Tony Joseph’s Early Indians: The Story Of Our Ancestors And Where We Came From unravels our history using the results of genetics and other research. An excerpt:

For a glimpse of the First Indians, look in the mirror!

This leads us to the next questions: where are their descendants today? How many are there, and where can we find them? If you want to find their closest direct descendants living today, who haven’t mixed with other populations all that much, you need to go to the Little Andaman Island and look up the Onge. There are only about a hundred of them left now, down from about 670 in 1900. Their maternal haplogroup is M and paternal haplogroup is D. They made it to the news in 2011 when a new baby was born, taking the strength of the tribe to 101.

But really, if you want to see the lineage of the First Indians, you probably only need to look into the mirror or look around in your office or home. Unlike many other regions – such as Europe, Australia or the Americas – which have seen the lineage of their original inhabitants dwindle to very low levels, the genetic lineage of the First Indians forms the foundation, the bedrock, of the Indian population today.

Unlike many other regions – such as Europe, Australia or the Americas – which have seen the lineage of their original inhabitants dwindle to very low levels, the genetic lineage of the First Indians forms the foundation, the bedrock, of the Indian population today.

In fact, between half and two-thirds of our genome-wide ancestry today comes from the First Indians. This genome-wide figure, which applies to both men and women, is the most appropriate measure to grasp the genetic make-up of Indians, but there are other ways to look at it too, which provide other kinds of insights. For example, if you look at mtDNA lineages you will find that somewhere between 70 and 90 per cent of people are descendants of the First Indians, with M lineages being the most popular. If you look at Y-chromosome lineages, though, the picture is different: First Indian descendants account for only 10 to 40 per cent of the haplogroups, depending on which population group you are considering. (This massive difference between the male and female lines of descent encapsulates the history of later migrations, which we will tackle in chapter 4.)

At this point you could refer back to pp. 19–26 that dealt with mtDNA and Y-chromosome lineages, or here is a brief summary. MtDNA is transferred from mother to daughter in an unbroken chain, while Y-chromosome is transferred from father to son similarly. So when we say that somewhere between 70 and 90 per cent of mtDNA lineages derive their origin from the First Indians, it means that in the case of 70 to 90 per cent of Indian women, if you traced their maternal line back through the ages, you will arrive at a woman who was an original OoA migrant and reached India some 65,000 years ago. Similarly, when we say that 10 to 40 per cent of Y-chromosome lineages are of First Indian descent, it means that in the case of 10 to 40 per cent of all Indian men, if you traced their paternal line back through the ages, you will arrive at a man who was an original OoA migrant.

So here is a question: if you were to identify a single person who embodies us Indians the best, who do you think it should be? Ideally, it should be a tribal woman because she is most likely to be carrying the deepest-rooted and widest-spread mtDNA lineage in India today, M2.

So here is a question: if you were to identify a single person who embodies us Indians the best, who do you think it should be? Ideally, it should be a tribal woman because she is most likely to be carrying the deepest-rooted and widest-spread mtDNA lineage in India today, M2. In a genetic sense, she would represent all of our history, with very little left out. She shares the most with the largest number of Indians, no matter where in the social ladder they stand, what language they speak and which region they inhabit because we are all migrants, and we are all mixed. And she was here from the beginning. And she was most likely also at Mohenjo-daro as the ‘dancing girl’ (the image on the cover) about 4500 years ago, during the period that most shaped us as we are today.

Excerpted with permission from Early Indians: The Story Of Our Ancestors And Where We Came From by Tony Joseph published by Juggernaut.

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