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The Indo-Aryan peoples were the people coming from Central Asia with the Indo-Aryan migrations who settled in South Asia in the second millennium BCE, introducing the Proto-Indo-Aryan language. The term is also used for contemporary ethnolinguistic groups speaking modern Indo-Aryan languages, a subgroup of the Indo-European language family.
The Indo-Aryan migration theory,[note 1] proposed among others by anthropologist David W. Anthony (in The Horse, The Wheel and Language) and by archaeologists Elena Efimovna Kuzmina and J. P. Mallory, shows that the introduction of the Indo-Aryan languages in the Indian subcontinent was the result of a migration of people from the Sintashta culture through the Bactria-Margiana Culture and into the northern Indian subcontinent (modern-day India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). These migrations started approximately 1,800 BCE, after the invention of the war chariot, and also brought Indo-Aryan languages into the Levant and possibly Inner Asia and western China.
The Proto-Indo-Iranians, from which the Indo-Aryans developed, are identified with the Sintashta culture (2100-1800 BCE), and the Andronovo culture, which flourished ca. 1800-1400 BCE in the steppes around the Aral sea, present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The proto-Indo-Iranians were influenced by the Bactria-Margiana Culture, south of the Andronovo culture, from which they borrowed their distinctive religious beliefs and practices. The Indo-Aryans split off around 1800-1600 BCE from the Iranians, whereafter the Indo-Aryans migrated into the Levant and north-western India and western China. This migration was part of the diffusion of Indo-European languages from the Proto-Indo-European homeland at the Pontic steppe which started in the 4th millennia BCE.
The Indo-Aryans were united by shared cultural norms and language, referred to as ary?, "noble." Diffusion of this culture and language took place by patron-client systems, which allowed for the absorption and acculturalisation of other groups into this culture, and explains the strong influence on other cultures with which it interacted.
The Indigenous Aryans theory places the Indo-Aryans languages as being entirely indigenous to the Indian subcontinent and later they spread outside the subcontinent. Contemporary support for this idea is ideologically driven, and has no support in mainstream scholarship.
|Regions with significant populations|
|India||over 911 million|
|Pakistan||over 233 million|
|Bangladesh||over 160 million|
|Nepal||over 26 million|
|Sri Lanka||over 14 million|
|Myanmar||over 1 million|
|Indian religions (Mostly Hindu; with Buddhist, Sikh and Jain minorities) and Islam, Christians and some non-religious atheist/agnostic|