Who We Are: #8 India

Genetic analysis indicates that the vast majority of people in India today are descended from two populations that Reich dubbed Ancient North Indians (ANI) and Ancient South Indians (ASI). Different populations have different mixes of ancestry from ANI and ASI, but most are composed almost entirely of just those two groups – with some exceptions in eastern India, where you see some people that expanded out of Southeast Asia and speak Austroasiatic languages related to Vietnamese, and people with East Asian ancestry speaking Sino-Tibetan languages, living in the mountains. ASI and ANI were pretty different – about as genetically different as Europeans and East Asians today. Note: ANI and ASI, as acronyms, were created in order to obscure certain points that many Indians don’t want to think about. By the way, in the sense we’re talking about, biogeographical, ‘India’ includes Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Let me give a more familiar example: most people in Latin America are, to a first approximation, descended from a mix of Amerindians and Spaniards. The mix varies: you can find populations that are 100% Amerindian, populations that are 60-40 like Mexico, 20-80 like Colombia, and so on. If you plotted ancestry on a principal components plot, most people in Latin America would fall somewhere along a line. India is like this.

On the whole, people from North India have more ANI ancestry, while people in southern Indian have more ASI ancestry. The proportions generally range from 80% ANI to 80% ASI. There are actually a few populations that are close to unmixed ANI (Kalash) or unmixed ASI (tribal populations in South India such as Palliyar, Ulladan, Malayan, and Adiyan). Groups that speak Indo-European languages typically have more ANI, while those speaking Dravidian have more ASI. Populations (including castes) with higher social status generally have more ANI ancestry. The Y-chromosome and mtDNA patterns show that ANI contributed a disproportionate fraction of male ancestry, while ASI accounts for the great majority of female ancestry – again, much like Latin America.

Outside India, populations with much ASI ancestry are practically nonexistent. Sure, you could find a touch of it in Indonesia ( particularly Bali ) and mainland South East Asia (Cambodia) from traders and missionaries, but that’s about it. Not counting 20th century movements, of course.

Who the hell are these mysterious ANI and ASI populations? Basically, they are mixtures of three older, more fundamental populations:

A. hunter-gatherers that had lived in India for a long time ( barring undocumented prehistoric replacements as have occurred in Europe). The closest living population ( not that close, but distant cousins) are the Negrito inhabitants of the Andaman Islands. Ancient Ancestral South Indian ( AASI )

B. Farmers from Iran – specifically, goat-herders from the Zagros mountains, sampled from around the 8th millenium B.C. (Iranian agriculturalist-related)

C. Steppe ancestry related to the Yamnaya

ANI, the ancient north Indians, are about half steppe and half Iranian agriculturalist-related. ASI, the ancient southern Indians, are about 25% Iranian agriculturalist-related and 75% old Indian hunter-gatherers (AASI)

Timeline: AASI are there first. ASI forms as Iranian farmers move east & is probably the basis of the spread of the Dravidian languages [ Elamo-Dravidian?] . ANI comes last, and carries with it the Indo-European languages.

Question: who made up the Indus civilization? Probably a mix of Iranian agriculturalists and AASI. Some Indus skeletons have been sequenced, but the results have not been released, probably because the researchers involved find them upsetting.

Another odd point: it looks as if there wasn’t much R1a in the region when you’d think there already would have been. There is a possible explanation, which also would explain why today it is so very widespread in this subcontinent: it confers a fitness advantage, like that Y-chromosome in horses. I call this the Topsy hypothesis.

Back to caste, jatis and all that.

Reich found caste interesting, partly because he grew up in a caste, Ashkenazi Jews. He feels empathy for all the Romeos and Juliets held apart by caste over the millennia – was there perhaps a little red-haired girl in his past?

The situation in Europe is different from India, because there practically everyone in India is a member of a caste, while in Europe most people aren’t.

There is an overall classification called varna, which divides all of society into four ranks : priestly (Brahmins) , warriors (Kshatriyas) , middle classes ( Vaishya) , and laborers (Shudra), plus the Untouchables ( Ness ). Varna probably influences the selective pressures that populations in a particular caste experience. For example it wouldn’t surprise me if Untouchables have developed specialized adaptations for dealing with certain pathogens, and of course surviving hot lead.

But those castes are made of thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of jatis, small endogamous groups. Generally one must marry within the jati- it is usually impermissible even with another jati of the same caste. Jatis have sometimes changed caste, but few individuals change jatis.

How did this very odd system originate? Varna sounds quite a lot like old patterns in PIE society, if you believe Dumezil. But Jatis are another story. Some revisionist historians, led by the anthropologist Nicholas Dirks, have argued that the Brits strengthened the caste system, which they say was not very important in parts of India. Of course
Megasthenes was writing about the Indian caste system two thousand years ago, but who reads?

Reich’s genetic analysis showed that the many jatis were founded by small groups and have experience near-zero gene flow for two to three thousand years. Other jatis with larger founding groups would not show the same tell-tale genetic signature, but most of them could also have been almost perfectly endogamous. I expect that is true for the great majority of jatis: the long-term degree of of endogamy was probably not strongly related to the formation process.

Partitioning the population into tens of thousands of gene-tight cells is unusual and had to have some interesting ( probably bad) genetic consequences. For one thing, it would greatly slow the transmission of new favorable alleles. No Fisher waves in India ! Pre-existing variation, for example the lactose-tolerance allele brought in by the Indo-Europeans, could increase in frequency if favored, but new favorable mutations would be locked-in to the jati they arose in. These results show Nicholas Dirks and company were utterly wrong, unless they think that perfidious Albion reached back in time to make India what it is today. Being a fountain of nonsense is presumably why Dirks makes the big bucks ( currently on leave, getting $434,000 per annum ).

A lot of people in India are fans of an Out-of-India theory, usually positing India as the origin of the Indo-European languages, but that can’t possibly be true, since as I mentioned you simply don’t see much of those Andaman-like lineages outside of India. Nor does it fit any of the linguistic evidence. or anything else. So they’re crazy, but who isn’t?

The Aryan-Invasion-Theory sure looks to be basically correct. As for the archaeologists saying that there’s not enough evidence of devastation, Reich points out that they can’t really detect the fall of the western Roman Empire, which hardly means it didn’t happen. War and migration are well-known important factors in written history – why not in prehistory? Because many contemporary archaeologist and historians think that wishing can make it so. They should be paid accordingly.

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106 Responses to Who We Are: #8 India

  1. DZK says:

    A funny thing about the Aryan Invasion is how North/South Indians politicise it in different ways. Some North Indians use it to boast about how they have the ancestry of the Steppe warriors glorified in the Mahabharata. On the other hand, some Dravidian Nationalist Southerners use it to castigate the ANI peoples for bringing down the Indus Valley Civilisation and dominating India.

    Similarly, some Pakistani nationalists and Hindu nationalists both believe (erroneously) that South Asian Muslims have substantial Arab/Persian ancestry. The Pakistanis because it lets them identify with the victorious and earliest Muslim conquerors, the Hinduvta guys because they can portray Muslims as utterly disconnected from the subcontinent.

  2. Rosenmops says:

    ” Note: ANI and ASI, as acronyms, were created in order to obscure certain points that many Indians don’t want to think about.”

    What don’t they want to think about?

    • 415 reasons says:

      That one kind of ancestry is quite ancient and indigenous to India and the other evolved elsewhere and came in as conquerors less than 4000 years ago.

    • Pyrrhus says:

      That Indo-European groups, aka Aryans, conquered India several thousands of years ago, doing away with most of the males in the conquered groups, and remain the rulers by dominating the top two castes…

    • ecgwine says:

      Because “varna” means “colour”, with the implication “the whiter the more Aryan”, meaning that by their own system any Westerner out-brahmins the brahmins.

  3. Gringo says:

    Regarding the ANI/ASI split, I am reminded of the comment a speaker of one of the Dravadian languages made to a friend who was visiting India. “We don’t speak the conqueror’s tongue.” The conqueror’s tongue was Hindi. How many thousands of years ago did they conquer? That is someone with a very long memory.

  4. dearieme says:

    “Reich points out that they can’t really detect the fall of the western Roman Empire”: depends what you mean by detect. In formerly Roman Britain in the Dark Ages there’s a dearth of archaeological evidence of people living and farming there at all. If the invading German pagans hadn’t had the habit of burying grave goods we’d not have much archaeological evidence for them. For the Romano-Britons the evidence is very thin. I’d say that adds up to pretty conclusive evidence of the fall of the Western Empire. Heavens, a few centuries before then it had been sufficiently thriving and organised that they’d held a census of the valley where I grew up. They’d built a bloody great wall in the neighbourhood. And then for about three centuries after around 400 AD, nothing.

    Eventually Christianisation meant that there were some nice stone crosses for later generations to coo over.

    • Magus says:

      Bryan Ward-Perkins did a pretty good job aggregating the archaeological evidence for the Fall of Rome, as well as how devastating it was. It’s not that the evidence isn’t there (it is, though sometimes takes a bit of effort), it’s rather that they simply don’t want to look at it, rationalize it away, etc.

      • Magus says:

        Good discussion between Heather and Ward-Perkins here:


        Both their books are great, and read together paint a pretty (in me view) accurate version of what likely happened, backed by latest scholarship and archaeology. Though of course it will be exciting as more genetic studies occur to complement that (I for one am always amazed at how little imprint the Romans left).

        Key quote from BWP here:
        “I think the current fashion for treating all cultures as essentially the same – and all dramatic changes (like the end of the Roman world) as mere ‘transformations’ from one system, to another equally valid one – is not only wrong, but also dangerous. It evens out the dramatic ups and downs of human history, into a smooth trajectory. This risks blinding us to the fact that things have often gone terribly wrong in the past, and to the near certainty that, in time, our own ‘civilization’, and the comforts we enjoy from it, will also collapse.”

    • Graham says:

      Hear, hear. I also read somewhere that the decline of Roman metalworking after the fall of the West can be clearly seen in the dramatic drop in air pollution (measured by looking at air in ice cores from Greenland) and that there was an equally dramatic drop in Mediterranean merchant shipping (measured using the number of shipwrecks as a proxy).

  5. teageegeepea says:

    My understanding was that it’s much easier to find unadmixed ANI populations today than ASI ones.

    “and of course surviving hot lead”

  6. Pyrrhus says:

    One question–did Reich find distinct groups or genes from the Mughul conquest of India?

  7. Pyrrhus says:

    Another question…where do the intelligent and endogamous Jains fit into the caste system? As I recall, Gandhi’s mother was a Jain.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jain communities in India are whatever varna their Jati is, which is generally dependent on what it was prior to conversion to Jainism. Many of them are mixed Hindu/Jain, but most of the largest and most successful Jain communities all seem to come from either Brahmin or Kshatria Jatis – the exception seems to be the Argawals who have a reputation/history of being highly successful merchants (therefore Vaisya, but they claim to be descended from royalty.)

    • rec1man says:

      Jains are Vaishya and they intermarry with Hindu Vaishya castes.

  8. thesoftpath says:

    Freeman Dyson argues in a recent article in the New York Review of Books that small endogenous populations raise the probability of interesting rare mutations reaching fixity. Do we see evidence of that in the case of the jati in India? https://goo.gl/gkpHyk

  9. Smithie says:

    The possibility of seeing different selection signals in different castes really captures the imagination. I wonder if warriors would show any musculoskeletal changes, like height selection, (reach) or girth (mass). Heck, they may have their own immune signals, for septic wounds or life in barracks.

    • Smithie says:

      Even GI tract changes for dealing with army food.

      • j says:

        The caste system produced the Iyer Brahmins that include some of humanity’s highest IQ individuals. Not surprisingly, they are being discriminated against and escaping India.

        • Smithie says:

          The big question is: what was the overall effect of caste on IQ? Southern China seems like a somewhat similar environment to parts of India, but has a markedly higher estimate. It seems very strange and interesting, and I hope the DNA can shed some light on it.

          • rec1man says:

            I have tracked California National Merit list for several years
            Among Indians
            Tamil Brahmins = 15%
            Other South Indian Brahmins = 15%
            North Indian Brahmins = 15%
            North Indian Merchants ( Jains etc ) = 20%
            Kayasth ( scribes ) & Rajputs ( nobles ) = 10%
            Aryan Kulak Peasants, Jat Sikhs & Patels = 5%
            Forward caste Dravidians = 15%
            Rest = 5%

        • rec1man says:


          This is my son, 100% Tamil Brahmin ; so is Sundar Pichai, Indra Nooyi, Vish Anand ( chess ), Ramanujam ( Math ) ; Chandrasekar of Chandra Telescope

    • gcochran9 says:

      I’m thinking of Dalits that took shit out to the fields.

      • j says:

        You, like almost everybody, assume that working with domestic sewage is dangerous. The FAO and WHO had researched the recycling subject and discovered that the people working with raw shit is healthier than average. The exception was Helminthiasis in Egypt. I don’t know if this confirms or refutes your thesis.

      • Smithie says:

        I prefer the term “night soil.” It adds a certain elegance and poetic mystery which only increases the more generations you are removed from the farm. Surely both precursors, anyway, when speaking about the more interesting types of worms.

    • Peter Lund says:


    • Yudi says:

      The recent finding about the Bajau makes adaptation among different castes appear quite likely.

    • Thersites says:

      “I wonder if warriors would show any musculoskeletal changes, like height selection, (reach) or girth (mass)”.

      I don’t know of anything affecting a whole caste, but the twin villages of Asola-Fatehpur Beri supply almost all of the nightclub bouncers and bodyguards in Delhi. The villagers have a natural aptitude for bodybuilding and wrestling, likely the result of adaptations acquired over their many centuries as warriors. Pictures of the village online look like the Indian version of Muscle Beach.

  10. Rich Rostrom says:

    Has anyone attempted to identify and catalog jatis?

    How has the jati system been affected by mass urbanization?

    Are diaspora Indians subject to the jati system?

    How is jati endogamy maintained?

    The wiki article on jati quotes an Indian scholar who wrote that jati identity can even survive conversion to Islam or Christianity.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s virtually impossible to catalogue all of them. Estimates are that there are around 3000, possibly even more. It’s difficult to know precisely because different Jati can be quite widespread, or highly localised. Within given areas, they can have extremely complicated relationships/codes of obligation between each other.

      It’s less rigidly observed in urban centres, especially where population churn is high, as you’d expect. However, exogamy is still considered unusual, and more conservative Jati members will regularly attempt to disown or attempt harm/kill those doing it.

      Yes, but again, it varies. It may be completely invisible to outside observers because members of the same Jati are overwhelmingly likely to immigrate to the same places.

      It’s maintained because the Jati is most Indians’ primary experience of society. Everyone you know, work with, are friends with, is from your Jati. Many (but not all) even have their own languages. It’s your entire support network and ‘position’ from cradle to grave. This is why it survives conversion (it was historically common for entire Jati, or specific sub-sections of a Jati, to convert simultaneously.)

      Interestingly, within each Jati there’s subdivisions called ‘Gotra’ (mostly patrilineal lines of descent), within which marriage is prohibited. In many cases, specific Gotras are also prohibited from intermarrying (either because they trace descent from the same founder, or for more obscure religious reasons), and some have some other, very specific prohibitions (e.g. marriage to a person from the Gotra of one’s mother’s father being prohibited.)

      The reason for these prohibitions is obvious given the levels of inbreeding that might otherwise ensue. What struck me as I was writing this is that the only other people who’re known to have systems this elaborate for determining who can and can’t marry within a tribal group are the Australian Aboriginals. Would it be farfetched to suggest that this system could have developed from a pre-existing, Jati-like system that the originators of the Indian chunk of the Aboriginal genome brought with them, evolving over time to minimise in-breeding within the various new tribes they founded as they began to expand?

      • Ilya says:


      • Anthropologists write about “Dravidian” kin terminologies, found in Southern India, but also in lots of other places (Australia, the Americas). In an idealized Dravidian terminology, father’s brother is called by the same term as father, mother’s sister by the same term as mother, and their children (parallel cousins) are equated with siblings. On the other hand, cross kin are equated with affines (relatives by marriage). The terms for mother’s brother and father’s sister, for example, may be the same as the terms for spouse’s father and mother. This tends to go along with rules making cross cousins (mother’s brother’s child, father’s sister’s child) preferred marriage partners. In southern Indian, marriages between a man and his older sister’s daughter (a cross relative, belonging to another line of descent) are also not uncommon. Australian aborigines commonly make Dravidian style distinctions, but often add generational distinctions as well that further govern whom you can and can’t marry. Dravidian-type terminology and marriage rules are sufficiently widespread that it’s likely they’ve been reinvented on multiple occasions.

        Northern India is different. Not only are people generally barred from marrying relatives in their own clans, but also cousins and other relatives from outside their clan (sometimes even fellow villagers). Jatis are endogamous, but within jatis people are generally not marrying close relations.

        In other words, Hindu ideas about endogamy and hierarchy are overlaid on very different foundations in north and south India.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “Are diaspora Indians subject to the jati system?”

      yes – they tend to move to the same streets in a specific town and arrange marriages with their home villages

      • dearieme says:

        “Are diaspora Indians subject to the jati system?” The only diaspora female I’ve known well enough to discuss this with was indeed highly restricted by her parents in the matter of marriage.

        The only diaspora male I’ve known well enough to discuss this with I never did. We were undergraduates: marriage wasn’t yet on his, or at least on my, mind. Lovely bloke though: he’d have had no shortage of girl friends if he’d thrown the net wide.

    • rec1man says:

      Yes, Jati system survives in a weaker form in the diaspora ; I am a Tamil Brahmin, in India, less than 5% of marriages are out of caste ; In the diaspora, we relax the rules to no-blacks, no-muslims,

      In India the preference order is
      Tamil Brahmin > South Indian Brahmin > North Indian Brahmin > Aryan Upper Caste ( inc Jains and Sikhs ) > Dravidian Shudra > Untouchable > Christians > Muslims

      In Diaspora, the preference order is
      Brahmin > Aryan Upper Caste ( inc Jains and Sikhs ) > Atheist white ( provided kids are raised brahmins ) > Dravidian Shudra > Untouchable > Evangelical Christians > Blacks > Muslims

      Indian families in the diaspora, tell their kids, never bring home a black or a muslim

      Per the pew report, 12% of Indians intermarry with whites, compare that data vs just 5% inter-caste marriage in India

  11. Typos: “…wasn’t much R1a [in] the region…” & “For example i [t] wouldn’t surprise me…” & “There is a possiblw[e] explanation,” & (I’m not entirely sure about this one) “Genetic analysis indicates that the vast majority…” I think that probably should be “indicate” rather than “indicates” because I assume this was the result of multiple studies.

  12. Would the day come when we will have this information organized rather than scattered on many blogs and books?

  13. Master Kaen says:

    There’s an old (2003) article in a sort of left-liberal Indian magazine which discusses the caste background of Indian cricketers (spoiler: most were Brahmins). It has changed a lot in the past 15 years though.


  14. PhilippeO says:

    The existence of Jatis not necessarily conflicted with British strengthening caste system. British conquest is said that to connect jati-varna and apply it more generally in All India. It said, before British, Jatis sometime had different varna in different kingdoms and different times, with times Jatis could ascend and descent in status. The example is martial races, where British recruit only on specific Jatis, while before local politic of individual kingdoms greatly affect composition of local armies (and kshathriya status).

    • Master Kaen says:

      Reich says one-third of Jati groups they studied had population bottlenecks (similar to Finns or Ashkenazi Jews). So two-thirds didn’t have a significant population bottleneck. Of course, the minority still means millions of people.

      Reich says that Dirks argues that strict endogamy wasn’t practiced in ancient India. I don’t know if Dirks makes such an absolute statement. Dirks says that caste (and more importantly, “kinship groups”) did exist in India before the British, but were systematized and made more rigid by the British and made it a religion-based system when it was more complex.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        This may be true for all I know, but given the track record of people like Dirks, I’d be willing to wager a significant amount that it’s crap.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Let me explain again. Suppose you founded a new jati with, say, 50 people. If they never intermarry over next three thousand years, they’ll obviously look bottlenecked: obvious genetic signature. If they intermarry even a little, they won’t look bottlenecked.

        So, if they’re bottlenecked, you know they’ve been tightly endogamous ( < 1% gene flow per generation) and can estimate how long.

        Suppose the original founding involved considerably more people, say 10,000. They won’t look bottlenecked today. They may still have been tightly endogamous: in principle you could tell by genetic analysis, but it would be more difficult, take more info, require multiple comparisons with neighboring groups, etc.

        If a third of the jatis were obviously endogamous for thousands of years, probably most were, some less obviously.

        How did the Brits manage to retroactively make gene flow very low over thousands of years – in at least a third of the jatis? Well, when they’re not totally deracinated, Brits can do anything.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          Babbage’s time machine, obviously.

        • Master Kaen says:

          Thanks for the explanation. I understand that the estimate of “one-third” is a lower bound, and is perhaps a large underestimate.

          I do not know of Dirks’ work in a lot of detail, but from what I read, he doesn’t see caste as an either/or system; indeed, Dirks says explicitly in his book that “caste was not just invented by the too clever British” (p. 5 of his book “Castes of Mind”) — a crude thesis which many people (of all political stripes) in India often allege. Something can both have an objective basis, and a political basis.

          It is fair to say that Dirks is overall, a skeptic on what he calls the “racial basis of caste” and criticized the anthropometry of H. H. Risley, who was the census director for the 1901 census. It would be interesting to see how much of Risley’s analysis holds up today.

          Still, Dirks also describes that starting with the 1873 census in India, when caste was first used, it was politicized. He describes, for instance, caste-based organizations in India telling their members how to answer questionnaires, among many other shenanigans. The British eventually abandoned the use of caste in the 1931 census, due to political reasons.

          One can keep in mind Joan Robinson’s comment here: “Whatever one can rightly say about India, the opposite is also true”.

          • gcochran9 says:

            There are systematic differences in ancestry between castes: higher castes, typically, have more steppe ancestry. If Dirks was a skeptic on the “racial basis of caste” , he was both wrong and fucking blind.

            By the those “racial differences” in appearance also put upper bounds on the extent of gene flow: if it had been very high, say > 2% per generation, castes would all look the same. At least locally.

            I’ve heard lots of people say that you have to assume that people who disagree with you are honest. Often they aren’t, and you’d be a fool to keep pretending that they are.

            • Toddy Cat says:

              Given the way the anthropometry controversy with Stephen Jay Gould turned out, my money’s on Risley.

            • Master Kaen says:

              I should repeat that I have no special knowledge of Dirks’ work, these are impressions from skimming.

              Dirks actually elsewhere (while criticizing Risley), he quotes B. R. Ambedkar (a much respected untouchable leader in India), as saying that “endogamy is the essence of caste”. (Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, vol. 1, p. 8), available here: http://www.mea.gov.in/Images/attach/amb/Volume_01.pdf

              So Dirks is not clear on the subject (actually Ambedkar wasn’t that clear either).

  15. AppSocRes says:

    I’ve always been surprised at how strongly Indians hold to their caste system on those very rare occasions when those I’ve known have opened up to me. I’ve had relatively high caste Indians tell me that Dalits really are that bad. And the Indians I have known seemed very westernized.

    OT, but I’d either never heard of or never paid any attention to Nicholas Dirks until he was mentioned here. The Wikipedia entry was highly enlightening. He looks and sounds like a real dick. Given how kindly Wikipedia usually treats personages with his obvious political leanings this suggests to me that he must be a major league dick..

  16. kartheek says:

    1.the author confuses varna and jati(native words) & jati is caste (english/portuguese)

  17. ClassyRebel says:

    Interesting, The IVC proxies – “Indus_Periphery” average at about 72% West Eurasian (Iranian Agriculturalists) and 28% Indigenous HG (AASI). y-DNA’s – J2a1h, J2a; mt-dna U2c1,R7 .This Indus ancestry is greater prevalent in ANI (70-72%) than it is in ASI (39%). Closest current day population to Indus_Periphery would be Pathans, 65.8 of their ancestry.

  18. kartheek says:

    what the indians were afraid to find out is that south indians & north indians are different .There is a political party BJP and an organisation RSS who have winning elections making muslims as scapegoats who destroyed Hindu civilization and importantly responsible for the partition of india in to 3 countries. .Their main planck is Muslims are invaders from Central Asia.& all other indians are indigenous and India is the place from which all IE languages are born(Reverse of Aryan Invasion theory).Christians are also hated as they try to convert Hindus (mainly Untouchables/Tribals) into christians.

    • Smithie says:

      it’d be pretty interesting to know how the different, non-Hindu faiths compare to castes. How endogamous they are. Where do they come up on mixture plots. By theory, they would have all appealed to untouchables. St. Thomas supposedly came to India in 52 AD.

    • pyrrhus says:

      Muslims from Arabia and Central Asia killed 300-400 million Hindus over a period of 700 years, and converted many others by the sword….They clearly had a marked and negative effect on the Hindu civilization that had existed…

  19. kartheek says:

    also untouchables are not recognised as a varna in Vedas.

  20. FrenchMan says:

    The Marwaris are very interesting. They are quite similar to the Jews.

  21. catte says:

    Speaking of castes, are we any closer to understanding who the Cagots of France were, and why they were hated?

  22. Any info on the origin story of the European Gypsies, what’s the Indian part of their mixture like, and how much of the stuff do they still retain?

    • Jim says:

      I think the linguistic evidence suggests they came from the Punjab. Romany belongs to Indic branch of Aryan (Indo-Iranian) but shows evidence of having been influenced by Armenian and Greek suggesting that the ancestors of the Roma migrated through Anatolia and entered Europe through the Troad.

  23. Steve Sailer says:

    Might their have been a fourth migration into India from eastern Asia bringing rice cultivation?

    • dearieme says:

      That’s wot Razib says. Say it quietly, though: we don’t want Americans claiming that Bengalis are rice-eating surrender monkeys.

  24. HJ says:

    With regard to your Twitter convo with Vegana… Raids in New Jersey town target ultra-Orthodox Jews accused of welfare fraud. ‘http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-jersey-orthodox-20170923-story.html

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  26. crew says:

    Is Freeman Dyson saying things that contradict you?


    West does not mention another scaling law that works in the opposite direction. That is the law of genetic drift, mentioned earlier as a crucial factor in the evolution of small populations. If a small population is inbreeding, the rate of drift of the average measure of any human capability scales with the inverse square root of the population. Big fluctuations of the average happen in isolated villages far more often than in cities. On the average, people in villages are not more capable than people in cities. But if ten million people are divided into a thousand genetically isolated villages, there is a good chance that one lucky village will have a population with outstandingly high average capability, and there is a good chance that an inbreeding population with high average capability produces an occasional bunch of geniuses in a short time. The effect of genetic isolation is even stronger if the population of the village is divided by barriers of rank or caste or religion. Social snobbery can be as effective as geography in keeping people from spreading their genes widely.

  27. Qualitat says:

    “Reich…red-haired girl”

    There is a dominant gene present among west Asian Jews that confers curly, bright red hair. So, maybe.

  28. anon says:

    “Reich’s genetic analysis showed that the many jatis were founded by small groups and have experience near-zero gene flow for two to three thousand years.”

    I’m kind of surprised by that– one would think there would be ample high->low flow via master-servant arrangements.

  29. jovien says:

    Autochtonous hunter-gatherers. Then, agriculturalists from the ME. Then IE agriculturalists/pastoralists from the steppe.
    So the same story as in Europe.
    And the DNA analysis converges with the reconstruction of the prehistorians.

    Is this this convergence found for Europe, too ?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Similar to Europe, but in Europe’s case the hunter-gatherers component is A. smaller and B. possibly less different. Came closer to replacement in northern Europe.

      Mainly it agrees with prehistorians circa 1930. Recent prehistorians went astray.

  30. Ruritanian says:

    Cambodian affinities with both ASI and ANI are much stronger than a few traders, says Razib.


  31. aryaavarta says:

    Really weird how the western world keeps trying to impose its version of fairness & civility on the world while claiming to respect all cultures.

    Even a practice which they find reprehensible as Sati they must respect, otherwise the consequence is literally pakistan moving into their neighborhood।।


    • Yudi says:


      Besides that, Greg Cochran spoke out against neoconservatism long before it was cool to do so.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      With all due respect, I don’t recall anyone here saying that they respected all cultures, or sticking up for Sati. I certainly don’t. Those would be Western Leftists, about which your comment is perfectly true.

      These aren’t the Westerners you’re looking for

  32. dirkins says:

    So you’re now claiming that Dirks is unaware of Megasthenes? Why should anyone pay attention to anything you say?

    South Indian Brahmins have ANI ancestry but speak Dravidian btw. And they are the most numerous and authentic Brahmin castes culturally. Once again your ‘language is DNA’ theory is wrong. Maybe just wind it back a tad.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Dirks was substantially wrong. I can think of a lot of similar examples out of anthropology: cases with predictions that could be checked through dna, and that turned out to be wrong. It’s hard to think of cases where they were right. I see it as a consequence of widespread dishonesty and stupidity.

    • Cantman says:

      “South Indian Brahmins have ANI ancestry but speak Dravidian btw. And they are the most numerous and authentic Brahmin castes culturally. Once again your ‘language is DNA’ theory is wrong. Maybe just wind it back a tad.”

      I never understood why this was meant to be so threatening to the Aryan invasion theory. It’s pretty easy to imagine why the Aryan ruling class in the most aborigine-dominated regions would cling to caste endogamy when their cousins in the less aborigine-dominated north did not. There was just a lot more distance between them and any possible non-Aryan mates, a smaller pool of mixed Aryan/aborigines, more cultural distance between the two populations. Yiddish isn’t a semitic language but the Jews were just about the most endogamous population in Europe when Yiddish was the lingua franca of European Jews.

      • South vs North Brahmins says:

        Genetically, per Narasimhan, the picture on whether this was the case is mixed.

        They state: “Figure S4.3: Groups of traditionally priestly status in South Asia that are in northern India have evidence of excess Steppe-relatedness (there is no signal of excess in southern India)”.

        At the same time, southern Indian priestly groups do look to have more of an excess of West Eurasian ancestry generally, relative to the people around them, compared to North India, despite that this is not Steppe ancestry specifically.

        So southern India Brahmin vs non-Brahmin looks to be about level of AASI (not steppe ancestry), while northern Indian Brahmin vs vs non-Brahmin looks to be steppe vs neolithic West Eurasian ancestry (and not as much driven by AASI..).

        There’s a way you could explain this; upon Northern Brahmins entering the south, they chose to intermarry more intensively with local elite people who had low AASI ancestry, causing reversion of their steppe:neolithic ratio to the mean.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          I certainly wouldn’t claim the Dirks was unaware of Megasthenes. I think that Megasthenes didn’t fit the thesis Dirks wanted to peddle for political reasons, so he ignored him. If I’m wrong, and Dirks was genuinely ignorant, I apologize.

        • Violet says:

          “There’s a way you could explain this; upon Northern Brahmins entering the south, they chose to intermarry more intensively with local elite people who had low AASI ancestry, causing reversion of their steppe:neolithic ratio to the mean.”

          There could be a different way of explaining this. Brahmins were already formed with neolithic and AASI ancestry, but when steppe moved in to Gangetic plains Northern Brahmins mixed more freely with new comers (for whatever reasons ).
          The steppe component from the Northern Brahmins trickled to Southern ones through endogamy.

          Why can’t it be this?

  33. Eric Wilds says:

    Where does this leave the DNA of ancient Sumer? Were the Sumerians Iranian farmers who migrated in the other direction?

    • Sumer says:

      Position and general trends in time would predict that they should be fairly intermediate Western farmers and Eastern farmers – populations of ME become more admixed between Anatolian/Levant and Caucasus/Iran over time in a geographically structured way. Probably they be something like 65:35 Eastern farmer:Western farmer.

      For Anatolia and Northern Iran, direction seems generally more dominantly West->East in terms of migration than vice versa – samples at the Haji Firuz and Seh Gabi look to show more change from Neolithic->Chalcolithic->Bronze Age than Anatolian samples like Tepecik-Ciftlik and later compared to early Neolithic.

  34. NF says:

    Is there a convincing explanation for how and why the caste system came into being? I mean putting aside the ‘post-colonial’ Dirks type stuff. In particular why in India but not in Europe? This gets even more intriguing after Reich’s summary of the evidence on the similarity between the original genetic building blocks of the two sub-continents, i.e. hunter-gatherers, ‘first farmers’ and Yamnaya. Given this similarity, why did the then-existing mixture in India crystallize and get carried forward to the present almost unchanged via the jatis, while in Europe this did not happen, intermarriage and mixing continued? I have some discussion related to these points in this blog post: “Scenes from Two Weddings – England and India” (https://naimisha_forest.silvrback.com/scenes-from-two-weddings).

  35. jovien says:

    Reich book has reached the WH Smith bookshop of the rue de Rivoli in Paris – and I have begun to read it.

    . p 115 : “British and Irish skeletons from the Bronze Age had at most 10 percent ancestry from the first farmers of these islands, with the other 90 percent from people associated with the Bell Beaker culture in the Netherlands.”
    . On the next page, a map with the proportion of individuals with steppe ancestry by country, shows, for the United Kingdom : 100%.

    Contradictory, isn’t it ?

    2° Among the causes of the IE expansion, he mentions that plague was endemic in the steppe, and the possibility that steppe people had built up an immunity to it, while that immunity did not exist among the central European farmers (p 113).

    Not a word on lactose tolerance…

  36. jovien says:

    3° The steppe.
    . p 107 : “Prior to five thousand years ago, the archeological evidence indicates that almost no one lived far from the steppe river valleys, because in between these valleys there was too little rain to support agriculture, and TOO FEW WATERING POLES TO SUPPORT LIVESTOCK.”
    “By hitching their animals to wagons the Yamnaya could take water and supplies with them into the open steppe and exploit the vast lands which previously had been inaccessible.”

    But they could not possibly have taken within the wagons the water necessary for the livestock. So, the past inexploitability of the steppe due to the too few watering holes for the livestock doesn’t seem to be such a good explanation…

  37. Pingback: This Week In Reaction (2018/04/29) - Social Matter

  38. Ben Kurtz says:

    Untouchables. Ness. Ha. Got the joke the first time.

    In point of fact, the typical word I’ve heard for the untouchable Indian casts is “Dalit.”

    I always figured Ness to be a “Revenuer” more than an “FBI agent” per se.

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