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The Jomon and Indigenous First Peoples of South East Asia

A look at the oldest populations the Jomon, Ainu, Melanesians and where they came from!




The Jomon

Japan's first settlers likely arrived about 40,000 years ago. This group that originated in Africa 20,000 years prior came from sub Saharan Africa. Of course they didn't have modern African culture but they were an African people and phenotype that eventually thousands of years later came to be called the Jomon. These people didn't sail directly from Africa as they had no ships at that time, they came by land through East Asia, though after thousands of years the last stages of the journey probably involved boats as Japan was a group of islands.


Ancient Homo-sapiens sapiens (Modern Man), first began to leave Africa at about 60,000 B.C. These Africans had two great migrations East. The "First" (OOA) migration, saw Blacks with straight hair, taking a route along the coast of Asia, and then "Island hopping" across the Indian Ocean to Australia - the Australian Aborigine (see below). And then making their way to South America - the remains called "Luzia" in Brazil.


The second (OOA) migration event, saw Blacks from Africa; some with straight hair and "Mongol features" (see; San people below), take an "Inland route" through southern Asia and on up to China (about 50-45,000 B.C.) where they settled. Included with this group were straight haired Blacks "without" Mongol features - now called "Dravidians" who stayed close to Africa, and settled in India and other areas of southern Asia.



Situated several layers above where the Peking man was discovered, Zhoukoudian cave in China. On the upper part of Dragon Bone Hill. This cave was discovered in 1930 and excavated from 1933–34 during which time the roof and north facing opening were removed. Excavations found evidence of human habitation in the cave dating back to 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. The cave was divided into an upper level living quarters and a lower level burial ground, while a small recess on the lower level acted as a natural animal trap. Finds unearthed included three human skulls and other remains from at least eight individuals identified as Archaic Homo sapiens meaning most likely Denisovan. Also white powder sprinkled around the remains on the lower level indicates the inhabitants practiced burial rites.


In 1934 German Jewish anthropologist Franz Weidenreich became honorary director of the Laboratory and excavations continued, uncovering a further three skullcaps in 1936. Altogether excavations uncovered 200 human fossils from more than 40 individuals including 5 nearly complete skullcaps, before they were brought to a halt in 1937 by the Japanese invasion of China. In 1941 the bulk of the finds were lost, never to be recovered, while being transported to safety. Fortunately, Weidenreich had made copies of the fossils to preserve their physical characteristics. (Knowing that many findings at that time that were not consistent with the accepted Eurocentric worldview were “Lost” or “Destroyed”).


Many researchers cite that Weidenreich (1939) believed that the Upper Cave skeletons provided the earliest evidence for the presence of modern humans(African Homo Sapiens) in the East Asian region. What perplexed Weidenreich, however, was the variation between the three crania, 101, 102 and 103, and the absence of clearly defined East Asian skeletal morphology. Archaic (Denisovan lineage). When discussing the racial affinity of these crania 101 was considered to be a primitive Mongoloid, 102 a Melanesian and 103 an Eskimo. These conclusions have been discussed in some detail by a number of authors, particularly in relation to the evolutionary history of East Asia (Coon 1962; Kaminga and Wright1988; Wolpoff et al. 1984; Wu 1960, 1961). Unfortunately, the original specimens, along with the Locality 1 Homo erectus materials, were lost in 1941 (Shapiro 1976) and can now only be studied through casts. It is generally acknowledged that the most representa­tive physical traits of the Mongoloid are found in his physiognomy. These include the almond eye with the Mongoloid folds, the flattish forehead, the more or less depressed nasal root and the broad, heavily padded cheek bones. Compared with either the Caucasoid or the Negroid, the Mongoloid face looks flat. Polynesians and Micronesians do not have much genetic relation to Melanesians who are a highly melanated black skinned people.


Australia's aboriginal population sprang from the same tiny group of African colonists, along with their New Guinean neighbors.


The research confirms the “Out Of Africa” hypothesis that all modern humans stem from a single group of Homo sapiens who emigrated from Africa 2,000 generations ago and spread throughout Eurasia over thousands of years. These settlers replaced other early humans (such as Neanderthals and Denisovans),mainly by interbreeding with them culminating in the current DNA evidence that lends credence to the theory that Europeans as a whole stemmed from the births of approximately 12 female offspring of a union between Homosapien males and Neanderthalensis females.


Academics analyzed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA of Aboriginal Australians and Melanesians from New Guinea. This data was compared with the various DNA patterns associated with early humans. The research was an international effort, with researchers from Tartu in Estonia, Oxford, and Stanford in California all contributing key data and expertise.The results showed that both the Aborigines and Melanesians share the genetic features that have been linked to the exodus of modern humans from Africa 50,000-40,000 years ago.


Until now, one of the main reasons for doubting the “Out Of Africa” theory was the existence of inconsistent evidence in Australia. The skeletal and tool remains that have been found there are strikingly different from those elsewhere on the “coastal expressway” – the route through South Asia taken by the early settlers. Some scholars argue that these discrepancies exist either because the early colonists interbred with the local Homo erectus population, or because there was a subsequent, secondary migration from Africa. Both explanations would undermine the theory of a single, common origin for modern-day humans.


Further DNA analysis has taken research into new directions, as more Homo erectus races or sub-species have been discovered since the late 20th century. Based on his genetic studies of the Denisovan hominid, an ancient human species discovered in 2010, Svante Pääbo states his research supports claims that ancient human ancestors of the Melanesians interbred in Asia with these humans. He has found that people of New Guinea share 4%–7% of their genome with the Denisovans, indicating this exchange. The Denisovans are considered cousins to the Neanderthals and the source of the Asian populations. Both groups are now understood to have migrated out of Africa, with the Neanderthals going into Europe, and the Denisovans heading east about 400,000 years ago. This is based on genetic evidence from a fossil found in Siberia. The evidence from Melanesia suggests their territory extended into southeast Asia.


This is supported by the fact Aboriginal Australians, Near Oceanians, Polynesians, Fijians, east Indonesians, and Mamanwa (a “Negrito” group from the Philippines) have all inherited genetic material from Denisovans, but mainland East Asians, western Indonesians, Jehai (a Negrito group from Malaysia), and Onge (a Negrito group from the Andaman Islands the original Black people of India) have not. These results indicate that Denisovan gene flow occurred into the common ancestors of New Guineans, Australians, and Mamanwa but not into the ancestors of the Jehai and Onge and suggest that relatives of present-day East Asians were not in Southeast Asia when the Denisova gene flow occurred.


Our finding that descendants of the earliest inhabitants of Southeast Asia do not all harbor Denisova admixture is inconsistent with a history in which the Denisovan interbreeding occurred in mainland Asia and then spread over Southeast Asia, leading to all its earliest modern human inhabitants. Instead, the data can be most parsimoniously explained if the Denisova gene flow occurred in Southeast Asia itself until the Homo sapien admixture was introduced into the gene pool. Thus, archaic Denisovans must have lived over an extraordinarily broad geographic and ecological range, from Siberia to tropical Asia. Modern humans left Africa, moving along the tropical coastlines (and the earliest modern human fossil found outside of Africa was) about 100,000 years ago. Hugging the coastline, the early modern humans were probably able to expand and occupy or colonize coastal areas by exploiting marine food resources by that time.


The modern humans were thought to have been possibly forced out of Africa due to the East African mega-droughts (about 135,750 years ago) during the early late-Pleistocene. The period between 80,000-10,000 years ago during the last glacial would have had a huge impact on modern human migration, and the sea level had fallen 50-200 meters below present, which resulted in larger dry lands and possibility for human migration between currently separated lands by ocean, e.g. between Japan and the mainland. Contemporary Japanese have been proposed to spring from two ancestral sources. Before the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, hunter-gatherers had crossed over from the mainland via the northern route (the land bridge to north connected to Sakhalin Island) around 30,000 years ago. These hunter-gatherers formed part of the ancient Jomon culture which is thought to have expanded around 20,000 years ago.

The Jomon forerunners of the Japanese are linked to populations with Y-chromosome haplogroup D, which is commonly found in the present-day ethnic Ainu population in the northernmost island of Hokkaido. D subclades in East Asia are most prominent in Tibet and Japan where the D haplogroup has significant levels. D2 subclades are limited to Japan. The majority of Haplogroup D is found in the south and in Tibet and little diversification of the D lineage can be seen in this territory.


The C3 subclade (SNP M217) is however found among the Ainu and Sakhalin Island and Kamchatka Peninsula populations. C3* haplotype diversity was also found to be high in Japan, in support of an old age for this paternal genealogy in Japan. The C3c subclade is prevalent in Siberian (Koryak) populations but is not represented in the Japanese island archipelago populations to the southeast.There is also the C1 subclade that is unique to Japan. Early Japanese founders from the C1 (SNP M8, age ~20kya) lineage have also been proposed, but this lineage is missing from the Ainu in Hokkaido so it may not have entered Japan from the north (but via the land bridge in the South by which it was connected to Korea)

Explaining the C subclade and who are the Ainu people Genetic mapping studies (by Cavalli-Sforza) have shown a pattern of genetic expansion from the area of the Sea of Japan towards the rest of eastern Asia. This appears as the third most important genetic movement in Eastern Asia (after the “Great expansion” from the African continent, and a second expansion from the area of Northern Siberia), which suggests geographical expansion during the early Jomon period. The origins of the Ainu have often been considered Jomon-jin, natives to Japan from the Jomon period. “The Ainu lived in this place a hundred thousand years before the Children of the Sun came” This term is common as referring to melanated people especially those with a preponderance of melanin such as ancient homo sapiens sapiens from Africa would have appeared. It is told in one of their Yukar Upopo (Ainu legends). Ainu culture as it is known today however dates from only around 1,200 CE.


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