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ERC

Eurasia3angle Report Summary

Project ID: 646612
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Eurasia3angle (Millet and beans, language and genes. The origin and dispersal of the Transeurasian family.)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

"Throughout Europe the migration of refugees is a live issue these days: More than 4 million people have fled Syria since the war there began in 2011; the number of asylum seekers in Germany alone could hit 1 million. But even if migration makes the breaking news today, it is of all times. It started with the spread of homo sapiens out of Africa about 100 000 years ago and continued down to the migrations of farmers and herders in all continents since about 10 000 years ago. The eurasia3angle project focuses on one particular wave of prehistorical migrations that has been intriguing scientists since several centuries, notably the migrations that brought the Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, Korean and Japanese languages to their presentday locations. Our aim is to find out whether the spread of these so-called ""Transeurasian"" languages across Northern Eurasia is driven by the adoption and spread of agriculture. To this end, we integrate linguistic, archaeological and genetic evidence in a single approach, for which we use the term “triangulation”. The study of the Transeurasian case may be the key to a better understanding of the human, cultural and linguistic diversity in East Asia, one of the world’s few homelands of agriculture. It also raises new questions about the coevolution of language with human culture and genes. In Eurasia3angle, we cross boundaries not only between various disciplines, but also between very diverse languages, cultures and populations in the vast continuum reaching all the way from the eastern fringes of Europe to the Asian Pacific. The task ahead is quite a challenge, but if successful it will be a break-through in the investigation of human prehistory in general and in the longstanding Transeurasian debate in particular."

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"In the linguistic part of this project, we are currently gathering basic vocabulary and structural data. Our aim is to apply computational techniques from evolutionary biology to these data. This has never been done before for the Transeurasian languages. This work will lead to a better understanding of the branching of the language trees and to an estimation of the dates for the splits between the different languages. In addition, we are also applying a classical historical linguistic technique called ""cultural reconstruction"" in order to reconstruct words relating to subsistence or agriculture back to an unattested common ancestral language. Cultural reconstruction enables us to study human prehistory by correlating our linguistic reconstructions with information from archaeology about the cultural and natural environment possibly available to the speakers of the ancestral language. In this way, we have reconstructed words for consumable plants such as millet, nuts, roots, for subsistence activities such as 'grinding', 'kneading', 'weaving', 'making rope' and agricultural apparatus such as 'field' back to the common proto-language.
In the archaeological part of this project, we started our research by mapping important archaeological cultures sites from the Neolithic and the Bronze Age in northeastern China, Korean peninsula, Japanese islands, and the Russian Far East.
Summaries on these archaeological cultures were made to create the basis for our comparative study. We paid special attention to aspects such as chronology; environmental settings; housing/settlement patterns; crafting activities (pottery making; lithic production; millet farming); burial practices; artifacts suggesting ritual and ideology; mainstream hypotheses about cultural dynamics and their possible driving forces within a particular culture/period. Following these categories, we collected published data and created a comparative overview. Fifty-two sites and their data have been tabulated. Some initial tests were carried out on those sample sites for exploratory data analysis, trying to find meaningul patterns to help understand the similarities and dissimilarities in material cultures among sites and cultures and to draw inferences about cultural contacts and population migrations.
In the genetic part of our project, we aim at understanding the genetic history of Transeurasian-speaking north and east Asians, including Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, Korean and Japanese populations. To achieve this goal, we have been collecting ancient human skeletons excavated from Mongolia, Korea and Japan for DNA extraction. We have also set up a collaboration with a Chinese university in order to get access to ancient DNA from North East China. So far, we found that most Mongolic- and Turkic-speaking groups can best be modeled as a mixture of contemporary Tungusic-speaking groups and a western Eurasian ancestry, supporting a shared genetic background among them. We also found that the ancient DNA of the Neolithic Boisman culture in the Russian Far East shows genetic continuity with the DNA of speakers of contemporary Tungusic languages, stretching back at least seven thousand years.
"

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Below I list all publications that have already resulted or are expected to result from our eurasia3angle project.

(1) Bouckaert, R. & Robbeets, M. 2017. Pseudo Dollo models for the evolution of binary characters along a tree. BioRxiv doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/207571.
(MPI affiliations)

(2) Drennan, R. D., Peterson, C. E., Lu, X., & Li, Tao (2017). Hongshan households and communities in Neolithic northeastern China. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 47, 50-71. doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2017.03.002. (MPI affiliation)

(3) Hudson, Mark; Hoover, Kara and Mauricio Hernandez (submitted). Resilience, health, and colonialism in the early modern Ryukyu Islands: A bioarchaeological perspective. Quaternary International (with ERC acknowledgement)

(4) Jeong C, Wilkin S, Amgalantugs T, Bouwman A, Taylor W, Hagan R, Bromage S, Tsolmon S, Trachsel C, Grossmann J, Littleton J, Makarewicz C, Krigbaum J, Burri M, Scott A, Davaasambuu G, Wright J, Irmer F, Myagmar E, Boivin N, Robbeets M, Rühli F, Krause J, Frohlich B, Hendy J and Warinner C. (In Review). Bronze Age population dynamics and the rise of dairy pastoralism on the eastern Eurasian steppe. (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement)

(5) Jeong C, Balanovsky E, Balanovsky O, Flegontov P, Flegontova O, Kahbatkyzy N, Khussainova E, Djansugurova L, Immel A, Wang C, Robbeets M, Reich D, Sciffels S, Haak W and Krause J. (In Preparation) Characterizing the genetic history of admixture across inner Eurasia. (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement)

(6) Jeong C and Wang C. (Accepted) Transeurasian unity from a population genetic perspective. In Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. eds. Robbeets M. (ed.) The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian languages. Oxford: University Press. (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement)

(7) Li, Tao (Accepted). Transeurasian unity from an archaeological perspective: An examination of millets and rice. In The Oxford guide to the Transeurasian languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement)

(8) Li, Tao (2018, in press). “Specialization” in the production of bottomless painted Hongshan pottery cylinders. Northern Cultural Relics. Accepted for publication [in Chinese] (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement].

(9) Li, Tao (2019, accepted). Early millets in the Primorye Province of the Russian Far East. Research of China’s Frontier Archaeology [in Chinese] (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement).

(10) Li, Tao, Ning Chao, Sergusheva Elena, Robbeets Martine (In preparation). Human interactions between eastern Heilongjiang and southern Primorye in 8000 to 4000 BP: Archaeology, genetic and linguistic perspectives.

(11) Neshcheret, Nataliia (Accepted) Are some Transeurasian structural features inherited? In Robbeets, Martine, Nataliia Neshcheret and Alexander Savelyev (eds). The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. Oxford University Press. (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement).

(12) Ning, Chao, Chuanchao Wang, Tao Li, Choongwon Jeong, Robbeets M. (In preparation). Genomic analysis of ancient farming populations in Northern China (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement)

(13) Ning, Chao (In preparation). A human genomic time transect of Northeast China dating back to 12000 years ago.

(14) Oskolskaya, Sonya (Accepted). Nanai and the Southern Tungusic languages” to The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. (MPI affiliation with ERC acknowledgement).

(15) Robbeets, Martine, and Alexander Savelyev (eds). 2017. Language Dispersal Beyond Farming. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

(16) Robbeets, Martine, Nataliia Neshcheret and Alexander Savelyev (eds). (Accepted/ In press) . The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. Oxford University Press. (3 MPI affiliations with ERC acknowledgement).

(17) Robbeets, Martine (2017) (ed.) Transeurasian linguistics (4 volumes). Routledges Critical Concepts in Linguistics series. London: Routledge. (MPI affiliation)

(18) Robbeets, Martine, J
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