Indigenous Australians most ancient civilisation on Earth, DNA study confirms

Indigenous Australians most ancient civilisation on Earth, DNA study confirms

Clues left in genes of modern populations in Australian and Papua New Guinea enable scientists to trace remarkable journey made by first human explorers

A new population analysis of Indigenous Australians and Papuans shows they can trace their origins back to the very first arrivals on the continent about 50,000 years ago.

A new population analysis of Indigenous Australians and Papuans shows they can trace their origins back to the very first arrivals on the continent about 50,000 years ago. Photograph: Matt Turner/Getty Images

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent

@hannahdev

Claims that Indigenous Australians are the most ancient continuous civilisation on Earth have been backed by the first extensive study of their DNA, which dates their origins to more than 50,000 years ago.

Scientists were able to trace the remarkable journey made by intrepid ancient humans by sifting through clues left in the DNA of modern populations in Australia and Papua New Guinea. The analysis shows that their ancestors were probably the first humans to cross an ocean, and reveals evidence of prehistoric liaisons with an unknown hominin cousin.


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Prof Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary geneticist who led the work at the University of Copenhagen, said: “This story has been missing for a long time in science. Now we know their relatives are the guys who were the first real human explorers. Our ancestors were sitting being kind of scared of the world while they set out on this exceptional journey across Asia and across the sea.”

The findings appear in one of four major human origins papers published in Nature this week, which together give an unprecedented insight into how humans first migrated out of the African continent, splintered into distinct populations and spread across the globe.

Willerslev’s findings, based on a new population analysis of 83 Indigenous Australians and 25 Papuans, shows that these groups can trace their origins back to the very first arrivals on the continent about 50,000 years ago and that they remained almost entirely isolated until around 4,000 years ago. “They are probably the oldest group in the world that you can link to one particular place,” said Willerslev.

En route to Australia, early humans would have encountered a motley assortment of other roving hominin species, including an unknown human relative who has now been shown to have contributed around 4% to the Indigenous Australian genome. Previously, scientists have discovered that prehistoric couplings have left all non-Africans today carrying 1-6% of Neanderthal DNA.

Willerslev said the latest findings added to the view that Neanderthals and other now extinct hominins, traditionally portrayed as low-browed prehistoric thugs, were “in reality not particularly different” from our own ancestors.

Adding to this picture, a second study found that the advent of modern human behaviours around 100,000 years ago, indicated by cave art and more sophisticated tools, does not appear to have been accompanied by any notable genetic mutations.

“Your genome contains the history of every ancestor you ever had,” said Swapan Mallick, a geneticist at Havard Medical School who led the analysis of the genomes of people from 142 distinct populations.

The study also suggests that the KhoeSan (bushmen) and Mbuti (central African pygmies) populations appear to have split off from other early humans sooner than this, again suggesting that there was no intrinsic biological change that suddenly triggered human culture.

“There is no evidence for a magic mutation that made us human,” said Willerslev.

Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, said the findings would be controversial in the field, adding: “It either means that the behaviours were developed earlier, they developed these behaviours independently, they acquired them through exchanges of ideas with other groups, or the estimated split times are too old.

Willerslev’s study also resolves the apparent discrepancy between genetic findings implying that Indigenous populations have been in Australia for tens of thousands of years and the fact that the languages spoken by these populations are only around 4,000 years old. “You see a movement of people spreading across the continent and leaving signatures across the continent,” said Willerslev. “That is the time that this new language has spread. It’s a tiny genetic signature. It’s almost like two guys entering a village and saying ‘guys, now we have to speak another language and use another stone tool and they have a little bit of sex in that village and then they disappear again.”

Aubrey Lynch, an Indigenous elder from the Goldfields area, said: “This study confirms our beliefs that we have ancient connections to our lands and have been here far longer than anyone else.”

Full Speach of Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif at UNGA

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His Excellency Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif,
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,
at the General Debate of the 71st Session
of the UN General Assembly
21 September 2016

Mr. President,
Excellences,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

We congratulate Mr. Peter Thomson on his election as President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly. We agree that implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda should be the focus of this Session.

We also pay tribute to Mr. Mogens Lykketoft for his capable stewardship of the 70th Session.

Mr. President,

Today, three decades after the end of the Cold War, our multipolar world is more free and vibrant, yet still chaotic and turbulent; more interdependent, but more unequal; more prosperous, yet still afflicted with poverty.

We see spectacular progress, but also unprecedented human suffering.

The world is at a historic inflection point.

The international order established after the Second World War is passing away, but a new order has yet to emerge.

Continue reading

Pak Army organized Independence Day in Kalash valley

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Kalasha Desh 14 August, independence day celebrated with national zeal. The mega event ‘Happy Independence Day’’ and the 70th birthday of the country was organized by Pak Army in collaboration with local residences.

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Mr.Wazir Zada receiving shield from Pak Army. 

People were seen very emotional on the 70th birthday, Kalasha valleys a home to unique culture, people and landscape always remained attractions for many.

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Elders were seen very happy on the occasion

School children presented speeches, drama on Martyred of Army Public School, APS Peshawar. They also presented national songs and speech in different languages such Kalashamondr, Khowar, Tstromamondr (Nuristani), English and Urdu.

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Kalasha students presenting national song on Urdu and Kalashamondr

They students highlighted potentials, and sacrifices of people for the cause of Pakistan. In their speeches they urged youth to play their role for better Pakistan.

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On the precious occasion large number of local people were gathered at a school to pay tribute to the heroes of Pakistan.

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The open air function was echoing with ‘long live Pakistan’, children, woman and students along security forces all together celebrated the independence and offered pray for peaceful and prosperous Pakistan.

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Mr. Wazir Zada speaking on the occasion highlighted the values and importance of peace in the region, he appreciated the cooperation of local residence to sustain Kalasha culture throughout the long journey.

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Number of people spoke on the occasion including Mr. Zahid Alam, Mr. Ayub Khan and Ms. Shahi Gul.

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Strengthening languages in the Hindukush Region

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Islamabad 12 August 2016: A five days Collaborative Language Research Workshop held at Forum for Language Initiative, FLI Islamabad. Explaining the goal of the workshop Professor Dr. Henrik Liljegren said that ‘’the goal is to produce a linguistic profile of the languages of the Hindukush Region, an area comprising the mountainous north-eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and the northern-most part of Kashmir. The region is characterized by linguistic diversity (ab. 50 languages, incl. Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Nuristani, Tibeto-Burman, Turkic and the isolate Burushaski) and a high level of multilingualism’’.

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Dr. Henrik said that ‘’we have already organized five days similar workshop for thirteen languages last year and it is continuation of the same project to get more details of the languages spoken in aforesaid Region’’.

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FLI is a place for training and resource centre working to enable the language communities of northern Pakistan to preserve and promote their mother tongues.

The language of the Kalasha is a sub-branch of the Indo-Aryan group, itself part of the larger Indo-European family. It is classified as a member of the Chitral sub-group, the only other member of that group being Khowar.

Norwegian Linguist Georg Morgenstierne believes that in spite of similarities, Kalasha is an independent language in its own right.

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Apart from research per se, Dr.Henrik Liljegren is engaged in revitalization efforts (orthography and local literature development, mother-tongue literacy, etc.), mentoring language activists from various communities to collect and organize data, and in building networks between local communities and organizations

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The following language community were part of the five days’ workshop and contributed to collaborative research Dr. Muhammad Kamal Khan (Pashto), Dr. Khawaja Rehman (Kashmiri), Ms. Uzma Anjum (pothwari), Mr. Luke Rehmat (Kalashamondr), Mr. Raja Hasrat (Hinko), Mr. Shahid Rehman (Gojri), Dr. Muhammad Nawaz (Hinko) and Mr. Ghulam (Kundashahi).

On the conclusion day Mr. Fakhruddin Akhunzada emphasis on linguistic community to come forward to play their role. He said that ‘’you’re the people who understands the importance of mother tongue education and value of language and culture diversity, and you need to take lead role to preserve the small languages from extinction’’

The participants appreciated efforts of FLI and Dr. Henrik to bring them together for the wonderful initiative. They asked concerns to organized more such training workshops.

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Dr. Kamal invited Professor Henrik to Shahid Benazir Butto University to organize such informative workshop in his campus to reach more students and mobilize their energy for the preservation of minor languages in the Hindukush Region.

Shocking Images of Terrorist Gun downed by Security Forces in Kalasha valley

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Image released of terrorist killed by Pak Army on Tuesday night at Ghonabata Mumuret

Kalasha Desh 03 August. Security forces taken ‪#‎revenged‬ and provided some relief to the mourning families. Five‪ #‎Afghan‬ militants were killed in security forces operation at ‪#‎Ghonabata ‬(Shawal pass) Tuesday night.

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Weapons recovered from the terrorist on Tuesday night.

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Terrorist killed by Pak Army, long beared militants were killed after long exchanges of firing between security forces and terrorist on Tuesday night at #Ghonabata Mumuret. According to sources Pak Army responded to intelligence report of terrorist entering to Pak territory from Afghan side through Shawal pass. 

The security forces immediately responded and successfully killed five out of ten terrorist and there is report about minor injuries of army personal during the operation.

During the recent visit of General Officer Commanding, GoC, Maj. General Asif Gafoor and his meeting with Muslim and Kalasha community, he assured both communities to take serious action against the culprits and ordered Pak Army to tackle terrorist with full force and finally Army in action and killed five terrorist  on Tuesday night. 

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On Wednesday morning commandant Chitral scouts Col. Nizam Udin Shah met with local residents and shared the news that we had revenged the murder of shepherds and killed five terrorist. The residents of both communities shared their gratitude to Pak Army, Chitral Scouts, Police and Levis for their timely response to ensured peace in the region and given clear message to militants across the border.

Meanwhile sources had conformed that the dead bodies have been transferred to District Head Quarter Hospital Chitral for post-mortem.

A valley in mourning: Kalash tribe fears for survival after recent attacks

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CHITRAL: Still reeling from the brutal slaying of two of its people, the Kalash tribe, known to keep to itself, has urged the government step up to the plate and ensure the security of its people.

Apart from an emotional toll, the farmers have also taken an economic blow as hundreds of their livestock were stolen allegedly by militants from across the border in Afghanistan.

“The only livelihood and source of income we have is through agriculture and our livestock,” said Baaghi Gul, the sister-in-law of slain farmer Noor Ahmed. “If that too is taken away, what are we left with?” she questioned.

Her brother was among the two men slaughtered in Charagah, Bahbaret in Upper Chitral.

Ahmed’s nephew, an eyewitness, said he would also have been killed too had he not managed to escape from a hole created by water flowing through a glacier.

Talking about that brutal incident, the 16-year-old boy told The Express Tribune he and his uncles were sleeping near the animals. He added Ahmed woke up at around 5am to milk the goats when the attack took place. Ahmed called out to him, telling the boy not to come any closer as there was danger.

The teenager recalled he and his other uncle grabbed their lone pistol and ventured out, only to see Ahmed getting cut down by machinegun fire. When the assailants turned their attention to the boy, he managed to narrowly escape with his life.

The victim’s house, in mourning over the death caused by Friday morning’s attack, had an old man sitting inside—Ahmed’s father. The man was beside himself and found it difficult to overcome the grief caused by his son’s murder.

In a corner of the room of the house sat Ahmed’s wife, draped in a black chador as is customary for a Kalash widows. She has to remain in this state for seven days after the death and cannot attend any ceremony for five months. Besides her, Ahmed is survived by nine children. Three days before the attack, locals said they had seen suspicious people in the area.

This is the second such incident being mourned by the family in just a few years. Around two years ago, Ahmed’s cousin’s son was also killed and at least 500 of his goats were taken away.

Residents of the Kalash valleys believed it was just the people of their community being targeted, adding the livestock of Muslims was also present in the area.

It is not just the locals who are targeted, but also those working for their well-being. Athanassios Lerounis, a Greek volunteer, was working in the valleys a few years ago. He had, among other things, constructed a school, a museum and a place for Kalash women to wash their clothes and perform other chores. However, he was abducted in 2010. After much effort and negotiations, he was released in 2011 and later left Chitral due to the obvious threat to his security.

Another foreigner, a Spaniard called Jordi, was also killed, said a minority councillor in the valleys. She said Jiordi had been living in the valleys for some time before he was killed in 2002. A boy from Birir, living with him as a helper, was also slain. Under such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the Kalash community fears for its safety and ultimate survival.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2016.

Security forces kill 5 militants in Kalash shootout

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KALASHA DESH: (Online)  Five militants were killed on Wednesday in a shootout with security forces in Chitral’s Kalash valley at Ghonabata high pasture, sources said.

According to sources, militants opened fire on security forces in Chitral’s Astoi area, upon which the security forces retaliated to thwart the onslaught.  

The dead bodies of the slain militants were shifted to Bamburet hospital, sources added.

On Sunday, militants had opened fire on local shepherds which had killed two shepherds in the same area.

The sources had said that two Kalash shepherds were grazing sheep in Ghari, when they were attacked by a group of 30 militants who crossed over to Pakistan from Nuristan province of Afghanistan.

The shepherds reportedly had opened fire on the militants and the exchange of firing took place for a long time. However, the shepherds had run out of ammunition and were overpowered by the militants.

Militants had taken more than 400 goats with them. Villagers had found the throat-cut bodies of the shepherds near the border area. The sources had said the militants were heavily armed. The police and personnel of the Chitral Levies and other law-enforcement agencies had rushed to the area after the incident.

In wake of the Sunday’s incident, a former Member National Assembly (MNA) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leader Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali had asked the government to ensure border security to avoid similar incidents.

He had asked the government to recruit at least 300 more border police personnel, particularly from the Kalash tribe, for deployment along the border with Afghanistan to secure the borders and protect the Kalash people.