Origin of India’s caste system revealed in new genetic study

August 13, 2013 at 9:29 am Leave a comment

India

Researchers found that people from different genetic populations in India began mixing about 4,200 years ago, but the mingling stopped around 1,900 years ago, according to the analysis published earlier this month today in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Combining this new genetic information with ancient texts, the results suggest that class distinctions emerged 3,000 to 3,500 years ago, and caste divisions became strict roughly two millennia ago.

Article Abstract: Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India

Most Indian groups descend from a mixture of two genetically divergent populations: Ancestral North Indians (ANI) related to Central Asians, Middle Easterners, Caucasians, and Europeans; and Ancestral South Indians (ASI) not closely related to groups outside the subcontinent. The date of mixture is unknown but has implications for understanding Indian history. We report genome-wide data from 73 groups from the Indian subcontinent and analyze linkage disequilibrium to estimate ANI-ASI mixture dates ranging from about 1,900 to 4,200 years ago. In a subset of groups, 100% of the mixture is consistent with having occurred during this period. These results show that India experienced a demographic transformation several thousand years ago, from a region in which major population mixture was common to one in which mixture even between closely related groups became rare because of a shift to endogamy.

Entry filed under: Of Interest. Tags: , .

An ode to the cranberry Summer Student Tutorial Series: How to Stain an SDS-PAGE Gel

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