Most important paper ever published on the peopling of South and Central Asia

Steve Farmer

Dear List,

Published yesterday in Science: the most important study yet of the population of South Asia & Central Asia, out of David Reich’s lab at Harvard. What amazing progress in the field in the last four years!

The paper is behind paywalls — a Science specialty — but there is a direct link to the pdf at the Reich lab webpage. Magnificent maps and multiple summaries as well (check out  Box 2. Summary of key findings)!

Narendra Modi & the BJP party & all their Hindutva friends I’m sure — since they follow the science closely — will be convinced by the evidence here to change their views of ancient history!  :)

If you have some spare time, count the number of authors on the paper. 

The lesson in the count: a reminder that science is a collective & international endeavor, which is exactly why no scientific paper — ever, under any circumstances — should be hidden behind paywalls. 

• • • •

The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia

Vagheesh M. Narasimhan1*, Nick Patterson2,3*, Priya Moorjani4,5, Nadin Rohland1,2, Rebecca Bernardos1, Swapan Mallick1,2,6, Iosif Lazaridis1, Nathan Nakatsuka1,7, Iñigo Olalde1, Mark Lipson1, Alexander M. Kim1,8, Luca M. Olivieri9, Alfredo Coppa10, Massimo Vidale9,11, James Mallory12, Vyacheslav Moiseyev13, Egor Kitov14,15,16Janet Monge17, Nicole Adamski1,6, Neel Alex18, Nasreen Broomandkhoshbacht1,6§, Francesca Candilio19,20, Kimberly Callan1,6, Olivia Cheronet19,21,22Brendan J. Culleton23, Matthew Ferry1,6, Daniel Fernandes19,21,22,24, Suzanne Freilich22, Beatriz Gamarra19,21,25||¶, Daniel Gaudio19,21, Mateja Hajdinjak26, Éadaoin Harney1,6,27, Thomas K. Harper28, Denise Keating19, Ann Marie Lawson1,6, Matthew Mah1,2,6, Kirsten Mandl22, Megan Michel1,6#**, Mario Novak19,29, Jonas Oppenheimer1,6††Niraj Rai30,31, Kendra Sirak1,19,32, Viviane Slon26, Kristin Stewardson1,6,Fatma Zalzala1,6, Zhao Zhang1, Gaziz Akhatov15, Anatoly N. Bagashev33Alessandra Bagnera9, Bauryzhan Baitanayev15, Julio Bendezu-Sarmiento34,Arman A. Bissembaev15,35, Gian Luca Bonora36, Temirlan T. Chargynov37Tatiana Chikisheva38, Petr K. Dashkovskiy39, Anatoly Derevianko38, Miroslav Dobe40, Katerina Douka41,42, Nadezhda Dubova14, Meiram N. Duisengali35, Dmitry Enshin33, Andrey Epimakhov43,44, Alexey V. Fribus45, Dorian Fuller46,47, Alexander Goryachev33, Andrey Gromov13, Sergey P. Grushin48, Bryan Hanks49, Margaret Judd49Erlan Kazizov15, Aleksander Khokhlov50, Aleksander P. Krygin51, Elena Kupriyanova52, Pavel Kuznetsov50, Donata Luiselli53, Farhod Maksudov54, Aslan M. Mamedov55, Talgat B. Mamirov15, Christopher Meiklejohn56, Deborah C. Merrett57,Roberto Micheli9,58, Oleg Mochalov50, Samariddin Mustafokulov54,59, Ayushi Nayak41, Davide Pettener60, Richard Potts61, Dmitry Razhev33, Marina Rykun62Stefania Sarno60, Tatyana M. Savenkova63, Kulyan Sikhymbaeva64Sergey M. Slepchenko33, Oroz A. Soltobaev37, Nadezhda Stepanova38Svetlana Svyatko13,65, Kubatbek Tabaldiev66, Maria Teschler-Nicola22,67Alexey A. Tishkin68, Vitaly V. Tkachev69, Sergey Vasilyev14,70, Petr Velemínský71, Dmitriy Voyakin15,72, Antonina Yermolayeva15, Muhammad Zahir41,73,Valery S. Zubkov74, Alisa Zubova13, Vasant S. Shinde75, Carles Lalueza-Fox76, Matthias Meyer26, David Anthony77, Nicole Boivin41, Kumarasamy Thangaraj30, Douglas J. Kennett23,28,78, Michael Frachetti79,80Ron Pinhasi19,22, David Reich1,2,6,81† 

Dr. Dean Anderson

[Mod. note. Dean, re. your question below: I'm currently at a Festschrift conference for Michael Witzel at Harvard, so no time now to write at length. It is the most complex paper (based on 523 aDNA samples from S. Asia, Iran, and Central Asia) ever published on the peopling of S. Asia and Central , and there is  lot to say about it of deep importance, but it takes a lot of discussion. 

But for now, to clear up some confusion: the paper is certainly NOT the same paper -- as you mistakenly concluded -- that "The Hindu" news story you just posted on the Indology List talks about, which involves reconstructed aDNA evidence from one (!) skeleton found by Shinde years ago. - SF.]

What are your comments on this paper, Steve? (and others)

Have you seen any discussion about it?


Dean Anderson

Trudy Kawami

How fascinating - and relevant.  It also may explain some puzzling connections with eastern manifestations of the Elamite culture and Central Asia. We have for so long, at least in West Asian studies thought of east-west transmissions and migrations, and the steppe fit pretty well into this. But to consider older, earlier cultural/linguistic/whatever groups who were connected north-south and then as disparate groups make themselves into distinct "civilizations" is such a fresh look. Wow!
Trudy Kawami