the Indus Valley (as was once done).

    The Dravidians weren't just dropped into India from the sky, so they presumably got there from the west - but how? Why not from a pre-Bronze-Age *coastal* route, like, say, 10000 BCE or before?
  3. I don’t think this is the most likely case, but I it’s worth keeping in mind that agriculture has jumped language groups in other instances and could have done so here. Indo-European is likely one example of a mixed hunter-gatherer/farmer culture that adopted the hunter-gatherers’ language. There are potentially a few examples in the Americas to drawn on of this too. Algonquian would be one too potentially – which is particularly interesting since it seems to have had a big expansion ~3,000 years ago across any area the size of the EU without the use of agriculture. So I wouldn’t assume that languages that spread with the Neolithic all must have an origin in West Asia.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yudi
    "Indo-European is likely one example of a mixed hunter-gatherer/farmer culture that adopted the hunter-gatherers’ language."

    Crucially, they probably weren't hunter-gatherers at the time they absorbed the farmers.
  4. Yudi says:
    @CupOfCanada
    I don't think this is the most likely case, but I it's worth keeping in mind that agriculture has jumped language groups in other instances and could have done so here. Indo-European is likely one example of a mixed hunter-gatherer/farmer culture that adopted the hunter-gatherers' language. There are potentially a few examples in the Americas to drawn on of this too. Algonquian would be one too potentially - which is particularly interesting since it seems to have had a big expansion ~3,000 years ago across any area the size of the EU without the use of agriculture. So I wouldn't assume that languages that spread with the Neolithic all must have an origin in West Asia.

    “Indo-European is likely one example of a mixed hunter-gatherer/farmer culture that adopted the hunter-gatherers’ language.”

    Crucially, they probably weren’t hunter-gatherers at the time they absorbed the farmers.

    Read More
    • Replies: @CupOfCanada
    True, but it's still a likely example of the spread of agriculture jumping from one language group to the other.
  5. Davidski says: • Website
    @ohwilleke
    "Dravidian languages probably have a West Asian provenance. "

    I think the case for the lost Harappan language having a West Asian provenance is much stronger than the case of Dravidian languages having this origin. The case that Dravidian language or culture are derived from Harappan culture is pretty weak IMHO. But, to give you the benefit of the doubt, have there been any recent studies on the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis (the best well known fit to your hypothesis on Dravidian languages) published?

    My sense is that the pre-IE overlap between West Asia and South Asia is strongest in the areas that have historically been part of the IVC (or its diaspora on the Ganges), and that a lot of ANI reflects this deeper layer rather than just an Indo-Aryan layer.
    Read More
    • Replies: @ohwilleke
    Thanks for the interesting article. I think that the geographic range of Dravidian shown is optimistic.
  6. @Yudi
    "Indo-European is likely one example of a mixed hunter-gatherer/farmer culture that adopted the hunter-gatherers’ language."

    Crucially, they probably weren't hunter-gatherers at the time they absorbed the farmers.

    True, but it’s still a likely example of the spread of agriculture jumping from one language group to the other.

    Read More
  7. ohwilleke says: • Website
    @Davidski
    Hey Andrew, you seen this? Check out the map on page 145.

    Elam: A bridge between Ancient Near East and Dravidian India?

    https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi6q5iQ3Y_LAhUMkJQKHfngCeYQFggzMAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.safarmer.com%2FIndo-Eurasian%2FBlazek.pdf&usg=AFQjCNESW-FVacva-XdwMSNuGAJWltDVaA&sig2=nozOaduYEF5yppD-qRcfow&bvm=bv.114733917,d.dGo

    Thanks for the interesting article. I think that the geographic range of Dravidian shown is optimistic.

    Read More
  8. Zimriel says:
    @ohwilleke
    "Dravidian languages probably have a West Asian provenance. "

    I think the case for the lost Harappan language having a West Asian provenance is much stronger than the case of Dravidian languages having this origin. The case that Dravidian language or culture are derived from Harappan culture is pretty weak IMHO. But, to give you the benefit of the doubt, have there been any recent studies on the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis (the best well known fit to your hypothesis on Dravidian languages) published?

    My sense is that the pre-IE overlap between West Asia and South Asia is strongest in the areas that have historically been part of the IVC (or its diaspora on the Ganges), and that a lot of ANI reflects this deeper layer rather than just an Indo-Aryan layer.

    I tend to agree. The Brahui, Dravidians in Pakistan, seem not to be a relic but a mediaeval backwash from south/central India. That means we cannot use the Brahui as proof for an ancient Dravidian presence in the Indus Valley (as was once done).

    The Dravidians weren’t just dropped into India from the sky, so they presumably got there from the west – but how? Why not from a pre-Bronze-Age *coastal* route, like, say, 10000 BCE or before?

    Read More
  9. rob says:

    “Indo-European is likely one example of a mixed hunter-gatherer/farmer culture that adopted the hunter-gatherers’ language.”

    Crucially, they probably weren’t hunter-gatherers at the time they absorbed the farmers.

    You think they were herder-gatherers? Certainly that sounds like a much better, and easier transition that from hunter-gatherers than farming does. Farming might have started from gathering in the wake of hunter/herders. The ghost of Terence McKenna will weep with joy.

    Read More

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