Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

No Central Asian ancestry in Indus Valley Civilization

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various sites of IVC

Mains level : Theory of Aryan Origin

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  • Throwing fresh light on the Indus Valley Civilization, a study of DNA from skeletal remains excavated from Rakhigarhi was recently conducted.
  • The study contends that the theory of the Harappans having Steppe pastoral or ancient Iranian farmer ancestry thus stands refuted.
  • Prior to the arrival of steppe pastoralists bringing their Indo-European languages about 4,000 years ago, we find no evidence of large-scale movements of people into South Asia.
  • It also concluded that the hunter-gatherers of South Asia, who then became a settled people, have an independent origin.

No Mass-migration of Aryans

  • The finding also negates the hypothesis about mass migration during Harappan times from outside South Asia.
  • Researchers successfully sequenced the first genome of an individual from Harappa and combining it with archaeological data.
  • It found that hunter-gatherers of South Asia had an independent origin, and authored the settled way of life in this part of the world.
  • They do not contain genome from either the Steppe region or ancient Iranian farmers.
  • The genetic continuity from hunter gatherer to modern times is visible in the DNA results.
  • The study finds that the same hunter-gatherer communities developed into agricultural communities and formed the Harappan civilization.

No migration from Central Asia

  • India had a heterogeneous population right from the beginning of settled life. There was a hint that settled life and domestication went from South Asia to West Asia.
  • The researchers also suggest that there was a movement of people from east to west as the Harappan people‚Äôs presence is evident at sites like Gonur in Turkmenistan and Sahr-i-Sokhta in Iran.
  • As the Harappans traded with Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and almost all across South Asia, there was bound to be movement of people resulting in a mixed genetic history.

Origins of farming

  • The researchers concluded that farming in South Asia was not due to the movement of people from the farming cultures of the west and that local foragers adopted it.
  • In Europe, ancient-DNA studies have shown that agriculture tended to spread through an influx of people with ancestry in Anatolia, in modern day Turkey.
  • The new study shows a similar dynamic in Iran and Turan (southern Central Asia), where the researchers found that Anatolian-related ancestry and farming arrived around the same time.
  • In South Asia, however, the story appears quite different.
  • The researchers found an absence of Anatolian-related ancestry.
  • They saw that Iranian-related ancestry in South Asians comes from a lineage that separated from ancient Iranian farmers and hunter-gatherers before those groups split from each other, nearly 9,000 years ago.

Rakhigarhi- the epicenter

  • The discovery of two more mounds at the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi in Hisar district, Haryana, has led to archaeologists establishing it as the biggest Harappan civilisation site.
  • Until now, specialists in the Harappan civilisation had argued that Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan was the largest among the 2,000 Harappan sites known to exist in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • The archaeological remains at Mohenjo-daro extend around 300 hectares.
  • Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Ganweriwala (all in Pakistan) and Rakhigarhi and Dholavira (both in India) are ranked as the first to the fifth biggest Harappan sites.

Back2Basics

Aryan Invasion Theory

  • In 1953 Mortimer Wheeler proposed that the invasion of an Indo-European tribe from Central Asia, the “Aryans”, caused the decline of the Indus Civilization.
  • As evidence, he cited a group of 37 skeletons found in various parts of Mohenjo-daro, and passages in the Vedas referring to battles and forts.
  • However, scholars soon started to reject Wheeler’s theory, since the skeletons belonged to a period after the city’s abandonment and none were found near the citadel.
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