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, 113 (24), 6635-40

Ancient Crops Provide First Archaeological Signature of the Westward Austronesian Expansion

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Ancient Crops Provide First Archaeological Signature of the Westward Austronesian Expansion

Alison Crowther et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

Abstract

The Austronesian settlement of the remote island of Madagascar remains one of the great puzzles of Indo-Pacific prehistory. Although linguistic, ethnographic, and genetic evidence points clearly to a colonization of Madagascar by Austronesian language-speaking people from Island Southeast Asia, decades of archaeological research have failed to locate evidence for a Southeast Asian signature in the island's early material record. Here, we present new archaeobotanical data that show that Southeast Asian settlers brought Asian crops with them when they settled in Africa. These crops provide the first, to our knowledge, reliable archaeological window into the Southeast Asian colonization of Madagascar. They additionally suggest that initial Southeast Asian settlement in Africa was not limited to Madagascar, but also extended to the Comoros. Archaeobotanical data may support a model of indirect Austronesian colonization of Madagascar from the Comoros and/or elsewhere in eastern Africa.

Keywords: Madagascar; archaeobotany; dispersal; language; rice.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
(A) Map of eastern Africa, including the Comoros and Madagascar, showing the locations of sites included in this study. The relative proportions of African and Asian crops are shown for each site (percentages based on numbers of identified specimens per site) (Table 1). (B) Chronological summary of African vs. Asian crop patterns by site from north to south. (The data in A correspond to the time window shown in B. Fig. S1 shows OxCal plots of the calibrated AMS radiocarbon determinations on crop remains from these sites.)
Fig. S1.
Fig. S1.
Multiplot of the calibrated AMS radiocarbon determinations from each site (Table S3). Where appropriate, dates are modeled using Bayesian analysis, incorporating prior information from the stratigraphic sections and observations regarding the relationship between samples within the overall stratigraphy at each site. Prior distributions (unmodeled calibrations) are shown in light shading, and posterior distributions (modeled) are shown in dark shading. Dates on African crops are shaded blue, dates on Asian crops are shaded red, and dates on other materials and boundaries are shaded gray. Calibration information is in Materials and Methods. Beta, Beta Analytic; FK, Fukuchani; JS, Juani Primary School; MGB, Mgombani; MHLK, Mahilaka; OxA, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit; UU, Unguja Ukuu; Wk, University of Waikato Radiocarbon Facility.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Examples of crop remains recovered from the sites. (A–D) S. bicolor. (E–G) P. glaucum. (H and I) E. coracana. (J–M) V. cf unguiculata [(J and L) interior; (K and M) exterior]. (N) A. digitata. (O–T) O. sativa. (U–W) V. radiata. (X) Gossypium sp. (funicular seed caps). (A, E, F, and T) Unguja Ukuu. (B–D, H, O–R, and U–W) Sima. (G and I) Mgombani. (J–N) Juani Primary School. (S and X) Mahilaka.
Fig. S2.
Fig. S2.
Length to width ratio distributions of modern and archaeological rice grains. (A) Modern japonica and indica subspecies. (B) Archaeological rice grains from Old Sima, Comoros. (C, Left) Archaeological rice grains from sites in Southeast Asia (Thailand: Noen U-Loke, Ban Non Wat, Khao Sam Kaeo, and Phu Khao Thong) and South Asia (Terr and Balathal). (C, Right) Proportion of japonica and indica markers in ancient DNA from rice grains of the same sites. (Data shown in A and C are from ref. .)
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
Distribution of archaeobotanical assemblages from the Indian Ocean region (approximately 500 BCE to 1200 CE, including sites from this study) with both mung bean and domesticated Asian rice contrasted with sites that have evidence for rice alone. Fig. S3 shows site names.
Fig. S3.
Fig. S3.
Distribution of archaeobotanical assemblages from the Indian Ocean region (approximately 500 BCE to 1200 CE, including sites from this study) with both mung bean and domesticated Asian rice contrasted with sites that have evidence for rice alone. 1, Tell Guftan; 2, Tell Hrim; 3, Qaryat Medad; 4, Safat ez Zerr; 5, Tell Shheil; 6, Susa, Ville Royale; 7, Quseir al-Qadim; 8, Berenike; 9, Tumbe; 10, Unguja Ukuu; 11, Mikindani sites; 12, M'Bachile; 13, Old Sima; 14, Dembeni; 15, Mahilaka; 16, Hund; 17, Burzahom; 18, Semthan; 19, Kangra Fort; 20, Sanghol; 21, Kokhrakot; 22, Hastinapura; 23, Noh; 24, Atranjikhera; 25, Saunphari; 26, Charda; 27, Ahirua Rajarampur; 28, Sitapur; 29, Naimisharanya; 30, Sanchankot/Ramkot; 31, Radhan; 32, Hulaskera; 33, Pirvitani Sarif; 34, Kausambi; 35, Koldihwa; 36, Magha; 37, Phudzeling; 38, Mebrak; 39, Narhan; 40, Khairadih; 41, Manjhi; 42, Patliputra; 43, Rajgir; 44, Oriup (Oriyup); 45, Pakhanna (Bhairabdanga); 46, Kanmer; 47, Balathal; 48, Nagda; 49, Ujjain; 50, Dangwada; 51, Bhon; 52, Paturda; 53, Bhatkuli; 54, Kaundinyapura; 55, Khairwada; 56, Paunar; 57, Bhagimohari; 58, Adam; 59, Bhokardan; 60, Nevasa; 61, Paithan I; 62, Ter (Thair); 63, Kolhapur; 64, Piklihal IIIB/IV; 65, Veerapuram; 66, Koppa; 67, Jadigenahalli; 68, Pandawaram Dewal (Kavalgunta); 69, Fraserpet; 70, Kunnathur; 71, Guduvancheri; 72, Mallapadi; 73, Muttrapalion; 74, Arikamedu; 75, Kodumanal; 76, Perur; 77, Parambantali Hill; 78, Porunthal; 79, Mangudi; 80, Adichanallur; 81, Kantharodai; 82, Mantai; 83, Anuradhapura; 84, Tissamaharama; 85, Kirinda; 86, Wari-Bateshwar; 87, Chungliyimti; 88, New Phor; 89, Haimenkou; 90, Baodun; 91, Zhongba; 92; Mawangdui; 93, Tonglin; 94, Beiqian; 95, Shisanhang; 96, Htaukmagon; 97, Taungthaman; 98, Làng Ca; 99, Gò Chiên Vay; 100, Banyan Valley Cave; 101, Ban Ang/Phong Savanh; 102, Dong Tiên; 103, Lao Pako; 104, Nong Han Lake Kumphawapi; 105, Ban Don Ta Phet; 106, Khao Sai On; 107, Non Ban Jak; 108, Noen U-Loke; 109, Ban Non Wat; 110, Non Muang Kao; 111, Phimai sites; 112, Don Thapan; 113, Non Dua; 114, Tra Kieu; 115, Phum Snay; 116, Terrace of the Leper King; 117, Ta Phrom; 118, Angkor Wat; 119, Oc Eo/Ba Thê; 120, Thanh Diên; 121, Khao Sam Kaeo; 122, Na Sak Lot Yai; 123, Khao Sek; 124, Phu Khao Thong; 125, Satingpra; 126, Kuala Selinsing; 127, Gua Cha; 128, Yap; 129, Santiago Church; 130, Lubang Angin; 131, Pacung; 132, Sembiran.

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