Stone workshop suggests hominids in Central Vietnam 800,000 years ago

Stone tools estimated to be around 700,000-800,000 years old in Central Vietnam suggest the presence of hominids during the Paleolithic.

Stone tools from Gia Lai. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160707
Stone tools from Gia Lai. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160707

Discovery about ancient workshop stirs archeological community
Vietnam Net, 07 July 2016

The team of archaeologists from the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology & Ethnology belonging to the Russian Federal Science Academy and the Institute of Archaeology and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences made the discovery about the existence of a production workshop of Vietnamese primitive men.

Dr Nguyen Gia Doi, Deputy Director of the Institute of Archaeology, said the exact name of the relic site is an early paleolithic relic with fossil tektite samples believed to be aged 770,000-800,000 years and stone artifacts such as hand axes.

This means that the upper course of the Ba River in An Khe was the place for people 700,000 years ago. This s the oldest appearance of humans and civilization ever recorded in Vietnamese territory.

Full story here.

Hints of Vietnam in the palaeolithic emerge from the Central Highlands

Stone tools discovered in the mountains of Central Vietnam suggest the presence of hominids around 800,000 years ago.

Palaeolithic handaxes from central Vietnam. Source: Vietnam Net 20160412
Palaeolithic handaxes from central Vietnam. Source: Vietnam Net 20160412

Vietnam discovers likely most ancient early Paleolithic sites in central region
Xinhua, via Shanghai Daily, 11 April 2016

Traces of Paleolithic age discovered in Vietnam
Vietnam Net, 12 April 2016

Vietnam for the first time discovered early Paleolithic sites inside cultural layer with stone tools and tektites believed to date back 770,000-800,000 years ago, according to Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) on Monday.

This is likely considered the most ancient mark ever-known on the appearance of human and their culture in Vietnam, the VASS said in Hanoi on Friday while announcing on preliminary results of archaeological study in An Khe town of Vietnam’s Central Highlands Gia Lai province.

In 2014, while implementing a ministerial level scientific project, archaeologists discovered five early Paleolithic sites in An Khe town, said Nguyen Gia Doi, Deputy Director of Institute of Archaeology under the VASS.

Full stories here and here.

Stone tools push the human occupation of Sulawesi back by 60,000 years

The discovery of stone tools from Sulawesi date to 118,000 years ago – possibly by the so-called hobbits – predate what is thought to be the earliest arrival of humans into Southeast Asia 50,000 – 60,000 years ago.

Stone tools dating to 118,000 years from Sulawesi. Source: ABC News 20160114
Stone tools dating to 118,000 years from Sulawesi. Source: ABC News 20160114

Earliest hominin occupation of Sulawesi, Indonesia
Gerrit D. van den Bergh, Bo Li, Adam Brumm, Rainer Grün, Dida Yurnaldi, Mark W. Moore, Iwan Kurniawan, Ruly Setiawan, Fachroel Aziz, Richard G. Roberts, Suyono, Michael Storey, Erick Setiabudi & Michael J. Morwood
Nature, doi:10.1038/nature16448

A group of mysterious humans left these tools in Indonesia over 118,000 years ago
Ars Technica, 15 January 2016

Stone tools found on Sulawesi in Indonesia ‘made by ancient humans at least 118,000 years ago
ABC News, 14 January 2016

‘Hobbit’ gets a neighbor: Stone tools hint at archaic human presence
CS Monitor, 14 January 2016

Ancient tools show how mysterious ‘Hobbit’ occupied Indonesian island
Reuters, via Ottowa Sun, 13 January 2016

Sulawesi is the largest and oldest island within Wallacea, a vast zone of oceanic islands separating continental Asia from the Pleistocene landmass of Australia and Papua (Sahul). By one million years ago an unknown hominin lineage had colonized Flores immediately to the south1, and by about 50 thousand years ago, modern humans (Homo sapiens) had crossed to Sahul2, 3. On the basis of position, oceanic currents and biogeographical context, Sulawesi probably played a pivotal part in these dispersals4. Uranium-series dating of speleothem deposits associated with rock art in the limestone karst region of Maros in southwest Sulawesi has revealed that humans were living on the island at least 40 thousand years ago (ref. 5). Here we report new excavations at Talepu in the Walanae Basin northeast of Maros, where in situ stone artefacts associated with fossil remains of megafauna (Bubalus sp., Stegodon and Celebochoerus) have been recovered from stratified deposits that accumulated from before 200 thousand years ago until about 100 thousand years ago. Our findings suggest that Sulawesi, like Flores, was host to a long-established population of archaic hominins, the ancestral origins and taxonomic status of which remain elusive.

Article can be found here.

Oldest Hoabinhian site found in Yunnan

A new paper in Quaternary International discusses the Xiaodong rock shelter in Yunnan, the oldest Hoabinhian site to date. The Hoabinhian technoculture can be found throughout Southeast Asia, and so this discovery in Yunnan suggests the origins and subsequent spread of people using this set of tools into Southeast Asia.

Xiaodong rock shelter. Source: China.org 20151230
Xiaodong rock shelter. Source: China.org 20151230

The oldest Hoabinhian technocomplex in Asia (43.5 ka) at Xiaodong rockshelter, Yunnan Province, southwest China
Quarternary International, doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.09.080

Oldest Hoabinhian site discovered in SW China
China.org, 30 December 2015

The Hoabinhian is the most representative technocomplex in Southeast Asian prehistory for the later hunter–gatherer period. As a mainland technology based exclusively on seasonal tropical environments, this core-tool culture was previously defined in northern Vietnam in 1932 and characterized originally by its large, flat and long, largely unifacial cobble tools associated with tropical forest fauna. The recent discoveries and dates obtained at Xiaodong rockshelter in Yunnan Province (southwest China) allow us to discuss the origin and the homeland of this singular Asian technocomplex which spread to Southeast Asia during the end of the Late Upper Pleistocene. Here we present the first Chinese Hoabinhian lithic implements in their stratigraphic and chronological context within a rockshelter site, and we address the question of the dispersal of modern humans from South China to Southeast Asia.

News article here.

The Tham Lod site of Mae Hong Son

A feature on Tham Lod, a Pleistocene-Holocene site in Mae Hong Son province of northern Thailand.

Tham Lod. Source: Ancient Origins 20151109
Tham Lod. Source: Ancient Origins 20151109

Magnificent Tham Lod Cave Sheds Light on Earliest Humans in Thailand
Ancient Origins, 09 November 2015

The Tham Lod Rockshelter (a shallow cave) in Mae Hong Son Province, in Northwest Thailand is a prehistoric area that had been the center for burial and tool–making in the late Pleistocene to the late Holocene phase. The magnificent cave, a photographer’s and archaeologist’s dream, continues to shed light on the earliest humans that inhabited Thailand.

The discovery of a wealth of archaeological remains inside the Tham Lod rockshelter, also known as Tham Lot cave, led to the protection of the site by the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Studies in 2001. Extensive excavations were carried out to establish and examine human activity at Tham Lod during the three major periods of occupation in the region. The results revealed extensive long-term activity by early humans including hunting, food preparation, tool-making, and human burials.

Full story here.

New archaeological discoveries near Da Nang

Archaeologists working around the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang have reported finding a number of artefactsm including prehistoric material from a modern communal house site, and ruins of Cham towers.

Artefacts unearthed in central city of Da Nang
Viet Nam Net, 03 July 2015

More than 4,500 items, including ceramics, stone axes, coins, mollusc shells dating back to the 3,000-year-old Sa Huynh Culture, were found during a two-month excavation in the garden of the Khue Bac Communal House in Da Nang.

The city’s Heritage Management Centre in collaboration with the National Archaeology Institute announced this at a press conference on July 1.

The excavation also unearthed the ruins of Cham towers – Xuan Duong and Go Gian in Lien Chieu and Hoa Vang districts.

Archaeologist Pham Van Trieu, who led the excavation, said items on the 100sq.m area in Khue Bac Communal House, which lies at the foot of the Ngu Hanh Son (Marble) Mountains 15km from the city, feature layers of culture covering the Sa Huynh, Champa and Dai Viet (Great Vietnam) eras, and trade with China’s Ming and Song dynasties.

“The location is situated near an ancient channel running around mountains and connecting it with the Co Co River,” Trieu said.

Full story here.

Thousands of beads found in Central Vietnam

A feature on the prehistoric jewelry Quang Nam province in Vietnam.

Beads found in the Lai Nghi archaeological site  in central Vietnam. Source: Viet Nam Net 20150513
Beads found in the Lai Nghi archaeological site in central Vietnam. Source: Viet Nam Net 20150513

Thousand-year-old jewelry unearthed in central Vietnam
Viet Nam Net, 13 May 2015

Jewellery items made of stone and animal bones have been unveiled in ancient tombs thousands of years old in the central province of Quang Nam.

They are pieces of jewelry of ancient Vietnamese people of the Dong Son culture (seventh century BC to first century AD), Sa Huynh culture (tenth century BC – second century AD), and the Oc Eo culture (1st century – seventh century AD).

Glass is considered the most common ingredient in bead manufacturing techniques of the ancient people in Quang Nam. Excavations at important relics in Hoi An, Dien Ban, Duy Xuyen … have demonstrated that.

The ancient people also used agate, crystal, and nephrite to make necklaces.

These kinds of stone are very hard, so the processing techniques must be highly refined.

Scientists say the materials to make the jewelry may have been imported.

Full story here.

Krabi’s archaeological wonders

Thailand’s Krabi province is best known for its beaches, but this feature shows some of the other interesting prehistoric archaeological sites also present.

Tha Phi Hua To, Krabi. Source: Bangkok Post 20150407
Tha Phi Hua To, Krabi. Source: Bangkok Post 20150407

Krabi’s hidden wonder
Bangkok Post, 07 April 2015

Krabi’s reputation as a tourist destination on the Andaman coast needs no promotion. But apart from its famous beaches and islands, the province has several important archaeological sites, including the oldest site in Thailand and Asia, the Lang Rongrien Rockshelter. A recent Fine Arts Department trip to Krabi revealed the significance of these archaeological sites as well as man’s impact on them.

“The Lang Rongrien site was surveyed by Prof Douglas Anderson from Brown University in 1983-5. At 40,000 years old, it is the oldest site in Asia. Pieces of bones from the Neanderthals were found there,” said Praphid Phongmas, senior archaeologist. A number of objects, including three pedestaled pots, pottery, stone tools and animal bones, were also unearthed.

About 3km from the Lang Rongrien site is the Khao Na Wang Mi archaeological site on a range of limestone mountains. There is evidence of prehistoric humans here, with temporary shelters and graveyards 2,000-4,000 years old (New Stone Age) being found.

Full story here.

Study highlight’s Myanmar’s role in early human dispersal into East Asia

A recent study in Scientific Reports pinpoints Myanmar as a region for the dispersal of human populations into East Asia, probably through river valleys. The comparison of DNA between populations of both regions further suggest the presence of an inland route (rather than just coastal) that modern humans took in populating East Asia.

Ancient inland human dispersals from Myanmar into interior East Asia since the Late Pleistocene
Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/srep09473

Motherland Myanmar: New research suggests Burma was birthplace of early Chinese people
South China Morning Post, 02 April 2015

Given the existence of plenty of river valleys connecting Southeast and East Asia, it is possible that some inland route(s) might have been adopted by the initial settlers to migrate into the interior of East Asia. Here we analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) HVS variants of 845 newly collected individuals from 14 Myanmar populations and 5,907 published individuals from 115 populations from Myanmar and its surroundings. Enrichment of basal lineages with the highest genetic diversity in Myanmar suggests that Myanmar was likely one of the differentiation centers of the early modern humans. Intriguingly, some haplogroups were shared merely between Myanmar and southwestern China, hinting certain genetic connection between both regions. Further analyses revealed that such connection was in fact attributed to both recent gene flow and certain ancient dispersals from Myanmar to southwestern China during 25–10 kya, suggesting that, besides the coastal route, the early modern humans also adopted an inland dispersal route to populate the interior of East Asia..

Full article here, and news story here.

Taiwanese highway artefacts revealed

Neolithic artefacts discovered during the construction of a highway in Taiwan have been revealed, after an excavation programme that started last year. The stone tools and pottery fragments are thought to be around 3,000 years old.

Excavations in Mioli County, northern Taiwan. Source: Taiwan Today 20150305
Excavations in Mioli County, northern Taiwan. Source: Taiwan Today 20150305

Prehistoric relics make public debut in Miaoli
Taiwan Today, 05 March 2015

An assortment of relics recovered from an expressway construction site in northern Taiwan’s Miaoli County were publicly unveiled March 4, shedding new light on Neolithic life on the island.

Comprising everyday items, as well as pottery fragments and stone axes, the 3,000-year-old artifacts were unearthed during a Directorate-General of Highways-commissioned dig starting last October.

According to Archaeo Cultures Co. Ltd., the firm responsible for carrying out the project, the 24,000-square-meter-plus Dianziwo site was discovered in 1993 by a Miaoli local.

Full story here.