The initial arrival of Romani outside
in the 15th century, described by the chronicler as getoufte heiden
"baptized heathens" and drawn wearing
style clothes and weapons (
, p. 749).
The Romani have been described by
Diana Muir Appelbaum as unique among peoples because they have never identified themselves with a territory; they have no tradition of an ancient and distant homeland from which their ancestors migrated, nor do they claim the right to national sovereignty in any of the lands where they reside, rather, Romani identity is bound up with the ideal of freedom expressed, in part, in having no ties to a homeland.
 The absence of traditional origin stories and of a written history has meant that the origin and early history of the Romani people was long an enigma. Indian origin was suggested on linguistic grounds as early as the late 18th century.
The genetic evidence identified an
Indian origin for Roma.
 One theory suggests that the name ultimately derives from a form
ḍōmba- 'man of low caste living by singing and music', attested in
 An alternative view is that the ancestors of the Romani were part of the military in
Northern India. When there were invasions by
Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi and these soldiers were defeated, they were moved west with their families into the
Byzantine Empire between AD 1000 and 1030.
Genetic evidence connects the
Romani people to the descendants of groups which emigrated from
South Asia towards
Central Asia during the medieval period.
Until the mid-to-late 18th century, theories of the origin of the Romani were mostly speculative. In 1782, Johann Christian Christoph Rüdiger published his research that pointed out the relationship between the
Romani language and
 Subsequent work supported the hypothesis that Romani shared a common origin with the Indo-Aryan languages of Northern India,
 with Romani grouping most closely with
Sinhalese in a recent study.
Domari and Romani language
Domari was once thought to be the "sister language" of Romani, the two languages having split after the departure from the
South Asia, but more recent research suggests that the differences between them are significant enough to treat them as two separate languages within the
Central zone (
Saraiki language group of languages. The Dom and the Rom are therefore likely to be descendants of two different migration waves from the Indian subcontinent, separated by several centuries.
Numerals in the
Lomavren languages, with
Persian forms for comparison.
 Note that Romani 7–9 are borrowed from Greek.
Further evidence for the South Asian origin of the Romanies came in the late 1990s. Researchers doing DNA analysis discovered that Romani populations carried large frequencies of particular
Y chromosomes (inherited paternally) and
mitochondrial DNA (inherited maternally) that otherwise exist only in populations from
47.3% of Romani men carry Y chromosomes of
haplogroup H-M82 which is rare outside
haplogroup M, most common in Indian subjects and rare outside Southern Asia, accounts for nearly 30% of Romani people.
 A more detailed study of Polish Roma shows this to be of the M5 lineage, which is specific to India.
 Moreover, a form of the inherited disorder
congenital myasthenia is found in Romani subjects. This form of the disorder, caused by the 1267delG mutation, is otherwise known only in subjects of Indian ancestry. This is considered to be the best evidence of the Indian ancestry of the Romanis.
The Romanis have been described as "a conglomerate of genetically isolated founder populations".
 The number of common Mendelian disorders found among Romanis from all over Europe indicates "a common origin and
 See also this table:
A study from 2001 by Gresham et al. suggests "a limited number of related founders, compatible with a small group of migrants splitting from a distinct caste or tribal group".
 Also the study pointed out that "
genetic drift and different levels and sources of admixture, appear to have played a role in the subsequent differentiation of populations".
 The same study found that "a single lineage ... found across Romani populations, accounts for almost one-third of Romani males.
A 2004 study by Morar et al. concluded that the Romanies are "a founder population of common origins that has subsequently split into multiple socially divergent and geographically dispersed Gypsy groups".
 The same study revealed that this population "was founded approximately 32–40 generations ago, with secondary and tertiary founder events occurring approximately 16–25 generations ago".
Connection with the Burushos and Pamiris
Hunza have a paternal lineage genetic marker that is grouped with
Pamiri speakers from
Tajikistan, and the
Sinti or Sindhi Romani ethnic group. This find of shared genetic haplogroups may indicate an origin of the Romani people in or around these regions.
Possible connection with the Domba people
According to a genetic study on The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 in 2012, the ancestors of present scheduled tribes and scheduled caste populations of northern India, traditionally referred to collectively as the
Ḍoma, are the likely ancestral populations of modern European Roma.
A mtdna or ydna study provides valuable information but a limitation of these studies is that they represent only one instantiation of the genealogical process. Autosomal data permits simultaneous analysis of multiple lineages, which can provide novel information about population history. According to a genetic study on autosomal data on Roma the source of Southasian Ancestry in Roma is North-West India. The two populations showing closest relatedness to Roma were Kashmiri Pandits and Sindhi. Kashmiri Pandits are Kashmiri Brahmins.
 The classical and mtDNA genetic markers suggested the closest affinity of the Roma with Rajput and Sindhi populations from Rajasthan and the Punjab respectively.