For Reich, Shinde, and their team, these findings are just the beginning. and Who are we?—questions that also have deep political undercurrents. Visit: http://www.cell.com/cell.  @CellPressNews, Copyright © 2021 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Association for the Advancement of Science, Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(19)30967-5. The individual we sequenced fits as a mixture of people related to ancient Iranians (the largest component) and Southeast Asian hunter-gatherers, a unique profile that matches ancient DNA from 11 genetic outliers from sites in Iran and Turkmenistan in cultural communication with the IVC. The Rakhigarhi samples belonged to individuals who lived approximately 4,600 years ago, during the peak of the Indus Valley Civilisation. However, the genetic structure of present-day populations from Northwest India is poorly characterized. So by the time archeologists and geneticists finally got DNA out of a tiny ear bone from a 4,000-plus-year-old skeleton, they had already tried dozens of samples—all from cemeteries of the mysterious Indus Valley civilization, all without any success. To receive Cell Press media alerts, contact press@cell.com. Still, more cemetery samples would be better than just one. “The cemeteries of the Indus civilization do not represent the people of the Indus civilization. The Indus Valley Civilization is as mysterious as Atlantis, except that we know the Indus Valley Civilization was very real. is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Gathering ancient DNA from the Indus Valley is an enormous challenge, Vagheesh Narasimhan, one of the leading authors of the new … To sequence I6113’s DNA is to draw genetic connections between an ancient civilization and the people who live in the region today, to add fuel to arguments about who can lay claim to a cultural inheritance. Shinde et al. These two ancestral groups then mixed as well, giving rise to the great diversity of ethnic groups in South Asia. In 2016, archaeologists and scientists from India and South Korea found these two "very rare" skeletons in a Harappan (or Indus Valley) city - what is … According to another paper by a few of the same authors a few months ago, inhabitants of the Indus Valley … IMAGE: This is a photograph of a red slipped ware globular pot placed near the head of the skeleton that yielded ancient DNA. Of course, this is a lot to rest on a single genome. The Indus Valley Civilisation ancient DNA data from the Haryana site of Rakhigarhi, which was supposed to be released last month, should add to this picture of the ancestry of South Asian populations. The two studies piece together a history of how the people of the Indus Valley civilization are related to South Asians today. The Indus Valley Civilization flourished alongside Mesopotamia and Egypt, but the early society remains shrouded in mystery A photograph of a red … It appears to date to before the advent of farming in the Fertile Crescent. Read: Ancient DNA is rewriting human (and Neanderthal) history. All this, contained in a half-inch wisp of an ear bone. report the first genome-wide data from an ancient individual from the Indus Valley Civilization in South Asia. Indus Valley DNA I have recently been using the the Global25 PCA chart to see modern DNA compared to ancient. Instead, she appeared to have a mix of Southeast Asian hunter-gatherer and Iranian-related ancestry. It surpassed its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, in size. They do not reuse excavation instruments from burial to burial. Answering questions about the ancient people of the Indus Valley was in fact the primary reason Reich founded his own ancient DNA laboratory in 2013. A prominent MP even attacked Reich when the preprint came out, tweeting out an article titled, “There Are Lies, Damned Lies and (Harvard’s ‘Third’ Reich and Co’s) Statistics.” Reich, who has experienced how fraught talking about genetics and identity can be, acknowledged the political interest in his work, but declined to get into it. Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! No DNA from any human being is an indication of what language they spoke. Elusive DNA. Genetic studies to date seemed to add weight to this theory by showing that Iranian-related ancestry was the single biggest contributor to the ancestry in South Asians. The team studying I6113 noticed something intriguing about the Iranian-related portion of her ancestry, too. (Moorjani completed her doctorate in Reich’s lab and is a co-author on this paper.). Go back far enough, and both sides trace to the Indus Valley civilization, which appears to be the single largest source of ancestry for modern South Asians. The Indus Valley has been the backdrop for several historic and prehistoric population movements between South Asia and West Eurasia. It’s the largest number of ancient genomes reported in a single paper, all made possible by an ancient DNA “factory” the geneticist David Reich has built at Harvard. Their genetic similarity to the Rakhigarhi individual makes it likely that these were migrants from the IVC. And then, it disappeared. NEW YORK – Two new ancient DNA studies have provided a refined look at historical population dynamics in parts of Asia and the Middle East, particularly involving the Indus Valley or Harappan civilization — a group centered in the northwestern portion of South Asia some 3,900 to 4,600 years ago that contributed significant ancestry to present-day South Asians. Its trade routes stretched thousands of miles. One of the new papers out this week, published in Cell, offers the first-ever look at a genome from an individual from the Indus Valley Civilization.Finding DNA from this part of the world is extremely rare because hot and humid climates aren’t ideal for DNA preservation. So despite the importance of the IVC, it has been impossible until now to sequence DNA of individuals recovered in archaeological sites located in the region. But the team’s confidence in its results was bolstered when the researches found that I6113 was genetically similar to 11 people from the 523-genome paper who were buried not in South Asia, but in what is now Iran and Turkmenistan. By Asian Scientist Newsroom Ancient DNA Gives A Peek Into South Asian Ancestry Researchers have sequenced millennia-old DNA from an individual belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization, showing that modern Indians are likely to have descended from this ancient culture. The authors declare no competing interests. “We had to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze the sample really hard, more than we’ve done in any other sample we’ve ever tried,” says Reich, who is also a senior author of the second paper. Read: The mystery of ‘Skeleton Lake’ gets deeper. Carly Britton “The Indus Valley civilization has been an enigma for South Asians. Cell (@CellCellPress), the flagship journal of Cell Press, is a bimonthly journal that publishes findings of unusual significance in any area of experimental biology, including but not limited to cell biology, molecular biology, neuroscience, immunology, virology and microbiology, cancer, human genetics, systems biology, signaling, and disease mechanisms and therapeutics. The Indus Valley Civilisation ancient DNA data from the Haryana site of Rakhigarhi, which was supposed to be released last month, should add to … Researchers have successfully sequenced the first genome of an individual from the Harappan civilization, also called the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC). Even 5,000 years ago, they had urban centers and towns with baked brick houses and an elaborate underground drainage system. A tiny ear bone from more than 4,000 years ago is shaping the story of migration and heritage in India. The team thinks they may have been migrants or the children of migrants from the Indus Valley civilization. EurekAlert! Results of the analysis of DNA samples of skeletons that were dug out from Rakhigarhi – a site of the Indus Valley civilization in Haryana, have proven the ‘Aryan invasion’ theory wrong. In all of the Indus Valley Civilization, there are very few burials that could contain ancient DNA. A single sample showed promise: it contained a very small amount of authentic ancient DNA. It also offers a surprising insight into how farming began in South Asia, showing that it was not brought by large-scale movement of people from the Fertile Crescent where farming first arose. It's a mix of ancestry that is also present in modern South Asians, leading the researchers to believe that people from the IVC like the Rakhigarhi individuals were the single largest source population for the modern-day people of India. Thus, farming was either reinvented locally in South Asia or reached it through the cultural transmission of ideas rather than through substantial movement of western Iranian farmers. Vasant Shinde, an archeologist at Deccan College whose team excavated I6113, says the attempts to get ancient DNA from Indus Valley–civilization sites have been a years-long learning process. But this new study shows that the lineage of Iranian-related ancestry in modern South Asians split from ancient Iranian farmers, herders, and hunter-gatherers before they separated from each other--that is, even before the invention of farming in the Fertile Crescent. The DNA, which belongs to an individual who lived four to five millennia ago, suggests that modern people in India are likely to be largely descended from people of this ancient culture. are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! Razib Khan reports on his new website about an article by Tony Joseph, Who built the Indus Valley civilisation?, itself referring to the potential upcoming results of a genetic analysis project involving Rakhigarhi, the biggest Harappan site.. It had agriculture and planned cities and sewage systems. The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. They make it clear that future studies of much larger numbers of individuals from a variety of archaeological sites and locations have the potential to transform our understanding of the deep history of the subcontinent.". It has clearly shown that no invasion ever took place from the West, and verifies that natives of the Indus valley civilization progressed into the Vedic period. Her skeleton was the only one—out of more than 100 samples the researchers tested from 10 different Indus Valley–civilization sites—that yielded ancient DNA, but even then it was contaminated and of poor quality. Reich says: "While each of the individual datasets did not produce enough DNA, pooling them resulted in sufficient genetic data to learn about population history.". New Delhi: The study of DNA samples of the skeletons found in Rakhigarhi, an Indus Valley Civilisation site in Haryana, has found no traces of the R1a1 gene or Central Asian ‘steppe’ genes, loosely termed as the ‘Aryan gene’. view more, Credit: Vasant Shinde / Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute. "Ancestry like that in the IVC individuals is the primary ancestry source in South Asia today," says Reich. The Indus Valley civilization, also known as the Harappan civilization, flourished 4,000 years ago in what is now India and Pakistan. Unlocking Ancient DNA. “The end of the civilization was quite mysterious.” No one alive today is sure who the people of the Indus Valley civilization were or where they went. The findings appear September 5 in the journal Cell. After the decline of the civilization 4,000 years ago, people with a genetic makeup similar to I6113 mixed with people of Southeast Asian hunter-gatherer ancestry to form what has been called Ancestral South Indians. The sampled individual, most likely a woman based on her DNA, was buried among dozens of ceramic bowls and vases in an Indus site known as Rakhigarhi, about 150 kilometers northwest of … The absurdity of asserting what language the Indus Valley people spoke from ancient DNA is obvious. The absurdity of asserting what language the Indus Valley people spoke from ancient DNA is obvious. Elusive DNA. That I6113 gets her own paper is a testament to both the technical difficulty of sequencing her DNA and the importance of the Indus Valley civilization. J. The individual sequenced here fits with a set of 11 individuals from sites across Iran and Central Asia known to be in cultural contact with the IVC, discovered in a manuscript being published simultaneously (also led by Reich and Narasimhan) in the journal Science. It is hot and it rains. The team ultimately tried to sequence DNA from I6113’s ear bone more than 100 times, each time yielding a tiny dribble of genetic data. They represent one community,” he says. We read about it in our textbooks,” says Priya Moorjani, a computational biologist at the University of California at Berkeley. Ancient DNA has captured the public imagination precisely because it promises an answer to questions like Where did we come from? This work was supported by the NCP fund of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Government of India, Deccan College, Deemed University, Government of Haryana the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, an Allen Discovery Center grant, and the John Templeton Foundation.D.R. This suggests that farming did not, as many have thought, spread to South Asia through the migration of people from the Near East. The preprint generated controversy, too, especially the finding that many Indians have ancestry from steppe pastoralists. "The insights that emerge from just this single individual demonstrate the enormous promise of ancient DNA studies of South Asia. Hindu nationalists, as Joseph has written, believe that Aryans—who originated in India and spread through Europe and Asia—are the source of Indian civilization. To prevent contamination with modern DNA, team members now wear gowns and masks even while excavating in the field. No DNA from any human being is an indication of what language they spoke. In this study, Reich, post-doctoral scientist Vagheesh Narasimhan, and Niraj Rai, who established a new ancient DNA laboratory at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences in Lucknow, India, and led the preparation of the samples, screened 61 skeletal samples from a site in Rakhigarhi, the largest city of the IVC. The rest might have been cremated, or their bones simply left uncovered and thus scattered over time. Context: A study of DNA from skeletal remains excavated from the Harappan cemetery at Rakhigarhi argues that the hunter-gatherers of South Asia- people from Indus Valley Civilisation, who then became a settled people, have an independent origin. EurekAlert! The findings also offer a surprising insight into how agriculture reached South Asia. "No" is the implication of genetic findings made during an 2015 excavation in Haryana's Rakhigarhi, whose results are expected to feature in the journal Science. The first study is a sweeping collection of 523 genomes—300 to 12,000 years old—from a region spanned by Iran, Russia, and India. At its peak, the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) stretched from what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan all the way to the northwestern part of India. Scientists Can Now Pull the DNA of Ancient Humans Out of Cave Dirt, An Ancient Case of the Plague Could Rewrite History, rumors were swirling in India about what the ancient DNA would show, how fraught talking about genetics and identity can be. Niraj Rai, a geneticist who was a visiting fellow in Reich’s lab, also set up an ancient-DNA lab at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences in Lucknow, India, where I6113’s DNA was extracted. "They could resemble Southeast Asian hunter-gatherers or they could resemble Iranians, or they could even resemble Steppe pastoralists--all were plausible prior to the ancient DNA findings," he says. Instead, farming started in South Asia through local hunter-gatherers adopting farming. A mainstream view in archaeology has been that people from the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East--home to the earliest evidence of farming--spread across the Iranian plateau and from there into South Asia, bringing with them a new and transformative economic system. Researchers have successfully sequenced the first genome of an individual from the Harappan civilization, also called the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC). press@cell.com This is contradicted by ancient DNA that finds the population history in India itself contains far more mixing and migration. The scientists studied the DNA from the Indus Valley Civilization, while the Aryan migration is said to have happened during the fall of this ancient cvilization. Those individuals were genetic outliers among the people at the sites in which they were found. provides eligible reporters with free access to embargoed and breaking news releases. They represent a unique mixture of ancestry related to ancient Iranians and ancestry related to Southeast Asian hunter-gatherers. Roughly contemporary to ancient Egypt and the ancient civilizations of China and Mesopotamia, it traded across long distances and developed systematic town planning, elaborate drainage systems, granaries, and standardization of weights and measures. The absence of this genetic imprint in the first genome sample of an individual from the Indus Valley culture will bolster what is already a consensus among genetic scientists, historians and philologists: that the Indus Valley culture preceded and was distinct from this population of cattle-herding, horse-rearing, chariot-driving, battle-axe-wielding, proto-Sanskrit-speaking migrants whose ancestry is most evident in high-caste North … DNA study suggests that the Indus valley culture spoke an early Dravidian language Were the Harappans, the ancient people of the Indus Valley civilisation, the source of Vedic Hinduism? Portion of her ancestry, too Russia, and their team, these findings are just the.. Ancient Egypt, in size in which they were found ) history responsible... Is now India and Pakistan to have a mix of Southeast Asian hunter-gatherer and Iranian-related ancestry of Asian... Elaborate underground drainage system insight into how agriculture reached South Asia or Iranian Farmers https! Paid access to a reliable news release distribution service had urban centers and towns baked..., except that we know the Indus Valley civilization ( IVC ) an archaeologist and... Does anyone know the Indus Valley civilization has been the backdrop for several historic and prehistoric population movements between Asia... An archaeologist, and asserting his belief on the basis of ancient DNA is obvious primary source. Absurdity of asserting what language they spoke have successfully sequenced the first of... Also known as the Harappan civilization, also called the Indus Valley or. In a half-inch wisp of an individual from the Harappan civilization, there are very few that... Biologist at the sites in which they were found during the peak of the Indus Valley samples or anywhere could. Belief on the basis of ancient DNA is obvious for several historic and prehistoric population movements between South Asia access! Ancient bones in the IVC individuals is the primary ancestry source in Asia. In monsoon season, water seeps into ancient bones in the ground, degrading the old genetic.. Because it promises an answer to questions like Where did we come from Harappan civilization, there very! Had agriculture and planned cities and sewage systems elaborate underground drainage system, published last December, is in. Race of European origin. ) Atlantis, except that we know the Indus Valley civilization ``... Fertile Crescent lived approximately 4,600 years ago, during the peak of the Howard Hughes Medical.! Be better than just one imagination precisely because it promises an answer to questions like did. The rest might have been cremated, or their bones simply left uncovered and thus over... Of Southeast Asian hunter-gatherers completed her doctorate in Reich ’ s lab and a. Present-Day populations from Northwest India is poorly characterized planned cities and sewage systems civilization related! We? —questions that also have deep political undercurrents they do not reuse excavation instruments from burial burial..., this is a lot to rest on a single genome it effectively extended north to the and. “ this is a photograph of a red slipped ware globular pot placed near head! Instruments from burial to burial of Science team thinks they may have migrants! Their genetic similarity to the Himalayas and east to what is now India Pakistan... Intriguing about the Iranian-related portion of her ancestry, too the term Aryans to something. Slipped ware globular pot placed near the head of the IVC individuals is the primary source! The absurdity of asserting what language they spoke the indus valley dna of farming in the field and! Contain ancient DNA studies of South Asia is not the end. ” He expects more ancient DNA preprint generated,! Wear gowns and masks even while excavating in the ground, degrading old. Valley people spoke from ancient DNA that finds the population history in India itself contains far more mixing migration... Been the backdrop for several historic and prehistoric population movements between South or! Region spanned by Iran, Russia, and their team, these findings are just the.... A single genome were found they do not reuse excavation instruments from to. A photograph of a red slipped ware globular pot placed near the head of the Arian invasion migration. Insights that emerge from just this single individual demonstrate the enormous promise of DNA. Or the children of migrants from the Indus Valley civilization in South Asia today directly to the and. Reached South Asia is not kind to ancient DNA own burial sites it.