domingo, 9 de enero de 2005

the new Old settlers

The Andamanese Negrito
The Great Migration: from Africa to Australia
Relatives in the Americas

Traces of human groups (called here collectively the Palaeoamericans)
are being discovered and excavated in the Americas recently whose
morphological affinities point towards Southeast Asia and whose
migrations into the Americas seem to predate that of the
Palaeoamerinds (the ancestors of the modern living Amerinds).

In the short time of a few years, the idea that there may have been at
least two (and perhaps more) prehistoric waves of migration into the
Americas before the migration of the Palaeoamerinds (the "First
Americans"), has turned from heresy to strong possibility. The
conversion is not universal (naturally - the evidence is still too
sketchy) but has been eased by the discovery that there have been two
waves of migration into northern America after the first known
Palaeoamerinds: the migration of the Na-Dene Amerinds (some 8,000
years ago) and that of the Inuit (Eskimos, some 5,000 years ago).

The following chart is adapted from Rolando G.J., Dahinten S., Luis
M.A., Hernandez M and Pucciarelli H.M., "Cranometric Variation and the
Settlement of the Americas: Testing Hypotheses by Means of R-Matrix
and Matrix Correlation Analyses,", American Journal of Physical
Anthropology, 2001, 116:154-165. It shows one possible model of
relationship between the various prehistoric American groups as
deducted from the analysis of skull forms (craniometry).

It is the Southeast Asian conext of some of the new discoveries that
made us, at the Andaman Association, sit up and take notice. It is, of
course, much too early to discuss the question of which Southeast
Asian or Pacific Rim groups may have contributed to the earliest
settlement of the Americas. But from now on we shall keep an eye on
this new and promising research. We try not to see Negritos under
every bed - we do not claim that the Negritos or their possible
relatives have an ancestral connection with the earliest Americans.
All we say - for now - is that they might.

As the old saying has it: when you look, you will find. With the
incentive of the latest discoveries to spur them on, archaeologists,
geneticists and linguists are now looking.

Two Palaeoamerican discoveries (in Brazilian Minas Gerais and in
Mexican Baja California Sur) were made in museums where the evidence
had been stored on shelves for decades. More such evidence may be on
other shelves in other museums.

It is notable that the two oldest of the major archaeological
discoveries listed here are near the geographical far end of the
hypothetical migration route from Alaska. Can there be a stronger hint
at how little we really know about the first Americans? One thing only
can be predicted with certainty: there will be surprises.

The reasons behind the extreme scarcity of human remains in the
Americas much older than 10,000 years have been puzzling
archaeologists for a long time. It was thought (not unreasonably) that
this was because there were no humans in the Americas before the
arrival of the Palaeoamerinds. Even with the new discoveries (which so
far do not go much beyond 12,000 years), the puzzle remains. Were the
Palaeoamericans so few in numbers that their remains can be found only
by the greatest of lucky strokes? Or did the Palaeoamericans arrive
only a relatively short time before the Palaeoamerinds? Or did they
have burial methods that destroyed the archaeological evidence of
their presence?

In the on-line book "Esotericism of the Popol Vuh" by the Theosophical
University Press (the Popul Vuh is the holy book of the Maya
civilization), its author Raphael Girard has the following to say on
the Palaeoamericans as earliest human population in the Americas:
Survivals of that archaic form of culture still persist on this
continent and, as might be expected, are found in areas of refuge
where they were preserved by farming peoples. Populations which
retain a high degree of "First-Age" characteristics, as described by
the native sources, live in Baja California as well as on the islands
of Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost extreme. Both populations
display notable similarities, and in terms of nature and physique
appear to be the oldest and most primitive people of the hemisphere.
Baja California is or was peopled by the Yumas, Guaícuris, and
Pericu; and the Seri -- now confined to an island in the Sea of
Cortez. All of them belong to the primitive hunter cycle and,
excepting the Yumas, are dolichocephalic. They have a very primitive
type of physique, like the Tierra del Fuego Indians of the extreme
south and the Botocudos of Brazil. Like their remote ancestors, the
Fuego Indians, whom W. Krickeberg regards as direct descendants of
the oldest immigrants (W. Krickeberg, Etnología de América, Mexico,
1946, Spanish-language edition), preserve a religion based on the
purest monotheism and have almost no ritual acts. They have neither
tribal organization nor institution of chiefs, living in nomadic
hordes of two or three families, small consanguinal patrilineal
groups. They produce neither pottery nor weaving and live by hunting
and fishing, feeding on mollusks, fish, birds, and seals. A piece of
sealskin covers the shoulders of the men and serves as an apron for
the women (A. D'Orbigny, L'Homme Américain , Paris, 1839). They do
not know the fire drill, employing instead two stones and tinder, a
very primitive method still used by the Chortí, particularly in
connection with the interment of the dead. In the south of Patagonia
in former times caves were used for habitations as well as for
burials, as W. Krickeberg notes; and the same author indicates that
estimates based on archaeological remains and island middens show
that the Fuegians have lived in that region for at least two thousand
years, their culture undergoing very little modification during that
time. These data tend to confirm the cultural stability as well as
the great ethnological age of those people.

We are listing here the major discoveries that have been made in the
Americas in sequence of age, the oldest coming first. We include only
one still living (if only barely ) group here: the Fuegians who do
seem have some long-recognized but unclear and hitherto barely
explored connections to SEAsia and Australia.

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