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The newest craze in the online eBook world is what are referred to as eBook libraries, or eBook packages. The region is dominated by AAB group plantains for which high numbers of cultivars and linguistic terms have been identified. In contrast, east Africa is dominated by the AAA type bananas, which are thought to have arrived into the continent at a later date. The hypothesis, derived from linguistic and botanical evidence, that plantains reached west Africa by BP De Langhe et al. Watson suggests a late introduction to East Africa and even Madagascar through medieval Arab trade.

Blench has meanwhile forwarded a more daring continental circumnavigation hypothesis, based on the lack of evidence for ancient plantain cultivation in East Africa, the problems of a dispersal route between the coast and central African rainforest, and the known sailing capabilities of the Austronesians. Further archaeobotanical work in Africa is desperately needed to clear up the controversy. As described by Simmonds 22 , this population of bananas resembles subsp. It has been successfully crossed with this subspecies, but seems even more genetically compatible with wild bananas from Java ibid.

This strongly suggests that a seeded, wild-type banana was taken by humans from Indonesia to eastern Africa Pemba , although when this happened is unknown.

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He posits a similarly late diffusion down the East African coast. Others infer much greater antiquity, such as Martin 10 for D. While domesticated crops would have been carried and then propagated intentionally, many more species have been moved by mistake.

Ridley ; Sauer For parts of the world where the flora is better-documented and paleobotanical evidence is available, e. Archaeobotanical evidence of weed flora has the potential to provide a dataset for tracking the spread of agricultural systems and their impact on regional biodiversity Coward et al. For many world regions, however, there is insufficient evidence for such studies, in part because not enough effort has been aimed at distinguishing species that are native, i. The archaeobotany of weed floras is an under-developed research discipline.

While it has the potential to inform us about the ecology of early cropping systems, for example in Neolithic Europe e. Bogaard or in Asia Fuller and Qin , it may also record some of the geographical patterns in the history of crop dispersal. This represents a significant new direction for research on Indian Ocean connections. Somewhat better studied, but broadly similar, has been the transport of commensal animals, such as mice and rats. While a comprehensive review of weeds and commensals that might have been exchanged across the Indian Ocean is beyond the scope of the present contribution, we wish to highlight the potential of a few representative examples.

In many cases, these species are disjunct and absent from intervening areas, such as Egypt or Iraq.

This raises the question as to whether these species are naturally disjunct, e. Given the preference of these species for human-disturbed habitats, and agricultural fields, human-mediated transport seems likely. Many weeds persist as contaminants of harvested and stored grain, re-sown with the crop, and it therefore seems likely that weeds would have contaminated the grain stores of boats that carried people and traders across the Indian Ocean. Once transported, such weeds had the opportunity to become established on new continents. The horse purslanes Trianthema portulacastrum L.

What is more, both species have archaeobotanical records in India. In addition, T. Today this species is also found in dry rice fields in mainland Southeast Asia Noda et al. Thus we can suggest some history of dispersal within South Asia and Southeast Asia from its earlier development as a weed in Gujarat.

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At some stage, as yet undated, both Trianthema species came to the millet and sorghum fields of the African savannahs, where they persist as weeds to the present day. Verdcourt It is also reported from Madagascar Verdcourt A Spermacoce sp. Borreria occurs on sites of the South Indian Neolithic Fuller , but is apparently absent from Gujarat cf.

Weber ; Reddy Further refining identification to species level is needed. These few species are probably just indications of what is likely a wealth of species being transported to Africa and to islands in the Indian Ocean. By contrast S. Further archaeobotanical attention to weeds, including improved efforts at species level identifications, is needed.

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Kuntze syn. This is a parasitic weed, especially infecting sorghum, where it feeds off of the roots of the plant Doggett It can infect other grasses, including finger millet, sugarcane, and dry rice fields Tadulingam and Venkatanarayana ; Soerjani et al. Today witchweed is widespread in Asia, and indeed the Americas — anywhere that sorghum is cultivated. Were these transported from Africa with sorghum? Did this occur when sorghum was first brought to South Asia in the Bronze Age, or was this a later migrant from southeastern Africa?

More efforts to identify archaeological weed seeds in India, Africa, Arabia and from islands, may one day help to resolve these questions. Whether these commensals rode on boats as overlooked stowaways or might have been more intentionally encouraged as potential protein snacks for long voyages is unknown.

At the present time, genetic and archaeological studies that might shed light on the dispersal of these commensals in the Indian Ocean are rather limited. Nonetheless, it is clear from biogeographical data that three key types of commensals in particular have been extensively dispersed through human activity in the Indian Ocean.

The black rat is also present on Roman period sites in Egypt and the Mediterranean McCormick ; Armitage , and the possibility of a separate wave of colonisation as a result of Graeco-Roman trade with India is suggested by the presence of the Oceanic Rattus rattus karyotype 38 chromosomes; currently found in south India in northern Europe and the Mediterranean today, instead of the Asian karyotype 42 chromosomes that would be expected if colonisation were via the Indus Valley and Near East Armitage It is possible that modern karyotype distributions do not match ancient ones, but the more plausible explanation for the present-day karyotype distribution is that Asian type rats failed to permanently establish themselves in southwest Asia.

This theory is supported by the notable absence of R. An equally if not more complicating factor is the apparent presence of R. Allozyme analysis of rats from Madagascar indicates that they are of the Oceanic form Duplantier and preliminary mitochondrial DNA mtDNA study specifies an origin in the Indian subcontinent, though additional colonization via the East African coast is also likely Hingston et al. Despite low genetic variability, it is suggested that the black rat may have arrived with the first settlers Duplantier ; Hingston et al.

Archaeological evidence for rats does not, however, appear until the 11thth centuries, from an Islamic site on the northwestern side of the island Rakotozafy ; Duplantier This species originated in the Indian subcontinent from whence it radiated approximately 0. Two other taxa have also been proposed: M.

Long-distance anthropogenic translocation is not restricted to M. Interesting, therefore, is the fact that mtDNA studies of modern-day mice on Madagascar indicate that they are phylogenetically closest to Yemeni mice of the gentilulus lineage Duplantier et al. Furthermore, both low nucleotide diversity and a lack of subgroupings within the Malagasy mitochondrial lineage suggest a recent and probably unique origin for the house mouse on Madagascar; the species likely came from the Arabian peninsula, perhaps as a result of the Arab trade in the medieval period ibid.

Textiles in Indian Ocean Societies (Indian Ocean)

Earlier contact between Arabia and the East African coast, attested by Classical texts which already by this time period indicate regular trade, African-Arab intermarriage, and Arab authority over at least the trading location of Rhapta; Casson , may also have brought the house mouse to East Africa, from whence it later colonised Madagascar. Lack of data pertaining to East African M.

One question is whether such work will demonstrate the presence on any of the western Indian Ocean islands or East African coast of the castaneus lineage, which was not identified in any of the populations sampled in the Madagascar study Duplantier et al. The main population groups are the Continental type found on the South Asian mainland , the Island type found in the islands of Southeast Asia and the Malay type found in the Malay Peninsula.


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The Island type of S. The Asian house shrew has also reached Arabia, the East African coast and the islands of the Indian Ocean as a result of anthropogenic dispersal. Like the house mouse, this species is argued to have reached Madagascar via an East African route Hutterer and Tranier ; Duplantier High morphological variability in shrew populations from the Arabian peninsula and from Africa including Madagascar , suggest multiple importations from different origins Hutterer and Tranier Thus, as with the other small commensal mammals, we have a pattern which suggests the transport of house shrews in prehistory via Indian Ocean contacts, but still lack targeted zooarchaeological research to anchor this process to sites and dates.

Some of the key species, discussed in this paper, are compiled in Table 2, but this is by no means a comprehensive list. Table 2. Summary of taxa discussed in this paper, inferred to have been translocated across the Indian Ocean. Land dispersal from Southwest Asia; Yemen to Ethiopia? Modern crop of hybrid origin in India; Asia to Africa; native relatives in Africa. South Asia to Africa; native relatives in Africa. Striga asiatica syn.

The species which people moved across the seas can be divided along a spectrum from those that were intentional and required a specific effort, such as large livestock e. Then later, from sometime in the First Millennium BCE and perhaps mainly in the later part of that millennium , we can outline the Iron Age network that included much more distant contacts and dispersal across the middle Indian Ocean, as well as increased north-south contacts along the East Africa coast, northwards to Arabia.

This must certainly relate to a more intensive use of the monsoon and open-ocean voyaging. The Austronesian settlement of Madagascar can placed within this second period of exchanges, although it may have been later than some of the initial mid-Indian Ocean contacts. While the vastness of the Indian Ocean may seem a formidable barrier, it is clear that this was not the case given the species moved across it, and the developments of maritime technology and capability in certain cultures on its margins. By contrast to the better-known overland trade routes, such as those surrounding ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, or the classical and medieval Silk Road, the players in the initial Indian Ocean movements were more frequently not well-developed urban states.

Indeed, the emergence of circum-Arabian trade, involving Late Harappan Gujarat, corresponds to the period when urbanism declined in the greater Indus Valley cf. Possehl ; Madella and Fuller The period when mid-Indian Ocean transfers began to occur, in the first millennium BC, was in many of the relevant parts of the Indian Ocean a period of relatively dispersed agropastoralists, maritime-oriented fisher-sailers-traders, and intensive foragers probably engaged in cultivation and trade cf.

Phillipson ; Mitchell It was only later, after links across the seas were established, that large state-players appear to have become involved, such as the Romans, with their interest in Indian spices and textiles at the end of the First Millennium BCE, or the later Arabs focused on the African coast south of the Horn and eastwards towards Malaysia. Archaeologists have long been biased towards the monumental remains of urban centres and expansive states, and this has meant that the small-scale communities and traders who pioneered longdistance communication and transport have been under-studied.

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