DNA study reveals Harappan ancestry of South Asian population

People of the Harappan civilisation are the ancestors of most of the population of South Asia, a study of DNA samples of skeletons in Rakhigarhi in Haryana’s Hissar district has shown.

Published: 07th September 2019 08:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2019 08:08 AM   |  A+A-

The genetic data for the study has been drawn from the skeletal remains excavated from the cemetery at Rakhigarhi in Haryana.

The genetic data for the study has been drawn from the skeletal remains excavated from the cemetery at Rakhigarhi in Haryana.

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  People of the Harappan civilisation are the ancestors of most of the population of South Asia, a study of DNA samples of skeletons in Rakhigarhi in Haryana’s Hissar district has shown. Rakhigarhi was the largest city of Harappan civilisation. 

The DNA results of Rakhigarhi samples were compared with the modern population of South Asia. The genetic data has been drawn from the skeletal remains excavated from the cemetery at Rakhigarhi. In order to check Harappan people’s relations with their contemporaries from the Steppe region and Iran, comparative DNA analysis was conducted with samples from two key archaeological sites of Gonur in Turkmenistan and Sahr-i-Sokta in Iran.  

The study contests that there was any Aryan invasion or migration. According to the publication, the skeletal remains found in the upper part of the citadel area of Mohenjodaro belonged to those who died due to floods and were not massacred by the Aryans as put forward by British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler. The project was led by Vasant Shinde of Deccan College and the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Haryana government. 

This also points towards the fact that farming developed in South Asia from locals rather than migration from the West, it said. The DNA results reject the theory of Steppe pastoral or ancient Iranian farmers as a source of ancestry to the Harappan population. The findings suggest that idea of settled life and domestication went from South Asia to West Asia and not the other way round. “Some of the craft and knowledge systems developed during the Harappan time continue even today,” said Shinde.

The study ‘An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian Farmers’ was published in the International Journal Cell on September 5.  The research findings reject the hypothesis about mass human migration during Harappan time or before that from outside South Asia. “For the first time, the research indicates that there is a movement of people from East to the West,” said Shinde. The Harappan people’s presence is evident at sites like Gonur and Sahr-i-Sokhta.

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