In the Editors’ Note Mike T. Carson and Rowan K. Flad write:
The current issue of Asian Perspectives (Volume 55, issue 2) maintains the tradition of keeping readers in touch with new archaeological research findings, approaches, and ideas across the Asia-Pacific region. As always, each work has a geographic focus that refers to substantive datasets from particular places as concrete examples, yet is broadly relevant to research in other regions. Looking into the journal’s future volumes and issues, we invite new manuscripts that emphasize the larger implications of Asian and Pacific archaeological studies beyond geographic boundaries .
In Palaeoecology and Forager Subsistence Strategies during the
Pleistocene–Holocene Transition: A Reinvestigation of the
Zooarchaeological Assemblage from Spirit Cave, Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand authors Cyler Conrad, Charles Higham, Masaki Eda, and Ben Marwick write:
This reanalysis uses the zooarchaeological assemblage recovered from Spirit Cave to understand hunter-gatherer use and occupation at the site during the Pleistocene – Holocene transition. W e analyze bone fragmentation, sample size, and relative abundance to establish the preservation and overall composition of the remaining fauna. Identification of several new taxa, including roundleaf bats (Hipposideros larvatus and bicolor), elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata), black marsh turtle (Siebenrockiella crassicollis), Burmese hare ( Lepus cf. peguensis) and a potential red junglefowl ( Phasianidae — ?Gallus gallus) provide insights into hunter-gatherer occupation, palaeoecology, and subsistence strategies between 12,000 and 7000 years b.p.
Ceramic Firing Structures in Prehistoric and Ancient Societies of the Russian Far East
Irina S. Zhushchikhovskaya, Yury G. Nikitin, 121
Archaeological records reveal the history of pottery and roof-tile firing devices in the southern part of the Russian Far East, the neighboring Korean Peninsula, and northeast China. Chronological parameters are from the first millennium B.C. through the thirteenth century A.D., including the Palaeometal period of the Prehistory epoch, Pre-State period, and Early States epoch. Different types of firing kilns varied in complexity of form and technology, including the tunneled sloping kiln, manthou kiln, and vertical up-draught kiln. These specific characteristics reflect the involvement of the ancient southern Russian Far East in the processes of cultural interaction within the larger East Asia region. Keywords
southern Russian Far East, ceramic firing kilns, Prehistory epoch, Pre-State period, Early States epoch
Mapping Local Perspectives in the Historical Archaeology of Vanuatu Mission Landscapes
James L. Flexner, 2
The concept of place is a powerful theoretical tool in the social sciences and humanities, which can be especially useful in archaeological work that involves community-based collaboration. Using place as a starting point, archaeologists can beneficially use their skills to answer questions that are of relevance to the local communities with which we work while also advancing knowledge about the past. For historical archaeology, this often involves engaging in dialogue across multiple lines of evidence, including material remains from the past, written documents, and local oral traditions. Recent fieldwork on the islands of Erromango and Tanna, Vanuatu, exploring early landscapes relating to Christian conversion uses this kind of approach. A major part of preliminary survey work involves mapping features in the mission sites and surrounding areas. Archaeological cartographic techniques help build a sense of place that provides engaging research for a collaborative environment with local Melanesian communities, while also producing new perspectives on colonialism in the South Pacific. This approach is not limited to the recent past, being applicable to any collaborative, community-based archaeological research that incorporates the use of oral traditions. Keywords
Melanesia, historical archaeology, Vanuatu, missions, landscape archaeology, mapping, oral traditions, community archaeology Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 53, no. 1 (2014)”
The idea that complex agricultural and irrigation systems lead to centralized control has been refuted in the last three decades. Indeed, ethnographic and archaeological literatures regarding this relationship have been forthcoming in recent years. This article contributes to this body of work by investigating the Ifugao agricultural system. Spatial patterning and ethnographic information from Ifugao suggest that a recursive relationship between the landscape and its users exist where environmental constraints necessitate cooperation among terraced rice field systems. Correlated to this discussion, this article examines the applicability of the “house” concept in defining Ifugao social organization. Results of my ethnographic investigations suggest that the house concept complements kinship analysis, and thus, contributes to a better understanding of Ifugao social relationships. Moreover, this article argues that the agricultural field becomes the node of Ifugao social relationships. In this sense, the agricultural field becomes an emergent property that defines Ifugao social organization. This study provides archaeologists with a model to investigate the precolonial social structure of the Ifugao.
This article introduces recent studies on an important collection of Southeast Asian archaeological materials curated by the Asian Division of the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology. The Philippine Expedition or Guthe Collection derives from archaeological research conducted at more than 500 sites in the southern and central Philippines in the early part of the last century—from 1922 to 1925. The collection consists of some 13,000 objects from some of the earliest systematic archaeological research in Southeast Asia. For more than 80 years, scholars from the Philippines, China, Japan, Europe, and North America have visited the collection to study the materials and ask new questions about the Southeast Asian past. The articles here continue this trajectory by presenting recent research on early modern trade in blue-on-white porcelains; technological style and the classification of large stoneware dragon jars; the cultural context of cranial deformation; and a sourcing study of indigenous earthenware ceramics using instrumental neutron activation. In this article, I provide some background on the Philippine Expedition and the remarkable museum collection that it generated, as well as some of this research, which continues to mine new knowledge from this nearly century-old museum collection. Keywords: Philippines, colonial archaeology, museum collections, Carl Guthe, Chinese porcelain, dragon jars, earthenware, cranial deformation, colonialism Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 52, no. 1 (2013)”
Khirigsuurs are stone monuments of variable scale and complexity that dominate the archaeological landscape of the Mongolian Bronze Age. Though there are countless typical-sized monuments, there are a few very large structures suggesting that a chiefly hierarchy directed their construction. Using measurements of size and formal complexity to compare these mega-monuments and khirigsuurs within fully surveyed areas this article argues that these monuments are not primarily tombs built to represent the social hierarchy of early nomadic pastoralists. Instead, they are monumental places created for living communities to communicate their organization and enduring nature to others and themselves. This communication was essential for early pastoralist communities to become established and survive. Keywords: Mongolia, Bronze Age, monuments, pastoralism, heterarchy, collective action Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 51, no. 2 (2012)”
Former settlements, now abandoned, are found in inland upland locations on many larger islands in the tropical Pacific. In Fiji, such settlements are known today as koronivalu (war-towns) and, as elsewhere in the region, appear to have been established within the same period during the first half of the last millennium. Twenty-seven koronivalu were mapped for this research in the Bā Valley and nearby Vatia Peninsula, northern Viti Levu Island (Fiji); of these, nine were subject to detailed investigation. All koronivalu are in defensible locations, either with exceptional views across the surrounding landscape or hidden within deep narrow valleys. At all koronivalu, evidence for the consumption of marine shellfish was found, even though the sites are often far from the coast. Twenty- four radiocarbon ages from charcoal and shellfish remains were obtained. A single age around A.D. 700 from the farthest inland site (Koroikewa) appears anomalous. The remainder, once adjusted, suggest that most koronivalu in the study area were established A.D. 1200–1750, perhaps separable into early (A.D. 1200–1450) and later (A.D. 1500–1750) phases. While questions remain about the functions of these koronivalu, the fact that, as elsewhere in Fiji and in other western Pacific Island groups, they appear to have been established within the same period suggests that there is a region-wide explanation for the profound settlement-pattern change this implies. Climate change, perhaps expressed through drought and/or sea-level change, appears the only plausible external forcing mechanism. Keywords: Pacific Islands, Fiji, hill forts, settlement pattern, marine subsistence, climate change. Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 51, no. 1 (2012)”
From the late nineteenth century to the present, social scientists and archaeologists have been intrigued by village-level corporate groups living under a single roof. Yet remarkably little is known ethnographically about the internal economic and social dynamics of these groups or why such groups emerge at certain time periods or places. My research focuses on some of the last indigenous corporate groups in mainland Southeast Asia. I document the advantages corporate organizations provide for members (mainly risk reduction), the high costs often involved for members, the range of status and wealth within such groups, and the probable motivations of individuals for organizing corporate groups. I contrast the communitarian models with aggrandizer models for the creation of corporate groups, but note considerable variability within the corporate residential phenomenon. I postulate that residential corporate groups were probably much more widespread in the Neolithic and Metal Ages of Southeast Asia than historically was the case. Keywords: corporate groups, longhouses, Southeast Asia, archaeology, ethnography, economics, social evolution. Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 50, nos. 1 & 2 (2011)”
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