Reconsidering Austronesian Homeland and Dispersal Models using Genetic and Morphological Signatures of Domestic Animals

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Archaeology

Abstract

The invention and spread of farming around the world was one of the most important events in human history, and it continues to shape our existence today. Understanding this process is one of the keys to understanding human civilization, yet despite decades of study, fundamental questions regarding why, where and how it occurred, and what were its early consequences for humankind remain unanswered. The bones of early domestic animals and their wild ancestors are commonly found at archaeological sites and they hold important clues to many of these questions. New scientific techniques including the use of genetics and statistical analyses of the shapes of these ancient bones are beginning to provide unique insights into the biology of the domestication process itself, as well as new ways of tracking its spread as farmers moved into new areas. One of the most momentous journeys made by early farmers was firstly from mainland East Asia into Island Southeast Asia, and then into the Pacific. This movement is traditionally thought to have begun by a linguistically related group known as the Austronesians. Evidence from studies of languages, pottery, and human gut bacteria suggest that farmers in Taiwan began heading south, reaching the Philippines before continuing on towards the island of New Guinea. From there, a culturally distinct group known as Lapita headed east into the Pacific. These were the ancestors of the Polynesians who went onto colonize the most remote islands on Earth. When farmers migrate, they take with them not just their agricultural tools and their plants, but also their domestic animals as well. When we investigated the genetic signatures of archaeological pigs throughout Island Southeast Asia, we expected the evidence to show that the route pigs took to reach the Pacific mirrored that of the humans. After all, pigs could not have swum across the open ocean to reach the islands of West Polynesia. What we found, however, strongly suggested that the pigs associated with the Lapita expansion did not come from Taiwan, as the people seem to have, but originated instead in Vietnam, then travelling along the islands of Sumatra and Java before reaching New Guinea. The assumption at the heart of the Out-of-Taiwan model holds that all of the individual elements of the farming package first originated in Taiwan, and that each of the elements should tell the same story. The contradiction between the pig data and the human evidence implies that the story of the Pacific colonization was a great deal more complex than previously imagined. By adding to and extending our previous work on pigs to include dogs and chickens, we plan to unravel these complexities. We will start by examining archaeological remains from sites across the region from two different perspectives. By employing newly developed techniques to quantify shape changes (called geometric morphometrics), we will be able to identify diagnostic signatures that will enable us to pinpoint the origins of the ancestors of the examined sample. In addition, we will extract DNA from the archaeological material and compare the genetic sequences with a global database. The combination of these techniques will also us not only to acquire two different kinds of data from the same specimen, but also to compare the evidence from each and trace the signatures through time space. We will also collect and analyze modern pig, dog, and chicken samples from throughout the region to ascertain their genetic diversity. This element of the study will enable us to ask questions about the relationships between modern and ancient specimens, and the degree of hybridization between different waves of incoming domestic animals. Overall we aim to reconstruct a detailed map of the migration of early farmers into the Pacific, allowing us to obtain answers to a series of longstanding questions, and insights into the origins of agriculture, human migration, and civilization.

Publications


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Evin A (2015) Unravelling the complexity of domestication: a case study using morphometrics and ancient DNA analyses of archaeological pigs from Romania. in Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
Frantz L (2016) The Evolution of Suidae. in Annual review of animal biosciences
 
Description Our research group's work principally focuses upon human-animal relationships - specifically animal domestication and the spread of Neolithic culture across the globe; the use of domestic and commensal animals to reconstruct human and animal dispersal history, the evolutionary history of islands the study of animal health in the past and its application to understanding early domestication. In this project we have continued to expand work on the largest and most comprehensive study of a domestic animal (the pig) ever attempted. Shifting our global coverage eastwards we have made new and paradigm-shifting contributions to the contentious debates concerning the origins of pig domestication in China, the spread of early farmers into South East Asia and Island South East Asia and (perhaps most important) produced new evidence for the human colonisation of the Pacific. Our results draw heavily on novel techniques implemented (some for the first time) in zooarchaeology.
Exploitation Route As for our preceding NERC award, our group has developed a successful research model that combines genetic and novel morphometric approaches with direct dating. We were the first to do this successfully and it is now becoming a model for similar projects run by colleagues around the world.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
URL http://domestication.org.uk/
 
Description The research described has had considerable impact through a wide range of TV and radio programmes, raising public awareness and understanding of the history of domestic animals - and what it reveals about human colonisation history - in Britain and abroad. Through these and other engagements, the research has contributed to culture and quality of life, as well as enabling economic impacts through film and book sales.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal
 
Description AHRC GCRF Large Grant
Amount £850,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/P009018/1 
Organisation Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) 
Sector Multiple
Country Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China
Start 02/2017 
End 06/2017
 
Description Co-Reach (Social Sciences Call)
Amount € 150,685 (EUR)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2009 
End 02/2013
 
Description European Research Council Starting Investigator Award
Amount € 1,500,000 (EUR)
Funding ID ERC-2013-StG 337574-UNDEAD 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 02/2014 
End 02/2019
 
Description National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre Catalysis Meeting
Amount $30,000 (USD)
Organisation National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre (NESCent) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States of America
Start 04/2011 
End 04/2011
 
Description Oxford University Fell Fund
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 143/108 
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 12/2015 
End 12/2016
 
Description Research Project Grant
Amount € 300,000 (EUR)
Organisation National Agency for Research (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) 
Sector Public
Country France, French Republic
Start 09/2013 
End 08/2016
 
Description Standard Grant
Amount £880,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/N004558/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2017 
End 04/2020
 
Description Co-Reach project to set up a joint European-Chinese Bioarchaeology Collaboration (EUCH-BIOARCH) - 'Contributing to a Broader Agenda' 
Organisation Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Department Institute of Archaeology
Country China, People's Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Project Leader of joint AHRC/EPSRC/European funded (2009-2012). Involves four countries (China, UK, Germany & France), twelve international institutions and approx 150 academic colleagues, post-docs and PhD students. Supports PhD students and researchers in research collaboration and training between countries and institutions involved.
Collaborator Contribution Supports PhD students and researchers in research collaboration and training between countries and institutions involved.
Impact Cucchi, T., Hulme-Beaman, A., Yuan, J. and Dobney, K. 2011. Early Neolithic pig domestication at Jiahu, Henan Province, China: clues from molar shape analyses using geometric morphometric approaches. Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 11-22. Fa-jun Li, Ming-hui Wang, Xian-guo Fu, Dobney, K, Zhen Li, Bo-yu Chen, Chong Yu. (2013). Dismembered Neolithic burials at the Ding Si Shan site in Guangxi, southern China. Antiquity 87 (337) Project Gallery.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Set up MoU between University of Aberdeen Archaeology Dept and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Archaeology 
Organisation Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Department Institute of Archaeology
Country China, People's Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Set up MoU between University of Aberdeen Archaeology Dept and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Archaeology
Start Year 2011
 
Description Set up MoU between University of Aberdeen Archaeology Dept and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Archaeology 
Organisation University of Aberdeen
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Set up MoU between University of Aberdeen Archaeology Dept and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Archaeology
Start Year 2011
 
Description Being Human 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Over 1,000 people attended a multi-hour and multi-activity event at the Natural History Museum in Oxford associated with the Being Human event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Media and public interest (Pacific colonisation history) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The "Lapita Voyage"involved a six-month sailing voyage on a reconstructed Polynesian catamaran undertaken in Nov 08-April 09. It followed the migration routes of ancient Austronesian settlers from Island S.E Asia into West Polynesia. Dobney and Larson were invited to join five of the participating scientists because of their research expertise in this area. During the voyage, unique hair and feather samples were collected of domestic animals for genetic analyses.

The voyage was accompanied by a film crew, who produced a feature-length documentary for German public broadcaster ZDF. Wagnis in der Südsee: Das Rätsel der Polynesier was first broadcast in 2010, repeated in July 2013 and is still available for online viewing [9]. A 2011 popular book, by German expedition leader Klaus Hympendahl, sold several thousand copies in Europe by June 2013, with sales revenues estimated to be between €50-100,000. The paperback edition was published in May 2013. [10]
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2013
URL http://www.lapita-voyage.org/en/lapita_voyage_konzept.html
 
Description Media and public interest (domestication studies) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Our research group's animal domestication and migration research have regularly featured as news items in the international print media, as well as in news articles by (for example) Nature and Science. Subsequent coverage by broadcast media - included BBC radio and television in the UK - as well as documentaries featured on French, German and US television.

Dobney discussed his findings twice on BBC Radio 4's flagship science programme, Material World in June 2010, to explain how his findings on pigs have shed new light on how humans colonised islands in the Pacific; and in June 2013, to discuss the challenges and wider importance of new DNA sequences from a horse dating back more than 700,000 years. As part of Radio 4's programme offer, Material World has a reach of nearly 11 million listeners, according to June 2013 Rajar figures.

Dobney and colleagues in Durham also acted as consultants for the six-part BBC2 Horizon series, The Secret Life of the Dog, broadcast in January 2010 and repeated in October 2012. Drawing on their research, the group advised the programme makers on early evidence of the domestication of dogs. The series was reviewed in The Guardian newspaper and on online fora such as channelhopping.onthebox.com, both of which called it "fascinating". On YouTube, part 1 alone had attracted over 35,000 views by the end of July 2013. The series was also shown in Australia (latest repeat September 2011) and on the BBC HD Channel (October 2012).

Another BBC2 documentary, A History of Ancient Britain (series 1, part 2), drew on our research into commensal rodents (February 2012). The programme examined the story of how the first farmers arrived in Britain from Europe in 4000BC.

A National Geographic programme, How Man Tamed the Wild, also relied on our research, using information supplied to programme makers and featuring an interview. The programme was broadcast on the National Geographic and History Channel in November 2010.

The Discovery Channel featured the group's research in a documentary entitled Prehistoric Dog Domestication Derailed by the Ice Age (July 2011). Viewer feedback from the programmes above revealed both a widespread fascination with the subject matter, and a particular interest among people with a professional connection, such as dog breeders and farmers.

Our research has also featured In newspapers, such as Aberdeen's The Press and Journal (May 2010), which focused on the research into pigs in South East Asia; and on a range of news programmes and outlets, including BBC North East Scotland (May 2012) and NBC News (July 2011).

In addition, several large scientific news pieces regarding our domestication work have appeared in Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/348/6232.cover-expansion and http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/were-cats-domesticated-more-once) - the former making the front cover (17th April 2015). An additional major news article on our dog domestication work (taking the research model based on our earlier research on pigs) appeared in The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/19/science/the-big-search-to-find-out-where-dogs-come-from.html?_r=0).


The research described has had considerable impact through a wide range of TV and radio programmes, raising public awareness and understanding of the history of domestic animals - and what it reveals about human colonisation history - in Britain and abroad.

After appearing on Radio 4 programmes, each of these appearances, Dobney received 40-60 direct audience responses.
Through these and other engagements, the research has contributed to culture and quality of life, as well as enabling eco
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
 
Description Presidential session (Anth and Arch section) British Science Festival 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Keith Dobney was invited to undertake the role of President of the Anthropology and Archaeology Section at the British Science festival held in Aberdeen in 2012. He organised the Section's Presidential Session, entitled "The Northern Past, that included lectures, workshops, press conferences and other activities including field-trips" for the public.

Stimulated much media and public interest in our archaeological research in 'The North.' Media follow-up resulted in a number of print articles in the local and National press.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/british-science-festival/about-festival