Thursday, November 12, 2009

240. The Baseline Scenarios -- part 16: The Baseline

Let's put together a little table representing what we've come up with so far.

HBP:
Height: possibly short, but more evidence needed.
Morphology: indeterminate, since Pygmy morphology is so different from Bushmen morphology.
Place of origin: indeterminate; possibly tropical forest, but East or Southern Africa also possible.

HBC:
  • Material culture
Dwellings: probably beehive huts.
Weapons: very possibly poison-tipped arrows, but more evidence is needed.
Tools: almost certainly stone tools were used, though not commonly used today.*
  • Subsistence
almost certainly hunting and gathering; horticulture and/or herding possible but unlikely.
  • Immaterial culture

Language: unknown. Possibly not fully developed.

[Added 11-15: Thanks to a very logical observation by Glen (see comments, below), I must admit that, as he states, there is a contradiction between the existence of initiation rituals and the absence of language -- and of course there could be no awareness of ancestors, or communication with "spirits," without language. So I have removed the phrase "Possibly none" from the above line and substituted "Possibly not fully developed." For my reasons for believing that the Pygmies may not have had a fully developed language of their own, see post # 98.]

Music: almost certainly P/B style (polyphony, interlock, yodel, etc.)
Ritual/Spiritual Life/Religion: supernatural healing, trance, possession, contact with spirits via dreams, initiation rituals, funerary rituals, strong orientation toward ancestors.
Kinship: most likely flexible and loosely applied; possibly "universal" or even nonexistent.
Economics: "communistic."
Political structure: acephalous.
Core values: strong emphasis placed on egalitarianism, gender-equality, cooperation, non-violence, conflict avoidance, individualism, sharing of vital resources.
Behavior: often contentious, sometimes violent in spite of strong social sanctions against violent behavior.
Warfare: nonexistent.
Headhunting:nonexistent.
Cannibalism: nonexistent.
Blood feuds: nonexistent.
Raiding: nonexistent.
Slavery: nonexistent.
Prostitution: nonexistent.
Sexual mutilation: nonexistent.
[Added 11-14:
Witchcraft: nonexistent.
Sorcery: nonexistent.
(Mathias Guenther: "Witchcraft and sorcery are either absent or inchoate." from Diversity and Flexibility -- The Case of the Bushmen of Southern Africa, p. 73. See Turnbull, The Forest People and Wayward Servants for similar comments on Mbuti attitudes toward witchcraft.)]

The above can be regarded as some of the most interesting characteristics of our Hypothetical Baseline Population and its Hypothetical Baseline Culture, models representing the common ancestry of everyone now alive, that we can now use as tools for investigating human society, past and present. It's important to remember that this is a hypothetical baseline, subject to testing, and that nothing about it (with the exception, I'd like to think, of its music) has, of yet, been fully investigated, leastwise proven.

This isn't just any model. Our baseline represents, in technical terms, the most recent common ancestor of all living humans, a very real, very specific society that existed prior to the earliest divergence of the modern human family tree, as inferred from both the genetic and the cultural evidence. Any physical or cultural attributes that can be associated with HBP should be understood as in some sense, and of course provisionally, ancestral to all subsequent populations and societies -- or, to be more accurate, all such groups that have survived to the present time. (Our baseline may or may not be ancestral to societies that haven't survived to the present, known only from historical or archaeological remains, since at least some of these groups might be traceable to a different ancestral group whose lineage has become extinct.) Each and every attribute that can be attributed to our baseline group must be understood therefore as a potential forerunner of any similar human attribute found anywhere in the world, since every extant population can be understood as deriving, however remotely, from HBP.

We can therefore use our baseline almost like a kind of telescope, to scan various societies in various parts of the world, as though we were astronomers scanning the heavens for evidence of how the various planets, stars, galaxies -- and the universe itself -- were formed. To do this effectively we need a new basic principle: any attribute found to be shared between any society now in existence, or represented by historical and/or archaeological records, and HBP is open to investigation as a possible survival from HBP. Where shall we begin?

*Turnbull has described the Mbuti as "pre-Stone Age" because none of their tools are made of stone. He was referring principally to their arrow tips, which are and probably always were, made of fire-hardened wood. Bushmen tips are made of bone. However, since iron and steel tools such as the machete and hand axe, acquired largely from neighboring farmers, are currently being used for tasks that could certainly have been done with stone tools in the past, it's highly likely that both populations were using stone tools prior to contact with outside groups. Such tools have been found by archaeologists in the Ituri Forest and, of course, elsewhere in Africa.

99 comments:

German said...

FYI: head-hunting was common in Nigeria (Idoma, Jukun, Yoruba) and some of its details (association with fertility, etc.) is reminiscent of South-East Asia. See The Tailed Head-Hunters of Nigeria, by Treamearne; Red men of Nigeria by Wilson-Haffenden.

Maju said...

Morphology: indeterminate, since Pygmy morphology is so different from Bushmen morphology.

This is a pretty interesting issue in fact and I have no comprehensive answers. However, these populations do share the following morphological traits, AFAIK:

- Dolicocephaly: brachicephaly is an Eurasian trait (more common to the East) which is also more distant from our ancestors in the genus Homo.
- A rather flat nose. Some pigmies do have principle of prominent noses (resembling Papuans somewhat) but they are the exception rather than the rule. I guess we can say also somewhat broad (not narrow in any case).
- Frizzy black hair.
- Brown eyes.
- Thick lips.
- Light brown (reddish) to dark brown skin (i.e. excluding the "white" or rather beige shades of NW and NE Eurasia, which are known to eb a product of depigmentation in relatively high latitudes.

Place of origin: indeterminate; possibly tropical forest, but East or Southern Africa also possible.

I understand that we have many reasons to think that the savanna was the original environment of our genus since the time of H. habilis. Archaeology and genetics add up to suggest an Easter or maybe Southern African original homeland. I have already mentioned that while it could be argued that "the rest" split from the proto-Khoisan, it's almost sure that Pygmies were the ones to split from "the rest" at the second branching node, based on both archaeological and genetic data.

... horticulture and/or herding possible but unlikely.

Your concept of "possible" here is beyond my understanding. Impossible is a better word.

Language: unknown. Possibly none.

Certainly some language, though indeed an unknown one. It is simply absurd and against all evidence to argue that archaic humans did not speak: they were essentially identical to us (appropriate vocal trail, adequate parietal brain development, etc.) and it's been argued with aboundant evidence that Neanderthals were also perfectly able to speak.

Whichever their language was, it existed and was ancestral to all modern and historical languages. Nevertheless the relationship is so remote and languages change so fast that it's impossible to determine. However there are "freaky linguists" over there trying to reconstruct some of the Proto-Human or Proto-World language - though most just look amused to their efforts.

Maju said...

FYI: head-hunting was common in Nigeria (Idoma, Jukun, Yoruba) and some of its details (association with fertility, etc.) is reminiscent of South-East Asia.

But these are out of the Pygmy-Bushmen paragroup. At most you could argue these practices could be related to the Y-DNA macrohaplogroup DE, which already belongs to "the rest" (i.e. the third group that is ancestral to all humankind but P/B).

German said...

"But these are out of the Pygmy-Bushmen paragroup."

Only under the assumption, dubious in my opinion, of a single origin of all head-hunting practices (or all beehive shaped huts, for this matter). If these practices, if fact, evolved independently several times (see Smith for Kagoro and Kadara head-hunting, which apparently emerged in the late 18th century; also scalping in North America), then the fact that they're missing among historic Pygmies and Khoisan, but are widely present elsewhere (in and out of Africa) doesn't mean much for deep historical inferences.

"However there are "freaky linguists" over there trying to reconstruct some of the Proto-Human or Proto-World language - though most just look amused to their efforts."

I know them very well. They're also big fans of Occam's Razor: if words with similar meanings and sounds are found on all continents, they must be related. Otherwise, it gets too complicated.

DocG said...

The origin of head-hunting is a topic I'm hoping to cover soon. I'm not sure yet whether it's more likely to have a single origin or not. I'm definitely interested in learning more about the Kagoro and Kadara. Single traits that aren't part of a broader complex are easier to explain as convergent or independent, it would seem to me.

There are many reasons, I suppose, why a group might take up head-hunting. Or maybe not. Maju, I'm wondering whether this rather schizo type of behavior might be driven by a genetic mutation. Are there any theories of that kind out there?

German said...

See MG Smith. "Cosmology, Practice, and Social Organization Among the Kadara and Kagoro." Ethnology 21 (January 1982): 1-20.

"Single traits that aren't part of a broader complex are easier to explain as convergent or independent, it would seem to me."

Agree.

Maju said...

On size: read please Erik Trinkaus on the tibia of Broken Hill, estimating a height of 178.9 to 184.4 cm.

So they were rather tall, at least some of them.

German said...

And at 165K YBP they lived in caves in Africa:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/25/MNHK19AS41.DTL

Glen said...

I think you're making great progress with your arguments, Victor. I can't say I'm totally convinced of every detail but the overall picture is getting clearer with every post. I do think there are some contradictions in this table, however. Your entertainment of the idea that this "HBC" or the P/B group would be without language entirely has bothered me from the start, but here I think there is a logical inconsistency. How can you propose a culture that has initiation and funerary rites but lacks language? It seems to me that an initiation would require an abstract thought process that could only be thought through in language, not to mention other abstract ideas such as maturity or auspicious timing. There would have to be a complex idea of calendar time, or at the very least a counting of seasons or perhaps a biological awareness. And who would be leading these rituals? If the culture was egalitarian, these rituals would have to be something any individual could perform (or it would be something that would be taken on by initiate themselves) and would therefore require at least some sort of verbal understanding of its purpose. I also do not see how a culture could have supernatural healing, trance, possession, contact with spirits via dreams, etc. and not have any "witchcraft" or "sorcery" (although I do think you're using a specialized definition of these terms, which may allow some wiggle room). I also think the parenthetical note indicating a lack of witchcraft deserves some further thought in light of your prior discussions regarding the persecution of Sau. One point that deserves some more exploration is the lack of stone tools, however. Since we can say for certain that this was a skill honed long before our species emerged, it would have to be something P/B consciously gave up. This would represent a significant change in technology somewhere between HBC and P/B, a shift that would probably have cultural implications. I can also add some more fuel to the debate over poison by noting a small detail: it's not usually the tip that is poisoned, it's the end portion of the shaft near the haft (if there's a point attached). This is to prevent accidentally cutting yourself or others. More importantly, I believe this is important also because it very well could have been developed when stone points were used exclusively, and applying the poison to stone would be ineffective as it is not porous. Keep up the good work Victor, I'm still reading though having trouble keeping up!

DocG said...

Was Trinkhaus writing about homo sapiens or homo erectus? I didn't have time to read through the whole thing. In any case, we have no way of knowing whether this individual or the group he belonged to was part of the same lineage as HBP or a lineage that died out. This is a very important point because we should NOT confuse the archaeological record with the genetic record, which is based, mostly, on contemporary populations, i.e., descendants of very specific group of paleolithic ancestors. We are members of a very exclusive club. Not every hoi polloi fibia or tibia was a member.

DocG said...

"And at 165K YBP they lived in caves in Africa:"

So you're saying our early ancestors were sedentary? If they were hunter-gatherers, then they would also have been nomads, I imagine. So the fact that humans spent some of their time in caves has no bearing on whether or not they used beehive huts when out hunting in areas without caves.

DocG said...

Hi Glen, glad to see you're still reading here. Thanks for the encouraging words.

"Your entertainment of the idea that this "HBC" or the P/B group would be without language entirely has bothered me from the start, but here I think there is a logical inconsistency."

You make an excellent point. There IS evidence that they could have had initiation rituals, since Pygmies and Bushmen have traditionally had them, at least for girls -- the Mbuti boy's initiation is part of village culture so not indigenous. It's also hard to understand how one could convey the idea of contacting a spirit in a dream without language.

I left that door open because I'm bothered by the coincidence that NO Pygmy group anywhere has retained its own original language, that seems too much of a coincidence to me. And of course if language developed only after the pygmies broke off from the ancestral group, that would give us a huge clue as to when it originated. I have a weakness for that sort of thing. :-)

I still think it possible that the Pygmies may have had only a very rudimentary language of their own, maybe like Yiddish or Pidgin. Hey, maybe it WAS Yiddish, I really like THAT idea! :-)

DocG said...

Glen: "I also do not see how a culture could have supernatural healing, trance, possession, contact with spirits via dreams, etc. and not have any "witchcraft" or "sorcery""

Witchcraft and sorcery may be derived from the other practices but they are definitely different, as they involve the casting of harmful spells and can have extremely violent overtones. Turnbull says that the Mbuti did not practice witchcraft and also argues that they only rarely let themselves get worked up over it, at least not as heavily as the village tribespeople. And as far as the persecution of Sau is concerned, Turnbull states (in his field notes as well as his books) that it was the Bira, not the Mbuti who decided she was a witch and it was also the Bira who kept pressing for them to kill her, which never happened. The Mbuti may from time to time have felt intimidated and threatened by village witchcraft and also by Sau, thanks to the influence of the village people, but there's no evidence they practiced it. More or less the same picture emerges from Kisliuk's book on the BaAka, who express fear of witchcraft but don't appear to actually practice it -- though some, like Sau, are suspected of that.

"One point that deserves some more exploration is the lack of stone tools, however. Since we can say for certain that this was a skill honed long before our species emerged, it would have to be something P/B consciously gave up."

I think there is no getting around the fact that they would have needed stone tools to do certain very basic things, such as cut down trees to build huts and also butcher meat. When more effective iron and steel tools became available it's logical that they would have used them. I very much doubt that stone tools were part of anyone's core value system.

"This would represent a significant change in technology somewhere between HBC and P/B, a shift that would probably have cultural implications."

I don't see the cultural implications of such a shift, aside from it's resulting in the loss of their knowledge of how to craft them.

"I can also add some more fuel to the debate over poison by noting a small detail: it's not usually the tip that is poisoned, it's the end portion of the shaft near the haft (if there's a point attached). This is to prevent accidentally cutting yourself or others."

Yes, good point. I was aware of that but never mentioned it.

"More importantly, I believe this is important also because it very well could have been developed when stone points were used exclusively, and applying the poison to stone would be ineffective as it is not porous."

Your thinking is sound, but I'm not sure if there is any evidence of stone arrow points being found in the Ituri forest. Stone tools were found for sure but I'm not sure which kind. Maju might be able to help us out on that. As far as I've been able to determine, no pygmy or bushmen group currently uses stone arrow points, though some now use metal ones. However, the most traditional points are either wood or bone and a very similar bone point was found recently that could be 60,000 years old, so it's possible they never used stone arrow points. Your "point" is well taken, however. :-)

German Dziebel said...

"So you're saying our early ancestors were sedentary? If they were hunter-gatherers, then they would also have been nomads, I imagine. So the fact that humans spent some of their time in caves has no bearing on whether or not they used beehive huts when out hunting in areas without caves."

They could've been fully sedentary, or they could've been sedentary part of the year. More importantly, historic Pygmies and Khoisan don't live in caves. But caves are attested as a dwelling type of their possible Sub-Saharan ancestors. Hence, if they shared their cave type of dwelling originally they both lost it as they moved out of the area with caves. And if they moved out of the area with caves and lost their common denominator, they could have just easily arrived at the idea of building beehive huts independently. This is nature of human intelligence: we invent things and sometimes two people arrive at the same invention independently. Similarities don't necessarily mean common descent, while lack of similarities (cave dwelling habits lost) may still mean common descent.

German Dziebel said...

Khoisans did use microliths for their arrow points.

But whether huts or arrows, it's worthwhile to reiterate what was written some 70 years ago: "The method of procuring food,the environment,and the
available building materials obviously prescribe their manner of hut building, and to me resemblances in their houses is a solely superficial
factor in the comparison of the two cultures. Thus, though it is true
that the primitive stage of collecting, the windscreen, and the beehive hut are found among both, they cannot be interpreted as indicative of kinship." (Hirschberg, The Problem of Relationship between Pygmies and Bushmen. Africa 7 (4): 444-451.)

What's more intriguing is the nearly total absence of spear throwers in Africa. On the other hand, in Australia and America spear-throwers are attested throughout known history, while bows and arrows appear relatively late on both continents via independent innovation.

Maju said...

I still think it possible that the Pygmies may have had only a very rudimentary language of their own, maybe like Yiddish or Pidgin.

Impossible. Yiddish and Pidgins are creole languages and that's why they are simplified ("rudimentary"). It happens with English too, which was a creole language originally and with Romances as well (a lot simpler grammar than Latin).

Pygmies must have got an elaborate complex language (or languages) before they lost it. Old "stable" languages like Basque tend to have complex and rich structure.

I very much doubt that stone tools were part of anyone's core value system.

"Harri eta herri", wrote Gabriel Aresti (most important Basque poet): stone and people.

Notice that the wordplay appears etymological: a vowel shift, maybe intentional? Jakue Pascual dwelt further in this idea, after removing the letter "h" (non-existent in most dialects and probably an Occitan influence):

- Arri: stone
- Erri: people, village
- Irri: laughter
- Orri: leaf
- Urri: aboundance, nut

Maju might be able to help us out on that.

Only up to a point, I fear, because my manual is quite old and I may be missing some novel details. I have not dedicated much efforts to research African prehistory, as my main focus has been in West Eurasia all the time.

Anyhow, the Sangoan industry, derived from Acheulean, is what I identified as first H. sapiens cultural complex. It is a pan-African culture (south of the Sahara) of the Abbassian Pluvial (i.e. contemporary of Aterian as far as I can tell) but does not have points but rather some axes and many stone balls, considered to be projectiles.

In East Africa it is contemporary with Fauresmith culture, which does have point. My manual describes these two cultures as pre-dating the Middle Stone Age but that would be impossible if the MSA began c. 300,000 BP, as Wikipedia claims, so I can only presume that the MSA concept has been extended to include these two cultures.

The MSA anyhow is a wide term that includes several techno-cultural groups not well defined often. It is characterized, like the Fauresmithian, by the aboundance of points. I don't think it's found in the jungle but I may be wrong.

Later on, in the Epipaleolithic (since 12.500 BCE), the Congo area has two industries: the Lupemban with finely retouched tools and the derived (?) Lupembo-Tschitolian. These are found in the low Congo basin (Angola particularly).

This is what I think I know. Not much. Maybe a search can produce something better, as Wikipedia is very poor in regard to Prehistory.

Maju said...

This other site (the page of an archaeologist working in Tanzania) says that the MSA began c. 200,000 BP, which is more consistent with the appearing of our species (H. sapiens) as such. It gives the impression that categories such as Sangoan and Fauresmith have been dumped in this general category - though sincerely, I'd like a more detailed analysis.

I fear anyhow that there's not much information on the jungle area available.

Maju said...

If they were hunter-gatherers, then they would also have been nomads, I imagine.

Not necesarily. Research in the Cantabrian area of Iberia strongly suggests that bands exploited specific districts of their own with radii of c. 100 km. However this region is characterized by a very sharp trasition from mountain to coast, which allows for a wide diversity of resources in such small area.

Gamble's research in the wider context of Europe, suggests that not only Neanderthal and Sapiens' economic areas were different in extent but that these were also different depending on the climatic region, with the warmer Aquitanian area allowing for smaller foraging territories (and greater population density) than the colder Central Europe.

I suspect that the concept of seminomadism rather than pure nomadism applies better to real hunter-gatherers.

DocG said...

Maju and German, I appreciate your comments on cave dwellings and nomadism, but what would be more useful would be information regarding whether or not archaeologists have found evidence that these people were living in caves all year 'round, or whether they might have been only temporary shelters. At this point I see no reason to believe the cave evidence means that they could not have also built temporary shelters in hunting camps some distance from any caves.

German, your argument regarding the possibility of HBP having lived in caves is convincing ONLY as a possibility. Even if the ancestors of HBP lived exclusively in caves, which I very much doubt, that doesn't mean HBP did.

What you want to argue is that there is something about beehive huts that makes them a "natural" choice for hunter-gatherers to build when suitable materials are available. And I agree that they are relatively simple and not all that difficult to build. But there are certainly other possibilities that would be far simpler, such as the lean-to for example.

As simple as it seems, the beehive hut is a rather intricate architectural design with several different components that have to be arranged properly in a certain order. And the cultural context in which it is made is also an important factor, as essentially the same context applies in all three regions: temporary dwellings made in hunting camps by women. It's a lot more complex than simply chopping off the head of an enemy, taking it home and displaying it, which could much more easily have been an independent "invention."

If you really want to argue that this has to be an independent invention, then you need to find evidence that it was indeed independently invented, not just by proto-Pygmies and proto-Bushmen, but on many occasions by many different people. In other words you would need to provide evidence that certain groups used a different architecture originally and then decided to "invent" something different that just happened to resemble Pygmy and Bushmen huts. I can think of only a single example: the Geodesic dome, invented by Buckminster Fuller during the 20th Century. Other than that, I'm stuck.

DocG said...

German: "it's worthwhile to reiterate what was written some 70 years ago: "The method of procuring food,the environment,and the
available building materials obviously prescribe their manner of hut building, and to me resemblances in their houses is a solely superficial factor in the comparison of the two cultures. Thus, though it is true that the primitive stage of collecting, the windscreen, and the beehive hut are found among both, they cannot be interpreted as indicative of kinship." (Hirschberg, The Problem of Relationship between Pygmies and Bushmen. Africa 7 (4): 444-451.)"

Thanks for this very interesting reference, German. You are very resourceful, I must say. What's happened over the last 70 years, however, is that very solid evidence that IS "indicative of kinship" among all these groups HAS been found, i.e., the genetic evidence. And I'm assuming that even you accept the evidence of a common, deep ancestry of both pygmies and bushmen, since it has no bearing on the Out of Africa issue.

Hirshberg appears to be contesting the value of the ethnographic evidence in supporting the possibility of common ancestry. But we now have strong genetic evidence for common ancestry from another source, evidence that makes common cultural ancestry far more likely than before.

In any case, the Hirshberg essay looks very interesting. I'm going to try to get hold of it, thanks.

Maju, as far as stone in the forest is concerned, Turnbull reports that a great many stone tools have indeed been found in the Ituri, but none apparently were arrow points. Which leads him to believe the Pygmies always used fire-hardened wood points, as they do today and which they still prefer to metal ones.

Maju said...

At this point I see no reason to believe the cave evidence means that they could not have also built temporary shelters in hunting camps some distance from any caves.

Me neither. Just that is a lot easier to find a cave site that an open air one, for obvious reasons. Caves also tend to yield more remains, as they are a specific spot much more frequently used through prehistory - a camp placed just a few dozen or hundred meters away from the previous season's one may never be found. The cave instead is always the same.

I just meant to emphasize that semi-nomadism is not wild wandering (at least not normally) but rather a a pattern of wandering within the territory. Territory that can be pretty small at times.

Turnbull reports that a great many stone tools have indeed been found in the Ituri, but none apparently were arrow points.

That sounds to Sangoan culture.

Which leads him to believe the Pygmies always used fire-hardened wood points, as they do today and which they still prefer to metal ones.

It's possible - you don't really need anything else to kill, specially with poison. However the Sangoan has aboundance of other round stone projectiles, seemingly. Any idea if Pygmies ever used slingshots?

German Dziebel said...

"What's happened over the last 70 years, however, is that very solid evidence that IS "indicative of kinship" among all these groups HAS been found, i.e., the genetic evidence. And I'm assuming that even you accept the evidence of a common, deep ancestry of both pygmies and bushmen, since it has no bearing on the Out of Africa issue."

Unfortunately, you and I disagree on methodology to a radical degree. And every time we agree, it's for a wrong reason. (Same for Luis.) The burden of proof that the similarity between huts and arrows means common descent is on you. Common descent is not an automatic "Occam's Razor" choice for cultural elements driven by conscious, intelligent activity. Independent invention is. You haven't presented enough evidence that Pygmy and Bushmen huts and arrows are "related." The only way to start approaching the possibility of common descent is to build a general typology of dwellings ("architectometrics" of sorts.)

Do I doubt common descent between Pygmies and Bushmen? I know the data that supports it (a few genetic mutations shared between the two groups, or between L1 and L2 but not L3, M and N). But I also know the data that contradicts it: Pygmies speak Niger-Congo languages, there's very little evidence for a Pygmy tongue, there're no traces of clicks among Pygmies, their kinship systems are vastly different, phenotypically Khoisans are very specific and Pygmies are specific (epicanthus, light skin, Mongolian spot, etc.) in a very different way (short stature).

But more importantly, I don't see what we gain from postulating "common descent" between the two groups. For you reconstructions of HBC you don't need it. If you believe genetics, stick to the fact that Khoisans are the earliest offshoot and simply extrapolate Khoisan historical culture(s) down 100,000 YBP. Just forget about Pygmies. Or if you want to practice comparative method, go all the way and look at African cultures as a whole or better look at the whole worldwide variation. Exactly in the same way Lomax did for music. Otherwise, you're hedging again, this time between objective and unbiased comparativism and an advocacy for a pop.genetic worldview.

Hirshberg's skepticism still holds regardless of the "recent advances" in pop.genetics because it takes a solid and objective methodology to slice cultural data in such a way to make it compelling in its own right. Linguistics and kinship studies have progressed a great deal along these lines. Comparison between more "conscious" cultural traits is lagging behind, and you're not making much of a headway here.

German Dziebel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
German Dziebel said...

"And I'm assuming that even you accept the evidence of a common, deep ancestry of both pygmies and bushmen, since it has no bearing on the Out of Africa issue."

I think at the moment I see more similarities between Khoisans, on the one hand, and Northern Mongoloids (epicanthus, Mongolian spot, light skin color, ingression of the airflow in clicks and throat singing, naming and kinship practices, etc.), on the other hand, than between Khoisans and Pygmies. And I see more similarities between Pygmies and Niger-Congo (their languages and their genes, according to Quintana-Murci et al. Maternal traces of deep common ancestry and asymmetric gene flow between Pygmy hunter–gatherers and Bantu-speaking farmers) than between Pygmies and Khoisans. And all these features are more stable, specific and systematic, than huts and arrows.

I'll close with a very good quote:
"Populations that have seemed on other grounds to be distinct from their neighbors turn out not to be distinct when we look at neutral markers. Bushmen of Southern Africa appear as simply another African population. We suggest that other marker categories like language and external appearance might provide a better look at human history. These share with Rh system the property that selection should favor the common type, or in the case of sexual selection appearance some exaggeration of the common type. Under such dynamics they would "resist" the effects of gene immigration, while neutral markers should "blend." (Harpending and Eller, Human Diversity and History, p. 312).

As I pointed out to Luis, such cases as Basque and Burushaski (distinct linguistically but blended with their neighbors genetically) and Ket (specifically related to Na-Dene linguistically but not so much genetically) suggest that the lack of a linguistic link between Bushmen and Pygmies, and the presence of one between Pygmies and Niger-Congo may outweigh whatever neutral "paragroup" they seem to share.

Since genes (in Quintana-Murci's paper) and languages seem to cluster Pygmies with Niger-Congo, I would consider the possibility of polyphony borrowing from Pygmies and other Niger-Congo to Khoisans at some point in the past.

Maju said...

German: you're exasperating if not laughable.

How can language contradict genetics when linguistic affinities have a depth of a few thousand years and genetics can be tracked to hundreds of thousands?

But you claim that and, immediately after, at your convenience, you decide to instead ignore the linguistic evidence (no relation whatsoever between click languages and Altaic or Sino-Tibetan, right?) to focus on a piece of extra skin around the eye...

But when you focus on this physionomical detail you are simultaneously ignoring other anthropometric items capriciously like hair texture or the "holy grail" of all anthropometrists: skull proportions (as Khoisan are dolicocephalic, like all other Africans, and East Asians are brachicephalic instead).

And then you go back happily to linguistics to insist that Pygmies are Niger-Congo, as if a recently adopted language (we know for a fact that Bantu migration is recent) would make them essentially the same as Wolof and Zulu peoples. It's like saying that Jamaican English language makes them the quintaessence of Indoeuropeanness.. well, actually even more far fetched.

Do you ever read critically what you write? You should be ashamed of your pseudo-reasoning with an agenda.

German Dziebel said...

Of course, there're retentions and there're innovations. That's what Harpending and Eller are talking about. Khoisans have flat faces like Mongoloids, light skin, epicanthus, Mongolian spot. It means a whole host of "Mongoloid" (or non-African) features. Some traits such as hair is African. Khoisans themselves acknowledge their physical similarity to Asians whom they call zhu "humans" just like themselves. Dolichocephalic and brachiocephalic indices can fluctuate within a few thousand of years.

If you read something about the phonetics of clicks, you'll see that their distinguishing feature is ingression (and not so much the place of articulation). Ingression is very uncommon in natural languages but it occurs in Inuit and Ainu throat singing. Throat singing is likened to a language: "[N]one of the phonetic distinctions utilized in the katajjait [throat singing] – voiceless vowels, pulmonic ingressive airstream, or tone – occur as contrastive features in the Inuktitut language on which the vocal games are based. Thus, one cannot consider the occurrence of these elements in the katajjait as the result of transfer from the spoken language, the way, for example, a language with distinctive ejectives would carry these segments over into the text of a song. The only conclusion is that, at least on a phonological basis, the katajjait represent an independent linguistic system" (Bagemihl, Bruce. 1988. The morphology and phonology of katajjait (Inuit throat games). Canadian Journal of Linguistics 33(1), 1–58.) Since we know that the Australian secret language Damin that uses clicks was artificially created, it's reasonable to hypothesize that Khoisan clicks were dragged into natural language from a supralinguistic domain such as music.

"How can language contradict genetics when linguistic affinities have a depth of a few thousand years and genetics can be tracked to hundreds of thousands?"

Quintana-Murci's paper is entitled: "Maternal traces of deep common ancestry and asymmetric gene flow between Pygmy hunter–gatherers and Bantu-speaking farmers." So much for your insistence of separating genetic and linguistic histories. Linguists date the breakdown of the Khoisan family at 18,000 years. Although there's no rock-solid methodology os how do date linguistic divergence, linguists tend to go beyond 10-12,000 years if glottochronology tells them to.

"It's like saying that Jamaican English language makes them the quintaessence of Indoeuropeanness.."

In this case, we know the history from written sources and memory. In the case of Pygmies and Niger-Congo we don't. That's why we use indirect sources. Your analogy is invalid. Populations with short stature in Southeast Asia don't have a distinct language. Even Andaman islanders are related linguistically to Austronesian. Nowhere in the world do pygmy groups have a separate or highly divergent language.

"Do you ever read critically what you write? You should be ashamed of your pseudo-reasoning with an agenda."

I don't give a damn about your incessant paranoia, Luis. I have enough credentials, experience and resources to generate testable, albeit unconventional, scientific hypotheses and theories. I understand you don't read anything, even the titles of articles and books, but then don't waste anybody's time with thoughtless comments.

DocG said...

"This post has been removed by a blog administrator."

I deleted German's post because he inadvertently duplicated his previous post. I don't usually delete any posts, unless they were made in error, or they are totally irrelevant (e.g., advertisements).

DocG said...

German: "The burden of proof that the similarity between huts and arrows means common descent is on you. Common descent is not an automatic "Occam's Razor" choice for cultural elements driven by conscious, intelligent activity. Independent invention is."

I'll admit that independent invention is the standard fall-back position (aka assumption) for most anthropologists, because most anthropologists are 1. rightfully leery of patently outrageous claims for common descent made in the past; 2. naturally suspicious of ANY claims for common inheritance of anything whatsoever -- possibly because they see ind. inv. as an easy way of not having to spend time actaully investigating evidence.

I will proceed now to demonstrate how weak it is as an explanation for almost anything at all, and how powerful Occam's Razor is in confronting dubious claims of this sort. I don't have any hope of convincing you, German, but there may be others reading here who are less resistant to logical argument.

Let's say you do some digging into the literature and you find that, lo and behold, a large stash of typically Bushmen style Ostrich egg beads have recently been found at some archaeological dig right smack in the middle of the Ituri Forest. And after a bit more digging the same team found a few skeletons that looked a lot like Bushmen remains.

I can guess what your reaction would be, though I'm sure you'll deny it. You'd say, "Well that clinches it. If Bushmen were living in the Ituri Forest, they must have borrowed the design of beehive huts from the Pygmies. Or vice versa, the Bushmen must have taught the Pygmies how to make the same sort of huts they were using down South. Common descent my eye!" And at this point all thought of independent invention would vanish from your mind.

I know you'll deny it, but it doesn't matter, because we have many instances in the literature where exactly this sort of thinking is demonstrated. Most anthropologists would much rather see evidence of cultural diffusion than common descent, and when they do they somehow completely forget about independent invention as even a remote possibility. Why? They don't need it anymore. They have a "better" explanation.

WHY is it better? Here we see Occam's Razor at work on the anthropological subconscious. Cultural diffusion satisfies Occam's Razor far better than independent invention, because it is clearly the simpler explanation, by far. While independent invention may seem to most anthropologists to be the "most logical" and even "the simplest" explanation, when faced with evidence of cultural diffusion, they'll go that way every time -- because it really IS the simpler, more logical explanation. Independent invention is really just a dodge.

German Dziebel said...

Here's a very simple explanation of what's going on, Victor.

I don't subscribe to negative constructivism ("revisionism" in your terminology) in anthropology, which dismisses the reality of common descent in culture. I developed an out of America hypothesis precisely out of a commitment to our (social scientists' or the students of modern populations) increasing ability to reconstruct the past. And I never simply criticize you for going common descent but always offer an alternative that I believe fits the combined facts better.

Common descent, parallel development and borrowing are the three pillars of comparative method. Common descent is the hardest to prove as you go deeper and deeper in time. Nobody doubts the reality of Indo-European but hot debates surround the next hierarchical level, namely Nostratic. Different levels and parts of culture/language are subject to parallel development and borrowing to a different degree. Pronouns are less likely to be borrowed than technical vocabulary such as "hoe" or "horse." Phonetic patterns can be adopted but also reinvented several times in history.

As Hirschberg's quote above illustrates, you're not the first one implicate common descent in the compare beehive huts design found among Bushmen and Pygmies. This is a very very old school interpretation. Classical evolutionism and diffusionism used to interpret any case of similarity between two cultures as implying some kind of physical, organic link between them. It was either common descent or diffusion from a single source. Negative constructivism continues the legacy of functionalism and structuralism in rejecting the necessary, simple and straightforward connection between appearances and sources. That's where I'm part of the constructivist trend in anthropology but that's also the junction when I choose positive constructivism over negative constructivism. Positive constructivism aims at the reconstruction of the past through the careful and unbiased sorting of objects of analysis in terms of their fit for either common descent, borrowing or parallel development inferences. And I do include the whole process of a scientific inquiry into my category of "objects of analysis."

You see similarities between Bushmen and Pygmies in huts, music and arrows but you don't see differences between them in phenotype, kinship structures and language. You dismiss similarities between Pygmies and Niger-Congo people and between Khoisans and Asians. You champion common descent when it comes to some things and parallel development (epicanthus in Khoisans and in Mongoloids) or borrowing (the Pygmies adopted their language from Bantu neighbors), when it comes to others.

We simply disagree on what represents retention from ancestral states and what is independent innovation/borrowing. The whole out of Africa mode of thinking is based on this unwarranted, assumptive pre-selection of some traits and mutations as indicating common origin and the outright dismissal of others as borrowing or independent innovation. (Slews of archaeologists and geneticists would scream their heads off about how 140 language stocks in America resulted from independent development within the past 12,000 years.) Out of America turns the tables around.

Maju said...

Dolichocephalic and brachiocephalic indices can fluctuate within a few thousand of years.

Even few generations. A recent study on Germans showed that their apportions had changed significantly in half a century.

However that happens also with skin color for instance, which is a most adaptative trait and hence needs to bend to local conditions. Khoisan live and have live historically in a Mediterranean climatic are, so no wonder their skin is rather light. Instead, Dravidians or Negritos, who are much more closely related to light skinned Eurasians (both western and eastern) are very dark because they live in the tropics.

According to Wikipedia, the Mongolian spot is found specially among East Africans, who are quite archetypally Black, not Khoisanid.

I do not wholly discard that among the genes involved in the proposed rapid coastal migration that led to the colonization of Eurasia maybe some 60,000 years ago, there was a greater apportion of Khoisan-like genes flowing to East Asia in particular but that's at best a random effect.

Similarly to your anecdotal Khoisans I also tend to perceive that Black Africans are more like Europeans than East Asians, because they normally have big round eyes. But that has no genetic validity, it's just a subjective perception. Surely people in Northern Europe, where partial epicanthic fold is quite common tend to feel otherwise.

Since we know that the Australian secret language Damin that uses clicks was artificially created, it's reasonable to hypothesize that Khoisan clicks were dragged into natural language from a supralinguistic domain such as music.

Interesting hypothesis. However I must remind you that click languages are not just Khoisan but also some unrelated East African ones.

Quintana-Murci's paper...

I read that long ago. No need for you to insist. It's trivial: it just says that some Bantu genetics, mostly male, have penetrated into Pygmies and that even more female Pygmy genetics have trespassed into Bantus.

Irrelevant, as the distinctive base genetic makeups remain in spite of that.

In this case, we know the history from written sources and memory. In the case of Pygmies and Niger-Congo we don't.

So you admit that you could be misled by Jamaicans if we had no historical records. Good to know.

Your analogy is invalid.

It is very valid because it illustrates how you could be arguing whatever fringe hypothesis if the history of Caribbean peoples would not be well known to us.

Populations with short stature in Southeast Asia don't have a distinct language.

Andamanese do. The rest have surely lost them to invaders' influence, just like Pygmies in Africa.

Even Andaman islanders are related linguistically to Austronesian.

That's plainly false. Andamanese is an isolate family with their own very unique features.

Maju said...

I don't give a damn about your incessant paranoia...

Paranoia? I know well that you have a fringe theory built on a single type of data, that clashes with everything else we know (and that I know now that is not even solid based on Kinship data).

And I know that you are extremely stubborn and determined to persuade someone, anyone, of the "excellences" of your model.

And I know that for that you do not mind ignoring and disdaining without any basis all the evidence that the scientific community has gathered in the last century or more, be it archaeological, genetic, linguistic or even in the field of kinship (if Morgan would raise from his tomb... he would spank you badly).

You have decided that your truth is the truth and are willing to go over anything in order to promote that belief, just like the typical religious preacher.

What paranoia or WTF! Admit that you are a "prophet" of a fringe hypothesis and that you're willing to go once and again over and over anything, distorting the facts, denying them against all evidence, only to achieve your petty self-aggrandizing goal.

Your truth not, the truth.
And come with me in search of it.
Yours keep it for you
.

A. Machado.

DocG said...

Maju, regardless of the virtues or deficiencies of German's theory, I value his participation here because many of his objections reflect mainstream anthropological thinking and therefore give me an opportunity to respond to such thinking -- and, where appropriate, reveal its weaknesses and contradictions. For example:

German: "Common descent, parallel development and borrowing are the three pillars of comparative method."

Agreed.

"Common descent is the hardest to prove as you go deeper and deeper in time."

But it is the easiest to falsify. And science is all about the production of falsifiable hypotheses, NOT the revelation of absolute truth, which can never be the final claim of any theory.

For example, if I theorize that HBP may have used poison arrows, all that would be needed to falsify my hypothesis would be evidence that some farmer or herder group taught them how to make bows and arrows, or at least how to poison them. Also, if it could be shown that poison arrows were widely used among Bantu groups, that would tend to falsify the theory because such weapons could have easily been spread with the Bantu expansion. By the same token if P/B musical style were commonly found among Bantus, then one might be able to argue that P/B spread to Pygmies and Bushmen via the same expansion.

There is no evidence whatsoever of the latter. But there may be evidence of the former. If we can find it, then I'll be happy to admit that my poison arrow hypothesis is probably false.

As far as beehive huts are concerned the same reasoning applies. But the situation there is very similar to the musical situation, i.e., there is no evidence whatsoever that any pygmy or bushmen group borrowed such huts from any farmer or herder group and in fact that seems incredibly unlikely. And since common descent (as well as borrowing) satisfies Occam's razor far better than independent invention, then common descent must be taken very seriously indeed. I won't claim I've proved it, but I do claim that in this case common descent is far more probable than any other explanation offered to date.

DocG said...

German: "As Hirschberg's quote above illustrates, you're not the first one implicate common descent in the compare beehive huts design found among Bushmen and Pygmies."

Thanks for sending me that article. Hirschberg's paper is deeply flawed. He simply dismisses the notion that these huts could be due to common descent without offering any evidence or even much in the way of an argument. He attributes this type of hut to, among other things, the environment. But fails to consider the fact that the two groups live in totally different environments. Later, in another context, he suggests that the Bushmen homeland was the surrounding savanna and not the desert, which is reasonable. But the savanna is also a totally different environment from the tropical forest. He claims that the pygmies used only "wood, horn and bone" as implements, in contrast to the Bushmen who used stone tools -- but stone tools have in fact been found in the Ituri, and it stands to reason that the metal tools presently used by pygmies must be substitutes for stone tools they would have used in the past. What else would they have used to butcher meat and cut down trees? This short-sightedness is typical of his attempts to argue that the differences outweigh the similarities.

Most of the paper involves the comparison of the various types of Bushmen and related groups in southern and eastern Africa, to the point that he seems at times to have forgotten about his principal topic.

German: "You see similarities between Bushmen and Pygmies in huts, music and arrows but you don't see differences between them in phenotype, kinship structures and language."

That is not true. I've discussed both similarities AND differences on this blog at some length. Phenotypical differences are to be expected between peoples who have been out of contact with one another for possibly as long as 100,000 years. And as far as kinship structures and language are concerned, all the evidence points to differences based on relatively recent events. My analysis of Hewlett's paper, which emphasizes many differences, reveals that almost every difference he highlights reflects the Pygmy's relationships with neighboring farmers. Since the history of these relationships can be traced to events of the last 200 to 400 years, the differences can safely be ignored.

"The whole out of Africa mode of thinking is based on this unwarranted, assumptive pre-selection of some traits and mutations as indicating common origin and the outright dismissal of others as borrowing or independent innovation."

Here you give yourself away. You are special pleading for your own theory, which is very interesting to be sure, but, in the manner that you present it -- and defend it -- is effectively unfalsifiable.

German Dziebel said...

Jesus, what a fountain, guys.

Victor, you are very speculative with the huts and arrows argument. Again, you think other people have to prove borrowing and disprove your common descent idea. I disagree. It's like saying that agriculture everywhere in the world was invented one single time, unless someone else proves that it was borrowed. Independent invention/parallel evolution doesn't violate Occam's Razor when it comes to cultural traits that involve conscious action.

"I've discussed both similarities AND differences on this blog at some length."

I don't remember seeing any discussion of the phenotypic differences between Pygmies and Bushmen or of the degrees of facial flatness in African populations (see Hanihara, Frontal and facial flatness of major human populations) or the specificity of Bushmen craniofacial measurements (http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2009/06/colorful-view-of-potency-of-skulls-and.html) or of Bushmen's epicanthus or of the frequencies of shovel-shaped incisors and the Bushman canine in African and human populations.

I am not saying we should automatically see epicanthus as PROVING deep common descent between Bushmen and Asians. This is the strategy of out-of-Africa theorists. And you follow suit by automatically interpreting similarities in huts and arrows as a proof of common descent and long-term retention in Africa. My strategy is to lay all the evidence on the table and then to compare out-of-Africa with out-of-America as tools to explain this diverse interdisiplinary data.

"And as far as kinship structures and language are concerned, all the evidence points to differences based on relatively recent events. My analysis of Hewlett's paper, which emphasizes many differences, reveals that almost every difference he highlights reflects the Pygmy's relationships with neighboring farmers. Since the history of these relationships can be traced to events of the last 200 to 400 years, the differences can safely be ignored."

Again, this your perception. You can easily dismiss similarities between Bantu and Pygmies as resulting from diffusion in the past 200 years but you don't think that a beehive hut can be invented at least twice in human history. There're NO similarities between Pygmy and Khoisan kinship systems apart from impressionistic labels such as "flexible." We don't know whether Pygmies adopted their languages and kinship systems from the Bantu or Ubangian peoples. There're, however, very suggestive similarities between kinship and naming patterns found among Khoisan and among Inuits and Paleosiberians. We're talking about unique traits and systems, not observers' impressions. I mention them in my book. Relevant authors include Lorna Marshall, Alan Barnard for the Khoisans and Guemple and others for the Inuits. The specific references can be found in my book and on my website.

German Dziebel said...

"Here you give yourself away. You are special pleading for your own theory, which is very interesting to be sure, but, in the manner that you present it -- and defend it -- is effectively unfalsifiable."

Out of America is based on interdisciplinary EVIDENCE. I constructed it in a very parsimonious way avoiding any fancy migration hypotheses such as transatlantic and transpacific voyages. It uses Bering Strait as the only geographical connector between the New World and the Old World. It used Homo erectus (not Neanderthals) as the closest hominin species to modern humans. It assumes single origin of modern humans (just like out of Africa) and worldwide population replacement. It assumes the small size of an ancestral population (just like out of Africa). I just think that trait retention occurred in Asia, speciation occurred in America and Africa was peopled by anatomically AND behaviorally modern humans displacing all others.

There're two sides to my thinking. One is the critique of out-of- Africa. The other one is a single origin alternative to out-of-Africa.
How can it be an unfalsifiable agenda if it's just a mirror image of the out-of-Africa theory? If out of Africa is falsifiable, then out of America should be falsifiable, too.

I don't advocate out of America or criticize out of Africa in an attempt to generate a whole new worldview, but only as an interpretative tool to explain or scrutinize the data. This is how good science works: you look at the world from different perspectives and see which one will eventually prevail. And you don't try to dominate, dismiss or silence different perspectives.

German Dziebel said...

Luis: "I read that long ago. No need for you to insist. It's trivial: it just says that some Bantu genetics, mostly male, have penetrated into Pygmies and that even more female Pygmy genetics have trespassed into Bantus."

I've been looking for a good quote from Quintana-Murci's research. Here it is, right from the abstract:

"Our data indicate that this region was colonized gradually, with an initial L1c-rich ancestral population ultimately giving rise to current-day farmers, who display various L1c clades, and to Pygmies, in whom L1c1a is the only surviving clade. Detailed phylogenetic analysis of complete mtDNA sequences for L1c1a showed this clade to be autochthonous to Central Africa, with its most recent branches shared between farmers and Pygmies."

Another study:

"At the phylogeographic level, our results showed that both Pygmies and Bantus share common ancestry, as attested by the shared presence of the L1c lineage. This
lineage reach almost fixation in all groups of western Pygmies here studied, mainly in the form
of L1c1a and L1c1a1. As to the Bantu-speaking agriculturalists, they also presented high
frequencies of the L1c haplogroup (40-60%) but internal variation of this lineage was much
higher than in Pygmies, with the three main subclades of L1c (L1c1, L1c2 and L1c3) present in
most populations." (Maternal DNA variation of Pygmy hunter-gatherers and Bantu-speaking
agriculturalists from central-west Africa, by Hélène Quach, Francesca Luca, Lolke van der Veen, Jean-Marie Hombert, Lucas Sica, Patrick Mouguiama-Daouda, Alain Froment, Gemma Berniell-Lee, David Comas, Luis Quintana-Murci.

German Dziebel said...

"However I must remind you that click languages are not just Khoisan but also some unrelated East African ones."

What unrelated East African ones?
They're Khoisan-exclusive if we follow the traditional (Greenbergian) definition of the Khoisan family. According to Chris Ehret, Sandawe probably constitutes the source of clicks in Africa, with all other groups adopting these new phonetic elements from them.

Maju said...

Victor: I understand that our sometimes virulent confrontations make you uncomfortable. My apologies about that.

However it is very difficult to discuss anything with German, in spite of his knowledge, because he always goes back to his hypothesis sooner than later and it's like discussing the details of evolution with a Biblical literalist: eventually it doesn't matter anymore if dinosaurs and birds are closely related or not...

I guess you get the point.

German: non-Pygmy Africans are Africans too: they must have and they do have all kind of African lineages. They have got nearly no input from outside.

I agree that the Pygmy sublineages are not 100% exclusive of them. In fact they are found among other Africans (though often as different sublineages and mixed with other haplogroups). That was my point when I said to Victor that, while Bushmen could well be ancestral (as population) to the whole humankind (or an offshoot too), Pygmies are almost definitively an offshoot from a time not long before the OOA episode.

What unrelated East African ones?

Hadza (isolate), Sandawe (unclear, possibly isolate too) and Dahalo (Afroasiatic).

Even the Khoisan family as such has been challenged as mere sprachbund, with its various branches argued to be unrelated families.

From WP: "Dimmendaal (2008) summarizes the general view with, "it has to be concluded that Greenberg’s intuitions on the genetic unity of Khoisan could not be confirmed by subsequent research. Today, the few scholars working on these languages treat the three [southern groups] as independent language families that cannot or can no longer be shown to be genetically related" (p. 841)".

So there could be up to six different linguistic families using clicks. All them in Africa.

German Dziebel said...

Yes, under the new model of African linguistic classification (happy to see you, Luis, reading Dimmendaal), the Khoisan language family doesn't exist anymore. However, clicks in Dahalo are considered the effect of an underlying Sandawe or Hadza substratum. Much more research is needed to understand the history of click language. I base myself for now on Chris Ehret's hypothesis that all clicks in Africa are derived by diffusion from a single Sandawe source. This is a neutral explanation that doesn't touch upon the problem of whether Khoisan languages are related or not.

According to Blevins (the linguist who established the Austronesian-Ongan relationship), clicks are not part of a natural phonological inventory, hence they don't recur in various language families in the way other phonemes do. They are either very old or "artificially invented." The Damin example suggests that they are artificially invented, which could stand for: created for a special social purpose (to keep neophytes out) or pulled from a different cultural register (such as music) and then naturalized and multiplied by analogy.

Maju said...

Actually seven families if we count those Bantu languages that have acquired clicks, seemingly from Khoisan influence.

Also, as you mention Dienekes' research on skulls, you should have noticed that Bushmen do not cluster with East Asians but at K=4. Above that, they cluster with West Eurasians and since K=5 they make a separate cluster (except for some intermittent inclusion of the Andamanese), in spite of their low relative size in the context of the global sample.

German Dziebel said...

"However it is very difficult to discuss anything with German, in spite of his knowledge, because he always goes back to his hypothesis sooner than later and it's like discussing the details of evolution with a Biblical literalist: eventually it doesn't matter anymore if dinosaurs and birds are closely related or not..."

Trust me, Luis, I feel exactly the same way about out-of-Africanists. Out of Africa is true because it's written in our genes with Biblical clarity. Let's find a way to interact as true scholars.

German Dziebel said...

"Also, as you mention Dienekes' research on skulls, you should have noticed that Bushmen do not cluster with East Asians but at K=4. Above that, they cluster with West Eurasians and since K=5 they make a separate cluster (except for some intermittent inclusion of the Andamanese), in spite of their low relative size in the context of the global sample."

That's fine. Importantly, though, they don't cluster with other Africans or with Melanesians. Hanihara's article I mentioned also shows it. I don't think they are a recent Mongoloid offshoot, but they do seem to exhibit some Asian or Northern Eurasian traits which could go back to some undifferentiated early Asian population. Mongoloids are complex morphological systems, with some traits being very old and other being very young. Khoisans may exhibit some of the older Mongoloid traits but the rest of the "Mongoloid complex" evolved after Khoisans had budded off. Compare Andamanese: they have Asian YAP+ Y chromosomes just like Tibetans and Ainu but, say, no epicanthus just like the Ainu.

DocG said...

German, this is getting very tiresome because you are continually misreading what I write and making unwarranted assumptions about my position.

"Again, you think other people have to prove borrowing and disprove your common descent idea. I disagree. It's like saying that agriculture everywhere in the world was invented one single time, unless someone else proves that it was borrowed."

When I say that common descent is falsifiable that does NOT mean I accept it as proven until falsified. What I'm saying is that there is enough evidence for it that it must be taken very seriously. If all forms of agriculture everywhere in the world were as similar as P/B music (and to a lesser extent, huts) then I'd make the same claim for that. NOT that it was a proven fact, but that it seemed very likely.

However, all forms of agriculture are not at all the same and the evidence very strongly suggests independent invention at least once and probably more than once, so the hypothesis that agriculture arose just once has in fact been falsified.

You write as though I'm making the same sort of claims you've been making and I'm not. I'm not out to prove anything, but I do think certain lines of inquiry are well worth investigating, and that's what I'm doing.

"you don't think that a beehive hut can be invented at least twice in human history."

I never claimed that. But the particular beehive huts I displayed look to me like variations of the same basic type. and in the light of all the other evidence I've amassed, pointing so strongly to common descent, I have no problem asserting that they are most likely the product of a common heritage. This is a hypothesis nevertheless, but one that must be taken very seriously. In the past all sorts of ideas about survivals of all sorts of things were tossed out there, but now, in the light of the very powerful genetic (and also musical) evidence it's important to reconsider at least some of these old ideas, because we finally have enough evidence at hand to meaningfully evaluate them. It's disappointing to me that you don't see the value of that and would prefer to simply dismiss it. If it supported your own theories I have no doubt you'd feel differently.

You strongly resist the idea that musical styles or hut design can survive for tens of thousands of years, yet it seems to me that this is exactly what you are claiming for kinship systems. On what basis, I wonder?

No, please don't answer that, it was a rhetorical question. I'll let you have the last word if you like, but won't be responding to any more of your posts unless I see something new, rather than just rehashing the same ideas over and over. Sorry.

German Dziebel said...

"I'm not out to prove anything, but I do think certain lines of inquiry are well worth investigating, and that's what I'm doing."

Agree. Didn't mean to discourage you in any way.

"You strongly resist the idea that musical styles or hut design can survive for tens of thousands of years, yet it seems to me that this is exactly what you are claiming for kinship systems."

I don't resist it at all, especially when it comes to music and kinship because it least a thorough worldwide analysis has been done in both cases. Huts and arrows? I simply don't know what typological variation is out there and what similarities are significant. (In kinship studies, certain similarities are not very significant and no historical hypotheses can be entertained. In music, I can't tell apart if Saami yoiking or Alpine yodeling sounds more like P/B or like Inuit throat singing or like Jivaro canonic echoic.) Until then, I can't help but think "what if Pygmies moved into their huts from caves such as Dogons', while Bushmen recreated their beloved dome-shaped igloos in a desert environment to the best of their abilities."

"It's disappointing to me that you don't see the value of that and would prefer to simply dismiss it. If it supported your own theories I have no doubt you'd feel differently."

Victor, let's build something together, e.g. a matrix showing biological and cultural traits shared between Pygmies and Bushmen, between Pygmies and Niger-Congo, between Bushmen and Asians, between Niger-Congo and Melanesians, etc. It's going to be an interesting intellectual exercise and a peace-making one, to boot.

DocG said...

German: "Victor, let's build something together, e.g. a matrix showing biological and cultural traits shared between Pygmies and Bushmen, between Pygmies and Niger-Congo, between Bushmen and Asians, between Niger-Congo and Melanesians"

That's an interesting offer, and I appreciate your willingness to work with me. It would be interesting to compile such lists, but I prefer the approach I am taking now, which will enable researchers to zero in on certain very specific distinctive features that are potentially meaningful.

It's not a quesion of simply counting what traits are in common and what are different, though that can be useful. It's important first to evaluate the meaning of each trait, as for example when comparing languages, to see whether the languages is indigenous or borrowed.

The proper way to falsify a theory such as mine is not by counting traits but by demonstrating that an allegedly inherited trait was in fact independently invented or borrowed. Or by arguing for the unlikelihood that the two could have a historical connection.

If you want to make yourself useful on this blog, you could help me out by researching all the different beehive huts out there. Another topic that interest me is cat's cradle sting games, which are found in so many different places.

German Dziebel said...

"If you want to make yourself useful on this blog, you could help me out by researching all the different beehive huts out there."

I hoped you've already done this. Of course, I'll send stuff your way if something interesting becomes available. On the other hand, my proposal to you will stay valid if you choose to change the direction of your researches.

Glen said...

Victor: "...what would be more useful would be information regarding whether or not archaeologists have found evidence that these people were living in caves all year 'round, or whether they might have been only temporary shelters."

This isn't absolutely conclusive information, but I did find an article that addresses some of the more recent (published in 2001) finds of some sites:

Across Forests and Savannas... by Julio Mercader and Alison S. Brooks

You'll find a discussion of rock shelters as well as stone tools. And you're absolutely correct about there being a distinct lack of stone points, as the sites discussed in the article uncovered only one point from the Ituri forest (and it's under points/perforators, I'd imagine it's more of a perforator).

German Dziebel said...

Interesting article. Looks like the ancestors of Pygmies, or whoever else lived in Ituri, did live in caves for at least 18,000 years.

Another article states the following:
"Present- day occupation of rock shelters by ‘‘pygmy’’ foragers is functionally diverse and brings variably large human groups to these camps. Efe foragers may inhabit these rock shelters for several days or weeks for hunting- gathering purposes. Whenever Efe foragers foresee a lengthy stay or a large gathering of people, they either inhabit several adjacent shelters at once, or build structures to accommodate part, if not all, of the group... Present Efe hunter-gatherers inhabit rock shelters as satellite camps, for periods spanning a few hours to several weeks. The functionality of these camps varies, primarily primate hunting and honey gathering. The upper drawing shows the perimeter of a hut built by Efe foragers inside the rock shelter to accommodate the group for a prolonged stay." (Archaeological Site Formation in Rain Forests: Insights From the Ituri Rock Shelters, Congo, by Julio Mercader // Journal of Archaeological Science (2003) 30, 45–65).

Not only that historic Pygmies used caves but they also built their beehive huts INSIDE rockshelters. It's also fascinating that some Pygmies used rockshelters to bury their dead.

Maju said...

Looks like the ancestors of Pygmies, or whoever else lived in Ituri, did live in caves for at least 18,000 years.

This is totally unsurprising to me. As I said before, cave sites are much easier to locate than open air ones and usually have denser occupations too.

The paper anyhow only deals with LSA and not with the likely origin of proto-Pygmies at the MSA, in the Middle Pleistocene. For gathering any info on that we need papers/books on the MSA and/or the Sangoan culture.

In any case, cave habitation does not exclude open air one. Logically people don't always find convenient caves where they need them and must set up camps. I doubt we will read anything on such camps because archaeology in Africa (with some exceptions) is very much underdeveloped and is not easy to locate such camps.

For a distant reference, in my country, there are dozens of cave sites but only in the last decades a few camp sites of the same period have been located.

What the paper does seem to confirm is that the LSA peoples of the Ituri were 100% foragers. It also mentions that at least one of the sites was a semi-savanna area, not jungle yet.

Present Efe hunter-gatherers inhabit rock shelters as satellite camps, for periods spanning a few hours to several weeks.

Relevant. It confirms that way of life in which caves and camps alternate at convenience.

Maju said...

It is also interesting from this paper that, even as late as the LSA, only a few stone blades have been found (two, both in the same site). This suggests to me that they had very little interaction, direct or indirect, with the peoples of West or South Eurasia, where this technology was important since at least 40,000 years ago (in fact older in South Asia), defining the regional Upper Paleolithic.

Maju said...

I've found some materials that may be interesting to you, Victor, though still not much specifically on the Ituri/Congo jungle area.

It does seem that in the 80s and afterwards the chronology and classification of Middle Pleistocen African industries went through a rather radical reconsideration, with the Lupemban now considered to be part of Sangoan and this one transitional between ESA (Acheulean) and MSA. However the full picture is still under debate.

A.S. Brooks "Background to “Out of Africa 3”: Behavior and environmental change in the Middle Stone Age" (presentation in PDF format, 3.75 megas). Interesting as synthetic index of African Middle Paleolithic.

It includes an autosomal genetic structure of Africans (on Tishkoff) that does not include Bushman or otherwise Southern African samples except for one individual (that does not "ring" at the used depth). It shows that at K=8, the clusters are (by color code):
- Orange: general or Niger-Congo
- Yellow: Hadza
- Blue: main East African
- Black: Pygmy
- Red: Sahel?
- Grey-Blue: Beja or East African 2
- Pink: Sandawe or East African 3
- Green: Mbugu or East African 4

It does suggest to me that East Africa has high levels of autosomal genetic diversity, both in comparison with Middle/West Africans and with Eurasians.

There's also a nice map showing the varied MSA industry styles.

Other papers:
- S. McBrearty, "The Sangoan-Lupemban and Middle Stone Age Sequence at the Muguruk Site, Western Kenya".
- P. Van Peer et al., "The Early to Middle Stone Age Transition and the Emergence of Modern Human Behaviour at site 8-B-11, Sai Island, Sudan". This island is not far from Egypt, indicating probably old H. sapiens inhabitation as far north as the 2nd cataract.

I found some other stuff on the better known Southern African MSA but guess it's not necessary to mention nor is too informative in our context.

I'll keep on searching.

Maju said...

This university paper by R. Martí (in Spanish) shows still some perplexity about the chronological confusion in Africa (probably because she uses materials from the 70s and 80s as sources) but it is interesting in two aspects:

1. There is a rather reliable chronology of the environment of Middle Africa, showing that before 12,000 BP the area was often rather dry and open but that several jungle refuges remained (p.47), notably in coastal Cameroon/Gabon, the Ituri area and coastal Tanzania (smaller "refuges" also existed in coastal West Africa). I wonder if these refuges could account for the two distinct Pygmy branches.

2. She mentions a very old continued inhabitation in Central Africa, from Acheulean levels to the Iron Age. This sequence is found in the Upper Sangha river basin in the Central African Republic.

Maju said...

J. Mercader, "Forest People: The Role of African Rainforests in Human Evolution and Dispersal".

Don't have time to read it in depth right now but it seems the kind of material you want, as it's focused in the earliest stages of the colonization of the rainforest (also deals with the LSA).

German Dziebel said...

"It is also interesting from this paper that, even as late as the LSA, only a few stone blades have been found (two, both in the same site). This suggests to me that they had very little interaction, direct or indirect, with the peoples of West or South Eurasia, where this technology was important since at least 40,000 years ago (in fact older in South Asia), defining the regional Upper Paleolithic."

This is very much in line with my thinking. The paucity of well-defined sites in America prior to Monte Verde can be partially explained as reflecting the reliance of pre-Paleoindians on "soft technologies." Monte Verde already shows very few poorly differentiated lithics (same for Monte Verde at 33,000 YBP, although it's not an accepted site). In any case, modern hunter-gatherers' toolkit is only 20% lithic and 80% perishables (bone, wood, nets, etc.). Alan Bryant, I remember, presented a paper on this at Clovis and Beyond.

In a word, Homo sapiens sapiens evolved in UP as largely a software and network (languages, myths, music, kinship, etc.) species.

German Dziebel said...

"In any case, cave habitation does not exclude open air one. Logically people don't always find convenient caves where they need them and must set up camps. I doubt we will read anything on such camps because archaeology in Africa (with some exceptions) is very much underdeveloped and is not easy to locate such camps."

Agree. If I were Victor, I would've reconstructed caves/rockshelters for HBC, as they're attested in both modern Pygmies and in the archaeological record and would've left beehive huts out until a more reliable methodology based on the analysis of worldwide variation in forager dwellings has been elaborated. The fact that Bushmen currently don't use/live in caves doesn't mean anything even if they're the "earliest branch" genetically.

DocG said...

German: "Interesting article. Looks like the ancestors of Pygmies, or whoever else lived in Ituri, did live in caves for at least 18,000 years."

Thanks so much for this reference, German. Very interesting. What's most interesting to me is the evidence that the Ituri was in fact inhabited during the Paleolithic, long before Bantu farmers came on the scene. This considerably weakens Grinker's theory that the pygmies entered the forest along with the farmers and supports the theory offered by so many others that the Pygmies are the original inhabitants of the tropical forests. We can't be sure that the earlier inhabitants were in fact pygmies, but the evidence does seem rather strongly to suggest just that, because of the very strong continuity of cultural style from the paleolithic to the present.

Thanks also for pointing to the fact that huts are being constructed in the rock shelters themselves, very interesting indeed.

DocG said...

Thanks, Maju and Glen, for the links. I've been downloading and reading them and finding them very interesting.

DocG said...

What do you think, Maju, is there any evidence directly linking the people whose artifacts have been found at these archaeological sites with HBP? We know that HBP was probably only one of many Old Stone Age populations -- but the only one, apparently, whose genes were passed on to us. So I'm wondering how useful the archaeological evidence is for the purpose of understanding HBP. On the other hand, any archaeological evidence that does seem to point to HBP would be extremely useful.

Maju said...

Let's see: we surely have genes from all or most populations that constituted the original H. sapiens species. Another thing is matri- and patrilineal genetics, an informative but very special type.

As geneticists used to say some years ago, when all this was newer, genetic "Eve" and "Adam" are not the only female and male whose genes have reached to us, they are the only ones in their gender whose gender-specific lineage has arrived to us. Eve's sisters and female cousins (and much more distant relatives, possibly from other "tribes") surely had descendants and are our ancestors too but because of drift, only one of those haploid lineages survived at some point.

So in that wide sense, I'd say yes: all or most of those populations that we see developing the Sangoan and the MSA and maybe even the African Acheulean (H. rhodesiensis?) surely left a genetic legacy that is still among us in some way.

Now, in the narrower sense of haploid genetics (mtDNA and Y-DNA), at this moment I don't know for sure. I have been a rather strong defender of a slow effective mutation rate (slower than the Zhivotovski standard) and, from that perspective, it'd be perfectly possible. However there are people like Dienekes who defend a much faster mutation rate (so nearly every European ancestor would be a Bronze Age Greek from the Illiad, it seems) and the debate is right now at an impasse.

There has been a new and highly important new paper on Adelia penguins' DNA effective mutation rate, based on frozen remains of this species but it is behind a paywall. Neither Dienekes nor I have read it in full and the data from the abstract and the press release sounds like either someone is expressing him/herself badly or that whoever wrote the press release totally misunderstood the results.

So at this moment, and until I can read the article in full (or at least a clear interpretation of the results), we don't know for sure if the mutation rate is 2-6 times faster or 2-6 times slower than Zhivotovski's rate.

And, obviously, with that uncertainty giving a qualified answer to your question is not possible. If the press release is right, however, then it is perfectly possible that mtDNA Eve was one of those ESA-LSA transitional ladies. If Dienekes is right instead, no way. Actually even the OOA would have to be pushed nearer to the present (what would be most problematic in order to make genetic and archaeological data to fit, IMO).

If someone has access to this crucial paper, I'd really appreciate to be sent a copy (to lialdamiz .AT. gmail .DOT. com).

German Dziebel said...

"What's most interesting to me is the evidence that the Ituri was in fact inhabited during the Paleolithic, long before Bantu farmers came on the scene. This considerably weakens Grinker's theory that the pygmies entered the forest along with the farmers and supports the theory offered by so many others that the Pygmies are the original inhabitants of the tropical forests. We can't be sure that the earlier inhabitants were in fact pygmies, but the evidence does seem rather strongly to suggest just that, because of the very strong continuity of cultural style from the paleolithic to the present."

Disagree. As European UP seems to suggest it's hard to gauge, from archaeological evidence, if there is a replacement or a continuity in the local population history. I think there could have easily been several population waves in Ituri. Pygmies speak Niger-Congo languages and have Niger-Congo genes such as L1c. It's really hard to imagine that a population with 20,000 years of experience living and hunting in the tropical forest would forgo their whole language and kinship structures because of some agriculturalists skirting the forest from 3,000 YPB. Could they be an early branch of Ubanigian and Bantu that preserved an old Niger-Congo musical tradition? Pygmies of Borneo are precisely that, when it comes to kinship and naming. They better preserve some original kinship and naming structures that carry similarities with places like Australia but are largely lost from sedentary Malayo-Polynesian societies. There're outliers in Africa such as Laal that do show ancient kinship structures and unique grammar and parts of lexicon. These outliers could be the original inhabitants of the tropical forest. I agree with Blench on this.

Maju said...

I could not consider L1c "Niger-Congo" but rather pre-NC, i.e. Pygmy and maybe other "aboriginals" of the region. Niger-Congo peoples (i.e. languages and culture) are way too recent in the region to be responsible for that dispersal.

I would contend that the precursors of the Niger-Congo peoples (careful: not the modern Niger-Congo, which must be more recent because otherwise we would not even identify it as language family) might have spread with the expansion of the L2 lineage that must be of similar age as that of L3, i.e. about the time of the OOA.

Alternatively one could also argue that in fact NC only spread with the arrival of Y-DNA E or even a subclade of it, maybe E1b2 and has little correlation with any mtDNA lineage, or maybe with some sublineages that are particularly common in its diffusion area like L2a1 or in the particular Bantu case L3e.

See the classical paper of Salas 2002 to check that L1c is extremely rare outside of the Middle African region, what is clearly indicative that it is an older lineage that pre-dates Bantu expansion in the area.

Victor has dealt in other posts with Pygmy genetic singularity, which is clear (notwithstanding some admixture) in all autosomal studies. Y-DNA haplogroup B is also a rather old signature that can't be said to be "Niger-Congo", as, after Pygmies, it's most common not in West Africa but in Sudan (where other ancient diversity remnants are frequent and a country I consider one of the best candidates for the HBP homeland).

I conclude on light of all this that Pygmies are clearly a distinct population, regardless of some admixture with Bantus and their linguistic aculturation by them (though I understand they still keep some pre-Bantu vocabulary).

Maju said...

Btw, I already got the penguins' paper thanks to German.

It's not as clarifying as the press release suggests. However you always learn something reading this stuff.

So by the moment, I stand in my opinion that the Sangoan and MSA spread in the tropical belt might be associated to the expansion of proto-Pygmies. The standard TRMCA for L1 is (via Wikipedia quick check) "only" 107 to 174,000 BP. Pygmy-specific lineage L1c would be more recent (maybe 30-40,000 years younger?) but could have evolved to fixation after proto-Pygmies diverged. However I still keep some reservations re. Molecular Clock estimates, which is a most complex matter.

But I doubt in any case that they are as recent as the LSA, as the dates would not fit in any way (not for L1c nor for B2/B2b. They must have got LSA technology by cultural difussion (the same they got crossbows - I saw once a Cameroonian Pygmy at a documentary hunting with a crossbow, whose original model must date from the early Portuguese colonial period or so).

German Dziebel said...

Good analysis, Luis. Thank you.

Maju said...

You're welcome, German. Though I must say I'm somewhat surprised at your favorable reaction...

Victor: new PLoS ONE paper finds, among other stuff, that there seems to be several genetic loci associated to Pygmy particularly short stature.

German Dziebel said...

More specifically: "First, this would suggest that short stature was not selected for directly in the ancestors of Pygmy groups, but rather arose as an indirect consequence of selection in response to an iodine-deficient diet. Second, since different genes in the thyroid hormone pathway show signals of selection in Mbuti vs. Biaka Pygmies, this would suggest that short stature arose independently in the ancestors of Mbuti and Biaka Pygmies, and not in a common ancestral population. Moreover, most Pygmy-like groups around the world dwell in tropical forests [52], and hence are likely to have iodine-deficient diets. The possibility that independent adaptations to an iodine-deficient diet might therefore have contributed to the convergent evolution of the short stature phenotype in Pygmy-like groups around the world deserves further investigation."

One could argue that Bushmen are short but they don't live in a tropical environment. Pfeiffer and Sealy (Body Size Among Holocene Foragers of the Cape Ecozone, Southern Africa) document the overall stability of short stature among Holocene skeletons (up to 5K YBP) in area later occupied by Bushmen but also a period of decline and recovery between 4K and 3K. They suggest that the diet play a role in the stature fluctuations.

However, if short stature among the different groups of Pygmies was indeed selected independently in Africa (and elsewhere), then they probably never spoke non-Niger-Congo or non-Nilo-Saharan languages.

Maju said...

Iodine deficiency (which causes some severe diseases) is highly dependent on diet and natural occurrence in water. It seems to be more common in inland areas where the water does not naturally carry the salt, though guvernamental intervention (adding the salt to water and/or foods) has solved the issue in many places nowadays.

I understand anyhow that bushmen, while in the short range of normal human height, do not have the extremely small Pygmy size. However there are other peoples through the world (Negritos I believe and at least one Maya tribe for sure) who do have the same Pygmy adaptation, probably a local parallel evolution.

If, as the paper says, West and East Pygmies evolved the trait separately, in spite of sharing a deep common origin (what we know from genetics), this may be related to the possibility that they colonized the area in a time when it was less forested and only needed to evolve in this direction since the forest grew back, c. 12,000 BP.

However while the paper makes an association between forest life and lack of iodine in the diet, I have not clear why it should be that way, as it depends on local presence of iodine in the water (or foods).

DocG said...

In the last few weeks we've considered three different theories regarding pygmy height: due to the relatively recent effects of European contact; due to a specific hormonal condition; and now, due to iodine deficiency. Doubtless there will be others, so I'm not ready to jump to any conclusions at this point. Actually if the latest theory is correct it would make it much easier to deal with the issue of height when considering the Out of Africa migrants. (If the height of pygmies is due to the fact that their common ancestor was also small, then, if the OAM were also small, how do we account for taller homo sapiens in Asia and elsewhere -- and if they were tall, then how do we account for pygmies in Asia and elsewhere?)

The most interesting piece of evidence for me is the evidence that 1. pygmies appear to have adapted to iodine deficiency far better than neighboring farmers and 2. western and eastern pygmies appear to have adapted via different genetic routes.

The first implies that pygmies were inhabiting the forest long before farmers, which refutes Blench's claim that they are "an ethnographic fiction." The second implies that the two pygmy populations, east and west, must have been independent populations prior to entering the forest, which tells us that the forest may not have been their original homeland. This, if it holds up, would be a huge discovery, and extremely useful for our purposes, as it would strongly suggest an origin for HBP outside the forest, probably in the neighboring eastern savanna, where very similar toolkits were found.

Whether the dietary adaptation went hand in hand with a change in height remains to be seen. If so, then HBC would have been of "normal" height or taller. If not, then HBC were probably pygmies from the start.

DocG said...

Maju: "If, as the paper says, West and East Pygmies evolved the trait separately, in spite of sharing a deep common origin (what we know from genetics), this may be related to the possibility that they colonized the area in a time when it was less forested and only needed to evolve in this direction since the forest grew back, c. 12,000 BP."

Was this region really that much less forested 12,000 years ago? I seem to have missed that in the blizzard of articles the three of you have pointed me to lately. I'm also puzzled as to why forestation would affect the amount of iodine available. And by the way, iodine does NOT come naturally from salt, it is added to the salt we purchase in stores. The really decisive evidence comes from the radical difference in susceptibility to goiter between pygmies and farmers, which tells us that the pygmies were far better adapted to the forest environment. And also, as Maju points out, the evidence for separate modes of adaptation by the two pygmy groups is of great interest. If the neighboring savanna is a better source of iodine, then that gets my vote as the HBP homeland.

German Dziebel said...

The independent origin of the different Pygmy groups and their parallel evolution from an Ubangian, a Bantu and a Central Sudanic sources are on the top of my list of explanations of their origin. As the living examples of African Stone Age or pre-Stone Age faithful to a single old tradition of hunting and singing they are very problematic. I don't think they used to be agriculturalists and then moved to the tropical forest to form a specialized "caste." And I don't think Blench is arguing for this. They are more likely to constitute several offshoots of the expanding Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan populations dating back to pre-agricultural or incipient agricultural times. They speak their own dialects of Makaa-Njiem, Ngbaka and other subgroups but they aren't the earliest linguistic branches within their (sub)families. However, they apparently did preserve the original Niger-Congo musical tradition.

They could've also absorbed some ancient lineages by intermarrying with earlier "true" foraging populations as Niger-Congo advanced south, east and west from their homeland in western Sudan.

Maju said...

In the last few weeks we've considered three different theories regarding pygmy height: due to the relatively recent effects of European contact; due to a specific hormonal condition; and now, due to iodine deficiency.

Actually the hormonal condition and the adaptation to iodine deficiency (not iodine deficiency itself, which is cause of two major diseases related to the thyroid hormonal center, which apparently Pygmies prevent through this genetic adaptation/hormonal variant) are probably the same thing.

I doubt European contact, very limited, had any significative impact.

If the height of pygmies is due to the fact that their common ancestor was also small, then, if the OAM were also small, how do we account for taller homo sapiens in Asia and elsewhere -- and if they were tall, then how do we account for pygmies in Asia and elsewhere?.

IMO, pygmy-ism (extreme low height) seems an adaptation to the certain environmental circumstances that surely evolved in various peoples by need (such as an endemic iodine deficiency). Tall height instead would be a normal tendency where nutrition and other circumstances allow (it may be more energetically costly but has some advantages too like greater strength, and is usually favored in sexual selection). However different populations surely have a dominant set of genes that promote this or that tendency, everything else equal, maybe historical adaptations or maybe just local drift/founder effects. But this natural variation does not include the extreme case of Pygmies and similar super-low-sized populations.

Maju said...

Was this region really that much less forested 12,000 years ago? I seem to have missed that in the blizzard of articles the three of you have pointed me to lately.

It is in the Spanish language paper by Raquel Martí. She mentions that the climatic sequence is known from 70,000 BP on and is:

- Maluekian (70-40 Kya): increased cold and aridity and deforestation.
- Nijilian (40-30 Kya): warm and humid interstadial where there is a reforestation
- Leopoldvillian (30-40 Kya): cold and dry, causing the descent of the mountain vegetation belt to the lowlands, followed by extreme aridity and lack of vegetation c. the LGM (18 Kya) and then by a restoration of the forest that existed at the beginning of this period.
- Kimbangian A (12-4 Kya): warming and increased humidity, expansion of the forest belt beyond its modern limits.
- Kimbangian B (4 Kya to present): opening or mutability of the forest due to drought periods and/or forest fires, either natural or provoked. Notice that it correlates pretty much with Bantu expansion, specially in its later subphase.

At page 47 there is also a map (on Hamilton) showing the forest refuges, two of which (Cameroon-Gabon and NE Congo) might have sheltered the two distinct Pygmy populations in the dry period. These forest refuges also sheltered, naturally, the plant and animal diversity of this ecological niche. However she suggests that the reality should have been more complex than just these two forest refuges (because of local endemisms).

Maju said...

And by the way, iodine does NOT come naturally from salt, it is added to the salt we purchase in stores.

I know but it is a naturally occurring mineral (did I say "salt"?) in seafood and vegetables that take it from iodine-rich soil. In Spain for example there used to be a serious iodine problem in Northern Extremadura, a very poor and forgotten district, but it was not known (or very rare) elsewhere, as far as I can tell.

However I can't find right now clear info on where iodine is naturally available and where it is not. I did find a paper on natural bioavailability of iodine in the tropical context, which seems relevant for your query, but is behind a paywall.

Maju said...

German: you come and go on Pygmies' origins.

I earlier argued that their development must be independent and much older than any "Niger-Congo" migration (and that Niger-Congo language family formation itself - much much older) and you agreed. Now you again argue for a non-native, Bantu-related origin, which is obviously wrong. What's up with you?

Most Pygmy genetics are unrelated to Bantus or any other group, as is the case of mtDNA L1c. This lineage is also found in Bantus but it's an obvious flow from the native Pygmies or related aboriginal peoples of Middle Africa. Of course Pygmies have also incorporated some Bantu genetics but overall they are distinct.

And both Pygmy groups, even if partly independent, do clearly share a very old common origin too. Origin that shows up once and again in all genetic studies.

German Dziebel said...

"German: you come and go on Pygmies' origins."

Yes, I do. Partially because I tend to look at things from different perspectives; partially because I would like to step into your and Victor's shoes (for a second) to try to convert bickering into a dialogue. I was thinking: if I shared Victor's assumptions, would I reconstruct beehive huts for HBC on the strength of the Pygmy-Bushmen similarities or would I reconstruct rockshelters on the strength of the Pygmy-archaeological connection? I would've reconstructed rockshelters.

We recently discussed the Quintana-Murci paper that argued for common mtDNA ancestry between farmers and Pygmies (the dates of 60,000 years are wrong but the common ancestry is right). Y-DNA also shows that Bantu and Pygmies share all their B2, E* and E1b1a lineages. The correlation between the Y-DNA haplogroups and Niger-Congo languages is very good ("Most Niger-Congo non-Bantu populations also present high frequencies of these haplogroups that spread during the expansion of Bantu languages, an observation that supports the common origin of populations speaking languages belonging to the major Niger-Congo language family"). There's only minimal sharing of Y-DNA A haplotype going on between Baka and Khoisans, so Pygmies that speak Bantu languages are mostly Bantu genetically. See "Genetic and Demographic Implications of the Bantu Expansion: Insights from Human Paternal Lineages, by
Gemma Berniell-Lee et al).

I don't buy into the existing dates for the divergence of African lineages. They're based on wrong phylogenies and mutation rates. Since African lineages are not found outside of Africa (in the same way as Australian and Papuan mtDNA P, Q, S lineages are geographically restricted), linguistic diversity in Africa is low and kinship structures are derived, these lineages can't be that old. If Pygmies' phenotype was under strong selection, it gives greater credence to the existing hypotheses of lineage-specific selection pressures in mtDNA. Low latitudes tend to show more diversity, than high latitudes.

I'm throwing these thoughts out there hypothetically and I am aware of the studies challenging the selection hypothesis.

German Dziebel said...

Also, if farmers share so much of their gene pool with the Pygmies and this sharing involves such a divergent Y-DNA lineage as B (with Bantu having their own sublineage of it, B2a), then Bantu (and Niger-Congo), as they expanded throughout the continent must have absorbed a countless number of foraging tribes and blended with them both genetically and linguistically. This would seem like a very artificial explanation. However if we assume that lineages E and B emanated and diversified with the spread of Niger-Congo (or maybe even Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan), then the data will be completely consistent with the expectation. Pygmies diverged from the same pool as Bantu and independently developed their short stature in different places. Occam's Razor, no?

Maju said...

I have argued all the time that Pygmies are not particularly related to Khoisan. Instead I say (more or less in line with Quintana-Murci´s paper, though I disagree with some details) that the oldest human split was between Khoisan and the rest and then, only then, a population that is ancestral to Pygmies branched out, not from Khoisan but from the rest, surely as a result of migration to Central and West Africa.

This proto-Pygmy migration is much older than any Niger-Congo or Bantu existence, though it has penetrated these modern peoples to some degree as substrate population.

So you should not expect to find any direct genetic connection between Pygmies and Khoisan, because Pygmies are more related to you and me than they are to Khoisans.

Y-DNA also shows that Bantu and Pygmies share all their B2, E* and E1b1a lineages.

Source?

B2b is ealmost exclusively a Pygmy (37-41%) and Hadza/Sandawe (36%). hapologroup. Khoisan have like 15% of this lineage. Out of these "special" populations, B2b is found at most at levels of 4-6% (East Africa) and almost nothing in the rest.

Other B subclades are probably remnants of the aboriginal populations of the tropical corridor but have a less clear Pygmy correlation. B2a in particular has some low frequency presence among some Niger-Congo peoples but largest in Sudan (18% in South Sudan, even larger than the 10% of East Pygmies). B(xB2a,b) is found in Southern Sudan and among Eastern Pygmies.

Y-DNA E among Pygmies instead is surely a non-Pygmy input and it does make up almost 50% of their male ancestry, suggesting that in the long run Pygmy women have been having more and more children from non-Pygmy men.

For an excellent map gathering all or most the Y-DNA research till a few months ago check: Leherensuge: 'A nice Y-DNA map of Africa'. All credit is of Argiedude, I just reposted with permission because I found it to be an excellent material.

German Dziebel said...

I was just recently reading "Genetic and Demographic Implications of the Bantu Expansion: Insights from Human Paternal Lineages, by Gemma Berniell-Lee. Mol. Biol. Evol. 26(7):1581–1589. 2009. I'll send it to you.

B2a is all over Bantu, albeit at low frequencies. B2b is Pygmy specific with some admixture into Bantu.

I agree that Khoisans are outliers and that Pygmies are closer to Niger-Congo populations than they are to Pygmies.

Maju said...

I don't buy into the existing dates for the divergence of African lineages. They're based on wrong phylogenies and mutation rates. Since African lineages are not found outside of Africa...

Y(xA) is an African lineage found outside Africa. It includes two subhaplogroups: B (exclusively African) and CF'DE (or Y(xA,B)) found both in and outside Africa.

I am also critical of the usual age estimates but in the opposite direction that you are. I tend to think they may be older. I have absolutely no reason to believe that for instance A is younger than mtDNA L1, and in general I suspect MC estimates to be too conservative (i.e. too recent). However it is just my opinion, which is mostly based in looking for the best coherence possible with archaeology.

Maju said...

I'll send it to you.

Thanks. I'll take a look tomorrow (it's very late here).

B2a is all over Bantu, albeit at low frequencies.

B2a and B* don't look specifically Pygmy but could well have a South Sudanese center of gravity. I skipped South Bantus (Mozambique, South Africa) in my previous review and they are indeed high in this lineage (12-15%). However Mozambicans appeared as rather distinct than more northernly Bantus in their autosomal DNA in the paper on Pygmy autosomal genetics, albeit in a unique distinct direction. Speculatively this high amount of B2a among Southern (or rather SE) Bantus might be borrowed from some other substrate population now vanished (absorbed) or even from Eastern Pygmies. It might be a founder effect but it's too suspicious and rather look something else: substrate input among southern Bantus.

I agree that Khoisans are outliers and that Pygmies are closer to Niger-Congo populations than they are to Pygmies.

Talking of Niger-Congo is misleading and/or confusing. I'd rather talk of non-Pygmies or "other Africans" because often these "Bantu" or "NC" markers you claim are in fact as frequent or rather more among non-NC peoples of the Sahel or East Africa (specially Sudan).

Pygmies are closest to non-Khoisan Africans but there is no particular affinity to Niger-Congo peoples. In fact they seem to be more closely related to the Hadza/Sandawe and South Sudanese, at least in what can be considered to be old.

German Dziebel said...

And I tend to correlate genes with the earliest uncontroversial horizon of the emergence of modern behavior (and morphology), which is 45,000YBP in different parts of the world. Since we're trying to understand the origin of modern human populations, which are both anatomically and behaviorally modern without exception, I tend to think that we should benchmark ourselves against the archaeological record when and where it documents both kinds of modernity, not just anatomy. Even the anatomy of anatomically modern humans is not always modern but a bit too robust.

I know there're earlier signs of modern human behavior but they are inconsistent and have significant chronological gaps, so I don't know if bows and arrows were indeed invented by our ancestors 60,000 years ago, or that an earlier African population, not directly related to us, was experimenting with new ways of hunting and then abandoned them. As it was the case with blade technologies, at first archaeologists thought they were part of modern human package but then Neanderthals turned out to have discovered this technology independently before us.

Maju said...

However if we assume that lineages E and B emanated and diversified with the spread of Niger-Congo (or maybe even Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan), then the data will be completely consistent with the expectation. Pygmies diverged from the same pool as Bantu and independently developed their short stature in different places. Occam's Razor, no? -

No. E and B have different spread structures and none of them can be specifically related to the Niger-Congo language family. Some subclades, in particular some E subclades may be but that would be all. I totally reject that haplogroup B or B2a has any kind of relation with NC peoples. Nor has haplogroup E in general (too old and too widespread among too many distinct language groups).

Language families are, I insist, pretty much irrelevant: they only exist at the outer layer of the onion, while Pygmy origins belongs to one of the deepest layers instead.

Maju said...

And I tend to correlate genes with the earliest uncontroversial horizon of the emergence of modern behavior (and morphology), which is 45,000YBP...

Absolutely no.

I dispute the concept of "modern behavior" but if anything this has a time depth that is twice that one you mention: the perforated shells found from North Africa and Palestine (c. 95,000 BP) to South Africa (c. 75,000 BP) are what some argue now as first sign of "modern behavior".

But whatever the case that idea is surely confusing. As you said well earlier: most of the foragers' impedimenta is perishable. If they painted on leather or their faces or worked wood or they made brides to their hair, you would not know about it. For me it is the oldest H. sapiens fossils, which date to at least 160,000 BP, which define our species and all the potential of what some call "modern behavior" quite capriciously.

German Dziebel said...

"If they painted on leather or their faces or worked wood or they made brides to their hair, you would not know about it. For me it is the oldest H. sapiens fossils, which date to at least 160,000 BP, which define our species and all the potential of what some call "modern behavior" quite capriciously."

If they painted on leather or their faces or worked wood or they made brides to their hair, you would not know about it? That's exactly why I prefer to rely on languages, kinship and other culture features for primary hypotheses precisely because that's where all meaningful human variation is concentrated. All the lists cataloging material traces of "modern human behavior" in MSA, LSA, UP are very superficial. Independent development of such isolated "culture traits" as perforated shells may have occurred in our indirect ancestors. Only the systematic, sustainable and reproducible patterns of interaction between humans and the environment and humans and other humans matter. This information you can only be obtained from language, kinship and culture.

German Dziebel said...

"Language families are, I insist, pretty much irrelevant: they only exist at the outer layer of the onion."

Emphatically disagree. Skulls and bones, on the other hand, are inconclusive, rare and utterly dissociated from modern populations until we obtain DNA from them.

Maju said...

German: are you exploring the human species or the human soul? The fossil earliest human as we know ourselves today is some guy from Ethiopia c. 160,000 BP (though this is only a minimum estimate of our existence as we are).

Languages, culture and everything else that is accessory has evolved and changed massively since then and you can't build a theory of the species based on these superficial features.

I fear that you have an idealized view of the human nature, when you talk of "modern behavior". If you ask me, modern behavior began with the Illustration and the French Revolution, and everything else is archaic. But this is not what defines the species.

We haven't changed much since Caesar but we haven't changed much either since Idaltu either. Only some accessories: now it's an iPod and maybe for Idaltu it was just a tune he whistled each morning, or as Victor suggests, a more collective way of artistic expression. But it is virtually the same thing, the same mind and the same people.

Skulls and bones, on the other hand, are inconclusive, rare and utterly dissociated from modern populations until we obtain DNA from them.

This is absurd. If they are the same species (and in most cases we don't need a DNA test to be sure of that), then they are us. I don't care if there is a direct ancestry line (most likely) or an indirect one, if Idaltu was our granfather or our grand-uncle. It would not make any major difference.

Language families are just too shallow, only slightly deeper than Neolithic in the best case, younger in most cases.

Independent development of such isolated "culture traits" as perforated shells may have occurred in our indirect ancestors.

It's not impossible but the similitudes are too striking and we know that Neandertals (our most comparable cousin species) did not make them (and when they imitated them, they made them without perforations, tying them instead). So they are a clear signature of modern human behaviour in two different areas, which has continuity somehow into the European UP that you claim so crucial.

Also there are many instances all around the world, notably in East Asia, where none of the classical "modern behaviour" markers like stone bladelets, jewelry or rock art exist. Yet we know they were humans and ancestral to modern local humans. Australia was inhabited since at least 50,000 years but rock art has just a few thousand years there.

Your perspective is way too Eurocentric. In fact, I am surprised you are not claiming a European origin of Humankind somehow with your confused ideological vision.

Only the systematic, sustainable and reproducible patterns of interaction between humans and the environment and humans and other humans matter. This information you can only be obtained from language, kinship and culture.

Shallow. That road will take you nowhere.

German Dziebel said...

"Language families are just too shallow, only slightly deeper than Neolithic in the best case, younger in most cases."

Some of them are, others probably not. The Na-Dene-Ket connection must be at least 10K years old. Trans-New Guinean must be some 9-10K old, as it preceded Austronesian in colonizing Oceania. But the key is that they're all somehow related, which will take us straight into UP as soon as we figure out which first-order families are related to which. For now levels of diversity, relative chronology coming from linguistic typology (e.g., active-passive giving rise to ergative and accusative; head-marking developing into dependent-marking, etc.) and evolutionary typology of kinship can be used to generate hypotheses.
Linguistic classification provides a backbone for any other classifications, including genetic haplotypes. Sometimes these haplotypes spill over into other linguistic "buckets" (IE into Basque, Samoyed into Ket, IE into Burushaski, Bantu into Khoisan) but overall I'll stay with language families and use older genes as possibly suggestive of deeper linguistic groupings. For instance, most Saami mtDNA genes are U5, but they also have D. Long story short, Uralic languages probably expanded eastward into Siberia from Eastern Europe, but in the long run proto-Uralic is related to Yukaghir and even possibly to Eskimo-Aleut, which explains the presence of D lineages in Saami. Proto-Eskimo-Uralic expanded westward across the Circumpolar landmass.

"German: are you exploring the human species or the human soul?"

Both. They are inseparable. I disagree that there's such thing as anatomically modern humans emerging before modern behavior, and this is the cornerstone of the out of Africa model. You approach Victor in suspecting that maybe our ancestors didn't have a language.

"Shallow. That road will take you nowhere."

We'll see, of course. It's been fun so far. Hate running with the pack. Preposterous ideas are healthy for science. There're hundreds of scholars who add no value to science but just regurgitate old theories. There's something odd about people who vociferously scapegoat theoretical alternatives but have no emotional response to a slew of pointless, cookie-cutter publications.

"Your perspective is way too Eurocentric."

Amerocentric. Out of Africa is Eurocentric: look at these Pygmies they are not like us at all, they are short, have curly hair, dark skin, live in primitive dwellings and use no stone tools. They must be closest to our primate relatives and the earliest branch of the human species.

DocG said...

Maju: "I have argued all the time that Pygmies are not particularly related to Khoisan. Instead I say (more or less in line with Quintana-Murci´s paper, though I disagree with some details) that the oldest human split was between Khoisan and the rest and then, only then, a population that is ancestral to Pygmies branched out, not from Khoisan but from the rest, surely as a result of migration to Central and West Africa."

This sequence makes sense to me as well, though other somewhat similar scenarios are also possible. For example, the Khoisan may never have split from the ancestral group, but could be their closest descendents, in which case one of the pygmy groups may represent the first to diverge. This seems to be the scenario offered in Chen 2000, where the Biaka are presented as the first to diverge (ca 70,000 - 110,000 ya).

Is it possible that the original ancestral group could have been living in savanna located at that time between the forests of the west and east? So when the proto-Biaka diverged it was to the west and when the proto-Mbuti diverged it was to the East? While the ancestral group expanded to the south and from there to the northeast?

As far as size is concerned, I'm sorry but it still seems to me that, if all three groups are now small then the ancestral group must also have been small. Maybe not as small as pygmies, but surely at least as small as today's Kalahari bushmen. Unless we can find similar evidence of adaptation to low iodine levels among this group as well -- which would of course be extremely interesting.

DocG said...

Maju: "So you should not expect to find any direct genetic connection between Pygmies and Khoisan, because Pygmies are more related to you and me than they are to Khoisans."

Yes. And on second thought I agree that the proto-Bushmen seem mkore likely to have diverged before any of the pygmy groups, because it appears that the proto-pygmy lineages and not the proto-Bushmen lineages are ancestral to everyone else. Actually it would be more accurate to call this group proto-Pygmy-Bantu, as this is the clade from which the Bantu branched as well, though at a relatively recent date, as you say.

German Dziebel said...

Victor: "Unless we can find similar evidence of adaptation to low iodine levels among this group as well -- which would of course be extremely interesting."

As of now, we know that Bushmen body size fluctuated in Holocene in response to diet changes. See Pfeiffer and Sealy. Body Size Among Holocene Foragers of the Cape Ecozone, Southern Africa // American journal of physical anthropology 129:11, 1-11, 2006.

German Dziebel said...

"Actually it would be more accurate to call this group proto-Pygmy-Bantu, as this is the clade from which the Bantu branched as well, though at a relatively recent date, as you say."

Problem: Pygmy and Bantu languages are not very divergent from each other. If Pygmies spoke their own languages, but then those languages were distantly related to Bantu languages, as the genes suggest, then we have to conclude that several groups of Pygmies adopted Bantu languages independently and then diverged from those adopted ones. Occam is knocking on your door, guys! Bahuchet did find some non-Niger-Congo vocabulary in some Pygmy languages, but this is a very specialized set of words (botanical terminology, etc.) that could have evolved post-split from Bantu.

German Dziebel said...

A recent paper argues for a recent divergence of West Central African Pygmies from farmers. By recent I mean 2,800 years BP (autosomes). They have nice divergence charts and they explain the differentiation between the Pygmy groups as caused by gene drift, isolation and admixture, not by age.

See Origins and Genetic Diversity of Pygmy Hunter-Gatherers from Western Central Africa. Paul Verdu et al. Current Biology 19 (2009). Let me know if you would like to check it out.

Maju said...

German:

... though other somewhat similar scenarios are also possible. For example, the Khoisan may never have split from the ancestral group, but could be their closest descendents...

We all are equally close (or distant) descendants from the ancestral population. Time has passed for all at the same rhythm.

Is it possible that the original ancestral group could have been living in savanna located at that time between the forests of the west and east? So when the proto-Biaka diverged it was to the west and when the proto-Mbuti diverged it was to the East? While the ancestral group expanded to the south and from there to the northeast?.

Doesn't look likely. Why?

1. There is archaeological evidence (MSA and surely also the origins of Sangoan) suggesting the East/South African savanna as the most likely ancestral area.

2. The lineages of the "central people" would have been absorbed to some extent by the Pygmy when they expanded (in your hypothetical scenario) and we should detect some of them.

And on second thought I agree that the proto-Bushmen seem mkore likely to have diverged before any of the pygmy groups, because it appears that the proto-pygmy lineages and not the proto-Bushmen lineages are ancestral to everyone else.

Not really.

Again: modern lineages can't be ancestral to modern lineages, by definition. They are all derived.

But anyhow, Pygmies do have lineages belonging to a very old branch but not most of them. They appear clearly, both in mtDNA as in Y-DNA phylogenies as a side branch and not the core. The core, at least after Khoisan divergence, is among East Africans, with particularly high diversity in Southern Sudan.

Actually it would be more accurate to call this group proto-Pygmy-Bantu, as this is the clade from which the Bantu branched as well, though at a relatively recent date, as you say.

It would be a terminological mess. Bantus like Mongols, Papuans or Scots, are derived from that northern subgroup of the ancestral population but are not particularly representative of them.

I'd talk in term of two subpopulations: a Southern one leading to Khoisans and a Northern one leading to all the rest, one of whose primary branches is Pygmies (before they diverged into West and East subpopulations). The other primary branch is the one leading to all non-Pygmy, non-Khoisan humans (mtDNA L2-6, Y-DNA CF'DE).

However in South Sudan you find genetic remnants of all three main branches, whatever the reason (refugium or original homeland).

Maju said...

Oops, the above was intended for Victor, not German. The "G" of the DocG signature played tricks in my mind, it seems.

Maju said...

Now for German (no error here):

The Na-Dene-Ket connection must be at least 10K years old. Trans-New Guinean must be some 9-10K old, as it preceded Austronesian in colonizing Oceania.

That's exactly what I mean. What's 10 Ky (about the time since Neolithic began) in the context of a Humankind that has been around for about 200,000 years? A drop in the ocean.

... which will take us straight into UP as soon as we figure out...

Upper Paleolithic is still too shallow. But anyhow, language divergence is exponential so it's practically impossible to go much deep into the UP. Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic is about what we reach now, at best the Late Upper Paleolithic is what we can dream of.

This is still way too shallow to connect with the origins of Humankind or even the OOA episode.

Sometimes these haplotypes spill over into other linguistic "buckets" (IE into Basque...).

Basques have no meaningful IE genetics. IEs have "Basque" (pre-IE Western European) genetics, like Bantu have Pygmy ones, though at much more extreme levels because IEs expanded over a dense post-Neolithic population.

but in the long run proto-Uralic is related to Yukaghir and even possibly to Eskimo-Aleut, which explains the presence of D lineages in Saami.

This is extremely speculative. All that D and CZ mtDNA explains is some Siberian or North Eurasian connection (origin?) of the mentioned groups, as these lineages must have been over that area since c. 40,000 years ago (my estimate, which would be roughly that of the colonization of North Asia). They could perfectly be spread by varied linguistic groups since 30, 20 and/or 10 Kya, as people abandon their ancestral languages way too often and adopt new ones if need be, as you can see among Pygmies and Europeans, among many other peoples.

I disagree that there's such thing as anatomically modern humans emerging before modern behavior...

Then there were no anatomically modern humans before the Internet, right?

Please!

Human, rather than "modern" behavior surely existed since humans existed. There is nothing in, for example, Pygmy typical expression leaving fossils for you to judge they behaved like humans, other than stone tools. They never painted caves or left other forms of perdurable art. But they were surely singing together in the jungle all the time.

Amerocentric.

Eurocentric: the oldest fossils of artistic expressions anywhere (other than the perforated shells) are found in Europe. So following your logic that demands such archaeological artistic expressions as signature of humanity, humankind must have appeared first in Europe.

Of course we know this is false. But if you ignore archaeology and genetics (and only in that case) then it could be true.

Out of Africa is Eurocentric...

Multirregionalism is Eurocentric and/or Sinocentric. It says: look, we are not like the rest, we are different - and of course, "better".

Your culturalist approach can only end up into Eurocentrism, because here is where the oldest "fossil" art is found. With your culturalist criteria, humankind must have originated in Europe necessarily, some 40,000 years ago.

Of course, we know this is totally wrong.

Maju said...

A recent paper argues for a recent divergence of West Central African Pygmies from farmers.

That is not what the paper says:

Despite the substantial genetic differentiation found among pygmy populations, our ABC analyses strongly support a common origin of Western Central African pygmies (Baka, Bezan, Koya, Kola, and Bongo). This scenario is consistent with the common maternal ancestry found in a similar pygmy population set when using mitochondrial DNA [14]. The initial divergence between ancestral pygmies and nonpygmies appears to be ancient: 53,975 YBP (95% CI: 20,625–121,475) when including the Bongo, and 89,675 YBP (95% CI: 23,025–123,275) without them, consistent with previous estimates [14, 19, 20].

And this among neighboring populations in a small region (Cameroon-Gabon), which clearly show strong (bidirectional) admixture levels, very specially the Bongo.

However the paper is interesting because it shows that most of the PC axis are defined by various Pygmy populations in opposition to each other (except axis 1, that has a Bantu-Baka opposition), which is strongly suggestive on its own of how extremely old the Pygmy "cluster" is, showing so much variation that in comparison all Bantus cluster together.

The axis are:
- Axis 1: Baka vs Bantu (specifically Fang/Kota as the more clear representation of a "pure" Bantu pole)
- Axis 2: Koya/Kola/Bezan vs most Baka
- Axis 3: Kola vs Eastern Bongo

Only the South Bongo cluster with Bantu but with those Bantu that have more Pygmy blood of all and who are actually their neighbours in Gabon.

German Dziebel said...

"That's exactly what I mean. What's 10 Ky (about the time since Neolithic began) in the context of a Humankind that has been around for about 200,000 years? A drop in the ocean."

Yeah, but it's just one first-order family plus an outlier. Add Burushaski, North Caucasian and Basque into the mix (controversial Dene-Caucasian grouping) and its age will increase.

"This is extremely speculative. All that D and CZ mtDNA explains is some Siberian or North Eurasian connection (origin?) of the mentioned groups, as these lineages must have been over that area since c. 40,000 years ago (my estimate, which would be roughly that of the colonization of North Asia). They could perfectly be spread by varied linguistic groups since 30, 20 and/or 10 Kya, as people abandon their ancestral languages way too often and adopt new ones if need be, as you can see among Pygmies and Europeans, among many other peoples."

"This is extremely speculative." (I just swapped your own sentences). proto-Uralic, Uralic-Yukagir and Uralo-Yukagir-Eskimo-Aleut connections are all based on quite specific grammatical, lexical and kin terminological sharing. There's history here, not just silent (get the pun?) genes.

"Basques have no meaningful IE genetics. IEs have "Basque" (pre-IE Western European) genetics, like Bantu have Pygmy ones, though at much more extreme levels because IEs expanded over a dense post-Neolithic population."

That's good to know. Thank you. Blood groups showed Basques and IE as totally blended together. And, linguistics is again on top of things, as Basques and IE are unrelated (unlike Bantu and Pygmy).

"They never painted caves or left other forms of perdurable art. But they were surely singing together in the jungle all the time."

That's exactly one of my explanations for the paucity of pre-Clovis archaeological sites in America. I hypothesize that we, Homo sapiens sapiens, armed with languages, kinship systems, music, myths and perishable tools, adopted lithic technologies from pre-existing hominins as we were going about replacing them physically. That's why we see "continuities" in the archaeological record in Africa, Europe and Asia.

"Your culturalist approach can only end up into Eurocentrism, because here is where the oldest "fossil" art is found."

It hasn't so far. I base my conclusions on what was passed down to the next generations (languages, kinship, etc.), not what was left behind in caves and pits.

Maju said...

I base my conclusions on what was passed down to the next generations (languages, kinship, etc.), not what was left behind in caves and pits.

You base your conclusions on thin air. That's what you admit in this sentence.

There's history here, not just silent (get the pun?) genes.

Thin air again (get the pun? words = air).

Add Burushaski, North Caucasian and Basque into the mix (controversial Dene-Caucasian grouping) and its age will increase.

Much more than controversial. Again thin air...

Blood groups showed Basques and IE as totally blended together.

Can you tell me how blood groups relate Basques and Bengalis? North Indians (Indoeuropeans) are high on group B, Basques have virtually zero. It is Europeans of any language who cluster genetically. Europeans are extremely homogeneous genetically and that is a pre-IE feature, probably dating to UP colonization (or at worst to Neolithic - some people believe that, though I do not).

And, linguistics is again on top of things, as Basques and IE are unrelated (unlike Bantu and Pygmy).

The cart before the horses - again.

Anyhow Bantu and Pygmy are not "related" linguistically: Pygmy are linguistically Bantu nowadays. But genetically they are almost totally unrelated (recent admixture excepted).

I could well argue that Basque and IE are related. I could start with the verb to be (izan in Basque, so similar to the 3rd person singular in IE and the reconstructed PIE verb, continue with the number three: hiru in Basque, whoa: it also has an I and an R!, etc.). This could well end up (with due work and the corresponding academic credentials) in a new addition to the varied collection of weird linguistic fantasies on the most varied and unlikely kind of connections, like Dene-Caucasian or Nostratic, both totally unreal.

However an extremely remote Basque-IE common origin (Aurignacian? Gravettian?) is not impossible, IMO. But it is impossible to prove on linguistic analysis beyond any reasonable doubt. Again linguistic science is defeated by the extreme variability of languages.

It's the problem of air: it's good to breath and talk but horrible to build anything with it.

German Dziebel said...

"You base your conclusions on thin air."

It's science, not air.

"Can you tell me how blood groups relate Basques and Bengalis?"

Why Bengalis: the IE-speaking neighbors of the Basques.

"Anyhow Bantu and Pygmy are not "related" linguistically: Pygmy are linguistically Bantu nowadays. But genetically they are almost totally unrelated."

we just read a paper in which Bantu are B2a, while Pygmies are B2b. Two closely related lineages.

"I could well argue that Basque and IE are related. I could start with the verb to be (izan in Basque, so similar to the 3rd person singular in IE and the reconstructed PIE verb, continue with the number three: hiru in Basque, whoa: it also has an I and an R!, etc.). This could well end up (with due work and the corresponding academic credentials) in a new addition to the varied collection of weird linguistic fantasies on the most varied and unlikely kind of connections, like Dene-Caucasian or Nostratic, both totally unreal."

There's a strict methodology behind historical linguistics. Dene-Caucasian and Nostratic haven't been proven yet. It takes time to establish a valid genetic link between languages. But, like I said, even in the absence of such proven macrofamilies, linguistic diversity and linguistic typology provide a good picture of which part of the world had humans for longest. Unless you believe that all language families were created independently from the breath of God.

"However an extremely remote Basque-IE common origin (Aurignacian? Gravettian?) is not impossible, IMO. "

I agree, it's not impossible.

"Pygmy are linguistically Bantu nowadays. But genetically they are almost totally unrelated (recent admixture excepted)."

I don't trust those dates. This is thin air at its best. It's like saying that Armenian and Albanian are not IE languages because they are very different from others. In fact, they are. They've just transformed more dramatically since the divergence point during the same period of time, with such rare changes as s >gj, p > h, etc. obfuscating a relationship. Same for Pygmies and Bantu genes.

Maju said...

Why Bengalis: the IE-speaking neighbors of the Basques.

Why do they have to be neighbours? They speak IE the same as Gascons (or Basques ourselves: there are no monolingual Basques anymore).

I picked Bengalis precisely because they are not neighbors and hence the chance of them being aculturized Basques, like Gascons (or in a broader sense many other Europeans), is very remote.

But if you prefer my Gypsy neighbors (just around the corner), who don't speak Romany anymore but Spanish with heavy Andalusian accent, it's similarly valid.

we just read a paper in which Bantu are B2a, while Pygmies are B2b. Two closely related lineages.

As closely related as Bantu E and Japanese D, or as closely related as Europeans F and Mongols C.

Anyhow B2b is not typically Bantu. They picked it from other peoples as they migrated through Tropical Africa.

There's a strict methodology behind historical linguistics.

It says: until it's not sufficiently demonstrated with the comparative method it is essentially a guess.

Dene-Caucasian and Nostratic haven't been proven yet.

Nor will ever be. How are Caucasian and Chinese related? Even phonetically? Only at the most remote levels of pan-Eurasian phylogenesis.

I'll tell you the likely phylogenetics of Eurasian languages:

Archaic Eurasian > (who knows!) > modern language families of Eurasia, Oceania and America.

But, like I said, even in the absence of such proven macrofamilies, linguistic diversity and linguistic typology provide a good picture of which part of the world had humans for longest. Unless you believe that all language families were created independently from the breath of God.

I believe from experience and history that peoples switch languages in few generations. This is no biological feature: lineages continue, culture changes (or maybe not but can change way too easily).

The first sentence of this paragrap of yours makes no sense whatsoever.

"Pygmy are linguistically Bantu nowadays. But genetically they are almost totally unrelated (recent admixture excepted)."

I don't trust those dates
.

What dates? I did not mention any date except the obvious recent admixture.

It's like saying that Armenian and Albanian are not IE languages because they are very different from others.

Languages, genes. Apples, oranges.

You are completely lost and I'm too ill right now to continue this surrealist debate.