Asian Perspectives, vol. 54, no. 2 (2015)

Fig. 10. The curious depiction of the “steamship”: 1) square block amidships; 2) line linking the foreward section of the boat to the bow; 3) thick horizontal line at the stern; 4) cabin; 5–7) cabin sections. Photograph by Noel Hidalgo Tan. "The Curious Case of the Steamship on the Mekong" The depiction of the steamship in Tham Phum, a sacred cave with a long religious tradition and connections with the royal court in Luang Prabang, suggests the painting had some sort of commemorative function. We speculate that it may have been painted to memorialize the sinking of La Grandière in 1910 or the Trentinian in 1928.
Photo by Noel Hidalgo Tan
The “steamship” as mentioned in The Curious Case of the Steamship on the Mekong in this issue. The article speculates that the depiction of the steamship in Tham Phum, a sacred cave with a long religious tradition, might have been painted to memorialize the sinking of La Grandière in 1910 or the Trentinian in 1928.

This issue of Asian Perspectives features the following scholarly works:


Landscape Evolution and Human Settlement Patterns on Ofu Island, Manu’s Group, American Samoa
Seth Quintus, Jeffery T. Clark, Stephanie S. Day, and Donald P. Schwert

Obscuring the Line between the Living and the Dead: Mortuary Activities inside the Grave Chambers of the Eastern Han Dynasty,
Zhou Ligang

The Curious Case of the Steamship on the Mekong
Noel Hidalgo Tan and Veronica Walker-Vadillo Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 54, no. 2 (2015)”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 54, no. 1 (2015)

Find the full text of the issue at Project MUSE

Special Issue: Current Perspectives on Korean Prehistory


Korean Prehistory: Current Perspectives
Christopher J. Bae and Bumcheol Kim, 1

Recent Developments and Debates in Korean Prehistoric Archaeology
Seung-Og Kim, 11

Potential Contributions of Korean Pleistocene Hominin Fossils to Palaeoanthropology: A View from Ryonggok Cave
Christopher J. Bae and Pierre Guyomarc’h, 31

The Korean Early Palaeolithic: Patterns and Identities
Hyeong Woo Lee, 58

Diversity of Lithic Assemblages and Evolution of Late Palaeolithic Culture in Korea
Chuntaek Seong, 91

Sedentism, Settlements, and Radiocarbon Dates of Neolithic Korea
Sung-Mo Ahn, Jangsuk Kim, Jaehoon Hwang, 113

Socioeconomic Development in the Bronze Age: Archaeological Understanding of the Transition from the Early to Middle Bronze Age, South Korea
Bumcheol Kim, 144

Transition from the Prehistoric Age to the Historic Age: The Early Iron Age on the Korean Peninsula
Kisung Yi, 185

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Asian Perspectives, vol. 53, no. 2 (2014)


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.
southern Russian Far East, ceramic firing kilns, Prehistory epoch, Pre-State period, Early States epoch

Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 53, no. 2 (2014)”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 53, no. 1 (2014)

Editors’ Note, 1


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.
Melanesia, historical archaeology, Vanuatu, missions, landscape archaeology, mapping, oral traditions, community archaeology
Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 53, no. 1 (2014)”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 52, no. 2 (2013)

Special Topic Articles: Landscape Archaeology in Southeast Asia


Defining Ifugao Social Organization: “House,” Field, and Self-Organizing Principles in the Northern Philippines
Stephen Acabado, 161

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.

Keywords: landscape, Ifugao, Philippines, house, emergence, self-organization, agriculture
Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 52, no. 2 (2013)”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 52, no. 1 (2013)

Special Topic Articles: New Research on Old Museum Collections


New Research on an Old Collection: Studies of the Philippine Expedition (“Guthe”) Collection of the Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan
Carla M. Sinopoli, 1

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)”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 51, no. 2 (2012)


Landscapes of Inequality?: A Critique of Monumental Hierarchy in the Mongolian Bronze Age
Joshua Wright, 139

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)”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 51, no. 1 (2012)


Na Koronivalu ni Bā: Upland Settlement during the Last Millennium in the Bā River Valley and Vatia Peninsula, Northern Viti Levu Island, Fiji
Patrick D. Nunn, 1

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)”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 50, nos. 1 & 2 (2011)


Traditional Corporate Group Economics in Southeast Asia: An Ethnographic Study with Archaeological Implications
Brian Hayden, 1

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)”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 49, no. 2 (2010)

Special Issue: New and Emergent Trends in Japanese Paleolithic Research


Peter Bleed, 227

This serves as an introduction to eight articles on Japanese Palaeolithic archaeology that illustrate the types of research issues recently addressed and the kinds of archaeological data currently available on Pleistocene deposits in Japan. The articles also show how Japanese researchers are setting out to explain Palaeolithic variability at various scales, including the regional level. Perhaps, most importantly, given the recriminations following the relatively recent exposure of faked “early and middle Palaeolithic” artifacts in Japan, these papers show how Palaeolithic archeologists working in Japan have recognized the importance of presenting reliable archaeological and paleoenvironmental data in the context of clear research methodology.
Keywords: Palaeolithic, Japan, Pleistocene, lithic technology.

Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 49, no. 2 (2010)”

Asian Perspectives Back Issues Now Online

University of Hawai‘i ScholarSpace logo
The full run of Asian Perspectives: The Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific is now available online. All except the latest volume of AP can now be freely accessed in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Library’s ScholarSpace digital repository, while the most current volumes (from vol. 39, 2000) are available online for subscribers to Project MUSE. To facilitate access to the individual contributions in the earliest volumes, we have inserted links to them from the AP Author/Title Index to vols. 1–39 (1957–2000) republished on this blog.

Continue reading “Asian Perspectives Back Issues Now Online”

Asian Perspectives, vol. 49, no. 1 (2010)


Early Pottery in South China
Tracey L-D Lu, 1

Potsherds of thick walls with coarse inclusions have been found in several archaeological sites in South China, associated with flaked or ground stone tools and ground organic implements. This paper focuses on the natural and cultural contexts, the chronology, and the characteristics of the early pottery found in South China, as well as the impetus to the origin of pottery and several related issues. It is argued that the earliest potters in South China were affluent foragers, who lived on diversified natural resources and were members of egalitarian societies.
Keywords: South China, pottery, terminal Pleistocene, early Holocene, foragers, subsistence strategies, exchange, ethnoarchaeology.

Continue reading “Asian Perspectives, vol. 49, no. 1 (2010)”