May 14, 2014

Near Eastern roots of South Asian Neolithic

The table of dates for different sites might prove useful (pdf).

PLoS ONE 9(5): e95714. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095714

The Near-Eastern Roots of the Neolithic in South Asia

Kavita Gangal et al.

The Fertile Crescent in the Near East is one of the independent origins of the Neolithic, the source from which farming and pottery-making spread across Europe from 9,000 to 6,000 years ago at an average rate of about 1 km/yr. There is also strong evidence for causal connections between the Near-Eastern Neolithic and that further east, up to the Indus Valley. The Neolithic in South Asia has been far less explored than its European counterpart, especially in terms of absolute (14C) dating; hence, there were no previous attempts to assess quantitatively its spread in Asia. We combine the available 14C data with the archaeological evidence for early Neolithic sites in South Asia to analyze the spatio-temporal continuity of the Neolithic dispersal from the Near East through the Middle East and to the Indian subcontinent. We reveal an approximately linear dependence between the age and the geodesic distance from the Near East, suggesting a systematic (but not necessarily uniform) spread at an average speed of about 0.65 km/yr.

Link

22 comments:

Wil said...

Do the authors (or yourself) surmise the spread of Near Eastern culture (and probably genes) in South Asia progressed at a slower rate than in Europe because South Asia had a high population density at the time?

Palisto said...

This reminds me of:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-e5L7sf6mEcY/TcCBaZ9rFqI/AAAAAAAADnM/Rd7jcR8XKYI/s1600/1_2.png

From:
http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/05/solution-to-problem-of-indo-aryan.html

Grey said...

"The Fertile Crescent in the Near East is one of the independent origins of the Neolithic, the source from which farming and pottery-making spread across Europe from 9,000 to 6,000 years ago"

Isn't Balkan pottery earlier?

On a more general note I wonder if people aren't projecting backwards a bit from later times.

Seems to me before farming i.e. before drainage, the Fertile Crescent may have been a giant swamp and only became the Fertile Crescent later. So the (subconscious?) assumption that things must have started from there may be a false one.

andrew said...

The many Iranian data points discussed in the paper are a real addition to the scholarship. One of the bigger implications is regarding the path or speed of progress in the Neolithic expansion to the Indus River Valley.

This data set supports a gradual overland expansion over central Persia rather than a direct path by sea, a coastal route, or a very rapid "land rush" with some farmers from a source point rapidly advancing to distant points without first settling intermediate territory.

It also indicates an intermediate point of departure for all Persian and South Asian Neolithic expansion from a point in the Zargos Mountains, rather than direct paths from source points identified for the Fertile Crescent Neolithic generally.

terryt said...

"Seems to me before farming i.e. before drainage, the Fertile Crescent may have been a giant swamp and only became the Fertile Crescent later".

The great river valleys would have been swamp but the 'Fertile Crescent' actually refers to the hill country around the valley margins. In fact much of it consisted of the Zagros Mountain foothills. This fits Andrew's observations.

batman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eurologist said...

Isn't Balkan pottery earlier?

Grey,

it appears to be, or may be contemporaneous with some early Anatolian pottery.

At any rate, it shows among many other finds that there was intense contact between the southern Balkans and Anatolia and the Levant even before the Neolithic - which has been known for a long time but is unfortunately largely ignored. Since the Gravettian, the Balkans where more closely related to Anatolia and the Levant, both culturally and genetically, than to other areas of Europe.

Lee High said...

"Seems to me before farming i.e. before drainage, the Fertile Crescent may have been a giant swamp and only became the Fertile Crescent later. So the (subconscious?) assumption that things must have started from there may be a false one."

Current evidence suggests that wheat was domesticated in the highlands of eastern Anatolia. The next earliest sites are in other neighbouring highland areas including the Zagros and Syria.

These areas are still part of the fertile crescent, but the major river valleys were, as you say, originally swamps, and were probably occupied much later when populations were larger and social organisation was sufficiently developed to build the canals and dams required for agriculture.

In the earliest Neolithic, suitable highlands stretched pretty much from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan. There are no obvious constraints (climate or topography) that would have prevented the eastward expansion of wheat based agriculture from Anatolia all the way to Afghanistan. So logically one would expect the Neolithic to have reached this region relatively quickly.

0.65 miles per year is about 15 miles per generation. 15 miles is a moderate days walk for a fit person - far enough for there to be plenty of virgin land - but close enough to visit the family.

batman said...

The hypothesis that the 'agriculture' originated in Anatolia as a 'package' is nothing but an old asumption, launched in the 1930-ties by Gordon W. Childe.

Facts from later excavations and discoveries have proven that the domestication of plants and animals had started long before that. The earliest findings of hand-mills - to process ryes and oats - are today proven to be more than 30.000 years old.

The domestication of wolves and reindeer are probably from the same period, the taming and use of horses likewise.

Thus we have to regard the "agricultural haplotypes" (R1a/R1b, U-K/H) in a different ligth. Considering the arctic origin of the y-dna R and mt-dna U-K/H we have to consdier that the spread of the various agricultural economies (from pastoral reindeer-, goat- and sheep-herding to the more more stable cow-, chicken- and pig-herding) as various forms of animal domestication - wich have originated in somewhat different regions. Weighing in the domesticated plants and animals from America - up to 9.000 yrs old maize and cayenne - it seems clear that the "anatolian package" is a misconcept of terms.

Consequently we acyually have to adress various haplotypes to various forms of agriculture. One such variation is the difredence of spread of the y-dna R1a and R1b respectively.

When the doemsticated form of the urox (from NV Europe) showed up around the Med, as well as in Sumeria and India we may have to deal with a piccture where some of the domesticated plants and animals - along with y-dna R1a/R1b - came out of NW Eurasia.

Before the possibility of a common origin north-west of the Black Sea is considered the genetic math and consequent interpretations rest on assumed premisses - that are NOT ONLY fact-driven and consequentual - but still partly presumptive and thus circumstantial.

batman said...

http://archaeology.about.com/od/foodsoftheancientpast/ss/The-Ancient-Art-Of-Making-Flour_6.htm

https://www.stri.si.edu/english/about_stri/media/press_releases/PDFs/oldest_evidence_wild_cereals.pdf

aniasi said...

The Iranian sites seem to be close to the Elamite civilisation. Does anyone else think this is evidence of an IVC-Elamite relationship?

Rajarshi Banerjee said...

"When the doemsticated form of the urox (from NV Europe) showed up around the Med, as well as in Sumeria and India we may have to deal with a piccture where some of the domesticated plants and animals"

what is urox? european cattle have an anatolian imprint. wild european aurochs introgressed in europe but not in the middle east. Cattle in south asia were domesticated independently and genetically unrelated to aurochs.

rice domestication spread from the east into the indus valley probably later than wheat from the west.

andrew said...

"The Iranian sites seem to be close to the Elamite civilisation. Does anyone else think this is evidence of an IVC-Elamite relationship?"

The Iranian sites which are initial Neolithic pre-date both Harappan or Elamite civilizations which are copper and bronze age, by thousands of years. But, they would have shared ancestry at a time depth within the Neolithic to the extent that indigenous South Asian hunter-gatherer populations didn't influence the early Indus River Valley Civilization.

I would also strongly caution against the inference that a Harappan-Elamite connection, even if one did exist, would imply an Elamite-Dravidian connection. On the whole, my take on the evidence is that it is more likely than not that high Harappan civilization in the Indus River Valley was not linguistically Dravidian.

Grey said...

"In the earliest Neolithic, suitable highlands stretched pretty much from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan."

That's pretty much what I was wondering. That the "ecozone" suitable for early agriculture - or multiple early agricultures - was originally very widely distibuted and it was only later that the regions most people think of as the "best" in this context e.g. Egypt and Fertile Crescent, became dominant.

It's an interesting thought.

Nathan said...

From Andrew
"I would also strongly caution against the inference that a Harappan-Elamite connection, even if one did exist, would imply an Elamite-Dravidian connection. On the whole, my take on the evidence is that it is more likely than not that high Harappan civilization in the Indus River Valley was not linguistically Dravidian. "

What language do you think it was then?

For much of the time since IVC was discovered Dravidian was accepted to be the language of IVC because it obviously preceded Indo-Aryan and is the only linguistic group other than Indo-Aryan that has a sizeable population in the SubContinent.

More recently Witzel settled on Para-Manda . The Rig-Veda shows Dravidian and Munda influence, with Witzel stating Munda shows up earlier in the RV. Others have hypotheised a "Language X" .

IVC would have had more than 1 language as both Dravidian and Munda preceded Indo-Aryan and then there would have been the language of the Veddah, long since disappeared as a distinct language.
Since IVC shows remarkable consistency of architexture, namely grid system town planning, there must have been a specific linguistic culture that was behind IVC even though other languages would have been present.

From a likelyhood standpoint,I would go with the traditional view it is Dravidian but by no means am I saying it is settled , so it could very well be language X.

Dr. Clyde Winters said...

This paper is interesting but, it does not explain the South Asia neolithic. In the Abstract the authors imply that this paper can explain the neolithic culture expressed in the Indus Valley, but this is false. Whereas the Mehrgarh culture bearers cultivated wheat and Barley, this civilization and the Indus Valley are separated by thousands of years.

In addition, while the people at Mehrgarh cultivated wheat, the people in the Indus Valley and South India, cultivated African millets. Thusly, the terms used by the Dravidians for millet, and their domesticated animals are all of African origin. This makes any discussion of the Indus Valley civilization as a product of the Near-East unlikely.

Dr. Clyde Winters said...

The people of the IVC sprobably spoke a Dravidian language. This is supported by four facts. 1) The Dravidians and IVC population cultivated the same millets.2) Dravidian languages continue to be spoken in the Indus Valley, in a sea of Indo-Aryan languages.3) There is spread of writing from the IVC down into South India, and 4) along with black-and-red pottery. The IVC rwiting is analogous to the writing used by C-Group people in Nubia, the ancestral home of the Proto-Dravidians.

andrew said...

"What language do you think it was then?"

It is probably lost entirely - much as the Vasconic language family would have been had the Basques fallen to the Celts or Romans. The historic geographic scope of Dravidian as indicated, for example, by its toponymns extends no further than the Southern delta area of the Indus River Valley and that was at its most extreme extent. Dravidian's likely point of origin is in central or east coastal India and it is quite young - probably consisting of a single proto-language well into the height of Harappan culture.

The IVC area and the proto-Dravidian area had only thin trade relations, don't appear to have had a common material culture or food production package (at least until the late Bronze Age), and have materially different population genetics that would have been even more distinct prior to the Indo-Aryans.

Witzel's case for a lack of a Dravidian substrate in the early Rig Veda is convincing, although his para-Munda claim is not. The point that the IVC was probably a politically and linguistically united state or confederation, however, is also sound. The fact that no one has ever found a solid correspondence between IVC seals and proto-linguistic script and the Dravidian language is notable. I think that there is plausible evidence that Dravidian does have distant Niger-Congo linguistic roots with substantial creolization type influences a bit like other languages on the Niger-Congo linguistic fringe like Swahili, or at least substantial lexical borrowings from a language in that family, but the timing and context make this unlikely in the case of the IVC languages.

What little we know of the Harappan language we know from Sumerian accounts which tell us little beyond a handful of words, except that their language wasn't Sumerian, although that would have been a plausible shared language family. Languages in the same family may have been spoken in the BMAC region with which the Harappan's had vigorous trade relations. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a remote relative at great time depth of either Proto-Indo-European, or of a Caucuasian language. I suspect that Harappan had the elaborate features and complexities of a language that is old, and the product of a large civilization that had few language learners - it would have been a bitch to learn. The best hints are probably the shared substrate influences (e.g. retroflex phonemes) in the earliest Sanskrit and Avestian dialects relative to PIE.

Dr. Clyde Winters said...

@Andrew who said

“The historic geographic scope of Dravidian as indicated, for example, by its toponymns extends no further than the Southern delta area of the Indus River Valley and that was at its most extreme extent. Dravidian's likely point of origin is in central or east coastal India and it is quite young - probably consisting of a single proto-language well into the height of Harappan culture.”
This is false. B.B. Lal, thought Harappans and Dravidians were connected because the same symbols on the Indus seals and South Indian pottery were the identical and both groups used red-and-black pottery. This idea was supported not only by epigraphic and archaeological evidence, there are Islands of Dravidian speakers in Afghanistan, Iran, Yugoslavia, Russia and Pakistan. 300,000 Brahui speaking Dravidians live in Qualat, Hairpur and Hyderabad.
Most of the placenames in the Indus Valley are of Dravidian origin. R. Balakrsihnan, in the High-West: Low-East Dichotomy of Indus Cities: A Dravidian Paradigm, Bulletin of the Indus Research Centre, no.3, December, points out that the names associated with Indus Valley sites are related to the Dravidian term for fortified town. Dravidian placenames, Dravidian speaking population, red-and-black pottery all point to a Dravidian origin for the Harappan civilization.

@Andrew who said
“The fact that no one has ever found a solid correspondence between IVC seals and proto-linguistic script and the Dravidian language is notable. “

This is false. LL Lal traced the Harappan signs back to the South Indian megalithic pottery signs. See: Current Science,11/25/2012,Vol.10 at http://olmec98.net/indusvalley.pdf
Lal, B. B., Ancient India, 1954–1955, 10,

Lal, B. B., Ancient India, 1960, 16, 3.

@Andrew who said
“The IVC area and the proto-Dravidian area had only thin trade relations, don't appear to have had a common material culture or food production package (at least until the late Bronze Age), and have materially different population genetics that would have been even more distinct prior to the Indo-Aryans”.
This is false both the Dravidians and people belonging to the IVC cultivated African millets.
The Dravidians cultivated African millets--not wheat. The names for these crops are of Niger-Congo origin not Afro-Asiatic. See:
African Millets taken to India by Dravidians,Ann of Bot, http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/eletters/100/5/903#49
Dravidians recognize an African origin for many Dravidian speaking people as a result, they share many terms with other Niger-Congo speakers

English Dravidian African
millet sonne,connal suna (Wolof)

rice mala-kurula malo (Mande)

Yam ku, kui ku

cultivated bey (Wolof)
field bey be (Mande)

hoe parai daba(Mande)

hoe Kuntali Konko(Wolof)

seed cigur si, se (Mande)

cow naku, nika(Mande)

The presence of these cognate terms make it clear that the Proto-Dravidians were a agro-pastoral people. It appears that when the Dravidian speakers separated from the other Niger-Congo people they already knew how to cultivate crops and manage cattle and sheep.

Nathan said...

To Andrew

Witzel does state that Dravidian was present in the Punjab, as evidenced by its existence in the Rig Veda.

I have never seen any academic journal claiming Dravidian has any connection to African languages. All sources on Dravidian linguistics limit the language group to the SubContinent. The exception is McAlpin's hypothesis.

The only non SubContient language hypothised to be related to Dravidian is McAlpin's Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis . This (the McAlpin hypothesis) has not been accepted as settled by the linguistic community. So it remains an unproven hypothesis. At minimum McAlpin shows contact between Elam and Dravidian speakers.

I am not aware of a peer reviewed journal , like JIES (Journal of Indo-European Studies) , claim there is a relation between Proto-Indo European languages and IVC. The consensus on an Indo-European homeland is the SW Russian Steppes, quite a long ways from the Indus Plains.

Re. Retroflexion

This has been a convincing argument to squash the theories of Indo-Aryan being native to the SubContinent as it is lacking in other IE languages.

It is also strongly suspected that retroflexion in Indo-Aryan is result of Dravidian speakers undergoing language shift as Dravidian makes heavy use of retroflexion.

Dr. Clyde Winters said...

@ Nathan who said:
"I have never seen any academic journal claiming Dravidian has any connection to African languages. All sources on Dravidian linguistics limit the language group to the SubContinent. The exception is McAlpin's hypothesis. "

Many researchers have written on the relationship between the Dravidian and Niger-Congo including : Dr. Balakrishnan, Dr. Upadhyaya and Dr. Upadhyaya; Dr. Aravaanan who are Dravidian speaking linguist, the French linguist L. Homburger and Sergent .

Articles on this linguistic relationship has appeared in BioEssay, International Journal of Dravidian linguistics, PILC Journal of Dravidian Studies, Bull. De L’IFAN, Journal de la Societe des Africanists, Journal Afrique and Kemi. These researchers maintain that Dravidian languages are genetically related to Niger-Congo languages. Below is a partial list of articles denoting this fact:

You claim that Dravidian is not related to the Niger-Congo group. But numerous linguist say the language families are related.

Aravanan, K P , "Physical and cultural similarities between Dravidians and Africans", Journal of Tamil Studies 10,(1976)pages 23-27.

Aravanan, K P. (1979). Dravidians and Africans , Madras.

Aravanan,K.P. Notable negroid elements in Dravidian India, Journal of Tamil Studies, 1980, pp.20-45.

R. Balakrishnan, in 'African Roots of the Dravidian -speaking Tribes,: A Case Study in Onomastics', International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics,(2005) 34(1):153-202

Lal, B , "The Only Asian expedition in threatened Nubia:Work by an Indian Mission at Afyeh and Tumas", The Illustrated London Times , 20 April 1963

Lahovary, N , Dravidian Origins and the West, Madras: Longman,1963.

N'Diaye, C.T. (1978) The relationship between Dravidian languages and Wolof. Annamalai University Ph.D. Thesis.

Sergent , Bernard (1992). Genèse de L'Inde. Paris: Payot .

Singh, H.N. (1982). History and archaeology of Black-and Red ware. Delhi.


Upadhyaya,P & Upadhyaya,S.P., Les liens entre Kerala et l"Afrique tels qu'ils resosortent des survivances culturelles et linguistiques, Bulletin de L'IFAN, no.1, 1979, pp.100-132.

Upadhyaya,P & Upadhyaya,S.P. Affinites ethno-linguistiques entre Dravidiens et les Negro-Africain, Bull.de L’IFAN,No.1, 1976,pp.127-157.


Winters, C.A. (1994). The Dravidian and African languages, International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, 23 (2), 34-52.

Winters, Clyde Ahmad.(1999a). ProtoDravidian terms for cattle. International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, 28, 91-98.

Winters, C.A.(1999b). Proto-Dravidian terms for sheep and goats.PILC Journal of Dravidian Studies, 9 (2), 183-87.

Winters, C.A.(2000). Proto-Dravidian agricultural terms. International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, 30 (1), 23-28.

Winters,C, Did the Dravidian Speakers Originate in Africa?, BioEssays,27(5):497-498 [2007]

Winters,C. African millets taken to India, Ann of Bot [2008], http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/leletters/100/5/903#49

Winters,C Origin of the Niger-Congo Speakers. WebmedCentral Genetics 2012,3(3):WMC))3149. http://www.webmedcentral.com/article_view/3149

aniasi said...

Actually, I just realised something: It is very possible that several languages were used in the IVC zone. The remarkable unity of the cities, weights and material remains does not preclude the common adoption of one civilization amongst several ethnic groups.

The best example is east asia. Had Japanese society collapsed in 900, with no survival, we might be inclined to say they were Chinese. After all, Heian and other cities are almost exact copies of Tang dynasty urban centres. The material culture looked identical, because the Japanese were keen on a wholesale importation of Chinese culture. They even used the same writing system, which might incline us to believe they shared the same language.

This also brings up a second point. The substrate language in old Indo-Aryan may not actually be para-munda or Dravidian at all. Again, using the example of East Asia, it is possibly for a very advanced society to culturally dominate its neighbours. Sino-Japanese and Sino-Korean vocabulary easily form between one half and two-thirds of their respective vocabularies, while Sino-Vietnames is between one third and one half. The substrate in old Indo-Aryan was picked up fairly early on in its penetration into the subcontinent, which means it could be a Harappan adstratum in Dravidian and Munda. The collapse of the IVC and migration of more-advanced peoples to the east and south could have provided the best opportunity for this to happen.