Though it might seem a minor issue, the importance of honey gathering for literally every group should not be taken for granted. It is a pervasive theme in the culture of a great many hunting and gathering peoples, and the considerable degree of skill required strongly suggests a tradition rooted in a common ancestry, unlikely to have developed through independent invention or convergent evolution.
On the other hand, the importance of swidden agriculture (aka horticulture) among so many South Asiatic "hunter-gatherers" is more difficult to assess, especially as this highly idiosyncratic method of farming, so different from that of more "advanced" societies with whom they might have had contact, is so widely found among so many indigenous peoples worldwide. Since any form of agriculture seems so unlikely for HBC, and since the estimated date of the African exodus is so much earlier than the "official" estimates for the origin of agriculture (ca 10,000 ya), it seems highly unlikely that such a practice could have been spread to Asia via HMC. On the other hand, if it wasn't part of HMC, then by what means could it have spread among so many isolated peoples in so many different parts of the world? Which suggests the possibilty that some type of farming might have arisen much earlier than is usually thought. All I'll say on this matter for now.
Given the presence of "negrito" morphology in South Asia, as discussed in the previous post, and the many other hunter-gatherer groups in the region who, as we've seen, share so many traditions and core values with African hunter-gatherers, one would assume that a strong African connection would be apparent in the genetic evidence as well. The genetic picture is not that simple, however, and many questions remain.
In a paper dating from 2004, Genetic structure and affinities among tribal populations of southern India, H. Vishwanathan et al. report on their effort "to test whether the phenotypic similarities of some south Indian tribal groups to Africans represent a signature of close relationship to Africans or are due to convergence." Their research, based on a study of 24 autosomal (i.e., nuclear, rather than mtDNA or Y chromosome) markers,
showed that [tribal] Indian populations are closely related to one another, regardless of phenotypic characteristics, and do not show particular [genetic] affinities to Africans. We conclude that the phenotypic similarities of some Indian groups to Africans do not reflect a close relationship between these groups, but are better explained by convergence.Since both "negrito" features and the many cultural affinities so strongly suggest an African connection among so many native peoples of tribal India, this result is perplexing. Coupled with some of the other findings I've already presented, which call certain features of the South Asiatic genetic picture into question, the genetic evidence from this region, with respect to the mainstream Out of Africa model, must, at the moment, be regarded as inconclusive.
But perhaps not so inconsistent with the cultural evidence after all, because, as I've already pointed out, there are inconsistencies in the ethnographic picture as well, particularly in the realm most relevant to my own research. While so many characteristics of HBC and HMC can be found among the tribal peoples of India, there is, as I've been emphasizing for some time now, a surprising gap in the musical picture. What I've been calling the "African Signature," i.e., the presence of musical elements associated with Pygmy/Bushmen style (P/B), are almost completely absent from both South Asia and the Near and Middle East, yet reappear in Southeast Asia and many other points to the east and south.
Note the dramatic differences in the representation of this very distinctive musical feature, with so many instances among indigenous groups in Southeast Asia, South China, Indonesia, Island Melanesia and New Guinea, and yet only a single instance among the entire 165 song sample for Tribal India, one other for the entirety of Village India, and no instances whatsoever for Northeast Asia (including Han China), the Near East, Middle East and aboriginal Australia.
I must add that the Cantometric evidence is just the tip of the iceberg, since there are a great many instances of similarly organized instrumental ensembles with a very similar distribution throughout Southeast Asia, Indonesia, etc., yet all but totally absent from South Asia, the Near and Middle East, Central and Northeast Asia (with the exception of Japan and ancient China).
(to be continued . . . )