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Thread: An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian Farmers

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    An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian Farmers

    We report an ancient genome from the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC). 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. These individuals had little if any Steppe pastoralist-derived ancestry, showing that it was not ubiquitous in northwest South Asia during the IVC as it is today. The Iranian-related ancestry in the IVC derives from a lineage leading to early Iranian farmers, herders, and hunter-gatherers before their ancestors separated, contradicting the hypothesis that the shared ancestry between early Iranians and South Asians reflects a large-scale spread of western Iranian farmers east. Instead, sampled ancient genomes from the Iranian plateau and IVC descend from different groups of hunter-gatherers who began farming without being connected by substantial movement of people.
    The only fitting two-way models were mixtures of a group related to herders from the western Zagros mountains of Iran and also to either Andamanese hunter-gatherers (73% ± 6% Iranian-related ancestry; p = 0.103 for overall model fit) or East Siberian hunter-gatherers (63% ± 6% Iranian-related ancestry; p = 0.24) (the fact that the latter two populations both fit reflects that they have the same phylogenetic relationship to the non-West Eurasian-related component of I6113 likely due to shared ancestry deeply in time)
    Narasimhan paper is also out:
    The movement of people following the advent of farming resulted in genetic gradients across Eurasia that can be modeled as mixtures of seven deeply divergent populations. A key gradient formed in southwestern Asia beginning in the Neolithic and continuing into the Bronze Age, with more Anatolian farmer–related ancestry in the west and more Iranian farmer–related ancestry in the east. This cline extended to the desert oases of Central Asia and was the primary source of ancestry in peoples of the Bronze Age Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC). This supports the idea that the archaeologically documented dispersal of domesticates was accompanied by the spread of people from multiple centers of domestication.

    The main population of the BMAC carried no ancestry from Steppe pastoralists and did not contribute substantially to later South Asians. However, Steppe pastoralist ancestry appeared in outlier individuals at BMAC sites by the turn of the second millennium BCE around the same time as it appeared on the southern Steppe. Using data from ancient individuals from the Swat Valley of northernmost South Asia, we show that Steppe ancestry then integrated further south in the first half of the second millennium BCE, contributing up to 30% of the ancestry of modern groups in South Asia. The Steppe ancestry in South Asia has the same profile as that in Bronze Age Eastern Europe, tracking a movement of people that affected both regions and that likely spread the unique features shared between Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages.

    The primary ancestral population of modern South Asians is a mixture of people related to early Holocene populations of Iran and South Asia that we detect in outlier individuals from two sites in cultural contact with the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), making it plausible that it was characteristic of the IVC. After the IVC’s decline, this population mixed with northwestern groups with Steppe ancestry to form the “Ancestral North Indians” (ANI) and also mixed with southeastern groups to form the “Ancestral South Indians” (ASI), whose direct descendants today live in tribal groups in southern India. Mixtures of these two post-IVC groups—the ANI and ASI—drive the main gradient of genetic variation in South Asia today.
    Last edited by traject; 09-05-2019 at 06:14 PM.
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