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Earlier this month, a fascinating paper was published in Science about the genetic origins of Southeast Asian populations. Analysis of genomes from 25 ancient samples reveal that rather the neither of the existing theories (hunter-gathering Hoabinhians, or agriculturalists from China) are correct, and that there are four ancient populations the form the basis of all modern Southeast Asian populations today.

The prehistoric peopling of Southeast Asia
McColl et al.
Science 06 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6397, pp. 88-92
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat3628

The human occupation history of Southeast Asia (SEA) remains heavily debated. Current evidence suggests that SEA was occupied by Hòabìnhian hunter-gatherers until ~4000 years ago, when farming economies developed and expanded, restricting foraging groups to remote habitats. Some argue that agricultural development was indigenous; others favor the “two layer” hypothesis that posits a southward expansion of farmers giving rise to present-day Southeast Asian genetic diversity. By sequencing 26 ancient human genomes (25 from SEA, 1 Japanese Jōmon), we show that neither interpretation fits the complexity of Southeast Asian history: Both Hòabìnhian hunter-gatherers and East Asian farmers contributed to current Southeast Asian diversity, with further migrations affecting island SEA and Vietnam. Our results help resolve one of the long-standing controversies in Southeast Asian prehistory.

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About the Author

Noel Tan ()

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

Website: http://www.SoutheastAsianArchaeology.com/about/

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