South Asia—Perennial Backwater or Object of Biased Assessment: A Discussion Based on Current Archaeological, Anthropological, and Genetic Evidence

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2010
Authors
Singh, Varun
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University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
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Abstract
The evolution of humans from primates is well attested in Africa, considered to be the only place where the ancestors of modern humans could have evolved. The most ancestral human form, Homo erectus, is also thought to have migrated out of Africa. Recent genetic research has added support to an ‘‘Out of Africa’’ migration of modern man. However, the latest findings of population genetics have, by challenging the route of exodus, placed Asia and especially South Asia in a particularly prominent position. This new idea that humans emerging out of Africa undertook a long journey along the coasts of Asia toward Australia has also received recent support from archaeology. The long-standing belief that modern humans reached Europe by first journeying through the Levant, was based on the discovery of modern looking skeletons in southern France. This discovery of the ‘‘Cro-Magnons’’ in France spurred an intense search for more evidence of human presence in Europe. The wealth of data thus accumulated in Africa and Europe has formed the basis for all the discussion on human evolution and migration. Asia by contrast has su¤ered neglect both in terms of lack of interest and exploration of the same magnitude accorded Africa and Europe. What evidence exists has only attracted passing notice, the bulk of the data eluding the attention of western scholars. This article attempts to address this imbalance by bringing together all current information relating to the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and genetics. The area covered is by size enormous, but the focus is on the strength of evidence for colonization of South Asia from outside as opposed to contributions made by the indigenous people.
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South Asia, Homo sapiens, mtDNA, symbolic behavior
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38 pages
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
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