Earliest known hominin activity in the Philippines by 709 thousand years ago

Very exciting news out of the Philippines today, a paper published in Nature describes the discovery of stone tools and a butchered rhino fossil in the Cagayan Valley that dates to between 777,000 – 631,000 years ago. This early date forces us to rethink hominin capabilities in crossing water during the Pleistocene.

Earliest known hominin activity in the Philippines by 709 thousand years ago
Ingicco et al.
Nature, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0072-8

Over 60 years ago, stone tools and remains of megafauna were discovered on the Southeast Asian islands of Flores, Sulawesi and Luzon, and a Middle Pleistocene colonization by Homo erectus was initially proposed to have occurred on these islands1,2,3,4. However, until the discovery of Homo floresiensis in 2003, claims of the presence of archaic hominins on Wallacean islands were hypothetical owing to the absence of in situ fossils and/or stone artefacts that were excavated from well-documented stratigraphic contexts, or because secure numerical dating methods of these sites were lacking. As a consequence, these claims were generally treated with scepticism5. Here we describe the results of recent excavations at Kalinga in the Cagayan Valley of northern Luzon in the Philippines that have yielded 57 stone tools associated with an almost-complete disarticulated skeleton of Rhinoceros philippinensis, which shows clear signs of butchery, together with other fossil fauna remains attributed to stegodon, Philippine brown deer, freshwater turtle and monitor lizard. All finds originate from a clay-rich bone bed that was dated to between 777 and 631 thousand years ago using electron-spin resonance methods that were applied to tooth enamel and fluvial quartz. This evidence pushes back the proven period of colonization6 of the Philippines by hundreds of thousands of years, and furthermore suggests that early overseas dispersal in Island South East Asia by premodern hominins took place several times during the Early and Middle Pleistocene stages1,2,3,4. The Philippines therefore may have had a central role in southward movements into Wallacea, not only of Pleistocene megafauna7, but also of archaic hominins.

Source: Earliest known hominin activity in the Philippines by 709 thousand years ago | Nature

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8th ASEMUS General Conference in Kuching, Malaysia

Entitled “New Curatorial Perspectives for a Changed World”, the 8th ASEMUS General Conference will be held in Sarawak, Malaysia, 14-16 November 2018.

Source: 8th ASEMUS General Conference in Kuching, Malaysia – Registration open! – Asia-Europe Museum Network

Hefty fines up to B1m for drying clothes at historical sites

via Bangkok Post, 30 April 2018:

AYUTTHAYA: Repeated offenders who turn national heritage sites into their laundry-drying places could pay a heavy price, a Fine Arts Department official warned on Monday.

Source: Hefty fines up to B1m for drying clothes at historical sites

Preserving history

via Bangkok Post, 30 April 2018:

Ruins and ancient sites are always under threat from time and disaster. The great flood of 2011, for instance, damaged 128 archeological sites on and around the city island of Ayutthaya. After the incident, the government provided a budget of 600 million baht for the clean-up and restoration work, and there was also financial and technical aid from Unesco, as well as certain foreign countries.

Source: Preserving history

Angkor Events at the Asian Civilisations Museum

In conjunction with the exhibition, Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City that is currently on at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore, there are a number of associated events upcoming in May and June:

Evidence for persistent forest reliance by indigenous peoples in historical Sri Lanka

via Science Daily, 26 April 2018:

Working closely with Wanniyalaeto (Vedda) elders in Sri Lanka during the repatriation of skeletal remains, a team of researchers have demonstrated that while some indigenous hunter-gatherers in Sri Lanka made use of agricultural resources and trade connections with farmers and colonial power structures, others continued to subsist primarily on tropical forest resources as late as the 19th century.

Source: Evidence for persistent forest reliance by indigenous peoples in historical Sri Lanka

Superstition helps protect heritage, says park director

via Bangkok Post, 26 April 2018:

AYUTTHAYA: The return of an ancient brick souvenired from the famous Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya Historical Park is proof that superstitious belief helps protect the old temple, according to park director Sukanya Baonerd.

Source: Superstition helps protect heritage, says park director

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Vale Ian Glover

I am sorry to share the news of the passing of Ian Glover, a titan in the field of Southeast Asian archaeology. Lia Genovese shares the following:

Dear All,

In case you have not heard. Some very sad news.

Ian Glover passed away yesterday, on his birthday, while on holiday in Sicily. He collapsed after breakfast in Catania and could not be revived.

Only this afternoon I emailed him to wish him happy birthday again and to tell him about my recent fieldwork in Borneo. I also told him that conferences will never be the same again without him. I was referring to a recent conversation I had with Ian, when he told me that he would not be attending the IPPA in September this year because “he had nothing new to say”.

RIP, Ian, a gentleman and a most generous scholar.