Two centuries before Christ, parts of northern India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan formed the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the easternmost state of the Hellenic world. The pilgrimage, which winds across the mountainous region once every 12 years, dates back to perhaps the 16th century, and may have started as early as the 8th century. Or maybe the dead were a detachment of soldiers from a thirteenth-century army sent by the Sultan of Delhi in an ill-fated attempt to invade Tibet, or a group of Tibet-bound traders who had lost their way. Since the study was published, one of the most determined investigators of the mystery has been a recently retired archeologist named Stuart Fiedel, whose main research focus is the migration of Paleo-Americans into the New World from Asia. Noting that nothing of value was found on the bodies, he speculated that the travellers were killed by Thuggees, a cult of robbers and murderers whose fearsome reputation in British India gave us the word “thug.” Thuggees were said to attach themselves to travellers or groups of pilgrims, gaining their trust and then robbing and murdering them on a remote stretch of road. Located in the Himalayas, the area around the lake is uninhabited and is roughly at an altitude of 16,470 feet (5,020 m), surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow-clad mountains. Mystery of Skeleton Lake solved: Scientists reveal bones found around edges of Indian lake belonged to hundreds of 9th century tribesmen who died in freak hail storm While there, he discussed someday collaborating on a more detailed study of the Roopkund bones with the center’s director, Lalji Singh, and Kumarasamy Thangaraj, a geneticist who had headed up the previous DNA analysis. Roopkund Lake is a shallow body of water filled with human bones - the skeletons of hundreds of individuals. After sequencing genomes from skeletons at the lake, scientists revealed surprising ancestral results of the remains, linking 23 skeletons to South Asia, 14 … India is an ideal country for studying human genetics, ancient and modern. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated as of 1/1/21) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated as of 1/1/21) and Your California Privacy Rights. High in the Himalayas of India, amid the snow-capped peaks, nestles a mystery. Boyle, North Central Alberta. [14] Those findings counter the theory that the individuals died in a single catastrophic event. Skeleton lake property for sale. The women consider themselves to be keepers of the goddess’s memory, and Sax had recorded and translated many of their songs and stories of the pilgrimage. [5] Because of the human remains, the lake has been called Skeleton Lake in recent times. Lake Roopkund is located in northern India along the border of Nepal at 4,800 meters (~16,000 ft) above sea level with edges covered in snow for most of the year. IMAGE: Brenna Buck. 2 minute walk to lake. August and September are the only months when the lake is visible, while the rest of the year it lies hidden under a thick blanket of snow. “It should make us realize that the stories we tell ourselves about our past are often very different from the reality, and we should have humility about that.” When I asked him for examples, he mentioned the origin of “white people”—light-skinned people from Europe and parts of western Asia. How we became obsessed with UFOs. His preferred hypothesis is that the Roopkund B people were Armenian traders. Although they are quite rare, history indicates these hailstorms do have a higher occurrence in that particular area and have been known to produce small boulder-sized hailstones. The lab doesn’t sequence the entire DNA molecule, much of which is repetitious and uninformative, but maps about a million key locations. The surprise is what killed them. As bizarre as the result seemed, it nonetheless matched an analysis of bone collagen that the Max Planck Institute and the Harvard lab had done on the same individuals, to determine their diet. Also known as Rudrakund, Mystery Lake, or Skeleton Lake, Roopkund exists at the base of the Trisul Mountains in the far northern reaches of Uttarakhand state of India. “Everybody in the Roopkund B population is mature. But about eighty per cent of that European ancestry is inherited from white males—genetic testimony to the widespread rape and sexual coercion of female slaves by slaveowners. When the carbon-dating results came back, there was another surprise: there appeared to have been multiple mass-death events at Roopkund. The skeleton was unearthed by geologist Jim Bowler from a dry lake bed in Mungo National Park, about 750km (470 miles) west of Sydney, in what was hailed a major discovery. High in the Himalayas of India, amid the snow-capped peaks, nestles a mystery. The scientists concluded that the dead represented two populations: a group of tall Brahmans from the plains of India and a company of shorter, local porters, whose skulls were marked by years of carrying heavy loads with a tumpline looped over their heads. © 2020 Condé Nast. The Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization is trying to gather the history of Skeleton Lake in Muskoka for eventual publication in book form. Members of the Kalash tribe, in northern Pakistan, claim to be descendants of Alexander’s soldiers. Almost none of the skeletons were intact, and it was impossible to tell which bones belonged together or where they had originally lain. The radiocarbon dating further suggests that the older, South Asian remains were deposited over an extended period or time, while the younger, Mediterranean and Southeast Asian group of remains was deposited during a single event. [18][19], High altitude glacial lake in Uttarakhand, India, known as Skeletons Lake, "Fathoming the ancient remains of Roopkund", "The Mystery of the Himalayas' Skeleton Lake Just Got Weirder: Every summer, hundreds of ancient bones emerge from the ice. Indian scientists were intensely interested in the Roopkund mystery. Hidden in the cliffs above the Salt River between Canyon Lake and Apache Lake, Skeleton Cave is the scene of one of the most brutal, bloody events in Arizona history. A report in National Geographic says that in the early 2000s scientists studied DNA from the bodies and the broad results determined that the people were of South Asian ancestry , and that they had all died in a single event around 800 AD. Their genomes did not look Indian or even Asian. “Again and again, I’ve found my own biases and expectations to be wrong,” he said. Skeleton Lake, or the pool of bones, is so named because when surveyors were working on the north shore, they came upon two skeletons resting on the rocks. Save this story for later. A new genetic study helps explain how they got there", "Roopkund lake's skeleton mystery solved! “And if they are Greek people we should get some artifacts or tools or something which we can trace back to Greece.”, And what of Nanda Devi? Skeleton Lake subwatershed is 9,206 hectares in area and is in the central portion of The District Municipality of Muskoka. There are fewer cultural barriers to handling human biological materials than in many parts of the world, and Indian scientists have eagerly pursued research into the peopling of the subcontinent. Roopkund (locally known as Mystery Lake or Skeletons Lake) is a high altitude glacial lake in the Uttarakhand state of India.It lies in the lap of Trishul massif. From it's early origins to it's first settlers and the generations that followed, the goal is to produce a complete compendium of all that is known about Skeleton Lake. Archeologists have long known about the spread of the Yamnaya, but almost nothing in the archeological record showed the brutality of their takeover. Roopkund's skeletons were featured in a National Geographic documentary, "Riddles of the Dead: Skeleton Lake". Less than 5% of the subwatershed is developed with 16% of the land being Crown land. To tease the tiny fraction of human DNA from this mass of microbial debris requires a chemical ballet of enormous delicacy, and the risk of contamination is high. “This is an example of the power of ancient DNA to reveal cultural events,” Reich told me. After he presented material from the book as an Op-Ed in the Times, sixty-seven anthropologists, social scientists, and others signed an open letter on BuzzFeed, titled “How Not to Talk About Race and Genetics.” The scholars complained that Reich’s “skillfulness with ancient and contemporary DNA should not be confused with a mastery of the cultural, political, and biological meanings of human groups,” and that Reich “critically misunderstands and misrepresents concerns” regarding the use of such loaded terms as “race” and “population.”, Reich’s lab now has an ethics-and-outreach officer, Jakob Sedig, whose job is to work with some of the cultural groups being studied, to understand and respond to their sensitivities. David Reich’s lab has a “clean room” for extracting and processing DNA from human tissue. The dead, it appeared, were most likely pilgrims. The grim history of eugenics still casts a shadow over genetics—a field with limitless appeal for white supremacists and others looking to support racist views—even though, for half a century, geneticists have rejected the idea of large hereditary disparities among human populations for the great majority of traits. The lake, a glacial tarn called Roopkund, was more than sixteen thousand feet above sea level, an arduous five-day trek from human habitation, in a mountain cirque surrounded by snowfields and battered by storms. A two-man event was added at the 1932 Lake Placid Games in a format that has remained to the present. The Reich lab, the foremost unit in the country for research into ancient DNA, is responsible for more than half the world’s published data in the field. “I hate unsolved mysteries,” Fiedel told me. This discovery has revolutionized the world of ancient history ever since 1942, when a park ranger came across this mass deposition of bones. Artifacts retrieved included dozens of leather slippers, pieces of parasols made of bamboo and birch bark, and bangles made of seashells and glass. Our History. The king, who liked his entertainments, took along a bevy of dancing courtesans and musicians, in violation of the ascetic traditions of the pilgrimage. Besides, even if these bones were proved to have been mislabelled, that would merely create another mystery: how did a bunch of eighteenth-century Greek bones get into a storage vault in India? 'Skeleton lake' located 16,000ft up in the Himalayas is filled with some 'Mediterranean migrants' e-mail; 213. shares. Discover Skeleton Lake of Roopkund, India in Chamoli, India: A lake with hundreds of ancient skeletons surrounding it. Roopkund is better off known as The skeleton lake due to the presence of an enormous grave that holds about 300 to 600 skeletons. They are clearly a population of the Aegean area.” The Roopkund B group made up more than a third of the samples tested—fourteen individuals out of thirty-eight. He and a friend travelled to the hamlet of Wan, the settlement closest to Roopkund, where a local man agreed to guide them up the pilgrim trail to the lake. As the villagers tell it, long ago Nanda Devi left her home to visit a distant kingdom, where she was treated discourteously by the king and queen. Harney and Reich began exploring the ancestry of the Roopkund B group, comparing the genomes with hundreds of present-day populations across Europe, Asia, and Africa. My great-grandparents were John (Jack) and Frances Catlin. “We need to be able to talk about these differences clearly, whatever they may be. On average, a Black person in America has an ancestry that is around eighty per cent African and twenty per cent European. “It’s also a story about human beings and religious devotion.”, Many anthropologists and archeologists are uneasy about the incursion of genomics into their domain and suspicious of its brash certainties. Archaeologists say hundreds of people died there across a period of around 1,000 years. The new study established that multiple groups had died at the lake centuries apart. According to Ayushi Nayak, who performed the isotopic bone analyses at the Max Planck Institute, Hindu pilgrims sometimes go barefoot and thinly clothed to sacred sites in the Himalayas as a spiritual challenge. Around 500 B.C., the Greek traveller Scylax of Caryanda is said to have journeyed through parts of the Indian subcontinent and sailed down the Indus River. That’s because, one, there is no documented presence of any substantial Greek communities in northern India at those times, and, two, there is no record of Europeans converting to Hinduism or Buddhism in those periods.”, He sent Harney and Reich a string of e-mails proposing alternatives to the Mediterranean theory. BBC Reel. The ancient mystery of 'Skeleton Lake' 11 August 2020 | History. But the DNA of Iberian skeletons dating from this period of transformation told a different story, revealing what Reich describes as the “genetic scar” of a foreign invasion. On investigation, Reich’s team found that the modern genetic profile of the Kalash did not resemble that of Roopkund B. 08 Oct 2013. But his research showed that as recently as eight thousand years ago there were at least four distinct groups of Europeans, as genetically different from one another as the British are from the Chinese today, some with brown skin color. 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