Romani Genetic History

New genetic analyses of the Romani are out.  These are the highlights:

  • The Romani are from NW India (the Romani language is Indo-European, so this confirms it) and left about 1000-1500 years ago. (Probably not many left, but there are around 11 million in Europe today, mostly in the Balkans. Though they outwardly adopted their host’s religions, Islam and Christianity, they retain some Hindu ways, such as strong purity taboos.)
  • They derive from a lower caste population. (Makes sense: why would a high caste leave? Although the question also arises of why any group would venture from their homeland into other people’s lands. Were they perhaps expelled en masse?)
  • There is admixture with local European populations of 30-50%. (Their ancestry is in general primarily Indian, secondarily local.)
  • There is strong evidence of inbreeding (homozygosity), hence there must have been a long history of endogamy. (How to square this with the admixture? The admixture with locals probably came early, thereafter came endogamy. A history of endogamy here as elsewhere correlates strongly with low levels of trust and cooperation. Romani have a very low-trust, low-cooperation relationship to non-Romani. I do not know if they suffer also from inbreeding depression leading to health problems and lower IQ.)

(more) (and more)

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