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The Gond-Australian Aborigine Connection?

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  • Francesco Brighenti
    ... Not enough to establish the common origin of two art traditions created by populations who diverged at least 50,000 years ago (see below). There is no hope
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 1, 2008
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      --- In IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com, JK
      <tiptronicus@...> wrote:

      > http://www.sastwingees.org/
      > There is a striking similarity between this art form and
      > Australian aboriginal art form, in the sense they use
      > dots or lines as fillers and not continuous color.

      Not enough to establish the common origin of two art traditions
      created by populations who diverged at least 50,000 years ago (see
      below). There is no hope for art forms persisting for so long.

      > Attempts have been made to connect Dravidian Languages to
      > Australian Aboriginal Languages, but have been unsuccessful so far.

      Although it is near certain that the Australian aborigines have
      lived in a virtual isolation from the rest of humankind for more
      than 50,000 years (see again below), some lexical relics of the
      languages their progenitors spoke at the time they bid farewell to
      the groups who stayed back in South Asia might have survived for
      50,000+ years. In the early 20th century some pioneers of
      long-range comparative linguistics such as, for instance, the
      Italian Alfredo Trombetti, made some attempts at systematically
      comparing Australian, Papuan and Dravidian words in order to detect
      possible cognates. Trombetti made some promising finds, but his
      results were never accepted by mainstream linguists. His data have,
      however, been recently re-examined by exponents of the new
      generation of long-range comparative linguists who have added many
      new lexical comparisons and have extended their analysis to
      Andamanese languages (related to Papuan languages according to
      Joseph Greenberg and his followers like Merrit Ruhlen). In the
      latest issue of _Mother Tongue_, the yearly periodical of the
      Association for the Study of Languages in Prehistory (ASLIP), Vaclav
      Blazek proposes a re-assessment of all these linguistic data. His
      article contains tens and tens of comparisons between reconstructed
      Proto-Dravidian words and attested Australian, Papuan and Andamanese
      words. (N.B. Papuan and Andamanese languages were grouped by
      Greenberg's school in a new and controversial language super-phylum
      called Indo-Pacific, which in their views is distantly related to
      the far less controversial Australian language super-phylum.) The
      similarities are quite impressive (I have read that article). What
      Blazek proposes is that these similarities in the lexicon may
      indicate not a common origin of Australian and Dravidian, but rather
      the persistence for 50,000+ years, in both Australia and South Asia,
      of lexical roots derived from words that belonged to the common
      languages spoken in South Asia 50,000+ yaers ago, when the
      progenitors of the Australian aborigines migrated towards Australia
      (which they reached some thousands of years later). This does not
      imply that Dravidian was spoken in South Asia at that time; more
      simply, the words in question could have entered the Proto-Dravidian
      vocabulary at the time the progenitors of the present Dravidian
      speakers migrated to South Asia (where some pre-existing languages,
      now probably extinct, might have preserved till then the lexical
      roots that Blazek considers common to Dravidian and Australian).

      > In my research I could not find similarities between the
      > religions of Gonds and the Aborigines, not could I find
      > similarities in burial/cremation customs etc.

      This is not surprising given the geographic distance of the two
      human groups, and especially the remoteness in time of the peopling
      of Australia.

      > Next I decided to see if there could be some clues in Genetics. So
      > I turned to National Geograhic's amazing Genography project
      > which is attempting to map the movements of human beings across
      > the planet all the way from pre-historic times (200,000 BC). My jaw
      > dropped when I looked at the snapshot from 60,000 to 55,000 BC.
      > You can see from the picture below that the M* genetic group left
      > Africa and reached Australia and they passed through the Gond's
      > area in Madhya Pradesh. If this is the same people from that time,
      > Gonds are likely to be the most ancient people in India one of the
      > most ancient peoples of India... I looked at the Genography
      > project's data from the year 10,000-5,000 BC. You can see the
      > picture below and see that some more groups have passed
      > through to Australia via the Gond Area in India. It is
      > likely that these latter day genetic groups who developed this dot
      > art form took it with them all the way to Australia.

      This argument is totally flawed. The National Geographic Genographic
      Project website at


      does not support at all the contention that Australia was
      populated at different times in the course of the Stone Age. First,
      the M* haplotype dominant in Australia is one of the principal "Out-
      of-Africa" haplotypes, and is commonly found in most of South Asian
      populations east of the Indus as well as in the whole of Southeast
      Asia. Therefore, in India this haploytpe is not peculiar to the
      Gonds alone. Second, there was only one migration from Asia to
      Australia that originated the present-day Australian aborigines.
      There were no "latter day genetic groups" that passed from Asia to
      Australia from 10,000 to 5,000 BCE. The theory of two migrations to
      Australia, one a prosecution of the "Out-of-Africa" one at c. 50,000
      BCE and another, some tens of thousands years later, has few
      supporters today. See, for instance, the article at

      "New mitochondrial data reported in the _Proceedings of the National
      Academy of Sciences_ on May 7, 2007, supports the somewhat still
      controversial Australian colonization as having occurred at about
      50,000 BP -- and that it was a single founder population who were
      subsequently isolated from the rest of the world."

      Third, even admitting that there was a second colonization of
      Australia from mainland Asia some tens of thousands years after the
      first one, what authorizes the author of the blog in question to
      infer that this second migration may have carried to Australia some
      cultural relatives of the Gonds of Madhya Pradesh?

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