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Lost In The Sands Of Time Somewhere North Of The Bay Of Bengal

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Chapter Summary

In the northeastern portion of the Indian subcontinent, the presence of two language families stretches back into prehistory. What light can historical linguistics, linguistic palaeontology, archaeology, palaeoethnobotany and human population genetics shed on the ancient origins of Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman? The world's two most populous families of languages that meet in the Himalayas are the Tibeto-Burman phylum and Indo-European. In addition to these two great linguistic phyla, Kra-Dai alias Daic, Austroasiatic and Dravidian language communities skirt the eastern Himalayan region. The fundamental epistemological question continues to haunt whether the spread of a recognisable Neolithic and Bronze Age assemblage can actually ever be taken with certainty to reflect the spread of a language and so of a language family. Very often language seems to be less ambiguously correlated with the geographical distribution of genetic markers in the populations speaking the languages in question.

Keywords: archaeology; human population genetics; Indo-European; linguistic palaeontology; palaeoethnobotany; Tibeto-Burman phylum



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