Antiques and the Arts Weekly, 09 May 2017
In “Secrets of The Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia,” running through June 4 at the Asia Society Museum, 78 choice artifacts conjure trade on the flourishing maritime silk route that extended from the Abbasid caliphate to the Tang empire in the Ninth Century. As it turns out, active trading had been underway centuries before the Portuguese had arrived in search of goods and spices.
Curator Adrianna Proser hopes visitors will find the show intriguing, not only for its treasures but for its exploration “of the level of activity and exchange and trade that was crossing a large segment of the world so much earlier than people realized.”
Source: Secrets Of The Sea: A Tang Shipwreck & Early Trade In Asia
The Maritime Executive, 08 May 2017: The Malaysian and Indonesian authorities have detained the MV Chuan Hong 68 and her crew, a vessel which is believed to be illegally looting shipwrecks (including war graves) in Indonesian and Malaysian waters.
MV Chuan Hong
Somebody has been stealing warships from Southeast Asian waters – more specifically, sunken warships, which are prized for their scrap metal value. Indonesian authorities now believe that they have caught one of the perpetrators: they allege that the 8,000 gt Chinese grab dredger Chuan Hong 68 was responsible for illegally scavenging the wrecks of the pre-WWII Japanese destroyer Sagiri, plus the passenger vessels Hiyoshi Maru and Katori Maru, the steamship Igara and the tanker Seven Skies.
It is the second time that maritime authorities have caught the Chuan Hong 68 in as many months. On April 20, the Indonesian Navy detained her in the waters off Natuna in the Riau Islands on the suspicion that she was engaged in illegal dredging. She escaped on April 22 and fled to Malaysia, where she was detained once again by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
Source: Indonesia Captures Maritime Grave Robbers
Indonesia seeks Interpol’s help to find dredger (Straits Times, 23 April 2017)
The Thieves Who Steal Sunken Warships, Right Down to the Bolts (Outside Online, 02 May 2017)
Indonesia Detains Chinese-flagged Dredger for Looting Sunken Treasure (Netral, 07 May 2017)
For readers in Bangkok, there will be a a couple of talks at the Siam Society on the archaeology and urban conservation of Jakarta. The speakers are Annissa M. Gultom (Archaeology) and Bambang Eryudhawan (Urban Conservation). Admission is free. (Disclosure: I am personally involved in organising this event as part of my work at SEAMEO SPAFA).
SEAMEO SPAFA in cooperation with The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage Present
Jakarta: Past and Present
The SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA) and the Siam Society will organize two lectures on the archaeology and urban conservation of Jakarta, as part of SEAMEO SPAFA’s lecture series on the archaeology of the Capitals of Southeast Asia. The first set of lectures, focusing on Jakarta, will be delivered on Tuesday 23rd May 2017 at 18.30-20.30 hrs. at the Siam Society. The event is free of charge.
Jakarta Globe, 03 May 2017
National Gallery of Indonesia holds a rock art exhibition called “Wimba Kala” at the National Gallery of Indonesia in Central Jakarta until May 15.
Source: National Gallery Exhibition Reinterprets Indonesia’s Rock Art | Jakarta Globe
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
- Origins of Indonesian Hobbits finally revealed (Science Daily, 21 April 2017)
- ‘Hobbit’ species did not evolve from ancestor of modern humans, research finds (The Guardian, 21 April 2017)
- Study shows Indonesian “hobbits” came from Africa (Xinhua, 21 April 2017)
- Hobbit jawbone study redraws the human family tree (Cosmos, 21 April 2017)
- Real-life ‘hobbits’ could be one of the earliest forms of human, say scientists (Indepedent, 21 April 2017)
- Origins of Indonesia’s Flores ‘hobbits’ most likely in Africa and not from ‘Java man’, study claims (Sydney Morning Herald, 21 April 2017
- Mystery human hobbit ancestor may have been first out of Africa (New Scientist, 21 April 2017)
- New theory provides insight on Indonesian ‘hobbits’ (AOL News, 21 April 2017)
- Indonesian hobbit evolved from African ancestor (UPI, 21 April 2017)
- Hobbits really do exist – and it’s now been revealed where they come from (The Mirror, 21 April 2017)
- Hobbit Bones Reveal Evolution Of Ancient Human Species (International Business Times, 21 April 2017)
- Scientists in shock human ‘hobbit’ discovery announcement (Daily Star, 21 April 2017)
- Flores Man ‘hobbits’ found in Indonesia were NOT direct relatives of modern humans, scientists confirm (The Sun, 22 April 2017)
- Indonesian ‘Hobbit’ Not Related To Modern Humans’ Ancestor But Instead Has African Origins: Scientists (Tech Times, 22 April 2017)
- Origins of ‘hobbit’ species discovered (CBC News, 22 April 2017)
- The hobbits were not humans, says new study (Telangana Today, 22 April 2017)
- Indonesia’s ‘Hobbits’ Are Far Older Relatives Than We Originally Thought (Science Alert, 22 April 2017)
- ANU researchers discount theory Indonesian hobbits evolved from Homo erectus (ABC News, 22 April 2017)
- We’re Not Close: Indonesia’s Human-Like ‘Hobbit’ Skeletons Aren’t Our Ancestors (Sputnik News, 22 April 2017)
- Scientists debunk theory that hobbits were man’s cousin (International Business Times, 22 April 2017)
- Study reveals origins of Indonesian ‘hobbits’ (Z News, 22 April 2017)
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
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
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.
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’
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