via Mongo Bay, 09 June 2018: The archaeology of Makassar and the prehistoric Toalian culture. Article is in Bahasa.
Very exciting news out of the Philippines today, a paper published in Nature describes the discovery of stone tools and a butchered rhino fossil in the Cagayan Valley that dates to between 777,000 – 631,000 years ago. This early date forces us to rethink hominin capabilities in crossing water during the Pleistocene.
Earliest known hominin activity in the Philippines by 709 thousand years ago
Ingicco et al.
Over 60 years ago, stone tools and remains of megafauna were discovered on the Southeast Asian islands of Flores, Sulawesi and Luzon, and a Middle Pleistocene colonization by Homo erectus was initially proposed to have occurred on these islands1,2,3,4. However, until the discovery of Homo floresiensis in 2003, claims of the presence of archaic hominins on Wallacean islands were hypothetical owing to the absence of in situ fossils and/or stone artefacts that were excavated from well-documented stratigraphic contexts, or because secure numerical dating methods of these sites were lacking. As a consequence, these claims were generally treated with scepticism5. Here we describe the results of recent excavations at Kalinga in the Cagayan Valley of northern Luzon in the Philippines that have yielded 57 stone tools associated with an almost-complete disarticulated skeleton of Rhinoceros philippinensis, which shows clear signs of butchery, together with other fossil fauna remains attributed to stegodon, Philippine brown deer, freshwater turtle and monitor lizard. All finds originate from a clay-rich bone bed that was dated to between 777 and 631 thousand years ago using electron-spin resonance methods that were applied to tooth enamel and fluvial quartz. This evidence pushes back the proven period of colonization6 of the Philippines by hundreds of thousands of years, and furthermore suggests that early overseas dispersal in Island South East Asia by premodern hominins took place several times during the Early and Middle Pleistocene stages1,2,3,4. The Philippines therefore may have had a central role in southward movements into Wallacea, not only of Pleistocene megafauna7, but also of archaic hominins.
- Ancient humans settled the Philippines 700,000 years ago | Science, 02 May 2018
- Butchered Rhino Suggests Humans Lived in the Philippines 700,000 Years Ago | Seeker, 02 May 2018
- 700,000-Year-Old Stone Tools Point to Mysterious Human Relative | National Geographic, 02 May 2018
- Stunning Discovery Shows Early Humans Were Hunting Rhinos in the Philippines Over 700,000 Years Ago | Gizmodo, 02 May 2018
- New find shows early humans were in the Philippines 700,000 years ago | Phys.org, 02 May 2018
- Ancient butchered rhino suggests humans lived in the Philippines 700,000 years ago | ABC, 03 May 2018
- Rhino fossil rewrites the earliest human history of the Philippines | The Conversation, 03 May 2018
- Traces of early humans in Philippines 700,000 years ago raise question of whether they were seafarers | Japan Times, 03 May 2018
- Discovery suggests humans lived in Philippines much earlier than believed | NBC News, 03 May 2018
- Butchered rhino unearthed in Philippines suggests the origin of ‘hobbits’ | The Independent, 03 May 2018
- A Mysterious Human Ancestor Used These 700,000-Year-Old Tools From The Philippines | Science Alert, 03 May 2018
- Find pushes back hominin arrival in the Philippines seven hundred thousand years | Cosmos, 04 May 2018
A new paper on PLOS One describes stone tools finds from the rock shelter of Leang Burung in Sulawesi, dating to more than 50,000 years – but it is uncertain which species of humans made them.
This paper presents a reassessment of the archaeological record at Leang Burung 2, a key early human occupation site in the Late Pleistocene of Southeast Asia. Excavated originally by Ian Glover in 1975, this limestone rock-shelter in the Maros karsts of Sulawesi, Indonesia, has long held significance in our understanding of early human dispersals into ‘Wallacea’, the vast zone of oceanic islands between continental Asia and Australia. We present new stratigraphic information and dating evidence from Leang Burung 2 collected during the course of our excavations at this site in 2007 and 2011–13. Our findings suggest that the classic Late Pleistocene modern human occupation sequence identified previously at Leang Burung 2, and proposed to span around 31,000 to 19,000 conventional 14C years BP (~35–24 ka cal BP), may actually represent an amalgam of reworked archaeological materials. Sources for cultural materials of mixed ages comprise breccias from the rear wall of the rock-shelter–remnants of older, eroded deposits dated to 35–23 ka cal BP–and cultural remains of early Holocene antiquity. Below the upper levels affected by the mass loss of Late Pleistocene deposits, our deep-trench excavations uncovered evidence for an earlier hominin presence at the site. These findings include fossils of now-extinct proboscideans and other ‘megafauna’ in stratified context, as well as a cobble-based stone artifact technology comparable to that produced by late Middle Pleistocene hominins elsewhere on Sulawesi.
Source: A reassessment of the early archaeological record at Leang Burung 2, a Late Pleistocene rock-shelter site on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi | PLOS One, doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0193025
via Vietnam Plus, 30 March 2018:
The Vietnamese Embassy in Germany on March 29 received antiques which Berlin police seized from an unidentified Vietnamese entrepreneur in late 2016.
Berlin police said the objects consist of 10 stone tools and eight bronze tools. Archaeologists from many in Berlin examined these objects and found they date back to between the second and the seventh centuries BC and could belong to tombs in the third century BC
A new paper in Antiquity reveals the circulation and manufacture of stone tools during the Neolithic in Southern Vietnam. The paper is published by some of my former colleagues at the Australian National University.
A new study shows a number of settlements along the Mekong Delta region of Southern Vietnam were part of a sophisticated scheme where large volumes of items were manufactured and circulated over hundreds of kilometres.
Lead researcher Dr Catherine Frieman School of the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology said the discovery significantly changes what was known about early Vietnamese culture.
“We knew some artefacts were being moved around but this shows evidence for a major trade network that also included specialist tool-makers and technological knowledge. It’s a whole different ball game,” Dr Frieman said.
- Rach Nui: ground stone technology in coastal Neolithic settlements of southern Vietnam (Antiquity, DOI: https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2017.71)
Vietnam Net, 21 May 2017:
Stone moulds used for metal working were discovered in northern Vietnam.
Dong Son-era bronze casting moulds found in Yen Bai
Viet Nam Net, 28 June 2016
Axe- and chisel-shaped moulds made of stone dating back to the Dong Son civilisation (about 2,000 – 3,000 years ago) have been discovered in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai.
The axe-shaped mould is 8.1cm long, 5.1cm wide and 2cm thick, and weighs 120 grammes. Meanwhile, the chisel-shaped one is 11.2cm long, 5.6cm wide and 3.2cm thick, and weighs 360 grammes.
The two stone moulds are being kept at the provincial museum, according to the museum’s Deputy Director Ly Kim Khoa.
He said in early March this year, a farmer found two stone objects with unusual carvings at an eroded section on the Hong (Red) riverbank in Dong An commune, Yen Bai’s Van Yen district. The farmer sent the objects to the museum for examination.
Full story here.
Stone tools discovered in the mountains of Central Vietnam suggest the presence of hominids around 800,000 years ago.
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.
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.
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
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.
PhD opportunity in Australia to study stone artefacts in Myanmar and Southeast Asia. Details below.
FULLY FUNDED PHD OPPORTUNITY IN STONE ARTEFACT ARCHAEOLOGY IN MAINLAND SOUTHEAST ASIA
Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD position in archaeology, within the Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS), University of Wollongong (UOW). The successful candidate will join a multi-disciplinary project that is seeking to generate new data related to the Late Pleistocene colonisation of Asia and Australasia by modern humans (Homo sapiens) and other archaic hominins present in the region at this time. This forms part of the ARC Australian Future Fellowship project led by Dr Ben Marwick, The archaeology of Thailand and Myanmar: A Strategic Region for Understanding Modern Human Colonization and Interactions Across our Region. This project is linked to Prof Richard ‘Bert’ Roberts’ ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship Out of Asia: unique insights into human evolution and interactions using frontier technologies in archaeological science. To address substantial questions concerning early modern human colonisation and adaptation in mainland Southeast Asia, we are developing a number of innovative archaeological-science techniques, and are assembling a research group with strengths in artefact analysis, geochronology, geoarchaeology, and archaeological chemistry.
The PhD candidate will study stone artefact assemblages to engage with major global and regional archaeological questions relating to the timing and nature of human activity during the Late Pleistocene in Southeast Asia and the wider region. The position will involve overseas fieldwork in Myanmar and an intensive, laboratory-based analytical research program. The candidate will be expected to help develop and apply novel techniques for analysing stone artefacts, and conduct an experimental program.
The candidate will receive a tax-free stipend of AUD 25,849 per year (indexed annually), for three and a half years. Research funding opportunities are available, with candidates encouraged to apply for the various university-wide schemes available at UOW and CAS. For more details, see http://www.uow.edu.au/research/rsc/prospective/index.html
CAS was established at UOW in 2010 to develop, integrate and apply modern scientific techniques to answer fundamental questions about human evolution and the analysis of material remains of past human life and activities. CAS is affiliated with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES), bringing together researchers drawn from the physical, chemical, biological and geological sciences in partnership with science-based archaeologists. This means that there is plenty of scope to interact and collaborate with experts from across the Earth Sciences, and indeed PhD candidates are encouraged to do so.
CAS possesses a world-leading laboratory for archaeological science, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for microscopy, compositional analyses and dating. CAS members have produced high-profile publications in the field of archaeological science. We have ongoing collaborations with experts in statistics and other departments at UOW; combined with the departmental expertise, this provides an exciting research environment with many opportunities for collaborative work. For more details about CAS, see http://cas.uow.edu.au/index.html
Candidates are expected to hold a first class undergraduate degree, preferably Honours (or equivalent), in Archaeology, Archaeological Science, or a related discipline. For US applicants a GPA of 3.8 or higher, and field experience, is expected. Desirable, but not essential details for all applicants, include: authorship of scholarly publications; a relevant post-graduate qualification in Archaeology or a related discipline; prior experience analysing stone artefacts; international fieldwork experience; and CRM/consulting experience.
Applicants will need to show an aptitude for analytical and experimental research, and must be proficient in English. The successful applicant will be fully committed to conducting independent and original scientific research, while also collaborating with others in the CAS team. The PhD candidate will be expected to disseminate this research in peer-reviewed journal articles and conference presentations, as well as in their final PhD thesis. They will be encouraged to undertake training in relevant analytical techniques and must be willing to conduct overseas fieldwork, in sometimes challenging environments.
If you are interested in applying for this position and satisfy the above requirements, then please contact Dr Ben Marwick by email to discuss your application and details of the application procedure. The deadline for full applications is 23rd October 2015, and the successful candidate is expected to begin work in early 2016.
Dr Ben Marwick
Senior Research Fellow,
Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS),
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences,
Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health,
University of Wollongong,
Wollongong, NSW 2522,