Facial reconstruction of a woman from Pleistocene Thailand

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A new paper from Antiquity presents a facial reconstruction of a woman found in Tham Lod, a Pleistocene site in northern Thailand.


Creating a facial appearance for individuals from the distant past is often highly problematic, even when verified methods are used. This is especially so in the case of non-European individuals, as the reference populations used to estimate the face tend to be heavily biased towards the average facial variation of recent people of European descent. To evaluate the problem, a facial approximation of a young woman from the Late Pleistocene rockshelter of Tham Lod in north-western Thailand was compared against the average facial variation of datasets from recent populations. The analysis indicated that the Tham Lod facial approximation was neither overtly recent in facial morphology, nor overtly European. The case is of particular interest as the Tham Lod individual probably belonged to a population ancestral to extant Australo-Melanesian peoples.

Source: A Late Pleistocene woman from Tham Lod, Thailand: the influence of today on a face from the past | Antiquity | Cambridge Core

See also: Face of Stone Age woman from Thailand’s northern highlands revealed

Special Antiquity feature on Angkor Wat

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The latest issue of Antiquity has a special section featuring the latest research on Angkor Wat, which is written by a number of my colleagues and friends. Among the papers discussed are the discovery of towers and previously unknown features within Angkor Wat, the results of the lidar scan in the greater Angkor region, and the fortification walls of Angkor Wat. Here are the links to the journal articles – the first paper is open access, but the rest unfortunately aren’t.


Angkor Wat: an introduction
Fletcher et al, doi:10.15184/aqy.2015.178

The landscape of Angkor Wat redefined
Evans and Fletcher, doi:10.15184/aqy.2015.157

The buried ‘towers’ of Angkor Wat
Sonnemann et al, doi: 10.15184/aqy.2015.179

Residential patterning at Angkor Wat
Stark et al, doi: 10.15184/aqy.2015.159

The fortification of Angkor Wat
Brotherson, doi: 10.15184/aqy.2015.140

Here are links to the news coverage so far:

New discoveries redefine Angkor Wat’s history
University of Sydney, 09 December 2015

Angkor Wat Yields Astounding Buried Towers & Spiral Structure
LiveScience, 09 December 2015

Angkor Wat Larger, More Complex Than Thought
Cambodia Daily, 10 December 2015

The temple of Angkor Wat was bounded by a ‘mysterious structure’ 1.5 km long
Business Insider, 10 December 2015

Discoveries reveal lost Angkor history
Phnom Penh Post, 11 December 2015

Cambodia: Huge structure discovered at Angkor Wat shows religious monument is more complex than thought
International Business Times, 11 December 2015

Archaeology: Angkor Wat in Cambodia Was Larger and Different Than Thought
Natural World News, 11 December 2015

A lot more than meets the eye
The Hindu, 11 December 2015

New Findings Might Reveal the People of Angkor Wat’s “Last Stand”
Gizmodo, 12 December 2015

Two new papers in Antiquity

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Reader may be interested in two papers related to Southeast Asian Archaeology in the latest issue of Antiquity.

Rainfall and circular moated sites in north-east Thailand
Glen Scott and Dougald O’Reilly
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2015.130

The existence of moated mounds in the archaeological record of north-east Thailand has long been known, the majority constructed during the earlier first millennium AD. Despite considerable research, the purpose of the substantial and sometimes multiple moats surrounding raised occupation mounds has remained a mystery. Combining locational, hydrological and rainfall data with the archaeological evidence, this study of the moated mounds of the Khorat Plateau seeks to resolve the question through statistical analysis. The results suggest that water storage may have been the primary purpose of the moats, enabling communities to survive dry seasons and droughts.

Debating a great site: Ban Non Wat and the wider prehistory of Southeast Asia
C.F.W. Higham
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2015.113

Almost half a century has elapsed since the first area excavation of a prehistoric site in north-east Thailand at Non Nok Tha (Bayard & Solheim 2010) (Figure 1). A long and still unresolved debate has ensued, centred on the chronology of the establishment of rice farming and bronze casting, that has dovetailed with further controversies on the pace and nature of social change. Results obtained during the past 20 years of fieldwork focused on the upper Mun Valley of north-east Thailand, together with a new series of AMS radiocarbon determinations from key sites, have thrown into sharp relief contrasting interpretations of two issues: one centres on the timing and origin of the Neolithic settlement; the other on the date and impact of copper-base metallurgy. A consensus through debate would bring us to a tipping point that would see Southeast Asian prehistory turn to more interesting issues of cultural change.

The Hidden Paintings of Angkor Wat

Enhanced painting from Angkor Wat

It’s strange to post a news story that I was directly involved in, but in the interests of archiving (see also here), my paper on the invisible paintings of Angkor Wat was published last week in the journal Antiquity. It’s been receiving lots of interest, which I’ve been really happy about, and I’ll post something about my own personal experience about it in a later post. (Edit: I’ve received a fair bit of media coverage already – so maybe I’ll not talk about it later.)

Enhanced painting from Angkor Wat

Enhanced painting from Angkor Wat

The Hidden Paintings of Angkor Wat
Antiquity, Vol 88

Hidden Paintings Revealed at Ancient Temple of Angkor Wat
Live Science, 27 May 2014

The Invisible Graffiti of Angkor Wat
Science, 27 May 2014

Angkor Wat’s Hidden Paintings Revealed with Digital Technique
Scientific American, 28 May 2014

Angkor still has secrets to reveal
Phnom Penh Post, 29 May 2014

More Than 200 Hidden Paintings Were Discovered on the Walls of Angkor Wat
Smithsonian, 29 May 2014

The hidden graffiti of Angkor Wat: Nasa technology reveals more than 200 hidden paintings of gods and elephants on temples
Daily Mail, 29 May 2014

Century-old graffiti discovered at Angkor Wat
Science Alert, 29 May 2014

A Forgotten History of Angkor Wat Revealed in its Vandalism
Hyperallergenic.com, 29 May 2014

Hidden paintings of Angkor Wat appear in digital images
New Scientist, 29 May 2014

An Algorithm Revealed 200 Lost Paintings on Angkor Wat’s Ancient Walls
Gizmodo, 29 May 2014

Over 200 Paintings Discovered in Cambodia’s Angkor Wat
Time, 29 May 2014

NASA technology reveals mystery graffiti on walls of ancient jungle temple
Houston Chronicle, 30 May 2014

Paintings Provide Glimpse of Post-Angkorian Life
Cambodia Daily, 31 May 2014
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