Andaman islands

The Andaman islands have been inhabited for several thousand years, at the very least. The earliest archaeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years; however, the indications from genetic, cultural and isolation studies suggests that the islands may have been inhabited as early as the Middle Paleolithic. The indigenous Andamanese people appear to have lived on the islands in substantial isolation from that time until the 18th century CE.

The Andamans are theorized to be a key stepping stone in a great coastal migration of humans from Africa via the Arabian peninsula, along the coastal regions of the Indian mainland and towards Southeast Asia, Japan and Oceania.

It is possible that ancient geographers like Ptolemy also knew of the Andamans but referred to them by a different name. The Persiannavigator Al-Ramhormuzi, in his 10th-century book Ajaib al-Hind (The wonders of India), described the islands as being inhabited by fiercecannibalistic tribes. The book also mentions an island he called Andaman al-Kabir (Great Andaman). The name of the Andaman Islands is ancient. A theory that became prevalent in the late 19th century is that it derives from Andoman, theMalay form of Hanuman, the Sanskrit name of the Indian monkey-god.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are called Timaittivu ("impure islands" in Tamil) in Chola Dynasty chronicles.

In the thirteenth century, Marco Polo briefly mentions the Andamans (calling them Angamanain), though it is uncertain whether he visited the islands and, if he did, whether he met the natives, because he describes them as having heads like dogs and immediately adds that they are cannibals. Another Italian traveler, Niccolò de' Conti (c. 1440), mentioned the islands and said that the name means "Island of Gold".

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