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Thread: Nature of “Iran_N” in South Asians - Elamite theory vs. indigenous HGs?

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    Nature of “Iran_N” in South Asians - Elamite theory vs. indigenous HGs?

    The Iran_N component is by far the most dominant part of the South Asian stock in general. IIRC, the commonly thought theory is that South Asians largely descend from the descendants of Elamites (mixed with some AASI and Eurasian steppe for many), based on linguistic and genetic evidence (correct me if I’m wrong). So there had to be a large West to East migration then into South Asia in that regard. But there was a recent study that suggested the Iran_N component that we thought of as Neolithic Iranian Farmers is actually a Neolithic Iranian Hunter Gatherers, which is older, had common ancestry to the Farmers, and is more indigenous to South Asia. How do we reconcile these two dominant theories or explanations? I’m sure it’s more complicated than that. I think it would help if we had a genome of such “Iranian” Neolithic Hunter Gatherers, perhaps the fit would be better compared to the Farmer samples.

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    Linguistically, the hypothesis you're correctly alluding to (Elamo-Dravidian) posits that Elamite and Dravidian originated in an (inferred) Mesolithic HG speech community somewhere between Iran and India that then diversified into proto-Elamite and proto-Dravidian just prior to the Neolithic, where the diffusion wave of agriculturalists resulted in the propagation of early Elamite and early Dravidian on the western and eastern wavefronts, respectively.

    The very sanctity of the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis has been called into question for a very long time by linguists - Opponents of this hypothesis posit that the bulk of the identified cognates are either bidirectional borrowings stemming from trade (which we have proof of), or, they're false cognates. There's also the possibility that some of said cognates are from a third party.

    The genetic scenario as of 2019-20 coincides with the linguistic - We now have two competing arguments regarding the nature of the "Iran_N"-related admixture in the Subcontinent, with one camp asserting that Iran_N ancestry was mediated through the advent of agriculture (and contributed to the development of the IVC's genetic profile for the most part), and another camp asserting that this isn't actually "Iran_N" ancestry, but a localised variant of a Eurasian HG phenomenon which has a very deep phylogenetic rooting with true Iran_N (and should probably be best-described as "para-Iran_N" or "Iran_N-related", or even "ghost Indus_N").
    Then, of course, there's a "happy medium" perspective (i.e. most of the Subcontinent's "Iran_N" is from said localised variant, but some limited, true "Iran_N" can be found in specific areas, such as the Brahui-Balochi-Makran area, or even the Indus valley).

    Now, it should be noted that the latter camp (as championed by Rai) base their position on retrospective modelling of current data, rather than truly proving the existence of a "para-Iran_N" entity (i.e. it's inferred from a model they've created). This doesn't meet the requirements for scientific evidence (it's a proposition at best).

    We actually do have some Iranian HG samples - the Hotu cave folks (N Iran) date to around the Mesolithic IIRC and come out as being around 90% Iran_N-related and 10% "EHG" (read: ANE-derived). This sample was instrumental in disproving the dogmatic idea that all the "EHG"-type ancestry in SC Asia came from later IE steppe pops (the discovery of WSHG all over the place reduced that position to tatters with Narasimhan et al. 2019).

    The most crucial data we need to resolve this question is a good assortment of reasonable quality aDNA from Mesolithic and Neolithic Iran, Pakistan and India.
    If the "it's all Iran_N" camp are to be proven correct, we'll need to see an absence of "Iran_N" anywhere east of the Indus prior to the Neolithic.
    If the "it's mostly para-Iran_N/Indus_N" camp are right, we should expect to see this component present around the Indus (at the least) during the Mesolithic, with some gradual expansion into the Subcontinent proper throughout the Neolithic.

    The linguistic dimension is somewhat separate from the genetic scenario, though it may tangentially inform us as to the orientation of Elamite around Dravidian.

    With our current data, it may be possible to glean the relationship using what's available in Genoplot.
    The second camp would posit that a HG cline from W. Iran to the Indus existed, with Zagrosian HG's on one end, and Indus HG's on the other.
    You could cycle between Ganj Dareh (W. Iranian agriculturalist, mostly Iran_N), Iran_Hotu and perhaps SiSBA3 (while taking confounding ancestral components into account) and see whether any patterns emerge.

    [Edit]: Genoplot also has a nifty "ghost" feature - You could remove the AASI from SiSBA3 to create your phantom "Indus_N" component and then test out the GD between that and Hotu or Ganj Dareh.
    Last edited by DMXX; 01-12-2021 at 02:34 AM. Reason: lines

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