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The Evolution and Dispersal of Modern Humans in Asia.

This publication results from the meeting held at the University of Tokyo in November 1990, and most of the speakers are represented in the volume. It is divided into four sections, reflecting each day's proceedings, and there are also transcripts or overviews of the discussion sessions.

The first section concerns human evolution in Asia, with papers by Pope, Tillier and Vandermeersch. Pope's paper presents a by now familiar caricature of, and attack upon, the 'Out of Africa' hypothesis. His view of the precocious modernity of the face in Asian middle Pleistocene hominids has already had to be modified because of the discovery of the massive Yunxian fossil crania, but even in 1990 failed to take proper account of relevant African material. The paper contains further dubious statements such as the claimed absence of equids in the Far East, and the claim that modern humans appeared no earlier in Africa and the Levant than in China! Tillier's and Vandermeersch's papers are less contentious discussions of the Skhul and Qafzeh material. Tillier accepts these fossils as anatomically modern, but questions whether any differences in growth pattern from Neanderthals can be detected at a young age, while Vandermeersch again suggests a possible Zuttiyeh-Skhul/Qafzeh-Cro-Magnon evolutionary lineage. Section II, consisting of 11 papers, deals with the Palaeolithic, hominids and palaeoenvironments of western Asia. Muhesen's contribution includes discussion of the Syrian 'Hummalian' blade industry, and Goren-Inbar emphasizes the local and unique nature of the Gesher Benot Ya'aqov Acheulian site. Ohnuma discusses the Amud layer B lithics and finds them comparable to those of Tabun B and Kebara levels X, IX and VII, and Nishiaki & Copeland also compare the Lebanese Keoue cave Mousterian to a 'Tabun B-type facies'. It is interesting to note that they report a Tabun C-type facies stratified in a number of Enfean (Stage 5) coastal sites, as this would appear to support ESR and TL dating of such material in Israel, as discussed later in the volume. Meignen & Bar-Yosef discuss Levallois core reduction systems, especially at Kebara, and conclude that their analysis supports the reality of 3 different Mousterian assemblages in the Levant: Tabun D type, Tabun C type (as also at Qafzeh), and Tabun B (as also at Kebara, Amud and K'sar Akil XXVIII). Elsewhere, of course, Bar-Yosef has extended this work with the proposal that Neanderthals were associated with Tabun B, and early moderns with Tabun C type Mousterian. Tchernov discusses links between general biotic and specific hominid dispersals in the southern Levant, ranging from the faunas of African character found in the earlier Pleistocene sites of Ubeidiya and Gesher Benot Ya'Aqov through to the more endemic late middle Pleistocene faunas of sites such as Zuttiyeh and Tabun G-E. The early late Pleistocene biogeographic situation is even more complex, but Tchernov notes that Afro-Arabian elements are associated with early modern humans at Qafzeh, and he agrees with Bar-Yosef in favouring a relatively late arrival of Neanderthals in the region. Bar-Yosef then presents an interesting and wide-ranging review of the palaeoenvironments of the Mediterranean Levant and possible human adaptations, while Ronen speculates that the Pre-Aurignacian and Amudian in the Levant, and the Howieson's Poort in southern Africa, may really represent early manifestations of 'modern' behaviour. Marks and A. Jelinek separately question the bases of the revised TL and ESR chronological schemes for the Levant which date the Qafzeh, Skhul and Tabun sequences as much more ancient than previously believed. They both argue that the new dating schemes produce many inconsistencies when other data are considered. Marks concentrates on the archaeological problems, while Jelinek also deals with stratigraphic, environmental, faunal and chronometric questions. Many of the issues they raise are still unresolved, but further dating work continues to support a longer chronology for the Levantine Middle Palaeolithic. Returning to the fossils, Trinkaus produces an interesting compilation of data to reiterate that, despite undoubted similarities in associated lithic technology, skeletal features which reflect habitual behaviour clearly distinguish the Skhul-Qafzeh hominids from their local Neanderthal counterparts. Indeed, in some respects, the Skhul-Qafzeh samples are more gracile than their possible Upper Palaeolithic descendants. The third section deals with the Far East and opens with Kimura & Takahashi's study of the late Pleistocene Minatogawa limb bones. They find, contrary to some previous work, that the bones are not very robust when standardized for size. Cuong and Sonakia provide short reviews of the still sparse Vietnamese and Indian sub-continent fossil hominid data, and Baba & Aziz describe a probable middle Pleistocene tibial fragment found in 1977 at Sambungmachan, Java. They conclude that it is rather modern in external contours, but with a very thick cortex. Qiu briefly reviews middle and late Palaeolithic industries from China, followed by Wu's similarly brief review of modern human origins in eastern Asia. Wu continues to favour separate local origins for 'Mongoloids' and 'Australoids' and presents data to link Niah with the former and Wadjak with the latter group. Kamminga presents further research on the non-Mongoloid affinities of the Zhoukoudian Upper Cave 101 cranium. I certainly concur with his views on its lack of appropriate 'regionality', but do not find his questioning of recent radiocarbon accelerator dates, which suggest a greater antiquity, as convincing. Brauer further develops his 'Hybridization and replacement' model, arguing that an African origin of modern humans was followed by varying degrees of intermixture with locally evolved lineages outside of Africa. Turner reiterates his view that southeast Asian 'sundadonty' provides the most reasonable ancestral pattern for modern human dental variation. However, I continue to be intrigued by Turner's finding (unexplained by him) of a close African-Australian dental relationship, a finding which is mirrored in craniometric analyses. I found the paper by Brace & Tracer one of the more interesting and plausible products of the senior author, at least as far as its treatment of the late Pleistocene and Holocene east Asian craniofacial data are concerned. Phenetic analyses support ancestral links between Japanese Jomon and Ainu samples, and those of the Americas and Oceania, while northeastern samples (e.g. Mongols) are found to be rather atypical of the region. Opening the fourth section, 'From morphology to genes', Dodo, Ishida & Saitou use non-metric cranial traits on east Asian and North American samples, and like Brace, Tracer and Turner, find Jomon-Ainu links, but a clear distinctiveness from neighbouring populations. Ossenberg, in a more detailed study of northern Asian/American samples again finds a clear Jomon-Ainu affinity, but challenges linguistic data suggesting a close Aleut-Eskimo relationship. Instead, she argues that the Aleuts are a quite separate relict Palaeoarctic population. Pietrusewsky, Li, Shao & Nguyen report extensive multivariate analyses on Asian, Pacific and Australasian cranial samples, which show a clear Asian/Oceanian vs Australian/Melanesian split, although it is unclear to what extent size, rather than shape, differences may be primarily responsible for the patterns revealed. Bowdler, in quite a long and idiosyncratic review, proposes that Indonesian Homo erectus represented a peripheral and virtually culture-less population which became extinct. In contrast, Chinese Homo erectus may have given rise to modern humans including those found in Australia. This last section is completed by three papers on genetic data. The first, by Harada, concerns a mutant gene for alcohol sensitivity which has potential for mapping 'Mongoloid' dispersals, since it is apparently not found in 'Caucasoid' and 'Negroid' samples. Tokunaga & Juji examine east Asian distributions of HLA genes and haplotypes as possible markers of ancient migrations, although they recognize that selection may also be influencing local gene frequencies (as discussed later by Cavalli-Sforza). Finally, Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi & Piazza present their analyses of frequencies of large numbers of genetic polymorphisms in eastern Asia, and find some

possible parallels for their European analyses, which suggested a clear link between gene clines and the spread of agriculture.

The summaries or actual transcripts of the discussion sessions also contain some useful clarifications or amplifications of points made in the presentations, although there are also some unfortunate comments on dating work which should certainly have been edited out. Overall, this volume gives a good, if inevitably selective, picture of the state of research on early Asian humans. Apparently these meetings will recur on a regular basis, and it will be interesting to follow how some of the debates develop. It will be especially valuable if more data from the Australasian region can be added to the discussions. C. STRINGER Department of Palaeontology The Natural History Museum, London
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Author:Stringer, C.
Publication:Antiquity
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1993
Words:1390
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