New genetic testing has determined that the Roma people, also known as gypsies and Romani (of which Roma are considered a subgroup), entered Europe about 1500 years ago.
Researchers at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain compared the DNA from various countries in Europe and Asia using a genome-wide sequencing technique.
“Understanding the Romani’s genetic legacy is necessary to complete the genetic characterization of Europeans as a whole, with implications for various fields, from human evolution to the health sciences,” said study co-author Manfred Kayser, of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, according to Scientific American.
They used samples from 152 Romani people from 13 different groups in Europe, said the Guardian.
Those samples were compared with other Europeans, Indians and Central Asians.
The research found that the first Romani people came from Punjab state in India who were likely fleeing difficult conditions, reported Live Science.
Their movement saw only moderate intermingling with populations as they made their way to Europe.
They began dispersing in Europe via Bulgaria around 1100 AD.
Along the way their population saw massive declines due to difficult conditions.
Local mingling was rare in the Balkan states but increased in what is now Portugal, Spain and Lithuania.
The Roma population in Europe now constitutes about 11 million people.
The researchers said that it was about time that studies were done on the marginalized Roma population.
"They constitute an important fraction of the European population, but their marginalized situation in many countries also seems to have affected their visibility in scientific studies," said co-author David Comas, of Universitat Pompeu Fabra, according to TNN.
The Romani population's troubles have not stopped even recently.
1.5 million Romani are believed to have been killed by Nazi Germany and they still continue to face discrimination and violence.