Category Archives: Dravidian

More on the Remains of Ancient Australoid “Indo-Pacific” Languages in India

Jm8: Might there have also been more than one language family among the proto-Australoid peoples of India I wonder (including Austroasiatic) (like there are in Australia and Papua today), since India is big and had been inhabited for a very long time (being among the longest inhabited areas outside Africa)?

It would be interesting to investigate the distribution of Austroasiatic influence over the various Dravidian languages to see where in India it is stronger.

This article suggests that Austroasiatic is not indigenous to India (but rather to south east Asia).

I had though that the Veddoid/early Australoid languages of India might be lost forever and only (maybe) partly reconstructible (in as few aspects) from their influences on other languages that replaced them. But if they were Austroasiatic (and represented by those languages surviving in Andra Pradesh), then that is not the case.

“The Vedda/Australoid people are speakers of the Munda branch of Austroasiatic. There is an Austroasiatic layer in both Dravidian and Indic. It is the oldest layer.”

That’s interesting. I thought Austroasiatic was associated with Southern Proto (Paleo?)-Mongoloids (like some of the Northeast Indian tribes — and Vietnamese is Austroasiatic). But maybe it predates the split between Australoid and Proto-Mongoloid peoples (some Paleomongoloid descendants of course still somewhat resemble Australoids, or did not that long ago in prehistory), which would be interesting. It’s it a very old and deep language family? I know there are some tribes in East Central India (Andra Pradesh I think) that speak Austroasiatic, and they look phenotypically a bit like something transitional between South Mongoloid and Australoid.

“I am not aware of theories showing Dravidian close to Australian languages.”

It might be discredited now (I’ll try to look into it, and the Austroasiatic influence on Dravidian, which is interesting). The theory (I think) was only that there might be a substratal influence of something like one of the Australian families on Dravidian (but still that Dravidian came mostly from somewhere the Middle East — or consistent with that idea anyway).

It might make sense that there is a substratal influence from “Indo-Pacific” languages such as those from the Andaman Islands and West Papua in Dravidian, but I have never heard of it. That would be an older layer underneath even the Munda layer in Dravidian.

There was no split between Australoids and Proto-Mongoloids. The former simply transitioned into the latter. Austroasiatic is associated with the Paleomongoloids and Neomongoloids of SE Asia. Austroasiatic is indeed old and deep, and the evidence for Austroasiatic is about as good as the evidence for Afroasiatic and Altaic. This doesn’t make sense because Afroasiatic and Austroasiatic are generally recognized families, but Altaic is not, although there evidence for the two former is no better than the evidence for the latter.

They were not lost forever as Kusunda, Nihali and the Vedda language substrate seem to be the remains of the tongues of the original Australoid speakers. The original tongues were not Austroasiatic – those languages came later. However, at the moment, most of the highly Australoid people in India speak a Munda language like Santhal. Apparently the Munda languages were once widespread over the whole continent, but most of them were replaced by Dravidian and Indic intrusions. In the more settled people, Dravidian and Indic replaced Munda languages, but in the tribals, the earlier Munda tongues lingered perhaps due to their inaccessibility living in the forest and the fact that the scheduled tribes are mostly outside the caste system.

Yes and the split between the Munda languages and the rest of the Austroasiatic is very deep. Austroasiatic can almost be split into Munda and non-Munda as two basic parts of the family. And there is not a lot left connecting the Munda languages to the rest of the family.

Kusunda, Nihali and the substrate of the Vedda language of Sri Lanka are thought to be the remains of the languages of the original Australoid speakers. These languages may be related to the Andaman Islands languages and Papuan languages. I know there is a connection between Kusunda and Andaman Islands languages and West Papuan tongues. There is some theorized relationship with such “Indo=Pacific” tongues and Nihali and the Vedda substrate also.

Yes, the Mundas came into India relatively lately and surely replaced nearly all of those original Andaman/Papuan languages of the Australoid people.

At the moment, Kusunda and Nihali are isolates, and even the Andaman tongues are split into two different families, so right now there are already separate language families among these Australoid people.

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Filed under Afroasiatic, Altaic, Anthropology, Asia, Austro-Asiatic, Cultural, Dravidian, India, Indic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Irano-Armenian, Indo-Irano-Armeno-Hellenic, Isolates, Language Families, Linguistics, Pacific, Physical, Regional, South Asia, Sri Lanka

The Influence of the Tongues of Australoid/Vedda People in India on Dravidian Languages

Jm8: I wonder what influence the languages of the proto-Australoid/Veddoid peoples had on modern Dravidian languages. It seems pretty clear that Dravidian came primarily from a Near Eastern family also ancestral to Elamite (Elamo-Dravidian) in Iran and reached India around the Neolithic. But I wonder if Veddoid peoples’ languages could have a substratal influence on Dravidian (or at least some Dravidian languages—esp those farther south or the tribal ones), even perhaps playing a role in its divergence from its Elamo-Dravidian root; depending on where Dravidian truly diverged (e.g: If it diverged within the Indian subcontinent—like around Pakistan/NW India—, where proto-Australoid peoples lived).

The influence of those peoples might be hard to assess. I recall a while ago reading about an old theory that Dravidian had some grammatical similarities to certain Australian Aboriginal languages (Northern maybe?).

But did these similarities also exist I wonder in the one surviving Dravidian language of the North, Brahui in Pakistan, whose speakers presumably have much less native proto-Australoid ancestry?

One might possibly also check for similarities to Andamanese languages (a bit of a long shot I know).

The Vedda/Australoid people are speakers of the Munda branch of Austroasiatic. There is an Austroasiatic layer in both Dravidian and Indic. It is the oldest layer.

I am not aware of theories showing Dravidian close to Australian languages.

There is a moribund language spoken in Nepal called Kusunda which appears to be related to West Papuan the Andaman Islands languages.

Keep in mind that in mainstream Historical Linguistics (which has deviated far away from anything sane anymore anyway), there is no Papuan language family. Instead, Papua is divided into 37 separate language families and 20 isolates. They also say there is no Australian language family,  although I believe R. W. Dixon made a case for one. Instead we have 20 different language families and four isolates in Australia. And they do not posit that the Andaman languages form a coherent family. There are two separate families even in the Andaman Islands, with Ongan and Greater Andamanese, with no demonstrated relationship between them. I have looked at the Andaman languages, and trust me, some of them are extremely far apart.

The people positing that Papuan, Australian and Andaman are language families or even that all three together form a single family called Indo-Pacific (Joseph Greenberg’s hypothesis) are all long-rangers whose views are not accepted in mainstream linguistics. However, Steven Wurm accepts a much-modified and more conservative view of Greenberg’s theory.  In addition, it appears that Trans New Guinea, West Papuan, Greater Andamanese and some Timorese languages, all included in Greenberg’s Indo-Pacific, show striking similarities which to my mind could only be genetic.

At any rate mainstream Linguistics is very conservative as far as Historical Linguistics goes. The existence of Elamo-Dravidian, which should be obvious to anyone looking, is not even regarded as proven.

I have looked at Dravidian quite a bit, and I did not think it was even close to the putative Nostratic family of Northern Eurasia. Instead it seemed to be closer to Afroasiatic than anything else. If Elamite was spoken in Western Iran, and before that the proto-Dravidians were in the Levant (according to the old theories), then it would make sense that Dravidian would be closer to Afroasiatic than anything else.

Keep in mind that Afroasiatic is a very old family – it may be 13-15,000 years old. And the fact that it is even regarded as proven at all (yes there are some ultra-splitters who are now saying that Afroasiatic is not even real) shows how wrong Historical Linguistics is when they say that any relationships older than 8,000 years cannot be proven because they are beyond the means of the comparative method of Historical Linguistics. If anything over 8,000 YBP is unknowable as far as the comparative method is concerned, then how did we prove Afroasiatic which goes back 15,000 YBP?

But Comparative Linguistics has gotten totally offtrack. Whereas traditionally, we simply observed languages and threw them into families based on obvious similarities and only after that reconstructed, now they have it backwards. No matter how much the languages look alike, we can’t put them into a family unless we have reconstructed all the way back to the proto-languages and found regular sound correspondences. Only then do we prove relatedness.

But Linguistics never worked that way before. Relatedness was posited simply on observation, and only later was the hard reconstruction work with regular sound correspondences done.

According to Lyle Campbell, Joanna Nichols and others unfortunately at the top of Historical Linguistics nowadays, Sir William Jones could not have even posited the existence of an Indo-European family because we had not yet reconstructed Proto-Indo-European and its regular sound correspondences yet. See? They’ve got it backwards.

Anyway even IE is not well understood. How’s that Laryngeal Theory working out for you guys? Coming right along, right? Didn’t think so. Just as I thought.


Filed under Aborigines, Afroasiatic, Anthropology, Asia, Australia, Comparitive, Dravidian, India, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Iran, Isolates, Language Classification, Language Families, Linguistics, Nepal, Pacific, Pakistan, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, South Asia

The India-Australia Connection

The genetic link between India and Australia is not conclusive. Most recent Genetics paper on the earlier mentioned links has found no recent links.

Also Dravidian and Veddoid are 2 different races. Some Veddoid have taken up Dravidian languages just as other Veddoid have taken up Indo-Aryan.

In Sri Lanka is the only distinct Vedda population and they speak a creole that is neither Dravidian nor Indo-Aryan; it shares more with Indo-Aryan but has a substratum that is distinct and different from Dravidian and Indo-Aryan. India does not have distinct Vedda populations as they have linguistically and culturally assimilated into the surrounding Dravidian,Indo-Aryan and Munda speaking populations.

I would certainly agree that a recent India-Australia link is not proven.

My argument was that those people we call Aborigines are new people. Supposedly they supplanted most of the original people. They are said to have come from India and Thailand 12-17,000 YBP. Any genetic relation that far back will not show up in genes.

Furthermore, Veddoids and other primitive types in India (yes, there are some in India, not just Sri Lanka) have skulls that plot Australoid next to Papuans, Melanesians and Aborigines. If there is no connection, why do they have the same skulls? Tamils also have Australoid skulls showing the same connections.

There is a very ancient and primitive group in Nepal called the Nahali. The language was long thought to be an isolate and was recently thought to be extinct. However some speakers were found not long ago. More recent though highly controversial studies suggest that Nahali is an Indo-Pacific language related to the languages of New Guinea. I believe this connection is correct. If there is no connection between India and Australia, why the language connection?

Also, the Andaman Islanders are Australoids by skulls. So once again we have an Australian connection with the most primitive people of India by skulls. Some theories suggest that the Andaman languages, long considered isolates, are related to Indo-Pacific languages. Joseph Greenberg thought so. I am not sure how well that is backed up, but if it is true, once again, we see a connection between India and Australia.


Filed under Aborigines, Andaman Islanders, Anthropology, Asia, Australia, Dravidian, East Indians, India, Language Families, Linguistics, Melanesians, Negritos, Nepal, Oceanians, Papuans, Physical, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, SE Asians, South Asia, South Asians, Sri Lankans

A Look at the Tamil Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.

Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.

Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.

Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.

This post will look at the Tamil language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.


Tamil, a Dravidian language is hard, but probably not as difficult as Malayalam is. Tamil has an incredible 247 characters in its alphabet. Nevertheless, most of those are consonant-vowel combinations, so it is almost more of a syllabary than an alphabet. Going by what would traditionally be considered alphabetic symbols, there are probably only 72 real symbols in the alphabet. Nevertheless, Tamil probably has one of the easier Indic scripts as Tamil has fewer characters than other scripts due to its lack of aspiration. Compare to Devanagari’s over 1,000 characters.

But no Indic script is easy. A problem with Tamil is that all of the characters seem to look alike. It is even worse than Devanagari in that regard. However, the more rounded scripts such as Kannada, Sinhala, Telegu and Malayalam have that problem to a worse degree. Tamil has a few sharp corners in the characters that helps to disambiguate them.

In addition, as with other languages, words are written one way and pronounced another. However, there are claims that the difficulty of Tamil’s diglossia is overrated.

Tamil has two different registers for written and spoken speech, but the differences are not large, so this problem is exaggerated. Both Tamil and Malayalam are spoken very fast and have extremely complicated, nearly impenetrable scripts. If Westerners try to speak a Dravidian language in south India, more often than not the Dravidian speaker will simply address them in English rather than try to accommodate them.

Tamil has the odd evidential mood, similar to Bulgarian.

However, on the plus side, the language does seem to be very logical and regular, almost like German in that regard. In addition, there are a lot of language learning materials for Tamil.

Tamil is rated 4, very difficult.

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Filed under Applied, Dravidian, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics, Malayalam, Tamil

A Look at the Malayalam Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.

Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.

Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.

Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.

This post will look at the Malayalam language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.


Malayalam, a Dravidian language of India, was has been cited as the hardest language of all to learn by an language foundation, but the citation is obscure and hard to verify.

Malayalam words are often even hard to look up in a Malayalam dictionary.

For instance, adiyAnkaLAkkikkoNDirikkukayumANello is a word in Malayalam. It means something like “I, your servant, am sitting and mixing something (which is why I cannot do what you are asking of me).” The part in parentheses is an example of the type of sentence where it might be used.

The above word is composed of many different morphemes, including conjunctions and other affixes, with sandhi going on with some of them so they are eroded away from their basic forms. There doesn’t seem to be any way to look that word up or to write a Malayalam dictionary that lists all the possible forms, including forms like the word above. It would probably be way too huge of a book. However, all agglutinative languages are made up of affixes, and if you know the affixes, it is not particularly hard to parse the word apart.

Malayalam is said to be very hard to pronounce correctly.

Further, few foreigners even try to learn Malayalam, so Malayalam speakers, like the French, might not listen to you and might make fun of you if your Malayalam is not native sounding.

However, Malayalam has the advantage of having many pedagogic materials available for language learning such as audio-visual material and subtitled videos.

Malayalam is rated 5, extremely difficult.

This research takes a lot of time, and I do not get paid anything for it. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a a contribution to support more of this valuable research.


Filed under Applied, Dravidian, India, Language Learning, Linguistics, Malayalam, Regional, South Asia

Is Dravidian Related to Japanese?

Thirdeye writes:

The Tamil-Japonic connection isn’t quite as off the wall as one might think at first glance. There’s apparently a strong Andaman-Indonesian language connection. The convention of repeat plurals seems to have found its way to Japan. There’s also some similarity between the Finno-Ugric languages, which are Uralic outliers in a sea of Indo-European languages, and Dravidian languages that have a remnant in Pakistan. Contact between proto-Dravidian-Uralic and Altaic languages is a real possibility.

If Uralic is close to anything, it is close to Altaic and Indo-European and probably even closer to Chukto-Kamchatkan, Eskimo-Aleut, Yukaghir and Nivkhi. Yukaghir may actually be Uralic itself, or maybe the family is called “Uralic-Yukaghir.”

There is no connection between Austronesian (Indonesian) and the Andaman Islanders. Austronesian is indeed related to Thai though (Austro-Tai); in my opinion, this has been proven. If the Andaman languages are related to anything at all, they may be related to some Papuan languages and an isolate in Nepal called Nihali. A good case can be made connecting Nihali with some of the Papuan languages.

Typology is not that great of way to classify. Typology is areal and it spreads via convergence. What you are looking in search genetic relationship among languages more more than anything else is morphology. After that, a nice set of cognates.

There is probably no connection between Dravidian and Uralic in particular. Dravidian is outside of most everything in Eurasia. It if is close to anything, it might be close to Afro-Asiatic. There also looks to be a connection with Elamite.

Dravidian and Afro-Asiatic are probably older than the rest of the Eurasian languages, and they were located further to the south. Afro-Asiatic is very old, probably ~15,000 YBP.


Filed under Afroasiatic, Altaic, Andaman Islanders, Austro-Tai, Austronesian, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Comparitive, Dravidian, Eskimo-Aleut, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Isolates, Japanese, Japonic, Language Classification, Language Families, Linguistics, Negritos, Paleosiberian, Race/Ethnicity, SE Asians, Tamil, Thai

More Out of India Idiocy


This is the latest nonsense out of India purporting to undo the Aryan Migration Theory. It is written by high caste Hindu idiots for political reasons, namely to swipe back at South Indians and Dalits who claim that Aryans imposed caste Hinduism on them at the point of a sword. The fact is that South Indians misrepresent the case. The Aryans did not sweep into Northwest India, conquer the Dravidians, and push them south. The Aryans conquered in the north, and they bred in with and mixed with the locals. In time, caste Hinduism spread to the south of India.

Michael Witzel is probably the pre-eminent scholar of Sanskrit and the Aryan Migration question. Here is his response to this irresponsible study, which unfortunately was published in a peer reviewed journal. Briefly, the India Today piece completely misrepresents the study and the authors of the study also make many other misrepresentations of the data. I am afraid that this is the way Indians do science, just like they do everything else – with massive corruption and political overtones. As more and more Indians get into science, we can count on science becoming more and more corrupt and less and less scientific.

I asked Prof. M. Witzel about a popular news item in Indian English press.
Here is his reply.

Happy Holidays!
N. Ganesan

From Michael Witzel answering my question.

Well, Ganesan, I have answered that, based on my genetic etc. background info and info from my geneticist friends [who include Thangaraj, Pitchappan 🙂 ] — but this msg. has not appeared on IDDOLOGY@yahooo yet, where this “news” was broadcast a few days earlier…

Here a copy:

The INDIA TODAY article (below) bristles with misrepresentations and outright misinformation, in part by the authors of the genetic study mentioned here:

On Dec 11, 2011, at 7:19 PM, Sri Venkat wrote:
> Dinesh C. Sharma New Delhi, December 10, 2011 | UPDATED 10:22 IST
> Indians are not descendants of Aryans, says new study.
> <>

Briefly, it is well known that “The origin of genetic diversity found in South Asia is much older than 3,500 years when the Indo-Aryans were supposed to have migrated to India”. Geneticists point to the Out of Africa movement around 65-75,000 years ago. As a result, Reich et al. have shown that two ancient population segments evolved in South Asia around 40 kya, the ‘Ancestral North Indians’ (ANI), (genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans) and the ‘Ancestral South Indians’. Add another, Neolithic migration from the Greater Near East some 10,000 y.a.

Then, it is usually said that “migration of Indo-European speakers from Central Asia … was responsible for the introduction of the Indo-European language family.” Indeed. Indo-Aryan language, religion, etc. have been imported from the Ural steppes/Central Asia. Note the many *early*, pre-Vedic loan-words into *early* Uralic language, and now also loans from the Bactria-Margiana culture (2400-1600 BCE) into Indo-Aryan. By people with one or another genetic set-up (see below on R1a).

The rest of the so-called “Aryan Invasion” is an outdated 19th century theory, just as the early 19th c. one that imagined Indo-Europeans migrated out of India (as some Hindutvavadins now reassert!). There was indeed a movement northward out of South Asia/Greater Near East during the warm period around c.40,000 y.a., but that is some 38,000 years BEFORE Indo-Aryans even came into existence. (Same mistake made in the 2005 CA schoolbook fiasco!)
> “Our study clearly shows that there was no genetic influx 3,500 years ago,” said Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj.

Absolute genetic dates (just as in linguistic reconstructions) need to be supported by outside evidence, such as finds of skeletons. For the period around 1500 BCE, we still have error bars of 3000 years in genetic reconstructions, which makes pronouncements about a non-existent “Aryan” move into South Asia very moot indeed.

We will have to await the further, so far very uncertain resolution of the early Y chromosome R1a haplogroup (c. some 20-34,000 years old), to form an opinion. Ra1 has been attributed to speakers of Indo-European (as it is prominent in Eastern Europe), but it also occurs throughout South Asia, tribal populations included. We need to know which one of its unresolved sub-strains moved, when and where. We do not know that…yet.

When L. Singh says, “It is high time we re-write India’s prehistory based on scientific evidence,” we can only agree.

However, not when he says, “There is no genetic evidence that Indo-Aryans invaded or migrated to India or even something such as Aryans existed”.

Dr Singh does not understand that Indo-Aryan language (and religion) simply could not exist in thin air. You need a population. Obviously they had Ural area ancestors, whatever their genetic set-up upon entering from Afghanistan.

Even his assertion, “If any migration from Central Asia to South Asia took place, it should have introduced apparent signals of East Asian ancestry into India” is patently wrong as Eastern elements entered Central Asia only much later.

For further details see my recent message to the IER list.


Sequel to my last, general comment:

1. First of all, it is rather unfortunate that the authors of the paper have highlighted the “Aryan Invasion Theory” in their summary and later on as well. That is 19th century talk!

Since at least the 1950s (FBJ Kuiper 1955, Przyluski even in 1920s, etc.), Indologists have stressed the complex interactions between Indo-Aryan speakers and local speakers both in the Greater Panjab and beyond, from the oldest text (Rgveda, c. 1200-1000 BCE) onward, which has some clear non-IA poets and kings. The great, late Kuiper’s last paper (2000) has the title a “bilingual poet”.

Since 1995, I too have written about acculturation, and that maybe “not one gene” of the Ural steppes people had survived by the time the pastoral Indo-Aryan speakers arrived in the Greater Panjab (via the Central Asian river pastures/Tienshan/Pamir meadows, the BMAC, Hindukush, etc., with many chances for gene flow from all these areas).

That Indo-Aryan language, religion, ritual etc. have been imported from the Urals/Central Asia (note the *early* loan-words into Uralic, and now also BMAC loans words into Indo-Aryan!) is beyond any reasonable doubt. By people with one or another genetic set up, — which one that is the question.

I will await the further resolution of the Y chromosome haplogroup Ra1* –note the “western” affinities in the paper of Brahmins and Ksatriyas even in U.P. — as to see exactly which genetic strain may have entered South Asia around 1500 BCE, — if any.

2. Co-author Lalji Singh says as per the article in DNA :

“We have conclusively proved that there never existed any Aryans or Dravidians in the Indian sub continent. The Aryan-Dravidian classification was nothing but a misinformation campaign carried out by people with vested interests,” Prof Lalji Singh, vice-chancellor, Banaras Hindu University, told DNA.”

Again harking back to *supposed* British interests in the 19th century. But, the two language groups definitely are as separate as they are from Bantu, Chinese or Papua. Indo-Aryan is definitely not = Dravidian language or its original culture, just as little as Basque, Uralic are not Indo-European. Confusion of language, genes, ethnicity, etc.

Well, Lalji has stayed at Hyderabad for a long time. Did he ever try to speak Hindi/Urdu to native, mono-lingual Kannada speakers? He would had have as little luck as I would have with any Indo-European language in Estonia, Finland or Hungary.

Why does he have to comment about things (language, culture) that he does not understand?

““The study effectively puts to rest the argument that south Indians are Dravidians and were driven to the peninsula by Aryans who invaded North India,” said Prof Singh, a molecular biologist and former chief of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.”

Same mistake. Of course, South Indians are Dravidian speaking. And they even are genetically (ASI) different from North Indians (ANI), which this co-author should know from his own (and D. Reich’s) paper. Same confusion of genetics, language, ethnicity (“race”)…

The idea of Aryans “driving Dravidians’ South”, too, is 19th century talk. See above. The reality is much more complex. For example, Frank Southworth has shown that Maharashtra was Dravidian speaking well into the Middle Ages, and Gujarat too has Drav. place names. There was a lot of give and take between the two language families, as is seen in the many Dravidian loans in Sanskrit, etc. and the many Indo-Aryan loans in Drav. languages.

3. Unfortunately, as some years earlier before, Gyaneshwer Chaubey chimes in: “According to Dr Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia, who was another Indian member of the team, the leaders of Dravidian political parties may have to find another answer for their raison d’être.”

A clear, political statement based on wrong science: see immediately below. By Dravidian parties he means those restricted to Tamil Nadu. Well, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra too speak Dravidian, as do many tribes in Central India (Gonds, etc.)

“We have proved that people all over India have common genetic traits and origin. All Indians have the same DNA structure. No foreign genes or DNA has entered the Indian mainstream in the last 60,000 years,” Dr Chaubey said.”

Sorry, *all Indians* with the same DNA structure? Their own paper says differently. He could also say that all ex-Africa populations have the same genetic origin…

And no “foreign” genes? What about all these Persians, Greek/Macedonians, Saka, Kushana, Huns, Arabs 711 CE+, Muslim Turks (1000+, 1200 CE+), Mughals, Afghans 1700 CE, Portuguese, etc., British….? Sure, they all never had Indian wives…

“Dr Chaubey had proved in 2009 itself that the Aryan invasion theory is bunkum. “That was based on low resolution genetic markers. This time we have used autosomes, which means all major 23 chromosomes, for our studies. The decoding of human genome and other advances in this area help us in unraveling the ancestry in 60,000 years,” he explained.”

I hope he will learn to distinguish between the Out Of Africa migration, the Neolithic one from western Asia around 10,000 y.a. (detailed in this very paper!), and the trickling in of Indo-Aryan pastoral speakers c.1500 BCE??

4. Said geneticists *still* cannot distinguish between speakers of a particular language and their genes. Writing in English — are Lalji Singh and Gyaneshwer both Anglo-Saxons? Or me, for that matter?

It is one thing to explain genetic results to the gullible public, but to confuse them with wrong data from linguistics, archaeology etc. is despicable.

5. “According to Prof Singh, Dr Chaubey, and Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj, another member of the team, the findings disprove the caste theory prevailing in India.”


“Interestingly, the team found that instead of Aryan invasion, it was Indians who moved from the subcontinent to Europe. “That’s the reason behind the findings of the same genetic traits in Eurasiain regions,” said Dr Thangaraj, senior scientist, CCMB.

Well, as detailed in my last note, the well-known northward movement into N. Eurasia from South Asia during the warm period around 40,000 years ago, has NOTHING to do with the 19th century’s “Aryan Invasion,” dated around 1500 BCE! I suppose they can count and calculate?

6. Finally, the unavoidable dot on the i, from the ubiquitous Dr K., — who has nothing to do with this genetic paper or topic. Bad choice by the DNA newspaper!

“Africans came to India through Central Asia during 80,000 to 60,000 BCE and they moved to Europe sometime around 30,000 BCE. The Indian Vedic literature and the epics are all silent about the Aryan-Dravidian conflict,” said Dr S Kalyanaraman, a proponent of the Saraswathi civilization which developed along the banks of the now defunct River Saraswathi.”

Through Central Asia?? There is no evidence at all for this, neither archaeologically or otherwise. Central Asia — deserts and all — was settled, pace Wells, only much later. Dr K. is not up to date: Rumania was reached
already by 42 kya…

As for “Vedic literature and the epics are all silent about the Aryan-Dravidian conflict”, he should re-read the Rgveda (in Sanskrit), not the outdated 100 year old English translation of Griffith. The non-Indo-Aryan speaking populations there (Dasyu, Daasa) clearly are in conflict with Indo-Aryan speakers…

Finally, having studied *administration* (PhD Manila), he is not up to date on archaeology either. The Harappan civilization developed in the Piedmont west of the subcontinent (see books by the late G. Possehl) and it spread eastward, also to the Ghagghar-Hakra river, which Dr K anachronistically calls, in Hindutva fashion, Sarasvati — well before the river got its Vedic name, c.1200 BCE.

In sum: for all discussants: as the old proverb has it, “shoemaker, stick to your own tools”!

‘nough said.


On Dec 11, 2011, at 11:50 AM, Michael Witzel wrote:

> This paper  has been out for a few days, and I got a copy from a co-author, one of my Estonian friends.
> I have immediately protested to them and have also critiqued the comments published by DNA. Note that the latter comments are attributed just to three (not all!) Indian co-authors, but do not come from the slew of other authors. The reason, as usual, seems to be politics and notoriety (to attract more finances?)
> To set the record straight, a few general remarks first:
> 1. There is nothing new in the result about an early Out of Africa movement (to South Asia) of *anatomically modern humans* (not Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo Erectus) at c. 65-75 kya. There are some hints about earlier dates but they are based on debatable stone artifacts, not skeletons.
> 2. And we also knew well about the movements from there to northern Eurasian areas during the warm period around c. 40,000 BCE: archaeologically attested by skeletons, both in the Beijing area (Zhoukoudian c.40 kya, via S.E. Asia), and in Europa (Rumania, c. 42 kya).
> See my friend Peter Underhill (Stanford) et al. 2010 paper:
> 3. Obviously this early movement has nothing to do with the current Hindutvavadin theory of an “Out Of India” move of the Indo-Europeans, who would have settled Europe: that would be tens of thousands of years later. (The same mistake was made during the CA schoolbook affair … by a CA biologist! They never learn…)
> For a popular overview with maps see St. Oppenheimer’s website  or that of the National Geographic.
> Around 40,000 BCE there were neither “Aryans” nor Indo-Europeans around, not even speakers of the giant Nostratic language family, at best of the still earlier hypothetical Borean super-language family, proposed by my friend, the Africanist Harold Fleming (see WIKI). Likewise, no Dravidian language family yet, which may in fact be part of Nostratic anyhow.
> This northward move is a general phenomenon, as is the subsequent severe contraction southward during the last Ice age around 20 kya, when the four or five major human types (not “races”) developed in isolation: Europe, S.Asia, (Sunda Land: S.E. Asia), E. Asia, Sahul Land (New Guinea-Australia), — for example with two separate, independent mutations producing white skin color in Europe and in East Asia.
> 3. The paper by my Boston geneticist friend David Reich et al. has shown that South Asia has two ancient population segments evolving from the early Out of Africa people around 40 kya, the ‘Ancestral North Indians’ (ANI), (genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans) and the ‘Ancestral South Indians’ (ASI), so named after I had cautioned him and Nick Patterson about the political danger involving the naming of these groups. As you can see, even this nomenclature did not help to dispel preconceived Hindutva bias about “Aryans” and Dravidians.
> At 40 kya there were no “Aryans” and no “Dravidians” around yet.
> 4. If we then want to speak about “Aryans” (more correctly: speakers of Indo-Aryan language) and speakers of the early Dravidian language at all, we first of all have to disconnect language from ethnicity or “race”. I am not an Anglo-Saxon, just because I speak and write in English here, nor are Chaubey, Singh and Thangaraj.
> Language can change within 2 generations, as all Americans know and as Indians *should* know: not just in large cities, but also in tribal areas where people take over the dominant regional language, for obvious social reasons.
> The 3 Indian geneticists quote by DNA confuse language use with genetic setup, ethnicity, culture, religion etc. All of them easily (and *mutually*) transgress genetic boundaries.
> 5. If when then speak about Indo-Aryans or Dravidians at c. 3500 years ago, and want to link them with genetic data, we must take into account that all these studies are based on modern DNA, and depend on *assumed* mutation rates (going back to the Chimpazee-Human split of 5-7 million years ago); the genetic results thus provide good *relative* dates, but not absolute dates.
> Absolute dates (just as in linguistic reconstructions) need to be supported by outside evidence, such as finds of skeletons of anatomically modern humans, as mentioned above. (By the way these are earlier at Lake Mungo in Australia at c. 50 kya and Europe/China than in South Asia, where they only appear in Sri Lanka at c.30 kya. Facetiously: an Out of Australia migration to Eurasia?)
> 6. Worse, there are huge error bars in all these models. It may not matter very much if we have error bars of some 10,000 years for the Out of Africa move, but for the period around 1500 BCE, we still have error bars of 3000 years, which makes all pronouncements about a non-existent “Aryan” move into South Asia, based on current genetic data, very moot indeed.
> The “Western Asian/Central Asian” strain in northern India/Pakistan (as per this paper by Metspalu et al.) may well be due to Persian, Greek/Makedonian, Saka, Kushana, Hun, Arab (711 CE+), Islamic Turks 1000 CE/1200 CE, Portuguese etc. (1500 CE+) or British gene influx.
> I will await the further, so far very uncertain resolution of the Y chromosome R1a haplogroup to form an opinion. Ra1a has been attributed to speakers of Indo-European (as it is prominent in Eastern Europe) but it also occurs throughout South Asia, tribal populations included. We need to know which sub-strain moved: when and where.
> 7. All of which leaves most of the comments by Singh, Thangaraj and Chaubey high and dry. More about them in my next message.
> An interesting weekend, apparently. Luckily, the semester is over…

> Cheers,
> Michael

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Filed under Anthropology, Antiquity, Asia, Asian, Cultural, Dravidian, East Indians, Eurasia, Genetics, History, India, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Physical, Politics, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, South Asia, South Asians

An Anatolian Homeland For Indo-European?

That may be, but the part about “proto-Europeans” coming from the Lower Volga is bullshit. All archaeological, anthropological, linguistic, and genetic evidence (not to mention, evidence from indigenous pagan religions/mythologies) point to an Anatolian origin of the Indo-Europeans.

During the LGM, European hunter-gatherer groups gathered in some refugia in South Central Europe (Iberia, Western Balkans, Ukraine…) Northern Europe was almost entirely covered in glacier, as were the Alps, Caucasus, Pyrenees, and other major mountain ranges.

After the LGM, the scant remnant of Upper Paleolithic survivors moved back north, but Southern Europe was depopulated, only to be repopulated again by Near Eastern agriculturalists at the dawn of the Neolithic. These agro-pastoralists from the Anatolian-Levantine refugium brought farming, livestock, and copper to Europe. Among the earliest farmers were the Anatolian proto-Indo-Europeans.

The Basques are probably remnants of the Mesolithic survivor population. The purest descendants of these Near Eastern settlers are the Greeks, Albanians, Armenians, and at least some Italians -also the Turks, who inhabit the PIE origin land – ironically Turks, who speak a non-Indo-European Altaic language, are probably more Indo-European than most Indo-European speakers, especially Brits or Indians.)

Of course, there were other migrations around that time. A people closely related to the Mongols expanded westward across Siberia, over the Urals and into Scandinavia, following the deglaciation. They introduced Uralic languages (Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Lappish) into Europe, and the Lapps are their most direct descendants.

But we have strong reason to believe that Indo-European spread from the Near East (most likely North-Central Anatolia) chiefly due to agriculture, not from Western Europe (as some White Nationalists might believe) or from India/Pakistan (as many Hindu nationalists believe) or from Gimbutas’ fanciful Kurgan patriarchs (which Wikipedia deems as “official” and which you appear to take for granted).

[Actually, it surprises me that so many people take for granted some nutty hypothesis proposed by the Marxist-feminist Jewess Marija Gimbutas despite the lack of evidence or historical precedent. At least the Paleolithic Continuity Model is based on some evidence (albeit misinterpreted) and the Out-of-India hypothesis is based on understandable wishful thinking.]

Consider the following:

* As per your own model, virtually all Europeans cluster closely with each other and with Persians, Kurds, Caucasus folks, Jews, Turks, and some Semitic-speaking Levantines. Basques, North Africans, Arabs, and “West Asians” (i.e. Afghans) are minor outliers.

This interrelatedness suggests a strong demic diffusion and also implies that the stat that Europeans are 80% Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic remnants but only 20% Neolithic colonists is considerably off. How else do you explain that Europeans are generally closer to Iranians than to Basques?

* While Indo-Europeans are/were indeed fairly heavily male-dominated (Gimbutas was at least correct about this), this follows from a Near Eastern origin, as the Middle East was, and still is, very patriarchal. Ironically, Gimbutas located the homeland of those “evil patriarchal invaders” who decimated the “feminist utopia” that neolithic European society (allegedly) was in Scythia, which is believed to be the source of the Amazon legends…

* Indo-European languages show relatively strong affinities to Semitic languages, and probably Kartvelian and Pelasgian languages (the latter may have actually been Indo-European, related to Hittite), possibly Ligurian (probably Indo-European and related to both Celtic and Italic languages), and even Etruscan (controversially). No such closeness to Iberian (Basque), Ural-Altaic, or Dravidian languages.

* The oldest evidence of Indo-European languages comes from Anatolia (Hittite) and the Aegean (Greek in Linear B). Minoan (in Linear A) remains undeciphered and may have been related. Archaeological records demonstrate a settled native population.

* Even the pagan religions seem to cluster near the Anatolian centre. Zoroastrianism and the Indic religions both descend from the Indo-Aryan religion, but the Persian religion is more similar to ancient European religious traditions than the Dharmic faiths are (because Hinduism absorbed some Harappan/Dravidian pre-Aryan influences.)

Greco-Roman and Germanic religions were more alike than either was akin to Celtic (Druidic) paganism, the Celts being more matriarchal and probably influenced by relatives of the Basques in Western Europe and the British Isles.

All this points to an origin for Indo-European in Neolithic Anatolia, but you ae probably correct that the Aryans (Indo-Iranians, not blonde Germanic supermen) came into Iran and India via Central Asia. Most likely route being a clockwise migration around the Caspian Sea…

Excellent commentary, fascinating stuff.

I actually agree with an Anatolian homeland for PIE, however, I also agree with a secondary spread from the Lower Volga. So, things are complicated. In fact, I argue that Indo-European is actually Indo-Hittite, with Anatolian being so far removed from the rest that it is actually a sister to the rest of the family. Just a look at Hittite shows you how archaic it is compared to the rest of the family.

The part about the Turks, Greeks, Albanians, Armenians, and at least some Italians being the remnants of the original IE people is probably true. So, in a sense, these are really the “original Whites.” Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Nordicists.

Gimbutas’ theory has always ween a bit nutty. There were no ancient matriarchies. As a female friend once said, men have always ruled. Why? She answered, “Men are bigger, men are stronger, men push women around and make them do what they want them to do.” Well, of course, and women are too weak to fight back.

As it is now, as it’s always been. In gender relations, it’s the law of the jungle. I also feel that matriarchies might have been inherently unstable, as I’m not sure that “female rule” works very well. We are having enough problems with what matriarchy we have in the West.

Patriarchy or male rule is sort of a bad deal for women, but at least it seems to “work.” And I have noticed that women from patriarchal cultures seem to be happiest in their femininity and in general. The men are masculine, the women are feminine, and everyone’s happy.

The more women rule, the more miserable women seem to be, and men never seem to be happy under female rule. For one thing, oddly enough, female rule tends to make women act masculine and men act feminine. Neither is a normal role model, and I argue that the more masculine a woman is, the more unhappy she is, and the more feminine a man is, the more unhappy he is. That ‘s possibly because they are violating nature itself. When you do that, nature fights back, possibly by making you miserable.

Surely IE is related to Afro-Asiatic and Kartvelian, but I disagree that it is less related to Uralic or Altaic, and I also disagree that Uralic and Altaic represent some family. Ligurian and Pelasgian are probably IE, but no one knows what Etruscan is.

I definitely agree that almost all Europeans are quite close to Persians, Kurds, Caucasus folks, Jews, Turks, and some Semitic-speaking Levantines. It is interesting how close the Caucasians are to each other. Most Caucasians are much closer to each other than other major races are. There is much larger differentiation among NE and SE Asians, Aborigines, Papuans and for sure Africans than there is among Caucasians.

A lot of the rest of the post is rather over my head.

All around, a great comment. The rest of you may feel free to chime in if you have any thoughts or anything to add.


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The Aryans of Asia

Here are some comments from a recent post. My remarks will follow.

“How do you account then for the genetic divide between Indian Caucasoids and Australoids? Given that archeological evidence has revealed the Harrapans to be Dravidian, where did the Caucasoids come from?”

Can you prove that the Caucasoids came at the same time as the indo-Aryan languages? If there had been earlier Caucasoid migration then they could have either acquired the Dravidian languages or they could have taken a part in creating them. I think it is kind of hard to peg a language to a race.

Especially when the area is so close to the central Asian steppe, which is the site of much racial and cultural mixing and has been since time immemorial. For example, many people would see Turkic as being a language associated with yellow people. This holds some water because every Turkic speaking country has a sizable Mongoloid genetic element.

However, that could also occur if the language was spawned from communities of Caucasoid/Mongoloid mixes. For example descriptions of the Kirghiz in the past are different that what the Kirghiz look like now.

“The early Kirghiz of the upper Yenisei River, who appear in seventh-century Chinese sources as pale, blond, and green eyed, later migrated westward, tangled with the Kalmyks, and acquired predominantly Mongoloid features. The Kirghiz became “Oriental”, in short, by migrating westward.” Cater Vaughn Findlay, The Turks in World History

So he says their appearance changed towards a more Mongoloid one after centuries of interbreeding, but it can be asked, how did they get to look like Caucasoid in the first place? It seems unlikely that Caucasoids would have originated the language because the Yakuts are another Turkic speaking people and they only have a minute amount of Caucasoid genes compared to the rest of the Turkic world.

Maybe they had more extreme interbreeding? I don’t really know. My point is that pinning a racial phenotype to a language is a tricky business if possible at all.

” In Iran, we can see the transition from Avestan to Sassanid Pahlavi and then finally to Farsi.”

There’s a major problem with this statement. You’re starting off Iranian linguistic history with Avestan, an Indo-European language. In reality, Iranian history starts with the Kingdom of Elam before the Indo-European invaders. The Elamite language is not Indo-European. Some say it is and isolate. Some say it is Afro-Asiatic. Most interestingly for this thread, some say it is Dravidian. Either way it is not genetically related to Avestan or any other IE language.

” How did the language suddenly transform from the Dravidian script to Sanskrit?”

I can’t explain that. All I can say is that scripts are often changed with political movements. For example, in the 20th century the Soviet Union was changing all kinds of scripts. Turkic languages that had once been written in Arabic script were rewritten using Cyrillic. So was Tajik.

So Tajik is in Cyrillic and Persian/Dari are in Arabic script. Moldovan is written in Cyrillic and Romanian in Latin letters despite the fact that they the same language. Language modernization happened after political movements in China and Turkey. Turkey itself is interesting in this regard.

The Anatolian Turkish language has been written in Arabic, Greek, and Armenian scripts in the past. When the Greeks conquered northern south Asia the Greek alphabet was used for the Bactrian language.

This alphabet change may be as a result of that as well.

I’m not claiming expert knowledge here. I just trying to grapple with some alternatives to the narrative of a biological invasion.

The Kirghiz are quite simply Aryans. Remains of Proto Indo-Iranians have been found in the Kurgan area. 60% of them had light hair and blue or green eyes. The Pastmist blog, though in French, has excellent photos of what are possibly the original Aryan or Indo-European types of Asia.

The Kazakhs and even the Altai were described in a similar way as the Kirghiz above – they were said to be quite White until 2700 YBP or so when Turkic invaders moved through, bringing many Mongolian genes and a Turkic language. It’s not known what the Kazakhs and Kirghiz were speaking before they spoke Turkic.

It’s highly probable that many to most of the people portrayed on the Pastmist site are the remains of Indo-Europeans or Aryans. One mystery is the Burusho or Burushaski, who look White but speak a non-Indo-European language not related to any other tongue. So how did the Burusho get so White if they are not Aryans?

Nevertheless, I think it quite clear that the reason the northern Indians look so much more European than the Southern Indians is due to Indo-European genes. I can’t see how there can be any other explanation.

Yes, it is thought that the Harappan culture was Dravidian-speaking, but no one knows for sure. The Harappan script was not so much abandoned as it simply went extinct. The Indus Valley Civilization collapsed. That means that people were no longer using the script, and no one quite knows that that script is anyway. It’s never been deciphered and it may be more hieroglyphic than an actual alphabetical script.

The best guess for a relative to Elamite might be Dravidian, but it’s not proven.


Filed under Altaic, Anthropology, Antiquity, Asia, Central Asians, Dravidian, East Indians, Europe, Europeans, Genetics, Greece, History, Indo-European, Iran, Kazakhs, Language Families, Linguistics, Physical, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Sociolinguistics, South Asia, South Asians, Tajiks, Turkey, Turkic, USSR, Whites

More Out of India Madness

We continue to have crazies coming here proposing the OIT (Out of India Theory) of Indo-European. The theory is a pitiful joke and has virtually no support among any mainstream academics. In fact, it is so ludicrous that the mainstream does not even bother to respond to the respond to the arguments, because they are deemed not worthy of response.

What is sad, and frightening, is that almost every intelligent or intellectual Indian I have ever met is a fervent supporter of the OIT. They have all the arguments down pat, and they roll them right out for you. Supporting the OIT goes along with opposition to the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT) which the Indians hate. The idea is that “our history came from the White man.”

Indians hate Whites, mostly due to British colonialism, so the idea that the White man came to India and gave them quite a bit of their civilization and their religion is resisted ferociously.

What’s pitiful is that the smartest Indians believe the most insane and stupid things. There is something deeply sick and wrong with Indians, and Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism are exemplary of that sickness. As with all fanatic nationalisms, Indian nationalism stems from deep-seated feelings of inferiority. This sense of inferiority was magnified by colonialism.

In recent years, the rejection has spread to all things Western. I know an Indian man who almost refuses to patronize Western medicine, I suppose because it is the medicine of the White man. Instead, he believes in some weirdness called Ayurvedic medicine. His fury and hatred towards Western medicine is shocking to behold.

Nevertheless, their ridiculous arguments must be refuted, because they have so much support inside India, along with some support outside of India.

That they have support outside India can be seen in the comments of Sojournertroof in the comments section. This fellow is an anti-White White man. He supports the OIT simply because it is anti-White, that is, the OIT is in opposition to the AMT which is seen as a pro-White theory.

Hydrology. Much of the OIT is based, believe it or not, on hydrology. It is true that rivers in the north of India all have Indo-Aryan names, not Dravidian or Munda names. Dravidian and Munda were the language families spoken in India before the arrival of the Indo-Aryans. The idea is that since the Indo-Aryans were migrants, some of the earlier names should have been retained. Since they were not, obviously, the Aryans must have been indigenous to India.

What must have occurred was total replacement of the earlier names with new names for the rivers. As language replacement in North India was total (all North Indians speak Indo-Aryan languages) apparently they changed the old names of the rivers to new Indo-Aryan names.

The Sarasvati River. This is one of their favorite arguments. The argument goes something along the lines that this river existed 6000 YBP, and therefore the OIT is correct.

No one quite knows what river we are referring to here. The Sarasvati appears to be two rivers. The earliest Rigveda references are probably to the Helmand River in Afghanistan. Later references are to the Ghaggar River. But the Sarasvati is always this sort of mystical unseen river in the Rigveda. It became fuzzy and mystical early on. So all arguments about the Sarasvati are null and void anyway.

The OIT is counterintuitive. Exactly what evidence is there that IE speakers left India, moving north towards the steppes 6500 YBP, then moved to Persia 5000 YBP, then moved to Arabia and Anatolia 4000 YBP? Yet somehow it took them a full 2,500 years to even cross the Ural River. The theory is insane.

After much debate, in the 1990’s, the Journal of Indo-European Studies (JIES) granted the OIT folks a chance to show their stuff. The issue was so contentious that JIES had to void peer review in order to publish the issue, which was authored by an OIT proponent named Kazanas. Kazanas is a crank operating out of Greece who has picked up on the OIT. In the next two issues of JIES, Kazanas was utterly demolished, and the matter has not come up again.

Lack of memories of an Urheimat. An Urheimat is a homeland. The homeland of the Indo-Aryans is in the north, on the steppes of Russia. Yet there is a lack of legends of memories of this homeland or any migration, so this is said to be evidence that there was no AMT. However, most peoples lack memories of their migrations from wherever they came from to wherever they ended up. This is true even in Europe. The Greeks had no memories of any immigration to their lands, though they clearly came from somewhere.

Nevertheless, Harvard professor and Sanskrit expert Michael Witzel notes:

It has frequently been denied that the Rig Veda contains any memory or information about the former homeland(s) of the Indo-Aryans. […] However, in the RV there are quite a few vague reminiscences of former habitats, that is, of the Bactria-Margiana area, situated to the north of Iran and Afghanistan, and even from further afield.

Such a connection can be detected in the retention by the Iranians of Indo-Aryan river names and in the many references in the RV to mountains and mountain passes.

Also, there are some sources in the Vedas or in the Gathas that point toward a migration of the Indo-Iranians from Central Asia, including the Zend Avesta – Vendidad: Fargard 1:

“…There (Airyanem Vaejah – “Land of the Aryans”) are ten winter months there, two summer months; and those are cold for the waters, cold for the earth, cold for the trees…”

That is a description of the cold steppes of Central Asia. There are also descriptions of warfare being waged by the semi-nomadic Vedic and Avestan populations against urbanized people who were not “Arya.”

The sequence of the AMT was as follows: The speakers of the linguistically slightly later, though still pre-Iron Age Indo-Aryan language, then moved into Arachosia (*Sarasvatī > Avestan Hara aitī), Swat (Suvåstu) and Punjab (Sapta Sindhu), before 3200-3000 YBP – depending on the local date of the introduction of iron.

We can trace the movements of the AMT by the introduction of iron, that is, they brought metals with them, in particular iron smelting technology. They also brought stone forts, chariots and horses. We can trace all of these things in the archeological record and they are powerful evidence for the AMT.

Recently, Armenians have come out with an Armenian Theory of Indo-European which states that Armenia was the homeland of Indo-European. It is almost universally rejected, yet pitifully it has much more support for it than there is for the OIT.

Genetic evidence. One of the major R1 clades, R1a1, associated with Indo-European, has indeed been traced back to India. However, this is not evidence for the OIT, since this clade goes back to 18,000 YBP, long before IE existed into far pre-IE times. Long after the clade was birthed, some members of the clade left India to go towards Europe and the steppes, where they became the IE peoples. There is a lot of debate going on now about R1a1, but none of the points being debated detract from the theory of Bronze Age Indo-Aryans moving into India.

There are also reports that there are little to no Central Asian genes in Indians, that is, there are few if any genetic markers of Aryan migration. Yet many invasions leave no genetic trace later on, and genetics generally gives little to no support for or against prehistoric migrations. It’s quite common. For instance, there is no trace of Italian genes in the British, but does this prove that there was no Roman invasion? Clearly, there was a Roman invasion.

There are also few to no Central Asian genes in Europeans either, but Europeans speak IE languages, and these languages came out of the steppes. By the way, there are also no South Asian genes in Europeans. We should expect some of those if OIT is correct, no?

Anthropomorphic evidence. What do IE speakers look like? They look like Europeans. Even the IE speakers in Central and South Asia look quite European. Afghans, Pakistanis, Iranians and North Indians look strikingly European. This is because of their IE roots. The IE people were an European/Caucasoid appearing people. Notice the striking difference in appearance between North Indians and South Indians or Dravidians.

If IE speakers all came out of India and moved to Europe, everyone should look like people from India. But this is not the case. Even Iranians don’t look like people from India. No one does. Only people from India look like Indians.

There is indeed a Dravidian substrate in Indo-Aryan, which is what would be expected if Dravidian speakers gave up speaking Dravidian and started speaking Indo-Aryan. It’s true that there are few Dravidian loans, and the substrate cannot be seen in hydrology. But the substrate is nevertheless clear, as is influence on Indo-Aryan from Munda languages.

Thomason and Kaufman note that the substrate looks like what we would expect in the case of language shift, and language shift is what occurred as Dravidian speakers shifted to Indo-Aryan. The Dravidian speakers appear to have shifted to Indo-Aryan yet retained their Dravidian accent.

Among IE tongues, only Indo-Aryan has a full set of phonemic contrasting retroflex consonants. Dravidian also has a full set of phonemic contrasting retroflex consonants dating all the way back to proto-Dravidian. Obviously, this set was borrowed from Dravidian into Indo-Aryan.

In terms of Dravidian loans, there are in fact some:

Parpola writes:

…numerous loanwords and even structural borrowings from Dravidian have been identified in Sanskrit texts composed in northwestern India at the end of the second and first half of the first millennium BCE, before any intensive contact between North and South India. External evidence thus suggests that the Harappans most probably spoke a Dravidian language.


The most obvious explanation of this situation is that the Dravidian languages once occupied nearly all of the Indian subcontinent, and it is the intrusion of Indo-Aryans that engulfed them in north India leaving but a few isolated enclaves.

Zero evidence of Munda and Dravidian influence in the rest of IE. If IE came out of India, all IE languages should show influence of Munda and Dravidian. Instead, only Indo-Aryan does. Therefore, Indo-Aryan moved into India and came in contact with Munda and Dravidian, and IE could not possibly have come out of India.

No accounting for IE once out of India. The OIT is great at talking about the Indian origin of IE, but is terrible at anything outside of that. There is no account of models of language development of IE after leaving India, or how IE is supposed to have spread elsewhere. Once IE is out of India, the OIT folks forget about their theory. It’s crazy.

Timeframes in the Rigveda. There is no reliable historical dating of anything in India prior to the 1500’s. So all Indian texts prior to that time must be treated very dubiously in terms of dating. There is no way to date anything in the Rigveda reliably, since the Rigveda uses no reliable method for dating.

Hindu culture is strongly ahistoric. It is not interested in dates and events. The fact that Hindu culture is so hostile to history itself and so lacking any sense of history is what opens up this whole field for debate. Hindus simply lack the ability to imagine that there is such a thing as historical change.

Archeoastronomy. This is a very dubious field. B. B. Lal uses archeoastronomy in an effort to buttress his OIT. However, the use of this method is treacherous. The model attempts to date astronomical events on the basis of astronomical calculations and is rife with error and speculation. Nevertheless, there are archeoastonomical journals. Lal’s theory has never been submitted to or discussed in any of these journals, therefore the validity of his claims is dubious. Even Lal notes that his theory is widely discredited.

The Bangani language. This language is referred to nowadays as Garhwali. Claus Peter Zoller claimed to have found Centum elements in Garhwali, which if true, would boost the OIT. Centum is part of the Satem-Centum split in IE that occurred about 4000 YBP with the splitoff of Indo-Aryan from the rest of IE. The split occurred on the steppes of Central Asia. Zoller made his claim eight years ago. No one believed him at the time, and that’s where the debate stands.

It appears that what he found instead dates from the Indo-Greek or Kushan periods of Indian history and has somehow persisted for about 2,000 years. That’s remarkable if true, but in no way does it support OIT. At any rate, most scholars don’t even believe that there is any Centum left in Garhwali, and most who do are fringe cases. Bangani-Centum is discredited and lies in ruins.

Occam’s Razor. OIT is so complex. India is a marginal area of IE distribution, not a central area. The main area of IE languages, with the greatest variety, is in Europe, especially southeastern Europe. This is obviously the linguistic center of gravity for IE. If OIT was true, we would not expect India to be such a marginal territory for IE languages.

OIT requires more and longer migrations than the standard theory in order for all of the branches to leave India. It requires a much more complex chronology in terms of isoglosses and archeology. The archaic shared isoglosses such as Satem/Centum are in Central Asia. Further, it requires the re-invention of the chariot by Indians, since they could not have acquired the Aryan chariot from Aryan migrants.

It requires all sorts of complex arguments of internal Indo-Aryan development to explain what appears to be substrate influence from Dravidian. In addition, all of this internal mess must have occurred in a short period of time – from the time between when the last Indic group left India to the beginning of the writing of the Rigveda. In contrast, the Dravidian substrate theory is much simpler.

The Kurgan theory is better. The Kurgan people fit the accepted time frame, expand their territory archeologically with time and have the basic cultural patterns of an IE people close to the center of linguistic diversity. Therefore, the Kurgan theory fits the IE model much better than OIT.

OIT requires an early dating of the Rigveda. The Rigveda is the ultimate book of Hindu literature. OIT proponents take the Rigveda back as far as 6000 years, but this is not possible, as the split between Indic and the rest of Indo-Aryan happened no earlier than 4000 years ago, even according to OIT. Furthermore, such an ancient date for the Vedas would have to reflect a Stone Age society, and the Vedas do not reflect that. The Rigveda cannot possibly be dated further back than 3,500-4000 YBP.

OIT seems to require a 7000 YBP date for the Rigveda. This is beyond the realm of possibility. Chariots? Horses? Stone forts? Metals? The culture of the early Rigveda is 2nd millennium BCE – 3,000-4,000 YBP. The Bronze Age. It’s as clear as air.

Vedic is much older than Hittite. This is a central claim of OIT folks and is necessary for their argument. It’s patently ridiculous.

Sanskrit is archaic. So what? So are Greek and Hittite, and none date back but a few thousand years. Ancient traits in IE are most commonly observed in Baltic and Hittite. Do IE reconstructions appear Vedic? Not at all. PIE look nothing like Vedic.

Horses. Horses are not indigenous to India. Horses are often seen on Vedic Aryan seals dating back 2,500-3,000 YBP. Obviously, horses, along with iron, came with the Aryan migrants.

PIE culture. The reconstructed PIE language does not fit with India. It fits with a much colder place, probably to the north of India on the steppes. India had a highly civilized culture before the arrival of the Aryans – these were the Dravidians. The PIE people did not have a highly civilized culture – instead, they were nomads, pastoralists and horse-riding warriors.

For OIT to be correct, the highly civilized Indians would have had to have lost the civilization and degenerated into a less civilized nomadic culture without writing or architecture (they lost their writing and architecture with the move to the steppes) after they left India, which then went to Europe.

This does not follow according to history. Less civilized cultures develop into more civilized ones and not the other way around. According the standard theory, less civilized Aryans contacted more civilized Dravidians and the result was Indian high culture – the Aryans went from a less civilized stage to a more civilized one, as we expect.

Early dates for Indo-Aryan don’t prove OIT. Early dates for Indo-Aryan are compatible with standard theories of IE development. The Anatolian homeland theory, which I subscribe to, pushes Indo-Aryan back to 4,600 YBP, which seems a stretch. Renfrew pushes Proto-Indo-Aryan all the way back to 5,000 YBP.

Red herrings. OIT proponents have all sorts of red herrings about the AMT. One of them is “there was no Aryan invasion.” But AMT proponents have abandoned the invasion theory a long time ago. Another is that there is no way that inferior horse-riding nomads of the steppes could have create the wonderfully complex language of Sanskrit, the Vedas, complex Indian culture, etc.

First of all, cultural complexity and linguistic complexity are not the same thing. Uncivilized peoples can speak very complex languages. Anyway, nomads did not bring fully-formed Sanskrit to India. Sanskrit, the Vedas, Hinduism, etc. were created in India by the confluence between Aryans and Dravidians.

This is a frankly racist argument anyway – that Central Asians were too stupid to create the great Indian culture – only wonderful Indians could do that. There is also a racist assumption that Sanskrit is better than other languages – or that it is the greatest language of all.

Physical anthropology. Skeletons look similar all over India for many thousands of years, so there is no evidence of an Aryan migration. Skeletons look similar all over Europe for thousands of years too. Continuity is typical in anthropology.

Northern Dravidian. There are isolated pockets of Dravidian speakers in the northern part of South Asia. These are obviously the remnants of a large area in northern South Asia that was entirely Dravidian speaking. Indo-Aryan speakers moved in, and there was mass language shift except for a few pockets here and there, the lingering pockets being just as we would expect in the case of mass language shift.

Horses. Horses have long been associated with IE societies, even in the Vedas. However, there were no horses in India at the time of the supposed migration out of India.

Impression of validity. Most of the arguments for the OIT are misleading, gratuitous, irrelevant or biased. They are pushed by kooks, nuts, chauvinists and fringe types. Mainstream academics usually don’t consider them worthy of a reply, contradiction or debunking, so the OIT arguments remain unanswered. This gives the impression that the theory carries some kind of weight. This is the case with a lot of fringe science, and OIT is very much fringe science.

Linguistic center of gravity. The linguistic center of gravity for IE is in Europe, specifically somewhere around the Balkans. Most branches are in Europe – Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Albanian, Greek and various extinct branches. The Balkans seems to be the center of gravity for IE, clearly not where IE originated, but possibly a secondary spread inside of Europe. Central and South Asia appear to be ruled out.

Confusion of arguments. Typically, OIT arguments take the form of, “There was no Aryan migration into India.” That is, they argue against the AMT and not for the OIT. They waste all their breath on the AMT, attempting to disprove it, but then when evidence comes for migration out of India as required by the OIT, they are silent. OIT and AMT are separate arguments. You do not prove OIT by “disproving” AMT.


Mallory, JP. 1998. “A European Perspective on Indo-Europeans in Asia.” In: The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern and Central Asia. Ed. Mair. Washington DC: Institute for the Study of Man. 

Parpola, Asko. 1998. “Aryan Languages, Archaeological Cultures, and Sinkiang: Where Did Proto-Iranian Come into Being and How Did It Spread?”, in Mair, The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern and Central Asia. Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of Man.

Witzel, Michael. May 2001. Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts. Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 7(3): 1-11.


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