Green foxtail, the progenitor of foxtail millet, was domesticated in the Yellow River Valley by 8000 B.P. However, the domestication process is not known. Hence a cultivation experiment was conducted in 1999 and 2000. Although biological change indicative of domestication is usually not manifest in two years, this experiment provides information relevant to the origin of millet farming, sedentism and farming, and the Neolithic tools used for millet farming in the Yellow River Valley.
Keywords: Green foxtail, Yellow River Valley, cultivation experiment, farming, sedentism.
Building the Chronology of Early Chinese History
Yun Kuen Lee
The generally accepted chronology of Chinese history begins in 841 B.C., seventy years before the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty. In Shiji, Sima Qian (c. 145- 89 B.C.) compiled a chronological table of twelve contemporary states starting with 841 b.c. Over the past two thousand years, scholars have tried to extend the dates farther back, but without agreement. The Xia-Shang-Zhou Chronology Project was recently commissioned by the Chinese Government to systematically reconstruct a reliable chronology of early Chinese history starting with the Xia Dynasty. After almost five years and the efforts of some 200 experts in different fields of study, a new chronological table of early China was disseminated in November 2000. It was anticipated that all future discussions on the absolute dates of early China would have to be based on the project’s results. This paper discusses the main debates stimulated by the project and critically evaluates the methodology it employed. As a well-informed observer of the project, the author becomes aware of a number of intriguing issues regarding the study of the past in China, such as politics and the reconstruction of the past, the relationship between the archaeological record and the documentary record, and the compatibility of archaeological dates and historical dates. A discussion of these issues has broad implications for archaeology in other parts of the world.
Keywords: China, dates, Three Dynasties, palaeography, high-precision dating.
Archaeological settlement data from the late precolonial Banda Islands of Indonesia is combined with information gathered from historic maps to investigate the process of cross-cultural interaction. In this case, the two data sets are biased and incomplete, but when combined can illuminate aspects of the late precolonial period in Banda that are otherwise hidden. The study uses European drawn maps dating from the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries, and archaeological data from four sites on the islands of Banda Naira, Banda Besar, and Pulau Ay dating from A.D. 500-1700. Combined, the two sets of data suggest that European observers left certain settlements off of maps because of either lack of access or knowledge, or as deliberate means of deemphasizing Bandanese resistance to European colonial efforts. They also suggest that Europeans interacted primarily with Muslim-oriented settlements in Banda.
Keywords: Banda Islands, Maluku, colonialism, historical archaeology, maps, settlement.
Archaeological investigations undertaken in the upper Gundar Basin (Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, India) between 1991 and 1996 have yielded evidence for the Mesolithic and Iron Age-Early Historic periods. The research has revealed that microlith-using hunter-gatherers continued to exist during the Iron Age and Early Historic periods,and interacted with agropastoral groups. This paper discusses the settlement system of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and interactions between the hunter-gatherers and the agropastoral groups of the Iron Age-Early Historic period.
Keywords: Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, South Asia, microliths, Mesolithic, Iron Age, Early Historic, hunter-gatherers.
Human skeletal remains from a burial site in southern India excavated in the 1960s by the Department of Archaeology and Museums of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, have been analyzed. The burials were recovered from three megalithic graves containing iron weapons and horse trappings, pottery and terracotta figurines, stone blades, pieces of copper, and faunal remains of domesticated species. These assemblages are hallmarks of the southern Indian Iron Age (Megalithic period) of the last three centuries B.C. Laboratory examination of the human skeletal and dental remains provide new information concerning the phenotypic heterogeneity of Iron Age populations, their physical changes in stature and tooth size, reduction of muscular-skeletal robusticity and sexual dimorphism, and other biological features reflecting evolutionary adaptations from an ancestral hunting-foraging lifeway to settlement in sedentary villages. The data from the study of the skeletal-dental biology of the inhabitants of Pochampad offer new insights into the health status and profiles of growth and development of these and other Iron Age populations in this part of the world. It is concluded that there was considerable phenotypic heterogeneity among these Iron Age communities of southern India and Sri Lanka, and that there was a continuity of populations over time rather than any abrupt demographic displacement of earlier Neolithic populations by invasions of some foreign, early iron-using peoples. Similarly, the biological data suggest that there was continuity of populationsan d gradual emergence of these last representatives of South Asian prehistory with their Early Historic period successors.
Keywords: Indian Iron Age, megalithic burials, biological anthropology.
Site LPO023 of Kurin: Characteristics of a Lapita Settlement in the Loyalty Islands (New Caledonia)
Christophe Sand, Jacques Bole, and Andre Ouetcho
Recent studies have dramatically shortened the chronology of Lapita pottery production in Remote Oceania, allowing this easily identifiable, decorated ceramic ware to be used as a precise temporal marker of first Austronesian settlement in this vast region. Unresolved questions about the precise date of settlement of the Loyalty Islands, located strategically between southern Vanuatu and the Grande Terre of New Caledonia, hinted at a clear picture of the direction and timing of the spread of the Lapita Cultural Complex in southern Melanesia. The results of the excavation of a Lapita site on Mare, in the south of the Loyalty Islands, are presented here, allowing firm placement of the first settlement phase of this region around 1050-1000 B.C., well in line with recent regional chronologies.
Keywords: Lapita, pottery, Remote Oceania, chronology.
A large network of coastal trails on Hawai’i Island was recently designated as a National Historic Trail, but our understanding of the trail has been limited to historical documentation supported by scant archaeological data. The current study is based upon an archaeological survey of a 2-mile section of the trail in Kona where it crosses through a dozen ahupua’a (traditional Hawaiian land divisions), and considers the significance of the coastal trail in relation to Hawaiian land use and exchange. Findings suggest that a trail paved with waterworn stones followed the same straight route as the current trail, which has been affected by numerous historical era modifications. Along with similar known examples in Kona, this finding calls into question a common assumption that all precontact and early historical Hawaiian coastal trails meandered along the contours of the coast. In addition to supporting chiefly endeavors such as the collection of tribute during the annual Makahiki festival, it is suggested that the straight trail may have supported regular exchange of domestic commodities across ahupua’a boundaries in the prehistoric or premissionary eras, and broadens our anthropological perceptions of interdistrict exchange in relation to ahupua’a economics.
Keywords: Hawai’i, Kona, trails, Ahupua’a, exchange.
Copper and Bronze Metallurgy in Late Prehistoric Xinjiang: Its Cultural Context and Relationship with Neighboring Regions, Jianjun Mei
Reviewed by Vincent C. Pigott
The Mons: A Civilization of Southeast Asia, Emmanuel Guillon
Reviewed by Tilman Frasch
Land of Iron: The Historical Archaeology of Luwu and the Cenrana Valley, David Bulbeck and Ian Caldwell
Reviewed by Ian C. Glover
Prambanan: Sculpture and Dance in Ancient Java. A Study in Dance Iconography, Alessandra Iyer
Reviewed by Astri Wright