A Brief History of Roma People

Vincent van Gogh: The Caravans – Gypsy Camp near Arles (1888, Oil on canvas)

We know that the Roma originally migrated out of India. But what migration path did they follow? Also, where exactly did they originate from India?. A new study looks at maternal DNA to trace the Roma history and has some answers. This is particularly important because the Roma don’t have a reliable history and we all know how the Enlightened Europeans treated them.

The new study is mostly about what contributed to the heterogeneity of the Roma groups. What is of interest to us is that they left India about a 1000 to 1500 years back and went through Persia and Greece to reach the Balkans. By the 14th century, various Roma groups established themselves in the Balkan Peninsula and within a century they reached the periphery of Europe. When Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama set out on their famous voyages, the Roma were present in Spain and Portugal.

Investigating their Indian origins, the study found that the Roma originated mostly in North-Western India and a bit from East India. Among the North-Western states, Punjab is the most probable homeland for the Roma, thus creating a new market for Yash Raj films.


  1. Isabel Mendizabal et al.,  Reconstructing the Indian Origin and Dispersal of the European Roma: A Maternal Genetic Perspective,PLoS ONE 6, no. 1 (January 10, 2011): e15988.

5 thoughts on “A Brief History of Roma People

  1. I wonder what drove them out of India? The time frame of 1000-1500 yrs could be a pointer… some foreign invasions perhaps?
    Interestingly, many of the Lambada tribal people have their surname as “singh” or “naik”. One of their claims is that they are descendents of the army of Prithviraj Chauhan. They condemned themselves to this wandering willfully when he was defeated and they will settle only when a “certain people are taken care of”.

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