Scientists Investigate Ancient Migrations in East Asia

An international team of Siberian and Far Eastern scientists analyzed 166 complete genomes of people who lived in East Asia over the past eight thousand years. The study showed that the indigenous peoples of the Russian Far East evolved along their own, distinctive path. They have genetic similarities with the ancient inhabitants of Japan, Taiwan and Native Americans. These and other results of the study are published in Nature.

There are still many unknowns in the history of East Asian populations, as little data has yet been accumulated about the ancient DNA of the people who lived there. An international team of scientists led by David Reich of Harvard University decided to fill this gap. The experts analyzed the results of genetic studies of samples obtained from the remains of 166 ancient people who previously lived in East Asia. The findings were compared with genetic information about 383 modern Chinese and Nepalese people, as well as with already published materials.

“The co-authors of this paper include a substantial number of scientists from China. Their main task was to establish the origin of the Chinese on the basis of paleogenetic data. In addition, it was important to study the population of the territories closest to China, including Taiwan, Japan, the Russian Far East, Inner Asia and Tibet,” says the head of the Department of Archaeology, Ethnography and Museology of the Institute of History and International Relations of Altai State University, Doctor of History Alexei A. Tishkin. – This article reflects global processes and pays little attention to individual populations. Its specificity is in the reconstruction of the ways in which the ancient language groups spread. As for the origin of the East Asia, few special discoveries have been made.

The results obtained generally confirmed or supplemented the already known conclusions made by archaeologists and anthropologists. It was shown: among the components that formed the Chinese ethnos, the Southern Chinese dominated. They mastered considerable territories of the Central Plains and influenced the population of other nearby territories. The processes of interaction at different stages, including those with the northern peoples, were considered. The influence of migration from the west has been evaluated. More significant materials are received on the Far East. It represented an independent zone of formation of a special civilization. The article provides directions for further scientific research, since there is still insufficient material on many of the indicated aspects”.

Отдых в Юго-Восточной азии зимой и летом - туроператор по Юго-Восточной азии  Джаз Тур
Отдых в Юго-Восточной азии зимой и летом - туроператор по Юго-Восточной азии Джаз Тур

The study showed that the indigenous peoples of the Russian Far East have been developing a distinctive culture for thousands of years, adopting new technologies from their neighbors gradually, rather than as a result of powerful migratory flows from outside. Their genetic similarity to the ancient inhabitants of Japan, Taiwan, and Native Americans can be traced.

“For the south of the Russian Far East, it has been possible to trace the genetic succession of the indigenous population over the last six to seven thousand years, starting from the New Stone Age (Neolithic) period to the modern Primorsko-Permyrian small populations. Judging by the genetic data, there is no replacement of the population. Most likely, most of the cultural and historical changes in our region occurred as a result of the original development of the local population. At certain periods it embraced technological, adaptive, and other external innovations that came with minor migratory inflows. The appearance of these people along the Pacific coast of Russia can be associated with an earlier period – about 40-15 thousand years ago,” the press service of the Far Eastern Federal University quotes Director of the Educational and Scientific Museum of the School of Arts and Humanities of FEFU, candidate of historical sciences Alexander Popov.

Previously, it was hypothesized that the South Asians moved along the Pacific coast to the north and thus formed their societies there. Now scientists see the situation differently. Apparently, a special world was created on the territory of the Russian Far East – with a special climate, other people, other economy, and farming did not come there from China.

“The results bring us closer to a more detailed understanding of the processes of mutual influence and cultural change in the Far Eastern region. In other words, it is not always the change of archaeological materials (types of implements, forms of vessels) that indicates a change of their carriers, to a different ethnic group. DNA analysis shows that from the Neolithic to the era of paleometallic the ethnic composition of the carriers of recorded archaeological cultures has not changed so radically, as previously thought, “- says a leading researcher at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Doctor of Historical Sciences Andrey Vladimirovich Tabarev.

The article also considered the processes of interaction of the ancient Chinese population with the northern Central Asian populations. “During several field seasons our expedition investigated in Western Mongolia the monuments of the so-called Cemurchek culture, which date from the second half of the third millennium to the beginning of the second millennium B.C. These are the Caucasoids who migrated from the west and created their own world around the Mongolian Altai and eastern Xinjiang.

The interactions of the representatives of the Cemerchek culture with the Central Asian autochthonous groups, which had formed there since the Neolithic period, are recorded. We gave a preliminary assessment to these contacts and outlined the necessity of further research of possible influences of the northern Central Asian peoples on the ancient population of China, – says Alexey Tishkin. – In my opinion, now it is important to proceed to more detailed paleogenetic studies of specific ancient assemblages and then already on this basis to carry out global reconstructions. Including those concerning the origin of modern peoples and entire language groups. It is necessary to study the Neolithic of Siberia and Mongolia. This is a powerful foundation, on which the waves of European migrants from Western Asia and Europe were then superimposed. It is on this foundation that many of the Asian peoples we know were formed. When we have a clearer picture of what constituted the Neolithic population of Siberia and Mongolia, we will be able to move forward and study how peoples interacted during the following stages of history. In my opinion, the importance of the published article is more in the statement of those questions and directions that researchers need to pursue in the near future.

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