The Bantu Expansion Traveled Across the Rain Forest
Four thousand years ago, early Bantu speakers traversed the deep Central African Rain forest.
The Bantu Expansion altered the linguistic, economic, and cultural makeup of sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, the Bantu family of languages is spoken by more than 240 million people today. It is widely believed that the progenitors of today's Bantu speakers resided in an area near the present-day borders of Nigeria and Cameroon between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago.
But until recently, it was unknown how and when they managed to make their southerly migration through or past the dense Central African Rain forest to establish in their current places, which make up nearly half of the African continent. A new study in PNAS1 reconstructed the historical migration pathways using cutting-edge computational techniques and linguistic data from more than 400 Bantu languages. Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, worked together on the project.