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Although scholars had dismissed Angkor's ancestors as isolated tribes living in small settlements, peacefully growing rice as they awaited enlightenment from Indian Buddhist missionaries and Chinese traders, Higham and a few other archaeologists are describing a vigorous and innovative people who merely grafted outside influences onto an already vibrant way of life. Higham believes that about 4,000 years ago, rice farmers from southern China made their way down river valleys and joined sparse bands of hunter-gatherers who lived off the heavily forested land. Clearing the jungle for fields, the newcomers domesticated cattle, pigs and dogs and supplemented their diet with fish, shellfish and wild game.