Indian Ocean Archaeology
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Linking continents, cultures and biota through archaeology
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The Archaeobotanist: Earlier sorghum in Sudan

The Archaeobotanist: Earlier sorghum in Sudan | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

I have recently been made aware of a small report in Nyame Akuma on Kasala (northeast Sudan), where Italian researchers have restarted research which can be regarded as following on from the 1980s survey headed by R. Fattovich. The new work has included the study of some plant impressions in ceramics published as "Sorghum exploitation at Kasala and its environs, North Eastern Sudan in the Second and First Millennium BC" by Alemseged Beldados and Lorenzo Constantini

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Sorghum antiquity in Africa may finally be closing the gap with India!

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Disclosing the origin and diversity of Omani cattle - Mahgoub - 2012 - Animal Genetics - Wiley Online Library

Disclosing the origin and diversity of Omani cattle - Mahgoub - 2012 - Animal Genetics - Wiley Online Library | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

Among all livestock species, cattle have a prominent status as they have contributed greatly to the economy, nutrition and culture from the beginning of farming societies until the present time. The origins and diversity of local cattle breeds have been widely assessed. However, there are still some regions for which very little of their local genetic resources is known. The present work aimed to estimate the genetic diversity and the origins of Omani cattle. Located in the south-eastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, close to the Near East, East Africa and the Indian subcontinent, the Sultanate of Oman occupies a key position, which may enable understanding cattle dispersal around the Indian Ocean. To disclose the origin of this cattle population, we used a set of 11 polymorphic microsatellites and 113 samples representing the European, African and Indian ancestry to compare with cattle from Oman. This study found a very heterogenic population with a markedly Bos indicus ancestry and with some degree of admixture...

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This recent genetic study of Omani cattle indicates that they are hybridized from the three major cattle domestication lineages, Near Eastern taurines, African taurines, and Indian zebu, but with a majority of genetic diversity appearing to be of Indian zebu origin

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Luigi Guarino's curator insight, January 5, 2014 2:17 PM

Was the small, distinctive breed from Dhofar included?

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New theory on African exit

New theory on African exit | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it
Modern humans left Africa twice as early as previously thought, spreading in a number of climate-driven waves, new research suggests.
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paper online here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1040618213000244

 

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Gene flow from India to Australia about 4,000 years ago

Gene flow from India to Australia about 4,000 years ago | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it
Long before Europeans settled in Australia humans had migrated from the Indian subcontinent to Australia and mixed with Australian aborigines.
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Genetic evidence for gene flow from South Indians to Australian aborigines. This makes an alternative introduction of the dog/dingo from India rather than friom Austronesian possible. The date estimate of "around 4,230 y ago" seems awefully precise for a molecular clock calculation, and is surely suspect. Still a data closer to 3500 BP would accord well with the arrival of sandal wood into South India, from it probable origins in Indonesia (which I have written on elsewhere). PNAS article: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/01/09/1211927110.abstract

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Dorian Q Fuller's comment, February 21, 2013 6:17 AM
However, the absdence of any evidence for gene flow from South India to Isaldn Southeast Asia, where we know there was Indian influence and enclaves, raises some doubts about the reliability of this study.
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Land Snails from Archaeological Sites in the Marshall Islands, with Remarks on Prehistoric Translocations in Tropical Oceania

We report the recovery of 11 taxa of nonmarine mollusks from archaeological sites on Majuro, Maloelap, and Ebon Atolls, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Pupina complanata (Pupinidae), Omphalotropis fragilis (Assimineidae), Truncatella guerinii (Truncatellidae), Lamellidea pusilla and Pacificella variabilis (Achatinellidae), Gastrocopta pediculus (Gastrocoptidae), Nesopupa sp. (Vertiginidae), “Succinea” sp. (Succineidae), Allopeas gracile (Subulinidae), and Liardetia samoensis (Helicarionidae) arrived in these islands prehistorically; Liardetia sculpta (Helicarionidae) has not yet been recovered from levels of confirmed prehistoric age. Pupina complanata, O. fragilis, and probably also Nesopupa sp., and "Succinea” sp. are Micronesian endemics. Al other species are widely distributed in Micronesia and Polynesia and (except for the strand-line species T. guerinii) were undoubtedly translocated to the Marshall Islands by the prehistoric voyages of Pacific islanders. The precise role of human transport in the dispersal of the Micronesian endemics remains unclear, but because these atolls have been emergent for a mere 3,000 yr or so, human transport is likely in view of the known rarity of natural interarchipelagic dispersal of nonmarine mollusks.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A study of human dispersed landsnails on Pacific islands, together with their archaeological evidence. This indicates the potential of a new line of molluscan evidence to be considered alongside crops, commensal mammals and weeds in the study of early translocations and trans-oceanic contacts. New we just have start this work on Indian and African sites. 

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The antiquity of tooth blackening in Madagascar

Although Madagascar is geographically disjunct from Southeast Asia, Micronesia and Melanesia, where intentional blackening of teeth used to be ubiquitous, this study found the practice deeply rooted in Malagasy culture. Men and women accomplished teeth blackening not only by chewing various, mostly endemic, plants, but also by applying organic burn products as well as a combination of mineral rich soil and barks containing tannins.....

The widespread distribution of teeth blackening across the island and similarities to methods known from Austronesian speakers elsewhere are some of the indications that teeth blackening might have reached Madagascar during its early phases of settlement by Austronesian speakers from the Indo-Malay archipelago. Surprisingly, betel chewing, a practice equally associated with Southeast Asian people, appears to have reached Madagascar at a relatively late date by way of the Swahili coast. Neither areca nut (Areca catechu L.) nor betel pepper (Piper betle L.) become naturalized across the island, nor did the usage of these plants penetrate Malagasy culture to any great extent.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A detailed study of Malagasy beliefs to do with teeth and tooth blackening, which point to shared Austronesian roots, but not apparently with the spread of the betel-chewing complex.

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The original features of rice (Oryza sativa L.) genetic diversity and the importance of within-variety diversity in the highlands of Madagascar build a strong case for in situ conservation

The original features of rice (Oryza sativa L.) genetic diversity and the importance of within-variety diversity in the highlands of Madagascar build a strong case for in situ conservation | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

The highlands of Madagascar have been identified as a key site for rice, Oryza sativa, genetic diversity. To define conservation strategies, we performed multidisciplinary analysis of rice genetic diversity and factors shaping its distribution in the target region. Along with the indica and japonica rice subspecies of O. sativa, we confirmed the presence of an atypical rice group with a preferential habitat of 1,250–1,750 m. Spatial distribution of genetic diversity was uneven. The most determining factor of this unevenness was the altitude authorising or not the presence of different rice cropping systems and the associated types of varieties. Village and individual farmer’s wealth also had a determining role on the amount of rice diversity they hosted. While molecular variance between villages in a given interval of altitude represented 16 % of the total variance, within-village variance represented more than 75 % of the total, and within-farm variance 70 % of within-village variance. This hierarchical distribution of molecular variance suggests that a small number of samples per scale (altitude interval, village and farm) could allow to capture most of the genetic diversity observed. However, within-variety diversity was also important making ex situ conservation strategies impractical and costly.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

The rice diversity in Madagascar clearly points to multiple introductions, from S Asia and SE Asia, probably multiple times from each. The temperate japonica could represent a more West Asian source too perhaps. Clearly there is local land race diversification too, so much to be studied in the history of Malagasy rice.

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, January 11, 2013 8:59 AM

The "atypical" rice of the Madagascar highlands (green in the phylogram), appears to be derivative of indica more and distant from both tropcial and temperate japonica rices (both of which are present).

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Swahili Towns

Swahili Towns | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it
The medieval towns along the eastern coast of Africa called the Swahili culture, were a mix of stone, coral and thatch structures.
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Modelling the Swahili past: the archaeology of Mikindani in southern coastal Tanzania

Modelling the Swahili past: the archaeology of Mikindani in southern coastal Tanzania | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

The Swahili of the East African coast formed one of the most studied and best known societies of Sub-Saharan African antiquity. The most popular model of Swahili society recognises their roots among Iron Age African communities but views them as largely facing outwards — away from the rest of Africa – and defines them primarily through their activities in the Indian Ocean sphere, especially their participation in inter-regional commerce and the integration of Middle Eastern Islamic culture into their lives. Building from the insights of projects studying connections between the coast and hinterland, this paper uses new evidence from the region around the town of Mikindani in southern Tanzania to show that some coastal communities in the Swahili world instead concentrated on interior connections and did not follow cosmopolitan Islamic sociocultural norms. Indeed, patterns in the Mikindani region departed from Swahili norms across a variety of measures during the early second millennium AD and suggest that certain portions of the Swahili coast would be better viewed facing into the African interior to a greater degree than toward the Indian Ocean.

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Ancient Indian Ocean Corridors

Ancient Indian Ocean Corridors | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

This blog provides a forum for presenting and discussing the latest findings relating to the ancient Indian Ocean, from archaeology, molecular genetics, historical linguistics and other disciplines. It takes a long-term view of the Indian Ocean region, exploring the processes that shaped its cultures, societies and environments from the Pleistocene to the historical period.

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The Archaeobotanist: Debating early African bananas

The Archaeobotanist: Debating early African bananas | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

The article includes a short paragraph on bananas, with some quite critical comments on the issue of early African banans ("act two" in the history summarized below on this blog). They note that study in their samples "several thousand phytoliths already counted, no evidence for Musa could be detected. This sheds further doubt on the banana phytoliths from the contemporary third millennium BP site Nkang" and also they argue that, "There are also ecological arguments against cultivation of banana during this period. As is shown in the following, the climate was much more seasonal in the second half of the third millennium BP and thus unfavourable for plantains which require a humid climate without any major oscillations"

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The Sealinks Project at The University of Oxford: Home

The Sealinks Project at The University of Oxford: Home | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

Multidisciplinary perspectives on the prehistoric emergence of long-distance maritime contacts in the Indian Ocean

The SEALINKS Project is a large international project that is investigating the first seafarers of the Indian Ocean

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University College London: MA in Archaeology & Heritage of Asia

University College London: MA in Archaeology & Heritage of Asia | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it
University College London’s Institute of Archaeology will be offering a new MA in Archaeology & Heritage of Asia as of September 2013. This degree programme, which is available as a full-...
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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, January 11, 2013 10:24 AM

Just wanted to flag our exciting new degree program that looks comparative across South, Central and East Asia. We are now accepting students for our first year the degree.

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Sealinks Project new website up and running

Sealinks Project new website up and running | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This new website should be easier to keep updated. It has facilities for addiing comments. Go here for information on the upcoming Oct. 2012 "Proto-globalisation" conference

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Holocene mangrove dynamics from Unguja Ukuu, Zanzibar

Holocene mangrove dynamics from Unguja Ukuu, Zanzibar | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

Sediment, pollen and charcoal data, set within a radiocarbon chronological framework, from Unguja Ukuu, Zanzibar are used to reconstruct mangrove ecosystem dynamics during the Holocene. Changes in mangrove ecosystem composition were driven by a combination of sea level and environmental changes, anthropogenic interaction and geomorphological activity. The high occurrence of Rhizophora mucronata, accompanied by other mangrove species, suggests that the headland of Unguja Ukuu supported a mangrove community from about 7000 cal BP. During the mid-Holocene, mangroves migrated landward, probably in response to a sea level highstand. After the mid-Holocene a short term decrease in Sonneratia alba, with an increase in more terrestrial mangrove species, the appearance of Poaceae and increase in the quantity of charcoal all indicate a lower sea level and relatively dry environmental conditions. This is likely to be coincident with the appearance of the earliest habitation of Zanzibar. The increase in S. alba pollen until prior to 530cal BP is likely to reflect a sea level rise. The increase in charcoal after about 1400 cal BP is likely to relate to drier conditions and may reflect early human settlement at Unguja Ukuu. A recent decrease in R. mucronata, combined with an increase in S. alba, is likely to result from sea level rise and decreased moisture availability. Recent human-ecosystem interactions are characterized by a reduction in mangrove extent, possibly associated with the mangrove pole trade and rising fuel wood consumption in Zanzibar, particularly from around 530 cal BP.

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Les mondes de l’océan Indien

Les mondes de l’océan Indien | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

Philippe Beaujard, directeur de recherche émérite au CNRS (CEMAf), ethnologue et historien spécialiste de Madagascar et participant au programme MEDIAN, vient de publier une importante somme sur l’histoire des “mondes de l’océan Indien” aux éditions Armand Colin.

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Two volumes of history on the Indian Ocean world by Philippe Beuajard, a distinguised researcher on this topic, with interests in world systems history.

Volume 1. De la formation de l’Etat au premier système-monde afro-eurasien

Volume 2. L’océan Indien, au cœur des globalisations de l’Ancien Monde (7e-15e siècles)

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MeDIan. Les socoietes mediterraneennes et l'Ocean Indien

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A French research network on the Mediterranean and Indian ocean, with announcements on various meeting past and ongoing research projects.

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From mouth fresheners to erotic perfumes: The evolving socio-cultural significance of nutmeg, mace and cloves in South Asia | Zumbroich | eJIM - eJournal of Indian Medicine

From mouth fresheners to erotic perfumes: The evolving socio-cultural significance of nutmeg, mace and cloves in South Asia | Zumbroich | eJIM - eJournal of Indian Medicine | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

A historical and historical linguistics study of the knowledge of cloves and nutmeg in early India. Their place in Indian canons of poetry and tranditions of sensuality.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This argues that these spices only became widely available in India in the First Millennium AD or perhaps the last centuries BC, which is still before Europe. He argues that the spread pf betel-chewing culture came first to India and paved the way for these spices.

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Geographical variation of foxtail millet, Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv. based on rDNA PCR–RFLP - Springer

Geographical variation of foxtail millet, Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv. based on rDNA PCR–RFLP - Springer | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

The rDNA PCR–RFLP of foxtail millet (Setaria italica) germ-plasm collected throughout Eurasia and from a part of Africa was investigated with five restriction enzymes according to our previous study. Foxtail millet germ-plasms were classified by length of the rDNA IGS and RFLP; clear geographical differentiation was observed between East Asia, the Nansei Islands of Japan-Taiwan-the Philippines area, South Asia and Afghanistan-Pakistan. We also found evidence of migration of foxtail millet landraces between the areas. We calculated diversity index (D) for each region and found that center of diversity of this millet is East Asia such as China, Korea and Japan.


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Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Interesting to see the genetic similarity between Indian and eastern African foxtail millets. Although I suppose this could be due to recent/colonial introductions rather than anything ancient.

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, January 11, 2013 11:02 AM

While the high diversity in East Asia is unsurprising given the origins there, what is of note is the lack of diversity in both India and Southeast Asia, suggested ral bottlenecks and limited reintroductions to those regions. Also there is a clear divide between SE Asia and South Asia (with Burma grouping with India) which is to be noted. This division parallels that in rice which has led me to postulate japonica introduction to India via central Asia (also supported by archaeological evidence: see http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12520-010-0035-y ;). Curiously the  South Asian type is also evident in the Himalayas (e.g. Bhutan) despite the presence of Sino-Tibetan that one would expect to have carried diversity from central China.

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Evaluation of genetic diversity and population structure of west-central Indian cattle breeds - Shah et al 2012 - Animal Genetics - Online 6 Dec 2012

Evaluation of genetic diversity and population structure of west-central Indian cattle breeds - Shah et al 2012 - Animal Genetics -  Online 6 Dec 2012 | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

Evaluations of genetic diversity in domestic livestock populations are necessary to implement region-specific conservation measures. We determined the genetic diversity and evolutionary relationships among eight geographically and phenotypically diverse cattle breeds indigenous to west-central India by genotyping these animals for 22 microsatellite loci. A total of 326 alleles were detected, and the expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.614 (Kenkatha) to 0.701 (Dangi). The mean number of alleles among the cattle breeds ranged from 7.182 (Khillar) to 9.409 (Gaolao). There were abundant genetic variations displayed within breeds, and the genetic differentiation was also high between the Indian cattle breeds, which displayed 15.9% of the total genetic differentiation among the different breeds. The genetic differentiation (pairwise FST) among the eight Indian breeds varied from 0.0126 for the Kankrej–Malvi pair to 0.2667 for Khillar–Kenkatha pair. The phylogeny, principal components analysis, and structure analysis further supported close grouping of Kankrej, Malvi, Nimari and Gir; Gaolao and Kenkatha, whereas Dangi and Khillar remained at distance from other breeds

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

So Omani cattle are in majority Indian zebu genetically with a large dash of African and Near Eastern cattle DNA...

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Indian Ocean Archaeology Network | Worldwide Universities Network (WUN)

Indian Ocean Archaeology Network | Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

Archaeology, because it studies humans over long timeframes, is able to provide a unique insight into how humans from Africa, Asia, and Australia have dealt with changing environments, encompassing long-term climate change as well as short-term events and natural disasters. Archaeology is also concerned with the conservation of cultural and heritage resources. The network will focus on threats to archaeological heritage across the whole region, especially in coastal and island communities affected by climate change.

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Old World globalization and the Columbian exchange: comparison and contrast

Old World globalization and the Columbian exchange: comparison and contrast | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

A recent paper by Jones et al. (Food globalization in prehistory, World Archaeology, 2011, 43(4), 665–75) explores a prehistoric ‘Trans-Eurasian’ episode of food globalization characterized by the long-distance exchange of starch crops. Drawing upon a comparison to the Columbian Exchange, they emphasize the role of fast-growing crops in optimizing productivity, giving minimal consideration to other drivers. Here we re-evaluate the sequence and timing of the Trans-Eurasian exchange and give greater consideration to the social dimensions of plant translocation. We outline a model for thinking about plant translocations that highlights the way the conceptualization and use of introduced plants changes through time, with social factors frequently dominating in the early stages.

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, December 15, 2012 12:20 PM

updated data, and debates, relating to when Chinese millets left China, wheat and barley arrived in China, and the spread of buckwheat. Plus some ideas for conceptualizing the social conext of food crop translocations.

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The Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) at McGill University

The Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) at McGill University | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

The Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) at McGill University is a research initiative and resource base established to promote the study of the history, economy and cultures of the lands and peoples of the Indian Ocean World (IOW) - from China to Southeast and South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

This macro-region witnessed the early emergence of major centres of production and a monsoon-based system of trans-oceanic trade that led to the emergence by at least the tenth century of a sophisticated and durable system of long-distance exchange of commodities, monies, technology, ideas and people. The IOW was thus home to the first 'global' economy, one that dominated the macro-region until at least the mid eighteenth century – some would argue the nineteenth century, and which is again resurgent. Today the IOW comprises 50% of the planet's population and is forecast to become the leading world economy by 2020.

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SEALINKS

SEALINKS | Indian Ocean Archaeology | Scoop.it

Exploration into the nature of early trans-oceanic contacts. While some oceans, like the Atlantic, operated as barriers, preventing contact and exchange until relatively recently, the Indian Ocean has for millennia served as bridge linking diverse and often distant lands and ethnic groups.

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