Early Indians

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Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From
Early indians tony.jpg
Cover of 1st edition
AuthorTony Joseph
SubjectHuman population genetics
GenrePopular science
PublisherJuggernaut Books
Publication date
20 December 2018
Media typePrint (hardcover)

Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From is a 2018 non-fiction book written by Indian journalist Tony Joseph,[1][2][3] that focuses on the ancestors of people living today in South Asia.[4][5] Joseph goes 65,000 years into the past – when anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens), first made their way from Africa into the Indian subcontinent.[6][7][8] The book relies on research findings from six major disciplines - history, archaeology, linguistics, population genetics, philology and epigraphy, and includes path-breaking ancient DNA research of recent years.[9][10] The book also relies on the extensive study titled "The Genomic Formation of Central and South Asia", co-authored by 92 scientists from around the world and co-directed by geneticist David Reich of Harvard Medical School, in which ancient DNA was used.[11][12][13] The book was later released in different languages like Tamil, Hindi, Oriya, Telugu, Marathi, Malayalam, Gujarati etc.[14][15][16]


The book discusses four prehistoric migrations in India.[17][18] The book posits that the Harappans were a mixture of Zagros agriculturists (from the modern-day Iran area) and First Indians,[19] a wave of migrants who came from Africa into Arabia and then reached India around 65,000 years ago.[20][21] Citing recent DNA evidence, the book traces the subsequent large migrations of anatomically modern humans into India—of agriculturalists from Iran between 7000 and 3000 BCE and Indo-European languages speaking pastoralists from the Central Asian Steppe (Aryans) between 2000 and 1000 BCE, among others.[22][23] Joseph uses the layers of a pizza as a metaphor to explain the make-up of subcontinental society.[24]

The book also discusses about similarities and differences between Indus Valley civilization and early Vedic civilization.[25][26] The book mentions that "Aryan" culture was most likely the result of interaction, adoption and adaptation among those who brought Indo-European languages to India and those who were already well-settled inhabitants of the region, and that Sanskrit and the Vedas developed in the Indian subcontinent.[27] According to Joseph, Proto-Dravidian is related to the Elamitic language of Iran.[28] The caste system in India is a recent social system, reflected in sharply reduced inter-marriage (endogamy) and genetic mixing after 100 AD. This book also takes into account the path-breaking DNA research and findings from geneticist David Reich's research.[29]


The book was well received by readers and many critics.[30] Sujatha Byravan wrote in The Hindu that the book tells a compelling story of our forefathers based on genetic evidence.[31] Razib Khan of India Today said that the book presents a clear understanding of Early Indians.[32] Swaminathan Aiyar of The Times of India thought that the book helps us understand how all Indians have African, Harappan and Steppe Asian genes in different doses.[33] Author Gurcharan Das said that the book helps us understand that Indians are composed of a large number of small populations.[34] Kesavan Veluthat of The Hindu stated that the book shows a firm basis on which the study of Indian history can begin. This is of especial importance in the context of the post-truth conditions of the present, when myth-making seeks to replace authentic knowledge.[35]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Question of Identity". 2019-02-09.
  2. ^ "The first Indians".
  3. ^ "New reports clearly confirm 'Arya' migration into India".
  4. ^ "Can the arrival of the Aryans in India explain the disconnect between Harappan and Vedic culture?".
  5. ^ "Where Do We Actually Come From? 'Early Indians' Author Explains".
  6. ^ "'Early Indians' review: Who we are and where do we come from".
  7. ^ "Excerpt: These Rocks in MP Reveal Secrets to Our Origin as Indians".
  8. ^ "'We are a multisource civilisation, not unisource': Tony Joseph".
  9. ^ "Early Indians on hindsight".
  10. ^ "Video The story of our ancestors and where we came from: A masterclass with author Tony Joseph".
  11. ^ "1 The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia" (PDF).
  12. ^ "How We, The Indians, Came to Be".
  13. ^ "How Science Has Destroyed the Foundation of RSS' Idea of India".
  14. ^ "Hindi edition".
  15. ^ "Marathi Edition".
  16. ^ "Tamil Kindle edition".
  17. ^ "Four prehistoric migrations shaped India's population".
  18. ^ "The x, y and gene of pre-historic India".
  19. ^ "How ancient DNA may rewrite prehistory in India".
  20. ^ "The battle over the early Indians".
  21. ^ "How the First Farmers Changed History".
  22. ^ "Migrant Nation".
  23. ^ "Horse sense on Harappa: An excerpt from Tony Joseph's book "Early Indians"".
  24. ^ "We are like pizza. Early Indians were just the base: Tony Joseph".
  25. ^ "How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate".
  26. ^ "Too early to settle the Aryan migration debate?".
  27. ^ "Examining the evidence for 'Aryan' migrations into India: The story of our ancestors and where we came from".
  28. ^ "Who built the Indus Valley civilisation?".
  29. ^ "From the Aryan migration to caste, two books offer fascinating insights into India's ancient past".
  30. ^ ""Early Indians: The Story Of Our Ancestors And Where We Came From" by Tony Joseph".
  31. ^ "'Early Indians' review: Who we are and where do we come from".
  32. ^ "Review: The Indians Before India".
  33. ^ "So much for Hindu Rashtra".
  34. ^ "Who are we Indians? Genetics is bringing bad news for the politics of identity: We are all migrants".
  35. ^ "Of India's genetic roots".
  36. ^ "Best non-fiction books of the decade".
  37. ^ "Writer Shanta Gokhale Honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award at Tata Literature Live".
  38. ^ "Tony Joseph's Early Indians wins Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2019".
  39. ^ "Four authors get Atta Galatta-BLF awards".
  40. ^ "10 Best New Prehistory Books To Read In 2020".

External links[edit]