Table of Contents
Why are the Andamanese Negrito of more than local interest?
Are the terms "Negrito" and "Pygmies" acceptable?
What about in-breeding in isolated populations?
Are the Andamanese cannibals?
What does "population X may be related to population
Can the Nicobar islands be visited?
Were the Nicobar islands hard hit by the Tsunami of 2004?
Are there other people apart from the Nicobarese living on the Nicobar islands?
Who are the people running the Association and its Web-site?
How can you contact us?
What is the Andaman Association interested in, besides
the obvious Andamanese Negrito?
Can you archive relevant materials with the Andaman Association?
Why do we (usually) leave out references/citations in the texts on our Web-site?
Can you submit texts/pictures for publication on our Web-site?
How and in what form can you submit texts/pictures, and what about copyright and other legal questions?
Can I film or photograph the Andamanese Negrito?
Tourist Sights related to the Andamanese Negrito
Travel, Tickets, Visas, Hotels, Guides
The Andamanese Negrito
Why are the Andamanese Negrito of more than local interest?
If an island of ice-age hunters was discovered in the Atlantic today, the press and scientists would trample each other to death in their eagerness get there. There would be scientific controversy and uproar all round. The Andamanese present just such a case - and until recently few people had even heard of them.
The Andamanese are very ancient pygmy people living (until very recently and in some numbers still today) a palaeolithic hunting-gathering life, just as the ancestors of us all did until the end of the ice age, around 10,000 years ago. With new genetic discoveries (see Chapter 6), it has become increasingly likely that the Negrito and some rpopulations related to them (e.g. the Vedda, possibly the Dravidians, and others) do indeed represent the oldest anatomically modern Homo sapiens in Asia. They are also, possibly, among the ancestors of some Oceanic people and of the Australian aborigines. Yet until the recent upsurge in scientific interest and an Indian Supreme Court Ruling (see Appendix N) regarding them, they have not received the scientific attention that they would have deserved. The search for literature on the subject will lead you into some long-forgotten corners of your library and chances are that you will find little besides clouds of dust. Only after the year 2000 has there been an upsurge in interested and new publications.
There is a sad multitude of little-known primitive tribes on the verge of extinction in today's world. There are several hundred in India alone. Why pick out the tiny (in physical stature as well as in numbers) Andamanese? Chapter 1 will give you a first introduction at some of the present situation in the Andamans. Later chapters will add more while the Appendices give a lot of details and source material. The Andamanese are so completely out of the ordinary that not the least of the mysteries surrounding them is why so little research has been done on the subject and why they are so little known even to specialists.
That the Indian authorities do not allow foreign scientists to work in the Andamans (while themselves doing very little work there of an acceptable standard and publishing even less) has not helped. Local mishandling of the Jarawa situation, the activities of SANE and like-minded others as well as the subsequent Supreme Court judgments have shaken up the situation and brought many overdue improvements. Not enough, though. Many more are needed, including the acceptance of a few visiting foreign scientists and a change of attitude among Indian scientists who (with a few notable exceptions) tend to regard the Andamans as a punishment posting to be brought behind them as quickly as possible.
That the Negrito are more than a subect for a few specialists and oddballs is shown by the following selection of quotations from major scientific figures:
Prof. L. Cavalli-Sforza, geneticist
in The History and Geography of Human Genes
Princeton University Press, 1994
"The most interesting aspect of the Andamanese is that they probably had the least admixture compared with other Negritos, and perhaps represent relics of the human bridge that may have existed 65 to 70000 years ago between Africa and Australia. The few genetic data available show remarkable genetic homogeneity for 11 red-cell and enzyme proteins... A complete genetic investigation of these groups with modern techniques is very important... The tendency to homogeneity is obviously a consequence of strong drift, but if very many genes are tested... the information collected may ... determine whether these populations represent a missing link between Africa and Australia."
Prof. Göran Burenhult, archaeologist, University of
in a private letter to George H.J. Weber of 7th September 1994
"I completely agree that the Andamans are a blind spot in the eyes of most prehistorians... I am myself very interested in, although quite ignorant of, the area (I am well aware that the archaeology of the Andaman islands is of the utmost importance to our understanding of how and when SEAsia was first settled by modern humans)..."
Dr. Peter Bellwood, prehistorian, Australian National
In: Prof. N. Tarling, The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia, vol. 1
Cambridge University Press, 1992
"The Negritos... are therefore the only SEAsian survivors of the original Austro-Melanesian continuum outside the eastern Indonesian clinal zone... The Negritos are thus of great significance in SEAsia."
Recent genetic discoveries (see our Chapter 6) have only confirmed these views.
Are the terms "Negrito" and "Pygmies" acceptable and justified?
The word is said to come from Spanish "Little Negro" and has been used for the past more than 300 years to denote the generally short-statured, peppercorn-haired, dark-skinned people found in small surviving pockets all over tropical Asia and perhaps beyond. For the Negritos themselves the term has no meaning since they know themselves only by their local tribal names and are not (yet) aware that they may belong to a people called "Negrito".
The term "Negrito" is regarded by some as a misnomer. The word could indeed suggest a recent African connection which does not exist. However, it is of long historical standing and there is no feasible alternative. "Black Asians" has been proposed but this would include the Negritos along with the Melanesians, Veddoid and some other Asian people, as well as giving undue importance to the minor genetic trait of skin colour and ignoring more profound cultural, genetic and other differences between these groups.
We think that until the Negritos themselves are aware of their situation and in a position to decide the matter for themselves, the term should not be changed. Non-Negritos should not arrogate to themselves the right to rename a people without their knowledge and consent.
Therefore we think that "Negrito" is a perfectly acceptable term as long as it is used without derogatory intent.
Some have objected to the term "pygmy" in connection with the Andamanese. The term is understood in anthropology as meaning a population whose average male height is below 150 cm (59 inches). We think the use of the term for most Andamanese groups to be justified since in the early 20th century (R.C. Temple, 1909) the average Great Andamanese male height was reported as 148.6 cm (58.5 inches). More recent Indian research (D.K. Chakraborty, 1990) has Andamanese male average heights of 152.5 (60 inches) which make them a "pygmoid" borderline case but still far from the average general human male height of 175 cm (69 inches). The Sentinelis do seem to be rather taller than the other Andamanese groups but an estimate (T.N. Pandit, 1990) of 183 cm (72 inches) seems excessive (the estimate was made from a distance, nobody has yet been able to walk up to a Sentineli male and measure him up). Other Negritos in the Philippines and Malaysia are "pygmoid" (i.e. slightly taller than 150 cm) but they have had centuries of contact with much taller neighbouring populations while the Andamanese until the late 18th century have had little or no interbreeding with outsiders.
Incidentally, Pygmy spelt with a capital 'P' is used for the specific African pygmies (in the Congo and Gabun), spelt with a small 'p' is refers to all people of small stature.
The classification by body height is not a very significant marker since average body heights of entire populations have proven to be highly variable in response to nutritional and other environmental influences. For example, young Swiss males drafted into the army increased in average size from just under 164 cm (64.5 inches) in 1887 to 176 cm (69.25 inches) in 1987 (Swiss Statistical Office).
Therefore we think that "Pygmy" is a perfectly acceptable term as long as it is used without derogatory intent (although in view of the growing height of many "pygmy" people perhaps soon an outdated one).
What about in-breeding in isolated populations?
This question is relevant to all Andamanese but today is specially relevant to the Sentineli. They are the world's longest-iolated people with their numbers estimated at anywhere between 50 and 500 people. We have no idea how long they have been on their little island nor do we know whether there was an exchange of people ("sources of new DNA" in this context) with other Andamanese before the British began to watch the islands more closely from the late 18th century onwards. North Sentinel island is so difficult to approach through stormy seas and dangerous coral reefs that more than very occasional outside visitors are most unlikely. Long-distance friendship or trade also was not at all the style of traditional Andamanese culture. Certainly for the past 200 years at least the Sentineli have been totally isolated.
Even if we take the higest estimate of 500, how do they manage without all sorts of inbreeeding problems? And manage they do! Observations from off-shore Indian boat throwing gift coconuts into the water for the Sentineli to pick up have revealed them to be an extremely healthy, alert, wide-awake and cheerful people. They just do not like visitors. Quite a number of children have also been observed on such occasions and their average body size seems to be so tall ("seems to" because nobody has yet been close enough to lay a measuring tape on a Sentineli or stand next to one for comparison) that "pygmy" is probably a mis-nomer in their case. They all seem extremely healthy indeed.
A geneticist has the following to say on the problem of in-breeding - and the matter turns out to be anything but simple:
For example, in Indian families where you have consanguineous marriages (first cousins) over many generations, as well as in the Amish, you do see elevated frequencies of the so-called recessive genetic disorders. We all carry a handfull of recesive disease genes, but we don't tend to marry our close relatives, so the chance of two such recessive genes coming together is generally quite small. For example, 1 in 20 Europeans (more or less) are carriers of cystic fibrosis: That means we have one healthy copy of a gene and one affected copy. We are perfectly healthy because we have the healthy copy. If we marry another "carrier", we have a 1 in 4 chance of having a non-carrier child, a 1 in 4 chance of having a sick child (two bad doses of the gene) and 2 in 4 (half) a chance of having a "carrier" child (a healthy child who can potentially pass on the disease). In Europeans, cystic fibrosis is the most abundant recesive disorder, and leads to one cystic fibrosis child in every two thousand births (a terrible situation in otherwise healthy Europeans expecting a normal life expectancy; usually affected children die early because their lungs don't work efficiently). Obviously, when you marry a close relative the chances of "bad" genes coming together a greater, so inbred populations have higher frequencies of rare disorders such as cystic fibrosis, albinism, six-fingers, or other conditions. But you are still only taking about one affected child in every hundred or thousand births.
If you put this in the general context of mortality in a typical hunter-gatherer population, I doubt whether you will affect significantly the health of the people over just 8 or 10 generations. However, the advantages of marrying your close relative are enormous in many societies. In endogamous societies in India, the woman is well cared for because she is a blood relative. Moreover, wealth stays in the family. People balance these social and economic benefits against the the small increase in the chance of their children having an inherited disease.
It is difficult to make specific predictions about the Sentinel because we don't know how large the original population was and what particularly recessive genes have survived the reduction in their population. This is a matter of chance. It would be interesting for medical geneticists to get their hands on them, but better for the Sentinel if they can stay where they are, happy and healthy. If they derive from a larger population, they have inherited lots of genetic diversity, probably enough to sustain them for a few hundred years. However, most human populations need to have a critical mass in order to survive: you need a regular input of new ideas and technology or you run the risk of going extinct sooner or later. On the other hand, genocide or infectious diseases can kill a society in a few years. So inbreeding, if it is going to protect your society in the short term, is probably a good strategy even if it carries a genetic load.
So you see, there is no simple answer. Human evolution is fascinating and nothing that you say is a simple question of medical genetics. On the other hand, it is well known that reduction in genetic diversity (for example in the Pacific) led to a reduction in immunity against certain infectious diseases, and in the increased prevalence of diseases such as diabetes. It is well known, that the Polynesians went through a very tough genetic bottleneck, possibly stricter than the Sentineli. But the numbers recovered after their initial bottleneck and they were able to settle the whole of the Pacific.
Among the 23 Onge that our Indian colleagues sequenced, only 6 mtDNA types were discovered. On the other hand, in my lab we sequenced 24 Samoans and we only got 4 mtDNA types. So there is even less diversity in the mtDNA of the Samoans than the Onge.
Are the Andamanese Negrito cannibals?
No, and there is no evidence whatsoever of them ever having been such.
The Andamanese used to bury their dead, or wrap up especially respected persons and place them on platforms until they had completely decomposed. Strangers (shipwrecked sailors or unwelcome guests from other Andamanese tribes) that could not escape were killed and their remains burned on the beach. Seen from a ship out to sea, this would have looked like a cannibal meal until the 18th century, and may explain the remarkable tenacity with which the story of Andamanese cannibalism survives (see grey box below for a modern example). That many tribes wore bones and skulls of their ancestors as protective talismans and as a sign of respect towards their ancestors, would also have looked like cannibalism to ignorant outsiders.
When the first outsiders managed to get close enough to the Andamanese and the two parties had learnt enough of each others' languages for a reasonable conversation (i.e. in the mid-19th century), the Andamanese were greatly insulted and agitated when they heard what their reputation in the outside world had been for centuries. They always furiously denied any form of cannibalism and still do.
The story of Andamanese cannibalism is still doing the rounds, even today. The following turned up in 2006 on the web-site of a sailing outfit in Phuket, Thailand. Obviously, an ol' sea dog is trying to rustle up new business by curdling clueless adventure-seekers' blood: "unbridled bloodlust" with "sunken treasure" and "totemic practices" thrown in - and all this "well-documented." Baloney, of course, but impressive baloney.
Here the full text for your delectation:
There is a small island off the West coast of Phuket that is part of the Andaman Islands archipelago. The indigenous inhabitants - primitive tribesmen - have been completely isolated from the development of modern civilisation. Descendants of the Negroid race, these shadowy islanders have fired the imagination of pirates and contemporary anthropologists. Participants in the recent 17-day Andaman Sea Rally which started off Kata Beach, were warned to navigate around one tiny island: North Sentinel Island and seek other anchorages instead. The Indian government (Indian sovereign waters) strictly prohibits visitation to North Sentinel Island. Rumours of a gold-laden Portuguese galleon languishing at the bottom of the sea bring tears to the eyes of crusty old sailors. Look into their eyes and you can see the glow of Saint Elmo's fire over a sinking vessel being swallowed by ol' briny.
And what keeps these buccaneers away from North Sentinel Island? Well not the Indian government. You may only lose your boating licence. It's another small matter. The local tribesmen enjoy many exotic delicacies provided by the bounty of the sea. A cornucopia of fruits on the island satiates their thirst for sweet nectars. However there is one insatiable appetite that the local tribesmen have that is an encumbrance on tourism: Cannibalism! Their unbridled blood lust for human flesh is well documented as is their totemic practice of devouring the brains of their hapless victims and triumphantly hoisting the hollowed-out head onto a trophy pole consisting of other painstakingly preserved hollow heads.
The cannibalism on North Sentinel Island is intertwined with magic, spirituality and highly ritualistic practices. While hunger motivated the Japanese soldiers to eat each other it is primitive ceremonial tradition that explains cannibalism in the Andaman Islands. While this explanation diminishes the mysticism associated with the rumours it is a more objective viewpoint. And one that I was content with until Harry, the tuna fisherman smiled when he finished telling story. When I shook his hand I noticed a large gold ring on his finger. The raised-gold carving was unmistakably a Spanish gold crown. I ordered another rum for Harry, this time on my account.
Can the Nicobar Islands be visited?
The Nicobar Islands are not open to visiting foreigners, whether scholars or tourists. Even Indian citizens need a special permit, which is granted only rarely. Most of the "permanent" non-Nicobari Indian population of the islands consists of labourers and their families who were sent there from India for specific construction or other projects - and then just stayed on illegally.
Since the tsunami of 26 Dec 2004 the limitations imposed have become even stricter. Only Indian officials, aid workers and a few researchers are permitted to visit the islands. The local population is busy with reconstruction work and survival.
Were the Nicobarese and their islands hard hit by the Tsunami?
The number of dead and missing in the Nicobar islands as a percentage of the total population through earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004 is by far the highest of all Tsunami-stricken areas. Because of the islands' remoteness (they are the most outlying and least accessible Indian territory), it also took longest for information on the situation to reach the world - and for aid to reach the islands.
Only Sumatra in Indonesia is geographically closer than the Nicobars to the epicenter of the 26 Dec 2004 earthquake. In Sumatra at certain points the tsunami waves reached more than 30 m in height. In the Nicobars the highest waves probably reached a maximum of around 15 m. However, unlike huge and mountainous Sumatra, the small Nicobar islands are relatively low-lying sandy specks of land. They are islands on which waves of "only" a few meters can penetrate far inland and larger ones even wash over an entire island.
For more information see Tsunami maps, charts and statistics.
Are there other people apart from the Nicobarese living in the islands?
Quite a few do (see Nicobar Statistics). Most non-Nicobarese are mainland Indians who came to the islands on construction work or for other official reasons - and then just stayed on. This may not be legal but it does not seem to disturb anyone. >However, the majority of the population is of Nicobarese descent.
There is, however, a tiny and enigmatic population, the Shompen whose origin is unknown and who may have lived in the islands before the ancestors of the present Nicobarese arrived. Very little is known about them for certain and even their language has recently been re-classified as a "language isolate" (i.e. not known to be related to any other known language), this after it had been thought to be a Nicobarese dialect!
The Andaman Association
Who are the People running the Association and its Web-site?
See the Andaman Association people
Can you contact us?
If you are a member of our Association: of course you can. If you are not but feel optimistic: you can always try. For contact addresses see Contact.
Your contact will be successful if if you are a member, want to send us a donation, become a paid-up member or supply exceptional information. If none of this applies to you, then we must tell you that your future with us is almost certainly behind you.
How do you become a Member?
Contact us by E-mail or by snail mail and we'll talk with you about it. For contact addresses etc see Contact
What Subjects is the Andaman Association interested in?
See the many subjects we are interested in
Can you archive relevant materials with the Andaman Association?
Yes - but contact us by E-mail or letter first se we can talk about it. If the material is bulky, it will probably be better to hand it to a museum since our storage space is limited. We are most interested in historical documents of all kinds, maps, drawings, writings, photographs and suchlike.
Why does the Andaman Association (usually) leave out references/citations in the texts on our web-site?
Except for the earliest entries on the site, we do have these references on our master files. We often omit them on our web-site because we found too many lazy people garnishing their homework, theses and articles with the fruits of our (unacknowledged and unpaid) labour. We don't charge for our work (despite the old adage that what is free is not appreciated) but we do like to keep track who is using what and in what context. Note: to receive the occasional acknowledgment can also improve the climate.
We happily give specific references and citations to any who are known to us and have contributed financially or otherwise to our cause in the past or who appear to have a genuine need for such additional information. For those preparing to publish something, we do have a tiny additional wish in return: please let us have a copy of your published work for our library.
In specialised scientific articles published by us (e.g. the article on Toba Volcano), as well as in all reprints and original prints supplied to us, we do give references as a matter of course.
Can you submit texts/pictures for publication on this web-site?
Of course you can, provided
(a) you hold the copyright
(b) your topic fits into our (very broad) range of interests (check our Table of Contents for an idea what might be included in our range)
(c) you have written the text or shot the pictures/recorded the sound/video files yourself /yourselves. No plagiarism please
(d) you are halfway coherent, original, interesting and comprehensible
(e) you have written to a reasonable standard of English (we will edit up to a point but we don't re-write!)
To see texts others have published with us, see reprints and originals.
How and in what form can you submit texts/pictures, and what about copyright and other legal questions?
Before sending us anything, tell us what you plan to do and why. You will understand that we would not appreciate (for example) a crate with skulls arriving on our doorstep out of the blue. We are just not that kind of Association.
Most useful for us are manuscripts, books and current or historical photographsand drawings. If you want to keep the originals, send send a CD or DVD by post to but tell us what you are sending in advance.
THE ANDAMAN ASSOCIATION
If you have scanned the material, you can also send it as attachments to E-mails. Again, tell us about it before you send it.
2. Sighting, decision on publication
We will the check your material as quickly as possible. Do not set deadlines or try to rush us - that would be counterproductive. You will get our comments/suggestions/decision as soon as we as a non-profit organisation possibly can. In no case will we will return any material (whether accepted for publication or not) to you unless requested and paid for by you in advance.
3. Format of material supplied
If you think the following instructions a bit paranoid, you should have seen (and had to work with) some of the files we have received. How about a reference list scattered over countless "Excel" cells? We like puzzles -but not this timewasting sort. Or a massively-heavy "Word" file constantly crashing our system despite plentiful memory and RAM. The same file also gave tables on top of normal text and pictures when printed; it could not be opened by the MS "Word" program because of "insufficient memory" or some such twaddle and it took the competition product "Think Free Office" to do it. We still have no idea how these effects (perhaps they were "features"?) were achieved. But we now have an idea what a timeconsuming hell it can be to un-do such peculiarities. It was educational, too: we had an unhealthy insight into the spaghetti programming behind the program. Life is too short to be spent on unravelling such mysteries. So, unless you are prepared to pay heavily and in advance for our time, we must INSIST on the following:
a. virus-free E-mails
b. Overview: if you have a complete file of your masterpiece already with everything in place and looking as it should, make a .pdf file of it and send it along. Such a file is not strictly necessary but it will provide us with a double-check in case of doubt or if errors have slipped into the working files.
c. Working file Text: Text files are best submitted in MS-Word (.doc or .rtf) formats or similar. Text files should NOT contain footnotes, illustrations, tables, lists with lots of tabulators, non-Latin letters and other complications. Wherever such items have to be inserted in the body text, put a separate line into your text file saying (for example) "here footnote 1", or "here picture 7", "here "table 19", etc. as a separate line. In the body text file only body text and tables are is acceptable (plus, perhaps if there are just a few, lists).
d. Tables: Tables in any computer program known to mankind are formatted differently and the various formats are usually incompatible. In other words, tables are a lot of work and trouble for us. After some recent experiences when one of us had to spend a lot of valuable time re-writing large tables, we will not in future offer such free services. If you have large and complicated tables, we suggest you type them yourself in whatever format suits you, then print them and scan the print and send it to us as a .gif graphics file. Alternatively you can make a .pdf file out of each of your tables and send us these along with the separate text file.
e .Working file Footnotes: Footnotes are a pest in internet files. If you MUST have them, collect them all, numbered consecutively (do NOT number them separately for each page!). If you have just a few footnotes, we will put them at the end of the paragraph where they occur. If you have lots, you should supply them as end notes.
f. Working file References: Do not put your references into foootnotes unless there are very few. If there are many, flag them in the text as e.g. "text text (ref. XX)", if you have numbered them as "text text (ref. 1)". The references will then be all collected in a separate "reference" section at the end of your article. That means: supply the references as a separate "Word" or similar text file. Use the same style for all entries and not a jumble of style from lots of different sources - we don't mind what style you use, as long as it is the same for all references.
g. Working file Lists: If you must have lists, keep them and the use of tabulators to a minimum. They are troublesome and timeconsuming to adapt to the internet. In such cases we often simply scan in your list from a paper printout and upload it as an .gif grapahic. This may not look highly elegant but it is better than spending hour re-writing all you have written once already.
h . lllustrations (charts, photographs, diagrams, illustrations of every kind): use .jpg (for photographs, coloured or b/w) or .gif (for line drawings, maps etc.) wherever possible. We work ith Mac computers and so are extremely flexible with picture files - but some exotic formats can defy even a Mac or come out looking like death. If you send pictures by E-mail, do not send huge megabyte-monsters in 1200 dpi if all we need in the end is a compessed stamp-sized pic in 150 dpi. On CD or DVD this does not matter and you can send them as big as they come and we can convert them here (another advantage of using CDs). Number the picture files or give them SHORT NAMES. You are not making friends here with file file names like "thisismesittinginthegardenlastwednesdayarenticute_20050418_photographedbymyfriendarchibald_25.jpg". Our hardware won't crash because of such names - but our humanware will.
We look forward to seeing your article, photographs, maps, discoveries - whatever!
Make sure you tell us when (in what year, more precisely if possible) the article, photograph, discovery, that you wish us to publish has been written, taken or discovered. If you have historical items, we need to discuss this with you before you send anything to us. There may be legal limitations on their transfer - make sure you know about them before you do anything!
If you are not telling us, we will assume that copyright of anything submitted to us rests with you personally. It is the sender's responsibility to tell us if this is not so. If you do not hold the copyright, make sure you do not send us material without the copyright holder's knowledge and consent and note clearly on your material who the copyright holder is.
6. Responsibility for physical material sent
For intrinsically valuable originals (historical photographs, manuscripts, artefacts, etc) prior written agreement between The Sender the The Andaman Association on all aspects of such transfer, be it temporary or permanent, must be reached before the Andaman Association accepts any responsibility for the safety of such materials. Ensure that it is legal for you to send such material out of your country.
The laws and regulations of the Swiss Confederacy and of its Canton of Basel-Land shall apply always.
Tourism and Travel
Can you film or photograph the Andamanese Negrito?
Officially not, but in fact is is becoming ever easier. However, the situation is very fluidand can change, so you better inform yourself locally or arrival.
Tourist Sights in and around Port Blair related to the Andamanese Negrito
Although the Andamans have jungle and coastal scenery of breathtaking beauty, accessible scientific sights in connection with the Andamanese Negrito are few and one hesitates to recommendt the tragic (and probably short-lived) spectacle that the begging Jarawa (see Chapter 1 and Appendix N) have presented since late 1997!
One of the few sites of genuine scientific interest worth visiting is the Chauldari kitchen midden in Chauldari village, due west of Port Blair at the far end of Port Blair harbour (for a map and description see our Chapter 24). The ground of the midden is littered with sea shells - the remains of meals eaten over the past 23 centuries.
Another interesting site is rather further away, Hava Beel Cave and midden at the southern tip of Baratang Island (see our Chapter 24), not far from the Andaman Trunk Road. The sizeable cave (42 m long, 9 m wide) was for a long time frequented by collectors of edible birds' nests. More important archaeologically than the cave is a kitchen midden about 100 m from it . Baratang island originally, i.e. until the late 19th to early 20th century belonged to the territory of the Great Andamanese tribe of the A-Pucikwar. After this tribe has dissolved and the Great Andamanese become virtually extinct, the island seems to have been taken over by the Jarawa. A Jarawa camp is known to have existed in the area as late as 1950.
Most interesting and a must for anyone even slightly interested in the Andamanese Negrito is the anthropological Museum. It is tiny but has a wealth of intelligently and clearly presented exhibits. There is also an excellent reference library upstairs with a good selection of periodicals and many books. The books are all locked up in glass cases and only most reluctantly handed over to potential readers (at least they were in 1997 when we last visited).
Travel, Tickets, Visas, Hotels, Guides
Travel information is the job of skilled travel agents. We are a scientific society and cannot and will not keep track of the ever-changing situation in the Andamans. Hotels change hands, management and name, tickets and room prices go up, down and sideways, air and shipping schedules change, and government and courts alter the rules and regulations unpredictably along with their practical implementation.
We suggest you contact a good travel agent.
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Last change 1 January 2009