Sunday, September 25, 2016

Whatever Happened to the Rakhigarhi DNA?

There was a lot of excitement last year when it was learned that excavations at Rakhigarhi, now a small village in Northern India, but once a major city of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) had yielded ancient bones which seemed to contain recoverable DNA. These bones had the potential not only to reveal a bit more about the people of this lost civilization, but also to clarify the ancient question of the origin of the Indo-Europeans and their languages, now spoken by about half the world's population.

Mainstream archaeology strongly favors Central Asia as the IE homeland, but significant support also exists for an origin in Iran or Asia Minor. Others, mostly Indian nationalists with little background in archaelogy, support the so called Out-of-India theory, in which the Indo Europeans were survivors of the IVC. The genetics of the IVC people should shed a lot of light on these questions.

The months have rolled on, and other results of the excavation have been reported, but no DNA results. Why not? Here are three unsupported theories:

(1)The DNA has not survived well enough to be decoded. The heat and humidity of India are bad for DNA, and technology couldn't extract anything useful. A variant says that they haven't given up yet, but neither have they yet been able to yet succeed in decoding it.

(2)First conspiracy theory. The DNA definitively refutes the Out of India Theory, but this result is so unwlcome to the Indian government, which seems to think that their official patriotic mythology is at risk, is repressing it.

(3)Second Conspiracy theory: The DNA strongly supports the Out of India origin of PIE, but mainstream archaeology is outraged and refuses to believe it.

Other options?