South Asian endogamy predates the British

By Razib Khan | April 24, 2011 11:36 pm

One of the things that happens if you read ethnographically thick books like Nicholas Dirks’ Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India is that you start to wonder if most castes were simply created by the British and for the British. Granted, even Dirks would not deny the existence of Brahmins prior to the British period, but those who work within his general paradigm might argue that a group like Kayasthas were the product of very recent developments (e.g., the uplift of a non-Brahmin literate group willing to serve Muslim and British rulers). The emergence of genomics complicates this sort narrative, because you can examine relationships and see how plausible they would be given a particular social model.

Zack Ajmal is now at 90 participants in the Harappa Ancestry Project. He’s still undersampling people from the Indo-Gangetic plain between Punjab and Bengal, but that’s not his fault. Hopefully that will change. He posted K = 4 recently for the last 10 participants, but I notice K = 12 in his spreadsheets. So this is what I did:

1) I aligned the ethnic identification information with the K = 12 results.

2) I removed relatives and those who were not 100% South Asian.

3) I added some reference populations in. These are all upper case below. All other rows are individuals (HRP numbers provided).

4) I removed five ancestral groups. The three Africans, Papuans, and Siberians.

Then I arranged the rows alphabetically by ethnic identification. Helpfully many people provided their caste information as well. I’ve uploaded a csv with the information. But skim the plots & table below. Those of you who are brown can probably make more sense of them than I can. But I think some of the patterns are pretty interesting already. For me the big thing that jumps out is how uniform some of these caste groups are. Remember that HRP22 and HRP23 are my parents.  If the British made these groups up, they were very punctilious about their ancestral make up in constituting them!

First, this is the visualization of the genetic distance between the groups below:

Most South Asians in the Harappa Ancestry Project are  S Asian + Baloch/Caucasian + European. In that order. But there are some weird patterns which other genome bloggers have already noted, but I thought would be nice to reiterate with Zack’s larger data set.

There’s a pretty interesting disjunction between the Baloch/Caucasian and European components. Mind you, these are very close genetically. But it’s very instructive that their lowest frequency in the northern parent of the continent is focused around the Brahui, a Dravidian group amongst the Baloch in Pakistan. To a great extent aside from the language, the Brahui, Baloch, and Makrani are interchangeable. And the Dravidian groups in Southern India seem to lack it, excluding those who are likely relatively newcomers, the Brahmins and the Jews.


ID Ethnicity S Asian Baloch/Cauc Kalash SE Asian SW Asian European NE Asian
HRP0060 Andhra Pradesh 78% 14% 1% 4% 0% 0% 1%
HRP0061 Andhra Pradesh 77% 14% 3% 3% 0% 0% 0%
HRP0024 Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabadi) 65% 21% 3% 4% 1% 5% 0%
HRP0009 Andhra Pradesh Reddy 76% 18% 2% 1% 0% 0% 2%
HRP0076 Andhra Pradesh Reddy 74% 21% 1% 1% 0% 0% 1%

BALOCHI 29% 57% 3% 0% 6% 1% 0%

BENE ISRAEL JEWS 47% 26% 2% 1% 17% 5% 0%
HRP0049 Bengali 69% 11% 4% 6% 0% 5% 3%
HRP0023 Bengali 64% 10% 2% 11% 1% 4% 2%
HRP0022 Bengali 63% 14% 1% 11% 0% 3% 5%
HRP0054 Bengali Brahmin 61% 20% 4% 3% 0% 10% 0%
HRP0077 Bengali Brahmin 58% 21% 5% 1% 0% 10% 2%
HRP0050 Bengali/Oriya 68% 14% 1% 5% 1% 4% 2%
HRP0003 Bihari Brahmin 55% 25% 4% 0% 0% 12% 2%
HRP0032 Bihari Kayastha 71% 14% 4% 3% 0% 5% 1%

BRAHUI 26% 60% 3% 0% 6% 1% 0%

BURUSHO 36% 36% 8% 2% 0% 7% 5%
HRP0028 Caribbean Indian 69% 15% 3% 3% 1% 5% 1%
HRP0027 Caribbean Indian 66% 13% 3% 5% 0% 5% 0%

COCHIN JEWS 60% 22% 1% 3% 8% 3% 0%
HRP0026 Goan Catholic Brahmin 64% 24% 4% 0% 0% 4% 3%
HRP0058 Gujarati 82% 13% 2% 0% 0% 3% 0%
HRP0068 Gujarati 82% 12% 3% 0% 0% 2% 0%
HRP0071 Gujarati 79% 13% 2% 1% 1% 3% 0%

GUJARATIS 75% 17% 2% 0% 0% 4% 0%
HRP0078 Karnataka 72% 17% 3% 3% 2% 1% 0%
HRP0017 Karnataka Iyengar 65% 24% 3% 2% 0% 5% 0%
HRP0079 Karnataka Iyengar Brahmin 66% 20% 4% 1% 1% 6% 0%
HRP0088 Karnataka Kannada Brahmin 67% 21% 3% 1% 0% 4% 0%
HRP0025 Karnataka Konkani Brahmin 66% 22% 1% 3% 1% 6% 0%
HRP0044 Kashmiri 49% 31% 6% 0% 1% 9% 3%
HRP0021 Kashmiri 43% 37% 6% 0% 1% 11% 0%
HRP0067 Kerala Brahmin 61% 27% 3% 2% 1% 3% 1%
HRP0038 Kerala Christian 67% 24% 3% 3% 1% 1% 0%
HRP0053 Kerala Muslim Rawther 72% 17% 3% 2% 1% 0% 3%
HRP0090 Maharashtra/Madhya Pradesh 65% 22% 4% 0% 0% 4% 2%
HRP0047 Mahrashtrian Desastha Brahmin 64% 24% 5% 1% 0% 4% 0%

MAKRANI 24% 58% 3% 0% 7% 1% 0%

MALAYAN – KERALA TRIBE 84% 0% 0% 8% 0% 0% 2%

NORTH KANNADI 87% 4% 0% 4% 1% 0% 1%

PATHAN 37% 41% 6% 1% 2% 11% 0%
HRP0064 Punjabi 59% 25% 4% 2% 0% 7% 0%
HRP0012 Punjabi 50% 35% 4% 0% 1% 7% 2%
HRP0073 Punjabi 49% 33% 6% 0% 1% 7% 1%
HRP0086 Punjabi (1/2), Sindhi (1/2) 45% 38% 7% 0% 2% 7% 0%
HRP0019 Punjabi Brahmin 50% 30% 5% 0% 0% 11% 1%
HRP0004 Punjabi Brahmin 46% 36% 6% 0% 0% 9% 0%
HRP0006 Punjabi Jatt 45% 36% 4% 1% 1% 12% 0%
HRP0005 Punjabi Jatt 44% 36% 5% 1% 0% 12% 0%
HRP0008 Punjabi Jatt 42% 37% 5% 0% 0% 15% 0%
HRP0033 Rajasthani Brahmin 47% 31% 5% 2% 0% 14% 0%

SAKILLI – TAMIL DALIT 86% 6% 0% 4% 1% 0% 1%

SINDHI 44% 40% 5% 0% 1% 5% 0%
HRP0062 Sindhi 40% 37% 9% 0% 2% 10% 0%
HRP0039 Sindhi (1/2), Balochi (1/2) 39% 45% 5% 1% 3% 3% 0%

SINGAPORE INDIANS 70% 18% 3% 3% 0% 3% 1%
HRP0055 Sourastrian 70% 16% 1% 4% 0% 5% 0%
HRP0031 Sri Lankan (1/2), Telegu (1/2) 82% 8% 2% 5% 0% 0% 0%
HRP0014 Tamil Brahmin 67% 24% 1% 1% 0% 5% 0%
HRP0084 Tamil Brahmin 66% 22% 4% 2% 0% 4% 1%
HRP0016 Tamil Brahmin 66% 26% 4% 1% 0% 3% 0%
HRP0057 Tamil Brahmin 64% 24% 3% 2% 0% 5% 0%
HRP0048 Tamil Brahmin 63% 25% 4% 2% 0% 4% 0%
HRP0072 Tam. Brah. Iyeng. (1/2) Hebbar/Karn. Iyeng. (1/2) 64% 22% 5% 1% 0% 4% 1%
HRP0041 Tamil Brahmin Iyer 67% 22% 2% 1% 0% 5% 1%
HRP0075 Tamil Brahmin Iyer 65% 21% 3% 2% 0% 7% 0%
HRP0013 Tamil Muslim 75% 11% 4% 6% 2% 0% 0%
HRP0066 Tamil Nadar 81% 11% 1% 2% 1% 0% 3%
HRP0007 Tamil Nadar 80% 9% 1% 5% 2% 0% 0%
HRP0065 Tamil Nadar 78% 14% 0% 3% 1% 0% 1%
HRP0070 Tamil Vishwakarma 87% 3% 0% 2% 2% 0% 4%
HRP0069 Tamil Vishwakarma 83% 8% 0% 3% 1% 0% 0%
HRP0085 Thathai Bhatia 40% 41% 8% 0% 0% 9% 0%
HRP0051 UP 54% 22% 2% 4% 6% 8% 0%
HRP0029 UP Brahmin 56% 23% 8% 1% 0% 10% 0%
HRP0063 UP Brahmin 55% 25% 5% 1% 0% 11% 0%
HRP0052 UP Kayasth 65% 23% 3% 3% 0% 4% 0%
HRP0056 UP/MP/Marathi 54% 29% 5% 0% 0% 7% 2%
CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthroplogy, Genetics, Genomics
  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    James Scott takes a “radical constructionist” perspective of tribes in “The Art of Not Being Governed”. I similarly thought the genetic evidence would be relevant, but was nowhere mentioned.

  • AAS

    Hi Razib

    Is there a way to subscribe to your posts in Research Blogging category only? Following your many daily posts requires significant amount of time while I am only interested in some specific topics.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan
  • AAS

    Sorry I meant RSS feed…

    thanks,

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i’d set up a google alert for research blogging with my name which you subscribe to as a daily rss update. i don’t see a specific rss feed on that page.

  • http://ethnohistorian.wordpress.com megan

    neat – i’m going to follow this – great reading for my Intro to Anthro students to see the bio-cultural linkages.

  • AJ

    Razib,
    You mentioned in yourpost that Zack Ajmal’s Harappa ancestry project doesn’t have too many folks originally from in between Punjab and Bengal.
    My ancestry is from a region in between Punjab and Bengal and I am keen to participate in the project. Could you point me to info on how I could do that?
    Thanks,
    AJ

  • Vasishta

    Razib, according to you which haplogroup(s) could co-relate with the movements you have hypothesized above – ASI -> ANI -> East Eurasian (SEA) -> ANI2? I am specifically interested in your opinion regarding these migrations and their correlation with y-DNA, as migrations have been male mediated from time immemorial.

    AJ (comment no.7), here are the details regarding participation – http://www.harappadna.org/participation/

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i assume that most, but not all, india r1a lineages are form ANI.

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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