Recent findings in archaelogy and related fields have led some scholars to replace "invasion" with "migration" in the "Aryan invasion" theory. E.g. Romila Thapar in this edition of The Penguin History of Early India.

Further discoveries (E.g. the satellite mapping of the Saraswati river) have forced a relook at the whole idea of Aryans entering India through the North-West corridor. However, such discoveries remain confined to academic journals or remain scattered in different scholarly silos until somebody collects them and analyzes them collectively.

What are, if any, books/articles which have done this collective analysis in the last couple of years?

  • 1
    can you elaborate precisely what do you consider "Aryan invasion theory" and what would you consider as a "demolish"? For example, would you consider Aryan "diffusion" or "migration" as a "demolish"?
    – Anixx
    Apr 26, 2012 at 19:00
  • @Anixx : "Aryan invasion theory" is widely understood to mean an "invasive, destructive" movement of people into India through its NorthWestern corridor from Central Asia, and that's the definition I go by. Aryan "migration" is another, more recent version of the theory, but it starts from the same assumptions. As for demolish, I am referring to "demolish"ing the theory itself (it's not related to diffusion or migration)
    – talonx
    Apr 27, 2012 at 8:11
  • @Anixx Clarifying the last point - I would not consider "migration" as a demolish, in light of recent evidence, hence the reason for including it in the question title with "invasion".
    – talonx
    Apr 27, 2012 at 8:18
  • 1
    talonx, what other possibilities remaining? That they came to India by another way? Do you mean this to be the demolishing theory?
    – Anixx
    Apr 27, 2012 at 8:31
  • 1
    Also causes problems for Amerindians and the denizens of South and Central Americans.
    – Oldcat
    May 28, 2014 at 21:12

6 Answers 6


OK. I've looked into this as best I can. And I'll preface this by saying Indian history is my weakest point, so I didn't really have an opinion on this going in.

First off, for a tribal people like the Iranians/Aryians there really isn't a dime's worth of difference between a "migration" and an "invasion". All of Eurasia was settled by this time, so when a tribe moves into a new area, the old inhabitants have to be pushed out somehow.

You could try to picture some kind of peaceful coexistance and absorption if you want, but that would certianly fly in the face of the historical record we have for these same Iranian peoples' arrival at the same time in the near east. They pretty much wiped out the Elamite poeple in Persia, and the Akkadians in Mesopotamia. They weren't using all those chariots for circuses.

So now let's follow your link, like you suggested. Any time I see an interesting book on Amazon I like to read the favorable reviews and the unfavorable ones. Often the unfavorable ones contain the most information. Here's the one for the book you linked. I won't quote it here because it is both too long, and to detail-filled to really cull parts of it.

Still, this is just one guy. So the next step is to hit the Wikipedia page for the author. This should give us a good idea of how accepted his theories are among historians.

Well, there we find out that this is one in a series of books by this same author that reinterpret history in a rather unusual (and Hindu-nationalist) manner.

Bryant (2001) commented that Frawley's work is more successful in the popular arena, to which it is directed and where its impact "is by no means insignificant", rather than in academic study and that "(Frawley) is committed to channeling a symbolic spiritual paradigm through a critical empirico rational one".

In a series of exchanges published in The Hindu, Michael Witzel rejects Frawley's linking of Vedic literature with the Harappan civilisation and a claimed lost city in the Gulf of Cambay, as misreading Vedic texts, ignoring or misunderstanding other evidence and motivated by antiquity frenzy. Witzel argues that Frawley's proposed "ecological approach" and "innovative theories" of the history of ancient India amount to propagating currently popular indigenist ideas.

Bruce Lincoln attributes autochthonous ideas such as Frawley's to "parochial nationalism", terming them "exercises in scholarship ( = myth + footnotes)", where archaeological data spanning several millennia is selectively invoked, with no textual sources to control the inquiry, in support of the theorists' desired narrative.

Basically what these critics are saying is that (according to them) it seems he decides what he wants the history to be, then goes out and looks for facts to back it up. It should go without saying that good science does things the other way around.

I note on this same page that there's actually a Wiki page for the Indigenous Aryans theory. Reading through there, it appears the theory itself isn't taken particularly serioiusly by the various historical and scientific communities it touches on. To give an example, one of the largest sections in there is titled "Pseudoscience and postmodernism".

Regardless, you may buy his argument, and he may even turn out to be right. However, getting back to your question, I think it is fair to say that you aren't in fact going to find a lot of serious published research along these same lines.

I am sorry.

  • I'm not trying to "picture" any specific scenario here. I'm not a professional historian. Yes, I am Indian and trying to find the current state of research on this.Going by the responses I usually receive depending on which "camp" the responder is supposed to be in, it's pretty difficult to determine the actual state of affairs. Contd...
    – talonx
    Apr 28, 2012 at 15:34
  • 1
    Contd...I would like to add, however, that I'm viewing this not just from a purely historical perspective, but also keeping in mind recent (and not so recent) works on allegations of Eurocentrism in historical writing, and hence the interest in the so-called Hindu-nationalist writers. Here's a balanced Preface from a book on the subject edited by the same Bryant you cite from Wiki - bit.ly/IyqwIf (See Introduction by Laurie L. Patton)
    – talonx
    Apr 28, 2012 at 15:34
  • 3
    Well, my answer is just addressing the current state of scholarship. I will say that I don't think there is much doubt that a lot of the analysis of the available facts has been horribly stilted by the fact that it has mostly been done by those of European ancestry. The part that makes me despair is when the response is not to reanalyze the same information logically, but to make up entirely new information with the apparent purpose of compensating. Every peoples I've ever looked at end up having a long history of accomplishments to be proud of, without having to resort to extreme revisionism.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 28, 2012 at 16:10
  • Yes, there are extremists on both sides. Let's hope the facts come out in the end.
    – talonx
    Apr 28, 2012 at 16:12
  • @T.E.D. There was this article a few years ago which might interest you. It makes extensive use of the latest molecular anthropology (absent in the present answers) to push its case. www.newslaundry.com/2014/08/11/indiana-jones-and-the-troublesome-aryans/
    – Gaurav
    Jun 22, 2016 at 14:42

Firstly, linguistic groups do not represent genetic haplogroups. If by "race" we mean a constructed identity based upon language, then the debate on AIT, OIT (Out of India Theory) and other such theories make sense. With respect to genes, however, the results are far more confusing, because genetic 'types' seem to be much more mixed up.

This study reported in the European Journal of Human Genetics seems to suggest that the transfer of the R1a haplotype "predate(s) the upper bound of the age estimate of the Indo-European language tree". It concludes-

Although this distinction by geography is not directly informative about the internal divisions of these separate language families, it might bear some significance for assessing dispersal models that have been proposed to explain the spread of Indo-Aryan languages in South Asia, as it would exclude any significant patrilineal gene flow from East Europe to Asia, at least since the mid-Holocene period.

Another study, reported in Nature, suggests an Ancestral North Indian and an Ancestral South Indian gene pool. However, Thangaraj, one of the authors, has explained that the ASI group is 60,000 years old, and the ANI group at least 40,000 years old.

A third study

[...] found that the influence of Central Asia on the pre-existing gene pool was minor. The ages of accumulated microsatellite variation in the majority of Indian haplogroups exceed 10,000–15,000 years, which attests to the antiquity of regional differentiation.

In other words, again, the possible gene pool transfer pre-dates the AIT dates.

A fourth study on Y-chromosomes seems to suggest a similar conclusion:

The Y-chromosomal data consistently suggest a largely South Asian origin for Indian caste communities and therefore argue against any major influx, from regions north and west of India, of people associated either with the development of agriculture or the spread of the Indo-Aryan language family.

A fifth source concludes:

Our result indicates that the Indian mtDNA pool consists of several deep rooting lineages of Macrohaplogroup 'M' suggesting in situ origin of these haplogroups in South Asia, most likely India.

  • 1
    Could this gene pool just be because the incoming population numbered much fewer than the "original population", but since they had superior military technologies, they still eventually succeeded in their migration and ruled? Such situations happened in various places throughout history AFAIK. Just my two cents, without any citation or whatsoever, of course.
    – xji
    Sep 5, 2016 at 16:35
  • That's exactly what the first study suggests- that there were no significant inflows.
    – Rajib
    Sep 7, 2016 at 12:53

Well, you linked to Indus Valley Civilization, which is considered the native civilization of India. If one rejects the Aryan invasion/migration theory he should conclude that this civilization spoke an Indo-European language as the modern Indians do.

But as it is known that Indo-Europeans originated in eastern Europe, this only puts the supposed migration of Indo-European peoples into India further in time.

I do not know whether you would consider pre-Aryan indo-European migration to India as a "repellation" of the Aryan invation theory, but if you reject that any tribe of Indo-Europeans ever migrated to India, you evidently propose that Indo-Europeans originated in India and that all branches of Indo-European languages derived from Indic languages such as Sanskrit.

The latter idea is contrary to all scientific evidence, so I am sure you will have a hard time finding any academic source to support such claim.

  • As it seems, this is what he exactly proposed. I found Frawley's volume 'Hidden Horizions-Unearthing 10,000 years of Indian Culture'. It was a coffeetable book to hold. Selling for about a dollar(80 rs.) at the bookstore at Akshardham in Delhi. And for a coffeetable book, it simply floods the reader with information, which he will be not be able to make sufficient sense of, except a vague feeling that " hmm, he seems to be reasonable." The book itself was not incoherent, rather where every peice seems to fit the puzzle, giving a sense of solving a puzzle for oneself.
    – Rohit
    May 15, 2017 at 7:13

The debate between Frawley and Witzel over the use of the word Samudra does not led to a clear-cut "victory" for the latter. Witzel has been known to make mistakes and even play politics. He also starts from the "Aryans originate in Central Asia" premise and proceeds to get the (mainly linguistic) evidence for it.

The Harappans of the Indus Valley have left profuse archaeological records over a vast region - from the borders of Iran and beyond Afghanistan to eastern UP and Tapti valley, and must have supported over 30 million people and believed to be living an advanced civilization. And yet these people have left absolutely no literary records.

The Vedic Aryans and their successors on the other hand have left us a literature that is probably the largest and most profound in the world. But according to the AIT there is absolutely no archaeological record that they ever existed. Either on the Indian soil or outside its boundaries. So we have concrete history and archeology of a vast civilization of 'Dravidians' lasting thousands of years that left no literature, and a huge literature by the Vedic Aryans who left no history and no archaeological records. The situation gets more absurd when we consider that there is profuse archaeological and literary records indicating a substantial movement of Indian Aryans out of India into Iran and West Asia around 2000 BC. This is the paradox.

Other scholars like Shrikant Talageri have worked for a long time on the Indo-European homeland problem, analysed the Rig Veda and The Avesta to conclude that "India is likely to be the PIE homeland".

Then there is the history of the Lost river of Saraswathi].This thesis states that the river Saraswathi dried up around 1900 BCE. The Rig Veda predates the Indus (or Sindhu-Saraswathi) civilization, as per N. Kazanas.

Razib khan has a good genetic analysis of South Asians. It shows that Ancient South Indians and Ancient North Indians were "mixed up" long before 1500 BCE.

Koenraad Elst also refutes the AIT in detail.

A comprehensive and brief argument against the AIT was given by Rajeev Chandran a long time ago, but it is not widely disseminated.

  1. There is no archaeological attestation of aryan invasion/migration in spite of more than a hundred years of archaeological effort.
  2. There is no traditional memory or mention of aryan invasion/migration/intrusion in any of all the diverse historical traditions of India.
  3. There is no genetic trace of foreigners to attest to such a historical mixing. If at all Indian genotypes not only closer to each other but substantially more diverse and much older than European or middle eastern genotypes – therefore suggesting a reverse migration. After Africa the most ancient and diverse population happens to be that of India. In essence most other non-African people descended from prehistoric Indians.
  4. Philology is a tool of uncertain provenance and its conclusions are highly debatable. Aryan invasion/migration are hypothesis emerging basically from philology – hence open to debate.
  5. Development of historical theories on ancient India through more accurate means (archaeology & traditional history) rather than philology points to the indegenity and antiquity of Indians.
  6. Self references in many ancient Indian texts points to indegenity of Indians in a time-scale far older than those proposed by Aryan Invasion theory.
  7. In ancient Indian texts Arya means ‘noble of conduct and character’ rather than a race. If the oldest texts negate Aryan being a race – the idea of Aryan being a race of people can be traced to the rise of British imperialism and German nationalism – both historically discredited and defunct ideologies.
  8. Geology (mapping of the old Saraswati), archeo-metallurgy (iron working in ancient india), archeo-agriculture (maize, rice farming) etc points to a far greater antiquity of ancient Indians (which does not agree with Aryan Invasion Theory).
  9. Archeo-astronomy, archeo-mathematics, hydronomy (river names) seem to corraborate ancient indian texts on thier antiquity and claims of indigenity.
  10. Study of ancient Indian history has been held hostage to various extraneous constraints notably – euro-centricism, communism, various kinds of religious and regional chauvinism, and hence must be discarded.
  • 2
    You wrote archeo-agriculture (maize, rice farming) in point 8. Do you really mean maize?
    – knut
    Oct 7, 2016 at 23:39

It wont be totally right to say that the Aryan migration theory has no physical base at all and only a philological base. The Bogazkoy inscription in Asia minor, and the Al Armena inscriptions naming Rigvedic characters, gave a strong support to the Indo Aryan Migration theory. The Rigveda mentions non Aryan people, with whom Aryans had to struggle. Aj Yakshu Kikat Pishach Shishru to name a few. The Aryans called them Anasah(flat nosed), Adevayu(not accepting Gods), Akarman, Shisradevah. Besides, there were striking dissimilarities between the lifestyle and the culture of the Aryans, as the Vedas throw light, and the Harrapans, as archaeology concludes. The Harrapans were largely an urban civilization. The Aryans had a tribal exsistence until the end of the Later Vedic age.

Philology is already a sound discipline. Yet it is strongly complemented by comparative mythology, for those whom it's not enough. The Proto Indo European belief is well established.

And yes, as T.E.D said, there have been no recent publications trying to demolish The Indo Aryan Migration theory.


A recent paper from Archaeogenetics might be of interest in this regard. I do not know enough about genetics and its methods, to comment on the validity of the results. But for those who do, this shall be an apt link

A genetic chronology for the Indian Subcontinent points to heavily sex-biased dispersals

I shall quote the abstract

Background India is a patchwork of tribal and non-tribal populations that speak many different languages from various language families. Indo-European, spoken across northern and central India, and also in Pakistan and Bangladesh, has been frequently connected to the so-called “Indo-Aryan invasions” from Central Asia ~3.5 ka and the establishment of the caste system, but the extent of immigration at this time remains extremely controversial. South India, on the other hand, is dominated by Dravidian languages. India displays a high level of endogamy due to its strict social boundaries, and high genetic drift as a result of long-term isolation which, together with a very complex history, makes the genetic study of Indian populations challenging.

Results We have combined a detailed, high-resolution mitogenome analysis with summaries of autosomal data and Y-chromosome lineages to establish a settlement chronology for the Indian Subcontinent. Maternal lineages document the earliest settlement ~55–65 ka (thousand years ago), and major population shifts in the later Pleistocene that explain previous dating discrepancies and neutrality violation. Whilst current genome-wide analyses conflate all dispersals from Southwest and Central Asia, we were able to tease out from the mitogenome data distinct dispersal episodes dating from between the Last Glacial Maximum to the Bronze Age. Moreover, we found an extremely marked sex bias by comparing the different genetic systems.

Conclusions Maternal lineages primarily reflect earlier, pre-Holocene processes, and paternal lineages predominantly episodes within the last 10 ka. In particular, genetic influx from Central Asia in the Bronze Age was strongly male-driven, consistent with the patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal social structure attributed to the inferred pastoralist early Indo-European society. This was part of a much wider process of Indo-European expansion, with an ultimate source in the Pontic-Caspian region, which carried closely related Y-chromosome lineages, a smaller fraction of autosomal genome-wide variation and an even smaller fraction of mitogenomes across a vast swathe of Eurasia between 5 and 3.5 ka.

Keywords Mitochondrial DNA Indian Subcontinent Genome-wide Y chromosome Neolithic Indo-European

  • 1
    2 things here. 1: Did you really mean for this to be a second answer? Wouldn't it be better to add it to your existing answer? 2: Every genetic study I've seen of every other group shows this same thing. In humankind, the male line moves around a lot more than the female. So while this is perhaps something worth noting in an answer, it hardly deserves multiple screens full of attention to just this one (conforming rather than surprising) study.
    – T.E.D.
    May 15, 2017 at 15:11
  • 1
    hmm 1: Do not totally stand on the position I was on two years ago. Did feel like editing out the previous answer. But then I let it be. 2: You have seen a lot of genetic studies. Same cannot be said about every user. So it is not a frequently occuring confirmation for them, it is information in scope of the discussion. Besides, in this discussion, studies were cited with inclination to point to the insitu position. The answer takes a different position and adds to the discussion, instead of just riding on the wagon.
    – Rohit
    May 15, 2017 at 15:53
  • And i hope screen real estate is not that much in premium that sharing fresh information gets wasteful. :D
    – Rohit
    May 15, 2017 at 15:56

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