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Evidence that a West-East admixed population lived in the Tarim Basin as early as the early Bronze Age

  • Chunxiang Li1, 2,
  • Hongjie Li2,
  • Yinqiu Cui1, 2,
  • Chengzhi Xie2,
  • Dawei Cai1,
  • Wenying Li3,
  • Victor H Mair4,
  • Zhi Xu5,
  • Quanchao Zhang1,
  • Idelisi Abuduresule3,
  • Li Jin4,
  • Hong Zhu1 and
  • Hui Zhou1, 2Email author
BMC Biology20108:15

Received: 21 September 2009

Accepted: 17 February 2010

Published: 17 February 2010

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Archived Comments

  1.  The Loulan Mummy was of Dravidian Origin

    18 July 2014

    Clyde Winters, Uthman dan Fodio Institute

    Controversy surrounds the Loulan mummy. Meir has attempted to protray the Tarim Basin as an ancestral home for Caucasians because of the discovery of mummies resembling Europeans in the Tarim Basin with European pigmentation and physical features.


    As a result, researchers have claimed that the Loulan mummy was also caucasian. This hypothesis is false. The Loulan munny is around 1000 years older than the caucasian mummies, and the DNA, is related to Dravido-Africans.


    The Loulan mummy is clearly phenotypically a Black or Negro person given the pigmentation of the mummy. Dravido-Africans had early settled Central and East Asia. The Loulan mummy was probably a Dravidian speaker.


    The Loulan mummy was found at Xiaole. The DNA of the DNA of the Xiaole people  was mtDNA C4 and y-Chromosome haplogroups R1a1a, H and K (Li et al, 2010).


     The  Xiaole people mtDNA include many of the Pan-African haplotypes . The HVR1 motif was 16189-16192-163111. Xioale mtDNA hyplotypes include S1(16223) and S2 (16304).  Li et al (2010) claim the mtDNA was C4, R* and M*..


    The y-Chromosome SNPs were M89,M9,M45,M173 and M198. The y-Chromosomes of the Xiaole people were haplogroups R1a1a, H, and K. These y-chromosome  haplogroups are common to the Dravidian and Siddi people in India (Winters,2010).


    The Dravidian and Siddi people came from Africa (Winters, 2007a, 2008a,2008b,2010). The Dravidians belonged to the C-group people (Winters, 2007, 2008b). They migrated to Iran and India after 2600BC. The Dravidians carry African haplogroups M1 and  y-chromosomes (Winters, 2008b,2010).




    The Dravidians were called Yueh and Qing in the Chinese literature. Yueh people founded the Dongson culture of Southeast Asia. In Southeast Asia the Dravidians were called Yakshas or Kamboja (Winters,1986). In China the Yueh people founded the Shang Dynasty.


    In conclusion the Loulan mummy was probably of Dravidian origin. The Dravidian origin of the Loulan mummy is supported by the Xiaole DNA that corresponds to Dravidian and African DNA>







    Li C1, Li H, Cui Y, Xie C, Cai D, Li W, Mair VH, Xu Z, Zhang Q, Abuduresule I, Jin L, Zhu H, Zhou H.(2010).Evidence that a West-East admixed population lived in the Tarim Basin as early as the early Bronze Age. BMC Biol. 2010 Feb 17;8:15. doi: 10.1186/1741-7007-8-15.


    Winters,C. A.(1986).  "Dravidian Settlements in ancient Polynesia", India Past and Present 3, no2: 225-  241.



    Winters,C. 2007. Did the Dravidian Speakers Originate in Africa? BioEssays, 27(5): 497-498.

     ____________2008a. Can parallel mutation and neutral genome selection explain Eastern African M1 consensus HVS-1 motifs in Indian M Haplogroups. Int J Hum Genet, 13(3): 93-96.

    _______________2008b. ARE DRAVIDIANS OF AFRICAN ORIGIN.

    ____________2010.  Y-Chromosome evidence of an African origin of Dravidian agriculture. International Journal of Genetics and Molecular Biology, 2(3): 030 – 033.




    Competing interests

  2. The origin of Xiaohe Bronze Age mummy

    18 July 2014

    Hui Zhou, Jilin University

    Archaeological and anthropological investigations have helped to formulate two main theories to account for the origin of the populations in the Tarim Basin. The first, so-called “steppe hypothesis”, maintains that the earliest settlers may have been nomadic herders of the Afanasievo culture (ca. 3300-2000 B.C.), a primarily pastoralist culture distributed in the Eastern Kazakhstan, Altai, and Minusinsk regions of the steppe north of the Tarim Basin. The second model, known as the “Bactrian oasis hypothesis”, it maintains that the first settlers were farmers of the Oxus civilization (ca. 2200-1500 B.C.) west of Xinjiang in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. These contrasting models can be tested using DNA recovered from archaeological bones. Xiaohe cemetery contains the oldest and best-preserved mummies so far discovered in the Tarim Basin, possible those of the earliest people to settle the region. Genetic analysis of these mummies can provide data to elucidate the affinities of the earliest inhabitants.

    Our results show that Xiaohe settlers carried HgR1a1in paternal lineages, and Hgs H, K, C4, M*in maternal lineages. Though Hg R1a1a is found at highest frequency in both Europe and South Asia, Xiaohe R1a1a more likely originate from Europe because of it not belong to R1a1a-Z93 branch(our recently unpublished data) which mainly found in Asians. mtDNA Hgs H, K, C4 primarily distributed in northern Eurasians. Though H, K, C4 also presence in modern south Asian, they immigrated into South Asian recently from nearby populations, such as Near East , East Asia and Central Asia, and the frequency is obviously lower than that of northern Eurasian. Furthermore, all of the shared sequences of the Xiaohe haplotypes H and C4 were distributed in northern Eurasians. Haplotype 223-304 in Xiaohe people was shared by Indian. However, these sequences were attributed to HgM25 in India, and in our study it was not HgM25 by scanning the mtDNA code region. Therefore, our DNA results didn't supported Clyde Winters’s opinion but supported the “steppe hypothesis”. Moreover, the culture of Xiaohe is similar with the Afanasievo culture. Afanasievo culture was mainly distributed in the Eastern Kazakhstan, Altai, and Minusinsk regions, and didn’t spread into India. This further maintains the “steppe hypothesis”.  

    In addition, our data was misunderstand by Clyde Winters. Firstly, the human remains of the Xiaohe site have no relation with the Loulan mummy. The Xiaohe site and Loulan site are two different archaeological sites with 175km distances. Xiaohe site, radiocarbon dated ranging from 4000 to 3500 years before present, was a Bronze Age site, and Loulan site, dated to about 2000 years before present. Secondly, Hgs H and K are the mtDNA haplogroups not the Y chromosome haplogroups in our study. Thirdly, the origin of Xiaohe people in here means tracing the most recently common ancestor, and Africans were remote ancestor of modern people.




    Competing interests

    I certify that there is no competing interest in this paper 

  3.  Dravidian Origin of Xiaohe  R1a-Z93 

    8 August 2014

    Clyde Winters, Uthman dan Fodio Institute


     Hui Zhou suggest that the origin of the Xiaohe    mummies are of Indo-European origin. In the main article the authors claim that Xiaohe “is different from any other archaeological site of the same period anywhere in the world”. Yet now Hui says the Xiaohe was similar to the Afanaseivo culture.

         There is no archaeological or genetic evidence linking the Xiaohe and Afanaseivo cultures. The Afanaseivo culture is characterized by chariots, pottery, timber chamber and rectangular stone  enclosure burials, inhumation and creamation. The Afanasievo culture never reached the Tarim Basin.

         The Xiaohe and Afanaseivo cultures are incongruent. The Xiaohe culture lacked pottery, but include huge phallus posts, coffins and mummies.

         Hui acknolwedges that although Dravidians carry R1a, mtDNA H,K,C4 and M, he claims that these lineages are of western European origin, but there is no evidence of Indo-Europeans in Tarim Basin before 500BC. Although there is no evidence of western Eurasians in Central Asia, there is abundant evidence of Dravidian speakers in the region [8-10]. The Dravidian speakers left placenames throughout Central Asia, and is the substratum language in Tocharian, Mongolian and Chinese [8-10]. Dravidians also founded the Anyang-Shang Dynasty of China [8].

         The Dravidians founded the Indus Valley civilization  (IVC) [10,13-15]. The IVC sites, like Xiaohe were built along rivers. IVC  sites extended from the Indus Valley to Shortughai (c.2500-1800 BC) on the Oxus river and other parts of Bactria, before the rise of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC). The BMAC was probably of Elamite inspiration.  BMAC sites of Altyn Depe and Shahr-i-Sakhta we find terracotta statuettes with Proto-Elamite and linear Sumerian writing, hybrid Indus-BMAC pieces; and identical lithic drill heads from Shahr-i-Sakhta and the IVC site of Chanhu-Daro.

         The Dravidian speakers originated in Africa, in modern day Sudan [11-12]. They expanded into Iran, on into the Indus Valley, across Central Asia into the Tarim Basin and China [8-10]. The spread of the Dravidians into Eurasia is not only suggested by archaeological and epigraphic evidence , there are Islands of Dravidian speakers in Afghanistan, Iran, Yugoslavia, Russia and Pakistan; 300,000 Brahui speaking Dravidians live in Qualat, Hairpur and Hyderabad [10].

          Most of the placenames in the IVC  are of Dravidian origin. R. Balakrsihnan, points out that the names associated with Indus Valley sites are related to the Dravidian term for fortified town [15]. Dravidian placenames, Dravidian speaking population, red-and-black pottery all point to a Dravidian origin for the Harappan civilization [14].

         The name of the  Tocharian speakers of Central Asia was: Kushana. The Kushana were Dravidian speakers  forced out of China by the ancient Hua and Han tribes of China [10].

         The Tocharians/Kushana came from Xinjiang. They were not IE speakers. In the Chinese literature they were called Kuishuang (<Kushana)  and Yueh chih. The Kushana are related to the Qijia culture of Xiajiang, not Afanasievo culture of the Steppes. The Qijia culture existed from the upper Weishui Valley in the east, the Huangshui Valley of Qijia in the West, Ningxia and the westernmost inner Mongolia in the north. Qijia pottery signs are analogous to those found in the Harappan writing and on IVC pottery[10].

         R1a  probably originated in Africa and was spread across Central Asia by Dravidian speakers. Other researchers believe R1a orginated in India [3,5-6].

         Hui Zhou claims that R1a-Z93 is probably of western origin, but, this is highly unlikely. Underhill et al makes it clear that R1a individuals are separated into European  (Z282) and Asian (Z93 and M746) R1a branches. No R1a-Z282 clade is found in Asia [7].

        Although R1a is not associated with a particular culture, it is a dominant  y-haplogroup in India [3,5-6]. The downstream subclades of Z93 or R1a1a1h are 294, L342.2 and L657 [7].

         R1a-Z93 has high frequencies in areas formerly settled by Dravidian speakers, or where Dravidian speakers continue to inhabit. Carriers of Z93 in addition to Dravidian speakers, are the Ashkenazi Jews, Mongols, Hungarian Roma, Uzbez and Malaysian Tamil speakers [3]. Researchers claim that the discovery of R1a-Z93 among the Roma, is further support of the Indian origin of this population [3].

         Underhill et al has numerous maps documenting the location of R1a1a1h (Z93) [7]. The Z93 y-chromosome is spread from Egypt-Sudan, all the way to Siberia in western Europe, South Asia and Malaysians in Southeast Asia [3,7]. The location of Z93 match the Dravidian spread from Africa to Eurasia [10-12].

        In summary, there is no genetic or archaeological evidence for Indo-Europeans in the Tarim Basin before 500BC. On the other hand, we do have archaeological, toponymic and historical evidence of Dravidians entering Central Asia on their way to China,and later being forced back into Central Asia from Xinjiang, where they founded the Kushana/Tocharian civilization.

        The geographical location of R1a-Z93 corresponds to the ancient and modern centers of Dravidian habitation [8-10]. The IVC sites in Central Asia suggest that the Dravidians deposited Z93 as they spread into Russia and China. The archaeological ,genomic (mtDNA H,K and etc., that are common to Dravidian speakers) and demographic evidence  makes it clear that the Xiaohe mummies carry R1a, the clade was Z93, because there is no evidence of western Europeans in Central Asia until after 500 BC, thousands of years after the Dravidian speakers had settled the area.


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    Competing interests


Authors’ Affiliations

Ancient DNA Laboratory, Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology, Jilin University, Changchun, PR China
College of Life Science, Jilin University, Changchun, PR China
Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute, Ürümchi, PR China
Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering and Center for Anthropological Studies, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, PR China