Few months ago two studies published here in Cell and Science respectively and lot of authors in both the studies are common.

The science paper starts with

By sequencing 523 ancient humans, we show that the primary source of ancestry in modern South Asians is a prehistoric genetic gradient between people related to early hunter-gatherers of Iran and Southeast Asia.

It also concludes:

Earlier work recorded massive population movement from the Eurasian Steppe into Europe early in the third millennium BCE, likely spreading Indo-European languages. We reveal a parallel series of events leading to the spread of Steppe ancestry to South Asia, thereby documenting movements of people that were likely conduits for the spread of Indo-European languages.

However, the Cell paper’s brief is:

A genome from the Indus Valley Civilization is from a population that is the largest source for South Asians. The population has no detectable ancestry from Steppe pastoralists or from Anatolian and Iranian farmers, suggesting farming in South Asia arose from local foragers rather than from large-scale migration from the West.

I am trying to understand if the conclusions from two papers are consistent with each other or conflicting with each other. That is, Aryan Migration Theory is proved or disproved by this? Reason for my confusion is this article which indicates possible disagreement among the authors themselves.

There is discussion here from over 7 years ago but I thought my question requires a separate post since it is based on very recent studies.

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    Not sure I understand; I haven't reviewed the papers in depth, but it appears to me that the two papers followed the data and the methodology and reached diverse conclusions. Isn't that the definition of science? If the conclusion were determined by the authors, that would be ideology rather than science.
    – MCW
    Jan 17, 2020 at 11:49
  • As I said, different data, different methodologies, different conclusions; that is the way science works.
    – MCW
    Jan 17, 2020 at 12:15
  • You wrote "conclusions look exactly opposite of each other", yet I don't agree, or see it even. Can you explain in your own words what the contradiction seems to be for you? Jan 17, 2020 at 12:17
  • 2
    My guess here is that the author's confusion stems from a mistaken belief that there's any serious professional doubt about the Indo-Aryan migration "theory".
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:44
  • 3
    @PagMax - His detailed explanation looks like political weaseling to me (putting my Politics.SE hat on). "This is not a migration but a movement of people." The two terms mean basically the same thing, but the former is a political dog-whistle in India. I'd honestly interpret that as "Please don't blow up my mentions (or my car) over this."
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 17, 2020 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


The first paper basically says that genetically, some remains dated around 2500BCE from an Indus Valley Civilization individual show no central Asian (presumably Indo-European) component.

The second says that Modern South Asians do have that genetic component.

Both are entirely consistent with a historical picture where Indo-European speakers from central Asia moved into that area sometime around or after the end of the Indus Valley Civilization. They weren't there before, and now they are. Pretty simple.

If you read the second paper further, they even try to date and map this movement using ancient genetic sources.

This is also entirely consistent with the current historical consensus around the Indo-Aryan migrations, which is that they started moving into the area around 1800BCE. This is helpfully illustrated with this animated gif from Wikipedia:

enter image description here

  • I guess spelling out the actual dates for both papers as relevant to the region might clarify for OP and other readers what's going on here? Jan 17, 2020 at 14:52
  • I added the relevant date (2500 BC). The other paper actually goes into multiple different dates from multiple other areas and getting into that level of detail would be more likely to fan their confusion than snuff it. Its really a simple issue: 2500BCE vs modern.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:57
  • I get the point now. Thanks for helping me out with this.
    – PagMax
    Jan 17, 2020 at 16:16
  • Thanks for that .gif, it really helps with the mental picture of flow over time. Jan 17, 2020 at 16:52

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