Indo-Aryan peoples

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Indo-Aryan people
Geographical distribution of the major Indo-Aryan languages.
Total population
approximately 1.3 billion in 7 countries
Regions with significant populations
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over 911 million[1]
23x15px Pakistan over 170 million[2][not in citation given]
23x15px Bangladesh over 160 million[3]
File:Flag of Nepal.svg   Nepal over 26 million
23x15px Sri Lanka over 14 million
23x15px Burma over 1 million
23x15px Maldives over 300,000
Indo-Aryan languages
Indian religions (Mostly Hindu; with Buddhist, Sikh and Jain minorities) and Islam, some non-religious atheist/agnostic and Christians

Indo-Aryan peoples are a diverse Indo-European ethnolinguistic group of speakers of Indo-Aryan languages. There are over one billion native speakers of Indo-Aryan languages, most of them native to South Asia, where they form the majority.[note 1]


Some of the theories proposed in the 20th century for the dispersal of Indo-Aryan languages are described by linguist Colin Masica in the chapter, "The Historical Context and Development of Indo-Aryan" in his book, The Indo-Aryan Languages.[4]

A recent Indo-Aryan migration theory[note 2] proposed in the trade paperback, The Horse, The Wheel and Language, by David Anthony, a professor of anthropology at Hartwick College, claims that the introduction of the Indo-Aryan languages in the Indian subcontinent was a result of a migration of people from the Sintashta culture[6][7] through the Bactria-Margiana Culture and into the northern Indian subcontinent (modern day India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan). These migrations started approximately 1,800 BCE, after the invention of the war chariot, and also brought Indo-Aryan languages into the Levant and possibly Inner Asia. It was part of the diffusion of Indo-European languages from the proto-Indo-European homeland at the Pontic steppe, a large area of grasslands in far Eastern Europe, which started in the 5th to 4th millennia BCE, and the Indo-European migrations out of the Eurasian steppes, which started approximately 2,000 BCE.

The theory posits that these Indo-Aryan speaking people may have been a genetically diverse group of people who were united by shared cultural norms and language, referred to as aryā, "noble." Diffusion of this culture and language took place by patron-client systems, which allowed for the absorption and acculturalisation of other groups into this culture, and explains the strong influence on other cultures with which it interacted.The Proto-Indo-Iranians, from which the Indo-Aryans developed, are identified with the Sintashta culture (2100–1800 BCE),[8] and the Andronovo culture,[9] which flourished ca. 1800–1400 BCE in the steppes around the Aral sea, present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The proto-Indo-Iranians were influenced by the Bactria-Margiana Culture, south of the Andronovo culture, from which they borrowed their distinctive religious beliefs and practices. The Indo-Aryans split off around 1800-1600 BCE from the Iranians,[10] whereafter the Indo-Aryans migrated into the Levant and north-western India.[11]

List of Indo-Aryan peoples[edit]


File:Indo-Iranian origins.png
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan migrations.


See also[edit]


  1. Note the difference between linguistic and genetic distinction of South Asians. According to Reich et. al (2009), while the Indo-Aryan linguistic group occupies mainly northern parts of India, genetically, all South Asians across the subcontinent are a mix of both Indo-Aryan and Dravidian gene groups. Recent studies have indicated a distinct Ancestral North Indian (ANI) population and Ancestral South Indian (ASI) population which mixed over thousands of years to produce the current South Asian population. Northern Indians and traditionally upper castes (such as Kashmiri Pandits and Telugu Brahmins) are more related to Western Eurasians while Southern Indians and lower castes are less related to Western Eurasians.
  2. The term "invasion" is only being used nowadays by opponents of the Indo-Aryan Migration theory.[5] The term "invasion" does not reflect the contemporary scholarly understanding of the Indo-Aryan migrations,[5] and is merely being used in a polemical and distractive way.


  1. "India". The World Factbook. 
  2. "Pakistan". The World Factbook. 
  3. "Bangladesh". The World Factbook. 
  4. Masica, Colin P. (9 September 1993). "The Historical Context and Development of Indo-Aryan". The Indo-Aryan Languages. Cambridge University Press. pp. 32–60. ISBN 978-0-521-29944-2. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Witzel 2005, p. 348.
  6. Anthony 2007, pp. 408–411.
  7. Kuz'mina 2007, p. 222.
  8. Anthony 2007, p. 390 (fig. 15.9), 405-411.
  9. Anthony 2009, p. 49.
  10. Anthony 2007, p. 408.
  11. George Erdosy(1995) "The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity.", p.279


External links[edit]