American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Genetic history of Southeast Asian populations as revealed by ancient and modern human mitochondrial DNA analysis
Patcharee Lertrit et al.
The 360 base-pair fragment in HVS-1 of the mitochondrial genome were determined from ancient human remains excavated at Noen U-loke and Ban Lum-Khao, two Bronze and Iron Age archaeological sites in Northeastern Thailand, radio-carbon dated to circa 3,500-1,500 years BP and 3,200-2,400 years BP, respectively. These two neighboring populations were parts of early agricultural communities prevailing in northeastern Thailand from the fourth millennium BP onwards. The nucleotide sequences of these ancient samples were compared with the sequences of modern samples from various ethnic populations of East and Southeast Asia, encompassing four major linguistic affiliations (Altaic, Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai, and Austroasiatic), to investigate the genetic relationships and history among them. The two ancient samples were most closely related to each other, and next most closely related to the Chao-Bon, an Austroasiatic-speaking group living near the archaeological sites, suggesting that the genetic continuum may have persisted since prehistoric times in situ among the native, perhaps Austroasiatic-speaking population. Tai-Kadai groups formed close affinities among themselves, with a tendency to be more closely related to other Southeast Asian populations than to populations from further north. The Tai-Kadai groups were relatively distant from all groups that have presumably been in Southeast Asia for longer-that is, the two ancient groups and the Austroasiatic-speaking groups, with the exception of the Khmer group. This finding is compatible with the known history of the Thais: their late arrival in Southeast Asia from southern China after the 10th-11th century AD, followed by a period of subjugation under the Khmers.