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Madagascar and Africa, Austronesian migration

Migration A–Z


  1. Philippe Beaujard

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm349

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Beaujard, P. 2013. Madagascar and Africa, Austronesian migration. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


No large movements of Austronesians similar to that of the Lapita culture expansion in the Pacific are to be found in the Indian Ocean. However, Austronesian migrations towards the western Indian Ocean did occur in ancient periods. The discovery of phytoliths of Musa (plantains of genome AAB. A is for Musa acuminata Colla, B for Musa balbisiana Colla, the main two species at the origin of the domesticated banana cultivars) in Cameroon dated c.500/400 bce (Mbida et al. 2001) constitutes evidence for the arrival of Austronesians on the East African coast probably at the beginning of the 1st millennium bce, where they may have also introduced the taro and the water yam (Blench 2009). Moreover, the East African highlands are a place of great genetic diversity for triploids AAA, the genome of which derives from a source between Java and New-Guinea (Perrier et al. 2009). The East African coast also reveals a large variety of cultivars that were probably introduced more recently (AA, AAA, AB, AAB, ABB), partly in the first millennium of the Christian era (ce). The presence of a wild diploid (AA) banana on Pemba Island provides another clue of an early Austronesian presence, although it is impossible to date its arrival (a wild banana of insular Southeast Asian origin has also been found in northeast Madagascar).


  • cultural diversity;
  • cross-cultural;
  • race;
  • archaeology;
  • linguistics;
  • globalization