Asian Perspectives, 2007 - Volume 46, Number 1 (Spring)

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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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Center for South Asian Studies
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Now showing 1 - 5 of 10
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    The Gold Coast: Suvannabhumi? Lower Myanmar Walled Sites of the First Millenium A.D.
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2007)
    The high rainfall of the Lower Myanmar coast is balanced by the aridity of the country's inland plains. The article profiles three sites in a laterite-rich area located in the northern part of the Lower Myanmar peninsula. The walls and moats of these sites underline their role in water management, one where control of water was the decisive catalyst. The sites of Kyaikkatha, Kelasa, and Winka illustrate how slight changes in topography signal critical junctures, the points where walls and moats were constructed. As a result, up to seven walls flank the higher edges of these sites; these protected the interior by diverting excess water to lower areas. Using large finger-marked bricks and terra-cotta artifacts such as votive tablets, plaques, and architectural elements, a broad chronology of c. the sixth to ninth centuries A.D. is proposed, although a majority of the pieces dated to the seventh century A.D. Attention is also drawn to evidence of Lower Myanmar prehistoric habitation in lowland areas close to the coast, where natural and man-made changes continue to alter the ecology and affect archaeological interpretation. The survey is used to encourage comparative studies, drawing in environmentally diverse but culturally related areas of South and Southeast Asia. KEYWORDS: Myanmar (Burma), ecology, laterite, water control, hydrology, Iron Age, Buddhism.
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    Ancient Irrigation and Buddhist History in Central India: Optically Stimulated Luminescence Dates and Pollen Sequences from the Sanchi Dams
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2007) Shaw, Julia ; Sutcliffe, John ; Lloyd-Smith, Lindsay ; Schwenninger, Jean-Luc ; Chauhan, M.S.
    This paper presents the results of a recent pilot project aimed at obtaining optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates from a group of ancient irrigation dams in central India. The dams are all situated within an area of 750 km2 around the wellknown Buddhist site of Sanchi, the latter established in c. third century B.C. and having a continuous constructional sequence up to the twelfth century A.D. They were documented during earlier seasons of the Sanchi Survey, initiated in 1998 in order to relate the site to its wider archaeological landscape. The pilot project builds upon earlier hypotheses regarding the chronology and function of the Sanchi dams and their relationship to religious and political history in Central India. The principal suggestion is that the earliest phase of dam construction coincided with the rise of urbanization and the establishment of Buddhism in central India between c. third and second centuries B.C.; and that they were connected with wet-rice cultivation as opposed to wheat, the main agricultural staple today. Similarities with intersite patterns in Sri Lanka, where monastic landlordism is attested from c. second century B.C. onward, have also led to the working hypothesis that the Sanchi dams were central to the development of exchange systems between Buddhist monks and local agricultural communities. The pilot project focused on two out of a total of 16 dam sites in the Sanchi area and involved scraping back dam sections created by modern road cuttings. This cast new light on aspects of dam construction and allowed for the collection of sediments and ceramics for OSL dating. The results confirmed the suitability of local sediments to OSL dating methods, as well as affirming our working hypothesis that the dams were constructed-along with the earliest Buddhist monuments in Central India-in the late centuries B.C. Sediment samples were also collected from cores hand drilled in the dried-up reservoir beds, for supplementary OSL dating and pollen analysis, which shed useful insights into land use. KEYWORDS: irrigation, dams, rice agriculture, OSL dating, pollen analysis, ancient India, spread of Buddhism, religious change, theories of state.
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    Sedentism, Territorial Circumscription, and the Increased Use of Plant Domesticates Across Neolithic-Broze Age Korea
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2007) Norton, Christopher J.
    As evidenced from the Korean archaeological record, there is an increased use of plant domesticates and a decrease in other food sources during the Holocene. These changes in overall human diet breadth culminate with the Late Neolithic-Bronze Age (c. 3500 B.P.) transition where dependence on hunted and gathered food packages decreases during the former period and full-scale agriculture becomes the norm during the latter cultural stage. This dietary shift appears to coincide with Holocene shoreline stabilization and overall large-scale population increase and movement through time. It is proposed here that two primary reasons exist for the change in overall diet breadth: (1) increasing shoreline stabilization during the Holocene and (2) an increase in hunter-gatherer population pressure due to a sedentary lifestyle. Both of these factors would have led to some degree of territorial circumscription, resulting in a progressive decline in overall hunter-gatherer foraging efficiency. In turn, this would have prompted the Holocene Korean Peninsular peoples to find other ways to offset their lowered overall foraging efficiency that had originally focused primarily on higher-ranked food resources (e.g., deer, wild boar). In this case, Korean peoples expanded their overall diet breadth to include a lower-ranked set of food packages (e.g., fish, shellfish) that by the advent of the Bronze Age eventually included plant domesticates regularly. KEYWORDS: East Asia, Korea, spread of agriculture, diet breadth contingency model, zooarchaeoIogy.
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    The Lapita Occupation at Naitabale, Moturiki Island, Central Fiji
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2007) Nunn, Patrick D. ; Ishimura, Tomo ; Dickinson, William R. ; Katayama, Kazumichi ; Thomas, Frank ; Kumar, Roselyn ; Matararaba, Sepeti ; Davidson, Janet ; Worthy, Trevor
    In 2003 the authors discovered and excavated a Lapita site at Naitabale close to the southern end of Moturiki Island (central Fiji). Today the site is 350 m inland from the coast, but in Lapita times it was located behind the active beach ridge. A large collection of potsherds (including 92 dentate-stamped or incised Lapita sherds), shell, and animal bones was recovered, together with a human burial. Sherd decorations show affinities with the Western Lapita Province rather than the Eastern Lapita Province (which includes Fiji). Temper analyses of 45 Lapita sherds do not show any unmistakably exotic (to Fiji) pottery, but 29 percent are nonlocal to Moturiki and nearby islands. Fish bones are mostly from inshore species (dominated by Scaridae), while nonfish vertebrates are dominated by turtle and include dog and chicken. Shellfish remains are dominated by gastropods, mostly Strombus spp. (43 percent of gastropod MNI). The surf clam (Atactodea striata) accounts for 38 percent of bivalve MNI, with Anadara antiquata and Gafrarium peetinatum each representing 14 percent of the bivalve MNI. The skeleton is that of a woman (Mana) 161-164 cm tall who died at 40-60 years of age. Six radiocarbon dates from bones overlap 2740-2739 cal. years B.P. (790-789 B.C.). The mandible lacks antegonial notches but is not a proper rocker jaw. The cranium was better preserved than any Lapitaassociated skeleton hitherto described, which allowed the head to be reconstructed. Stable-isotope analyses show that her diet contained significant amounts of reef foods but was probably dominated by terrestrial plants. The Lapita occupation of Naitabale is likely to have begun by 2850 cal. years B.P. (900 B.C.). Radiocarbon dates and pottery decorative styles both suggest Naitabale was first occupied within the early part of the Lapita history of Fiji. KEYWORDS: Fiji, Lapita, pottery, pottery temper, fish, turtle, shellfish, human, dating.
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