via The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 10 Feb 2019: Coastal Subsistence Strategies and Mangrove Swamp Evolution at Bubog I Rockshelter (Ilin Island, Mindoro, Philippines)
Clara Boulanger at al., https://doi.org/10.1080/15564894.2018.1531957
Subsistence adaptations to coastal environments and the capacity to take advantage of mangrove swamps has likely played an important role in the success of the maritime colonization of Southeast Asian and Wallacean islands by modern humans. Yet, ichthyoarchaeological studies remain rare in this part of the world. Bubog I rockshelter (Ilin Island, southwestern Mindoro, the Philippines) has yielded a stratigraphic filling extending from 30 ka to 4 ka, including a human-produced shell midden. Several remains from marine and terrestrial animals have been recovered from the site. We report here on an Australo-Melanesian subsistence behavior based on ichthyofaunal, crustacean, and large mammal remains. Their adaptation to successfully exploit different marine environments from open reef to mangrove swamps is demonstrated by the continuous presence of fishes from these marine zones throughout the stratigraphy and by the development of a range of fishing and foraging techniques. The increased hunting of Sus oliveri furthermore shows increased foraging in tropical rainforests after 6 ka. Interestingly, based on crustaceans analysis, mangrove foraging in Bubog I declined when the development of these swamps was at their maximum in other islands in the Philippines. Variability in subsistence strategies therefore appears to be a response to changing landscapes during the Pleistocene–Holocene transition with a strong marine specialization that only increased as mangrove habitats declined.
via Quartenary International, 07 Jan 2019: Taking a statistical approach to analysing faunal remains at archaeological sites across Southeast Asia to distinguish between hunter-gather and early agricultural subsistence economies.
The emergence of agriculture in Mainland Southeast Asia appears to have resulted in a subsistence shift from hunting terrestrial and arboreal game to a combined hunting/animal management subsistence regime focused on the maintenance of pigs and dogs. These conclusions are currently based on nominal differences in vertebrate taxonomic composition observed at different archaeological sites. In this paper, we take a statistical approach to test whether hunter-gather and early agricultural subsistence economies really can be confidently distinguished based on the relative taxonomic composition of the recovered animal bone assemblages. A regional database of terrestrial and arboreal vertebrate faunas was created for 32 archaeological sites across Southeast Asia from the Terminal Pleistocene to the Late Holocene, and principal component analysis was performed. The resultant data indicates that terrestrial vertebrate taxonomic composition is a relatively strong indicator of the general subsistence base for the various archaeological sites studied and can be used to determine whether the inhabitants subsisted purely from hunting, or from a mixture hunting and animal management.
New Open Access paper in the Journal of Human Evolution examines the distribution stone artefacts and faunal remains of Liang Bua over 190,000 years. Changes in the assemblage suggest that modern humans arrived to Liang Bua around 46,000 years ago.
Liang Bua, the type site of Homo floresiensis, is a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores with sedimentary deposits currently known to range in age from about 190 thousand years (ka) ago to the present. Recent revision of the stratigraphy and chronology of this depositional sequence suggests that skeletal remains of H. floresiensis are between ∼100 and 60 ka old, while cultural evidence of this taxon occurs until ∼50 ka ago. Here we examine the compositions of the faunal communities and stone artifacts, by broad taxonomic groups and raw materials, throughout the ∼190 ka time interval preserved in the sequence. Major shifts are observed in both the faunal and stone artifact assemblages that reflect marked changes in paleoecology and hominin behavior, respectively. Our results suggest that H. floresiensis and Stegodon florensis insularis, along with giant marabou stork (Leptoptilos robustus) and vulture (Trigonoceps sp.), were likely extinct by ∼50 ka ago. Moreover, an abrupt and statistically significant shift in raw material preference due to an increased use of chert occurs ∼46 thousand calibrated radiocarbon (14C) years before present (ka cal. BP), a pattern that continues through the subsequent stratigraphic sequence. If an increased preference for chert does, in fact, characterize Homo sapiens assemblages at Liang Bua, as previous studies have suggested (e.g., Moore et al., 2009), then the shift observed here suggests that modern humans arrived on Flores by ∼46 ka cal. BP, which would be the earliest cultural evidence of modern humans in Indonesia.
First direct dates of dingo bones from a site in Western Australia. Dingoes are one of the few mammals that crossed water (most likely accompanying humans) before European arrival. The dates and location of the site suggest that dingoes spread throughout the continent relatively quickly after their introduction.
The dingo is the only placental land mammal aside from murids and bats to have made the water crossings to reach Australia prior to European arrival. It is thought that they arrived as a commensal animal with people, some time in the mid Holocene. However, the timing of their arrival is still a subject of major debate with published age estimates varying widely. This is largely because the age estimates for dingo arrival are based on archaeological deposit dates and genetic divergence estimates, rather than on the dingo bones themselves. Currently, estimates vary from between 5000–4000 years ago, for finds from archaeological contexts, and as much as 18,000 based on DNA age estimates. The timing of dingo arrival is important as post arrival they transformed Indigenous societies across mainland Australia and have been implicated in the extinction of a number of animals including the Tasmanian tiger. Here we present the results of direct dating of dingo bones from their oldest known archaeological context, Madura Cave on the Nullarbor Plain. These dates demonstrate that dingoes were in southern Australia by between 3348 and 3081 years ago. We suggest that following their introduction the dingo may have spread extremely rapidly throughout mainland Australia.
Just passing on this information about the Postgraduate ZooArchaeology Forum (PZAF) which will take place between the 27th and 29th June 2018 in Palermo (Sicily, Italy). Abstracts from any field of zooarchaeology will be considered, and can be submitted through the PZAF 2018 website https://www.pzaf.org/. The deadline for abstract submission is on 31st March 2018. For any information on the conference, please visit https://www.pzaf.org/ or email email@example.com. Updates and useful information can also be found on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pzaf2018/.
PZAF is an annual conference organised by and for postgraduate students and early-career professionals in the field of zooarchaeology.
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.
Archaeologists with The Australian National University (ANU) have discovered fossils of seven giant rat species on East Timor, with the largest up to 10 times the size of modern rats.
Dr Julien Louys of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language, who is helping lead the project said these are the largest known rats to have ever existed.
“They are what you would call mega-fauna. The biggest one is about five kilos, the size of a small dog,” Dr Louys said.
“Just to put that in perspective, a large modern rat would be about half a kilo.”
The work is part of the From Sunda to Sahul project which is looking at the earliest human movement through Southeast Asia. Researchers are now trying to work out exactly what caused the rats to die out.
Zoologist and environmental biologist the Earl of Cranbrook recently delivered a lecture to students at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Lord Cranbrook was also on Borneo to present on the same topic at the recent Borneo archaeology seminar in Miri.
UBD Students Gain Insight On Zooarchaeology In Borneo
BruDirect.com, 03 November 2010 Read More