How to reconstruct the Indo-Europeans

By Razib Khan | December 16, 2011 9:38 pm

As must be obvious, I think now that the spread of Indo-European languages had some demographic impact. It wasn’t analogous to the spread of English to Jamaica, or the existence of French as an official language in Congo-Brazzaville. Because of this, I now believe it is possible in the near future that scientists will reconstruct the genome of the original Indo-Europeans. How?

1) Find the intersection of genetic segments on the chromosomal level which share identity-by-descent between widely separated Indo-European groups. For example, Greeks, Swedes, and Punjabis.

2) Check to see which of these intersecting elements is not found in nearby non-Indo-European groups. For example, Basques, Finns, and non-Brahmin South Indian Dravidian speakers. At least to an appreciable frequency.

My current supposition is that proportionally this component won’t be preponderant in most places, but, it will be significant. By reconstructing an Indo-European genome we may actually have the ability to ascertain the population’s urheimat, as we can compare its genetic distance to extant populations.

MORE ABOUT: Indo-Europeans
  • Tidesdale

    Refering back to a previous post on south asian genetics.

    Gedrosia is NOT an ANI component……To suggest that ANI is closer to West Asia is beyond logic, that statement should read.

    >>west asian genome are Closer to ANI than any other. Not ANI are closer to west Asian genome.

    ANI are more diverse and older than west asian, central asian, european asia minor, what ever asia you want to add….. south asia, ASI and ANI are closer together and the subranch of ANI the, west asian component is closer to ANI.

  • Suzann Castrellon

    Good post, I entirely concur. If I may deviate off topic and highlight that in spite of shelling out income taxes to the federal government and sending our citizens to combat and die in every war, Washingtonians have had no voting representation in Congress and have had to seek out approval from individuals they did not elect on all legislative along with budgetary matters. That my friends is crime against society, and America. Let’s hope it’ll change soon. Cheers.

  • Otto Kerner

    Sounds doable but tricky. Who says that the Finns aren’t the genetic descendents of an IE speaking population? They sure look more like their IEophone neighbors than they do like the Lapps.

  • ohwilleke

    The proposition that IE populations have genetic components from a superstrate lacking in neighboring non-IE populations is solid. I have some real doubts, having looked for a common thread in the data, however, that the IE signature component is identical across all of IE populations.

    Equally plausible in my mind is the possibility that some IE populations may be “first order” IE populations with a genetic component attributed to Proto-IE population demic contributions, annd that other IE populations may be “second order” IE populations spread by a population that underwent language shift with a small Proto-IE contribution which is diluted to the point of being essentially invisible in the “second order” IE populations whether they, rather than proto-IE populations were the superstrate. The IE signature is probably not the same everywhere.

    It is also worth recalling that any number of pre-IE layers can be present in the last non-IE substrate population, and still produce the IE/non-IE distinction. For example, the demic influence that brought the Basque language to the Basque could be Paleolithic, early Neolithic or Copper Age and they would still lack the IE component in each pre-IE scenario, and they would still pick up some small percentage of IE genes through admixture over the millenia from their neighbors.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

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


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar