Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Migrations toward the North

As noted earlier, Solheim believes the Nusantao were instrumental in transmitting Yayoi culture from Shandong to Korea and then from there to Japan.

Susumo Ohno and Shichiro Murayama have studied the Malayo-Polynesian component of the Japanese language. It is often said that Japanese is similar to Altaic languages like Mongol and Turkish in grammar, but has a Malayo-Polynesian sound system (phonology).

Solheim identified the important indicators of this northern branch of the Nusantao which he believes was responsible for bringing rice cultivation northward from southern China:

The complex of artifacts associate with rice cultivation in Korea has been noted before, in part (Kim Won-yong 1964; Kaneko 1966:18-21; Kim Jeong-hak 1978:78-81; Solheim 1990, 1992) . . . Kim Won-Yong (1964) brings together rice, the semi-lunar stone knife, and the stepped adze. . . . The artifacts that appear to me to be a part of the rice associated complex include: the table and capstone dolman, cist grave, double burial jar, semilunar or crescent stone knife, stepped adze, pediform adze, perforated disk [probably a spindle whorl], stone dagger, concave based and longstemmed polished stone arrow- or spearhead, the so called plain pottery of Korea, and relatively rarely carved-paddle pottery.

(Solheim 2000)

The northern branch was highly megalithic in culture -- they erected large unfinished stones for different purposes. In insular Southeast Asia, we see evidence of two "waves" of megalithic people.

The earlier set of megaliths is associated with people who used only Neolithic tools. The more recent megalithic culture is connected with bronze tools.

We also see in the Neolithic the development of curved blades like the semi-lunar knife and the round axe. The linguistic reconstructions show that a number of blades that in latter times were of the curved type existed possibly back into Proto-Malayo-Polynesian or even Proto-Austronesian times.

*sun(dDj)ang "kris" Proto-Austronesian (Biggs)
*p@dang "(curved) sword" Ur-Austronesian (Dempwolff)

The northern Nusantao and others allied with them may have carried a variant of the human polyomavirus known as haplotype MY. The distribution of this haplotype suggests early migrations following the Japan Current to the Americas. The MY marker is found mostly along the Pacific coast of America from northwestern Canada to the southern central coast of South America.

The clade from which MY descends is apparently associated strongly with Austronesian migrations into the Pacific as we have shown in an earlier map.

There is other genetic evidence supportive of early Japan Current migrations:

Rebecca Cann and J.K. Lum have studied the possiblity of gene flow between Polynesian and Amerind populations based on mtDNA findings (R.L. Cann and J.K. Lum, "Mitochondrial Myopia: Reply to Bonatto et al.," (letter to the editor), Am J. Hum. Genet. 59:256-258, 1996; Cann, R.L., (1994) "mtDNA and Native Americans: a southern perspective," Am. J. of Hum. Genet. 55:7-11.) and have raised the following questions:

"Why is the B-lineage clade, a clade most common on the western coast of the Americas, not found in Beringia? Why does the B-lineage clade have lower sequence diversity and a different mismatch distribution than do the major A, C, and D clades (as well as others recently documented by T. Schurr and colleagues) in Amerindians? Why are other lineages, not just in the B group, found in Pacific and Amerindian populations?

Finally, how do we account for the prehistoric distribution of the sweet potato in Oceania (Yen 1974)?
[Cann and Lum, p. 258]

Dr. Rebecca Cann can be contacted regarding her research at

Dr. Cann's work has recently been supported by other research (Leon-S, F E; Ariza-Deleon, A; Leon-S, M E; Ariza-C, A; Parham, P.,(1996) "Peopling the Americas," science Volume 273, Number 5276, pp. 721). In this article, these interesting points are brought to light suggesting seaborne migration from Southeast Asia and Japan to South America in pre-Columbian times via the Japan Current (using the route of the
Manila Galleons):

1. A new allele found in the Cayapa or Chachi of Ecuador displays molecular similarity in aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency to that found in Southeast Asia and Japan, but not in Northeast Asia.

2. HTLV-I strains from Japan similar in molecular structure to those found in South American (including Chile, Columbia and Brazil).

3. HTLV-II present in South America and Japan but not in far eastern Siberia.

4. Similarities in major histocompatibility complex type 1 (MHC-1), MHC type II, haplotypes and mtDNA found in Japanese, Pacific and South American native populations but absent in far eastern Siberia.

Movement along the Japan Current would have brought the Nusantao into the Bering Sea region. The weather here, of course, was extreme, but the Nusantao had some advantages that would have helped them to adapt quickly.

Paul Kekai Manansala