Africa

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Africa (अफ्रीका) is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent.

Location

The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognized sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.

Etymology

Afri was a Latin name used to refer to the inhabitants of Africa, which in its widest sense referred to all lands south of the Mediterranean (Ancient Libya).[1][2] This name seems to have originally referred to a native Libyan tribe; see Terence for discussion. The name is usually connected with Hebrew or Phoenician ʿafar 'dust', but a 1981 hypothesis has asserted that it stems from the Berber ifri (plural ifran) "cave", in reference to cave dwellers.[3] The same word may be found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe originally from Yafran (also known as Ifrane) in northwestern Libya.[4]

Prehistory

Africa is considered by most paleoanthropologists to be the oldest inhabited territory on Earth, with the human species originating from the continent.[5][6] During the mid-20th century, anthropologists discovered many fossils and evidence of human occupation perhaps as early as 7 million years ago (BP=before present). Fossil remains of several species of early apelike humans thought to have evolved into modern man, such as Australopithecus afarensis (radiometrically dated to approximately 3.9–3.0 million years BP,[7] Paranthropus boisei (c. 2.3–1.4 million years BP)[8] and Homo ergaster (c. 1.9 million–600,000 years BP) have been discovered.[9]

After the evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens approximately 150,000 to 100,000 years BP in Africa, the continent was mainly populated by groups of hunter-gatherers.[10][11][12]

These first modern humans left Africa and populated the rest of the globe during the Out of Africa II migration dated to approximately 50,000 years BP, exiting the continent either across Bab-el-Mandeb over the Red Sea,[13][14] the Strait of Gibraltar in Morocco,[15] or the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt.[16]

Other migrations of modern humans within the African continent have been dated to that time, with evidence of early human settlement found in Southern Africa, Southeast Africa, North Africa, and the Sahara.[17]

North Africa: Due to the recent African origin of modern humans, the history of Prehistoric North Africa is important to the understanding of pre-hominid and early modern human history in Africa. The earliest inhabitants of central North Africa have left behind significant remains: early remnants of hominid occupation in North Africa, for example, were found in Ain el Hanech, near Saïda (c. 200,000 BCE); in fact, more recent investigations have found signs of Oldowan technology there, and indicate a date of up to 1.8 million BC.[18]

The cave paintings found at Tassili n'Ajjer, north of Tamanrasset, Algeria, and at other locations depict vibrant and vivid scenes of everyday life in central North Africa during the Neolithic Subpluvial period (about 8000 to 4000 BCE). Some parts of North Africa began to participate in the Neolithic revolution in the 6th millennium BC, just before the rapid desertification of the Sahara around 3500 B.C. due to a tilt in the Earth's orbit.[19]

While Egypt due to the early civilizations of Ancient Egypt entered historicity by the Bronze Age, the Maghreb remained in the prehistoric period longer. Some Phoenician and Greek colonies were established along the Mediterranean coast during the 7th century BC.

African origin of modern humans

The "recent African origin" model proposes that all modern non-African populations are substantially descended from populations of H. sapiens that left Africa after that time.

There were at least several "out-of-Africa" dispersals of modern humans, possibly beginning as early as 270,000 years ago, and certainly during 130,000 to 115,000 ago via northern Africa.[20][21] These early waves appear to have mostly died out or retreated by 80,000 years ago.[22]

The most significant "recent" wave took place about 70,000 years ago, via the so-called "Southern Route", spreading rapidly along the coast of Asia and reaching Australia by around 65,000–50,000 years ago.[23][24] while Europe was populated by an early offshoot which settled the Near East and Europe less than 55,000 years ago.[25][26][27]

In the 2010s, studies in population genetics have uncovered evidence of interbreeding of H. sapiens with archaic humans both in Africa and in Eurasia,[28] which means that all modern population groups, both African and non-African, while mostly derived from early H. sapiens, to a lesser extent are also descended from regional variants of archaic humans.

Southern Route dispersal:

Red Sea crossing

By some 70,000 years ago, a part of the bearers of mitochondrial haplogroup L3 migrated from East Africa into the Near East. It has been estimated that from a population of 2,000 to 5,000 individuals in Africa, only a small group, possibly as few as 150 to 1,000 people, crossed the Red Sea.[29][30] The group that crossed the Red Sea travelled along the coastal route around Arabia and Persia to India, which appears to be the first major settling point.[31]

Alistair Moffat[32] writes.... By the time brands of people had moved along the coastal rim of Arabia and reached the Persian Gulf (which may have been a delta of the Tigris and Euphrates river system rather than a body of seawater), some carried on eastwards while others split off and travelled into what became the Fertile Crescent. Archaeological finds in Indian subcontinent confirm the recent African origin of the migrants. Stone tools from digs at Patna in western India, Jwalapuram in south-east India and Batadomba Lena in Sri Lanka are very similar in form and sophistication to those found in South Africa. The letter were discovered in the Blombos Caves on the Indian Ocean coast and at the Klasies River near the Cape. They were made by the southern migrants from Central Africa, people who probably carried the mtDNA of the earliest branches from mitochondrial Eve.

Today at the Bab-el-Mandeb straits, the Red Sea is about 20 kms wide but 50,000 years ago sea levels were 70 m lower (owing to glaciation) and the water was much narrower. Though the straits were never completely closed, they were narrow enough and there may have been islands in between to have enabled crossing using simple rafts.[33][34]

The dating of the Southern Dispersal is a matter of dispute. It may have happened either pre- or post-Toba, a catastrophic volcanic eruption that took place between 69,000 and 77,000 years ago at the site of present-day Lake Toba. Stone tools discovered below the layers of ash disposed in India may point to a pre-Toba dispersal but the source of the tools is disputed. An indication for post-Toba is haplo-group L3, that originated before the dispersal of humans out of Africa and can be dated to 60,000–70,000 years ago, "suggesting that humanity left Africa a few thousand years after Toba".[35] New research showing slower than expected genetic mutations in human DNA was published in 2012, indicating a revised dating for the migration to between 90,000 and 130,000 years ago.[36]

Western Asia:

A fossil of a modern human dated to 54,700 years ago was found in Manot Cave in Israel, named Manot 1,[37] though the dating was questioned by Groucutt et al. (2015).

South-Asia and Australia: It is thought that Australia was inhabited around 65,000-50,000 years ago. As of 2017, the earliest evidence of humans in Australia is at least 65,000 years old,[38][39] while McChesney stated that

...genetic evidence suggests that a small band with the marker M168 migrated out of Africa along the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula and India, through Indonesia, and reached Australia very early, between 60,000 and 50,000 years ago. This very early migration into Australia is also supported by Rasmussen et al. (2011).[40]

Fossils from Lake Mungo, Australia, have been dated to about 42,000 years ago.[41][42] Other fossils from a site called Madjedbebe have been dated to at least 65,000 years ago.[43]

East Asia: Tianyuan man from China has a probable date range between 38,000 and 42,000 years ago, while Liujiang man from the same region has a probable date range between 67,000 and 159,000 years ago. According to 2013 DNA tests, Tianyuan man is related "to many present-day Asians and Native Americans".[44] Tianyuan is similar in morphology to Minatogawa Man, modern humans dated between 17,000 and 19,000 years ago and found on Okinawa Island, Japan.[45][46]

Europe: According to Macaulay et al. (2005), an early offshoot from the southern dispersal with haplogroup N followed the Nile from East Africa, heading northwards and crossing into Asia through the Sinai. This group then branched, some moving into Europe and others heading east into Asia.[47] This hypothesis is supported by the relatively late date of the arrival of modern humans in Europe as well as by archaeological and DNA evidence.[48] Based on an analysis of 55 human mitochondrial genomes (mtDNAs) of hunter-gatherers, Posth et al. (2016) argue for a "rapid single dispersal of all non-Africans less than 55,000 years ago."

Migration from Africa to India and Didwana Nagaur, Bhimbetka, Hathnora

Irfan Habib[50] writes that...[p.26-27] Many sites in south India including Hunsgi valley in Karnataka, and Attirampakkam, near Chennai, have turned up “Early Acheulean tools” (of the so - called 'Madras industry'), that is, hand axes, etc., made mainly from the cores (see Fig. 2.5).

Madras Industry Tools, Fig. 2.5

The U-Th method has yielded dates going back to beyond 350,000 years for sites in Karnataka. Lower Palaeolithic artefacts at Didwana in Rajasthan have been dated by the same means to 390,000 years ago, and at Nevasa in Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra to 350,000 years ago.

During this process of his diffusion there was a tendency over time for the original Homo erectus to evolve into sub-species that were less robust but more dexterous, and so could make smaller tools out of flakes or the 'Late Acheulean tools'. Remains of such tools have been found in the Narmada valley, where these appear in association with the 'Narmada skull' discovered at Hathnora. This skull, belonging to an evolved Homo erectus could date back to a time earlier than 130,000 years ago. At the famous cave of Bhimbetka in the same area, successive periods of occupation begin with the lowest floors containing Late Acheulean tools.

As Homo erectus evolved, he also improved his tools, giving them new shapes and adjusting the technique to locally available materials. Such changes occurred very slowly, over tens of thousands of years, but these ultimately led to the rise of regional 'cultures'. The term 'culture' is used when archaeologists find at a layer in one or more sites a similar assemblage of tools, ornaments and other products of human labour, which they call 'artefacts', as well as indications of similar customs and beliefs, such as systems of disposing of the dead, and ritual symbols. Regarding Homo erectus, there is little known of custom or belief, and the forms of his stone tools alone supply us with clues to his varied cultures. As the millennia passed, the tendency was for the production of smaller and thinner tools; and the apparently independent appearances of the flake blade in many parts of the world were a natural result of such a tendency. The flake blade is supposed to mark the Middle Palaeolithic stage in India. Such stone blades are found in the 'Nevasa culture' (named after the site of Nevasa already mentioned), which seems to have extended over the southern peninsula and central India (see Fig. 2.6).

Nevasan tools,Fig. 2.6

At Didwana, the Middle Paeolithic is dated by the TL method to about 150.000 years, ago, but in Gujarat a date as late as 56,800 years ago has been obtained by the U-Th method. In Sri Lanka's southern wet zone, a range of 200,000 to 40,000 years ago has been suggested for it. So the culture may have lasted for a hundred thousand years, if not more. This culture is held to be in direct continuity with the Lower Palaeolithic; and, therefore, its authors were probably the direct descendants of the late Homo erectus, though no skeletal remains have yet been found at any of the sites.

DNA study on Y-STR Haplogroup Diversity in the Jat Population

David G. Mahal and Ianis G. Matsoukas[51] conducted a scientific study on Y-STR Haplogroup Diversity in the Jat Population of which brief Conclusion is as under:

The Jats represent a large ethnic community that has inhabited the northwest region of India and Pakistan for several thousand years. It is estimated the community has a population of over 123 million people. Many historians and academics have asserted that the Jats are descendants of Aryans, Scythians, or other ancient people that arrived and lived in northern India at one time. Essentially, the specific origin of these people has remained a matter of contention for a long time. This study demonstrated that the origins of Jats can be clarified by identifying their Y-chromosome haplogroups and tracing their genetic markers on the Y-DNA haplogroup tree. A sample of 302 Y-chromosome haplotypes of Jats in India and Pakistan was analyzed. The results showed that the sample population had several different lines of ancestry and emerged from at least nine different geographical regions of the world. It also became evident that the Jats did not have a unique set of genes, but shared an underlying genetic unity with several other ethnic communities in the Indian subcontinent. A startling new assessment of the genetic ancient origins of these people was revealed with DNA science.

The human Y-chromosome provides a powerful molecular tool for analyzing Y-STR haplotypes and determining their haplogroups which lead to the ancient geographic origins of individuals. For this study, the Jats and 38 other ethnic groups in the Indian subcontinent were analyzed, and their haplogroups were compared. Using genetic markers and available descriptions of haplogroups from the Y-DNA phylogenetic tree, the geographic origins and migratory paths of their ancestors were traced.

The study demonstrated that based on their genetic makeup, the Jats belonged to at least nine specific haplogroups, with nine different lines of ancestry and geographic origins. About 90% of the Jats in our sample belonged to only four different lines of ancestry and geographic origins:

1. Haplogroup L (36.8%)- The origins of this haplogroup can be traced to the rugged and mountainous Pamir Knot region in Tajikistan.

2. Haplogroup R (28.5%): From somewhere in Central Asia, some descendants of the man carrying the M207 mutation on the Y chromosome headed south to arrive in India about 10,000 years ago (Wells, 2007). This is one of the largest haplogroups in India and Pakistan. Of its key subclades, R2 is observed especially in India and central Asia.

3. Haplogroup Q (15.6%): With its origins in central Asia, descendants of this group are linked to the Huns, Mongols, and Turkic people. In Europe it is found in southern Sweden, among Ashkenazi Jews, and in central and Eastern Europe such as, the Rhône-Alpes region of France, southern Sicily, southern Croatia, northern Serbia, parts of Poland and Ukraine.

4. Haplogroup J (9.6%): The ancestor of this haplogroup was born in the Middle East area known as the Fertile Crescent, comprising Israel, the West Bank, Jordon, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Middle Eastern traders brought this genetic marker to the Indian subcontinent (Kerchner, 2013).

5.-9. Haplogroups E, G, H, I, T (9.5%): The ancestors of the remaining five haplogroups E, G, H, I, and T can be traced to different parts of Africa, Middle East, South Central Asia, and Europe (ISOGG, 2016).

Therefore, attributing the origins of this entire ethnic group to loosely defined ancient populations such as, Indo-Aryans or Indo-Scythians represents very broad generalities and cannot be supported. The study also revealed that even with their different languages, religions, nationalities, customs, cuisines, and physical differences, the Jats shared their haplogroups with several other ethnic groups of the Indian subcontinent, and had the same common ancestors and geographic origins in the distant past. Based on recent developments in DNA science, this study provided new insights into the ancient geographic origins of this major ethnic group in the Indian subcontinent. A larger dataset, particularly with more representation of Muslim Jats, is likely to reveal some additional haplogroups and geographical origins for this ethnic group.

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