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A new study on Indus Civilization at Rakhigarhi

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Throwing fresh light on the Indus Valley Civilisation, a study of DNA from skeletal remains excavated from the Harappan cemetery at Rakhigarhi argues that the hunter-gatherers of South Asia, who then became a settled people, have an independent origin. The researchers who conducted the study contend that the theory of the Harappans having Steppe pastoral or ancient Iranian farmer ancestry thus stands refuted. The finding also negates the hypothesis about mass migration during Harappan times from outside South Asia, they argue.

Key Points :

Vasant Shinde, who headed the Rakhigarhi Project said that researchers had successfully sequenced the first genome of an individual from Harappa and combining it with archaeological data, found that hunter-gatherers of South Asia had an independent origin, and authored the settled way of life in this part of the world.

They do not contain a genome from either the Steppe region of ancient Iranian farmers. The genetic continuity from hunter-gatherer to modern times is visible in the DNA results.

The study finds that the same hunter-gatherer communities developed into agricultural communities and formed the Harappan Civilisation.

The researchers also suggest that there was a movement of people from east to west as the Harappan people’s presence is evident at sites like Gonur in Turkmenistan and Sahr-i-Sokhta in Iran.

As the Harappans traded with Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and almost all across South Asia, there was bound to be movement of people resulting in a mixed genetic history.

India had a heterogeneous population right from the beginning of settled. There was a hint that settled life and domestication went from South Asia to West Asia.

The Rakhigarhi study was reported in a paper titled An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian farmers.

About Rakhigarhi:

Rakhigarhi is situated in Hissar , Haryana. It is the site of a pre-Indus Valley Civilisation settlement going back to about 6500 BCE. Later, it was also part of the mature Indus Valley Civilisation.

The site is located in the Ghaggar-Hakra river plain,  some 27 km from the seasonal Ghaggar river.

Rakhigarhi encompasses a set of seven mounds, and there are many more settlement mounds in the immediate vicinity Not all of them were occupied at the same time. Depending on which mounds to include, the estimates of the size of Rakhigarhi have been given variously as between 80 and 550 hectares. In January 2014, the discovery of additional mounds resulted in it becoming the largest Indus Valley Civilization site, overtaking Mohenjodaro (300 Hectares) by almost 50 hectares, resulting in almost 350 hectares.

In May 2012, the Global Heritage Fund declared Rakhigarhi one of the 10 most endangered heritage sites in Asia.

source: The Hindu

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