New Delhi: Ancient DNA from protohistoric period Cambodia indicates that South Asians admixed with local populations of Southeast Asia as early as 1st-3rd centuries CE, according to a new study published in Nature. This Study has implications for the nature and depth of contact between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
The study is based on a radiocarbon-dated individual from Cambodia (expected to have been alive between 78–234 CE) and was published on December 29, 2022. It showed that South Asian admixture is present in various present-day Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) populations, especially those heavily influenced by Indian culture. It says that Indian influence “may have stimulated early state formation in the region.”
Previous aDNA studies did not detect South Asian admixture in ancient individuals across MSEA. The authors say that their study “shows that the South Asian gene flow to Cambodia started about a millennium earlier than indicated by previous published results of genetic dating relying on present-day populations. Plausible proxies for the South Asian ancestry source in this individual are present-day populations in Southern India, and the individual shares more genetic drift with present-day Cambodians than with most present-day East and Southeast Asian populations.” The ancient individual from Cambodia studied, “harbours an approximately three times higher proportion of South Asian ancestry as compared to the present-day Cambodians.”