This is a guest post by Zack Ajmal.

It all started DNA Day 2010 when Razib tweeted about a $99 sale for the DNA test at23andme. I ordered one immediately. Over the next few months, a lot of my free time was spent poring over and analyzing my genomic results.

While the health and physical traits information was interesting, I found the ancestry information that can be deduced from your genome to be fascinating. That might be because I was working on collecting together and digitizing our family tree at the time. Trying to figure out which ancestral groups you are descended from and how different ancestral groups admixed together is a fun application of genome analysis. Using the DNA information together with genealogical records can provide more clues to your ancestry than each would by itself.

With several genome databases (HapMap, HGDP, etc) and software (like plink, admixture, Structure) publicly available, the days of the genome bloggers are here. And I am trying to be the latest one.

In starting this project, I have been inspired by the Dodecad Ancestry Project by Dienekes Pontikos andEurogenes Ancestry Project by David Wesolowski. The catalyst for this project was my friend Razib who I bug whenever I need to talk genetics.

South Asia is a huge region with more than 1.5 billion people and a lot of diversity. Current public genome databases do not have a lot of samples from South Asia. Also, a number of samples that do exist are from small, isolated groups like the Kalash or Burusho. Being of South Asian descent, I thought that it would be good to analyze genome data from different South Asian groups for a better understanding of our ancestry. Thus was born the Harappa Ancestry Project. I named it after Harappa, an archaeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization in Punjab, Pakistan.

People of South Asian origin, or from neighboring countries, are eligible to participate in this project. The list of countries of origin I am accepting are as follows:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Burma
  • India
  • Iran
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tibet


Right now, I am only accepting raw data samples from people who have tested with 23andme.

If you would like to participate, please send your All DNA raw data text file (zipped is better) downloaded from 23andme to along with ancestral background information about you and all four of your grandparents. Background information would include where they were born, mother tongue, caste/community to which they belonged, etc. Please provide as much ancestry information as possible and try to be specific. Do especially include information about any ancestry from outside South Asia. Please do not send data from close relatives.

Privacy is an important concern in these matters. Rest assured that the raw genetic data and ancestry information that you send me will not be shared with anyone. Your data will be used only for ancestry analysis. No analysis of physical or health/medical traits will be performed. The individual ancestry analysis published on my blog will be done using an ID of the form HRPnnnn known to only you and me.

I have received a number of samples and am working on admixture analysis right now. I hope to report my results on the Harappa Ancestry Project website soon.

Zack Ajmal is an Electrical Engineer, Dad, gadget-freak, bookworm, political animal, and global nomad. He lives in Atlanta, GA and dreams of traveling the world with his 6 year old daughter. He blogs (or rather procrastinates about blogging) at Procrastination.

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