BELLY DANCE ORIGIN MUSING. Yesterday, I posted a link about DNA composition of Egyptians. Today, I'd like to discuss it a little more - the study shows that the primary origin for Egyptians was African, and the next largest was Arab. Beyond that, there were only 3 other groups large enough to identify on the chart: Jews, Asia Minor (Turkey), and southern Europe (Greece, Italy, etc.)
So, an interesting observation: the % of people of Central Asian origin wasn't large enough to make it onto the graph, which means it was smaller than 3%. In other words, where were the Roma (Gypsies)? (I'm using the word "Roma" as a collective, to encompass the Romany, Sinti, and Domari people.) Apparently, they were too small of a % to be included on the chart showing the analysis for Egypt.
National Geographic has studied the Roma quite a bit - you can see other articles that prominently feature the Roma if you visit National Geographic's web site. So, the scientists are definitely aware of what Romany DNA looks like, and I feel quite confident that if the Romany people were a meaningful % of Egypt's population, National Geographic would have noticed and said so.
You can also see on National Geographic's page that some analysis has been done to determine where the populations of India came from. (Guess what? It's Africa.) National Geographic also found that, for India, some ancient migrations from Africa went farther east to southeast Asia, and then came BACK to India. So, National Geographic DOES look at whether populations who moved beyond a certain region might later migrate back.
So, for everybody who believes the tale that the precursor to what we recognize today as belly dance was brought to the Middle East by the Roma, I have to ask: if DNA evidence shows that the Roma aren't a big enough part of Egypt's population to show up as a wedge on the chart showing Egyptian origins, how could they have had sufficient influence to spread a dance style from India so pervasively among the Egyptian population? It doesn't make sense.
It makes more sense to consider that belly dance comes from one of the populations that WAS big enough to appear on the chart. It's interesting to ponder which.
Given that belly dance was historically prominent not only in Egypt, but also in the Levant, I think a case could be made for all the places that actually do show up on the chart. But that's a debate for another day.
For now, I'll just leave it that the DNA analysis is just one more piece of evidence that supports my belief that belly dance did not originate in India. Someday, I'll get around to writing an article that compiles all of my evidence for this belief into one place.