Institute of Archaeology


Out of Africa, Into Asia

This research network is investigating the adaptations and archaeological signature of anatomically modern humans that left Africa and arrived in India, from where their descendents moved on to East and South East Asia.

In terms of archaeological fieldwork, this has involved new excavations and sampling programmes on the Late Pleistocene of Southern India (especially Kurnool District) and central India (especially the Son Valley of Madhya Pradesh). Sampling has included some palaeoecological work, especially on phytoliths on which Dorian Fuller has acted as an adviser to the primary Indian laboratory.

In addition, this research has raised new hypotheses about the timing of dispersal out of Africa being earlier than often assumed. The project has undertaken to provide an explicit set of hypotheses for this dispersal including an interregional reconstruction of vegetation patterns from East Africa through Southeast Asia for key climate periods (Oxygen Isotope Stages 5, 4 and 3).

Dorian Fuller has played a key part in inferring vegetation patterns in India and adjacent regions from the available direct evidence (pollen cores and palaeoclimatic proxies) and indirect evidence (species disjunctions), with important implications for how hunter-gatherers would have been able to subsist, or not, in these vegetation zones.

This project is interlinked with the Pleistocene Hunter-Gatherer subsistence in Sri Lanka project.

Related outputs

  • Petraglia, Michael, C. Clarkson, N. Boivin, M. Haslam, R. Korisettar, G. Chaubey, P. Ditchfield, DQ. Fuller, H. James, S. Jones, T. Kivisild, J. Koshy, M. M. Lahr, M. Metspalu, R. Roberts, L. Arnold (2009a). Population increase and environmental deterioration correspond with microlithic innovations in South Asia ca. 35,000 years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 106 (30): 12261-12266.
  • Petraglia M, Korisettar R, Kasturi Bai M, Boivin N, B J, Clarkson C, Cunningham K, Ditchfield P, Fuller DQ, Hampson J, Haslam M, Jones S, Koshy J, Miracle P, Oppenheimer C, Roberts R, White K. (2009b). Human occupation, adaptation and behavioral change in the Pleistocene and Holocene of South India: Recent investigations in the Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh. Eurasian Prehistory 6:119-166.
  • Clarkson, Chris, M. Petraglia, R. Korisettar, M. Haslam, N. Boivin, A. Crowther, P. Ditchfield, DQ. Fuller, P. Miracle, C. Harris, K. Connell, H. James, & J. Koshy (2009c). The oldest and longest enduring microlithic sequence in India: 35000 years of modern human occupation and change at the Jwalapuram Locality 9 rockshelter. Antiquity 83: 326-348.
  • Petraglia, M. D., M. Haslam, DQ. Fuller, N. Boivin & C. Clarkson (2010). Out of Africa: new hypotheses and evidence for dispersal of Homo sapiens along the Indian Ocean rim. Annals of Human Biology 37 (3): 288-311.
  • Perera, N., N. Kourampos,  I. A. Simpson, S. U. Deraniyagala, D. Bulbeck, J. Lamminga, J. Perera, DQ Fuller, K. Szabo, N. V. Oliviera  (2011). People of the ancient rainforest: Late Pleistocene foragers at the Batadomba-lena rockshelter, Sri Lanka, Journal of Human Evolution 61, 254-269.


  • A major Leverhulme research grant to M. Petraglia (Oxford), “The Toba super-eruption and its impact on human populations and ecosystems” (2006-2009)
  • Australian Research Council grant (to C. Clarkson) “Assessing lithic evidence for the impact of the Toba Super-eruption (74,000 years ago) on long-term cultural, biological and ecological histories in the Indian subcontinent” (2008-2012)
  • British Academy International Partnership Grant, 2010-2012, to M. Haslam (Oxford)