Ancient Harappan remains disprove Aryan Invasion Theory, suggest autochthonous origins of Vedic Civilisation

The lead researchers of the DNA study of ancient Rakhigarhi skeletal remains have rejected the Aryan Invasion Theory. The researchers, Vasant Shinde and Neeraj Rai have claimed that Vedic era was guided by “fully indigenous” people with limited “external contact” reports Economic Times.

Shinde is the vice-chancellor of the Deccan College, Pune. He was the lead archaeologist in the study. And, Rai is the head of the ancient DNA laboratory at Lucknow’s Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences. He did the DNA study.

“The Rakhigarhi human DNA clearly shows a predominant local element — the mitochondrial DNA is very strong in it. There is some minor foreign element which shows some mixing up with a foreign population, but the DNA is clearly local. This indicates quite clearly, through archaeological data, that the Vedic era that followed was a fully indigenous period with some external contact,” said Shinde.

According to Shinde, the Vedic period was founded by the descendants of the Harappan people. The study has observed cultural continuity in the in the Rakhigarhi area. For instance, some burial rituals observed in the Rakhigarhi necropolis prevail even now in some communities, showing a remarkable continuity over thousands of years.

No evidence for invasion or population displacement

The researchers have stated that there are no signs of any warfare or invasions. Nor do the skeletons show any signs of injury or cut marks suggestive of violence. As mentioned earlier, if anything the ancient remains only suggest archaeological and cultural continuity spanning into the Vedic era. These new findings are corroborated by an earlier study done by American anthropologist Kenneth Kennedy, who in 1984, examined over 300 Harappan skeletons and concluded that the ancient Harrapans “are not markedly different in their skeletal biology from the present-day inhabitants of Northwestern India and Pakistan.”

The controversy

However, the new findings are not without any controversies. Some have raised issues on the conclusion drawn by this study. For instance, Tony Joseph a columnist at The Hindu, claimed that Aryans migrated “after the Indus Civilization and, therefore, there will be NO Steppe-related genetic presence in sites like Rakhigarhi.”

But, he forgot to address the fact that the researchers have uncovered a cultural continuity on the ancient Rakhigarhi site which is why they negate any external contact or invasions by foreign tribes. Also, the mitochondrial DNA, which helps trace the maternal ancestry, was found to be indigenous in the Rakhigarhi DNA samples.

Furthermore, the supposed steppe-related genetic presence that Tony refers to is probably the Y-DNA haplogroup, R1a.

First of all, the Rakhigarhi DNA sample size is too small, just 2 samples from 148 skeletons. To make things worse, the sample that was sent to Korea got contaminated. So, the absence of the supposed “steppe component” in the sample won’t prove anything.
Secondly, there are questions as to whether the so-called steppe component or the Y-DNA haplogroup R1a, actually originated in the steppes.

For those of you who don’t know, Y-DNA haplogroup is component of the Y-chromosome which is passed down from father to son, hence it is also called the paternal haplogroup. Females do not have paternal haplogroups.

The paternal haplogroup R1a is associated with the Indo-European peoples. It is widely distributed across Eurasia, from central Europe to Siberia and the Indian Subcontinent, which suggests that people in these regions share a common paternal ancestry. Proponents of Aryan Invasion/Migration theory believe that the haplogroup R1a originated with the proto-Indo-European people who lived in central Asia, later they migrated to Europe and India- the places with the highest concentration of R1a today.

However, several studies have shown that this might not be the case, and R1a might have originated in India itself.

Dr Toomas Kivislid’s 2003 paper found that Punjab has the highest frequency of R1a. Also, a Dravidian tribe named Chenchu also had relatively high frequencies at 26%. This combined with the fact that India has the highest STR diversity within R1a, as shown by multiple studies, and subsequent older TMRCA (the most recent common ancestor) dating, proves that R1a originated in India.

This conclusion is further corroborated by the fact that the haplogroup R2, which is the only cousin of R1, is virtually restricted to the Indian subcontinent, and is rarely found outside. Also, the haplogroups K2 and P, which are the ancestors of R, originated in southeast Asia.

Furthermore, a 2015 study by Dr Peter Underhill discovered that ‘the geographic distribution of R1a-M780’ might reflect ‘early urbanization within the Indus Valley’. So, it is clear that the migration started from the east. Thus, it would be erroneous to associate R1a with central Asia.

Author Sanjeev Sanyal puts forth this fact in his recent tweet.

Recently, the ASI stumbled upon a 4000-year-old chariot in a royal burial in UP’s Baghpat district. This new finding proved that war chariots were already present in India before the supposed arrival of the ‘Aryans.’ In the light of these new findings, Aryan Invasion/Migration Theory no longer holds water.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi