Papua New Guinea skull ‘world’s oldest tsunami victim’

via AFP-New Straits Times, 26 October 2017:

A 6,000-year-old skull found in Papua New Guinea is likely the world’s oldest-known tsunami victim, experts said Thursday after a new analysis of the area it was found in.

The partially preserved Aitape Skull was discovered in 1929 by Australian geologist Paul Hossfeld, 12 kilometres (seven miles) inland from the northern coast of the Pacific nation.

It was long thought to belong to Homo erectus (upright man), an extinct species thought to be an ancestor of the modern human that died out some 140,000 years ago.

But more recent radiocarbon dating estimated it was closer to 6,000 years old, making it a member of our own species – Homo sapiens. At that time, sea levels were higher and the area would have been near the coast.

An international team led by the University of New South Wales returned to the site to collect the same geological deposits observed by Hossfeld.

Source: Papua New Guinea skull ‘world’s oldest tsunami victim’ | New Straits Times | Malaysia General Business Sports and Lifestyle News

PhD Scholarships at Griffith University

10 PhD scholarships are available to Australian and international students at the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE) and the Place, Evolution, and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU). The geographical scope of research includes Southeast Asia.

Call for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD/DPhil) Candidates in Archaeology/Human Evolution
Griffith University
Brisbane/Gold Coast, SE Queensland, Australia

In recent years, the focus of human evolution research has increasingly shifted from Africa — the ‘cradle of mankind’ — to Asia and Australia. Two of Griffith University’s leading research centres — the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE) and the Place, Evolution, and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU) have been at the forefront of exciting discoveries both in these regions and further abroad.

We are now seeking up to 10 highly motivated and collegial PhD candidates who would like to join our team. Domestic and international students are encouraged to apply.

Successful candidates may be eligible for a full RTP scholarship including a stipend of $26,682 pa (2017 rates) and domestic fee offset or international fee offset scholarship as appropriate. Further information regarding the Griffith University RTP Scholarship policy is available at: https://www.griffith.edu.au/higher-degrees-research/services-support-resources/research-training-program.

Projects exploring any aspect of human evolution (anatomy, behaviour, cognition), prehistoric archaeology, or palaeontology are invited. Available topics include (but not limited to) investigating extinct hominids, human dispersals, genomics, archaeology, bioinfomatics, archaeogeochemistry, geochronology, palaeontology of islands in Southeast Asia/Australia, prehistoric technologies, fossil orangs, and the development of human cognition and cultures.

Griffith researchers have expertise in archaeology, use wear analysis, palaeoanthropology, evolutionary anthropology, geochronology, landscape and human co-evolution, palaeontology, ancient and modern DNA analysis, physicochemical characterisation (archaeological pigments research), and rock art research.

Prospective candidates are requested to provide a short covering letter stating which area/areas they are interested in pursuing and potential topics of interest, a current CV and academic transcript by 3rd November 2017.

Scholarship Eligibility;

Students must meet one of the following criteria to be eligible for the Griffith University Scholarship Program;

Completed an Australian Degree of Bachelor with Honours 1 (AQF Level 8) (or international comparable qualification as assessed by NOOSR) with a research component of at least 40 credit points (one semester full‐time equivalent); or

Completed an Australian Masters Degree (AQF Level 9) (or international comparable qualification as assessed by NOOSR) with a research component of at least 40 credit points (one semester full‐time equivalent) with evidence of outstanding performance (overall gradepoint average (GPA) of 6 on a 7 point scale with a GPA of at least 6 for the research component (GPA calculated as per the University’s Calculation of Grade Point Average Policy); or

Grounds for Honours 1 equivalence based on a case where the applicant holds a combination of qualifications and research experience and/or research outputs which are determined by the University as equivalent

International applicants are also required to meet the prescribed minimum english language proficiency (ELP) with an overall band score of 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with no band score less than 6.0; or equivalent.

Initial enquiries should be directed via email to Ms Dian Riseley, Institute Manager, Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University email d.riseley@grififth.edu.au

Further information is also available on our websites:
ARCHE: https://www.griffith.edu.au/environment-planning-architecture/environmental-futures-research-institute/research/human-evolution

PERAHU: https://www.griffith.edu.au/humanities-languages/place-evolution-rock-art-heritage-unit

Birthplace of Austronesians is Taiwan, capital was Taitung: Scholar

via Taitung News, 06 September 2017:

A growing number of scholars from various fields both domestically and abroad are coming to the conclusion that Taiwan is the birthplace of the Austronesian people and language family, and Academia Sinica scholar Liu I-chang (劉益昌) has taken this a step further by proposing that the nexus of this ancient culture 4,000 years ago was Taitung, reported CNA.

Liu yesterday participated in an experiment which demonstrated the seaworthiness of a replica of an ancient Amis bamboo raft that the indigenous Taiwanese tribe may have been capable of building 4,000 years ago. The boat was built based on records of such vessels prior to Japanese colonization in Taiwan and similar craft found in the Philippines and Vietnam half a century ago.

Source: Birthplace of Austronesians is Taiwan, capital was Taitung: Scholar | Taiwan News

Humans occupied northern Australia 65,000 years ago: What does this mean for SEA?

An exciting paper was published last week in Nature and received a fair bit of media coverage: dating from the Madjedbebe site in Northern Territories of Australia have yielded the earliest human occupation dates of 65,000 years, setting a new minimum age of human migration. The previous conventional earliest occupation date was about 47,000 years ago – so this new date is a pretty big deal. The finds have a bigger implication for human occupation in Southeast Asia: so far the oldest modern human remains found in SEA are from Tham Pa Ling in Laos, which are approximately 60,000 years old. This new find from Australia suggests that there may be older remains yet to be found in SEA.

The time of arrival of people in Australia is an unresolved question. It is relevant to debates about when modern humans first dispersed out of Africa and when their descendants incorporated genetic material from Neanderthals, Denisovans and possibly other hominins. Humans have also been implicated in the extinction of Australia’s megafauna. Here we report the results of new excavations conducted at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern Australia. Artefacts in primary depositional context are concentrated in three dense bands, with the stratigraphic integrity of the deposit demonstrated by artefact refits and by optical dating and other analyses of the sediments. Human occupation began around 65,000 years ago, with a distinctive stone tool assemblage including grinding stones, ground ochres, reflective additives and ground-edge hatchet heads. This evidence sets a new minimum age for the arrival of humans in Australia, the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa, and the subsequent interactions of modern humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Source: Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago : Nature : Nature Research

See also:

Sunken Australian warship HMAS Perth ransacked by illegal scavengers

The Guardian, 05 June 2017:

One of Australia’s most treasured second world war warships has been illegally salvaged for metal, devastating the war grave of more than 300 sailors, maritime archaeologists say.

An Australian-Indonesian expedition conducted a dive on the wreck of HMAS Perth, which sank in 1942 following a fierce battle against the Japanese navy off the north-west tip of Java.

Kevin Sumption, the director of the Australian National Maritime Museum, said: “It is with profound regret we advise that our joint maritime archaeologist diving team has discovered sections of the Perth missing. Interim reports indicate only approximately 40% of the vessel remaining.

Source: Sunken Australian warship HMAS Perth ransacked by illegal scavengers | Australia news | The Guardian

[Job] Professor in Archaeology – The University Of Papua New Guinea

Job opportunity at the University of Papua New Guinea. Closing date is 23 June 2017

As part of the new directional change in the strand and the School, we seek to appoint a Professor in Anthropology/Sociology/Archaeology that is well placed to lead the team of academics to implement and achieve the designed outcomes of the restructure of the University. The Professor will provide both academic and administrative leadership in the school. The appointee is expected to provide strong supervisory ability, planning, organizing, influencing and collaborating with staff and stakeholders with the desire to improve standards in the school and university. The professor will be committed to the vision of the school and the university and have demonstrated ability to motivate both senior and junior academics to achieve the desired outcomes of the school and the university.

The Professor is expected to exercise special responsibility in providing scholarly and general leadership in fostering excellence in research, teaching, professional activities and policy development in the academic discipline within the school and /or other comparable organizational unit, within the university and within the community

Source: Professor in Anthropology/Sociology/Archaeology – The University Of Papua New Guinea – jobs.ac.uk

Job: Faculty Position – Relationships Between China and its Neighbouring Countries – Shanghai Normal University

Faculty position available in Shanghai Normal University, open to archaeological focuses on Chinas relations with Southeast Asia. Applications close on July 12, 2017

Faculty Position – Relationships Between China and its Neighbouring Countries

The Guangqi Centre for International Scholars is a research institute affiliated with Shanghai Normal University, focusing on the application of academic research on reality. It is built to facilitate communication between Western cultures and Eastern cultures and to attract talented scholars to exchange ideas freely. The central aim is to become a well-known research institute soon.

The Guangqi Centre for International Scholars seeks a full-time scholar focused on relationships between China and its neighbouring countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia. This is a full-time academic position with a three-year renewable contract.

This position is open to scholars of all thematic interests: history, politics, archaeology, linguistics, literature, religion, anthropology, art, international relations, and other related fields.
The recruited scholars will be directly admitted by the school. They will also be able to undertake postdoctoral research on world history, Chinese history, Chinese language and literature, and more, per their interest.

Source: Faculty Position – Relationships Between China and its Neighbouring Countries – Shanghai Normal University – jobs.ac.uk

Paper: Dating rice remains through phytolith carbon-14 study reveals domestication at the beginning of the Holocene

New paper in PNAS about the earliest domestication of rice in China.

Dating rice remains through phytolith carbon-14 study reveals domestication at the beginning of the Holocene

Phytolith remains of rice (Oryza sativa L.) recovered from the Shangshan site in the Lower Yangtze of China have previously been recognized as the earliest examples of rice cultivation. However, because of the poor preservation of macroplant fossils, many radiocarbon dates were derived from undifferentiated organic materials in pottery sherds. These materials remain a source of debate because of potential contamination by old carbon. Direct dating of the rice remains might serve to clarify their age. Here, we first validate the reliability of phytolith dating in the study region through a comparison with dates obtained from other material from the same layer or context. Our phytolith data indicate that rice remains retrieved from early stages of the Shangshan and Hehuashan sites have ages of approximately 9,400 and 9,000 calibrated years before the present, respectively. The morphology of rice bulliform phytoliths indicates they are closer to modern domesticated species than to wild species, suggesting that rice domestication may have begun at Shangshan during the beginning of the Holocene.

Source: Dating rice remains through phytolith carbon-14 study reveals domestication at the beginning of the Holocene

See also: Radiocarbon dating of phytolith traces rice domestication to 10,000 years ago (CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES HEADQUARTERS, 02 June 2017)

Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Archaeology of Early Chinese Trade Ceramics in the Western Indian Ocean at Durham University

Of possible interest to some readers, a postdoc position on Chinese ceramics at Durham University

Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Archaeology of Early Chinese Trade Ceramics in the Western Indian Ocean

The purpose of this 23-month fixed term full-time PDRA post is to work alongside the Head of the Department of Archaeology (Prof. Robin Skeates), our Senior Lecturer/Associate Lecturer (Dr. Derek Kennet) and other colleagues in Durham’s Department of Archaeology in developing, undertaking and publishing collaborative research with the Palace Museum in Beijing on the archaeology of early Chinese trade ceramics. Within the contemporary context of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative, a particular focus will be on their classification, their production at kiln sites in China, their overland trade in Iran, and their maritime trade in the western Indian Ocean from the 8th to the 19th centuries.

Source: Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Archaeology of Early Chinese Trade Ceramics in the Western Indian Ocean at Durham University