Descripción: This is book review of Dr P. Priyadarshi's book, The First Civilizatin of the World, written by eminent...
A Genetical Study of Human Migration1 by Dr D K Bhattacharya2 [Book Review of: The First Civilization of the World, author: P. Priyadarshi ([email protected]
), Publisher: Siddhartha Publications, 10, DSIDC Scheme II, Okhla Industrial Area Ph II, New Delhi 110020 ([email protected]
In 2001 The International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium started cataloguing common human haplotypes for the first time. It is just about nine years gone and now genetic finger printing methods have not only become advanced but the data generated have become so great that origin and dispersal of man can be demonstrated easily and accurately through the time estimation of the mutation of marker haplogroups. Consequently this technique is fast emerging as a credible alternative to fossil evidence to trace the emergence and distribution of our human ancestors. Dr. Priyadarshi approaches his entire delineation to trace the birth of man, his language and other attributes of culture through the evidences provided by molecular genetics. This he does in combination with molecular genetical markers in plants and also the animals that man domesticated. He traces the origin and spread of mice and rats, both of which originated in India and spread with farming to the rest of world. They were human commensals and pests since Homo erectus days over 900,000 years. Yet they were restricted to India until quite recently. To prove this he cites from thirteen science journal articles. Thus he demonstrates that farming must have originated in India first and then spread into west Asia. The entire work is spread into 11 chapters and a 20 pages bibliography in smaller font. There is an exaustive index too. Each of the chapter headings is 1
Publication Details: Eternal India, Vol. 3, Number 2, November 2010, India First Foundation, New Delhi. 2 Dr D. K. Bhattacharya is retired Professor of Anthropology, University of Delhi. He has written a large number of books and journal articles on physical anthropology, especially on prehistoric human migration and prehistoric archaeology.
self-explanatory. For example, the first chapter discusses the earliest farming sites of Eurasia on archaeological ground. In this, author brings forth lesser known facts of Indian archaeology. For example, the author quotes from Nature journal that evidence of earliest dental drilling treatment has been found from India of 9000 years back.3 World‘s oldest metallic copper and oldest spun cotton threads dating 8000 years back have been recovered from India.4 The second chapter discusses the issue of Human evolution and dispersal out of India over last 100,000 years on the basis of molecular genetics. Each successive chapters follow the same patterns for human being, his culture, his domesticates and also his language having dispersed out of India. The author has taken pains to understand several extremely diverse and specialized subjects like genetics, linguistics, anthropology, ecology and archaeology, to drive his point about India being the epicenter of both biological and cultural evolution of man home. This kind of super-imposition of archaeology, linguistics and genomic attributes are seen almost all over in each of the chapters. It is not an easy job to combine these diverse disciplines to understand the history of human civilization. It is also true that such attempts have been made earlier but Dr. Priyadarshi had to work hard to demonstrate significant pre-conceived bias in almost all these earlier studies. Before the advent of molecular genetics all conclusions regarding the origin of the genus Homo and its subsequent ramification was based on fossil finds. These were seldom complete and at times depended on such small fragments as merely a tooth or a broken ramus of the mandible. It is well known how Weidenreich, a celebrated plaeontologist, picked up a single tooth from a Chinese vendor selling bones for folk medicine in a city in China. He found the tooth so peculiar that he enunciated an entirely new family of prehuman race and named in Telanthropus. This kinds of looking out for fossils 3
Coppa, A., et al, Palaeontology: Early Neolithic Tradition of Dentistry, Nature 2006, 440: 755-756. Moulherat, C. et al., First Evidence of Cotton at Neolithic Mehrgarh, Pakistan: Analysis of Mineralized Fibres from a Copper Bead, J Archaeological Sc. 2002 Dec., 29(12): 1393-1401. 4
soon became a full time activity of reputed scholars like the Leakeys in Kenya or Johanson in Ethiopia. Today Lake Turkana in east Africa and Omo in Ethiopia have become such famous names that no text book in palaeoanthropology can avoid these names. By the end of the sixties a consensus about human origin and dispersal was arrived at, entirely based on fossils. This proposed that the large branch from within which smaller branches emerge is called Genus Homo. Somewhere between 2.4 to 2.1 million years ago the first smaller branch (called a species) from within this emerged and it was called habilis. Whether the next branch called erectus in Asia and ergaster in Africa emerged from the habilis was not well understood. However, most scholars today believe that erectus evolved in the Caucasus region before migrating to other places. Whether habilis went extinct in the mean time or mixed with the invading erectus to give to the ergaster cannot be decided as yet until more evidence is discovered. It was also accepted that Homo erectus migrated to various parts of Africa, Europe and Asia and developed into regional varieties of Homo sapiens sapiens. That is, the common ancestry of all mankind is pushed to 1.8 million years. This was referred to as the ―Theory of multiregional origin.‖ Many geneticists found this view difficult to accept. They argued that accepting all human populations all over the world having independently evolved in a parallel way to give rise to the same species is a genetic improbability unless one accepts that people in various parts of the world belong to different species. In 1987, for the first time, mitochondrial DNA was used to promulgate a new theory named ―Out of Africa‖ theory. It was empirically proposed that Homo sapiens sapiens evolved in East Africa, and around 50,000 years ago it migrated through Suez to West Arabia to rest of the world. Later evidence ruled out this route of exit, and indicated that man left Africa through the Horn of East Africa to South Arabian coast, Eastern Iran, India and then to Southeast Asia and Oceania. This also got a kind of nod from fossil experts who 3
discovered three skeletons from Herto Bouri in Ethiopia. 5 These were dated to 160,000 and taxonomically the skeletons show enough evolved features to appear as the closest relative of the Homo sapiens sapiens. It has been placed in a separate sub-species Homo sapiens idaltu.6 Two recent fossil findings have not so far been integrated into the human evolution hypothesis. First is discovery by Kennedy that Narmada Man was actually a female fossil, with a cranial capacity of 1400 cubic centimeters—highest recorded from any female fossil of that age. It belonged not to Homo erectus, but to archaic Homo sapiens.7 The second is a discovery of a ferricated archaic Homo sapiens baby fossil dated 160,000 from Tamil Nadu in India.8 Dr. Priyadarshi emphasizes the neglected fact from the genomic findings that although earliest humans entered India from Africa about 100,000 years back, it was from India that rest of the world and most of Africa was populated. Thus he almost turns over the table. It is because he does not enter into the discussion of Homo erectus as directly as that of ‗Out of Africa‘ model. While discussing the language and culture migration over the last 35,000 years, Dr. Priyadarshi chooses to concentrate on male lineages. To quote, ―It became further clear that the source of Africa‘s most frequent Y-chromosomal Hg E was India. ... The original African male lineages which exist in Africa today constitute only 8% of male lineages of sub-Saharan Africa, i.e., 0.25% of male lineages of world. The rest 99.75% descended from India. If we consider only maternally mediated lineages, even then 97% of the world population is of Indian descent. The remaining 3% are from purely African lineage and they live in sub-Saharan Africa‖ (p.11). Thus, ‗Out of Africa‘ is being replaced by him with what may be called ‗out of India‘, theory.
White, T. D. et al, Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia, Nature 423:742-747 (12
June 2003) 6 Ibid. 7 Kennedy, K. A. et al, Is the Narmada hominin an Indian Homo erectus ? Am J Phys Anthropol, 1991, 86(4): 475-96. 8 Rajendran, P. et al, Homo sapiens (Archaic) sample from Middle Pleistocene, Ancient Asia, vol 1, 2006.
In order to establish this change the author goes to expose at length the defects of many earlier workers. We might quote some. ―Basu‘s article is badly designed work full of inconsistencies. It tries hard to prove that the Aryans invaded India, and in that way suppresses many facts and distorts others, yet in that goal it miserably fails‖ (p. 18). ―Partha Majumdar‘s review article is a disaster. He writes that the Aryan speaking north Indians came to India from Central Asia, and that genetically the north Indians show DNA similarly with today‘s Indo-European speaking Central Asians. He little appreciates that IndoEuropean is not spoken by any group in Central Asia today... all Central Asian languages are Altaic‖ (p. 21) Kumar et al studied 2768 tribals for mitochondrial DNA. Priyadarshi writes. ―Kumar‘s article is completely confused. Firstly the authors do not show awareness of M3 (one of the oldest lineages of India). They are also probably not aware that M, N and R all three mitochondrial DNAs originated in India.‖ (p. 23) The author tries to show that the Toba Volcanic eruption occurring around 74,000 years ago had a prolonged effect on all living creatures in India. This must have dispersed survivors into distant corners and some who could find a favourable corridor started migrating to both western Asia and Central Asia as well as Southeast Asia. This must have started from around 60,000 years and may have continued to occur in spasmodic waves all through till early Holocene. Thus man, both in his biological status as also in his cultural achievements, would seem to have been a product of India. Although not logically sound, almost all evolutionists have tried to link human evolution with cultural progression. Thus the most primitive form of society was named hunter-gatherer. This was a kind of small filial bands where man foraged and hunted like wild animals do. The entire Palaeolithic populations from 2.1 million years to 10,000 B.C. seem to have been of this kind of human existence, although one can demonstrate a progression from casual hunting to group-hunting of large mammals as one progresses from Lower Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic. Dr Priyadarshi thinks differently, and 5
gives evidence based on molecular genetics of man, cattle, goat and pig to suggest that settled life with domesticated animals started about twenty five to thirty five thousand years back in India, and from here it spread to Central Asia, China, Southeast Asia and lastly to West Asia and South Europe. Traditionally, it is held that Holocene Starts around 10,000 years back and this marks the beginning of Chiefdom societies forming more organized exploitation of the ecology. Wild seed collection must have begun in this phase which finally led to agriculture, and the society which could maintain this labour intensive economy is called Tribe. Finally with the arrival of metal the last form of society called Statehood emerges. From the time of Gordon Childe and then Braidwood the beginning of agriculture has been traced to the Fertile Crescent – the area spread from eastern Turkey, Jordan, Iran and Iraq. That early agriculture has been noted outside this Fertile Crescent in Mexico or even in northern Thailand is not the concern of Dr. Priyadarshi. His aim is to challenge the West Asian theory. This he argued on the basis of the fact that the radiocarbon dates of Mehrgarh (Baluchistan, Pakistan), Koldihwa and Lahuradeva (Gorakhpur, India) far exceed the West Asian dates. Further the occurrence of such wild types of rice as Oryza rufipogon or Oryza nivera along with the domesticated variety (Oryza Sativa) is taken as an additional proof of their indigenous development rather than readymade arrival from West Asia or South China. To support his claim, Priyadarshi cites six recent science journal articles written by scientists working on rice genome. He does similar exercise for barley and establishes, with the help of science articles on barley genome, that India was the first to cultivate and domesticate barley, even earlier than West Asia. Priyadarshi launches into a detailed analysis of linguistic terms prevalent in Proto-Indo-European, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic and other languages in order to demonstrate that terms referring to agriculture in all these languages seem to show close semantic resemblance with Sanskrit. This exercise, he does 6
to demonstrate that agriculture emerged in India first and then migrated to West Asia from where it spread into Africa, Europe and rest of Asia. The well argued analysis about the origin of farming is further substantiated on the basis of DNA markers in both the domesticated cereals as also mice and rats. The latter, it is believed, evolved with agriculture and hence if they can be shown as having evolved in India first and then migrated to other parts of the world, one can win an additional point in this series of Indo-Centric arguments. It must be admitted that Dr. Priyadarshi wins in all accounts. That issue of the Aryan invasion in India is elaborately examined in chapter-8. Dr. Priyadarshi believes that ―This school often deliberately omits recent discoveries in DNA mapping and often takes help of outdated rejected literature to resurrect their hypothesis‖ (p. 91). Earlier some authors had suggested that Y-chromosomal lineage R1a (M17) which is found in Europe, India and Central Asia, was a marker gene of Aryans, invading from Central Asia to India and Europe. Dr Priyadarshi contradicts this view with the help of latest works of Underhill et al (2009)9, Sahoo et al (2006)10 and Sengupta et al (2006)11 who examined the DNA haplogroup R1a in detail, and found that it originated from India, and started migrating out to Central Asia in 16,000 years back, reaching from there to East Europe by 7000 years back. On the ground of both mitochondrial DNA12 and Y chromosome haplogroup R1a13, it will appear there has been no migration into India from the north9
Underhill, P.A. et al, Separating the post-Glacial coancestry of European and Asian Ychromosomes within haplogroup R1a, European Journal of Human Genetics 2009, 4 November online. 10
Sahoo, S. et al, A prehistory of Indian Y chromosomes: Evaluating demic diffusion scenarios, PNAS 2006 Jan., 103(4): 843-848. 11 Sengupta, S. et al, Polarity and Temporality of High-Resolution Y-Chromosome Distributions in India Identify Both Indigenous and Exogenous Expansions and Reveal Minor Genetic Influence of Central Asian Pastoralists, Am J Hum Genet 2006 Feb., 78(2): 202–221. 12
Metspalu, M. et al; Most of the extant mtDNA boundaries in South and Southwest Asia were likely shaped during the initial settlement of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans, BMC Genetics 2004, 5: 26doi:1186/1471-2156-5-26. 13
Oppenheimer, S.; The Real Eve : Modern Man’s Journey out of Africa, Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York, 2003. Also, Sahoo, Sanghmitra et al, A prehistory of Indian Y chromosomes: Evaluating demic diffusion scenarios, PNAS 2006 Jan., 103(4): 843-848.
western corridor of India, of a kind that can give rise to such a widespread culture as Indus Valley Civilization. With the help of migration route of Ychromosomal haplogroup J2, which has been established to be a marker gene of farming and pottery in West Asia and South Europe14, and Indo-European language in the same provinces15, Dr Priyadarshi tries to establish that IndoEuropean languages migrated out of India with this gene and farming. In fact, it would be quite likely that right from Mature Harapan Phase (2700 B.C.) there may have been people and goods going out of India to West Asia. Here again Dr. Priyadarshi wins a point as almost all archaeologists are beginning to realize that Indus Valley is a local development. Reading this excellent work of Dr. Priyadarshi one is led to believe that all major University graduates (which includes the reviewer) have been largely mouthing Euro-Centric views for far too long a period. No wonder the discovery of Malhar (near Varanasi) which indicates a distinct possibility to demonstrate that Iron was discovered first in India (3800 years back), did not cause any ripple in Indian academia. The meticulous references of almost all original workers and a critical examination of their views make this work extremely important. May be a next generation of scholars will undertake works in archaeology to finally prove many of the issues raised by the author. It is a book which should be read by scholars in the field of anthropology, archeology, linguistics, genomics, palaeontology and also palaeo-botanists. There are large number of abbreviations used throughout, and these need to be explained for smooth reading.
King, Roy and Underhill, Peter A., Congruent distribution of Neolithic painted pottery and ceramic figuries with Y chromosome lineages, Antiquity 2002, 76:707-714. 15
Bellwood, Peter, Early agriculturalist population diasporas? Farming, Language and Genes, Annu Rev Anthropol 2001, 30:181-207.