ancient civilization found off china coast one of the greatest maritime migrations in human history

Chinese archaeologists uncovered a 7,500-year-old civilization on Pingtan Island off the coast of Fujian province in southeastern China that suggests the island could have been an original source of what some scientists consider the greatest maritime migration in human history, according to ARTnews.

In late November, experts discovered that Pingtan Island was home to Austronesian people, also called Malayo-Polynesian, around 3,000 to 7,500 years ago.

Through genetic testing on human remains that were uncovered, archaeologists discovered a match for the Austronesian people.

Austronesians were a large ethnic group that lived across a massive geographical area, originating in Taiwan and reached as far as Easter Island in Chile. The population covered most of Southeast Asia, Micronesia, Polynesia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. 

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Tourists visit a scenic area on Pingtan Island, one of mainland China’s closest points to Taiwan, in Fujian province. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images/File)

It’s estimated around 400 million people are considered to be descendants of the early Austronesian tribes.

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.

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Pingtan Island of coast of Fujian province in southeastern China

Tourists visit a scenic area on Pingtan Island, one of mainland China’s closest point from Taiwan, in Fujian province. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images/File)

However, these new discoveries by the archaeologists suggest that these origins could be geographically larger than Taiwan and could even include mainland China.

Experts added that they also discovered evidence that the occupants developed into a complex society between 5,000 and 6,500 years ago with residential homes, as well as buildings, waste removal, and food processing.

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“For the first time, we established a complete lineage of cultures along the western shore of the Taiwan Strait within that time span,” Zhou Zhenyu, a researcher with the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily News. 

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