Did ‘Indians’ colonize Europe?

If I tell a white man to go back where the came from, will he have to travel to Africa via India?

A team of geneticists … conclude that there was only one migration of modern humans out of Africa – that it took a southern route to India, Southeast Asia and Australasia … because the mitochondrial lineages of everyone outside Africa converge at the same time to the same common ancestors … people from the southern migration, probably in India, must have struck inland to reach the Levant, and later Europe, the geneticists say. [NYT]

So why can’t we all just get along?

35 thoughts on “Did ‘Indians’ colonize Europe?

  1. Oh my god. You’re fucking kidding me?!? You realize that’s what Hindu literalists (I’m distingushing them from fundamentalists, which is a subset) have been saying all along? Except for the Out of Africa bit. ;-) But still, that’s nuts. Wow.

    I’ve always thought it’s terribly sad that the history/archeology/linguistics/etc of the IndoEuropean whatever-the-hell-happened is irrevocably politisized, because when you look at that language tree and its geography, that must have been one hell of a story.

  2. I almost completely agree with that second paragraph Saheli. I think there is still much to be studied by Indians scholars as they sift through the literary and historical texts that aren’t influenced by colonial or religious biases. Also, newer archeological findings help in piecing the puzzle. I don’t think it is irrevocable. Just a matter of time, or maybe a time machine ;-)

  3. Ah, technology to the rescue. I remember one of the pieces of evidence that really bolstered the side arguing against the Aryan Invasion Theory were the satellite images of the river Saraswathi.

  4. Ah, technology to the rescue. I remember one of the pieces of evidence that really bolstered the side arguing against the Aryan Invasion Theory were the satellite images of the river Saraswathi.

    Mainstream (American) academia doesn’t buy the Saraswati civilization argument. I remember reading some reason why the satellite pictures argument was invalid. (damn my failing memory)

    But, this finding, if true, could revolutionize the field. Copy what Saheli said in her second sentence…

  5. For those interested in this story, check out National Geographic’s Genographic project. It’s a massive attempt to apply this kind of science to many people, and hopefully provide answers to these questions and more.

    I also came across some interesting sites when I did a google search for “haplogroup” and “india” – I bookmarked some of them but they’re on another computer :-(

    I’m also curious to hear what the gnxp’ers have to say about this story…

  6. Wait, I’m confused– so the Aryan Invasion Theory has been refuted or bolstered by new evidence? Which one is it? I don’t know much about these things– or anything for that matter.

  7. Actually, probably neither. Sorry, I was being kinda silly. Linguistically Proto-Indo-European is supposed to have existed about 10,000 years ago. The upperlimit on this desi-diaspora is 65,000 years ago, and apparently, the lower limit is 40,000. So that’s room for several back and forth migrations before we have anything like a proto-Indo-European people to invade one way or the other.

    I am skeptical that time will heal all the damage that’s been done to the provenance and credibility of most of the relevant, non-genetic evidence. And the genetic evidence is getting scrambled daily.

  8. Aryan Invasion Theory was debunked long ago. It said the Aryans came from near the Caspain Sea in Central Asia and wiped out and killed off the people living in the Indus Valley Civilization. It was replaced by the current theory in academia…which is essentially the same as before except that the Aryans came down and gradually assimilated with Dravidians instead of invading. Under either theory, the Aryans were geographic foreigners who brought the basis of the Vedas/early Hinduism with them. Point is movement was North=>South (India), North=>South West (Iran), North=>West (Romance languages).

    The Sarasvati civilization people (mostly Indian scholars) think the migration was South=>North instead. They believe Vedas were an Indus Valley phenomenon. The linguistic-religious connections between present-day India and Iran/Central Asia/Western Europe resulted from this northerly migration.

    The new data says the Africa =>Asia migration happened something like 50,000-60,000 years ago….so it could be that humans went North to Central Asia and then came down again as Aryans. Or it could just be a basic South-North movement.

  9. Mainstream (American) academia doesn’t buy the Saraswati civilization argument. I remember reading some reason why the satellite pictures argument was invalid. (damn my failing memory)

    I am not suggesting a Saraswathi civilization. I am merely referring to satellite photographic evidence of a river that flowed in Punjab, and that has since dried up. Yes, there is bad information out there, but I guess the satellite pictures were for real.

    From “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism”, an introductory book that seems to be pretty aware of all this controversy and all the bad information that is out there :

    Satellite imaging was revolutionizing our knowledge of Earth’s geography. It allowed scientists to get a look at the planet from low orbit out in space. Satellite photos of the area called the Punjab, in far northwestern India and into Pakistan, revealed the dry bed of an enormous river, so huge that it may have been five miles across at one site.

    The book incidentally also mentions that ‘most of the books you’ll find on Hinduism written before about 1995 contain badly outdated material’.

  10. “so it could be that humans went North to Central Asia and then came down again as Aryans”

    This was probably the case…almost every culture at some point thought of itself as the center of the universe;I think thats the deal with the Saraswathi theory…the funny thing is, no one is acknowledging the undeniable fact that humans came out of Africa..um so what if we went to India next..(which is almost definitely the case)…b/c I have seen prior evidence that the initial migration out of Africa was along the southern coastline of Asia all the way to Australia. There have been mitochondrial DNA studies that show pockets of the older original mitochondria in southern India as well as throughout coastal Southeast Asia.

    The only interesting or novel thing about this article is that it states there was only that one initial migration..I personally find that hard to believe but who knows, it may well be the case…but the funny thing is this happened sooo long ago before there even was a concept of Indians or Europeans, and I am 100% sure that these initial colonizers looked, acted, or thought nothing like an Indian in the modern sense. I mean whoop-de-damn-doo, ancient man stopped off in present-day India for a few millenia before moving onto Europe. I dunno about you guys, but as an Indian, I don’t much feel a sense of pride in that.

  11. Before people go nuts about Aryans etc:

    The Aryan Invasion/non-Invasion is about events that may/may-not have occured about 5000-7000 years ago.

    This paper is about events that occured 65000 years ago. Before the division of modern humans in to modern races, etc (no flames from razib please!).

  12. That’s why I didn’t try to tie the post into the Aryan debate. It would have made it catchier, but it really would have been irresponsible.

  13. Second Saheli and Sam totally. It is indeed unfortunate that the issue has become so politicized. Since this is an issue about people from, what, 40000 to 60000 years ago, there should hopefully be no political spin to this. Sure, the ancient traditions of the Dravidians suggest that their forebears came from the south, not from the north, but we are talking about about a period of time way, way before that. Some people appear to be reflexively opposed to the Saraswathi theory because it could be seen to undermine Dravidian cultural achievements. This research would probably neither strongly support nor undermine claims of cultural achievement. I hope this will not get politicized as the Aryan invasion theory debate has been.

    And heck, technology knows no race or ethnicity, and it is somewat harder to undermine technological results. I am hopeful that technology will ultimately save the day. Go bonkers on those great gobs of genes, you gene-splicers from Glasgow!

  14. Thanks for the link to the Genographic project, runnerwallah. If I had a $100 lying around, I would have loved to participate. Did anyone else send in a sample? Maybe I can leach some information off of your results. :)

    I agree with Sam that we shouldn’t give up yet on getting a better sense of the IE stories. But Basque and Finnish are more interesting :)


  15. The accounts of the Roma (whom, if you’re really hegemonizing, you might have the gall to call “desi”) and their languages are an interesting story as well, which can perhaps make up for some of the disappointment of not being able to depoliticize the IE stuff :)

  16. my comment on the paper. if you are technically inclined i suggest john hawks’ comment.

    as some have noted, this paper alludes to events on the order of 50,000, not 5,000, years before the present. there was a book in 2003, THE REAL EVE, which argued that all eurasians are descended from settlers in south asia (via the southern coast of arabia from africa). it is not a universally accepted thesis, though it is not necessarily unsupported by the data. i suspect it isn’t correct, mostly because i don’t believe that the climatic barrier of deserts in the middle east would have prevented moderns from pushing their way north.

  17. Razib – what time frame were the deserts? As I recall, the deserts of the Middle East came after human habitation of the region, and expanded / were hastened by deforstation. Certaintly the fertile cresent was far more fertile, and I believe there were forests in some of that region. But I’m working off of aged memories from Guns Germs and Steel.

  18. Razib – what time frame were the deserts? As I recall, the deserts of the Middle East came after human habitation of the region, and expanded / were hastened by deforstation. Certaintly the fertile cresent was far more fertile, and I believe there were forests in some of that region. But I’m working off of aged memories from Guns Germs and Steel.

    GGS deals with times frames of less than 10,000 years. we are talking in terms of 100,000 years.

    in the period around 80,000-65,000 years the deserts of north africa and the middle east were far more intense than they are today. some theorists suggest that they prevented a northward migration of beachcombers until they hit india. via india they went to southeast asia and australasia (and up to to east asia). when the climate became more mild (warmed up) the moderns spread to western eurasia via the newly green regions of the middle east.

    now, we are talking for 10-15,000 years when human beings were blocked by deserts and mountains in the middle east. humans have figured out how to live in northern greeland for god’s sake! it simply isn’t plausible to me.

    there are technical issues and complications with the theory, but if you are really curious about this topic, i suggest two books:

    JOURNEY OF MAN by spencer wells THE REAL EVE by steve oppenheimer

    the authors both promote their alternative theses in these books.

    Razib, what genetic heritage do you think a Punjabi Jat might have?

    brown. punjabi. ;)

    no, seriously, i wouldn’t tell you anything that is worth me typing out because it would be a jumble of DNA signatures. i can tell you precise information of particular genes, but one gene doesn’t tell you about the whole person, nor does it tell you about the history of a people. in general, most south asians know what the DNA evidence suggests, that they are basically related in some way, but there are big differences of region and caste.

    if you want me to be explicit: if you look at mtDNA (maternal heritage), if you compared pashtuns, punjabis and nayars (of kerala), the pashtuns would be the “outgroup” (punjabis and nayars are closer). if you compared the Y chromosome (paternal heritage) the nayars would be the “outgroup.” autosomal (non-sex linked) genes would tell different stories. and it would differ from person to person.

  19. Aryan Migrations

    First migrations could have happened only before 3000 BC. I know what I am talking about , and I only work based on a set of contradictory evidences.

    Again, I urge everyone to submit contradictory evidence.

    Please view the 40 page result at http://www.sujayraom.com

    Please forward this to as many people as possible,

    I don’t beleive either Religious fanatics or communists.

    Again, Please forward this link to as many people as possible, All interested Indians so that they learn to think by themlselves and don’t get carried away by two extreme views


  20. To all my fellow aryas out there, yes this also includes the so called dravids (a nonsense term made up by europeans to separate us out of fear and jealousy): I am so glad to come across like minded people who are honesty, intellectual and just. I have been waging a private battle ever since I was a child against the AIT.

    It actually took people like Aggarwal, Frawley and others to shake up the closed confines of academia-yet still many critics persist and say that such people are not legitimate. I know of people who enter Harvard and Yale on legacy terms-so they didnt really earn admission via intellect-if getting a piece of paper from a certain institution is the ticket to legitimacy then we still live in a world of corruption.

    Enough of my diatribe. I am glad that people are aware of French RadarSAT images of the Saraswati, oceanographic studies of Dwarkar off the West Coast etc. Yet people still cling to the AIT. If and when India is found to be the eternal land of man as written in our ancestral records and spoken in our lores the world will come to a univerals realization as did Arjuna when he peered into Krishna’s mouth. The truth will be told. The Indian government has known far too long the truth of the whole situation yet keeps it hidden for personal gain by corrupt politicos. Our ancestors knew of superstring theory before the likes of Kaku and Hawking centuries ago at that. Quantum numbers are an indian discovery many moons ago, as are base 10 maths, calculus etc., you name it! This shocking discovery made foreigners knees tremble out of inferiority thus arose the AIT to claim European ownership of such a legacy and thus began the conspiracy of muzzling it all. Paying off corrupt clerks and ready at your service Indian lapdogs.

    We must reclaim our identity of ARYANS, it is who we are it is what we are from North to South or South to North take your pick. The South-Indian languages show proto North-Indian elements and it was this knowledge that led to the decipherment of the Indus Valley-Saraswati scripts on seals found on digs many years ago. These seals were deliberately deemed undecipherable-can you take a guess why? It means the cradle of civilization goes further away from AngloSaxon Europe. First it went to Greece, then Iraq/Mesopotamia now India. Europeans dont like this. I had a Hindu Studies professor try to shut me up a few times years ago. She would teach the AIT to students-to curry favour (pardon the pun) with the Administration etc. I called her on it then she demanded I give her scholarly proof of why the AIT is baseless. I bombarded her with many papers. One day she pulls me aside and says that she teaches the course the way she does because ‘these people’ get upset if she states aryans are indians and not white eruopeans. Funny stuff.

    Indians are so foolish that they will fight one another ad nauseam whilst the european takes everything and enslaves them. Unite as Indians whether you are in India or elsewhere in the world-your genes will never lie-take hold of your rightful identity. You are ARYAN, you are the first people, you are what gave rise to civilization. You are the people that spread to Europe and beyond. Is it really a coincidence that all world myths seem to have a heavy element of Indian mythology or reality? It was a way for them to remember who they were, where they came from. Beware of gene studies trying to prove the AIT. It is convenient how these scientist claim that gene studies of Y haplotypes show a gradient of european genes entering india and petering out from North to South. Is it not possible to look at the male genes as being exodus genes-ie., leaving India and thinning out as well? Also the mtDNA claims state almost all Indian mtDNA is of an Asian or Indian type-no arguement there, but is it not true that this type is seen in lesser amounts outwards from India? So this suggests another part of an exodus. It is funny how one can manipulate data to suit a preconceived conclusion. Pathetic how science should be lead by data and conclusions drawn thereafter. Note, some of the investigators are Scandinavians and others are mixed. One in particular is so corrupt and organizes his studies by picking certain groups to meet his conclusions. He picks unlikey groups of Indians to have any affinity with north europeans. He picked dark skinned, australoid type tribals from South India and concluded through gene studies that the are not heavily realated to anglo-saxon euorpeans. Really??? I wrote him a letter and suggested he pick other indian populations and compare them to all eurpean subtypes. No reply..what a surprise. My point is that the reason North Indians match closer to europeans than southerners is that North Indians ventured west and left their genetic imprint in Europe. This a founder effect which many choose to ignore. However this is used by many to say North and South indians are different thus arya versus dravida. Not true. The gene markers picked up are random ones left from the early population of North Indian people that left India. the majority or Nth and Sth Indian markers are similar thus indicating a uniformity in Indian people. One more thing, the remains of Indians in Harappa/Indus/Saraswati are said to be indicative of todays phenotypic mixtures seen in modern india thus no arguements can be made about arya vs. dravida etc.


  21. um india aint the cradle of civilization guys egypt/ethiopia is. india was part of the cush empire which is why many myths across the world have an indian base or theme cuz our stuff is based off of african stuff. north indians dont really show that much of a similarity and most likely we or our african brothers colonized europe. white ppl have stolen most things only original thing is that they the original cavemen. they have evidence that the 1st malay aboriginala aka original indians who came 50k+ years ago mixed with the cush empire of a couple thousand years ago and thats basically modern indians. so much of ancient history has been distorted by the white man to confuse us. i think that people went from africa into india and stuff that’s why many indians look like lighter versions of east africans like ethiopian. i can bring up links as well.
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/we/we17.htm theres one in ancient times india was called the 2nd ethiopia or part of ethiopia. that why many ancient text only mention ethiopia and not other nations like india, egypt, somalia etc. because they were all part of the cush empire. if you believe bible it also says that the decendents of cush went around. dna evidence also proves that

  22. I’ve been debating Aryan Invasion and non-invasion theories past several months, and ur guys posts above, further complicates it all!

    Any info, inputs or bullshit on Aryan invasion theory : plz. mail me at britsin@gmail.com


    lucknow (UP)

  23. Aryan Invasion theory is a joke. The only reality is there for you in India’s ancient texts (which is too huge a collection compared to rest-of-the-world’s ancient literature combined).

  24. how do we go about establishing the out of india theory? or any other theory against the AIT for that matter?

    DNA even mt-dna has around a million molecular leisons occuring per cell/per day and hence DNA cannot be used in racial classification.

    so where in you opinion is the origin of the caucasoid features? is it indus valley or fertile crescent or caucasus/russia?

  25. 25

    Great. Replace Europe stupid Aryan-Dravidian race theory and replace with African stupid Aryan-Dravidian race theory.

    Lets get the origin of the words out in the open:

    “…As an adaptation of the Latin Arianus, referring to Iran, ‘Aryan’ has “long been in English language use”.[3] Its history as a loan word began in the late 1700s, when the word was borrowed from Sanskrit ā́rya- to refer to speaker of North Indian languages.[3]. When it was determined that Iranian languages — both living and ancient — used a similar term in much the same way (but in the Iranian context as a self-identifier of Iranian peoples), it became apparent that the shared meaning had to derive from the ancestor language of the shared past, and so, by the early 1800s, the word ‘Aryan’ came to refer to the group of languages deriving from that ancestor language, and by extension, the speakers of those languages.[4]

    Then, in the 1830s, based on the erroneous theory that words like “Aryan” could also be found in European languages, the term “Aryan” came to be used as the term for the Indo-European language group, and by extension, the speakers of those languages. In the 19th century, “language” was still considered a property of “ethnicity”, and thus the speakers of the Indo-European languages came to be the so-called “Aryan race”, as contradistinguished from the so-called “Semitic race”. By the late 19th century, the notions of an “Aryan race” became closely linked to Nordicism, which posited Northern European racial superiority over all other peoples (including Indians). This “master race” ideal engendered both the “Aryanization” programs of Nazi Germany, in which the classification of people as “Aryan” and “non-Aryan” was most emphatically directed towards the exclusion of Jews.[5][n 2] By the end of World War II, the word ‘Aryan’ had become firmly associated with the racial theories and atrocities committed by the Nazi regime.

    In colloquial modern English it is typically used to signify the Nordic racial ideal promoted by the Nazis. As the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language states at the beginning of its definition, “Aryan, a word nowadays referring to the blond-haired, blue-eyed physical ideal of Nazi Germany, originally referred to a people who looked vastly different. Its history starts with the ancient Indo-Iranians, peoples who inhabited parts of what are now Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.”[1][6]

    In present-day India, the original ethno-linguistic signifier has been mostly lost, the denotation having been semantically replaced by other, secondary, meanings. In Iran, the original self-identifier lives on in ethnic names like “Alani”, “Ir”, and in the name of Iran itself.[7] In present-day academia, the terms “Indo-Iranian” and “Indo-European” have made most uses of the term ‘Aryan’ obsolete, and ‘Aryan’ is now mostly limited to its appearance in the term “Indo-Aryan” to represent (speakers of) North Indian languages. Notions of an “Aryan race” only survive in the context of fascist nationalism, in which nationhood is defined by ancestry….” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan

  26. Very glad people are finally waking up and learning to rubbish the nonsense theories cooked up by random barbarian peasants from the west. Six years on, that is.

    I suggest people reading this look up the Gundestrup cauldron and note the similarity of this celtic work of ‘art’ with that of the Pashupati Indus seal from 3000 years earlier. This and more evidence- such as the mention of the tribe of Druhyus [Druids] having been driven to the west after the Battle of the Ten Kings in the Rg Veda, or the fact that there is absolutely NO archaelogical evidence to support the theory of there having been any significant influx of peoples INTO India after 25000 ybp (check the Genographic Project for more genetic proof), or indeed the fact that other IE nations such as the Iranians still retain a memory of an IMmigration from India. The Iranians (by which I mean ancient Persians, of course) believed their homeland was the land of the Hapta-Hendu (‘Sapta-Sindhu’), which was ‘too hot for man’, and in parallel the Airyanam Vaejo, which was ‘too cold’ with a harsh winter (Kashmir).

    The fact that Indus sites are the oldest urban sites in South Asia and the oldest Indo-Iranian civilization (I prefer the term Indo-Iranian to Indo-European, why associate with a bunch of barbarians that were not civilized until Indian 800 BC, by which time India had already passed through a creation-destruction cycle?) , older even than Egypt, with Mehrgarh (7000 BC) proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the earliest phases of settlement and transition to subsistence and agriculture, thence on to actual civilization and the building of city-networks- all happened right here, in India- pretty much proves it was a migration from the East (i.e. the Indus valley), on to the arid plateau of Iran, which has no fertile river valleys on the scale of the Sarasvati, the Sindhu, or even the Nile to support the birth of a civilization – common sense, really- and thence on to Asia Minor and Europe, settling first in the easternmost edge of Europe- Greece, and later Italy.

  27. Further, to add to the above: as these ancient Indians migrated to the West, setting up petty chiefdoms, bringing their culture to uncivilized lands and\or putting in place military outposts, they would also have interacted with or outright conquered non-Indian peoples wherever they went. Proof of this is found in the famous Mitanni of the Middle-East, a Hurrian state that was ruled by an Indian elite, with Kings such as Tushrata, Artatama, Vasashatta frequently engaging in military disputes with surrounding non-Indian states such as Egypt to the south and the Hittites to the North and NW. The name Vasashatta is also, in my opinion, the same as Vasistha in Indic Sanskrit -as opposed to the no doubt slightly corrupted form of Sanskrit that would have been spoken by these Mitanni- who was said to have visited a great thousand pillared city in Mesopotamia in early antiquity.

    Then there are the so-called Heqqa Kashewet (‘foreign rulers’- Hyskos in Greek) elite that conquered Egypt later on, a group of foreigners that ruled over Egypt for 200 years, appearing at around the same time as the Mitanni.

    That the Sarasvati Civilization was the precursor -among many other smaller states- to the Mauryan empire (identifiable with the Northern Black Polished Ware, archaeologically) is well known and established by now, thus completely rubbishing the notion of there ever having been an influx of peoples into India. Devilish little details- such as the use of the same system of weights, the game of dice being a favourite pastime of both the ‘Harappans’ and the Mauryans and later Indians, same layout of cities, etc (for more, read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Black_Polished_Ware)- are proof enough for someone with half a brain. The question then becomes- what became of the Indians that lived in the Sarasvati network after the river dried up, a process that would have taken hundreds, if not thousands, of years to take place? The Rg Veda mentions that there was a ’15 year drought’, during which time ‘rshis and great sages roamed the banks of the river’. There is no doubt in my mind that this was when the hymns of the Rg Veda were finally collated (composition would have taken place thousands of years earlier) into one ‘Veda’, presumably by chief among the rshis, Vyaasa. This would have been followed by a gradual migration of some tribes to the east and south, as well as to the west, and it was this group of people moving west that settled down in Iran, Anatolia, Egypt, and so on, bringing their language, gods and customs with them. Archaeological evidence points to the fact that the Indus network had ceased to be a major power by 1500 BC, which would meaning the drought, the collation of the Rg Veda, and subsequent migration of peoples would have begun centuries earlier, which tallies perfectly with the dates of the Indian kingdoms that sprung up in the near West.