Friday, December 9, 2016

Historical Examples Of Major Types Of Conquest and Colonization

In the area of historical genetics, historical linguistics and anthropology, the broad outlines of history are characterized by some major processes that repeat themselves. I identify nine main categories (as well as one hypothetical category for which there are no historical examples) and some subcategories within them, below, and assign major historical examples of them to these categories while identifying the main circumstances in which each occurs.

Comments regarding initial examples in any of the categories, categories that I have overlooked, or examples that you believe I have incorrectly categorized or described, are welcome.

Expansion Into Virgin Territory

One is a rapid expansion into virgin territory with no current inhabitants. Sometimes, this happens because the new arrivals are genuinely the first people to enter the new territory, as in the case of Papua New Guinea and Australia ca. 50,000 BCE, North and South American ca. 12,000 BCE, most of the rest of Oceania during one of the later Austronesian expansion ca. 3000 BCE to 1200 CE, and Norse settlement of Iceland ca. 870 CE.

At other times, a previously inhabited area is abandoned, usually for reasons related to climate, and then repopulated. Examples of this include the repopulation of northern Eurasia following the Last Glacial Maximum which was reached ca. 18,000 BCE with northern Europe largely repopulated by about 13,000 BCE, and the repopulation of the area around Lake Chad in Northern Africa, which was repopulated following an arid period, by the proto-Chadic people ca. 5600 BCE, and the Indo-European settlement of the Tarim Basin in what is now Inner Mongolia ca. 2000 BCE.

The rate at which expansion into virgin territory takes place can be shocking fast. For example, it took only about 1000 years for the founding population of Native Americas to settle in every part of North America and South America. 

Near Total Replacement

Another pattern sometimes seen is the near total replacement of the current inhabitants of a territory by a new population with a reasonable balance of men and women, with only slight admixture, if any, and ongoing cultural impact from the original inhabitants. 

Examples of this include the replacement of Denisovans (and possibly also other species of hominins including Homo Erectus and Homo Florensis) with modern humans in Asia at least ca. 50,000 BCE, the replacement of Neanderthals with Cro-Magnon modern humans in Europe ca. 40,000 BCE, most of the expansion of the Fertile Crescent Neolithic Revolution outside the Fertile Crescent ca. 6000 BCE to 4000 BCE in Europe, in West Asia and the Indus River Valley, and the replacement of Native Americans with Europeans in most of North America ca. 1500 CE to 1900 CE.

This is probably what happened in Madagascar in which a mixed Bornean and Bantu population almost totally replaced a marginal existing hunter-gather population when they arrived ca. 500 CE.

Near total replacement is typically what happens when the incoming colonists are completely technologically superior to the current inhabitants, who may also be at a weak point due to disease or climate or some other reason, and have little or nothing in common with each other culturally at the outset.

Typically a farming and metal using society facing a terrestrial hunter-gather society will face this scenario in an area suitable for farming. 

Partial Replacement With A Nearly Complete Culture Shift

A variation on the replacement paradigm is one in which there is significant male and female migration to the territory, and a near complete cultural transition, but a much larger population genetic contribution is made to the resulting hybrid population by the current inhabitants.

An example of this includes the Yayoi conquest of Japan ca. 1000 BCE, which left very little trace of the Jomon language (surviving only as a small group of Ainu speakers who influenced the Japanese language very little) or culture, but left a modern Japanese population that has substantial genetic ancestry from the Jomon people.

This seems to be a good description of the process by which Austronesian migrants from Borneo incorporated Bantu people from East Africa before settling in Madagascar ca. 500 CE.

This probably best describes Indo-European expansion in Eastern and Central Europe and the Balkans.

The circumstances for this are similar to those for near total replacement, but in this case the current inhabitants are not so overwhelmingly overshadowed in technology or "staying power". This could be the case when a metal using farming society encounters a non-metal using (or much less advanced metal using) farming or sedentary fishing village society.

Partial Replacement With Incomplete Culture Shift

A third variation on the replacement paradigm involves an incoming people who settle in a more or less gender balanced way in a new area, but neither completely replace the existing inhabitants, nor complete replace the existing language and culture, but are also not absorbed culturally into the current population.

An example of this would be the Swedish migration into Finland, ca. 1150 CE, resulting in a dual Swedish-Finnish linguistic environment, and a significant population with Swedish ancestry and culture, without replacing the existing population.

Other examples would include the Norman Conquest of England ca. 1066 CE, English migration to and rule of Northern Ireland, starting ca. 1169 CE, and the Jewish migration to Israel commencing in the late 19th century, and the formation of a state there in 1948 CE. The Jewish migration is particularly notable as it involved an extreme rare resurrection of the Hebrew language which had previously been used only for liturgical purposes.

The Turkish conquest of Anatolia ca. 11th-12th century CE, seems to be an example of this based upon the modern population genetic makeup of Turkey which does not show a particularly strong male bias in the Central Asian contribution to its genetics.

This probably best describes Indo-European expansion into Anatolia, Iran and South Asia. It also probably best describes Semitic migration from the Levant into Mesopotamia giving rise to a language shift from the Sumerian language to the Akkadian language.

Bantu impact on Pygmy communities, despite involving a complete language shift, ca. 1000 BCE, are probably best characterized in this manner, because aspects of Pygmy culture other than language survived and African Pygmies retain significant Pygmy genetic components and some Pygmy language substrate words in their current Bantu language.

The circumstances for this involving a technologically or militarily superior group entering an area which is either only modestly less advanced technologically, or is better adapted to the local environment which is not ideal for the domesticates or technologies of the invaders.

Partial Replacement Producing A Hybrid Language and Culture

Superficially, partial replacement producing a hybrid culture looks similar to partial replacement with incomplete culture shift, but the difference is that rather than resulting in two or more co-existing cultures that are each distinct, there is a melting pot effect that gives rise to a new language and new culture that cannot be fairly described as a mere dialect of one of the languages or variant on one of the cultures, because both contributing peoples make significant contributions to the resulting language and culture in a process of balanced ethnogenesis.

This is much more rare, and requires both contributing cultures to be more or less equal in socio-economic status in this territory.  See this discussion of mixed languages that are not creoles, citing languages such as Media Lengua, Mednyj Aleut or Michif, as examples of cultures of this type.

Usually it happens at the frontiers of an expanding culture where the incoming culture has moved out of the range of conditions where it has a decisive advantage, and is a short lived transitional culture that dies as the expanding culture adapts to the new conditions at the frontier and asserts its dominance.

Mass Immigration With Assimilation

Yet another variation on the continuum of replacement paradigm involves a significant mass migration of people from one territory into another territory, usually in a more or less gender balanced way into the new territory, with only modest cultural impact on the new territory, as the immigrants heavily assimilate into the culture of the new territory.

Examples of this would include mass importation of slaves to North America ca. 16th to 19th centuries CE, and mass migration to the United States after English colonial migration has largely ended, in the late 19th century and early 20th century CE mostly from Europe and to a lesser extent East Asia, and in the late 20th century, mostly from Latin America.

There are examples of this that involve male dominated migrants who migrate a foreign workers and assimilate and take local wives, and that involve female dominated migrants who often immigrate to become wives (e.g. Chinese women migrating to early Japan), as well as gender balanced mass immigration with assimilation.

This usually happens when the current inhabitants are technologically advanced for their time and economically prosperous and the people who are migrating to the area are, at least for the moment, experiencing bad economic times, even if their society as a whole is not at a particular technological or military disadvantage. Often the migrants come under economic or physical duress.

Male Dominated Conquest

A third common pattern is for a male dominated group, often of fairly closely paternally related men, to assume leading roles in a new society in which they marry and have children with local women, men carrying their Y-DNA come to make up a substantial share of all men in the hybrid population that results, and their culture (and often language) comes to have a profound and leading impact on their new hybrid population.

Examples of this include Chadic ethnogenesis ca. 5600 BCE, Berber expansion in North Africa ca. 3700 BCE, the Munda expansion into South Asia ca. 3000 BCE to 2500 BCE, Bell Beaker expansion in Europe in the earlier part of a period from ca. 2900 BCE to 1300 BCE, Indo-Aryan migration into South Asia starting ca. 1900 BCE, and Southeast European colonization of Latin America starting in 1492 CE.

Melanesian men conquered Taiwanese aboriginal descended Lapita people in Tonga and Vanuatu before they expanded further into Oceania probably ca. 500 CE, and definitely after 300 BCE. 

The Books of Numbers and Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible describe multiple instances of this kind of conquest by the Jews in the Iron Age Levant (ca. 1200 BCE), with the caveat that the invaders may have had a significant number of women, even though the men of the conquered people were slaughtered while the women and children were assimilated in subordinate rules into Jewish civilization.

Some parts of Bantu expansion in Africa, ca. 1000 BCE to 500 CE, appear to have had this character, for example, in Southeast Africa. But, other parts of Bantu expansion in Africa involved partial replacement with nearly complete culture shift, or total replacement.

The initial proto-Bell Beaker migration to Iberia ca. 2900 BCE, was probably of this character, although the subsequent Bell Beaker expansion from Iberia to Morocco, Western Europe, Central Europe and Northern Europe over the next several centuries was probably a partial replacement with either a nearly complete or incomplete cultural shift.

Male dominated conquest can often lead to a hybrid culture if the conquered population rather than total replacement of the existing culture, although the extent of cultural replacement as opposed to hybridization varies with the staying power, demographic proportion, and socioeconomic parity of the incoming and current populations respectively in the new territory. The Chadic, Bell Beaker, Hindu and Latin American cultures all seem to have this hybrid character.

This usually happens when the current inhabitants are in a major state of decline, often due to a major climate event, and the conquering group is itself in disarray or hard times (which is why a band of men is roaming around for someplace new to live) but has technologies or cultural adaptations better suits to the changing conditions in climate or social organization (or, for example, because the newcomers better understand how to exploit resources newly discovered in the territory than the current inhabitants do) in light of the circumstances that the current inhabitants are struggling with themselves.

There is suggestive, but hardly definitive evidence that the Indo-European language family came into being in a context that involved men from one culture and women from another in a European steppe community ca. 4000 BCE.

I am not aware of any historical cases of female dominated conquest, by analogy to this pattern. There are a few historical candidates for matriarchal societies, none definitively confirmed to have existed or to have conquered other countries, but, even those cases would not be a match to the historically not uncommon pattern of a group of men conquering a territory, becoming dominant in the society conquered, and taking local women as wives.

Conquest With Minimal Genetic Impact But Great Cultural Impact

A fourth pattern, which is less common but is seen, involves a small group of outsiders who come to rule a territory, and have a very significant cultural and/or linguistic impact, but make only a slight population genetic contribution to the community and do not entirely eliminate all aspects of the pre-existing culture. Sometimes this is accomplished with a foreign ruler, sometime with missionaries, and sometimes, although less often, through trade relations.

Examples of this include the Magyar rule of Hungary starting ca. 900 CE[1] and British rule in India from ca. 18th century CE to 1948 CE. Most of the European colonies in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia in the 19th and 20th centuries fit this pattern. In particular, this applies to British rule of Ireland outside Northern Ireland from ca. 1169 CE to 1923 CE.

The circumstances in which this occurs are similar to those of male dominated conquest, but with less of a disparity in technology or adaptation to current conditions, although still enough to rule, and often with a smaller original pool of single male migrants.

Conquest With Only Modest Genetic and Only Modest Lasting Cultural Impact

There are times when outsider rule a territory for a significant period of time, but have only modest population genetic or cultural impact.

Examples of this include Roman conquest of the Eastern Roman Empire, which retained the Greek language and strong influences of the Greek culture ca. 168 BCE, Moorish rule of Spain ca. 8th century CE to 1492 CE, and most of the Mongolian Empire ca. 1206 CE to 1368 CE.

This is typical of instances when the conquerers are militarily superior but not technologically superior.

UPDATE December 12, 2016:

[1] One reason that the original Hungarians may have seemed to have minimal genetic impact on Hungarians is that early ancient mtDNA profiles of them contained significant misclassifications of their mtDNA haplogroups revealed in later higher resolution ancient mtDNA profiles of the same individuals. 

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