Asian Perspectives, 2010 - Volume 49, Number 1 (Spring)

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    49:1 Table of Contents - Asian Perspectives
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2010)
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    South Asia—Perennial Backwater or Object of Biased Assessment: A Discussion Based on Current Archaeological, Anthropological, and Genetic Evidence
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2010) Singh, Varun
    The evolution of humans from primates is well attested in Africa, considered to be the only place where the ancestors of modern humans could have evolved. The most ancestral human form, Homo erectus, is also thought to have migrated out of Africa. Recent genetic research has added support to an ‘‘Out of Africa’’ migration of modern man. However, the latest findings of population genetics have, by challenging the route of exodus, placed Asia and especially South Asia in a particularly prominent position. This new idea that humans emerging out of Africa undertook a long journey along the coasts of Asia toward Australia has also received recent support from archaeology. The long-standing belief that modern humans reached Europe by first journeying through the Levant, was based on the discovery of modern looking skeletons in southern France. This discovery of the ‘‘Cro-Magnons’’ in France spurred an intense search for more evidence of human presence in Europe. The wealth of data thus accumulated in Africa and Europe has formed the basis for all the discussion on human evolution and migration. Asia by contrast has su¤ered neglect both in terms of lack of interest and exploration of the same magnitude accorded Africa and Europe. What evidence exists has only attracted passing notice, the bulk of the data eluding the attention of western scholars. This article attempts to address this imbalance by bringing together all current information relating to the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and genetics. The area covered is by size enormous, but the focus is on the strength of evidence for colonization of South Asia from outside as opposed to contributions made by the indigenous people.
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    Provenance and Technology of Lithic Artifacts from the Teouma Lapita Site, Vanuatu
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2010) Reepmeyer, Christian ; Spriggs, Matthew ; Bedford, Stuart ; Ambrose, Wallace
    Fifty-six obsidian artifacts and 141 non-obsidian artifacts were excavated in three field seasons at Teouma, Efate Island, central Vanuatu. Using LA-ICP-MS the majority of the obsidian artifacts were provenienced to the obsidian subsource of Kutau/Bao on West New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. This study is the first geochemical analysis of a significant assemblage of West New Britain obsidian south of the Solomon Islands. Moreover, this finding represents only the second sizable assemblage of West New Britain obsidian in Remote Oceania beyond the Reefs–Santa Cruz Lapita sites and further establishes Vanuatu as a key area in understanding the initial Lapita settlement of Remote Oceania. Six obsidian artifacts were sourced to the Banks Islands, northern Vanuatu, supporting the hypothesis that sources there were known and utilized from the initial colonization of the Vanuatu Archipelago. A single artifact from the West New Britain subsource of Mopir was found. This is the only Lapita-period Mopir obsidian artifact found so far outside the Bismarck Archipelago. The geochemical analysis was accompanied by a quantitative attribute analysis investigating the reduction technology of the flaked assemblage.
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    Late Holocene Subsistence Practices Among Cis-Baikal Pastoralists, Siberia: Zooarchaeological Insights from Sagan-Zaba II
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2010) Nomokonova, Tatiana ; Losey, Robert J. ; Weber, Andrzej ; Goriunova, Ol'ga I. ; Novikov, Aleksei
    Roughly 3000 years ago, nomadic pastoralists began to arrive in the Cis-Baikal region of eastern Siberia. While the archaeological record of these groups is quite extensive, most research on pastoralists here has focused on mortuary traditions while questions about subsistence practices have been left largely unaddressed. Few habitation sites from the late Holocene here contain stratified deposits, and virtually none have been subject to modern excavation methods or zooarchaeological analyses. We present new faunal data from the recently excavated Sagan-Zaba II site located on the west coast of Lake Baikal. This site o¤ers a unique opportunity to examine diachronic patterns in diet and subsistence practices of local pastoralists. It contains stratified deposits associated with di¤erent periods of pastoralist occupation spanning much of the late Holocene. Significantly, it is the first site of this period in the region to be screened with fine-meshed sieves and to be systematically studied by zooarchaeologists. The results of our research reveal a series of new insights on pastoralist subsistence practices. First, the primary domesticates in all periods were sheep, goats, cattle, and horses. Cattle appear to increase through time at the site while horses remained relatively rare. Second, pastoralists at Sagan-Zaba regularly hunted Lake Baikal’s freshwater seals, long after the introduction of domesticated livestock. Third, hunting of terrestrial mammals, particularly roe deer and red deer, was also common at the site. Finally, our data demonstrate that pastoralists here also regularly fished. This subsistence practice was previously unrecognized in the region, likely due to lack of sieving of sites. Furthermore, these data suggest that historically documented fishing by modern local pastoralists and increases in sedentism were not completely the result of Russian-period settlement of the region but instead were occurring in Cis-Baikal long prior to the modern era.
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    Children Playing and Learning: Crafting Ceramics in Ancient Indor Khera
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2010) Menon, Jaya ; Varma, Supriya
    It is only in the recent decade that distinct archaeological studies on children have emerged. One of the ways in which children have been made archaeologically visible has been in the context of craft and learning frameworks where they have been perceived as active agents in the production of material culture. Archaeologically, the work of novice crafters can be discerned through attributes of small size, asymmetrical forms, and other deficiencies in manufacturing techniques suggesting inadequate conceptual frames as well as less developed physical skills. The deposits recovered during the excavations in the northwestern part of the ancient site of Indor Khera have been dated between 200 b.c. and a.d. 300. The excavations have revealed in an early phase a potter’s house within and around which several miniature vessels with similar characteristics were found, perhaps the work of children. Further, numerous tiny terracotta and clay lumps indicate that to begin children might have been given small bits of clay to play with. It appears that the ceramic craft may have involved a gradual learning process that included play, observation, and experimentation.