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More on the single origin of agriculture

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  • tgpedersen
    I apologize for the long quotes. There was no way I could cut further in them. From Laurent Sagart, Roger Blench, Alicia Sanchez-Mazas (eds.) The peopling of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 4 3:08 AM
      I apologize for the long quotes. There was no way I could cut
      further in them.

      Laurent Sagart, Roger Blench, Alicia Sanchez-Mazas (eds.)
      'The peopling of East Asia'

      George van Driem
      Tibeto-Burman vs. Indo-Chinese: implications for population
      geneticists, archaeologists and prehistorians

      Three arguments support the identification of Sìchua:n as the Tibeto-
      Burman homeland.
      The first is the centre of gravity argument based on the present and
      historically attested geographical distribution of TB language
      communities. Sichuan encompasses the area where the upper courses of
      the Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong and Yangtze run parallel to each
      other within a corridor just 500 km in breadth.
      The second argument is that archaeologists identify the Indian
      Eastern Neolithic, associated with the indigenous TB populations of
      northeastern India and the Indo-Burmese borderlands, as a Neolithic
      cultural complex which originated in Sichuan and spread into Assam
      and the surrounding hill tracts of Arunachal Pradesh, the Meghalaya,
      Tripura, the Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Chittagong before the
      third millennium BC (Dani 1960; Sharma 1967, 1981, 1989; Thapar
      1985; Wheeler 1959).
      Archaeologists have estimated the Indian Eastern Neolithic to date
      from between 10,000 and 5,000 BC (Sharma 1989; Thapar 1985). If
      these estimates are taken at face value, it would mean that
      northeastern India had shouldered adzes at least three millennia
      before they appeared in Southeast Asia.
      Whilst some archaeologists may give younger estimates for the Indian
      Eastern Neolithic, a solid stratigraphy and calibrated radiocarbon
      dates are still unavailable for this major South Asian cultural
      The Indian Eastern Neolithic appears intrusively in the northeast of
      the Subcontinent and represents a tradition wholly distinct from the
      other Neolithic assemblages attested in India.
      Assuming that the Indian Eastern Neolithic was borne to the
      Subcontinent by ancient Tibeto-Burmans, then if the younger
      estimates for this cultural assemblage can be substantiated by solid
      dating, the linguistic fracturing of subgroups would have to have
      occurred earlier in Sichuan before the migrations, as I had
      suggested previously (1998, 2001).
      The third argument for a TB homeland in Sichuan is that
      archaeologists have argued that southwestern China would be a
      potentially promising place to look for the precursors of the
      Neolithic civilisations which later took root in the Yellow River
      Valley (Chang 1965, 1977, 1986, 1992; Cheng 1957).
      The Dàdìwa:n culture in Ga:nsù and Shanxi:, and the contiguous and
      contemporaneous Peílígang-Císha:n assemblage along the middle course
      of the Yellow River share common patterns of habitation and burial,
      and employed common technologies, such as hand-formed tripod pottery
      with short firing times, highly worked chipped stone tools and non-
      perforated semi-polished stone axes.
      The Dàdìwa:n and Péilígang-Císha:n assemblages, despite several
      points of divergence, were closely related cultural complexes, and
      the people behind these civilisations shared the same preference for
      settlements on plains along the river or on high terraces at

      Me: Note 'settlements on plains along the river'

      Whereas the Sichuan Neolithic represented the continuation of local
      Mesolithic cultural traditions, the first Neolithic agriculturalists
      of the Dàdìwa:n and Péilígang-Císha:n cultures may tentatively
      be identified with innovators who migrated from Sichuan to the
      fertile loess plains of the Yellow River basin. The technological
      gap between the earlier local microlithic cultures and the highly
      advanced Neolithic civilisations which subsequently come into flower
      in the Yellow River basin remains striking. Yet a weakness in this
      third argument lies in the archaeological state of the art.
      Just as it is difficult to argue for a possible precursor in Sichuan
      in face of a lack of compelling archaeological evidence, neither can
      the inadequate state of the art in Neolithic archaeology in
      southwestern China serve as an argument for the absence of such a
      precursor. Moreover, agricultural dispersals and linguistic
      intrusions may be distinct issues altogether.
      The concentration within a contiguous geographical region of all
      major high-order TB subgroups other than Tujia: and Sinitic
      constitutes a linguistic argument for an early TB linguistic
      intrusion into the area that today is northern China.
      If the Dàdìwa:n culture in Ga:nsù and Shanxi:, and the contiguous
      Péilígang-Císha:n assemblage along the middle course of the Yellow
      River are indeed primary Neolithic civilisations, then the eccentric
      location of Sinitic and Tujia: may even trace the route of the early
      migration out of the TB homeland to the affluent and more
      technologically advanced agricultural societies
      in the Yellow River basin. In other words, since the linguistic
      evidence puts the TB heartland in southwestern China
      and northeastern India, an archaeological precursor in Sichuan for
      the Dàdìwa:n and Péilígang-Císha:n cultures would fit the hypothesis
      that the displacement of Sinitic to northern China was the result of
      an early TB archaeological dispersal.
      The absence of any such precursor in Sichuan would fit a theory of
      early migration from the northern end of the ancient TB dialect
      continuum to the affluent areas of pre-TB agricultural civilisations
      along the Yellow River. I collectively refer to the ancient TB
      populations, who either bore with them from Sichuan to the
      loess plateau the technologies of polished stone tools and cord-
      marked pottery or were enticed to the loess plateau by the affluence
      of the technologically more advanced agricultural civilisations
      there, as 'Northern Tibeto-Burmans'. I identify these Northern
      Tibeto-Burmans as the likely linguistic ancestors of the Sino-Bodic
      groups. Subsequent technological developments were both innovated
      and introduced comparatively rapidly in the North, whereas
      relatively egalitarian small-scale agricultural societies persisted
      in southwestern China until the Bronze Age. This hypothesis places
      the split between Northern and Southern TB in the seventh millennium
      BC, just before the dawn of the Dàdìwa:n and Péilígang-Císha:n
      civilisations. I identify the spread of Bodic groups from Ga:nsù
      with the dispersal of the Majia:yáo and Yangsháo Neolithic cultures
      and the cultivars broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) and
      foxtail millet (Setaria italica), first domesticated on the North
      China Plain, into the Himalayan region in the third millennium BC.
      Sino-Bodic would have split up into Sinitic and Bodic before this

      An alternative proposal to a TB homeland in Sichuan would be to
      identify the earliest
      Neolithic cultures along the Yellow River basin and on the North
      China Plain with the TB homeland.
      However, if the TB homeland were to have lain in the Yellow River
      then we would be hard pressed to find a plausible archaeological
      correlate for the spread of
      Brahmaputran language communities, which once extended beyond Assam
      and the Meghalaya and
      formerly covered much of the area that is now Bangladesh and West
      Furthermore, it must be kept in mind that the early Neolithic
      civilisation on the Yellow River is
      distinct from the cultural assemblages of the middle Yangtze basin,
      the succeeding stages of which
      ultimately spread as far afield as Oceania in the course of
      Both the Yellow River and the middle Yangtze civilisations represent
      ancient agricultural
      societies as old as those of the Fertile Crescent.

      So it's Tibeto-Butman (in Sichuan) > Sinitic.
      Here comes the next step

      An intriguing theory involving a remote linguistic relationship with
      TB is the Sino-Austronesian theory proposed by Laurent Sagart (1994,
      2001 and this volume) connecting TB with AN. Because Sagart
      initially recognised possible Sino-Austronesian correspondences
      in Chinese material more than in TB, he was originally inclined to
      identify the Sino-Austronesian unity with the Lóngsha:n cultural
      horizon. However, there is an alternative way of viewing the Sino-
      Austronesian evidence and the archaeological record.
      The Lóngsha:n coastal interaction ensued upon a northward expansion
      of PAN or Austro-Tai culture from its ancient homeland in southern
      and southeastern China, and this northward expansion of early
      Austronesians would have brought them into contact with early
      Northern Tibeto-Burmans. The ensuing contact situations between AN
      and the Sino-Bodic branch of TB could have involved the ancient
      exchange of vocabulary between the two language families.
      The way to test this would be to determine whether items shared by
      AN and TB are indeed limited to the Sino-Bodic branch of TB,
      including rice terms such as
      Malay beras and Tibetan hbras,
      a correspondence already pointed out by Hendrik Kern in 1889.

      There was that *(H-)bh/p-/r/l- word again!
      (in case somewhere someone hadn't heard about them ;-)

      The Lóngsha:n interaction sphere is an obvious candidate in terms of
      time and place for early contacts between ancient Austronesians and
      ancient Tibeto-Burmans, particularly the Dàwènkou Neolithic of
      Shandong with its well-established ties both with the other coastal
      cultures of the Lóngsha:n interaction sphere as well as with the
      ancient Northern TB Yangsháo Neolithic civilisation.

      In other words Tibeto-Burman (in Sichuan) > Sino-Bodic (in Northern
      China) > (loans?) Austronesian.

      I've wondered a long time what the r-suffix of my *(H-)bh/p- and
      *(H-)bh/p-r/l- was about. Voilà Sagart to the rescue:

      Laurent Sagart:

      -ar- distributed action; distributed object
      This infix was inserted between the root initial and the first vowel
      of a stem. Attached to verbs of action it indicated that the action
      was distributed in time (occurring over several discrete occasions),
      or in space (involving several agcnts/patients/locations);
      attached to nouns it indicated a referent distributed in space,
      that is having double or multiple structure.
      The reflex of this infix in the AN languages is -ar-, marking verbs
      of distributed action and nouns of distributed object, including
      names of paired or multiple body parts.
      Aha. 'having double or multiple structure', 'names of paired or
      multiple body parts'

      Infixation is often, but not always, in the first of two
      reduplicated syllables:

      Paiwan k-ar-akim 'to search everywhere' (kim 'search')
      k-ar-apkap-an 'sole of foot'
      Puyuma D-ar-ukap 'palm of hand'
      Bunun d-al-apa 'sole of foot'
      (PAN *dapa 'palm of hand')
      Amis p-ar-okpok 'to gallop'
      t-ar-odo' 'fingers, toes'
      k-ar-ot 'harrow'
      Tagalog d-al-akdak 'sowing of rice seeds or seedlings
      for transplanting'
      (dakdak 'driving in of sharp end
      of stakes into soil')
      k-al-aykay 'rake'
      Malay ketap 'to bite teeth':
      k-er-etap 'to bite teeth repeatedly'

      Other AN languages show an infix -aR- with similar functions (not
      illustrated here).
      According to the sound correspondences presented above, both -r-
      and -R- correspond to OC -r-.
      Although no living TB language has -r- infixation as a living
      process, paired nouns and verbs with what appears to be an infix -r-
      show up here and there, with similar semantics as in Chinese:

      Burm. pok 'a drop (of liquid)':
      prok 'speckled, spotted'
      pwak 'to boil up and break, as
      boiling liquid':
      prwak 'ibid.'
      khwe2 'curve, coil' :
      khrwe2- 'to surround, attend'
      Kachin hpun 'of pimples, to appear on the body' :
      hprun 'pimples, on the body;
      to appear on the body, of pimples'
      Chepang -r- pop, prop 'the lungs'
      brok 'be partly white, grey, streaked'
      (of hair); compare
      TB bok 'white'.

      I first identified the Chinese -r- distributed action/object infix
      from minimal pairs in Old Chinese (Sagart 1993).
      Later on, I described some infixed pairs in modern dialects
      where the infix showed up as the regular modern reflex -1-,
      preceded either with a schwa or with a full or partial copy of the
      syllable's rime (Sagart 1994, 2001).
      Here are some examples of infixed nouns and verbs from Yimeng,
      a Jin dialect of Inner Mongolia, where the infixed string is -&?1-
      (Li 1991):

      p-&?l-ai3 'to swing, oscillate'
      p-&?l-&n1 'to run on all sides'
      xu-&?l-a4 'to scribble'
      t-&?l-&u1 'cluster(s) of fruit hanging from branches'
      khu-&?l-u3 'wheel(s) of a car'

      But there's my r-suffix! Check
      for senses like 'speckled, spotted', 'to boil up and break, as
      boiling liquid', 'pimples', 'partly white, grey, streaked', and even
      http://www.angelfire.com/rant/tgpedersen/bHA.html (light),
      TB bok 'white'.

      Now, since all those cognates of *(H-)bh/p-r/l- in IE and
      AfroAsiatic that designate a cultivar (eg. Latin far) do _not_ mean
      rice, it might be wiser to identify the path of those words as going
      directly westwards from the millet-growers of Sichuan, instead of
      taking the detour over Austronesian, as I've done earlier.

      End of story. Now that was that problem solved.

      But isn't it tempting to analyse out *beR- in (eg.) Proto-
      Austronesian *beRek "pig" and *beRas "rice", as standing for
      something agriculture-related, whatever that is (river?)?

    • tgpedersen
      ... hanging from branches ... even ... Cf. IE: *pad-/*plad- flat (area) ? If affixes are imported from that far afield (no pun intended), internal
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 4 5:43 AM
        > p-&?l-ai3 'to swing, oscillate'
        > p-&?l-&n1 'to run on all sides'
        > xu-&?l-a4 'to scribble'
        > t-&?l-&u1 'cluster(s) of fruit
        hanging from branches'
        > khu-&?l-u3 'wheel(s) of a car'
        > "
        > But there's my r-suffix! Check
        > http://www.angelfire.com/rant/tgpedersen/Opr.html
        > for senses like 'speckled, spotted', 'to boil up and break, as
        > boiling liquid', 'pimples', 'partly white, grey, streaked', and
        > http://www.angelfire.com/rant/tgpedersen/bHA.html (light),
        > with
        > TB bok 'white'.

        Cf. IE: *pad-/*plad- "flat (area)"?

        If affixes are imported from that far afield (no pun intended),
        internal reconstruction in PIE might be risky business.

        Note also the glosses fitting into KVR- "circle, encompass" (where K
        is a velar or labiovelar and L is l or r), also occurring in the
        words for "wheel": gilgal, *kWekWel. It seems to indicate
        the 'Neolithic agricultural cultural assemblage" included some idea
        of the circle.

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