Rakhigarhi DNA Again

It's now been about a year since we were supposed to have gotten DNA results from the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) site of Rakhighari. The IVC is the oldest civilization in India, and, so far as I know, the first real civilization outside of the Middle East and Iran. It build remarkable cities 5000 years ago, produced wonderful art, and established long distance trade routes. It's also exceptionally mysterious, as its writing system has never been deciphered. In fact, we aren't even sure it is a writing system, since all we have is very brief sequences of symbols. The civilization collapsed around 1500 BC and there followed a period with little in the way of cities, which in turn was followed by a civilization clearly ancestral to the civilization of today - the Vedic culture.

The relationship between the peoples who composed the Vedas and the IVC is famously controversial. Western anthropologists proposed that the Vedic peoples were an invading group who brought the Indo European languages and Vedic culture around the time of the IVC collapse. This view is unpopular with the Hindu political parties who now rule India, who champion the idea that Vedic culture (and perhaps the IE languages) are purely autochthonous, and that Vedic culture derived directly from the IVC.

Indian DNA today seems to be a mixture of two principal groups - so-called Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and Ancestral South Indian (ASI). ANI shows close links with Central Asians and modern Europeans. ASI is little found outside of India. This is the background for the IVC DNA being politically contentious.

If it turns out that IVC DNA looks like modern Indian DNA (admixture of ANI and ASI), or even mostly ANI, it strengthens the case for the IVC peoples being the origin of Vedic culture.

We still don't know the answer, and some are beginning to suspect that the political fix is in - that the results don't fit the government narrative and are being suppressed. Probably not coincidentally, rumors are proliferating that the DNA looks like ASI. This would suggest that the builders of the IVC were Dravidian speaking peoples who were in India before the Indo Europeans and conversely, that the Indo Europeans were invaders who likely brought elements of Vedic culture with them.

Incidentally, the upper rungs of the Indian caste system have traditionally been occupied more by IE speakers.

So here we are today, one year later, with nothing but rumors, but rumors that fit the archaeological narrative more popular in the West. The facts have yet to speak - publically, anyway.


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