A 7,300-year-old civilization has been identified on Pingtan Island, along the coast of Fujian province in southeastern China, by Chinese archaeologists. Based on this discovery, South China Morning Post reported, the island may have been the origin of one of the greatest maritime migrations in human history.
In November, experts identified that Pingtan Island was home to Austronesian people roughly 3,000 to 7,500 years ago. They also discovered evidence that the inhabitants developed into a complex society between 5,000 and 6,500 years ago with residential homes, as well as buildings for handicrafts, waste removal, and food processing. There, they additionally found remains of the earliest-known rice cultivation.
On another part of the island, archaeologists discovered remnants of communal spaces dating from 3,000 to 4,200 years ago. Through a genetic testing on human remains uncovered, they discovered a match to Austronesian people.
Austronesians were a large ethnic group that started in Taiwan and spread as far as present-day Chile’s Easter Island. The early tribes that once covered most of Southeast Asia, Micronesia, Polynesia, New Zealand, and the US state Hawaii, today has an estimated 400 million descendants.
Until now it has been widely believed that Austronesians originated in present-day Taiwan and started migrating over the last 5,000 years due to population growth. The findings on Pingtan, however, suggest that these origins could be geographically larger than Taiwan and, perhaps, could also include mainland China.