[Paper] Shifting subsistence patterns from the Terminal Pleistocene to Late Holocene: A regional Southeast Asian analysis

No Comments
Stock photo of a pig skeleton from Shutterstock/miha de
Stock photo of a pig skeleton from Shutterstock/miha de

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.

Shifting subsistence patterns from the Terminal Pleistocene to Late Holocene: A regional Southeast Asian analysis
Jones et al., Quartenary International, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2019.01.006

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.

Source: Shifting subsistence patterns from the Terminal Pleistocene to Late Holocene: A regional Southeast Asian analysis – ScienceDirect

Ancient DNA Study Pokes Holes in Horse Domestication Theory

No Comments

via National Geographic News, 09 May 2018: Not directly related to Southeast Asia, but may have implications further down the road in relation to when horses first appear in the archaeological record.

A long-held theory on how horse domestication and language spread across Asia has been disrupted by a look at our genetic past.

Source: Ancient DNA Study Pokes Holes in Horse Domestication Theory

Paper: Dating rice remains through phytolith carbon-14 study reveals domestication at the beginning of the Holocene

No Comments

New paper in PNAS about the earliest domestication of rice in China.

Dating rice remains through phytolith carbon-14 study reveals domestication at the beginning of the Holocene

Phytolith remains of rice (Oryza sativa L.) recovered from the Shangshan site in the Lower Yangtze of China have previously been recognized as the earliest examples of rice cultivation. However, because of the poor preservation of macroplant fossils, many radiocarbon dates were derived from undifferentiated organic materials in pottery sherds. These materials remain a source of debate because of potential contamination by old carbon. Direct dating of the rice remains might serve to clarify their age. Here, we first validate the reliability of phytolith dating in the study region through a comparison with dates obtained from other material from the same layer or context. Our phytolith data indicate that rice remains retrieved from early stages of the Shangshan and Hehuashan sites have ages of approximately 9,400 and 9,000 calibrated years before the present, respectively. The morphology of rice bulliform phytoliths indicates they are closer to modern domesticated species than to wild species, suggesting that rice domestication may have begun at Shangshan during the beginning of the Holocene.

Source: Dating rice remains through phytolith carbon-14 study reveals domestication at the beginning of the Holocene

See also: Radiocarbon dating of phytolith traces rice domestication to 10,000 years ago (CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES HEADQUARTERS, 02 June 2017)

Who let the dogs out, of Southeast Asia?

No Comments

A new paper published in Cell Research analyses the genomes of dogs from around the world and finds that the dogs tested from Southeast Asian have higher genetic diversity, suggesting that dogs were domesticated in this region around 33,000 years ago.


DNA Study Suggests Dogs Originated in South East Asia
Archaeology, 17 December 2015

Out of southern East Asia: the natural history of domestic dogs across the world
Cell Research, doi: 10.1038/cr.2015.147

The origin and evolution of the domestic dog remains a controversial question for the scientific community, with basic aspects such as the place and date of origin, and the number of times dogs were domesticated, open to dispute. Using whole genome sequences from a total of 58 canids (12 gray wolves, 27 primitive dogs from Asia and Africa, and a collection of 19 diverse breeds from across the world), we find that dogs from southern East Asia have significantly higher genetic diversity compared to other populations, and are the most basal group relating to gray wolves, indicating an ancient origin of domestic dogs in southern East Asia 33 000 years ago. Around 15 000 years ago, a subset of ancestral dogs started migrating to the Middle East, Africa and Europe, arriving in Europe at about 10 000 years ago. One of the out of Asia lineages also migrated back to the east, creating a series of admixed populations with the endemic Asian lineages in northern China before migrating to the New World. For the first time, our study unravels an extraordinary journey that the domestic dog has traveled on earth.

Full paper here. (Open Access)

Gunungmegang Statue; Man and Elephant

No Comments
Harry Octavianus Sofian

Harry Octavianus Sofian

Harry Octavianus Sofian
Balai Arkeologi Palembang – Departemen Pendidikan Dan Kebudayaan Republik Indonesia
Gunungmegang statue is one of the site from Pasemah Megalithic Culture, located at the foot of the Mountain Dempo, Lahat Distric, South Sumatera Province – Indonesia. Pasemah megalithic culture is very unic, because the representation from the statue not stiff, but show dynamic activity,like Gunungmegang statue, show man holding the trunk of the elephant. This statue show us how the ancient people do domestication of wild elephants?

Selections, October 2007

No Comments

A selection of archaeology-related books, new to the catalogue of Select Books, a specialised publisher and retailer of books pertaining to Southeast Asia. For ordering info, please visit the Select Books website.

Archaeology Of Asia. Stark, Miriam, T. (ed.). Gb. 2006. 364pp. pb $71.64 (This introduction to the archaeology of Asia, written for the undergraduate, focuses on case studies from the region’s last 10,000 years of history. Comprising 15 chapters written by some of the world’s foremost Asia archaeologists, this book sheds light on many of the most compelling aspects of Asian archaeology, from the earliest plant and animal domestication to the emergence of states and empires from Pakistan to North China. In particular, the contributors explore issues of cross-cultural significance, such as migration, ethnicity, urbanism, and technology, challenging readers to think beyond national and regional boundaries. In doing so, they draw on original research data and synthesize work previously unavailable to western readers. Index.)

Read More

The origins of Asian rice

No Comments

9 June 2006 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) – A study tracing the origins of Asian wild rice and rice cultivation has determined that rice was likely to be domesticated in East India-Myanmar-Thailand (Orzya sativa indica) and Southeren China (Orzya sativa japonica). Abstract is cited here, full text requires subscription.

Phylogeography of Asian wild rice, Oryza rufipogon, reveals multiple independent domestications of cultivated rice, Oryza sativa
Jason P. Londo, Yu-Chung Chiang, Kuo-Hsiang Hung, Tzen-Yuh Chiang, and Barbara A. Schaal

Cultivated rice, Oryza sativa L., represents the world’s most important staple food crop, feeding more than half of the human population. Despite this essential role in world agriculture, the history of cultivated rice’s domestication from its wild ancestor, Oryza rufipogon, remains unclear. In this study, DNA sequence variation in three gene regions is examined in a phylogeographic approach to investigate the domestication of cultivated rice. Results indicate that India and Indochina may represent the ancestral center of diversity for O. rufipogon. Additionally, the data suggest that cultivated rice was domesticated at least twice from different O. rufipogon populations and that the products of these two independent domestication events are the two major rice varieties, Oryza sativa indica and Oryza sativa japonica. Based on this geographical analysis, O. sativa indica was domesticated within a region south of the Himalaya mountain range, likely eastern India, Myanmar, and Thailand, whereas O. sativa japonica was domesticated from wild rice in southern China.