Asian Perspectives, 1999 - Volume 38, 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 - 7 of 7
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    Risk Minimization and the Traditional Ahupua'a in Kahikinui, Island of Maui, Hawai'i
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1999) Dixon, Boyd ; Conte, Patty J. ; Nagahara, Valerie ; Hodgins, W Koa
    Rather than viewing the culture history of Kahikinui, Maui, as a process of gradual population growth and ecological adaptation, this article proposes that the settlement and subsistence system found in the district at European contact was implemented virtually intact in the mid-fifteenth century as a deliberate and conscious chiefly strategy-both to avoid the social risks inherent in increasingly factionalized windward polities and to minimize the environmental risks involved in settling this dry leeward district. By approximately A.D. 1650, the spatial distribution of settlement and the formalization of agricultural field systems suggest the implementation of the ahupua 'a, or traditional Hawaiian community land unit. Kahikinui, located at the fringes of the pre-Contact sociopolitical structure, may have been among the first areas to suffer from the breakdown of the traditional ahupua'a system after European contact in A.D. 1778. KEYWORDS: Hawaiian archaeology, leeward environments, Maui, risk.
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    Reconstructing Ancestral Oceanic Society
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1999) Hage, Per
    An analysis combining historical linguistic, ethnological, and cross-cultural data can be used to reconstruct the general features of Ancestral Oceanic social organization, including descent, residence, stratification, and marriage alliance. The motivation for this analysis derives in part from two conclusions of Levi-Strauss in The Elementary Structures of Kinship: (1) Island (Oceanic-speaking) Melanesia is much less bilateral than commonly thought; and (2) Island Melanesia represents a continuation of Austronesian systems of generalized exchange. As a test of the proposed reconstruction, it is compared with the social organization of the Island Melanesian community Green and Pawley used as an ethnographic guideline in their recent historical linguistic and archaeological study of early Oceanic house architecture and settlement patterns. The results of this analysis have important implications for previous and current hypotheses regarding Ancestral Oceanic Society. KEYWORDS: Oceanic ethnology, Ancestral Oceanic Society, Oceanic kinship and social stratification, culture history, and historical linguistics.
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    Prehistoric Mobility in Polynesia: MtDNA Variation in Rattus exulans from the Chatham and Kermadec Islands
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1999) Matisoo-Smith, Elizabeth ; Sutton, Douglas G. ; Ladefoged, Thegn N. ; Lambert, David M. ; Allen, John S.
    Irwin (1992) has suggested that island accessibility in the Pacific, in terms of latitude and safety of return voyaging, for example, affects their degree of contact with other islands and their role in Pacific prehistory. We present results of mtDNA variation in both ancient and modern populations of the Pacific Rat (Rattus exulans), an animal that was transported by humans as they settled the Pacific islands. We argue that the varying levels of genetic diversity in R. exulans populations on Pacific islands will to some degree reflect the level of prehistoric human contact with those islands, and thus will be tied to island accessibility. A high level of mtDNA variation is reported for the Kermadec Island R. exulans populations, but there is marked lack of variation in Chatham Island rats. This is consistent with predictions based on the relative degrees of accessibility of the Kermadecs and the Chathams. High levels must be the result of either multiple introductions by humans or in situ evolution over an extended time frame; however, lack of variation could conceivably be the result of recent population crashes, and may therefore not be reflective of low levels of human mobility. Analysis of mtDNA from archaeological R. exulans samples shows a direct link between ancient and modern populations on Chatham Island. This result (1) confirms relative prehistoric isolation of Chatham Island; (2) allows for rejection of the in situ evolution explanation for New Zealand and Kermadec levels of variation; and (3) supports the use of Rattus exulans mtDNA variation as an assessment for accessibility and contact of prehistoric Pacific populations. KEYWORDS: Rattus exulans, mtDNA, ancient DNA, prehistory, Polynesia.
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    Mobility and Subsistence Strategies: A Case Study of Inamgaon, A Chalcolithic Site in Western India
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1999) Panja, Sheena
    This article concerns archaeological methodology and examines the categories archaeologists use to describe mobility and subsistence strategies of the past. The Chalcolithic Culture of Inamgaon (western India) is taken as a case study, first, to assess how earlier researchers have tried to understand subsistence and mobility change from past material culture and, second, to rethink the nature of the Chalcolithic in the Bhima Valley with special reference to the site of Inamgaon. Traditionally, it has been thought that a change occurred, from sedentary agriculture to that dominated by seminomadic sheep and goat pastoralism, in the later levels of this site because of environmental degradation and aridity. Given the nature of this droughtprone region, its land-use capability, the archaeological settlement pattern of the region, and the material remains of the site of Inamgaon, there is no evidence of a drastic change from a sedentary agriculturist to a seminomadic pastoralist lifestyle. It is suggested that semisedentary agropastoralism always existed in this area, along with small-scale mobility either by the whole population or a section of the population. Other nomadic groups with different subsistence strategies also existed in this region. The difference in material culture in the later levels of the site probably resulted from a change in the function of the site, from that of a habitation area to a short-term camping area frequented by mobile peoples, not from a cultural shift from sedentism to seminomadism. KEYWORDS: settlement pattern, subsistence, behavioral archaeology, India.
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    Longshan-Era Urbanism: The Role of Cities in Predynastic China
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1999) Dematte, Paola
    One of the key features in the development of social complexity in ancient China was the emergence of urbanism and the construction of large, fortified settlements of increasing size and complexity This trend predates the earliest dynastic period in China and is associated with the Longshan era dating to c. 2600-2000 B.C. A new construction technology involving rammed-earth walls and platforms was developed and was increasingly employed to create large walls surrounding Longshan settlements, some of which were as much as 30 ha in size. Several of these large, fortified centers are now known along the middle and lower Yellow River basin, as well as from coastal regions, Inner Mongolia, and to the south along the Yangzi River. Both archaeological and textual sources from China are surveyed, and the geographic distributions of early urban settlements and their associated polities are described. Several hypotheses are advanced to interpret the organization and development of these early city-states and their relationship to the later and larger dynastic states of early historic China. KEYWORDS: Chinese archaeology, middle and lower Yellow River, Longshan era, urbanism, social complexity, the state.
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    38:2 Table of Contents - Asian Perspectives
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 1999)
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