Asian Perspectives, vol. 44, no. 2 (2005)


Mind the Gap, 247
Peter Bellwood


Chemical Identification and Cultural Implications of a Mixed Fermented Beverage from Late Prehistoric China, 249
Patrick E. McGovern, Anne P. Underhill, Hui Fang, Fengshi Luan, Gretchen R. Hall, Haiguang Yu, Chen-shan Wang, Fengshu Cai, Zhijun Zhao, and Gary M. Feinman

Humans around the world have shown a remarkable propensity to ferment available sugar sources into alcoholic beverages. These drinks have contributed significantly to cultural innovation and development, including agricultural and horticultural skills to harness natural resources; technologies to produce the beverages and to make special vessels to serve, drink, and present them ceremonially; and their incorporation into feasting and other activities. Molecular archaeological analyses of a range of pottery forms from the site of Liangchengzhen, China, illustrates how contemporaneous chemical data, in conjunction with intensive archaeological and botanical recovery methods, enables the reconstruction of prehistoric beverages and their cultural significance. During the middle Longshan period (ca. 2400–2200 B.C.), a mixed fermented beverage of rice, fruit (probably hawthorn fruit and/or grape), and possibly honey was presented as grave offerings and consumed by the residents of the regional center.

Toward an Understanding of Technological Variability in Microblade Assemblages in Hokkaido, Japan, 276
Yuichi Nakazawa, Masami Izuho, Jun Takakura, and Satoru Yamada

Five decades of research history on the late Upper Paleolithic in Hokkaido (northern Japan) shows that microblade assemblages appeared by approximately 20,000 B.P. and that various microblade technologies were developed during late Pleistocene. The empirically observed good association between the morphological features of lithic raw materials and the reduction sequences of microblade cores demonstrates that morphological features of procured lithic raw materials (i.e., size and surface condition), which were constrained by unique geological and geoarchaeological characteristics in Hokkaido, created remarkable variability in reduction methods of microblade technology. This implies that geoarchaeological perspective can contribute to understanding technological variability in microblade assemblages in northeastern Asia.
Keywords: Hokkaido, microblade, technological variability, geoarchaeology, oxygen isotope stage 2.

Illuminating Southeast Asian Prehistory: New Archaeological and Paleoanthropological Frontiers for Luminescence Dating, 293
Richard G. Roberts, M. J. Morwood, and Kira E. Westaway

Since the explorations of Alfred Russel Wallace and Eugène Dubois in the nineteenth century, Southeast Asia has been one of the world’s focal points for studies of biogeography and biodiversity, human evolution and dispersal, environmental change, and the spread of culture, farming, and language. Yet despite its prominence, reliable chronologies are not available for many of the critical archaeological, evolutionary, and environmental turning points that have taken place in the region during the last 1.5 million years. In this paper, we discuss some of these chronological problems and describe how luminescence dating may help overcome them. ‘‘Luminescence dating’’ is a term that embraces the techniques of thermoluminescence (TL) and optical dating, which can be used to estimate the time elapsed since ubiquitous mineral grains, such as quartz and potassium feldspar, were last heated to a high temperature or were last exposed to sunlight. Luminescence methods have been successfully deployed at late Quaternary archaeological, paleoanthropological, and geological sites around the world, but not to any great extent in Southeast Asia. Here we describe the principles of TL and optical dating and some of the difficulties that are likely to arise in dating the volcanic minerals found throughout the region. We also outline several long-standing archaeological and paleoanthropological questions that are the subject of a current program of luminescence dating in Southeast Asia, and present recent dating results from Liang Bua in Indonesia and Bukit Bunuh in Malaysia.
Keywords: luminescence dating, archaeology, paleoanthropology, Quaternary, Southeast Asia, Liang Bua, Bukit Bunuh.

Mid-Sequence Archaeology at the Sigatoka Sand Dunes with Interpretive Implications for Fijian and Oceanic Culture History, 320
David V. Burley

Continued erosion of the Sigatoka Sand Dunes on the western coast of Viti Levu, Fiji has exposed discrete assemblages of ceramics associated with all phases of Fijian prehistory. Excavations here in 2000 investigated stratigraphically separated occupation floors associated with Fijian Plainware and Navatu phase components, respectively radiocarbon dated to between ca. 450–550 C.E. and 550–650 C.E. The excavations and analysis of recovered data allow for a clarification of previous misunderstandings of the mid-sequence occupation at the site as well as its associated uses and features. These data further bear upon the Plainware/Navatu phase transition for Fiji as a whole. In the Lau Islands of southeastern Fiji this transition is described as abrupt and attributable to influences or a population movement from Vanuatu. Mid-sequence ceramic and other data from Sigatoka illustrate a similar break that potentially represents different cultural traditions.
Keywords: Fiji, Sigatoka, excavation, ceramics, migration.

A 3000-Year Culture Sequence from Palau, Western Micronesia, 349
Geoffrey R. Clark

In western Micronesia archaeological sites containing material-culture remains spanning millennia are rare. This paper reports one from Ulong Island in Palau, which is radiocarbon dated to 3000 cal. B.P. The pottery sequence was divided into three assemblages, each distinguished by distinct vessel forms and by the type and proportion of nonplastic temper inclusions. An abrupt transformation of the ceramic assemblage is tentatively dated to around 2400 cal. B.P., coincident with substantial landscape alteration on the main island where pottery was manufactured, indicating that anthropogenic activity may have constrained the raw materials available to prehistoric potters. There is a discontinuity in the sequence from 2000–1000 B.P. that might represent an hiatus in site use. Critical consideration of paleoenvironmental data pointing to human arrival at 4500–4300 cal. B.P. suggests, instead, that climatic events may be responsible for the observed palaeoecological changes. If so, then sites dating to 3300–3000 cal. B.P., such as Ulong, could well be among the oldest in western Micronesia.
Keywords: archaeology, Palau, colonization, culture sequence, western Micronesia.


The Genesis of East Asia, 221 B.C.–A.D. 907 by Charles Holcombe, 381
Reviewed by Gideon Shelach

Hunter-Gatherers of the North Pacific Rim by Junko Habu, James M. Savelle, Shuzo Koyama, and Hitomi Hongo, eds., 383
Reviewed by C. Melvin Aikens

Tracing Thought through Things: The Oldest Pali Texts and the Early Buddhist Archaeology of India and Burma by Janice Stargardt, 386
Reviewed by Peter Skilling

The Minori Cave Expedient Lithic Technology by Armand Salvador B. Mijares, 390
Reviewed by David Bulbeck

The Archaeology of Central Philippines, A Study Chiefly of the Iron Age and Its Relationships, rev. ed., by Wilhelm G. Solheim II, 392
Reviewed by Barbara Thiel

Early Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia by Charles Higham, 395
Reviewed by Sawang Lertrit

Ban Wang Hai: Excavations of an Iron-Age Cemetery in Northern Thailand by Jean-Pierre Pautreau, Patricia Mornais, and Tasana Doy-asa, 398
Reviewed by Kate Domett

Water Architecture in South Asia: A Study of Types, Development and Meanings by Julia A. B. Hegewald, 399
Reviewed by Janice Stargardt

Angkor and the Khmer Civilization by Michael D. Coe, 400
Reviewed by Dawn F. Rooney

Architecture and Its Models in South-East Asia by Jacques Dumarçay, 403
Reviewed by Eleanor Mannikka

Tiouandé: Archéologie d’un Massif de Karst du Nord-Est de la Grande Terre (Nouvelle-Calédonie), Christophe Sand, ed., 406
Reviewed by Patrick V. Kirch

Pacific Archaeology: Assessments and Prospects, Christophe Sand, ed., 407
Reviewed by Ethan E. Cochrane

The Prehistoric Archaeology of Norfolk Island, Southwest Pacific, Atholl Anderson and Peter White, eds., 410
Reviewed by Marshall I. Weisler

An Anthropologist in Papua: The Photography of F. E. Williams, 1922–39 by Michael W. Young and Julia Clark, 414
Reviewed by Robert L. Welsch and Sebastian Haraha

Among Stone Giants, The Life of Katherine Routledge and Her Remarkable Expedition to Easter Island by Jo Anne Van Tilburg, 416
Reviewed by Joan A. Wozniak