Peopling of South Asia

Harnessing the power of ancient DNA to understand the peopling of South Asia which has rightfully been described as ‘pockets of endogamy’, presenting a challenge to medical genetics, and this project will certainly provide valuable empirical data to be translated to disease genetics.

Peopling of South Asia, Illustrations

Reconstructions of the past effective population size strongly suggest that South Asia has been populated almost since the Early Upper Palaeolithic. One of the probable explanations of this pattern relates to the fact that South Asia was among the first geographic regions to be peopled by modern humans after their African exodus. Today, various ethnic groups of South Asia comprise tribes, castes, and populations identifying themselves by different religions, being largely endogamous and hence revealing complex, multilayer genetic differentiation. From such a complex structure, several questions have stood out from our and other research groups analyses that was difficult to addressa few years ago but can be now done using the latest technology and resolution. South Asia is home to about a fifth of present-day humanity and therefore making sense of its demographic history is a prerequisite to understanding global genetic variation. Though the overall picture is still at best emerging, new archaeological and genetic information from the region has started to reveal a more complex scenario of ancient human migrations and admixtures than was hitherto anticipated. In this proposal, we aim to go further towards a fine-grained modelling of the history of human genetic diversity in South Asia. Novel questions in this proposal include: a) the genetic and linguistic components of South Asians at the Eurasian and global scales: their temporal and spatial admixture patterns; b) the social structuring through the lens of genes c) patterns of admixture and migrations derived from studying ancient genomes from the Gangetic plain and Himalayan archaeological sites.

Image Courtesy by Gyaneshwer Chaubey

Group Leader

Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Lindau Alumnus 2011
Banaras Hindu University
Varanasi, India

Skills for Project