Mulvaney Lecture 2019 – New light on some ancient revolutions by Peter Bellwood

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via ANU: Readers in Canberra may be interested in the Mulvaney Lecture on 27 March by Prof. Peter Bellwood.

 

A Mulvaney Lecture is a chance for broad thinking as well as attention to detail. In this lecture Prof Peter Bellwood will focus on two overlapping major topics. The first concerns the early farming dispersal hypothesis in general, as described in his First Farmers (2005). The second concerns the more specific topic of Austronesian dispersal, as defined most recently by Prof Bellwood and other colleagues in First Islanders (2017). He will describe how he first became interested in these two topics, and how understanding of them has evolved in recent decades with developments in archaeological science, linguistic phylogeny, and the analysis of ancient skeletons and ancient DNA.

Source: Mulvaney Lecture 2019 – New light on some ancient revolutions Tickets, Wed 27/03/2019 at 6:30 pm | Eventbrite

[Paper] Ancient Tattooing in Polynesia

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Ancient Tattooing in Polynesia | doi:10.1080/15564894.2018.1561558
Source: Ancient Tattooing in Polynesia https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15564894.2018.1561558

via Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 01 March 2019: The oldest tattoo combs found in West Polynesia.

Angle-hafted bone tattoo combs are found on many Pacific islands occupied by people speaking languages of the Oceanic sub-group of the Austronesian linguistic family, with the most elaborate bone tattoo tools restricted to Polynesia. A critical problem in understanding the development of an Oceanic tattooing tradition based on hafted bone combs is their conspicuous absence from nearly all early sites in the region. Did tattooing with bone combs arrive in the Pacific with early Neolithic dispersals around 3,000 years ago, or was it an innovation that developed in West Polynesia that was later diffused to other parts of the Pacific? AMS dating and traceological examination of four bone combs from a site in Tonga indicate they are the oldest multi-toothed tattooing implements in the Pacific and confirm the existence of the angle-hafted bone comb technology in Polynesia ∼2,700 years ago. The basic tattooing toolkit represented by narrow bone combs from the TO.1 site appear to have been remarkably stable over millennia and we suggest that the angle-hafted bone comb probably dispersed from West Polynesia to other parts of Oceania.

Source: Ancient Tattooing in Polynesia: The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology: Vol 0, No 0

[Paper] Craniometrics Reveal “Two Layers” of Prehistoric Human Dispersal in Eastern Eurasia

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Distribution of craniometric samples from Matsumura et al. 2019, Craniometrics Reveal “Two Layers” of Prehistoric Human Dispersal in Eastern Eurasia
Distribution of craniometric samples from Matsumura et al. 2019, Craniometrics Reveal “Two Layers” of Prehistoric Human Dispersal in Eastern Eurasia

via Nature Scientific Reports, 05 Feb 2019: Analysis of skulls from archaeological sites in Southeast and East Asia support a two-layer model of anatomically modern populations entering into Asia.

Craniometrics Reveal “Two Layers” of Prehistoric Human Dispersal in Eastern Eurasia
Nature Scientific Reports, Matsumura et al., https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-35426-z

This cranio-morphometric study emphasizes a “two-layer model” for eastern Eurasian anatomically modern human (AMH) populations, based on large datasets of 89 population samples including findings directly from ancient archaeological contexts. Results suggest that an initial “first layer” of AMH had related closely to ancestral Andaman, Australian, Papuan, and Jomon groups who likely entered this region via the Southeast Asian landmass, prior to 65–50 kya. A later “second layer” shared strong cranial affinities with Siberians, implying a Northeast Asian source, evidenced by 9 kya in central China and then followed by expansions of descendant groups into Southeast Asia after 4 kya. These two populations shared limited initial exchange, and the second layer grew at a faster rate and in greater numbers, linked with contexts of farming that may have supported increased population densities. Clear dichotomization between the two layers implies a temporally deep divergence of distinct migration routes for AMH through both southern and northern Eurasia.

Source: Craniometrics Reveal “Two Layers” of Prehistoric Human Dispersal in Eastern Eurasia | Scientific Reports

[Lecture] Chinese Shipwrecks, Treasure Hunters and the History of Underwater Cultural Heritage Regimes

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Artefacts from the Bakau shipwreck, found at the Karimata Strait between Sumatra and Borneo. Dates to the 15th century, around the same time as Zheng He.
Artefacts from the Bakau shipwreck, found at the Karimata Strait between Sumatra and Borneo. Dates to the 15th century, around the same time as Zheng He.

Readers in Hong Kong may be interested in this talk by Prof. Steven Gallagher in Feb 22 about law and underwater cultural heritage pertaining to Chinese shipwrecks.

Date: 22 February 2019
Time: 12.30-2.00
Venue: The CUHK Graduate Law Centre, 2/F, Bank of America Tower, 12 Harcourt Road, Central.

This seminar will consider the impact the discovery, recovery and sale of Chinese shipwrecks and their cargoes by treasure hunters has had in China and internationally on the development of policy and law intended to protect the underwater cultural heritage and in particular shipwrecks. The seminar will provide an introduction to the law intended to protect underwater cultural heritage in Hong Kong, China and internationally. The introduction will consider the history of shipwrecks and their recovery and the development of the law of salvage. The seminar will then continue with discussion of the history of wreck and the law in Hong Kong. The next part will consider the great porcelain treasures recovered from South East Asia and the effect these had on China’s domestic law and policy regarding underwater cultural heritage, and the international response. The seminar will then consider China’s recent commitment to discovery, identification and protection of underwater cultural heritage both in its own waters and globally. The seminar will conclude with comment on recent issues involving wreck recovery in South East Asia and questions on the future for policy and law affecting underwater cultural heritage and in particular wreck in the region.

Plastic pioneers: Hominin biogeography east of the Movius Line during the Pleistocene

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Lowland Palawan by Noel Amano. Source: EurekaAlert, 20190128

via Archaeological Research in Asia, 25 January 2019: A new paper by Roberts and Amano looking at human occupation of different types of environments in Southeast Asia suggests that modern humans are ecologically distinct from other hominin species.

Lowland Palawan by Noel Amano. Source: EurekaAlert, 20190128

Lowland Palawan by Noel Amano. Source: EurekaAlert, 20190128

Plastic pioneers: Hominin biogeography east of the Movius Line during the Pleistocene

While the “Movius Line” may no longer represent a valid cultural division between Early and Middle Pleistocene hominins in South and Southeast Asia, it still offers a useful geographical and ecological window into changing processes of colonization by different members of the genus Homo. In this paper, we initially review the palaeoenvironmental and cultural record associated with Homo erectus and Homo floresiensis to argue for a relatively homogeneous adaptive strategy utilized by hominins moving east of this notional line during the Early and Middle Pleistocene. We then contrast this to the rapid dispersal of Homo sapiens into South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Melanesia, from at least 45,000 years ago, associated with specialized subsistence and technological adaptations to a variety of environmental settings. While earlier members of our genus appear to have followed riverine and lacustrine corridors, whose situation varied with periods of climate change, Homo sapiens specialized in adaptations to tropical rainforests, faunally depauperate island settings, montane environments, and deep-water marine habitats. After evaluating whether this distinction may be one of taphonomic and survey bias, and reviewing potential methodological developments that may facilitate further investigation, we suggest that the adaptive and cultural plasticity of our species enabled pioneering colonization and occupation not previously seen in this part of the world. This plasticity allowed our species to remain in this region through ever-increasing climatic instability and become the last surviving hominin in Late Pleistocene South Asia and Sahul.

Source: Plastic pioneers: Hominin biogeography east of the Movius Line during the Pleistocene – ScienceDirect

See also:

How to Successfully Fight the Illicit Trade in Stolen Art and Antiquities in Asia? Remove an Antiquated English Law from Hong Kong’s Legal System

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via Antiquities Coalition, December 2018: Prof. Steven Gallagher is the other co-convener on the session about Heritage Management Law and Policy in this year’s SPAFACON. Full policy paper in the link below.

The looting of art and antiquities from Asia is a problem exacerbated by continued demand. This is especially true in China, home to one of the greatest concentrations of millionaires worldwide, where a rapidly growing, newly wealthy class has entered the Asian art and antiquities market, escalating demand in an already thriving sector. Many Asian states that have lost and are continuing to lose cultural patrimony to looting and trafficking have introduced strict laws to combat the removal and unlawful export of art and antiquities from their jurisdiction. Transit and market states, too, have now implemented legal and regulatory frameworks, often based on international law, to deter citizens from dealing in looted art and antiquities or buyers from purchasing such goods when there is any doubt as to their provenance.

However, one of the world’s main markets for Asian art and antiquities, as well as a convenient and much-used transit hub, is a notable exception in having almost no laws intended to prevent this illicit trade: Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s legal and regulatory framework offers little protection for looted art and antiquities, and it retains one obsolete rule of law from its time as a British colony that may not only encourage buyers to purchase looted or stolen works, but also embolden those trying to construct false provenance to pass them through Hong Kong. This law is the rule of market overt, often referred to as a “thieves’ charter,” provided in Hong Kong’s Sale of Goods Ordinance. According to market overt, if someone purchases goods from a shop or market where they are openly on display and are of a type usually sold in such a shop or market, then the buyer acquires good title to the goods so long as they have bought them in good faith. This means that a buyer of looted art or antiquities from a shop usually selling art or antiquities in Hong Kong may resist any attempt by the losing party to recover their lost heritage, and may sell the pieces on to others who will also be safe from any action for recovery.`

Hong Kong has a reputation as one of the world’s leading financial and commercial centers, trusted because of rigorous regulation of its efficient financial and banking services, and confidence in its common law system. It is now also considered one of the world’s foremost Asian art and antiquities markets; however, the retention of an archaic and anachronistic principle of English medieval market law is baffling, especially when this principle has been abolished in the United Kingdom to prevent the flourishing of a “thief’s paradise.”

This policy brief explains some of the problems Asia faces with regard to looting of art and antiquities and loss of cultural heritage, and how Hong Kong’s legal and regulatory framework does little to prevent Hong Kong from being used as a market and transit state for illicitly obtained cultural patrimony. The brief recommends the simple repeal of section 24 of the Sale of Goods Ordinance to abolish the market overt rule in Hong Kong, as well as standardization of import and export laws between Hong Kong and China, strengthened law enforcement of antiquity-related crimes, and the inclusion of the art market in anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing provisions.

Source: How to Successfully Fight the Illicit Trade in Stolen Art and Antiquities in Asia? Remove an Antiquated English Law from Hong Kong’s Legal System – Think Tank

Asia Pacific Conference on Human Evolution

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Happening next year from 25-27 June 2019 in Brisbane, Australia.

Participants will include active researchers in palaeoanthropology, biological anthropology, genomics and palaeogenomics, primatology, as well as all disciplines engaged in understanding the environmental and site-specific context of human evolution across Asia and Australasia, including taphonomy, geochronology, palaeoecology, and geoarchaeology. This conference will foster international collaborations between researchers actively engaged in scientific analyses and exploration in Asia and the Pacific, and

Source: Asia Pacific Conference on Human Evolution

Management of large-scale rock art areas Survey

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Researchers at Griffith University are conducting a survey about rock art landscape management – help them out through the link below:

This research is part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded program called ‘Australian rock art history, conservation and Indigenous well-being’ at Griffith University. The overall aim of the project is to ensure that rock art landscapes are better conserved, appreciated and understood for the benefit of local communities and future generations.

This survey has been designed by Dr. Sally K. May and Prof. Paul S.C. Taçon in order to better understand national and international trends in the management of large-scale rock art landscapes. The information will be collated for a report and publications on this topic.

For this study, we broadly define a large-scale rock art area as one in which more than 10 individual rock art sites are found. While the definition of a separate ‘site’ is different internationally, for simplicity we would define it here as a place with rock art clearly separated from other places (by distance or geology). The size of the actual area is not our major concern, rather it is the number of individual sites within that landscape that you are involved in helping to care for. If you are unsure please feel free to contact us for clarification.

Source: Management of large-scale rock art areas Survey

Late Middle Pleistocene Levallois stone-tool technology in southwest China

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Hu et al, 2018. Nature

via Nature, 19 November 2018:

Hu et al, 2018. Nature

Hu et al, 2018. Nature

Levallois approaches are one of the best known variants of prepared-core technologies, and are an important hallmark of stone technologies developed around 300,000 years ago in Africa and west Eurasia1,2. Existing archaeological evidence suggests that the stone technology of east Asian hominins lacked a Levallois component during the late Middle Pleistocene epoch and it is not until the Late Pleistocene (around 40,000–30,000 years ago) that this technology spread into east Asia in association with a dispersal of modern humans. Here we present evidence of Levallois technology from the lithic assemblage of the Guanyindong Cave site in southwest China, dated to approximately 170,000–80,000 years ago. To our knowledge, this is the earliest evidence of Levallois technology in east Asia. Our findings thus challenge the existing model of the origin and spread of Levallois technologies in east Asia and its links to a Late Pleistocene dispersal of modern humans.

Source: Late Middle Pleistocene Levallois stone-tool technology in southwest China | Nature