Asian Perspectives, 1996 - Volume 35, 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.


Center for South Asian Studies
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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
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    The Human Environment During the Terminal Pleistocene and Holocene in Northeastern Thailand: Phytolith Evidence from Lake Kumphawapi
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1996) Kealhofer, Lisa
    Regional environmental reconstruction is used to address the issue of human environmental relationships in northeastern Thailand from the Late Pleistocene through the Mid-Holocene. A 6.18 m core from Lake Kumphawapi was analyzed for phytoliths, and reveals a long sequence of complex climatic, geomorphological, and cultural changes in the landscape. Distinctive fluctuations in vegetation, as well as direct evidence from burned phytoliths, suggests broadcast burning of the mixed deciduous-dry deciduous forest began early in the Holocene. Subsistence strategies changed, often cyclically, until the Mid-Holocene when indirect evidence indicates agriculture became increasingly important and burning declined initially, shifting to vegetation commonly found in rice fields. The patterning and chronology of these data suggest that current models of agricultural development for the region need to be reevaluated. KEYWORDS: subsistence, palaeoenvironment, phytoliths, rice, burning, Thailand, Southeast Asia.
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    Holocene Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction Based on Microfossil Analysis of a Lake Sediment Core, Nong Han Kumphawapi, Udon Thani, Northeast Thailand
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1996) Penny, Dan ; Grindrod, John ; Bishop, Paul
    Pollen, phytolith, and charcoal analyses are presented for a Holocene lake sediment core taken from Nong Han (Lake) Kumphawapi, Udon Thani, Northeast Thailand. Major changes appear in the record at approximately 6500 calibrated years B.P. with the establishment of permanent swamp or lake conditions at the core site and a decline in regional arboreal taxa. These changes are difficult to explain in simple climatic terms and are inconsistent with other climatic reconstructions for the region. A coincident increase in disturbance indicators in the microfossil record may reflect human activities, particularly changes to dryland vegetation through the use of fire. The technique appears to be insensitive to the development of intensive wet-rice agriculture, which almost certainly occurred during the period represented by the microfossil record. Despite this, the results indicate good potential for further detailed microfossil analyses at Nong Han Kumphawapi. KEYWORDS: palaeoenvironmental analysis, pollen, origins of rice, Thailand, Southeast Asia.
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    The Holocene Palaeogeography of the Southeast Margin of the Bangkok Plain, Thailand, and Its Archaeological Implications
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1996) Boyd, William E. ; Higham, Charles F.W. ; Thosarat, R.
    The archaeological implications of a palaeogeographical model of the region surrounding an archaeological site, Nong Nor, on the southeastern margin of the Bangkok Plain are presented. The regional stratigraphic sequence provides the basis for a regional palaeogeographical model extending from Pleistocene to late Holocene times. The model comprises three major phases of landscape development reflecting the evolution of the region's landscape from an inland undulating plain completely unlike the present floodplain, through a phase of marine inundation and coastal conditions, to the present freshwater floodplain environment.' This sequence provides a geographical framework for the prehistoric occupation of the midden at Nong Nor. In particular, it is possible to describe the landscape in which the prehistoric occupants lived and the distribution of environmental resources available to these people. The palaeogeographical model also provides a chronological framework for the prehistoric occupation of the site and the construction of the midden by reference to the timing of changes in environmental processes and conditions throughout the Holocene. Finally, the palaeogeographical model provides a basis for predicting the location and ages of other prehistoric sites within the landscape; in this respect, a geoarchaeological model partitions the landscape according to the potential for presence and preservation of archaeological sites of various types and ages. KEYWORDS: palaeogeography, geoarchaeology, site distribution, Holocene, Thailand, Southeast Asian archaeology.
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    Possible Early Dry-Land and Wet-Land Rice Cultivation in Highland North Sumatra
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1996) Maloney, Bernard K.
    The origins of dry farming in the Southeast Asian tropics have been neglected until recently. Information from five North Sumatran pollen diagrams is summarized, with a chronological control of 41 radiocarbon dates, and it is suggested that pollen, phytolith, and microfossil charcoal evidence, viewed in the light of the local topography and more recent land use, indicates that dry rice may have been cultivated from c. 2600 B.P., possibly coeval with swamp rice, or some form of irrigated rice, depending upon the location, and that agricultural expansion in this area of largely poor soils began between 700 and 500 years ago. KEYWORDS: prehistoric rice cultivation, North Sumatra, palaeoenvironmental analysis, palynology, phytoliths, Southeast Asian archaeology.
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    Distinguishing Change in the Subsistence and the Material Records: The Interplay of Environment and Culture
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1996) Weber, Steven A.
    By the end of the second millennium B.C., localized subsistence strategies with different dietary practices had shifted to a more standardized system over a large area in northwestern South Asia. At the same time and in the same area, the material and settlement record implies that the centralized and well-integrated culture of the Indus Civilization was breaking down into a less integrated system with a greater emphasis on local cultural units. How do these processes interrelate? Some answers may come from analyzing the environmental limitations of this area, changes in the pattern of species being exploited, and the impact of humans on their habitat over time.
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    Was Medieval Sawankhalok like Modern Bangkok, Flooded Every Few Years but an Economic Powerhouse Nonetheless?
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1996) Bishop, Paul ; Hein, Donald ; Godley, David
    "Sawankhalok" is the name of the medieval city that was part of the Sukhothai kingdom and was located on the banks of the Yom River about 50 km north of Sukhothai. This city shows evidence of flood sedimentation of up to 2 m since its founding, prompting the question of when the flooding occurred and why the city was founded in an evidently flood-prone site. Several elements of the physical environment, especially the disposition of hills and river, are propitious in terms of Thai cosmology and almost certainly constitute one element in the decision to locate the old city at the site. Flood damage to the walls of the city indicate, however, that the city's founding and early growth probably occurred during a period of lower flooding. This conclusion is consistent with the long Chinese records of regional meteorological phenomena that are related to the strength of the monsoon, one of the key controllers of river flow at the old city. After being founded, the city persisted at this location despite a return to a regime of higher and, possibly, more frequent floods. This persistence was almost certainly related, at least in part, to the economic and political power that resided in the city and was founded on flourishing ceramics and agricultural industries and the decline of Sukhothai itself. The history of old Sawankhalok shows that the physical environment remains an important element in understanding the emergence of proto urban sites, despite the lack of attention paid to this currently unfashionable element of urban development. It seems that the old city would have been hard-pressed to develop had it been subject to inundation and sedimentation by floods. The modern Asian supercities are evidently likewise resilient to the extremes of the physical environment. Inertia is a strong factor in this resilience, but one might suggest that Bangkok would also find it very difficult to cope with regular inundation by flood waters and sediment. KEYWORDS: geoarchaeology, historical climatology, urbanism, Thailand, Southeast Asian archaeology.
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    Human-Environmental Relationships in Prehistory: An Introduction to Current Research in South and Southeast Asia
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1996) Kealhofer, Lisa
    Understanding human environmental relationships is fundamental to understanding past cultures. Views of how environments and humans interrelate, however, have changed substantially during the twentieth century. Either the environment or social relations have been seen as causal in changing cultural groups. As McGlade (1995) and others have suggested, differentiating environments and social relations negates their co-dependence and co-evolution. This article briefly introduces the papers presented in this volume, contextualizing them within both the status of current data collection and the theoretical orientation discussed. The pioneering environmental data presented by the authors represent critical first steps in creating models that better reflect the complexity of human environmental relationships in the Asian tropics. KEYWORDS: Asian palaeoenvironment, palynology, phytoliths, geomorphology, development of agriculture, agricultural change.
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    35:2 Table of Contents - Asian Perspectives
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1996)
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