A soon to be published genetic study of the population of Northern India is sure to get the attention of some right wing groups who like to come up with their own alternate “theories” with regards to the history of Hindu/Muslim interaction on the sub-continent.
Scientists have confirmed what historians have known.
Genetic studies have suggested that Muslims in northern India are mostly descendants of local people who embraced Islam rather than repositories of foreign DNA deposited by waves of invaders.
The studies by scientists in India, Spain and the US indicate that while the Shias and the Sunnis in Uttar Pradesh are mostly descendants of converts, the former have some elements of paternal foreign ancestry…
“In the mtDNA, we do not see discrete signals from outside India,” Rene J. Herrera, a biologist at Florida International University in the US and one of the collaborators, said. “Thus, both are, for the most part, descendants from local caste groups,” he told The Telegraph.
However, the Shias do show some signatures of foreign DNA from southwest Asia and North Africa in the Y chromosome, Herrera said. [Link]
Within the last decade it has continued to amaze me how some strands of DNA can help corroborate or disprove decades worth of historical investigation. As the techniques become quicker and cheaper I’m sure we’ll be unlocking all kinds of secrets about the movements of humans and whether they mated with each other or killed each other.
Principal component analysis (PCA), a statistical tool that separates individuals on the basis of differences in their properties was employed to place each social group on a plot. According to this plot Shias and Sunnis are much closer to Brahmins, Bhargavas, and tribals from Karnataka than people from UAE, Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and or Central Asian countries. PCA generated a plot that showed three clear clusters- Souther Arabian Peninsula, North East African population in upper left quadrant, East Central Asian and Middle Eastern group in the lower right hand corner, and all Indian groups can be found closer to each other to the right. [Link]
A while back I blogged about this National Geographic Project that is looking to systematically trace the movement of humanity’s genes. Have any readers swabbed their cheeks and sent in their DNA yet? Want to share your results?