Quinquireme of Nineveh

Globalisation, of course, isn’t a new phenomenon. Those who have been following my demographic material will not be surprised that the role of migration in human history is a topic which fascinates me. Well, Juan Cole has a very ‘informed’ post today about a piece of genetic research which claims to show that half of the inhabitants of Madagascar come from Borneo, while the other half derive from East Africa.

Those who want to learn more about all this could do worse than try some Cavalli_Sforza. ‘Luigi’ is undoubtedly the ‘grand-father’ of the current attempts to fuse archaelogy, linguistics and genetics. Many of the papers on site at his Stanford based Human Population Genetics Laboratory make very interesting reading.

Full disclosure: reading C-S was one of the things which really started me off thinking about all those ‘demographic issues’.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

8 thoughts on “Quinquireme of Nineveh

  1. The interesting element is that the Indonesian element is linguistically dominant, which means that the group that traveled twenty times as far from an archipelago had better cultural cohesion than those that traveled from a (relatively) nearby continental coast.

  2. When in time it is revealed that as recently as 12,000 years ago America’s ‘native Indians’ migrated in and summarily ‘displaced’ the then ‘native’ residents, American history will be revealed in a new light.

    Politically correct US politicians including John McCain are desperately trying to prevent this by passing legislation to keep any human remains discovered in the US out of the hands of academics, and have them handed over in every case to the people who now say they are… ‘native Americans’.

  3. “are desperately trying to prevent this by passing legislation to keep any human remains discovered in the US out of the hands of academics”

    Yes, I read about one of these cases. It’s weird. The thing is, at the end of the day there is no ‘indigenous’ (or native) population, just one wave of migrants after another, migrants who sometimes assimilate, but more commonly kill the males and take the women. This is why we are all fundamentally mongrels (a point which used, btw, to be expressed in the logo of this blog).

  4. Mitch: The Malay lingustic dominance could be due to any number of factors. The Indonesians might have arrived first and established themselves, while the African immigrants arrived later and/or in smaller and linguistically unrelated groups.

    Edward: regarding “migrants who sometimes assimilate, but more commonly kill the males and take the women”. I think that’s a generalization that isn’t borne out – the “more commonly” part – (AFAIK) by the fact that both Y chromosomes (paternal lineage) and mitochondrial DNA (maternal lineage) from the paleolithic inhabitants of Europe are quite common in today’s European gene pool. This is a common attribute across the globe with minor exceptions (again AFAIK).

    ZF: As Edward has pointed out there are no “indigenous’ Americans, Eurasians or Australians. We all came from Africa eventually. However, having said that, most probably, Native Americans are the descendants of whoever it was that lived in the Americas including the Kennwick man you’re (I think) referring to…

  5. The tone of surprise in the article was odd. All that is new here is a better estimate of the proportions of the genetic mix. The migration from Asia is a commonplace fact. The Malayo-Polynesian expansion and the Turkish expansion, both of which took place during historical times (-2000 — +1000 AD), are very ell-known even though they are not part of the mental furniture of the average educated person. (The Turks originated in NE Asia, and there is good reason to believe that the word “kayak” is a Turkish word — for the Inuit expansion was also fairly recent.)

    ZF’s first post is rather dubiously overstated.

  6. Beyond that, the Bantu only reached southern Africa about 500 AD (Penguin Atlas of African History, McEvedy). The people in S. Africa when the people arrived from Borneo were probably like the so-called “Bushmen” or Kong, a non-agricultural people.

    And still further, I believe that there is evidence that a very ancient sea trade between S. India and the Horn of Africa led to intermarriage over a long period.

  7. “I believe that there is evidence that a very ancient sea trade between S. India and the Horn of Africa led to intermarriage over a long period.”

    Another testament to the desireability of global commerce.(I’m thinking of the ‘make trade, not war’ point).

    “I think that’s a generalization that isn’t borne out”

    Possibly I’m exaggerating somewhat, but the *textual evidence* for this in the Greek case is strong, as you no doubt are aware :).

  8. In regards to ZK’s statement supra, that is pure bunk.

    The laws in re Native American (Amerind if you wish in the alternative) remains were passed with support of men like McCain (if he is right on that) rather simply responding to legitimate Amerind dismay at historical burial grounds of various groups being dug up willy nilly.

    Now, one can argue that the law may have been poorly written, and one can certainly argue that certain “fundamentalists” among the Amerinds have gone beyond the mere common place respect angle (that is many Euros would no doubt take it amiss if their near ancestors were willy nilly dug up w/o a by your leave), to active ‘blocking’ for political and ideological reasons, e.g. in the case of Kennewick man. A case the tribe lost in the end.

    Now, as to the issue of displacement, well of course the Native Americans displaced prior groups, one need only look to early historical records to find such! They’re bloody human after all, and that means warring irrascapable short-sighted grasping blah blah. However, c. 15-20 k before present, there is no sign of significant human habitation in the “New World.” If there was some prior main wave trickle, it was likely absorbed.

    Turning to the arty, it is a bit odd because as someone notes supra, this is… well not news, except in the opining on lineages. John Emerson correctly notes that the Bantu migrations into the area were almost contemporaneous, so it’s not surprising that Bantu lang. group inputs were relatively weak. BTW, correction on the name, its !Kung or San (sometimes together), not Kong. The funny little fellows with the click languages.

    Regardless, good points. Glad to see this come up from Edward (yours truly collounsbury had an abiding interest in this subject matter [genetics] arising from a prior job on the business side of bio-engineering, evil GMO products and all that).

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