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An agricultural perspective on Dravidian historical linguistics: archaeological crop packages, livestock and Dravidian crop vocabulary

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Book description: Linguistic diversity is one of the most puzzling and challenging features of humankind. Why are there some six thousand different languages spoken in the world today? Why are some, like Chinese or English, spoken by millions over vast territories, while others are restricted to just a few thousand speakers in a limited area? The farming/language dispersal hypothesis makes the radical and controversial proposal that the present-day distributions of many of the world's languages and language families can be traced back to the early developments and dispersals of farming from the several nuclear areas where animal and plant domestication emerged. For instance, the Indo-European and Austronesian language families may owe their current vast distributions to the spread of food plants and of farmers (speaking the relevant proto-language) following the Neolithic revolutions which took place in the Near East and in Eastern Asia respectively, thousands of years ago. In this challenging book, international experts in historical linguistics, prehistoric archaeology, molecular genetics and human ecology bring their specialisms to bear upon this intractable problem, using a range of interdisciplinary approaches. There are signs that a new synthesis between these fields may now be emerging. This path-breaking volume opens new perspectives and indicates some of the directions which future research is likely to follow.
... There are attempts to correlate the Neolithic Cultures of South India (Allchin 1963;Paddayya 1973Paddayya , 2002Nagaraja Rao 1969) and the dispersal of Dravidian language speaking populations (Fuller 2003a(Fuller , 2003b(Fuller , 2007(Fuller , 2009. Boivin et al. 2007 argue that: "Our own findings at Sanganakallu-Kupgal, where the late Neolithic/early Iron Age transition is well attested, support the model of regional continuity (which might be linked to Dravidian linguistic continuity : Fuller 2003a). ...
... There are attempts to correlate the Neolithic Cultures of South India (Allchin 1963;Paddayya 1973Paddayya , 2002Nagaraja Rao 1969) and the dispersal of Dravidian language speaking populations (Fuller 2003a(Fuller , 2003b(Fuller , 2007(Fuller , 2009. Boivin et al. 2007 argue that: "Our own findings at Sanganakallu-Kupgal, where the late Neolithic/early Iron Age transition is well attested, support the model of regional continuity (which might be linked to Dravidian linguistic continuity : Fuller 2003a). We see, for example, the gradual development of ceramic fabrics, types and styles, leading to the emergence of a new ceramic repertoire in the Iron Age. ...
... Studies reveal Neolithic diaspora brought western Eurasian lineages into the subcontinent (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994;Kivisild et al. 1999a;Quintana-Murci et al. 2004). However, archaeo-botanical research and colloquial Dravidian crop vocabulary suggest that the origin of agriculture in south India was well established by aboriginal endogamous inhabitants before the arrival of Neolithic cultigens, as evidenced from rice-millet cultivation in India (Fuller 2003;Fuller et al. 2004). Many cultigens cultivated in India arrived from Africa in antique times (Blench 2003) and were integrated into the South Asian subsistence pattern (Weber 1998), indicating that Indian millets were domesticated by Dravidian farmers late in their history (Fuller 2006). ...
... Nonetheless, the southern Neolithic in the south Deccan plateau of South India was responsible for indigenous transformation and led to the expansion of Dravidian agriculture, and Proto-South Dravidian might be identified with the latest phase of the Southern Neolithic in South India (Fuller 2007;Boivin et al. 2008). Fuller (2003) more parsimoniously postulates that early Dravidians have Epipaleolithic pre-agricultural heritage with origins near a south Asian core region, which suggests possible independent plant domestication was established in South Asia before the arrival of Neolithic agriculturists. However, most of the Dravidian speakers in India are clustered with south Asian derived mtDNA lineages and low frequencies of Western Eurasian mtDNA lineages (Bamshad et al. 2001). ...
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Article
Background: The phylogeny of major mitochondrial DNA haplogroups has played a key role in assessing the people of India through molecular genetics. Aim: To resolve the phylogeny and phylogeographic pattern of autochthonous haplogroup R with its descendant haplogroup U in the Urali Kuruman tribal population of Southern India. Subjects and methods: Complete mitogenome sequences of 40 individuals were amplified and sequenced using the Sanger sequencing method. Mutations were scored referring to the revised Cambridge reference sequence and phylogenetic trees were constructed using previously described sequences. Results: We identified novel sub-lineages of haplogroup R30- R30a1c1, and U1- U1a1c1d2, U1a1c1d2a. Urali Kurumans pooled ancestry with the native Iranians sharing the subhaplogroups R30a1c and U1a1c1d. The coalescence ages estimated for the subhaplogroup R30a1c dates ∼9.4 ± 3.5 Kya and for subclade U1a1c1d dates ∼9.1 ± 2.7 Kya Conclusion: The study revealed a genetic link between Iran and South Asia in the Neolithic time indicating bidirectional migration and admixture.
... Secondly, the presence of PFC in Brahvi may provide new clues for the dispute between the indigenous and foreign origin accounts of Dravidians in the Indian subcontinent. One of the most extreme versions of the indigenous origin hypothesis claims that the Dravidians were probably hunter-gatherers rather than farmers (Fuller, 2003), and so proto-Dravidians existed in the Subcontinent during the pre-agriculture era. Given the proposed link between the spread of PFC and the spread of farming based on the farming/language dispersal hypothesis discussed in the Introduction, the presence of PFC in Brahvi might counter the idea of a hunter-gatherer origin of Dravidian. ...
Article
Previous research has shown that post-focus compression (PFC) — the reduction of pitch range and intensity after a focused word in an utterance, is a robust means of marking focus, but it is present only in some languages. The presence of PFC appears to follow language family lines. The present study is a further exploration of the distribution of PFC by investigating Brahvi, a Dravidian language, and Balochi, an Indo-Iranian language. Balochi is predicted to show PFC given its presence in other Iranian languages. Dravidian languages have not been studied for prosodic focus before and they are not related to any languages with PFC. We recorded twenty native speakers from each language producing declarative sentences in different focus conditions. Acoustic analyses showed that, in both languages, post-focus f 0 and other correlates were significantly reduced relative to baseline neutral-focus sentences, but post-focus lowering of f 0, and intensity was greater in magnitude in Balochi than in Brahvi. The Balochi results confirm our prediction, while the Brahvi results offer the first evidence of PFC in a Dravidian language. The finding of PFC in a Dravidian language is relevant to a postulated origin of PFC, which is related to the controversial Nostratic Macrofamily hypothesis.
... Gallus bones have been reported from several other sites of the Jorwe period (Nevasa, Inamgaon, Tuljapur Garhi, Walki), as well as contemporaneous sites farther south (Southern Neolithic Period III) (22). This period appears to coincide with historical linguistic reconstructions for the Dravidian languages in South India, since each of three linguistic subphyla have distinct etyma, thus indicating that chickens became widespread after these languages diverged ∼1200 BCE (1500 to 500 BCE) (28,29). This timing is also consistent with Vedic texts in which chickens are unattested prior to ∼1200 BCE (30). ...
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Article
SignificanceChickens are the world's most numerous domestic animal. In order to understand when, where, and how they first became associated with human societies, we critically assessed the domestic status of chicken remains described in >600 sites in 89 countries, and evaluated zoogeographic, morphological, osteometric, stratigraphic, contextual, iconographic, and textual data. Although previous studies have made claims for an early origin of chickens, our results suggest that unambiguous chickens were not present until ∼1650 to 1250 BCE in central Thailand. A correlation between early chickens and the first appearance of rice and millet cultivation suggests that the production and storage of these cereals may have acted as a magnet, thus initiating the chicken domestication process.
... Early agriculture has always been a pivotal point of discussion in archaeology, whether as Childe's (Childe, 1936) 'Neolithic Revolution' or, more recently, as a contender for the start of the Anthropocene (Ruddiman, 2003). Much of the focus, however, has been on 'origins' and on drawing out the paths along which farming spread from the supposedly few centres of domestication such as South-west Asia and East Asia (e.g., (Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza, 1971;Renfrew, 1987Renfrew, , 2000Bellwood and Renfrew, 2003;Bellwood, 2004;Fuller, 2003aFuller, , 2003bFuller, , 2003cFuller and Murphy, 2014;Kingwell-Banham et al., 2015). In pursuing agricultural origins, the focus has been on the 'when' and 'where' of early crop domestication. ...
Article
Agriculture has been crucial in sustaining human populations in South Asia across dramatically variable environments for millennia. Until recently, however, the origins of this mode of subsistence in India have been discussed in terms of population migration and crop introduction, with limited focus on how agricultural packages were formulated and utilised in local contexts. Here, we report the first measurements of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values in well-preserved charred crop remains from sites spanning the Neolithic/Chalcolithic to the Early Historic in two very different environmental zones: tropical East India and the semi-arid Deccan. The results show that this approach offers direct insight into prehistoric crop management under contrasting environmental constraints. Our preliminary results plausibly suggest that early farmers in India experimented with and made strategic use of water and manure resources in accordance with specific crop requirements and under varying environmental constraints. We suggest that the development of modern crop isotope baselines across India, and the application of this methodology to archaeological assemblages, has the potential to yield detailed insight into agroecology in India's past.
... Later, a pioneer study analyzed the agriculture dispersion and concomitant vocabulary to propose the local origin for the Dravidian language (Fuller, 2003). Whereas people with AA, TB, and IE linguistic affiliations probably derived recently due to the introgression of populations who immigrated to the subcontinent lately (Diamond and Bellwood, 2003). ...
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Thesis
This PhD thesis, prepared in Tartu University, addresses genetics of population history of the South Asian peoples. Inhabited considerably before the Last Glacial Maximum, the region harbors by now about 1.8 billion humans – almost a quarter of the global population. Therefore, understanding of present-day variation of the latter, in particular outside sub-Saharan Africa, is not possible without deeper knowledge about genetics of South Asian populations. This thesis is based on four published papers. The first one is focused on selected populations inhabiting northeastern Indus Valley, bearing, in particular, in mind ancient Indus Valley civilization and following it Vedic period. The second and the third paper address historically somewhat better known migrations, bringing to India religiously distinct Parsi and Jewish peoples. The fourth paper analyses the genetic variation of a populous Tharu tribe, living predominantly in Nepal, but also in northern provinces of India. Perhaps the most interesting finding of the first paper is that the presumably identified already in Vedic texts, Ror population exhibits significant genetic affinity with northern Steppe and West European peoples, testifying about prehistoric north to south migration(s). The arrival of Parsis to South Asia in 7th century was a consequence of the Islamization of Iran. Comparing Parsi genomes in their historic contexts, we observed their extensive admixture with South Asians, in particular, asymmetrically in paternal and maternal lineages. Nearly the same can be said about different Indian communities that preserved Judaist traditions: their genomes show affinities to peoples living in the Near and Middle East. As far as the genetically highly diverse Tharu tribe is concerned, a clearly distinct East Asian contribution can be seen, admixed with South Asian genetic heritage. It seems justified to identify the Tharu as cultural, rather than demic phenomenon.
... It got adapted to the scarce resources by reducing the vegetative growth period for successful completion of its lifecycle. Rice cultivated on hilly slopes mainly by clearing the existing vegetations and broadcasting seeds on dry lands, with no specific crop management practices led to the origin of aus ecotype in the hill areas of Jeypore tract of Odisha in South East India (Tripathy, 1994;Khush, 1997 andFuller, 2003). The wild and cultivated forms of rice genotypes, intermediate between Oryza perennis and Oryza sativa were found in the collections from Jeypore tract which established an evolutionary connection between them (Oka andChang, 1962 andMorishima et al., 1984). ...
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Article
Diversity in wild forms and landraces of a crop in a region is an indicator and the core tenet of determining its centre of origin. Jeypore tract of Odisha with diverse rice forms is considered as the earliest, independent rice domestication region of aus ecotype. The aus group of Asian cultivated rice is a distinct population with unique alleles for biotic and abiotic stress tolerance and high genetic diversity even in its fragrant accessions, detected at the molecular level. Annual wild rice Oryza nivara is considered as the progenitor of aus rice. The aus type fragrant rice is the original crop of Indian sub-continent, domesticated in hill areas by primitive tribes, around 4500 years ago. The Chinese japonica rice which came to India later, inherited chloroplast and nuclear genome from wild aus rice and the resulting hybrids formed the aromatic group. Loss or gain of phenotypic characters is the common feature of evolution. The aus landraces possessing characters such as black hull, red pericarp, poor panicle features, low grain yield, associated with wild rice species have evolved into cultivated forms from the intermediate stages of domestication. Considering the archeological evidences, genetic inferences and correlations of different investigations relating to aus type fragrant rice, Jeypore tract is regarded as the place of origin and evolution of this small but significant group of fragrant rice.
... All the hilltop dwellers might have lived Table 2, where Urali Kurumans have a smaller patrilineal variation with the Dravidian populations. As postulated by Fuller [24], concerning the origin and spread of plant domestication, we can presume that F*-M89 lineage is associated with Dravidian having an Epipaleolithic preagricultural heritage with origins near a South Asian core region, suggesting possible independent centers of plant domestication within the Indian peninsula by the Urali Kuruman, one of the indigenous groups. ...
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Preprint
The aim of the study is to investigate the Y-chromosome unique event polymorphisms (UEPs), to know the origin and past demographic history of paternal lineages, genetic relatedness, and admixtures in two tribal populations of Southern India. A total of 106 male samples from two Dravidian speaking tribal populations of Southern India: Urali Kuruman (n = 50) and Melakudiya (n = 56) were analyzed.
... All the hilltop dwellers might have lived Table 2, where Urali Kurumans have a smaller patrilineal variation with the Dravidian populations. As postulated by Fuller [24], concerning the origin and spread of plant domestication, we can presume that F*-M89 lineage is associated with Dravidian having an Epipaleolithic preagricultural heritage with origins near a South Asian core region, suggesting possible independent centers of plant domestication within the Indian peninsula by the Urali Kuruman, one of the indigenous groups. ...
Full-text available
Article
The aim of the study is to investigate the Y-chromosome unique event polymorphisms (UEPs), to know the origin and past demographic history of paternal lineages, genetic relatedness, and admixtures in two tribal populations of Southern India. A total of 106 male samples from two Dravidian speaking tribal populations of Southern India: Urali Kuruman (n = 50) and Melakudiya (n = 56) were analyzed. A set of 30 bi-allelic UEP markers of the non-recombining region of the Y-chromosome was sequenced by the Sanger sequencing method. The phylogenetic analysis of the two populations revealed six Y-chromosome haplogroups: C, F*, H, K*, L*, and R2. The Urali Kuruman Y-chromosome lineage was predominantly of native origin clustering with other Dravidian tribes of the region, whereas the Melakudiya Y-chromosome lineage clustered with the people of Near East, and other Indo-European speakers of India.
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Chapter
Neolithic agriculture in the Indian subcontinent
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