Asian Perspectives, 2008 - Volume 47, 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 12
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    Excavation in Peva Valley, Rurutu, Austral Islands (East Polynesia)
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Bollt, Robert
    The Peva dune site on Rurutu, Austral Islands, excavated in 2003, has yielded a rich archaeological assemblage containing artifacts and both vertebrate and invertebrate fauna from two distinct stratigraphic layers. The lower layer dates from the East Polynesian Archaic period (c. A.D. 1000-1450), and the upper layer from the Classic period (c. eighteenth and nineteenth centuries A.D.), during which time the site was a ceremonial marae. The two layers are entirely distinct, separated by a thick deposit of sterile beach sand. This article analyzes the major temporal trends in Rurutu's artifact and faunal assemblages, and discusses them in terms of both the general efflorescence of East Polynesian culture, and the more specifIc emergence of a uniquely Austral culture, which impressed early European visitors as being quite unique. KEYWORDS: East Polynesia, Austral Islands, Cook Islands, Rurutu, colonization.
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    The Changing Role of Irrigated Colocasia esculenta (Taro) on Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands: From an Essential Element of Colonization to an Important Risk-Reduction Strategy
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Addison, David J.
    This paper proposes that, on the Marquesan island of Nuku Hiva, wet cultivation of Colocasia taro was important in initial colonization because it was the most energy efficient and fastest-producing crop. In later periods its caloric contribution was eclipsed by breadfruit, but irrigated taro played an important risk-reduction role. KEYWORDS: Agriculture, archaeology, intensification, risk-reduction, irrigation, Polynesia.
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    Ongoing Archaeological Research on Fais Island, Micronesia
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Intoh, Michiko
    The third season of archaeological research was carried out on Fais Island in the Caroline Islands at the end of 2005. A deep cultural deposit (more than 3.3 meters) was excavated along the southern coastal deposit from which a number of potsherds, shell artifacts, bone artifacts, and various kinds of natural remains were found. The constant recovery of artifactual remains supports the previous supposition that the island was continuously inhabited since the time of the first colonization. Pigs and dogs (and possibly chickens) have definitely existed on the island since about A.D. 400 afterward. Two charcoal samples obtained from the earliest cultural deposit were securely dated as A.D. 230-410 (Beta-21306) and A.D. 240-420 (Beta213061). These are the earliest dates obtained for the coral islands in the central Caroline Islands. The continuous appearance of potsherds and natural food remains throughout the culture sequence indicates that Fais was permanently settled for the last 1700 years and was not just occupied for a short period of time. On the basis of introduced pottery and domesticated animals, maintaining cultural contacts with high islands could have been a significant way to survive on such small coral islands with limited resources.
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    Northern Vanuatu as a Pacific Crossroads: The Archaeology of Discovery, Interaction, and the Emergence of the "Ethnographic Present"
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Bedford, Stuart ; Spriggs, Matthew
    Northern Vanuatu is a significant crossroads region of the Southwest Pacific. This paper outlines current archaeological research being undertaken in the area, focusing on defining initial human settlement there some 3000 years ago and subsequent cultural transformations which led to the establishment of the ethnographic present. The study to date has contributed to a more detailed picture of inter- and intraarchipelago interaction, settlement pattern, subsistence, and cultural differentiation. The research contributes to regional debates on human colonization, patterns of social interaction, and the drivers of social change in island contexts. KEYWORDS: Northern Vanuatu, interaction, contact and exchange, cultural transformation.
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    Pacific Bananas: Complex Origins, Multiple Dispersals?
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2008) Kennedy, Jean
    This paper reviews recent genetic evidence for the origins of the traditional cultivated bananas of the Pacific, and shows that they are unexpectedly complex. Current assumption of their prevailing west-to-east spread from Southeast Asia into the Pacific thus needs modification. Although bananas are widely assumed to have been part of the set of crops transported to Polynesia at first settlement, the linguistic evidence on which this is based underestimates the diversity of bananas in the New Guinea region and is suspect. Archaeological evidence of bananas is so far very tenuous. Recent genetic evidence of the parentage of most groups of cultivated bananas shows that the primary step toward edibility occurred in the Philippines New Guinea region. Early movements westward across Island Southeast Asia must have occurred, and the complexity of hybrids makes regionally dispersed development likely. There is no demonstrable link with Taiwan or the adjacent coast of China. There is no evidence that the genetically distinct lineages of bananas found in Polynesia were brought together in the putatively ancestral Lapita crop assemblage of the northern New Guinea region. The complex phylogeny of the cultivated Pacific bananas may thus suggest multiple prehistoric introductions of bananas to Polynesia. If bananas were part of the founding set of crops of Remote Oceania, the question "which bananas?" is currently unanswered. KEYWORDS: Indo-Pacific migration and colonization; banana domestication, taxonomy, and genetics; Pacific plantains, Fe'i bananas, New Guinea archaeobotany, banana phytoliths.
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