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Austronesians were ancestrally matrilocal

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literaryClarity View Drop Down

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    Posted: 17 Jun 2014 at 18:35

Matrilocal residence is ancestral in
Austronesian societies
Fiona M. Jordan, Russell, D. Gray, and Ruth Mace

The nature of social life in human prehistory is elusive, yet knowing how kinship systems evolve is critical
for understanding population history and cultural diversity. Post-marital residence rules specify sex-
specific dispersal and kin association, influencing the pattern of genetic markers across populations.
Cultural phylogenetics allows us to practise ‘virtual archaeology’ on these aspects of social life that leave no
trace in the archaeological record. Here we show that early Austronesian societies practised matrilocal
post-marital residence. Using a Markov-chain Monte Carlo comparative method implemented in a
Bayesian phylogenetic framework, we estimated the type of residence at each ancestral node in a sample of
Austronesian language trees spanning 135 Pacific societies. Matrilocal residence has been hypothesized for
proto-Oceanic society (ca 3500 BP), but we find strong evidence that matrilocality was predominant in
earlier Austronesian societies ca 5000–4500 BP, at the root of the language family and its early branches.
Our results illuminate the divergent patterns of mtDNA and Y-chromosome markers seen in the Pacific.
The analysis of present-day cross-cultural data in this way allows us to directly address cultural
evolutionary and life-history processes in prehistory.

The sex-biased dispersal model of early Austronesian matrilocality fits the predominant pattern seen in the Pacific genetics: restricted Asian-derived maternal lineages and a more diverse set of NRY variants (Hurles et al. 2002). Our results do suggest, for instance, that Y-chromosome variants from as far west as Halmahera should not be unexpected in Remote Oceanic populations. Disentangling the interactive effects of residence and migration will be complex, but given the known ethnographic and molecular data, we should now be able to address the issue directly rather than through inference, by modelling different scenarios about kinship structures and their effect on genetic diversity (c.f. Veeramah et al. 2008).

Where did the matriarchs come from?  They came from the Yellow River because Austronesians treat millet as their sacred crop.

The expansion of Setaria farmers in East Asia

In recognition of the importance of foxtail millet for both Sino-Tibetan and Austronesian, both as a staple and as a sacred plant, I have proposed (1995) that the origin of the PSTAN macrophylum is in the area of the earliest foxtailcultivating villages: the Císhān-Péilĭgāng culture area of northern China, mainly in Hébĕi, Hénán and south Shănxī,6 beginning cal. 8500 BP. I think of Proto-STAN as the language of these earliest foxtail farmers.

When Sagart says Sino-Tibetan here he really means Tibeto-Burman only as his study only made comparisons of Austronesian with Tibeto-Burman words.

Their women matriarchs share the same system of facial tattooing to make the face integrate into a zoomorphic pattern of a butterfly.

When the women entered into areas such as Philippines and beyond, they encountered Papuan society and began to intermarry out of their usual east Asian male selections.  That's why the study asserted that there were "restricted" east Asian derived maternal genetics while the male genetics could be sourced from anywhere, which would be reflective of matrilineal society.

Professor Stephan Lansing works with Austronesians and he has arrived at the same conclusion, although via studying the male haplotypes.  He concurred there was no male dominancy scenarios in Austronesian expansion, only selective neutrality models are capable of mapping the Austronesian expansion by women.

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