Saturday, 8 December 2012

Gypsies arrived in Europe 1,500 years ago, genetic study says

Gypsies in a shanty town in Madrid, Spain. Photograph: Navia/Cover/Getty Images

Migrants from India came to continent much earlier than previously thought, analysis suggests, and arrived in the Balkans

In parts of Europe they are still shunned as disruptive outsiders or patronised as little more than an exotic source of music and dance, but Gypsies have ancient roots that stretch back more than a millennium, scientists have proved.

A genetic analysis of 13 Gypsy groups around Europe, published in Current Biology journal, has revealed that the arrival on the continent of their forebears from northern India happened far earlier than was thought, about 1,500 years ago.

The earliest population reached the Balkans, while the spread outwards from there came nine centuries ago, according to researchers at Spain's Institute of Evolutionary Biology and elsewhere.

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