DNA Analysis Shows Cosmopolitan Society In Gujarat’s Vadnagar  - Vibes Of India

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DNA Analysis Shows Cosmopolitan Society In Gujarat’s Vadnagar 

| Updated: March 20, 2024 10:59

Analysis of five skeletons excavated from PM Modi’s hometown in north Gujarat showed that medieval Vadnagar was a cosmopolitan society with people from various parts of India and beyond. DNA experts found that one of the persons buried at the town centuries ago does not have any close genetic connection with Indian population. The closest match to the current population is Tajikistan – about 1,800 km from Gujarat. 

Experts from Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP), Lucknow, and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have for the first time reconstructed the complete mitochondrial genomes of medieval individuals of the Vadnagar archaeological site. The DNA samples were extracted from skeletons which are believed to be from 14th to 19th centuries. 

We can understand the genetic variation in the manner of haplogroup distribution compared to population today – M5a for example is found in various Indian castes and tribal groups, M18 has high prevalence in southeast Asia, M30 in tribal groups in south and west India, and M37 in Gujarat and west India. Most interesting however is finding of U2e which has no connection with the current Indian population,” said a researcher from BSIP. “The closest match in the present population is in Europe and central Asia. The sample is closer to Bronze Age Tajikistan in nature based on available gene pool data.” 

A senior ASI official said the migration to Vadnagar by the said individual from foreign shores and other parts of India could be attributed to its trade and religious significance over centuries. 

“The cosmopolitan nature of Vadnagar could be attributed to its place as an important land port connecting Gujarat ports to the Sindh region. Rich haul of artifacts found from various layers of excavation corresponding to various time periods indicate a thriving economy. The place also had religious significance with strong Buddhist presence along with other religions over centuries,” said an official associated with excavation and analysis. 

The findings are presented in recently-published paper ‘Ancient mitogenomes suggest complex maternal history of one of the oldest settlements of western India’ in Elsevier journal Mitochondrion by Bhavna Ahlawat, Lomous Kumar, Abhijit Ambekar, JS Sehrawat, YS Rawat, and Niraj Rai from Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP), Lucknow; Panjab University; and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) among others. 

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