Scientists Analyze First Ancient Human DNA from Southeast Asia

The Science Teacher, July 2018 | Go to article overview

Scientists Analyze First Ancient Human DNA from Southeast Asia


The first whole-genome analyses of ancient human DNA from Southeast Asia reveal that there were at least three major waves of human migration into the region over the last 50,000 years. The research, published online May 17 in Science, complements what is known from archaeological, historical and linguistic studies of Southeast Asia, defined as the area east of India and south of China.

The work illuminates another critical portion of the story of ancient population dynamics around the world, joining numerous ancient-DNA studies of Europe as well as burgeoning research from the Near East, Central Asia, Pacific Islands and Africa.

An international team led by researchers at HMS and the University of Vienna extracted and analyzed DNA from the remains of 18 people who lived between about 4,100 and 1,700 years ago in what are now Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The team found that the first migration took place about 45,000 years ago, bringing in people who became hunter-gatherers. Then, during the Neolithic Period, around 4,500 years ago, there was a large-scale influx of people from China who introduced farming practices to Southeast Asia and mixed with the local hunter-gatherers. …

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