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Title: Earliest Musa banana from the late Quaternary sequence at Fahien Rock Shelter in Sri Lanka
Authors: Premathilake, R.
Hunt, C.O.
Keywords: bananas
maritime interaction
Sri Lanka
Issue Date: 2018
Citation: Premathilake,R and Hunt,C. O. 2018. Earliest Musa banana from the late Quaternary sequence at Fahien Rock Shelter in Sri Lanka. JOURNAL OF QUATERNARY SCIENCE (2018) ISSN 0267-8179. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.3041
Abstract: The domestication and time of arrival of bananas in South Asia and Africa are unresolved issues. We provide banana seed and leaf phytolith evidence from the archaeological sequence at Fahien Rock Shelter, south-west Sri Lanka, to help understand the geographical con®guration of hybridization, dispersal, cultural association and chronology of banana domestication. Phytolith evidence indicates that Musa accuminata subspecies and M. balbisiana existed in the south-western lowland rainforest of Sri Lanka from 44952±47854 to 3845±3985 cal a BP. Rock Shelter occupants exploited those taxa for starchy food. Edible diploid bananas may have been introduced from Indonesia or Papua New Guinea before 5994±6194 cal a BP. From this time onwards, phytoliths morphologically identical to those from triploid banana cultivars appeared in the lowland rainforest of Sri Lanka. This precocity appears unique to Sri Lanka. Dispersal of these triploids to the east coast of Africa may have followed maritime trade networks in the Indian Ocean from the ®rst half of the sixth millennium BP. Northward dispersal, e.g. to urban Harappan sites, occurred in the middle of the ®fth millennium BP. This discovery shows the interconnection of prehistoric cultures and their engagement with the management of starchy staples in the lowland rainforests of Sri Lanka. Copyright # 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISSN: 0267-8179
Appears in Collections:Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology (PGIAR)

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