Asian Perspectives, vol. 39, nos. 1-2 (2000)


From the Bronze Age to the Iron Age in Thailand: Applying the Heterarchical Approach
Dougald J. W. O’Reilly, p. 1

The archaeological evidence of social groups in Thailand has long been noted for not conforming to the standard paradigms of social organization. This paper investigates the concept of heterarchy before turning to consider current conceptions of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Thailand. New evidence from a recently excavated site, Ban Lum Khao, is considered and evaluated in the context of the existing knowledge of the period. The current understanding of the Iron Age is also evaluated and enhanced through the incorporation of data from two sites in northeast Thailand, Non Muang Kao and Noen U-Loke. The paper concludes that the data from prehistoric Thailand are better interpreted from a heterarchical perspective. The possible causative factors of stratified social organization are considered from a heterarchical perspective, examining ceramic production, mortuary practice, demography, and environment.
Keywords: heterarchy, archaeology, Thailand, Bronze Age, Iron Age, hierarchy

Circular Earthwork Krek 52/62: Recent Research on the Prehistory of Cambodia
Gerd Albrecht and Miriam Noël Haidle, p. 20

Since 1996 research on circular earthworks in the red soil region of eastern Cambodia and adjacent Vietnam has intensified. Several as yet undocumented Memotien sites have broadened the knowledge about the regional distribution, the location and the layout of this site group. Within the scope of a German teaching program at the Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh intensive fieldwork at Krek 52/62 and soundings at Phoum Beng, Phoum Kampoan, and the Groslier site yielded more detailed information on the function and the dating of circular earthworks. Typically, the structures are situated on the top of a slight slope and are composed of an outer wall, an inner trench, and an inner central platform lower than the surrounding surface. The rampart could not be used as a water storage system. The elevation at the edge of the inner plateau can no longer be interpreted as intentional construction, but now is explained as the accumulation of an occupational layer. The circular earthworks possess one or two entrances that are constructed either as simple pathways or as complicate bridged systems. Both the profile of the sites (a steep inner side of the outer wall and a shallow inner ditch) and the absence of artifacts usable as weapons argue against the former interpretation as fortifications. Rather, the artifact assemblages of the sites supply evidence for villages of rice farmers. Fragments of lithophones belong to the archaeological assemblages of two circular earthworks. The dating of the sites to the Neolithic is questioned. First attempts of radiocarbon dating of the organic temper of the pottery did not yield clear results. However, a glass bracelet fragment found in situ well within the occupational layer of Krek 52/62 gives evidence for a first millennium B.C. date
Keywords: Cambodia, red soil region, circular earthworks, Memotien, early glass, lithophones

Masterov Kliuch and the Early Palaeolithic of the Transbaikal, Siberia
Ted Goebel, Michael Waters, and Mikhail N. Meshcherin, p. 47

In 1996, archaeological excavations were conducted at the Masterov Kliuch site, located east of Lake Baikal, Siberia. Three archaeological components were uncovered, all occurring in colluvial deposits. The two lower components (I and II) are Palaeolithic in age and character. Component I is an early Upper Palaeolithic industry dated to 32,500–30,000 years ago (B.P.), and is in a primary context. Component II is undated but is also assignable to the early Upper Palaeolithic based on typology, although it appears to have been redeposited. Artifact assemblages from these two components are blade-based and include retouched blades and flakes, knives, denticulates, end scrapers, gravers, and burins. Component III represents a Bronze Age occupation dated to around 2,900 B.P. The Palaeolithic industries at Masterov Kliuch are technologically/typologically similar to other initial Upper Palaeolithic industries in Siberia, and appear to represent some of the easternmost manifestations of an early Upper Palaeolithic technocomplex that spanned inner Asia from Uzbekistan to the Transbaikal between about 42,000 and 30,000 B.P. Our findings have further implications for Upper Palaeolithic research in northern Asia, especially regarding site formation processes and hunter-gatherer raw material procurement. First, like Masterov Kliuch, most early Upper Palaeolithic sites across northern Asia lie in colluvial settings and may not be in pristine, primary contexts, so that interpretations of stone features as hearths or dwellings may be suspect. Second, study of the Masterov Kliuch lithic industries indicates that hunter-gatherers exclusively utilized local lithic resources in the manufacture of tools, and that raw material procurement strategies were embedded within other subsistence pursuits. This pattern of local, embedded raw material procurement is seen in virtually all other early Upper Paleolithic sites in Siberia, while “logistical,” long-distance procurement strategies, characteristic of the early Upper Palaeolithic of western Eurasia, did not appear in Siberia until much later in time, after about 25,000 B.P.
Keywords: Siberia, early Upper Palaeolithic, geoarchaeology, lithic technology, raw material procurement

Culture History of the Toalean of South Sulawesi, Indonesia
David Bulbeck, Monique Pasqua, and Adrian Di Lello, p. 71

This paper reviews the current evidence on typologically specialized tools assigned to the Toalean tradition of the southwest Sulawesi peninsula. Bone points and a range of stone points appeared across the peninsula in the early Holocene; this probably occurred as part of the expansion of archery and improved spear technology in Island Southeast Asia at the time. The technologically most specialized Toalean tools, namely backed microliths and Maros points, were evidently confined to the southwest of the peninsula. Backed microliths occur in contexts spanning some six millennia, but Maros points were largely restricted to the immediately preceramic period, approximately 5500 to 3500 B.P. The distribution of these tool types closely matches the area where late Holocene pottery in the ornate “Sa Huynh-Kalanay” tradition has been recorded, and where Makasar languages are spoken today. Sulawesi’s southwest peninsula may have effectively been an island throughout much of the Holocene, and its southwest fringe runs hard against a major cordillera. Thus, physiographic constraints laid the basis for the division of the peninsula into two “social landscapes” that display long-term continuity throughout the Holocene, notwithstanding fundamental changes in subsistence patterns and technology.
Keywords: Toalean, South Sulawesi, Makasar, microliths

Far Western, Western, and Eastern Lapita: A Re-Evaluation
Glenn R. Summerhayes, p. 109

Lapita assemblages from the western Pacific have been regionalized into stylistic boundaries or provinces, known as Far Western, Western, and Eastern, and it has been thought that differences between them are partly temporal (Far Western) and mainly a result of isolation after the initial colonization of the area (Western versus Eastern). This paper assesses these constructions by comparing dentate decorated Lapita pottery from assemblages in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, with assemblages further afield. It is argued here that differences between these style provinces are primarily due to temporal factors and that the terms Far Western, Western and Eastern should be replaced by Early, Middle and Late Lapita.
Keywords: Lapita, West New Britain, Melanesian archaeology, pottery

Household Units in the Analysis of Prehistoric Social Complexity, Cook Islands
Julie M. E. Taomia, p. 139

Polynesian and other Oceanic societies have often informed research into social complexity. McGuire (1983) has proposed a means of measuring complexity that does not assume any particular organizational form. The examination of prehistoric household remains allows archaeologists to compare common units of social organization across societies for more meaningful comparisons of past social organization. This paper discusses house remains excavated on three islands in the Southern Cook Islands of central Polynesia for the information they provide about past social organization on the islands and provides comparison between three closely related island societies.
Keywords: Southern Cook Islands, households, complexity, social organization

The Age of the Bellows Dune Site (O18), O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, and the Antiquity of Hawaiian Colonization
H. David Tuggle and Matthew Spriggs, p. 165

The Bellows Dune site was excavated more than three decades ago (Pearson et al. 1971), and has been generally considered one of the earliest settlement sites in the Hawaiian cultural sequence. More than ten years later, in the now-classic summary of Hawaiian archaeology, Kirch (1985) considered it to be one of only two sites firmly identified as belonging to the Colonization phase in Hawai‘i . This status has remained largely intact. Working independently, the authors of the present article found problems with the interpretations of the dating of this site. Combining our efforts and reviewing the general debate over the timing of human colonization of the Hawaiian archipelago, we suggest that the oft-quoted early dates for the Bellows site are in error, and that a site-based argument for pre-A.D. 800 settlement of Hawai‘i is approaching a case list of zero. The most supportable conclusion is that of the two main layers at O18, the lower one (L. III) predates A.D. 1000, and the upper one (L.II) postdates A.D. 1000. The Bellows Dune site dating is deconstructed, dates from Bellows that have not been published are presented, the Bellows dates are placed in the context of new information from other sources on the date of Hawaiian colonization, and a new hypothesis for the age of the Bellows Dune site is presented.
Keywords: Bellows Dune, early settlement, Hawaiian chronology


On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact, by Patrick V. Kirch
Reviewed by J. Peter White, p. 189

Raiding, Trading, and Feasting: The Political Economy of Philippine Chiefdoms, by Laura Lee Junker
Reviewed by William A. Longacre, p. 190

The Riches of Ancient Australia: An Indispensable Guide for Exploring Prehistoric Australia, by Josephine Flood
Reviewed by Harry Allen, p. 192

Ruins of Identity: Ethnogenesis in the Japanese Islands, by Mark Hudson
Reviewed by C. Melvin Aikens, p. 194

Prehistory of the Chitrakot Falls, Central India, by Zarine Cooper
Reviewed by Mark Lycett, p. 196

The Excavation of Nong Nor, a Prehistoric Site in Central Thailand, ed. by Charles F. W. Higham and R. Thosarat
Reviewed by Karen Mudar, p. 198

Indus Age: The Writing System, by Gregory L. Possehl
Reviewed by Richard Salomon, p. 201

The Most Offending Soul Alive: Tom Harrisson and his Remarkable Life, by Judith M. Heimann
Reviewed by Wilhelm Solheim, p. 203