The Spread of Food Production, and the Austronesian Expansion
As a result of those replacements, about 88% of all humans alive today speak some language belonging to one or another of a mere seven language families confined in the early Holocene to two small areas of Eurasia that happened to become the earliest centres of domestication — the Fertile Crescent and parts of China. Through that head start, the inhabitants of those two areas spread their languages and genes over much of the rest of the world. Those localized origins of domestication ultimately explain why this international journal of science is published in an Indo-European language rather than in Basque, Swahili, Quechua or Pitjantjatjara.
The Lapita culture first appears in the Bismarck Archipelago some 3400 years before present (BP) and rapidly spreads into the previously uninhabited islands of Remote Oceania, reaching Tonga and Samoa, on the edge of the Polynesian Triangle by about 2900 BP. Migration to and settlement of the rest of the Polynesian Triangle did not begin until some 1,700 years after the colonization of Samoa and Tonga, with settlement of Aotearoa/New Zealand around 730 BP, marking the end of Austronesian expansion into the Pacific. Although Taiwan has been identified as the homeland of the Austronesian languages, all previous commensal animal studies indicate origins and migration pathways that do not include Taiwan, suggesting a complex history for the various components of Austronesian and Lapita cultures. Most of the economically important plant species introduced to Remote Oceanic islands during prehistory, such as banana, taro, breadfruit, and sugarcane, have Near Oceanic origins, whereas the sweet potato and the bottle gourd are of South American origin.
There can be no doubt that the civilizations of Asia have histories in which rice has been a key component, both as staple foodstuff and as salient cultural symbol.
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