HYDERABAD: Brahmins share a strong genetic affinity to the Central Asian region, finds research conducted by an international team of geneticists.
The findings of the team, which also comprised geneticists from the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), provide answers to long-standing questions about origins of farming, source of Indo-European languages and genetic affinities of the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
These findings were published in two separate studies in the journals, ‘Science’ and ‘Cell’.
The researchers found strong evidence that Indo-European languages like Hindi, Marathi and Bengali came into existence as ancient humans migrated from the Eurasian Steppe (near Central Asia) to other parts of Asia and Europe, as promulgated by the Eurasian Steppe theory.
The team also analysed genetic samples of 140 present-day South Asian populations and found that most of the Steppe-enriched populations from Central Asia is historically priestly groups, including Brahmins, who have more Steppe-ancestry than other groups in South Asia.
These findings suggest the movement of people toward Europe almost 5,000 years ago, who then spread back eastward into Central and South Asia in the following 1,500 years, points out Prof David Reich, co-senior author from Harvard Medical School.
Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj, co-author of both studies and chief scientist at CCMB, says, “After screening more than 60 skeletal samples from the largest known town of the Indus Valley Civilization called Rakhigarhi in Haryana, we have shown that Iranian-related ancestry in South Asians comes from a lineage that separated from the farmers and hunter-gatherers before they split from each other. This indicates that farming in South Asia was not due to the movement of people from the earlier farming cultures of the West. Instead, local foragers adopted it.”