These sites feature shell mounds and the same type of related fishing culture as found much further east. Oppenheimer mentions the "concordance of the same classes of Neolithic artefacts found under the silt layer of southern coastal China to those Woolley found under his silt layer in Mesopotamian Ur." (Oppenheimer 1998)
Among these items included an array of fishing gear, shell beads and polished stone hoes and adzes of rectangular cross-section (Vierkantbeile). There was also evidence of tattoing and scarification, and the painting of bodies with red haematite at burial. To these I would add the appearance of the potter's wheel both among the Ubaid and the Lungshan culture, and the Ubaid practice of cranial deformation.
The sudden appearance of stoneware technology among the Ubaid and in related sites in Syria and then it's disappearance with these cultures is very telling. Stoneware was developed in the Dawenkou culture but persists in China were it is eventually developed into proto-porcelain. In the Middle East, post-Neolithic peoples revert to the use of earthenware.
In the Old Testament of the Hebrews, we hear of the fallen "angels" of the Garden of Eden, or Mt. Eden who come to interact with the people of the region. Oppenheimer mentions the sages from the East that come swimming across the Erythraen Sea (Indian Ocean) in Sumerian literature. In Hebrew, the word for "angel" means also "messenger."
The Sumerian sages from the East come from Dilmun, the land scholars often equate with Bibilical Eden. Dilmun has been variously located in Bahrain, Iran and with the Harappan civilization of India. There are however some indications that the Hebrews thought the land was very far to the East in tropical Asia.
In the Book of Enoch, an apocryphal work dating from around the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD, there is mention of a region far beyond the Indian Ocean (Erythraen Sea) and the lands of cinnamon and aloeswood.
1,2 And beyond these, I went afar to the east, and I saw another place, a valley (full) of water. And 3 therein there was a tree, the colour (?) of fragrant trees such as the mastic. And on the sides of those valleys I saw fragrant cinnamon. And beyond these I proceeded to the east.
1 And I saw other mountains, and amongst them were groves of trees, and there flowed forth from 2 them nectar, which is named sarara and galbanum. And beyond these mountains I saw another mountain to the east of the ends of the earth, whereon were aloe-trees, and all the trees were full 3 of stacte, being like almond-trees. And when one burnt it, it smelt sweeter than any fragrant odour.
1 And after these fragrant odours, as I looked towards the north over the mountains I saw seven mountains full of choice nard and fragrant trees and cinnamon and pepper. 2 And thence I went over the summits of all these mountains, far towards the east of the earth, and passed above the Erythraean sea and went far from it, and passed over the angel Zotiel. And I came to the Garden of Righteousness, 3 I and from afar off trees more numerous than I these trees and great-two trees there, very great, beautiful, and glorious, and magnificent, and the tree of knowledge, whose holy fruit they eat and know great wisdom. 4 That tree is in height like the fir, and its leaves are like (those of) the Carob tree: and its fruit 5 is like the clusters of the vine, very beautiful: and the fragrance of the tree penetrates afar. Then 6 I said: 'How beautiful is the tree, and how attractive is its look!' Then Raphael the holy angel, who was with me, answered me and said: 'This is the tree of wisdom, of which thy father old (in years) and thy aged mother, who were before thee, have eaten, and they learnt wisdom and their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked and they were driven out of the garden.
Book of Enoch
In the Bible also, we have some clues leading to a tropical Asian location from the mention of aloeswood or "lign-aloes" the Hebrew 'ahalim. Aloeswood occurs in tropical eastern India but is mostly associated in ancient and medieval times with Southeast Asia.
"And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed."
"Like valleys that stretch out, Like gardens beside the river, Like
aloes planted by the Lord, Like cedars beside the waters."
In medieval times, the aloeswood tree was considered the lone representative of vegetation from the Garden of Eden in Christian tradition.
The tree of knowledge mentioned in Enoch was thought of as the banana tree in Muslim literature. It indeed has the height of a fir, leaves like a carob and vine-like clusters of fruit. The banana may also be the "golden apples" found in ancient European lore.
The sages or messengers from Dilmun were conceived of in Sumerian literature as a type of "fish-man" often portrayed as half-fish and half-man. Oppenheimer thinks this may relate to an extreme maritime culture as would be found among the Nusantao shell mound folk.
In the following map you will see distributions of Alpha thalassaemia and Beta thalassamia hemoglobin mutations, and two JC Polyomavirus clades.
Click on map for larger image
The hemoglobin mutation distribution is from Oppenheimer and he suggests that several thalassamia variants are of apparent Southeast Asian origin.
JC Virus Clade A looks as if originates after the Proto-Austronesian dispersion from mainland Southeast Asia as it is absent from that region. This clade, specically the MY marker, supports other evidence that migration from insular Southeast Asia via the Japan Current reached the Pacific Coast of the Americas (see link).
The other JC virus clade may stem from the original migrations from mainland Southeast Asia to Austronesia.
The messengers and sages from the East were associated with Mt. Eden, which we will try to show was thought of as a volcano.
Paul Kekai Manansala
Oppenheimer, Stephen. Eden in the East: The drowned continent of Southeast Asia. London: Phoenix, 1998.
Yoshiaki Yogo et al. "JC virus genotyping offers a new paradigm in
the study of human populations," Rev. Med. Virol. 2004; 14: 179–191.