Asian Perspectives, vol. 45, no. 1 (2006)


Embodying Okhotsk Ethnicity: Human Skeletal Remains from the Aonae Dune Site, Okushiri Island, Hokkaido, 1
Hirofumi Matsumura, Mark J. Hudson, Kenichiro Koshida, and Yoichi Minakawa

This article describes human skeletal remains from the Aonae Dune site, Okushiri Island, Hokkaido, Japan. Skeletal remains of an adult female and two subadults were excavated in 2002. Although these remains derived from Okhotsk culture contexts, analyses of cranial and tooth crown measurements demonstrated that Aonae Dune No. 1 (the adult female), Aonae Dune No. 2 (a child of about 11 years), and Aonae Dune No. 3 (a child of about 6 years) are morphologically closer to Epi-Jōmon or Jōmon and Ainu populations and significantly different from other Okhotsk samples in Hokkaido. It is argued that these three skeletons probably represent individuals from a different culture who were adopted into Okhotsk society. Keywords: Hokkaido, Okhotsk culture, Aonae Dune site, osteological analyses, ethnicity.

Type X Pottery, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea: Petrography and Possible Micronesian Relationships, 24
Jim Specht, Ian Lilley, and William R. Dickinson

Type X is one of four Post-Lapita pottery styles reported from Huon Peninsula and the Siassi Islands of Papua New Guinea. Previous petrographic work was inconclusive about its likely area of origin but indicated a possible Huon Peninsula source. Renewed analysis of a larger sample supports this conclusion and confirms the use of grog temper. This kind of temper is otherwise not recorded in the New Guinea region, and its use in the production of Type X was probably culturally driven. Comparisons between Type X and grog-tempered pottery from Palau, Yap, and Pohnpei in Micronesia lead to the suggestion that Type X probably derived from an otherwise unrecorded contact between Huon Peninsula and Palau about 1000 years ago. The article reviews other evidence for interaction between the New Guinea–Bismarck Archipelago region and various parts of Micronesia and concludes that the proposed Type X connection with Palau is but one of several prehistoric contacts between different parts of the regions. Recognition of such contacts, which could have been unintentional and on a small scale, may contribute to explaining the complex ethnolinguistic situation of Huon Peninsula.

Late Holocene Landscape Evolution and Land-Use Expansion in Tutuila, American Samoa, 48
Frederic B. Pearl

Archaeological excavations at the coast of A’asu, in Tutuila Island of American Samoa, exposed a depositional sequence spanning the past circa 700 years. With the period represented, sedimentation rates exceeded 10.15 cm per century in the valley floor and 16.34 cm per century along the valley margin. The occupational history may correlate with changes in climate, sea level, and coastal geomorphology. Although the evidence accords with the expected responses to the Little Climatic Optimum (circa 1050 to 690 B.P.) and Little Ice Age (circa 575 to 150 B.P.), the most plausible explanation for the A’asu case is that environmental change accompanied expansion of upland land use. Based on evidence here and elsewhere in Tutuila, it is proposed that the establishment of fortifications, monuments and permanent settlements in the uplands was part of a broader pattern of land-use expansion beginning in the fourteenth century A.D. Keywords: American Samoa, Polynesia, landscape evolution, prehistoric human impacts, geochronology.

No Pig Atoll: Island Biogeography and the Extirpation of a Polynesian Domesticate, 69
Christina M. Giovas

The significance of the domestic pig, Sus scrofa, to prehistoric Polynesians is hinted at by its inclusion among the species that they transported with them as they colonized Oceania. However, archaeological data reveal a pattern of pig distribution far more extensive in prehistory than at historic contact. Domestic mammal extirpation is a phenomenon apparently unique to prehistoric Polynesia. Although well recognized, the local extinction of domestic pigs in Polynesia prior to European contact has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Earlier accounts attributed the patchy distribution of pigs across the Island South Pacific to intentional extermination by their Polynesian keepers. More recent approaches seek to understand the disappearance of these animals within a biogeographic and ecological framework. Here, I test the hypothesis that the success of pig husbandry is correlated with ecological variables and demonstrate that the likelihood of pig extinction increases with decreasing island size. Keywords: Polynesia, domestic animals, pigs, island biogeography, extinction.


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