New research published by a team of scientists led by Paul Mellars, at the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge (Britain) and colleagues reported physical, DNA, and archaeological evidence from South Asian sites that indicates modern man first entered Asia between 50,000 and 60, 000 years ago. The research was reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 10, 2013.
The new research may settle a long standing debate concerning the first migration of modern humans from Africa into Southern Asia. Previous research argues for an entry of modern humans into Asia as early s 74,000 years ago. Read more.
Pottery offers a bonanza of information for archaeologists. It represents a revolution in container technology, and the clay from which it is made provides a canvas with many possibilities for self-expression. As a result, differences and similarities in pottery decorations can offer clues about cultural relationships over space and through time.
Residues on pots reveal important clues to how people used their pottery. An international team of scientists reported last month in the journal Nature the results of chemical analyses of the charred gunk on the surfaces of pottery shards from Jomon period sites in Japan. They determined it was composed mostly of the oily residue from cooking ocean fish.
The Jomon culture was mentioned in other news this month. The largest ever genetic study of native South Americans identified a sub-population in Ecuador with an unexpected link to eastern Asia. The study, published in PLOS Genetics, concluded that Asian genes had been introduced into South America sometime after 6,000 years ago — the same time the Jomon culture was flourishing in Japan. Read more.
The ancestors of people from across Europe and Asia may have spoken a common language about 15,000 years ago, new research suggests.
Now, researchers have reconstructed words, such as “mother,” “to pull” and “man,” which would have been spoken by ancient hunter-gatherers, possibly in an area such as the Caucuses or the modern-day country of Georgia. The word list, detailed today (May 6) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help researchers retrace the history of ancient migrations and contacts between prehistoric cultures.
“We can trace echoes of language back 15,000 years to a time that corresponds to about the end of the last ice age,” said study co-author Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. Read more.
Many behavioral and technological innovations appear in the archaeological record of Eurasia between about 45,000 and 24,000 years ago. This period has been termed the “initial Upper Paleolithic” and is largely associated with movements of modern humans into that part of the world and/or the complex interplay between population movements and environmental, demographic and cultural influences.
Paleolithic cultural development in eastern Asia is generally thought significantly different from that of the western Old World. In particular, the Chinese Paleolithic was dominated by simple core and flake tool industries, and Middle Paleolithic technologies (e.g., Levallois) were absent or appear very late in the record. In contrast with the western Old World, a distinct “Middle” Paleolithic has not yet been identified in China and broader eastern Asia. Read more.
When and how did the first people arrive in the Americas?
For many decades, archaeologists have agreed on an explanation known as the Clovis model. The theory holds that about 13,500 years ago, bands of big-game hunters in Asia followed their prey across an exposed ribbon of land linking Siberia and Alaska and found themselves on a vast, unexplored continent. The route back was later blocked by rising sea levels that swamped the land bridge. Those pioneers were the first Americans.
The theory is based largely on the discovery in 1929 of distinctive stone tools, including sophisticated spear points, near Clovis, N.M. The same kinds of spear points were later identified at sites across North America. After radiocarbon dating was developed in 1949, scholars found that the age of these “Clovis sites” coincided with the appearance at the end of the last ice age of an ice-free corridor of tundra leading down from what is now Alberta and British Columbia to the American Midwest. Read more.
The vast but little known north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang has presented a University of Sydney archaeologist with exciting new evidence of early contact between China and the West.
The findings of the Chinese-Australian collaborative team will be presented at East and West: Past and Future, an upcoming archaeological workshop examining early ties between the West, Xinjiang and Central Asia.
While on an expedition in Xinjiang’s dry grasslands last year, Dr Peter Jia found wheat starch dating back 4000 years, almost as old as the earliest wheat known in China. “This greatly strengthens the evidence that wheat came to China from the West,” he says. “Our research is making significant advances in showing how ideas travelled across many miles of mountains and deserts to enrich early Chinese civilisation.”
Dr Jia is co-organising East and West: Past and Future with the University’s China Studies Centre so key specialists working in Xinjiang and neighbouring areas of Central Asia can share their ideas and knowledge across national boundaries. Read more.
Ayutthaya tops the list of the 10 most endangered Heritage sites in Asia, according to the Global Heritage Fund.
Asia’s architectural treasures, from a Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan to an ancient city in China, are in danger of vanishing under a tide of economic expansion, war and tourism, according to experts.
The Global Heritage Fund named 10 sites facing “irreparable loss and destruction.”
“These 10 sites represent merely a fragment of the endangered treasures across Asia and the rest of the developing world,” Jeff Morgan, executive director of the fund, said, presenting the report, “Asia’s Heritage in Peril: Saving Our Vanishing Heritage.”
The architectural gems from Asia’s ancient and sophisticated cultures are struggling in the face of economic expansion, sudden floods of tourists, poor technical resources, and areas blighted by looting and conflict — in other words, the pressures of rapidly modernising Asia. Read more.
Ancestors of the earliest Native Americans may indeed be traced to Asia, according to a recent genetic study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia. The researchers, led by Theodore Schurr, an associate professor in Penn’s Department of Anthropology, in collaboration with Ludmila Osipova of the Institute, suggest that an ancient people living in a mountainous region in southern Siberia may have been the genetic source for those who migrated westward, possibly crossing the Bering Land Bridge to become the earliest Native Americans.
Known as the Altai region, it is located at the four corners of what is today China, Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. Says Schurr, it “is a key area because it’s a place that people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years. Our goal in working in this area was to better define what those founding lineages or sister lineages are to Native American populations.” Read more.