Saturday, October 26, 2013

South Asia - India & Pakistan

Within a geographic continuum going from the south-east of Tajikistan, eastern Afghanistan (especially Nuristan) down to the north of Pakistan, the Europoid phenotypes are more frequent. The area is also apparently the place of a (slightly) higher frequency of the haplogroup Y-DNA R1a1a than in the neighboring areas.
mirrored from for educational purposes
The south of Asia was the homeland of bright and famous ancient civilizations, culturally and linguistically Indo-european, especially India (of the Indo-aryan linguistical family) and Iran (formerly known as Persia, of theIranian linguistical family).

It was at the end of the 18th century, that sir William Jones realized the relation between European languages and south Asian languages such asSanskrit, inaugurating then the existence of the now famous Indo-european language family theory.

Latin, for instance, has many similarities with Sanskrit. Indeed, how couldn’t we link words such as vox (voc-is), “voice“ in Latin and vac in Sanskrit (also “voice” ; found in many other Indo-european languages, e.g. Tocharian vak/vek orHittite huek), candor (“bright whiteness” in Latin ) and candra, “moon” in Sanskrit, ignis (“fire” in Latin) and agnis (“fire” in Sanskrit, Agni also being the god of fire – also ugnis in Lithuanian and ogon’ in Russian, all meaning “fire“), Latinjugum (meaning “yoke“, also derived from the same proto-indo-european word) and Sanskrit yugam, giving the word“yoga“ (also in the ancient greek zugon, Tocharian yuk or Hittite yukan, among many examples), Latin nebula andSanskrit nabhas (but also Hittite nepiš, German nebel and Russian nebo, for instance, meaning all either “cloud“, “mist” or “sky“), or pater (“father” (a word also related) in Latin) and pitar in Sanskrit (also the ancient greek pater or Tocharianpacer, and many others). Likewise, we can find some similarities between the declension suffixes in both languages (examples : -ibus at the plural dative and ablative cases in Latin and -ebhyas in Sanskrit in the same cases).

When it became obvious that most of the languages of Europe and the languages of south Asia were related, then started the search for an explanation to such an astonishing geographical extent. Many theories have been erected to try to solve the puzzle of the origin of the extent of this language family and to discover the original population responsible for this situation and their ancestral homeland.

The Kurgan hypothesis explains the repartition of the Indo-european languages in Eurasia by the successive migrations of pastoralist populations living north of the black sea (in what is nowadays east Ukraine and south Russia), whose arrival is visible in the archeology. In this theory, the early Indo-iranians originated in the region between Russia andnorth-west Kazakhstan between 2,500 BCE and 2,000 BCE (the Abashevo culture of Russia is also considered possibly a good candidate for the origin of the proto-indo-iranian language by some (The fact that it was influential in the origin of the Sintashta site (a site just east of the Ural mountains often considered as having the oldest visible expression of indo-iranian practices) could support this view as well)) and were subsequently found in the Andronovo culture of central Asia. Also, the fact that the Andronovo culture was followed by the Indo-iranian-speaking Scythians/Sakas (who clearly seem spawned from it (there is an archaeological continuity between these cultures)) seem to clearly make this theory the most logical one.

The Gandhara grave culture of the north of Pakistanis also seen as the advance of Indo-iranian populations in south Asia. The presence of proto-Indo-iranian loanwords in Finno-ugric languages (such as Estonian and Finnish) and in languages from the east of the Caucasus can be seen as supporting this theory of the Indo-iranian ethnogenesis (Interestingly, among the terms that the ancient Finno-ugric language borrowed to the ancient Indo-iranian language seems to be the “arya” word (source)).

A spreading of the Indo-european languages in Eurasia from neolithic agriculturalist populations seems very unlikely as the proto-indo-european language had words for the wheel (examples : Latin rota, Sanskrit rathas, Irish roth andLithuanian ratas (a root also meaning sometimes “chariot” in a few languages)) and a metal (examples: Latin aes(bronze), Sanskrit ayas (iron), Gothic aiz (brass; coin) and old Norse eir (bronze), among others), which seems to exclude, de facto, the oldest typical neolithic time. The fact that the stem for “horse” (*ekwos ; the satem version of it in Sanskrit is ‘asva‘) is also present in the original language, the proto-indo-european language (a root visible in these few examples : Latin equus, Mycenian iqo, Gaulish epos, Tokharian B yakwe or old Irish ech), also excludes both south Asiaand neolithic as the geographical origin and the time of the proto-indo-europeans, as the horse was apparently absent of south Asia until the last part of bronze age (this animal was apparently also absent of south-west Asia and in a big part of Asia minor until the same historical time (informations about the horse domestication)).

The study of ancient Indo-iranian languages also seems to support an origin of this language family from outside of India (source).

Frequency and spread of the lactase persistence T-13910 allele of the LCT gene. 
We can see that South Asians and Europeans share a specific mutation for lactase persistence

The Gandhara grave culture, located in the north of Pakistan in the Swat valley, sees the arrival of the horse in south Asia during bronze age and a few points allows for a (still controversial and hypothetical) link with the early Indo-aryans. The funerary practices, for instance, show several similarities with other supposedly Indo-european practices and there are many similarities with the Andronovo culture traditions. They also could fit quite well with the RigVedic descriptions. These traditions are clearly the mark of a change in this region, at this time.

In the Kurgan theory, the first Indo-iranians supposedly arrived around 1,800 BC-1,600 BC in south Asia from central Asia. These populations were apparently in large part of Europoid type as hinted by several studies (see the central Asia article), which seems confirmed by the admixture estimates of south Asian populations that do have an european component even if in low quantity (examples here or here (or here for a higher resolution of the latter) | source :

Supporting the theory of migrations from central Asia into south Asia, the presence ofthe very mutation (mutation T-13910 of the lactase phlorizin hydrolase (LCT) gene) providing the lactose tolerance (here more precisely the lactasepersistence) among European populationsis also found in south Asia, especially in the the north-west of India (source). This clearly shows that south Asians and Europeans share a specific mutation and as such as specific relation of which west Asians are excluded (this allele is obviously only very marginal and residual among west Asians and likely the result of Indo-european migrations of little demographic impact).

A 2009 study (Kallur N. Saraswathy et al., Brief communication: Allelic and haplotypic structure at the DRD2 locus among five North Indian caste populations) also emphasized the genetic flow inherited of populations extraneous to India within the upper caste populations of north India.

The dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) gene, with its known human-specific derived alleles that can facilitate haplotype reconstruction, presents an important locus for anthropological studies. The three sites (TaqIA, TaqIB, and TaqID) of the DRD2 gene are widely studied in various world populations. However, no work has been previously published on DRD2 gene polymorphisms among North Indian populations. Thus, the present study attempts to understand the genetic structure of North Indian upper caste populations using the allele and haplotype frequencies and distribution patterns of the three TaqI sites of the DRD2 gene. Two hundred forty-six blood samples were collected from five upper caste populations of Himachal Pradesh (Brahmin, Rajput and Jat) and Delhi (Aggarwal and Sindhi), and analysis was performed using standard protocols. All three sites were found to be polymorphic in all five of the studied populations. Uniform allele frequency distribution patterns, low heterozygosity values, the sharing of five common haplotypes, and the absence of two of the eight possible haplotypes observed in this study suggest a genetic proximity among the selected populations.The results also indicate a major genetic contribution from Eurasia to North Indian upper castes, apart from the common genetic unity of Indian populations. The study also demonstrates a greater genetic inflow among North Indian caste populations than is observed among South Indian caste and tribal populations.

[pastmists : interestingly, among the populations being the closest of the north Indian upper castes, in this specific study, we find the Chuvash people (a Turkic-speaking people of Russia whose haplogroups and autosomal profile reveal they are still largely from the ancient "Europoid" autochthonous non-Turkic substrate) [pastmists: the Finns and even the Russians are close too, seemingly confirming this view] living west of the Ural mountains, where was located the already mentionned Abashevo culture, during bronze age. Is this a sign that the Aryas had come from populations in this general region (and of this historical culture), or maybe more generally from a region close to the Ural mountains?]

Asko Parpola, a Finnish scholar, evokes a few points supporting the migration of Indo-iranian populations in India during bronze age in this excerpt of an interview: : “Some Indian scholars feel that the Indus Civilisation is Aryan [i.e. Indo-iranian] and connected with the Rig Veda. You are a Vedic scholar and you specialise in the Indus script too. So what is your reaction to this standpoint?”

Asko Parpola : “Rigvedic hymns often speak of horses and horse-drawn chariots, and the horse sacrifice, ashvamedha, is among the most prestigious Vedic rites. The only wild equid native to the Indian subcontinent is the wild ass, which is known from the bone finds of the Indus Civilisation and depicted (though rarely) in its art and script. The domesticated horse is absent from South Asia until the second millennium BCE. Finds from Pirak and Swat from 1600 BCE show it was introduced from Central Asia after the Indus Civilisation. The earliest archaeological finds of horse-drawn chariot come from graves dated to around 2000 BCE in the Eurasian steppes, the natural habitat of the horse. There are also ancient Aryan loanwords in Finno-Ugric languages spoken in northeastern Europe (for example, the word for ‘hundred‘ in my own language Finnish is ‘sata’ [i.e. the same word than in Indo-iranian]). Some of these Aryan loanwords represent a more archaic stage of development (that is, are phonetically closer to the older Proto-Indo-European language) than Rigvedic Sanskrit. It is very likely that these words came to Finno-Ugric languages from Proto-Aryan spoken in theVolga steppes [i.e. in Russia].”

Isolated people of the Hindu Kush mountains in the north of Pakistan (in the Chitral district), the Kalash are a polytheistic ethnic group speaking the Kalash language, a Dardic language (a language group considered as a subgroup of the Indo-aryan language family) of the Indo-iranian language family. Their traditions are said to be close to the ancientpre-Zoroastrian Iranian and ancient Indian Vedic traditions.

Central Asia

ScythioSiberian mummy

There was a time, well before the Turkic population movements, when central Asia was speaking Indo-european languages. During antiquity, Indo-iranian languages were once spoken by populations from the east of Europe up to the Altai mountains of south Siberia(Scythians, Sakas and Sarmatians were such peoples) and down tosouth Asia.

Nevertheless, prior to this situation, another kind of Indo-european language was apparently present in Asia.

The first Indo-european migration eastwards (from its ancestral home of Ukraine and south Russia) we find tracks of, occurs right before 3,500 BC and gives birth to the Afanasevo culture, whose extent is from Kazakhstan to south Siberiaand Mongolia. It is likely that the population of the Afanasevo culture was speaking a language that was the ancestor of the Tocharian language.

The ancient DNA and the archeology reveal hints of this ancient past. A 2004 study expose the nature of the bronze age population (in this study the samples are precisely from 1,300 BC to 400 AD) of Kazakhstan :

“Unravelling migrations in the steppe: mitochondrial DNA sequences from ancient central Asians” (Lalueza-fox et al, 2004 – source)

“The distribution of east and west Eurasian lineages through time in the region is concordant with the available archaeological information: prior to the (…) seventh century BC, all Kazakh samples belong to European lineages; while later an arrival of east Eurasian sequences that coexisted with the previous west Eurasian genetic substratum can be detected. The presence of an ancient genetic substratum of European origin in West Asia may be related to the discovery of ancient mummies with European features in Xinjiang and to the existence of an extinct Indo-European language, Tocharian” 


“Most of the retrieved sequences (n = 21, 78%) belong to European (or west Eurasian) mtDNA haplogroups (HV, H, T, I, U and W haplogroups).”


“Haplogroups present in modern Kazakhs, such as B, F, C, Z, D, R, J and Y [Pastmists : almost all typically east-Asian],were not observed in the prehistoric Kazakhs [Pastmists : here, the earliest samples are from the bronze age]. By contrast, two haplogroups observed among the ancient samples, W and I, have not yet been found among modern Kazakhs. The results also indicate that there is an excess of west Eurasian haplogroups in comparison with those currently found (notably haplogroups H and U). However, this may be attributed to the overrepresentation of the earlier temporal period with only west Eurasian haplogroups. The observed absence of east Eurasian sequences prior to the eighth to seventh century BC suggests an earlier prehistoric expansion of peoples containing west Eurasian sequences into Asia, that probably went further east, into present-day China. This expansion may be related to the discovery of mummies that contain European features and west Eurasian mtDNA sequences in the Tarim basin, China, as well as the relict Indo-European Tocharian.”

South Siberia was also once populated mostly by Europoid populations, likely speaking the ancestor of the Tocharianlanguage, in what is known as the Afanasevo culture, appearing as early as 3,500 BC roughly mirroring the supposed Indo-european population movements into the north of Europe at the same time (the similar dates of these population movements, both east and west, probably explain the resemblances between Tocharian, the easternmost Indo-european language, and the westernmost Indo-european languages, found in Europe - Indo-iranian language being likely spread by a later population movement spreading the satem innovation (see below) now overwhelmingly present in Asia but not in the tocharian language). Both these migrations have their origin in the north of the black sea, in thesrednij stog and yamnaya cultures of Ukraine and south Russia, a relation hinted in archeology, even more clearly in Asia. In its easternmost known extent, the Afanasevo culture reached the west of Mongolia.
Tracks of these ancient (supposedly) Indo-european migrations can be found in archeology but also in the ancient DNA.

“Ancient DNA provides new insights into the history of south Siberian Kurgan people”(Keyser et al, 2009 – source)

“To help unravel some of the early Eurasian steppe migration movements, we determined the Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial haplotypes and haplogroups of 26 ancient human specimens from the Krasnoyarsk area dated from between the middle of the second millennium BC. to the fourth century AD. In order to go further in the search of the geographic origin and physical traits of these south Siberian specimens, we also typed phenotype-informative single nucleotide polymorphisms. Our autosomal, Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA analyses reveal that whereas few specimens seem to be related matrilineally or patrilineally, nearly all subjects belong to haplogroup R1a1-M17 which is thought to mark the eastward migration of the early Indo-Europeans. Our results also confirm that at the Bronze and Iron Ages, south Siberia was a region of overwhelmingly predominant European settlement, suggesting an eastward migration of Kurgan people across the Russo-Kazakh steppe. Finally, our data indicate that at the Bronze and Iron Age timeframe, south Siberians were blue (or green)-eyed, fair-skinned and light-haired people and that they might have played a role in the early development of the Tarim Basin civilization [i.e. in Xinjiang, northwest China]. To the best of our knowledge, no equivalent molecular analysis has been undertaken so far. “

The study also reveals that during bronze age,90% ofthe mtDNA haplogroups (female lineages) – such as U2, U4, U5a1, T1, T3, T4, H5a, H6, HV, K and I – were west Eurasian/Europoid (and 67% during iron age).

Several of these mtDNA genetic signatures have an exact match in Europe (like for instance mtDNA haplogroup I4 and T1 who are frequently found in the north and north-east of Europe (in the case of T1, the Baltic area is apparently where its frequency is the highest; this very haplotype was also found in ancient DNA from the ancient remains of Kazakhstan(Lalueza-fox et al. 2004) and Xinjiang (Gao et al. 2008)), the U5a1 haplotype is found in north-west Europe, the specific U2e haplotype was found nowadays in an east European individual and in only one Uyghur, the K2b haplotype was found in only two individuals, two Europeans (one Austrian and one Hungarian) and the precise U4 haplotypes of the study were found mostly in the north, the east, the north-east and the south-east of Europe and in the Volga-Ural area as well (but also a few in the Altai region up to the Baikal area), etc…).

Interestingly, the oldest mummies from the Tarim basin of Xinjiang (north-western China), among the 2,000 BCE Xiaohepeople, were also all R1a1a (and with a few mtDNA lineages having matches in modern Europe, as far as Iceland andGreat Britain) (source).

The Europoid haplogroups, though rather rare in Mongolia, are findable there (sources here and here). This is also illustrated by the ancient DNA.

“A western Eurasian male is found in 2000-year-old elite Xiongnu cemetery in Northeast Mongolia” (source)

“We analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome single nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNP), and autosomal short tandem repeats (STR) of three skeletons found in a 2,000-year-old Xiongnu elite cemetery in Duurlig Nars of Northeast Mongolia.“

The human remains also reveal the change in the population of the Altai :

“According to paleoanthropological data, the Caucasoid (in respect of its morphological features) population predominated in the steppes of the Altai–Sayan region during the Neolithic [Pastmists : here, apparently at least starting with the Chalcolithic time], Bronze, and partly early Iron Ages [1–3]. At that time the Mongoloid component was observed only in few cases. However, beginning from the early Iron Age, the presence of this component has been increasing, and becoming prevalent in modern times. Thus, dynamics of the anthropological composition of the Altai–Sayan populations can be characterized by definitely directed replacement of the Caucasoid component by the Mongoloid one.” (excerpt from « Origin of Caucasoid-Specific Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Ethnic Groups of the Altai–Sayan Region » (Derenko et al. 2002) | source )

The study « Moleculargenetic analysis of Wanggu remains, inner Mongolia, China » (Yuqin Fu et al. 2006) [source] also reveals a “Caucasoid” input in the ancient Wanggu tribe :

“Recently, we discovered human remains of the Wanggu tribe in the Chengbozi cemetery in the Siziwang Banner of Inner Mongolia, China. [...] Our results show that the genetic structure of the Wanggu tribe in the Jin-Yuan period is a complex matriline, containing admixture from both Asian and European populations.” 

In 2004, the study “Different Matrilineal Contributions to Genetic Structure of Ethnic Groups in the Silk Road Region in China” (Yao et al, 2004) estimated the west eurasian input among the Mongolians to 14.3 % (source in PDF format).

It’s also interesting to note that a study on the Eurasian cattle revealed that the Mongolian cattle is partially derived from the European cattle (source : “Genetic diversity and structure in Bos Taurus and bos Indicus populations analyzed by SNP markers”), which reminds of similar conclusions found about the Japanese cattle (see the Xinjiang article for more details). In this context it is also interesting to mention that the Turkic öküz (meaning ox in English (same ancestral root), a word also akin to Sanskrit ukṣán) resembles Tocharian B okso.

As for the main Indo-european group of the Indo-european language family in Asia, the Indo-iranians, their ancestors supposedly migrated from the north of the black sea probably becoming the proto-indo-iranians in the region going fromRussia up to the north west of Kazakhstan roughly between 2,500 BC to 2,000 BC (explaining the presence of very early Indo-iranian loanwords in Finno-ugric languages (such as Finnish) and east Caucasian languages), spreading progressively up to south Siberia and south of central Asia leaving their tracks in an archaeological horizon named theAndronovo culture, supposedly giving ultimately birth to the Scythian/Saka population.

“The DNA analyses revealed that one subject was an ancient male skeleton with maternal U2e1 [pastmists: U2e is the European subgroup of U2, an ancient Eurasian mtDNA haplogroup. A 30,000 years old man found at Kostenki, south Russia, was found to be U2] and paternal R1a1 haplogroups. This is the first genetic evidence that a male of distinctive Indo-European lineages (R1a1) was present in the Xiongnu of Mongolia“

The fact that the male lineage, the haplogroup Y-DNA R1a1a, was associated almost exclusively with such west Eurasian mtDNA haplogroups in the female lineages, in the oldest analyzed period, clearly points to a migration from eastern Europe, especially considering archeology which support this view, as the Afanasevo culture had several similarities with the Yamna culture of the north of the black sea. It is also mentionned that at least 60% of the tested ancient individuals had light hair and blue or green eyes.

It must be noted that the oldest written tracks of Indo-iranian language are not found in south Asia but in northern Syria, in a kingdom named Mitanni, in inscriptions dated around 1,400 BC.
The Mitanni inscriptions are in Hurrian, a non-indo-european language (whose ultimate origin is thought to be eitherCaucasus or Armenia), but indo-iranian terms linked to horses and chariots (and Indo-Aryan divinities as well) are found in these texts.
Given the fact that the oldest found tracks of chariot and horse-riding are found near the south of the Urals (examples :Sintashta site (also here) | Saratov site) and in the north of central Asia, it can be surmised that their use was spread by Indo-iranians in Anatolia, west Asia and south Asia. Such a location for the origin of Indo-iranian (i.e. roughly from Russia to the south of the Ural mountains. For instance, the Abashevo culture in Russia, is seen as a possible source for the proto-indo-iranian language or the satem features and indeed the Abashevo culture was influential in the Sintashta site where are seen the oldest known expression of indo-iranian-like rituals, according to many specialists) is supported by the fact that, as previously stated, many words from the Indo-iranian language family – sometimes from the proto-indo-iranian or at least at a very early stage of Indo-iranian – can be found in Finno-ugric languages (languages such asFinnish, Estonian or Saami) and languages from the eastern Caucasus (the fact that these loanwords have been entering these Finno-ugric languages at diverse stages of evolution of the Indo-iranian language confirm that the Finno-ugric populations have been in close contact with Indo-iranian-speaking populations for many centuries, and the fact that some of these loanwords seem to pertain to the proto-Indo-iranian stage supports the idea that these loanwords aren’t just a legacy of the Scythian and Sarmatian populations. It does support the theory of a homeland of the original Indo-iranians actually in the Russia-northwest Kazakhstan region). [a few examples of Indo-iranian roots in Finno-ugric languages]

“In 1370 BC a treaty between the king of Mitanni, Mattiwaza (old reading Kurtiwaza), and the Hittite king, Suppiluliumas, was concluded and there is an oath guaranteed by a series of gods including such Indo-aryan divinities as Indra, Mithra, Varuna and Nasatya. In the 14th century BC in the hittite city of Bogazkoy a trainer from the land of the Mitanni named Kikkuli composed a treatise on horse training where he employed numerous Indo-Aryan terms (Thieme 1960; Mayhofer 1966; 1974; Kemmenhuber 1968). The first time the Indo-aryans appeared in the Near East dates, however, from the 17th century BC when the Hurrians (non-Indo-European) came from north-east Anatolia and founded the Mitanni kingdom. It was dominated by Indo-Aryans who had brought chariots, blood-horses, and the skills of horse-training. The names of Mitanni kings known from documents of the Tel-Amarna [Tell el-amarna] archive in Egypt and from the cuneiform texts and seals of the Near East are Indo-Aryan. The Indo-Aryans formed elite charioteer squadrons (Yankoska 1979; 1981; 1987). Judging by the descriptions of their dress and weapons, which included a hood, a bow, and a quiver with shaft-hole arrows (Zaccani 1978), the Aryans had come to Mitanni from the steppes. None of those features were known in the near East but had analogues only in the steppes. This is an elite dominance migration pattern: The dominance is secured by the introduction of new chariot battle tactics. The dominant group was presumably small and soon assimilated.” 

Seemingly confirming this theory, many of the words meaning “horse” throughout west Asia during antiquity seem derived from the satem form of the Indo-european root designating the horse (*ekwos), pointing again towards the Indo-iranians (speaking a satem Indo-european language in which horse was said “asva“) as the spreaders of mounted horses and chariotry in this region during bronze age (examples : Ugaritic “ssw“, Hurrian “essi“, Akkadian “sissu” and many others. Among them, quite revealing is the Hittite word “azu(wa)” which is extremely close to the Indo-iranian word and could have easily been a loanword from this language. The rise of the Hittites (an Indo-european Anatolian people (i.e. from modern day Turkey) whose language isn’t considered a satem language but that had a few satem words in its vocabulary), that was posterior to the rise of the Mitanni, owed much to an efficient use of chariotry.

The specialists generally consider satem a later innovation well after the proto-indo-european language which wascentum. This conforts the idea that the horse was introduced and domesticated late in west Asia and the Near East, apparently disproving the theory that the Indo-european languages appeared in either Asia minor or the Middle-East, as the stem for “horse” was omnipresent in basically all the Indo-european languages and, as such, obviously already part of the proto-indo-european language from which almost all the known Indo-european languages are derived (with maybe the exception of the Anatolian languages that could be derived from an earlier stage) while the horse was basically absent until the last part of bronze age in most of west Asia (regions such as the middle or near-East and most of Asia minor).

In south Asia, the Gandhara graves culture of Swat Valley in northern Pakistan seems to represent the advance of these Indo-iranians in south Asia, also importing the horse in these lands.

A comparison between the burial rites of the bronze age Andronovo culture (central Asia and south Siberia) and the bronze age Swat culture (north Pakistan). In the latter case, the Swat culture, also known as the Gandhara grave culture, it is a change in the local tradition. (picture from "The origins of the Indo-iranians" by Elena E. Kuz'mina)

Some phenotypes of current south Asia seem to keep the track of this ancient migration from Central Asia occuring during bronze age (more of such pictures to be found on this bloghere and here) :

Origin of the populations having contributed to the Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan modern populations
“In fact, it’s in the more eastern variants of the Andronovo civilization – notably in the Bishkent culture, in the south of Tajikistan – that a probable expression of indo-iranian rituals is visible in the archeological clues. In the Tulkhar cemetery, the sepultures of the males have a little rectangular hearths that quite remind of the altar-hearth (ahavaniya) of the first indo-aryan priests while the tombs of the females have got little circular hearths that evoke the garha-patya (always associated with women) in the indo-aryan home. 

Even if a few points are still quite controversial, the fundamentally indo-iranian identity of the bronze age steppic cultures is seen as almost certain.” 

From “In search of the Indo-europeans. Language, archeology and myth”, J. P. Mallory
Source from