Southeast Asian population boomed 4,000 years ago

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Clare McFadden, lead author. Source: ANU

via Science Daily/ANU, 20 September 2018: A new paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science shows evidence for a rapid population growth in Southeast Asia around 4,000 years ago using an analysis that takes into account the proportion of children and infants in population measurements.

Clare McFadden, lead author. Source: ANU

Clare McFadden, lead author. Source: ANU

Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have uncovered a previously unconfirmed population boom across South East Asia that occurred 4,000 years ago, thanks to a new method for measuring prehistoric population growth.

Using the new population measurement method, which utilises human skeletal remains, they have been able to prove a significant rapid increase in growth across populations in Thailand, China and Vietnam during the Neolithic Period, and a second subsequent rise in the Iron Age.

Source: Southeast Asian population boomed 4,000 years ago — ScienceDaily

SPAFACON2019 Call for Sessions

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SPAFACON2019 logo

It’s back! The 3rd SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology will be held next year from 17-19 June 2019 (with optional site visits and workshops on 20-21). This time, the conference is jointly organised by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA) and the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture, Thailand. Disclosure: SEAMEO SPAFA is my employer, and I am part of the organising committee of the conference.

SPAFACON2019 logo

Right now we are accepting proposals for sessions and also starting up a mailing list for conference announcements. For more information on either, please visit the official conference website: http://www.seameo-spafa.org/conference2019/

New Journal: Asian Archaeology

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Asian Archaeology is a new journal focusing on… well I think the name is quite self-explanatory. I will add a link to the resources page.

Asian Archaeology is an academic English-language journal that publishes original studies based on field archaeological data as well as new theoretical and methodological analyses and synthetic overviews of topics in the field of Asian archaeology. The geographic scope of papers primarily extends across eastern Asia (including China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and the Russian Far East), mainland and island Southeast Asia, and Australia. The journal’s readership is international, with a target audience of scholars and students with English-language backgrounds from Europe, North America, and Asia. By breaking down the language barriers toward access to the archaeology of eastern Asia, Asian Archaeology serves as a central, international forum for the study of Asian archaeology. The journal aims to contribute not only to a better understanding of the history and cultures of Asia, but also to the development of a global approach to archaeology, and thus to play an active role in promoting the development of world archaeology and Asian archaeology

Source: Asian Archaeology – Springer

Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia Grants

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Impending grant opportunity from the Henry Luce Foundation. Formal calls or proposals are expected to be out later this year. For more details, please click on the link below.

The Henry Luce Foundation is pleased to announce our Directors’ approval in June 2018 of the Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia (LuceSEA). The central objective of LuceSEA is to strengthen the study of Southeast Asia in American higher education by providing resources for the creation of models, strategies and partnerships that not only bolster existing program structures but also take them in new directions.

LuceSEA is a multi-year grants competition designed to encourage innovation in Southeast Asian studies through support for

  • work in new and emerging areas of inquiry and the expansion of direct engagement with scholars and institutions in Southeast Asia;
  • collaborations and networks that link academic centers to each other and with partners outside academia; and
  • the enhancement of core scholarly infrastructure for teaching and research relevant to Southeast Asia.

Within American philanthropic circles, the Luce Foundation is unique in its longstanding support for Southeast Asian studies. It is an appropriate moment for the Foundation to reinvest in the field, to ensure that it remains vibrant and relevant.

Source: Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia

The Southeast Asian Ceramic Society is looking for old publications

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on behalf of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society:

A writing of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society’s history has revealed that they are missing copies of a number of their earlier publications including:

Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 1 (November 1971). | Cook, George C. ”Notes on the Southeast Asian Ceramics Exhibition of 1971”

 Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 3 (1972). | Brown, Roxanna M. “Ceramic Excavations in the Philippines”, 3 pages.

 Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 4 (1974). | Gluckman, Michael. “A Visit to the Phan Kilns in Northern Thailand”

 Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 5 (1974). | Brown, Roxanna M. “The History of Ceramic Finds in Sulawesi: A Talk given by Roxanna Brown at the 36th meeting of the Southeast Ceramic Society, June 12th, 1974.

 Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 6 (19??). | “Research into the Disposition of Ceramic Sites in North Sumatra” (Note: very hard-to-find)

If anyone has a copy, can you please let the President (Patricia Welch) know at: pbjwelch@gmail.com, as she would very much like to have a scanned copy for their permanent files.

Prehistoric people started to spread domesticated bananas across the world 6,000 years ago

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via The Conversation, 13 July 2018: The earliest known domesticated bananas appear in Papua New Guinea 6,800 years ago. They appear again in Sri Lanka 6,000 years ago. The speed in which they spread suggests the presence of a far-reaching communication network. More impressive, domesticated bananas are sterile, and so propagation of bananas would necessitate the transportation of cuttings or whole plants!

Appearance of bananas in Sri Lanka 6,000 years ago points to prehistoric food globalisation.

Source: Prehistoric people started to spread domesticated bananas across the world 6,000 years ago

Hominin occupation in China from 2.1 million years ago

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Of potential interest for Southeast Asia: 2.1 million-year-old stone tools discovered in China pushes back the dates of hominins outside of Africa by several hundred thousand years. The term “Southern Chinese Loess Plateau” may be a little confusing: it’s not in Southern China, and the area of discovery sits between the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.

Hominin occupation of the Chinese Loess Plateau since about 2.1 million years ago
Zhu et. al
Nature
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0299-4

Considerable attention has been paid to dating the earliest appearance of hominins outside Africa. The earliest skeletal and artefactual evidence for the genus Homo in Asia currently comes from Dmanisi, Georgia, and is dated to approximately 1.77–1.85 million years ago (Ma)1. Two incisors that may belong to Homo erectus come from Yuanmou, south China, and are dated to 1.7 Ma2; the next-oldest evidence is an H. erectus cranium from Lantian (Gongwangling)—which has recently been dated to 1.63 Ma3—and the earliest hominin fossils from the Sangiran dome in Java, which are dated to about 1.5–1.6 Ma4. Artefacts from Majuangou III5 and Shangshazui6 in the Nihewan basin, north China, have also been dated to 1.6–1.7 Ma. Here we report an Early Pleistocene and largely continuous artefact sequence from Shangchen, which is a newly discovered Palaeolithic locality of the southern Chinese Loess Plateau, near Gongwangling in Lantian county. The site contains 17 artefact layers that extend from palaeosol S15—dated to approximately 1.26 Ma—to loess L28, which we date to about 2.12 Ma. This discovery implies that hominins left Africa earlier than indicated by the evidence from Dmanisi.

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Is UNESCO World Heritage recognition a blessing or burden? Evidence from developing Asian countries

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via The Conversation, 11 July 2018: a piece by Josephine Caust

With colleague Dr Mariana Vecco, I recently published a research article about these issues. Some of our recommendations for vulnerable sites include:

  • introducing control of visitor numbers as a matter of urgency
  • tighter planning controls on adjacent development
  • querying the use of sites for any tourist activities
  • auditing sites for damage already incurred.

All of this should occur if UNESCO status is to be continued. However, there is also a bigger conversation we need to have – should tourists visit vulnerable sites and practices?

Hoi An is still a beautiful town but the presence of “wall to wall” tourists mars it. Sadly, as long as UNESCO status is used more as a marketing device than a route to preservation, the situation will continue to deteriorate.

Source: Is UNESCO World Heritage recognition a blessing or burden? Evidence from developing Asian countries

The prehistoric peopling of Southeast Asia

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Earlier this month, a fascinating paper was published in Science about the genetic origins of Southeast Asian populations. Analysis of genomes from 25 ancient samples reveal that rather the neither of the existing theories (hunter-gathering Hoabinhians, or agriculturalists from China) are correct, and that there are four ancient populations the form the basis of all modern Southeast Asian populations today.

The prehistoric peopling of Southeast Asia
McColl et al.
Science 06 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6397, pp. 88-92
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat3628

The human occupation history of Southeast Asia (SEA) remains heavily debated. Current evidence suggests that SEA was occupied by Hòabìnhian hunter-gatherers until ~4000 years ago, when farming economies developed and expanded, restricting foraging groups to remote habitats. Some argue that agricultural development was indigenous; others favor the “two layer” hypothesis that posits a southward expansion of farmers giving rise to present-day Southeast Asian genetic diversity. By sequencing 26 ancient human genomes (25 from SEA, 1 Japanese Jōmon), we show that neither interpretation fits the complexity of Southeast Asian history: Both Hòabìnhian hunter-gatherers and East Asian farmers contributed to current Southeast Asian diversity, with further migrations affecting island SEA and Vietnam. Our results help resolve one of the long-standing controversies in Southeast Asian prehistory.

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MOWCAP-Asia Culture Center Grants Program – Deadline this week

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Just a reminder for the MOWCAP-Asia Culture Center Grants Program – the deadline is this week!

The MOWCAP-ACC grants program supports the efforts of the many groups and organisations that collect, and preserve and provide access to documentary heritage from the Asia-Pacific region. It aims to encourage collaboration and partnerships to undertake projects (e.g. preservation of materials, digitizing, exhibitions, publications etc) as well as to develop skills and resources (eg. workshops, training programs, expert assessments etc).

Grants of up to $US 10,000 are available for the preservation and sharing of the documentary heritage of the Asia-Pacific. Grants are required to be fully expended, and the project completed and acquitted, within a 6-month period (July-December 2018). The grants are administered through the MOWCAP Office, Asian Culture Center, Gwangju, Republic of Korea.

Source: The MOWCAP-Asia Culture Center Grants Program