News FocusArchaeology

Spreading the Word, Scattering the Seeds

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Science  02 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5544, pp. 988-989
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5544.988

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According to the "farming-language dispersal hypothesis," throngs of farmers, armed with seeds, genes, and language, swept across the land beginning 100 centuries ago, pushing aside indigenous hunter-gatherers. But many scholars were suspicious of the grand aspirations of the farming-language hypothesis and of its archaeologist proponents, who they say tend to ignore unfavorable linguistic data. Now at a recent conference here, new studies presented from India and Southeast Asia further threatened the hypothesis, weakening the case for cereal crops as engines of linguistic dispersal.