Bloodlines: Study Finds Roma Gypsies Have Indian Ancestry

Science & Tech / Discoveries

Bloodlines: Study Finds Roma Gypsies Have Indian Ancestry

By: Chris O'Shea

A new study that investigated the lineage of the Roma people, or "gypsies," could change the way the people have been viewed forever. The report shows that the Roma people are, in fact, some of the earliest Indians, who migrated from the subcontinent some 4,000 years ago. With this proof, hundreds of years of persecution and stigma that has followed the Roma people may one day be forgotten.

While currently spread throughout the global, with one of the highest concentration of the Roma people is in the United States — some estimates put it at about one million — the gypsy people have long been thought to have originated in India, albeit with little proof. Therefore the exact lineage of the Roma people, and when they moved from country to country, has been a mystery. However, scientists from the CCMB in India; Tartu University in Estonia; University of Bern in Switzerland; University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom; and our very own Stanford University, have solved the dilemma through complex DNA testing.

According to The Telegraph, the groups of experts examined female chromosomes in DNA samples to see if they matched up with various genetic codes of the European Roma men and with those of thousands of Indians currently living on the subcontinent. The tests were giant in size, too. There were 10,000 samples examined from members of 214 different Indian ethnic groups. When analyzed, the DNA showed a match through the Y (female chromosome). Dr Gyaneshwer Chaubey, from Tartu University, explained to The Pioneer, "The Y chromosome is passed on from father to sons and grandsons. All males of a family or gotra evolved from a single founder male will possess the same Y chromosome."

Therefore, said Chaubey, the Roma people were living on the subcontinent a long, long time ago. The proof to end the mystery, it seems, was right there in front of them. "The aboriginal Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes populations of north-western India, traditionally referred as Dalits or domas are the most likely ancestral populations of modern European Roma," added Chaubey.

Of course the Roma people greeted this news with great delight. Britain's Gypsy Council, which attempts to promote an appreciation of the Roma people throughout Europe, proudly declared, "We are Britain's first Non-Resident Indian community." Joseph Jones, another member of the tribe, agreed, and then went one step further. "We're not outcasts here," he said. "I don't care if we are associated with dalits [a socially low class] – I don't live in a community where caste exists."

[Image via Flickr - ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER]

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