The domestications and the domesticators of Asian rice
George van Driem |
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität Bern, Switzerland
Rice genetics has now provided molecular evidence for three distinct domestications of Asian rice, giving rise to ahu, indica and japonica rice and subsequently involving the multidirectional introgression of favoured alleles between these three families of Oryza sativa cultivars. The phylogeography of Asian wild and cultivated rice species also permits inferences with regard to the likely geographical range within which these three domestication processes involving Asian cultivated rice unfolded. Evidence from linguistic palaeontology permits the identification of two language families whose linguistic ancestors pose the likeliest candidates for the earliest rice domesticators, Austroasiatic and Hmong-Mien. The linguistic arguments and population genetic evidence on Asian rice are assessed. Recent advances in palaeobotany as well as a number of currently prevalent misunderstandings in rice archaeology are discussed. Another set of evidence from linguistic palaeontology involving reconstructible etyma denoting megafauna in light of the early Holocene distribution of these megafaunal species provides a geographical indication for the location of the early Austroasiatic homeland. Furthermore, the molecular genetics of human populations are discussed in order to shed light on the prehistory and geography of the Austroasiatic, Hmong-Mien and other language families. Finally, a synthesis of the disparate sets of evidence is presented.
Keywords: rice (Oryza sativa), Hmong-Mien, Austroasiatic, phylogeography, preservation bias
For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at