Asian Perspectives, 2008 - Volume 47, Number 2 (Fall)

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Asian Perspectives is the leading peer-reviewed archaeological journal devoted to the prehistory of Asia and the Pacific region. In addition to archaeology, it features articles and book reviews on ethnoarchaeology, palaeoanthropology, physical anthropology, and ethnography of interest and use to the prehistorian. International specialists contribute regional reports summarizing current research and fieldwork, and present topical reports of significant sites. Occasional special issues focus on single topics.


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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 10
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    The Use of Flaked Stone Artifacts in Palau, Western Micronesia
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Haslam, Michael ; Liston, Jolie
    This paper summarizes current research into flaked stone assemblages from the Republic of Palau, Micronesia. We review archaeological analyses of Palau's flaked stone artifacts, examine ethnohistorical sources for descriptions and potential uses of lithic tools, and present the results of a recent microscopic use-wear and residue study of twenty flaked stone artifacts. We find that while a lithic technology based on bipolar reduction had emerged by at least the beginning of the first millennium B.C., the archaeological and ethnohistorical records demonstrate the relative obscurity of stone tool use in the final stages of prehistory. The artifacts analyzed for residues are associated with radiocarbon dates ranging from ca. 1120 B.C.-A.D. 1640, with the majority recovered from inland earthwork and village complexes radiocarbon dated to approximately two thousand years ago. Residue evidence for wood and bone/skin working is discussed in terms of past social activities and changes in settlement patterns, and in light of the perceived dominance of shell as a tool material on Palau. The potential for soil fungi to influence the interpretation of artifact residues is also considered. The study emphasizes the unique position of residue analyses in contributing to studies of artifact function in the Pacific, and suggests future directions for flaked-stone research on Palau. KEYWORDS: Palau, Micronesia, stone, residue analysis, microscopy.
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    Infant Death in Late Prehistoric Southeast Asia
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Halcrow, Sian E. ; Tayles, Nancy ; Livingstone, Vicki
    Important infortnation on demography, epidemiology, inter-population differences in growth, infant burial practices, and social aspects of the community can be gleaned from the study of perinatal bones. The increasing number of perinates unearthed from prehistoric sites in Southeast Asia provides a rare opportunity to investigate these issues. The high number offull-term infants represented at the site of Khok Phanom Di in Central Thailand (4000-3500 B.P.) remains an enigma. This is an important issue for bioarchaeologists as infant mortality patterns are sensitive barometers of the health and fertility of a population. This study investigated the perinatal age distributions of several chronologically spread sites in prehistoric Southeast Asia with differing subsistence modes and evidence of social complexity. Results show that the age distribution in the collection from Khok Phanom Di is different from the other skeletal samples, with a comparatively higher number of full-term perinates represented. Explanations including infanticide, issues of health and disease, and infant burial practices are considered. It seems likely that the age distribution results from different burial rites of pre-term infants as a consequence of social and cultural differences between Khok Phanom Di and the other sites. This study emphasizes the important contribution bioarchaeological research and the comparative study of infant burial rites can make in understanding aspects of social change in prehistoric communities. KEYWORDS: bioarchaeology, infant burial practices, perinatal age at death distributions, prehistoric mainland Southeast Asia, social organization.
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    Flexibility and Creativity in Microblade Core Manufacture in Southern Primorye, Far East Russia
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Doelman, Trudy
    The purely typological approach to microbIade technology often obscures the range of variability seen in the creative and flexible ways microblade cores were prepared and the reasons behind this variability. There is a real need to understand the situational context of microblade production and move the focus of investigation on to the microblades themselves, as these are the key components of an effective riskreduction strategy. Combining a typological and technological approach to study standardization in core preparation and the resulting microblades made from volcanic glass within a known geological context has shown that key characteristics of both are vital to the successful implementation of this technological approach. KEYWORDS: microblade technology, typology, risk, volcanic glass, Far East Russia.
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    Pre-Contact Arboriculture and Vegetation in the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia: Charcoal Identification and Radiocarbon Dates from Hatiheu Valley, Nuku Hiva
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Millerstrom, Sidsel ; Coil, James H.
    In order to address long-standing questions in the field of Pacific Island archaeology regarding the extent, timing, and causes of human-induced environmental change, as well as the deep history of the development of distinct regional agricultural and arboricultural adaptations, this study presents and discusses taxonomic identification data for 15 wood charcoal samples recovered from archaeological excavations in the Hatiheu Valley, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands. This is some of the first archaeobotanical data collected and analyzed from this archipelago, and the only direct evidence of past distributions of economic and indigenous tree and shrub taxa in specific temporal and spatial contexts. The 14 native and Polynesian-introduced tree and shrub taxa identified are analyzed in view of their archaeobotanical and more modern distributions, as well as in consideration of radiocarbon dates obtained from five of the charcoal samples. Finally, these results are evaluated in regard to the degree to which they can provide useful cultural and environmental information relating to existing models of prehistoric Marquesan and broader Pacific Island settlement, economy, and environmental change over time. KEYWORDS: archaeology, archaeobotany, anthracology, charcoal, Marquesas Islands.
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    The Neolithic of Southern China--Origin, Development, and Dispersal
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Zhang, Chi ; Hung, Hsiao-chun
    According to direct evidence from archaeology ana supporting evidence from comparative linguistics, the Neolithic cultures of the Yangtze alluvial plain played a significant role in the origins of rice cultivation and agricultural populations in East and Southeast Asia. The ultimate results of these developments, according to many authorities, were the dispersals of Austroasiatic and Austronesian-speaking peoples into Mainland and Island Southeast Asia. New archaeological discoveries suggest that some of the earliest pottery in the world also occurred in southern China. Therefore, the historical significance of this region cannot be overlooked. This paper provides a brief review of cultural developments and settlement histories in southern China from the early Neolithic (c. 11,000-8000 B.C.) to the terminal Neolithic (2000 B.C.). Geographically, we examine the middle and lower Yangtze alluvial plain, the Lingnan (southern Nanling Mountains) and Fujian region, and the Yungui Plateau of southern China. Against the backdrop of the waxing and waning of Neolithic cultures in the Yangtze Valley we plot the spread of material culture, rice farming and animal domestication out of the Yangtze region to the Lingnan-Fujian region and the Yungui Plateau, and later into Taiwan and Southeast Asia. This study suggests that the origins of rice agriculture and the process of farming dispersal were more complicated than previously assumed. KEYWORDS: Neolithic, southern China, Yangtze alluvial plain, farming, migration, dispersal.
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