Skeletal remains at the Himalayan site of Roopkund Lake in Uttarakhand, India.(Sourced)
Skeletal remains at the Himalayan site of Roopkund Lake in Uttarakhand, India.(Sourced)

Roopkund Lake skeletons: Mystery deepens, as scientists say bones belong to people of Mediterranean origin as well

Mysterious skeletons of Roopkund Lake in Uttarakhand contain bones from eastern Mediterranean people who travelled to the Himalayan site sometime in the 17th century, according to a study.
By Oliver Fredrick | Lucknow, Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UPDATED ON AUG 21, 2019 06:58 PM IST

The mysterious skeletons of Roopkund Lake in Uttarakhand contain bones from eastern Mediterranean people who travelled to the Himalayan site sometime in the 17th century and inhabited the surroundings of the glacial lake, reveals a study conducted by an international team of scientists.

Scientists of the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP) in Lucknow have been working on the enigma of this site, considered to be among the world’s top 10 mysterious places, for the past five years. The new findings have surprised the researchers who, so far, were relying on the old theory.

According to the old theory, proposed by scientists of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, the skeletons belonged to people of Indian origin who died in a natural calamity sometime in the 8th century. There have been other suggestions too -- one being that the skeletons belonged to Japanese soldiers who died here while crossing the route during World War II.

Also read: A ‘sorcerer’s treasure trove’ of artefacts found in Pompeii

“Our findings, based on DNA analysis of samples collected from hundreds of skeletons at the lake, not only confirm the presence of Indian tribe who died of a catastrophe in the 8th century but also show the presence of a densely populated colony of Mediterranean population up there in the 17th century. The latter was not known to the world, so far,” said Niraj Rai, senior scientist and group head, ancient DNA lab of the BSIP, who is spearheading the Roopkund project along with a team of scientists.

He said that the team had further concluded that the lake and its surroundings were subjected to catastrophic events twice, which must have led to “massive causalities”. “This must have resulted in the accumulation of skeletons in bulk at the Roopkund lake,” said Rai.

Project Roopkund: The beginning

Project Roopkund was first rolled out in 2006 by Lalji Singh, the then director of CCMB, Hyderabad. “A team was sent to the lake to collect samples from the skeletal remains. Since the climatic conditions were too harsh, the team managed to collect just about 20 samples. “The CCMB then collaborated with the Anthropological Survey of India, which had collected the samples way back in 1952, and began the project,” Rai told HT.

However, due to lack of technological advancement and expertise, nothing much could be concluded other than the fact that the bones belonged to people of Indian origin who lived in the 8th century and died due to a catastrophic event. “But as we know now, that was just half the truth,” said Rai who was then a part of the CCMB as a PhD student.

Project Restarts

Rai restarted the project in 2014 when he was working as a post doctoral research fellow with the CCMB.

“The year 2014 witnessed an upsurge in technological advancements, especially in the field of retraction of ancient DNA obtained from skeletons. So, I thought of giving another try to this project that had been lying dormant,” he said.

Initially, he began working on the project all by himself. “But extracting DNA from the ancient bones was not easy. So, I formed a team to take the research forward,” he said.

In 2017, Rai was appointed as a senior scientist and group head at the ancient DNA lab of the BSIP. There, he began to head the project.

Along with him there was a team of international scientists, including Kumarasamy Thangaraj, CSIR Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad; Éadaoin Harney, department of organismic and evolutionary biology, Harvard University, USA; Ayushi Nayak, department of archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany; Douglas Kennett, department of anthropology, University of California, USA; David Reich, department of genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, and others. It was then that the project really took off.

The Latest Findings

Kumarasamy Thangaraj said that after carrying out extensive DNA analysis and putting in years of research, the team concluded that the human skeletons found at the lake belonged to two genetic groups.

“The group of Indian tribe belonged to the 8th century (as previously concluded), while the second group belonged to people of Mediterranean race of the 17th century,” he said.

Besides, it was also concluded that the area was subjected to catastrophic events twice. “However, it is still not clear what brought these people to Roopkund Lake or how they died,” he said.

Thangaraj said that it was also surprising that no locals were aware of the existence of a group of Mediterranean people there in the past.

“We tried to interact with the residents of a nearby village called Wan, which is located about 50km from Roopkund. Nobody there was aware about such a colony -- it was neither in their folklore nor in their folk songs or history. It is actually shocking that such a big colony got vanished from history,” said Thangaraj.

Speaking on the latest findings, Vandana Prasad, director BSIP, said, “It is indeed a major discovery. This type of research was never done before in India. There have been researches related to ancient tools, earthen ware, pottery and artefacts. This sort of analysis of genetic data obtained from ancient skeletons has taken our research work to another level. It is not the end of the research, rather, it’s the beginning of a new chapter on the mysterious Roopkund Lake.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
The Chief Minister claimed that the government had fulfilled 455 out of the 546 commitments made in the election manifesto during the 2017 elections.(HT Photo)
The Chief Minister claimed that the government had fulfilled 455 out of the 546 commitments made in the election manifesto during the 2017 elections.(HT Photo)

Punjab CM orders immediate action on '7-point agenda 2022'

ANI, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 06:23 PM IST
"The agenda is centered around citizen welfare through a holistic focus on the overarching development of the state," said an official statement issued by the Punjab Government.
Close
Signboard by railway put up on platform. (Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times)
Signboard by railway put up on platform. (Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times)

Man attaches toilet pipeline to drinking water tank in railway station

PTI, Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 06:19 PM IST
The incident happened on March 1 in Garoth station, which falls under the railway's Kota division.
Close
The healing centre has been established in a pine dominated forest as it has been found in various studies that conifers like pine trees emit certain oil compounds to safeguard themselves from various microbes & pathogens, which are called phytoncides.(AFP (Representational image))
The healing centre has been established in a pine dominated forest as it has been found in various studies that conifers like pine trees emit certain oil compounds to safeguard themselves from various microbes & pathogens, which are called phytoncides.(AFP (Representational image))

India's first forest healing centre open in Kalika, near Ranikhet

PTI, Dehradun
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 06:14 PM IST
Signboards on either side of its slopey entrance advise visitors to hug trees, walk barefoot on the grass, lie on their back and gaze at the swaying trees or the ever changing sky above to soothe their senses.
Close
In this Assembly elections, there are TMC, Left and Congress, and their anti-Bengal attitude on one side. On the other side, there are people of Bengal," PM Modi said further. The Prime Minister started his speech with slogans of Vande Matram and Bharat Mata ki Jai.(AP)
In this Assembly elections, there are TMC, Left and Congress, and their anti-Bengal attitude on one side. On the other side, there are people of Bengal," PM Modi said further. The Prime Minister started his speech with slogans of Vande Matram and Bharat Mata ki Jai.(AP)

PM Modi : Bengal relied on Mamata for change but she broke people's trust

ANI, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 06:12 PM IST
Addressing his first rally at Brigade Parade Ground after the announcement of the West Bengal Assembly poll schedule, the Prime Minister said there are TMC, Left and Congress on one side and people of West Bengal on the other side.
Close
Mamata Banerjee had said last week that the TMC has received support from the JMM and the Nationalist Congress Party for the assembly polls.(AP)
Mamata Banerjee had said last week that the TMC has received support from the JMM and the Nationalist Congress Party for the assembly polls.(AP)

Mamata Banerjee asks Jharkhand CM to campaign for her in WB Assembly polls

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 05:37 PM IST
JMM is an alliance government with the Congress in Jharkhand and the Sonia Gandhi-led party has tied up with the Left and the Indian Secular Front in West Bengal against the BJP and TMC.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

94th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan deferred indefinitely

By Manasi Deshpande
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 05:23 PM IST
PUNE The 94th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Literary Meet) which was scheduled to be held in Nashik on March 26, 27 and 28 has been deferred indefinitely in the light of increasing Covid-19 cases in the state
Close
The number of daily tests conducted in Delhi witnessed an increase with 91,614 tests conducted on Sunday comprising 71,250 RTPCR/CBNAAT/TruNat tests and 20,364 Rapid antigen tests.(ANI)
The number of daily tests conducted in Delhi witnessed an increase with 91,614 tests conducted on Sunday comprising 71,250 RTPCR/CBNAAT/TruNat tests and 20,364 Rapid antigen tests.(ANI)

Delhi reports less than 300 new Covid-19 cases after 2 days, active cases jump

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Srivatsan K C, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 05:18 PM IST
Active caseload stands at 1,803, a jump of 24 patients from the 1,779 reported on Saturday.
Close
At the Law college ground, Stadium Cricket Club defeated Sahamat Cricket Club by 24 runs in a group stage match. (Kalpesh Nukte/HT PHOTO)
At the Law college ground, Stadium Cricket Club defeated Sahamat Cricket Club by 24 runs in a group stage match. (Kalpesh Nukte/HT PHOTO)

Women’s T20 cricket league has NextGen female cricketers playing for keeps

By Jigar Hindocha
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:59 PM IST
Pune: The Girls Sadu Shinde Cricket League (T20), being played at the Law college ground has little fanfare, hype or buzz associated with the shortest form of international cricket
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi address at a public rally at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata. (ANI Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi address at a public rally at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata. (ANI Photo)

PM Modi schools TMC on its ‘outsider’ narrative, says Bengal is in BJP’s DNA

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 05:17 PM IST
  • The Prime Minister went on to explain to the massive gathering the reason why the BJP is the only party in the country which was formed keeping Bengal’s culture and thinking at its core.
Close
After a 12-year long wait, within months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirements of the city forced the administration to upgrade the much-needed facility. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)
After a 12-year long wait, within months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirements of the city forced the administration to upgrade the much-needed facility. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

0-30 in no time: ventilators, that is... How Pune civic hospital infra revved up

By Steffy Thevar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:37 PM IST
Naidu hospital was the first-response hospital against Covid-19, but had to depend on Sassoon hospital for the treatment of critical Covid-19 patients, as it did not have a critical care unit
Close
Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said the department has encouraged its staff to get the vaccine shots.(PTI)
Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said the department has encouraged its staff to get the vaccine shots.(PTI)

Over 85% staff of Delhi Prisons received Covid-19 vaccine shots: Officials

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:10 PM IST
Out of around 1,700 security personnel deployed with Delhi Prisons and who have registered on Co-WIN portal, 1,000 personnel have got the coronavirus vaccine shots, an official said.
Close
The sudden meeting of the core committee for which Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had to fly back to Dehradun in a hurry from Gairsain assumed significance.
The sudden meeting of the core committee for which Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had to fly back to Dehradun in a hurry from Gairsain assumed significance.

Uttarakhand BJP core group meeting fuels speculation about major change in govt

PTI, Dehradun
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 03:44 PM IST
The unscheduled meeting with the members of the core group came at a time when the budget session of the state assembly was underway in Gairsain.
Close
The force took measures against cyber crimes at multiple levels through their three-tiered cyber investigation structure and handled common online frauds such as vishing, social media frauds. (iStockphoto/Representative Image)
The force took measures against cyber crimes at multiple levels through their three-tiered cyber investigation structure and handled common online frauds such as vishing, social media frauds. (iStockphoto/Representative Image)

Over 1,000 Delhi Police personnel trained to tackle cyber-crime amid pandemic

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 02:53 PM IST
Teams of the Delhi Police apprehended cyber-criminals from far-off states such as Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, West Bengal, etc despite movement restrictions amid the pandemic.
Close
Butter chicken, dal makhni, nalli hard kaur, tandoori chicken are some of the popular Punjabi recipes relished across the country.
Butter chicken, dal makhni, nalli hard kaur, tandoori chicken are some of the popular Punjabi recipes relished across the country.

Rich, rustic, robust: The taste of Punjab

By Ruchika Garg, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 01:32 PM IST
The vibrant flavours of Punjabi cuisine are a result of an exciting exchange of varied cultures and traditions that have stood the test of time
Close
In the house search of an officer, the anti-corruption bureau recovered <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>7 lakh in cash and other property documents.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
In the house search of an officer, the anti-corruption bureau recovered 7 lakh in cash and other property documents.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Rajasthan officers caught red-handed in Jaipur city busses bribery case

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Jaipur
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:11 AM IST
  • Two state government officials were arrested for taking a bribe of four lakhs and Naresh Singhal, owner of Paras Travel Agency, was arrested for giving the bribe.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP