Thursday, December 23, 2010

Discovery of 30,000 year human imprint in Siberia, the land identified as Uttarkuru.


None would have been thrilled or excited like me on reading the latest discovery of existence of man in Siberia about 30,000 years ago, having the genome connection with the people down the south of the globe, in the north east of Australia. As one working on the history or the past of the Tamils in the wider context of Bharat, in a multi- disciplinary approach, I have strong indications from the Ithihasas and Tamil texts that the present day Siberia along with the Lake Baikal was the home of a people some 30,000 years ago.  That part of the Globe was called as Uttar Kuru. That was occupied by the people who went through south and then North India about 30,000 years ago. This route is given by Stephen Oppenheimer, in his genetic study of human migration.

Another interesting but, difficult to believe proposition that I would like to make is that this Uttar Kuru was what was known as Deva loka, housing the city of Amaravathy of the Devas! Like the saying that all roads lead to Rome, I would say that all indicators show that the supposedly highly evolved beings called Devas about whom Hindu scriptures speak a lot were residing in Uttar Kuru. I will be writing the evidences of it in my Tamil blog "Thamizhan Dravidanaa?" in the course of the next few articles.

To give in a nutshell what is all this that I am talking about, human migration of the current times started about a lakh year ago from East Africa. The India sub continent was close to Africa and Australia at that time. If you look at the under water features of Indian ocean you will see that the Aravalli mountains stretch upto Madagascar. The visible parts of that range are now known as Lakshadweep. On the east there is a mountain range stretching upto the east of Australia. The visible regions of this range are Andaman & Nicobar. From the researches of rise of ocean level in the Indian Ocean, it is learnt that an area of the size of India was lost into the seas near Australia about 40,000 years ago. More land also had gone under water due to rise of the ocean level between 17,000 years and 7,000 years ago.

So when the first wave of migration started from east Africa about a lakh year ago, the extended India in the South was close enough to easily migrate to. The Kumari land told in Sangam literature adds credence to this theory.

According to Oppenheimer, the people further spanned out to the east Asian countries through Lanka about 80,000 years ago. This is possible only if we presume that the area between Indonesia and Africa was dotted with lands. This must have been the Kumari lands.

But by 60,000 years ago, the explosion in Mt Toba in Indonesia disrupted the people. Here many researches make confusing conclusions. But the genomic theory of ASI and ANI is consistent in that the people had stayed south of the Vindhyas for long enough. Remember this land included the extended India south of present day Kanyakumari. It was then the people in this southern part had moved to Australia too.

By 40,000 years ago, the people had started moving to North India according to Oppenheimer. From there one group moved out of India to the Northern latitudes in Russia about 30,000 years ago. It is here I find the concurrence from the recent DNA research article published in Nature magazine (reports given below).

According to Oppenheimer, there is further movement to the American continent along the sea shore. Nowhere the people had crossed the seas. They had gone along the land routes only.

Now coming to the subject of this blog, Siberia has been identified as Uttar Kuru. The inhabitants had not allowed others into that territory according to Ithihsas. Names like Pururavas and Urvashi were associated with Uttar Kuru. Urvashi was also identified as the dancer in Indra's court. Arjuna was born of Indra. The three sons of Kunti were born of devas only who belonged to Uttar Kuru. The women of Uttar Kuru enjoyed complete freedom in moving any men. Later when Yudhshtira justified the Pandavas marriage to Draupadi, he cited the practice in Uttar Kuru. The Pandavas themselves sprang from Kuru lineage. The term Uttar Kuru justifies a counter place / lienage as Dakshin Kuru. The Uttar and Dakshin segregation seems to be with reference to the Himalayan barrier.

Another reference to Uttar Kuru says that Siddhas and rishis lived there. We find this reference in detail in Shugreeva's narration of the regions of the North when he directed the Vanara army to search in the North of the Himalayas. So the once Deva kingdom was actually an abode of seers and siddhas.

When the Ice age came to an end, Uttar Kuru must have experienced floods.  As a result the people could have moved towards the south to escape the floods. Those who came back settled in the Saraswathy region and established Kurukshethra. They were the givers of Rig Vedas!

The name of Lopa mudra belonging to Uttar Kuru but identified as a composer of Rig Vedic hymn on pangs of love goes well with the description of women of Uttar Kuru. Agasthya married her. When Agasthya moved to Tamilnadu, along with a contingent of people displaced by Dwaraka floods, he took Lopamudra also. Tholkaappiyar (Thrunadumaagni) accompanied Lopamudra. But Agasthyar grew suspicious of a relationship between the two and as a result parted ways with Tholkaappiyar, his prime student. This is a story told in Tamil by the commentator of Tholkaapiyam (Nacchinaarkkiniyar) and repeated by others too.

Agasthyar's suspicion might have been founded by the kind of free life that women of Uttar Kuru used to have. Such a freedom is known from the accounts on Sathyakaama Jabali and Shwethaketu also. There are accounts of these sages in Chandogya Upanishad. The other names of the sages of that Upanishad is associated with Ramayana times – which is anytime between 7000 to 9000 years ago. (Refer my posts on Rama's times). So at the time of Rama, females have had the freedom to court with any men they liked. In such an environment, it is no wonder that Sita's fidelity came under cloud among the masses. Sita lived at a time when women were free to live with any man.

The people of Uttar Kuru lived separately by not allowing any one to mix with them. But when they came back to North India and settled in the Saraswathy regions, the existing law system in North India would have got a bit shaken. In Chadogya Upanishad we come across the names of regions from Saraswathy to Kekaya (Kazaksthan). The shuttling of people between North India and Uttar Kuru must have been there and that could have had an impact on the people of North India. That is also perhaps why Manu smrithi put severe curbs on women.

Now coming back to the issue, Pururavas connection to Uttar Kuru is not in doubt if we sift through Mahabharatha. The people who had gone from North India to Siberia about 30,000 years ago, were  once living in the South nearer to Australia – after they moved from east Africa. That perhaps explains the genetic connection between the presently discovered sample in Siberia and the people to the NE of Australia.

Those who had gone to Siberia had not mixed with others on Eurasia, says the study. Possible, if we go by the account on the people of Uttar Kuru.

The present European people had as mix of others who left India and those who moved from North Africa / Mediterranean. Mahabharatha throws lots of hints on those people who lived on the north west of Indian Subcontinenet.

 - jayasree




DNA says new human relative roamed widely in Asia

By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer Malcolm Ritter, Ap Science Writer – Wed Dec 22, 3:22 pm ET
NEW YORK – Scientists have recovered the DNA code of a human relative recently discovered in Siberia, and it delivered a surprise: This relative roamed far from the cave that holds its only known remains.

By comparing the DNA to that of modern populations, scientists found evidence that these "Denisovans" from more than 30,000 years ago ranged all across Asia. They apparently interbred with the ancestors of people now living in Melanesia, a group of islands northeast of Australia.

There's no sign that Denisovans mingled with the ancestors of people now living in Eurasia, which made the connection between Siberia and distant Melanesia quite a shock.

It's the second report in recent months of using a new tool, genomes of ancient human relatives, to illuminate the evolutionary history of humankind. In May, some of the same scientists reported using the Neanderthal genome to show that Neanderthals interbred with ancestors of today's non-African populations. That might have happened in the Middle East after the ancestors left Africa but before they entered Eurasia, researchers said.

As for the Denisovans, the new work is probably just the start of what can be learned from their genome, said one expert familiar with the research. Eventually, it should provide clues to traits like eye and skin color, said Todd Disotell of New York University.

"We're going to be able to piece these people together in the next few years from this genome," he said.

The existence of a new human relative was first revealed just nine months ago from a sampling of DNA recovered from a finger bone discovered in the Denisova Cave in southern Siberia. Researchers proposed the informal name Denisovans for them in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, where they report the new results.

There's not enough evidence to determine whether Denisovans are a distinct species, the researchers said.

The genome, recovered from the finger bone, showed that Denisovans are more closely related to Neanderthals than to modern humans. That indicates that both they and Neanderthals sprang from a common ancestor on a different branch of the evolutionary family tree than the one leading to modern humans.

Scientists have no idea what Denisovans looked like, said David Reich, a Harvard University researcher and an author of the new paper.

Apart from the genome, the researchers reported finding a Denisovan upper molar in the cave. Its large size and features differ from teeth of Neanderthals or early modern humans, both of which lived in the same area at about the same time as the Denisovans.

Neither the finger bone nor the tooth can be dated directly, but tests of animal bones found nearby show the Denisovan remains are at least 30,000 years old, and maybe more than 50,000 years old, Reich said.

Scientists found evidence that in the genomes of people now living in Melanesia, about 5 percent of their DNA can be traced to Denisovans, a sign of ancient interbreeding that took researchers by surprise.

"We thought it was a mistake when we first saw it," Reich said. "But it's real."

And that suggests Denisovans once ranged widely across Asia, he said. Somehow, they or their ancestors had to encounter anatomically modern humans who started leaving Africa some 55,000 years ago and reached New Guinea by some 45,000 years ago.

It seems implausible that this journey took a detour through southern Siberia without leaving a genetic legacy in other Eurasian populations, Reich said. It makes more sense that this encounter happened much farther south, indicating Denisovans ranged throughout Asia, over thousands of miles and different climate zones, he said.

Yet, archaeologists have reported virtually no sign of the Denisovans, no tools or other indications of how they lived. Maybe that's because sites in Asia haven't been studied as systematically as Neanderthal sites in Europe, he said.

Disotell said he and colleagues were "blown away" by the unexpected Melanesia finding, with its implication for where Denisovans lived.

"Clearly they had to have been very widespread in Asia," and DNA sampling of isolated Asian populations might turn up more of their genetic legacy, he said.

Rick Potts, director of the human origins program at the Smithsonian Institution, said the new work greatly strengthens the case that Denisovans differed from Neanderthals and modern humans.

Still, they may not be a new species, because they might represent a creature already known from fossils but which didn't leave any DNA to compare, such as a late-surviving Homo heidelbergensis, he said.

Potts also said the Melanesia finding could mean that the Melanesians and the Denisovans didn't intermix, but simply happened to retain ancestral DNA sequences that had been lost in other populations sampled in the study. But he stressed he doesn't know if that's a better explanation than the one offered by the authors.
"I am excited about this paper (because) it just throws so much out there for contemplation that is testable," Potts said. "And that's good science."



Fossil genome reveals ancestral link

A distant cousin raises questions about human origins.
The ice-age world is starting to look cosmopolitan. While Neanderthals held sway in Europe and modern humans were beginning to populate the globe, another ancient human relative lived in Asia, according to a genome sequence recovered from a finger bone in a cave in southern Siberia. A comparative analysis of the genome with those of modern humans suggests that a trace of this poorly understood strand of hominin lineage survives today, but only in the genes of some Papuans and Pacific islanders.

A finger bone and a tooth (inset) from Denisova Cave have illuminated a mysterious strand of hominin.B. VIOLA, MPI EVA
Named after the cave that yielded the 30,000–50,000-year-old bone, the Denisova nuclear genome follows publication of the same individual's mitochondrial genome in March1. From that sequence, Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues could tell little, except that the individual, now known to be female, was part of a population long diverged from humans and Neanderthals.

Her approximately 3-billion-letter nuclear genome, reported in this issue of Nature2, now provides a more telling glimpse into this mysterious group. It also raises previously unimagined questions about its history and relationship to Neanderthals and humans. "The whole story is incredible. It's like a surprising Christmas present," says Carles Lalueza Fox, a palaeogeneticist at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain, who was not involved in the research.

When the ancient genome was compared to a spectrum of modern human populations, a striking relationship emerged. Unlike most groups, Melanesians — inhabitants of Papua New Guinea and islands northeast of Australia — seem to have inherited as much as one-twentieth of their DNA from Denisovan roots. This suggests that after the ancestors of today's Papuans split from other human populations and migrated east, they interbred with Denisovans, but precisely when, where and to what extent is unclear.

More answers could come from a closer look at Denisovan, human and even Neanderthal DNA. So far, conclusions about interbreeding have been drawn from a relatively small number of human genomes using conservative DNA-analysis methods, says David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who led the Denisova analysis. "There may have been many more interactions," he says. Pääbo says it may be possible to determine roughly when humans interbred with Denisovans by examining the length of DNA segments lurking in various human genomes, with shorter segments corresponding to more shuffling of genes and a longer elapsed time.

A molar discovered in the same cave also yielded mitochondrial DNA resembling that of the finger bone. But the Denisovans were probably more widespread, says Pääbo. Some fossils from China, for example, resemble neither Neanderthals nor modern humans — nor Homo erectus, an earlier human ancestor. Pääbo wonders whether they could be more closely related to Denisovans. His Russian collaborators plan to search for more complete Denisovan fossils that could be matched to others from China.

Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at London's Natural History Museum, agrees that Asian fossils, such as the 200,000-year-old Dali skull from central China, could have links to the Denisovans. But he says that firm conclusions about such relationships will have to await the discovery of more complete Denisovan fossils.

Preserved DNA from other Asian fossils would also provide a clearer picture of the Denisovans, which Pääbo, to sidestep controversy, has opted not to call a new species or subspecies of hominin. The challenge will be to make sense of such discoveries and put them in the context of ancient human history, says Lalueza Fox. Palaeoanthropologists are just beginning to scrutinize the Neanderthal genome published earlier this year3 for clues to ancient human history. With the Denisova genome, "they will need to deal with another surprise", he says. 


Anonymous said...

Excellent article Madam. It was really great, too much stuff for my little brain however. But I disagree on one point:-

//Ruma living with Vali and Tara living with Shugreeva also testify this.//

I think Ruma never 'lived with Vaali willingly' but Vaali abducted her and held her as a hostage forcibly. Similarly, I disagree firmly with the second statement. Devi Tara is said to be a Pathivrata. She is one of the Pancha-pathivrathas. How can she 'live willingly' with Sugriva?

Are there any references to this in Valmiki Ramayana or any other versions?

jayasree said...

//Are there any references to this in Valmiki Ramayana or any other versions?//

Guru, you are an expert in these things. Please give me the answers for your questions :)

jayasree said...

Mr Balaji writes:-

Last week after reading one of your articles in which you said "Ruma lived with Vaali, and Tara with Sugriva", I wrote a comment saying that I cannot accept this. After going through a little bit of the Valmiki Ramayana translated by M.N.Dutt, I came to know that I was right that Ruma did not live willingly with Vaali, but he abducted her against her wishes. I am quoting a few from Kishkinda Kandam which I came across:-
Sections VIII (Sugriva explaining to Rama) , XVIII (Rama reminding Vaali of his mistake after shooting him), XX (Tara telling Vaali). There were many more, but since it is a pdf, I couldn't copy them as they were.

However, even after so many references I couldn't find any quotes for Tara living with Sugriva. What I have heard is Ruma becoming the queen of Sugriva, however Tara is the one who keeps advising Sugriva (Vaali himself instructs Sugriva not to reject Tara's advises). I am sure Tara who is praised to be a Pativrata would have never lived with any other man other than Vaali, as she asks Rama to kill her with the same arrow which he shot Vaali). Nor would have Rama supported such a thing.

jayasree said...

Dear Mr Balaji,

You are right. I checked the online translation and found that Ruma was stolen and sympathizers of Shugreeva were imprisoned by Vaali. I checked other sargas too and found that nowhere it is told that Ruma lived with Vaali or Tara lived with Shugreeva. But at a couple of slokas in the chapter where Lakshmana stormed into Shugreeva's palace to question him on his indolence, he refers to Shugreeva as Bhartha of Tara. He could have actually meant தலைவன், பிரபு, காவலன், ஆள்பவன் etc used to denote the King.

However the translations in Tamil which I have with me (some are 80 years old) based on commentators like Govindaraja talk about the 'living in' of Ruma and Tara. My exposure to Ramayana was through these Tamil books only. Only nowadays we have exact version in Sanskrit with meaning on the net. I share your view that it is wrong to say that they lived like that. The Sanskrit verses do not say so.

Commentaries on why Rama killed Vaali given by these old commentators are not acceptable to me and that is why I wrote what I derived myself from the Epic in my blog.

jayasree said...

Mr Balaji writes:-


//But at a couple of slokas in the chapter where Lakshmana stormed into Shugreeva's palace to question him on his indolence, he refers to Shugreeva as Bhartha of Tara. He could have actually meant தலைவன், பிரபு, காவலன், ஆள்பவன் etc used to denote the King.//

Yes, you are right. Maybe, he referred Sugriva something like a caretaker of Tara. This is exactly what Vaali says to Sugriva, not to treat Tara and Angada badly due to his disputes with Vaali, before he dies (As shown in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan).

jayasree said...

The line on Ruma and Tara has been deleted. Thanks Mr Balaji for bringing the mistake to my notice.

Many are under the impression that Ruma and Tara had relationship with their brother -in-laws. I hope those who read this comment would correct such a perception. The exact Sanskrit version with meaning of the relevant slokas in Kishkindha Khandam is available in