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Ahoms share closer affinity to Khasis, Kusunda group of Nepal, says study

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From Special Correspondent

New Delhi, March 30: A recent genetic study on the people belonging to the Tai-Ahom community, which once ruled Assam, has shown that they share a closer affinity to the indigenous Khasis of Meghalaya and Kusunda group of Nepal rather than their original ancestry to Thailand.
The Ahoms had migrated from Thailand to eastern India via the Patkai mountains. Chaolung Sukaphaa, the Shaan prince of Mong Mao, was the leader of the Ahoms and is credited to have established the dynasty in Assam in the 13th century.
Since many Tai-Ahoms, who migrated from Thailand, were men, they adopted the local culture and language of Assam. Ahom men were known to have interacted and married women from the local communities too.
For the study, blood samples of individuals from the Ahom population living in Assam were collected. Later, its DNA genotyping was performed and over 6.12 lakh autosomal markers were obtained and studied in detail.
“The high-resolution haplotype-based analysis showed links of the Ahom dynasty individuals to the Kusunda group and the Khasis, an Austroasiatic population of Meghalaya,” said Niraj Rai, head of the Ancient DNA lab at BSIP.
During their six centuries of ruling and admixture with the local communities, the Ahoms significantly deviated from their Thai-based ancestry and assimilated well with the local South Asian population, the study noted.
“People of the Ahom community mixed and assimilated with various Trans-Himalayan populations inhabiting this region, post migration,” said Sachin Kumar Srivastava, lead author from the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP), Lucknow.
The study, published in the journal of Human Molecular Genetics, was jointly conducted by archaeologists and zoologists of ASI, BHU and others.
The Indo-Burmese and Trans-Himalayan genetic ancestry found in later generations was due to the domination post the admixtures, thereby shedding the original Southeast Asian ancestry and adopting the South Asian ones, the experts explained.
Such genetic studies further establish the history of migration of various populations that amalgamated in Northeast India.
Incidentally, the Khasi group of Meghalaya, who are related to the Mon-Khmer ethnic group, also originated from South East Asia around Bangkok and Cambodian borders. Multiple types of research indicate that the Austroasiatic populations in the Indian subcontinent are derived from migrations from Southeast Asia during the Holocene period.
The Northeastern region is considered a gateway for modern humans’ dispersal throughout Asia. This region is a mixture of various ethnic and indigenous populations amalgamating multiple ancestries.

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