POST Online Media Lite Edition



 

Bantu speakers crossed through Central African Rainforest 4,000 years ago, changed everything

Christian Fernsby |
The Bantu Expansion transformed sub-Saharan Africa's linguistic, economic, and cultural composition.

Article continues below




Today, more than 240 million people speak one of the more than 500 Bantu languages. It is generally accepted that the ancestors of current Bantu speakers lived around 5,000 to 6,000 years before present in a region by the current border of Nigeria and Cameroon.

However, until recently, it was not known how and when they succeeded in crossing southward through or around the dense Central African Rainforest to finally settle in their current locations, covering about half of the African continent.

In their current study, researchers analyzed linguistic data from more than 400 Bantu and other closely related languages. From this data, using novel methods, they built a dated language family tree and reconstructed the geographic spread of Bantu speakers.

In contrast to previous claims, the southwards expansion happened approximately 4,000 years ago—a long time before the savanna corridor through the dense rainforest opened.

It had previously been thought that agriculturalist populations, such as the early Bantu speakers, would not have been able to maintain their agricultural traditions in a dense rainforest environment.

The authors used a novel method, borrowed from genetics, to account for possible geographic biases in the reconstruction: "It turns out that there are actually more than 600 Bantu and other related documented languages, but there is not enough lexical data available for about one third of them. Therefore, we implemented a so-called sequence-free sampling—a way to overcome this bias and build a more robust geographic reconstruction, including all documented Bantu languages," comments Ezequiel Koile, lead author of this research.

"It's really exciting to be able to use these methods to provide the most comprehensive analysis of the Bantu languages to date. These methods give us real power to resolve these long-standing debates about major human population expansions," adds Simon Greenhill, co-author of the study.

Besides the sequence-free sampling approach, an important methodological improvement in the reconstruction of past migration routes was the use of a "break-away" model.

"According to this model, at every split in the language tree, one of the populations stays in the same place, while the other migrates. This seems more realistic than other diffusion-based methods, where both populations are forced to migrate," explains Remco Bouckaert, developer of this geographic model.

It was previously thought that for a human group characterized by its agricultural practices, such as the early Bantu populations, it would have been hard, if not impossible, to cross the Central African rainforest.

"The idea was that the dense rainforest made it very difficult to transport and maintain the crops and cattle that characterized the Bantu expansion. While changes in type of subsistence are attested in history, they tend to be relatively rare," comments Damián Blasi, one of the article's co-authors.

This is why it had generally been accepted that these populations migrated through the Sangha River Interval—a savanna corridor that opened as a north-south strip along the rainforest around 2,500 years ago—and not directly through the rainforest. This study's findings fit with recent anthropological results demonstrating the adaptability of humans to tropical forests.

"Our results highlight the importance of niche construction in human population expansions. Of course ecology matters, but it isn't destiny," concludes Russell Gray, senior author of the publication.


What to read next

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon highest in 15 years
Rainforest metropolis casts 1,000 km shadow on wildlife
Non-invasive procedure allows obtaining archaeological information without excavating

U.S.: Widespread showers and thunderstorms through midweek

 
Monsoonal moisture will continue to draw northward from the Southwest and pool with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico over the central U.S. along a sprawling, slow-moving frontal boundary.
 
 

Latest

Riva Wind and Arizona sail from Ukraine with 105,000 tons of grain
300 soldiers, scuba divers join rescue efforts to try to save trapped Mexican miners
New York: Start of construction on $75 million rehabilitation of public housing in Ithaca
Flooding hampers efforts to reach trapped miners in Mexico

NEWS

First Ukraine ship under grain deal will not dock in Lebanon on time

U.S.: Heat and flood threats this weekend
New York: Direct train service to Great New York State Fair
Illinois day care worker positive for monkeypox, children tested for virus
Lightning strike causes major fire at Cuban fuel depot
France's drought leaves towns short of drinking water
 

BUSINESS

Monthly minimum wage in Chile $440

Gaza power plant shuts down over lack of fuel
Pakistan plans long term LNG purchase
Japan lends over 300 mln USD to Cambodia for Sihanoukville deep-sea port expansion
Ukraine welcomes first foreign ship since war began
Suez Canal records all-time highest daily traffic
 

Trending Now

Monthly minimum wage in Chile $440

Take it or leave it: Pakistan offers $390/ton for Russian wheat

Batten disease, a group of fatal genetic disorders

Guardia di Financa finds unregistered foreign company operating in e-commerce


POLITICS

Iran not to give up on its water share rights

Italy grants Ukraine EUR 200 mln preferential loan for teachers' salaries
Putin, Erdogan agree to switch to ruble payments for Russian gas
China pushing world to climate disaster, cuts some ties with U.S.
Florida Governor DeSantis suspends State Attorney over abortion law
Italy unveils 17-bln-euro aid package to combat inflation, drought
 

Today We Recommend

Canada to temporarily ban handgun import


Highlights 

Goodyear Q2 net income more than doubles

Ritchie Bros. Q2 revenue increased 22%

APA acquires oil producing assets in West Texas for $505m


COMPANIES

Masdar signs agreement with Tanzania’s TANESCO to develop 2 GW renewable energy capacity

Zero emission electric portable air compressors for Chinese mines
Kuwait's Agility completes £763 million acquisition of Menzies Aviation
Delta adding nonstop flights from Atlanta to Cape Town and Los Angeles to Tahiti
Lufthansa ground staff agree pay deal after strike
Russia allows parallel imports of some L'Oreal brands
 

CAREERS

Horizon Bancorp appoints Thomas M. Prame as president

Encora appoints Deepak Bhandari as EVP, head of corporate development
Firmenich: Maurizio Clementi interim president of taste and beyond division
Joyce Farms appoints two new leaders
Shore Bancshares appoints Esther A. Streete as director
Liberty Group Construction Services appoints Jeffrey VanderVorst as EVP
 

ECONOMY

Vietnamese economy likely to grow 10% in Q3

Canada's exports rise in June
Minnesota received AAA rating from Moody's for first time in nearly 20 years
Half of U.S. mortgaged homes now considered equity-rich
U.S. factory orders jump much more than expected
Oklahoma Governor Stitt achieves historic state savings of $2.8 billion
 

EARNINGS

Goodyear Q2 net income more than doubles

Ritchie Bros. Q2 revenue increased 22%
MOL Q2 EBITDA $1.347bn
SWISS posts H1 operating profit
Wayfair Q2 net revenue decreased $573 million
Security Bancorp Q2 net income increases to $744,000
 

OP-ED

Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?
 

AGRIFISH

Take it or leave it: Pakistan offers $390/ton for Russian wheat

Commission approves €110 million Austrian scheme to support agricultural producers
Japan farm exports in H1 hit record
Hong Kong suspends import of poultry meat and products from areas in UK
Hong Kong suspends import of poultry meat and products from Magadan Oblast in Russia
British Columbia and Ontario calls out unfair U.S. duties on softwood lumber
 

LEADERSHIP

62% of consumers will stop buying from brands that compromise products to cut costs

Companies must invest to avoid supply chain scandal or pay the price in lost consumers
How awards, recognition decrease inventors' creativity
Keeping employees is harder than ever. And we don't have good news
How much is 'great resignation' costing companies?
New theory of decision-making seeks to explain why humans don't make optimal choices
 

CRIME

Guardia di Financa finds unregistered foreign company operating in e-commerce

Iowa AG sues tobacco companies over $133 million in withheld payments
AG Bonta announces $15.5 million judgment against Rent-A-Center
Illinois AG Raoul announces agreement with former opioid maker Allergan
AG Shapiro secures preliminary agreement with Teva for $4.25 billion
SEC charges eleven individuals in $300 million crypto pyramid scheme
 

Magazine

TRAVEL

Pullman Doha West Bay Hotel opens in Qatar

DoubleTree by Hilton hotel opens in Malaysia
Great Dorset Chilli Festival, the hottest festival in UK
Selina Serenity Rawai Phuket Hotel opens in Thailand
254 Room W Toronto Hotel opens
Summer of music, Summer Meltdown in Washington state
 

SEA, LAND, AIR

Porsche unveils newest generation of 911 GT3 R

2023 Subaru Crosstrek sells like hotcakes
New Mercedes‑Benz GLC, at home on any terrain
GMC unleashes new 2023 Sierra 1500 AT4X AEV Edition
First BMW M3 Touring presented
Southern Wind Power of 2, just for you and ocean ahead
 

DESIGN

Nobody's Child, everybody's favorite

Freddy WR.UP, pants that hug you in all the right places
Stylishly luxurious house design
Great design ideas that might not work for you
Garden mirrors, explore new views of your garden
Unusual and highly functional lamps
 

GADGETS

Shure MV7 professional dynamic microphone now available in new limited-edition color

Forget streaming services, use McIntosh MR89 to enjoy AM/FM music
Infinix NOTE 12 PRO, first smartphone powered by MediaTek Helio G99
MW75 active noise-cancelling headphones, variety of new features
Parasound JC 1+ mono power amplifier by John Curl, pure delight
Cambridge Audio SX80, stylish loudspeakers for any room
 

HEALTH

At least 12 deaths reported in cholera outbreak in Afghanistan's Jawzjan

Batten disease, a group of fatal genetic disorders
German government supports development of nasal COVID-19 vaccine
Cases of West Nile virus on the rise in Italy
U.S. declares monkeypox public health emergency
South Africa reports first death causally linked to COVID vaccine
 

MEANTIME

South Korea launches first lunar orbiter

Bantu speakers crossed through Central African Rainforest 4,000 years ago, changed everything
Webb telescope captures colorful Cartwheel Galaxy
Sadiq Khan launched £3.1m tree planting package to combat climate change
First European woman walks in space
Hubble images complex galactic trio