[Paper] The affinities of Homo floresiensis based on phylogenetic analyses of cranial, dental, and postcranial characters

This newly published paper by ANUs Debbie Argue has been making the news recently. A new analysis of the bones puts Homo floresiensis closer in time to Homo habilis than it does Homo erectus or Homo Sapiens, which suggests the the Hobbit’s lineage was more ancient than recent.

Although the diminutive Homo floresiensis has been known for a decade, its phylogenetic status remains highly contentious. A broad range of potential explanations for the evolution of this species has been explored. One view is that H. floresiensis is derived from Asian Homo erectus that arrived on Flores and subsequently evolved a smaller body size, perhaps to survive the constrained resources they faced in a new island environment. Fossil remains of H. erectus, well known from Java, have not yet been discovered on Flores. The second hypothesis is that H. floresiensis is directly descended from an early Homo lineage with roots in Africa, such as Homo habilis; the third is that it is Homo sapiens with pathology. We use parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic methods to test these hypotheses. Our phylogenetic data build upon those characters previously presented in support of these hypotheses by broadening the range of traits to include the crania, mandibles, dentition, and postcrania of Homo and Australopithecus. The new data and analyses support the hypothesis that H. floresiensis is an early Homo lineage: H. floresiensis is sister either to H. habilis alone or to a clade consisting of at least H. habilis, H. erectus, Homo ergaster, and H. sapiens. A close phylogenetic relationship between H. floresiensis and H. erectus or H. sapiens can be rejected; furthermore, most of the traits separating H. floresiensis from H. sapiens are not readily attributable to pathology (e.g., Down syndrome). The results suggest H. floresiensis is a long-surviving relict of an early (>1.75 Ma) hominin lineage and a hitherto unknown migration out of Africa, and not a recent derivative of either H. erectus or H. sapiens.

Source: The affinities of Homo floresiensis based on phylogenetic analyses of cranial, dental, and postcranial characters

See also:

[Talk] Green, Blue, and White: The Tang Shipwreck Ceramic and Precious Metal Cargo and Global Trade in Medieval Asia

In conjunction with the Belitung Shipwreck exhibition at the Asia Society in New York, John Guy will be giving a lecture on 22 May which will also be broadcast live on the web.

Scholar and curator John Guy explores the unique insights that shipwreck archaeology can bring to our understanding of historical trade and exchange in ancient Asia.

Source: Green, Blue, and White: The Tang Shipwreck Ceramic and Precious Metal Cargo and Global Trade in Medieval Asia | New York | Asia Society

[Talk] Learning from Ancient and Modern Trade in the Spice Islands of Eastern Island Southeast Asia

Prof Peter Lape will be talking about his work in the eastern Indonesian islands at UCLA on Wednesday.

In historical times between the 16th and 20th centuries, the so-called spice islands of what is now eastern Indonesia were a zone of intensive interisland and long distance maritime trade. Archaeological evidence suggests that this interaction intensity has a relatively long history, dating to the early Neolithic period 3,500 years ago. Today, the large and small islands in this area remains intensively interconnected, and some of this trade is done by people using traditional boats operating under sail or paddle. This paper will explore how we can apply data from these different realms (documentary history, archaeology and ethnography) to expand our understanding of island connectivity at different times in the past and present, with implications for the future.

Source: Learning from Ancient and Modern Trade in the Spice Islands of Eastern Island Southeast Asia

Signs of early symbolic behaviour found in Indonesia

From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a new paper highlights discoveries excavated in Sulawesi from 30,000 years ago, showing that humans were engaged in making symbolic artefacts in the form of jewelry, portable art and used ochre (probably for creating rock art which we already know is very old in Sulawesi). The finds suggest a cultural sophistication that we rarely see this early in the archaeological record.

10.1073/pnas.1619013114

Wallacea, the zone of oceanic islands separating the continental regions of Southeast Asia and Australia, has yielded sparse evidence for the symbolic culture of early modern humans. Here we report evidence for symbolic activity 30,000–22,000 y ago at Leang Bulu Bettue, a cave and rock-shelter site on the Wallacean island of Sulawesi. We describe hitherto undocumented practices of personal ornamentation and portable art, alongside evidence for pigment processing and use in deposits that are the same age as dated rock art in the surrounding karst region. Previously, assemblages of multiple and diverse types of Pleistocene “symbolic” artifacts were entirely unknown from this region. The Leang Bulu Bettue assemblage provides insight into the complexity and diversification of modern human culture during a key period in the global dispersal of our species. It also shows that early inhabitants of Sulawesi fashioned ornaments from body parts of endemic animals, suggesting modern humans integrated exotic faunas and other novel resources into their symbolic world as they colonized the biogeographically unique regions southeast of continental Eurasia.

Source: Early human symbolic behavior in the Late Pleistocene of Wallacea

Other news reports listed below:
Researchers uncover prehistoric art and ornaments from Indonesian ‘Ice Age’

Prehistoric jewellery found in Indonesian cave challenges view early humans less advanced

Ice age art in Indonesia reveals how spiritual life transformed en route to Australia

In Ice Age Indonesia, People Were Making Jewelry and Art

Researchers uncover prehistoric art and ornaments from Indonesian ‘Ice Age’

Indonesia plans to develop spiritual tourism

A cultural introduction programme was held yesterday (March 27) by Tidar Heritage Foundation (THF) in Magelang city, near Borobudur temple, attended by representatives of embassies, among others from China, Lebanon, Oman, the Philippines, Australia, Germany, Hungary, Mongolia and Croatia.

The initiation event was themed a folk tale about a Mount Tidar-born holy man named Brotonirmoyo who spread teaching of spiritualism of peace and harmony regardless race, culture and religious differences in ancient era.

It is expected to promote Magelang as an Indonesian spiritual destination, making it an alternative to Rome or Jerusalem, said a THF official.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/travel/article/indonesia-plans-to-develop-spiritual-tourism#sthash.9H5w1ML0.dpuf

Source: Indonesia plans to develop spiritual tourism | Travel | Malay Mail Online

Learn the science of the Hobbit in this free online course

The University of Wollonggong is offering a free online course on the science of Homo floresiensis, one of the most intriguing hominid finds of recent history.

In a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, a team of archaeologists were surprised to find the skeletal remains of a mysterious new species. This free online course follows the incredible discovery of Homo floresiensis – or ‘the Hobbit’ as it has come to be known. Join us on a quest of discovery and adventure as the mystery is unravelled piece by piece using a variety of scientific techniques and archaeological approaches.

Source: Homo Floresiensis Uncovered – Online Course

[Talk] The Depiction of Ritual in Balinese Painting of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries

A talk by Prof. Peter Worsley in Sydney on April 3. Registration required, details in the link below.

The vast majority of nineteenth and early twentieth century Balinese paintings are designed to tell stories and in a number of them their painters have depicted rituals. Paintings of the Brayut story (geguritan Brayut), for example, illustrate a commoner family’s celebration of Galungan and the father’s ritual preparation for death on the occasion of his youngest son’s marriage when he abdicates his responsibility for his family’s customary obligations. Paintings, which tell the story of Rāma’s grandfather and grandmother, Prince Aja and Princess Indumatī (kakawin Sumanasāntakaī), focus viewers’ attention on marriage rites, while paintings of the story of Rāma and Sitā (kakawin Rāmāyaṇa) and of God Smara and Ratih (kakawin Smaradahana) depict death rituals including the ritual suicide of wives. However, closer examination of these narratives paintings reveals that painters designed their works to draw viewers’ attention to other social and cultural thematic interests—to gender roles, and the differences between kings and priests for example.

Source: Event Detail

Palestinian Experts Receive Training on Archaeology in Indonesia

The Borobudur Conservation Center will be playing host to 11 Palestinian archaeologists for training in archaeological techniques and the management of heritage sites.

Source: Palestinian Experts Receive Training on Archaeology in Indonesia

Applications open: World Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2017

For eligible applicants from Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia (current member states of the World Heritage Committee)

Prior to the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee and in the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme, the Polish National Commission for UNESCO and the International Cultural Centre in Krakow are proud to hold the Heritage Youth Forum 2017 “Memory: Lost and Recovered Heritage” from the 25 June to 4 July 2017, in Warsaw, Krakow (Poland).

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre – Call for applications: World Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2017

New Paper: Palaeoecological Interactions and Owl Roosting at Alor Island, Eastern Indonesia

We report on tetrapod (Reptilia, Amphibia, Mammalia, Aves) vertebrates recovered during excavations at Tron Bon Lei rockshelter on the south coast of Alor Island, eastern Indonesia. These include both archaeological specimens recovered from a 1 m² test pit dating from ∼21 kya cal BP to the late Holocene, and a modern eastern barn owl deposit recovered nearby. To discern between the depositional processes that accumulated the small numbers of micro- and macrovertebrate remains from the archaeological deposits, the taphonomic signature of the natural assemblage was quantified and compared to the archaeological record. The taphonomic data indicates that the tetrapod archaeofaunal remains are a combination of barn owl predation of microfauna and human predation of larger fauna. This approach provides new information on human-tetrapod interactions on Alor in Wallacea during the late Quaternary, including an apparent increase in cave site use and hunting intensity during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, sea turtle butchery and probable transport, and extinctions of previously unknown giant to large rat species.

Source: Human Palaeoecological Interactions and Owl Roosting at Tron Bon Lei, Alor Island, Eastern Indonesia: The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology: Vol 0, No 0