Sunday, 17 August 2008
Indian History: Dravidians Came First
August 17, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 16: Dravidians are the modern representatives of the earliest settlers of the Indian sub-continent dating back to more than 60,000 years before present (BP).
A research study by the Anthropological Survey of India revealed that Dravidians along with tribes of southern and eastern region and those who speak Austro-Asiatic languages still harbour the genes that were inherited from the earliest settlers in India. This in other words means that Dravidians and certain tribal groups have been inhabiting the land for thousands of years now.
"The Last Glacial Maximum (period between 18,000 and 21,000 years ago) aridity and post LGM population growth mechanised some sort of homogeneity and redistribution of earliest settlers’ component in India.
The migration triggered by agriculture and associated technologies around 3,000 years before present, which might have marginalised hunter-gatherer, is coincidental with the decline of earliest settlers’ population during this period," Dr VR Rao, director of ASI, told this correspondent.
The "out of Africa" model postulating single "southern route" dispersal posits arrival of "Anatomically Modern Human" to Indian subcontinent around 66-70 thousand years before present. However, the contributions and legacy of these earliest settlers in contemporary Indian populations, owing to the complex past population dynamics and later migrations has been an issue of controversy.
The high frequency of mitochondrial lineage "M2" consistent with its greater age and distribution suggests that it may represent the phylogenetic (evolutionary) signature of earliest settlers. "Accordingly, we attempted to re-evaluate the impact and contribution of earliest settlers in shaping the genetic diversity and structure of contemporary Indian populations," he said.
This is the first time that an entire mitochondrial DNA lineage has been sequenced for a research study. Of the known Mitochondrial lineage in India, M2 with an estimated age of about 50,000 years is the oldest and largest in its class. The distribution of M2 is significantly more pronounced in southern part of India as compared to north.
The frequency of M2 among the Brahmin and Kshatriyas of Andhra Pradesh is not significantly different from that of other caste and tribal populations of the region. However, it is absent among the Brahmins and Kshatriyas of the northern states of India, while the frequency reaches nearly three per cent among other caste and tribal populations of the region.
He said the time depth and diversity of M2 lineage among the studied tribes suggested that the tribes of southern and eastern region along with Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic speakers of central India are the modern representatives of earliest settlers of India via proposed southern route.
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