via various sources including ANU Media, the Guardian and the Journal of Human Evolution: A new paper in the Journal of Human Evolution models the “least-cost pathways” humans would have taken through Island Southeast Asia in order to reach Australia, offering a predictive insight into areas of high archaeological potential.
Archaeological records from Australia provide the earliest, indirect evidence for maritime crossings by early modern humans, as the islands to the north-west of the continent (Wallacea) have never been connected to the mainland. Suggested in 1977 by Joseph B. Birdsell, the two main routes from Sunda (mainland Southeast Asia) to Sahul (Australia-New Guinea), still in debate today, are a northern route through Sulawesi with a landing in New Guinea, or a southern route through Bali, Timor and thence landing in northern Australia. Here we construct least-cost pathway models of human dispersal from Sunda to Sahul at 65 ka and 70 ka by extending previous out-of-Africa least-cost models through the digitization of these routes. We recover overwhelming support for a northern route into Sahul, with a landing location on present-day Misool Island. Minimal support is also recovered for the southern route at 70 ka, with a possible crossing to Sahul from eastern Timor. Review of archaeological records on the Wallacean islands crossed by our northern route indicate a dearth of archaeological research in this region. Meanwhile, the comparatively better studied southern islands still lack any archaeological dates comparable to those known for initial occupation in Sunda and Sahul. Based on our model results we suggest Misool Island as the initial landing site for early modern humans on Sahul and recommend a future focus on archaeological fieldwork in the northern Wallacean islands.
Readers in Singapore may be interested in this talk at ISEAS, as part of the Singapore’s Pasts lecture series.
Date: Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Time: 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm
Venue: ISEAS Seminar Room 2
About the Lecture
The talk will present select passages of Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan sources narrating the sea passages of Buddhist monks travelling by ship between India and China via Southeast Asia. In particular, it will discuss the trope of the “miraculous aversion of shipwrecks”, highlighting the elements of intertextuality that emerge from the accounts. It will then analyse a similar motif found in the Sejarah Melayu, namely the avoidance of shipwrecks by Sang Nila Utama on the occasion of his crossing of the Straits. On the basis of this passage and other textual and archaeological evidence, it will argue that the Sejarah Melayu features pre-Islamic elements drawn from a “Buddhist fund” going back to the polity of Śrīvijaya.
About the Speaker
Andrea Acri (PhD Leiden University, 2011) is Assistant Professor in Tantric Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (PSL University, Paris), and Associate Fellow at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre. He has held various research and teaching positions in India, Singapore, the UK, and Australia. He has authored articles in international academic journals and published edited volumes on Shaiva and Buddhist tantric traditions in South and Southeast Asia, as well as wider cultural and historical dynamics of Intra-Asian connectivity. His monograph Dharma Pātañjala, originally appeared in the Gonda Indological Studies Series (Egbert Forsten/Brill, 2011), has been recently republished in India by Aditya Prakashan (New Delhi, 2017), and is being published in Indonesian translation by EFEO/Gramedia.
New paper in Nature about the origins and spread of dogs in Southeast Asia and the Pacific by Kreig et al.
Complex history of dog (Canis familiaris) origins and translocations in the Pacific revealed by ancient mitogenomes
Archaeological evidence suggests that dogs were introduced to the islands of Oceania via Island Southeast Asia around 3,300 years ago, and reached the eastern islands of Polynesia by the fourteenth century AD. This dispersal is intimately tied to human expansion, but the involvement of dogs in Pacific migrations is not well understood. Our analyses of seven new complete ancient mitogenomes and five partial mtDNA sequences from archaeological dog specimens from Mainland and Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific suggests at least three dog dispersal events into the region, in addition to the introduction of dingoes to Australia. We see an early introduction of dogs to Island Southeast Asia, which does not appear to extend into the islands of Oceania. A shared haplogroup identified between Iron Age Taiwanese dogs, terminal-Lapita and post-Lapita dogs suggests that at least one dog lineage was introduced to Near Oceania by or as the result of interactions with Austronesian language speakers associated with the Lapita Cultural Complex. We did not find any evidence that these dogs were successfully transported beyond New Guinea. Finally, we identify a widespread dog clade found across the Pacific, including the islands of Polynesia, which likely suggests a post-Lapita dog introduction from southern Island Southeast Asia.
New genetic-level studies on Southeast Asian populations throw up new ideas about how humans migrated and populated this region – it may well turn out that the Austronesian expansion wasn’t as big a deal as it was made out to be.