Gypsies' Origins Traced Back to Ancient India in DNA Study

The Romani population started its exodus to Europe about 1,500 years ago

  "Gypsy camp in a forest", painting by François Nicholas Riss
A new study using genome-wide sequencing confirms the widespread Romani population has its origins in northwestern India about 1,500 years ago.

A new study using genome-wide sequencing confirms the widespread Romani population has its origins in northwestern India about 1,500 years ago.

The study, published in the December 6 issue of the journal Current Biology, consisted in the analysis of genome-wide sequences coming form 13 different Romani groups in Europe.

The obtained data were then compared with previously detained samples from the population of India, Central Asia and the Middle East, Science Daily reports.

The results show that Romani's exodus most likely started in the current Punjab region, in India, at about 500 CE, with a subsequent migration through Central Asia and the Middle East. Their entrance to Europe appears to have been made through the Balkan region, especially Bulgaria.

“From a genome-wide perspective, Romani people share a common and unique history that consists of two elements: the roots in northwestern India and the admixture with non-Romani Europeans accumulating with different magnitudes during the out-of-India migration across Europe,” declared Manfred Kayser, a scientist from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Scientists believe that understanding the roots of Romani people, the largest minority group in Europe with a wide range of different customs, languages and life conceptions, would lead to a better understanding of “Europeans as a whole.”

“We were interested in exploring the population history of European Romani because they constitute an important fraction of the European population, but their marginalized situation in many countries also seems to have affected their visibility in scientific studies,” declared David Comas, researcher at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra's Institut de Biologia Evaluativa in Spain.

The Romani population, also known as “gypsies,” has long been a source of mystical speculation, as well as social non-acceptance and oppression. Their lack of an exact origin, their wild spirit and deeply rich culture have made them object for both curiosity and misunderstanding for centuries.

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