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 Post subject: Indus Valley Civilisation Harappa & ancestors of Sinhale
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 9:52 pm 
Unearthing the roots of an island nation

By Asgar Hussein

A study using the ground-breaking technique of dental morphological analysis indicates that ancestors of the present day Sinhalese could have established the island's megalithic culture.

It also concludes that the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilisation of Harappa had dental traits resembling Sinhalese much more closely than Tamils or other Dravidian speaking populations.

This evidence emerges from the work of American anthropologist Dr. Dane Hawkey. Her thesis is titled 'Out of Asia: Dental Evidence for Affinities and Microevolution of Early Populations from India/ Sri Lanka.'

To draw her conclusions, Dr. Hawkey had compared the teeth of pre-historic and early iron age groups of Sri Lanka with the present communities as well as ancient and modern populations in India, South East Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

The findings could demolish the myth that Dravidians established the island's megalithic culture. Dr. Hawkey shows that the skeletal remains at Pomparippu clearly indicate they possessed dental traits much more similar to Sinhalese than Tamils, Veddas or the more primitive Balangoda Man.

The Pomparippu dwellers (who probably lived around 500-1000 BC) followed the iron age burial custom of placing their dead in large clay vessels which were then buried.

In fact, dental morphology shows a close affinity between the Sinhalese and the Austro-Asiatic people of Eastern and North Eastern India. This implies they are of common stock.

Dr. Hawkey's study also debunks the myth that Dravidians are descended from the inhabitants of the great pre-historic Indus Valley Civilisation of Harappa. It concludes that Harappans and East Indian Austro-Asiatics resemble Sinhalese in dental traits much more than Sri Lankan Tamils, peninsular Indians or South Indian tribal groups.

Interestingly, the Harappans (who practised international trade) also display dental similarities with Egyptians and Nubians who lived in the second millennium B.C. The available evidence indicates a genetic inflow into Egypt from North West India in ancient times. Furthermore, the ancient Egyptians possessed only few dental similarities with the populations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The recent findings also contribute to a new theory that anatomically - modern humans originated in South and South East Asia. This stands as a rival to the 'Out of Africa' theory that held they evolved in the dark continent, which went unchallenged until recently.

It is indeed significant that Dr. Hawkey had incorporated much evidence unearthed in Sri Lanka to support the new theory. The oldest evidence of modern humans in Asia came from the Fa-Hien Lena Cave in Sri Lanka and the Niah Cave in Borneo. The specimens are 35,000-40,000 years old.

Interestingly, there are no dental similarities between Africans and early/modern South Asians. Indeed, pre-historic South Asians resemble the present day populations (in the region) more closely than any other people in the world, indicating overall homogeneity. As time progressed however, they became increasingly heterogeneous, as differences are evident during the iron age.

It is believed than an ancient group of humans evolved in South and South-East Asia and later migrated elsewhere. In fact, dental traits similar to Balangoda Man have been found in specimens from Ukraine. This suggests a dental pattern which at one time prevailed in South Asia, South East Asia and South East Europe.

Another interesting finding by Dr. Hawkey is that Balangoda Man shows stronger dental similarities to the Melanesians in the Pacific region than to the Australian Aborigines.

Veddas are racially akin to Balangoda Man, although the former show racial fusion with the early Sinhalese and Tamil groups. It is however noteworthy that veddoid teeth bear a closer resemblance to that of Balangoda Man than Sinhalese or Tamils.

Another important conclusion is that those communities of Balangoda Man living in Sri Lanka less than 10,000 years ago possessed more primitive dental morphological traits than contemporary Indian groups. This indicates that although the two countries were then connected by the land link known as Adam's Bridge, the gene flow between its peoples during that period was not significant.

This finding lends support to Dr. Siran Deraniyagala's view that the island may have been a 'cul-de-sac' where weaker communities sought refuge.

He believes that stone age pre-historic man would have preferred to migrate to certain areas in peninsular India where food was more abundant, compelling the weaker groups to enter Sri Lanka.

In fact, archaeological evidence on 'carrying capacity' indicates that the stone age communities who remained in some parts of the Indian sub-continent were more numerous in number than those who inhabited Sri Lanka.

With archaeologists continuing to unearth more evidence and anthropologists using new techniques to analyse them, we would later have a greater understanding of the early inhabitants of the island and their affinity to populations of the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere. All this will go a long way in disproving false beliefs. History may well have to be rewritten if the truth is to reign supreme.


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 Post subject: Dental Evidence of Early Populations from India Sri Lanka
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 9:55 pm 
'Out of Asia: Dental Evidence for Affinities and Microevolution of Early Populations from India/ Sri Lanka.'

Dental morphology technique used by Dr. Hawkey

Dr. Dane Hawkey used the new technique of dental morphological analysis to reach her astounding conclusions. It works on the basis that the form and structure of human teeth are determined overwhelmingly by genetic factors rather than environmental influences. This method is certainly more reliable than anthropometrical measurements like height, head form, nose form or cranial capacity as such characteristics could be altered by environmental factors over a long time period.

Says Director General, Archaeology Department, Dr. Siran Deraniyagala, "Dental morphology is an excellent tool to assess physical affinities between different human groups."

For her research, Dr. Hawkey analysed skeletal remains of the so-called 'Balangoda Man' dating back 5000-40,000 years. These were excavated from the caves of Fa-Hien Lena, Batadomba Lena and Beli Lena, as well as the open air burial site at Bellanbadipallassa.

She also studied the remains of the community that occupied the megalithic (or early iron age) site at Pomparippu, near Puttalam. Also analysed were the teeth of Veddas collected during the 19th and early 20th century, southern Sinhalese, and Tamils mostly from the North.

Dr. Hawkey however concedes that her sample of dental material may be too small, and therefore her affinity assessments are tentative. She says more research needs to be conducted using a larger sample.

Dental morphology is considered a credible technique, along with analyses of Gm and HLA blood systems, mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA. Such methods should be used concurrently with archaeological, natural historical/environmental and linguistic studies. This approach would lead to a more reliable reconstruction of the origin and evolution of the different populations in the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka.

Dr. Deraniyagala asserts that biological anthropological analyses of present day populations are essential for future comparative studies.


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