Roland Fletcher and Christophe Pottier
The development of Angkor from the sixth to the sixteenth century derived from two separate, low-density towns with dispersed residence, Bhavapura (around Ak Yum) (sixth to eighth century) and Hariharalaya (eighth to ninth century) which were integrated into a multicentric urban complex in the late ninth century by the formation of a huge, new residential area around the triad of the Royal Palace, the temple on Phnom Bakheng and the East Baray. From then on successive developments can be schematically described as occurring to the west, south, and north, until by the early thirteenth century the urban complex had stabilized and alterations were occurring primarily in the central area. In the fourteenth century severe, unstable climate change produced mega-monsoons, whose water flow eroded the central canal and deposited massive quantities of cross-bedded sand in the southern canals, ending the capacity of the water management network to shield the population of Greater Angkor from the following droughts. After this damage had occurred, Ayutthaya made a brief incursion into Angkor in the fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century, Angkor began to transmute into its Middle Period—early modern—settlement form around a row of Buddhist wat along the Siem Reap River.
Pedro Soares, Maru Mormina, Teresa Rito, and Martin B. Richards
The settlement of Southeast Asia has traditionally been discussed by scholars in terms of the spread of rice agriculture and the Austronesian and Austro-Asiatic language families. While this framework has also been adopted by some geneticists, many have moved toward a new paradigm. This stresses the importance of climate change over the past 50,000 years in the peopling of the region, and in particular the impact of global warming and sea-level rises after the Last Glacial Maximum, around 20,000 years ago. This chapter summarizes some current thinking in the archaeogenetics of the region, with a discussion of the broad phylogeographic patterns and time depth of the maternal lineages, as estimated from variation in the mitochondrial DNA. It places this discussion in the context of what is known about the paternal line of descent and genome-wide patterns.
Dorian Q. Fuller and Cristina Castillo
Rice is the most important cereal in Southeast Asia today. Archaeobotanical evidence in mainland Southeast Asia suggests that this has been the case over the past three and a half millennia. Archaeologists have tended to emphasize the central role of rice in the origins and dispersal of agriculture, as well as how irrigated rice formed the foundation of states throughout mainland Southeast Asia. However, there are many other cereals that are traditionally cultivated in Southeast Asia or adjacent parts of China and India. This chapter provides an overview of the early history and past distribution of cereals of Southeastern Asia, highlighting how little is known about many of them, and a summary of the current evidence for origins and spread of rice and foxtail millet, the best known cereals from archaeobotanical evidence in Southeast Asia.
William A. Southworth
This chapter discusses the current state of archaeological research on the Champa culture of central Vietnam. Although recognized since the late nineteenth century, Champa is still far better known for its architecture and sculpture than for its archaeology in a broader sense. Excavations at Tra Kieu and Go Cam have revealed the importance of Han China to the emerging polities of central Vietnam, such as Linyi, during the first half of the first millennium AD. Sanskrit and Cham-language inscriptions can also be used to link the historical and archaeological heritage, revealing a localized development of Hindu-Buddhist temple architecture and the design of defensive enclosures or citadel sites. Our understanding of the ceramic sequence after the fourth century AD however remains very limited, restricting the dating and identification of domestic sites, but there is great potential for ethno-archaeology.
John N. Miksic
In the eighth century, a new center of economic, political, and artistic achievement arose in central Java. The major remnants of this period are the Buddhist monument of Borobudur and the Hindu temple complex of Prambanan. After two centuries of prosperity founded on a combination of maritime trade and agrarian development, this center vanished for reasons that are still unclear. Several new centers of population and economic activity arose in East Java, but monumental structures only reappeared in the thirteenth century. Indonesia’s greatest kingdom, Majapahit, flourished in the fourteenth century, then declined as new Islamic polities formed in the seaports of the north coast. Bali had close relations with Java during the ninth to fifteenth centuries, during which the nobility of the two islands intermarried, but Bali was not simply a peripheral reflection of Java. Bali’s distinctive modern culture evolved in a very different direction from Java.
Nam C. Kim
This chapter deals with the archaeological record for the settlement of Co Loa, located in present-day Vietnam’s Red River Delta, and the society responsible for its founding and construction. Linked to local traditions and folklore describing ancient kingdoms, the settlement’s growing archaeological database provides new insights into the area’s cultural development in late prehistoric and early historic eras. This chapter presents highlights Co Loa as it emerged as a political center for a complex polity in northern Vietnam over two thousand years ago. Co Loa represents a very early case of incipient state formation in Southeast Asia during the closing centuries BC.
Charles F. W. Higham
During the last Ice Age, the sea level was over 100 meters lower than at present, and a vast low-lying continent, known as Sundaland, stretched from the Gulf of Siam to northern Borneo and eastern Java. This allowed transit to Australia, and presumably settlement, by the Anatomically Modern Humans who expanded out of Africa at least 60,000 years ago. With global warming, the sea rose higher than its present level, and by 5,000 years ago, it was forming raised beaches. Being a particularly rich environment, these attracted settlement. Excavations of two sites, Nong Nor and Khok Phanom Di, have illuminated hunter-gatherer adaptations to a marine environment that contrasts radically with that of the small groups of foragers identified in inland rock shelters. The hunter gatherers of Khok Phanom Di, however, were overtaken when Neolithic rice farmers occupied the site.
Damien Huffer, R. Alexander Bentley, and Marc F. Oxenham
This study investigates how social organization and mobility changed during the Neolithic Demographic Transition (NDT) in northern Vietnam. Dental nonmetric traits were assessed for pre-Neolithic Con Co Ngua (early seventh millennium BP; n = 38) and Neolithic Man Bac (c. 3800–3600 BP; n = 65), along with cranial nonmetric data for the same Man Bac individuals. It identifies five putative kin lineages for Con Co Ngua and six for Man Bac, with little evidence for spatial organization by lineage in either cemetery. The mean 87Sr/86Sr for Con Co Ngua was 0.70947 ± 0.00017 (n = 40), and for Man Bac 0.70927 ± 0.00055 (n = 27). Man Bac had more variance in overall 87Sr/86Sr, but Man Bac females showed lower variance and a different mean than males within three of the putative lineages identified. While this may signal the presence of uxorilocal postmarital residence at Man Bac, overall, we find no evidence for a marked change in social organization.
Stephen Acabado, Adam Lauer, and Marlon Martin
The diverse archaeology and colonial history of Southeast Asia have influenced ideas of cultural heritage. From policy to general perception to academic discourse, discussions of cultural heritage are as diverse as the population of Southeast Asia. Archaeology, however, is in the best position to contribute to these discussions, as the discipline is primarily concerned with tangible heritage, and archaeologists frequently work with descendant communities. This aspect of archaeology, commonly referred to as public or community archaeology, is a significant shift in the practice of the discipline. With the active involvement of stakeholders in our work, communities are able to relate the long forgotten past to their cultural identities, empower them to own their past, and provide a better appreciation of the work of archaeologists. This chapter calls for an engaged Southeast Asian archaeology to develop a more nuanced discussion on cultural heritage. It focuses on work with the Ifugao (Philippines) as a case study to highlight the importance of community involvement.
The excavations of Bronze Age sites in the Central Lake region of Yunnan have resulted in a wealth of burial goods, including bronze kettledrums and cowrie vessels from the Shizhaishan necropolis near Lake Dian. Multidisciplinary analyses of these materials point to the existence of hierarchical societies of the Dian culture that flourished during the first millennium BC; the communities were ruled by an “aristocratic” elite who maintained contact with cultural groups in surrounding regions as well as far-flung areas. Recent archaeological investigations around Lake Dian also revealed occupation sites in association with the Bronze Age cemeteries in the same area. These new sites delineate a complex settlement system composed of nucleated groups with varied degrees of social complexity; among them the largest cluster near Shizhaishan appeared to have represented the heartland of Dian domain. Stratigraphic studies indicate that these settlements stemmed from a local Neolithic base that had existed in the Dian basin and low-lying areas further south, and that the Dian culture emerged independently from direct cultural/technological impacts from the Chinese central plains.
Nam C. Kim
This chapter deals with the archaeological record of the Dongson Culture, which dates to the first millennium BC and is located in the northern region of present-day Vietnam. Renowned for its large, ceremonial bronze drums and viewed by many as the foundational culture for an emerging Vietnamese civilization, bearers of the Dongson Culture were farming societies scattered throughout the Bac Bo region of Vietnam along its main river systems. These communities were marked by sophisticated bronze-working industries, intensifying agricultural practices, and degrees of social differentiation and political complexity. They were well positioned for interaction and exchange with others throughout the local area and further afield, connecting Dongson societies with counterparts elsewhere in present-day areas of central Vietnam, southern China, Laos, and Thailand.
This chapter discusses the evidence for the initial phases of settlement of Island Southeast sia by people, beginning with “archaic” humans (or “hominins”) with recognizably human characteristics but not identical to ourselves and ending with people who were fully modern in their anatomy and, it is thought, in their cognitive capacities (“modern humans”). Significant themes include the increasing complexity of the hominin landscape in the last 100,000 years, with modern humans at times sharing it with at least three other hominin species, the timing of their dispersals across the region and the complexity of the behaviours that underpinned this process. A range of subsistence technologies and practices were developed that enabled them to forage successfully in interior rainforest and colonize maritime environments, outcompeting other species. Plant and animal translocations are further evidence of their resourcefulness to meet ecological challenges encountered in their dispersals, as may be the increasing evidence for the richness of their conceptual or imaginative lives.
Following centuries of settlement intensification in Upper Myanmar (Burma) during the Iron Age, urban centers, many enclosed by brick walls, began to appear in the early centuries of the first millennium AD. Settlement characteristics include monumental architecture, management by a power elite, water control systems, coinage, literacy, and a calendar. From around the tenth century AD a power group based at Bagan began to expand militarily and administratively until by the thirteenth century, inscriptions and religious artifacts found over much of the area encompassed by modern Myanmar show that a kingdom had incorporated the culturally related but politically independent city-states that had preceded it.
Wesley Clarke and Matthew Gallon
“Dvāravatī” is the term applied to an early historic cultural expression in the region of Thailand that, despite 130 years of scholarly investigation, remains poorly understood in many aspects of its material content and sociopolitical organization. An early scholarly focus on monumental art and architecture set a trajectory for the definition and study of Dvāravatī that emphasized an art historical approach and neglected domestic aspects of the cultural record. Neither is the range of settlement types adequately documented, and chronometric information is underdeveloped. Dvāravatī is typically assigned a time range of several centuries between the sixth and eleventh centuries AD, but there is substantial evidence for a “proto” phase before the appearance of monumental sculpture and architecture. Operating in an era when exogamous ideologies and practices entered the region of central Thailand, Dvāravatī has the potential to illuminate local processes of cultural adoption and adaptation. Only a more holistic approach to documenting material and social content, however, will improve our understanding of the Dvāravatī phenomenon.
During the mid-first millennium AD period considered in this chapter, a variety of polities along the coasts of the western façade of Insular Southeast Asia, all of them with long-standing relationships with polities across the Bay of Bengal, started adapting to their own needs a South Asian cultural package comprising writing, the usage of Sanskrit, text-based religions, and associated literature, iconography, and architecture. Recent work on these polities has reassigned such developments to a manifold process, with a variety of incentives and outcomes, showing that local rulers and their people, far from being passive recipients of imported cultural traits, were not cut off from transformations and developments in world economy taking place elsewhere in Asia at the turn of the first millennium and played an active part in such sociopolitical transformations. This chapter first concentrates on the state of Srivijaya and on those polities of the Thai-Malay Peninsula that were associated with the latter, for which both archaeological and textual evidence is available to document the state-formation process. Only then does this chapter try to recognize comparable processes for other areas—Java, Bali, Borneo—for which archaeological data remains scattered.
This chapter discusses the spread by migration of Neolithic farmers from southern China and Taiwan into and through the islands of Southeast Asia between 4000 and 3000 years ago. Data are drawn from archaeology, genetics, and the comparative study of the Austronesian languages. Also discussed are counterarguments that favor indigenous development of Island Southeast Asian agriculture and Neolithic material culture. This chapter supports the concept of Neolithic migration involving Austronesian language speakers, but points out that indigenous genetic descent from pre-Neolithic Holocene populations is strongly present in Wallacea, and also that both food production and maritime resource exploitation fueled the population expansion. Island Southeast Asia served as a springboard for further expansions into coastal regions of Mainland Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands beyond New Guinea and the Solomons.
In East Asia similar late-Pleistocenic adaptive processes prompted groups of hunter-gathers to make baked clay containers to process certain dietary components, including nutritious wild cereals (e.g., rice and millet). In the long run (~8000–4000 BC) human manipulation changed the natural morphology and characters of these cereals (domestication). The southward dispersal of rice out of its mid-low Yangtze domestication center (~5000–4500 BC) was associated with ceramic vessels decorated with a characteristic “incising and impressing” technique. The finding of actual rice grains and of this “I&I” technique archaeologically marks the dispersal of rice-growers and highlights the interactive processes between the incomers and the hunter-gatherers of subtropical modern South China adapted to its diverse ecosystems. From southern China (~2200–2000 BC) locally interbred agriculturists dispersed toward the plains of Mainland Southeast Asia facing local Early Neolithic nonagriculturists, new landscapes, and environments. As for millet in Neolithic Southeast Asia, some assumption has been proposed, but the data are too sparse and more research is required, with a degree of flexibility in considering whether a homogeneous, worldwide, all-inclusive “Neolithic package,” comprehensively consisting of fixed technological and ideological innovations, ever existed.
Charles F. W. Higham
Farming in Southeast Asia is dominated two major crops, rice and millet, and domestic pigs, cattle, water buffalo, chickens, and dogs. The domestication of these species took place in China, and the first farmers began to settle Southeast Asia in the early second millennium bc. They integrated with the indigenous hunter-gatherers, and were heavily reliant not only on their crops and domestic animals, but also on hunting, gathering, and fishing. An agricultural revolution took place during the Iron Age, involving plough agriculture in permanent fields. Ownership of improved land would have stimulated the rise of social elites and dependent craft specialists, factors underlying the rapid formation of early states.
This chapter reviews the current state of knowledge regarding the Hoabinhian in the context of Southeast Asian prehistory, including the variability and distribution of Hoabinhian sites and assemblages and the nature and significance of archaeological data from the Late Pleistocene and Post-Pleistocene in Mainland Southeast Asia. The term “Hoabinhian” was initially applied during the Colonial Period to hunter-gatherer sites, mainly caves, located in Hoa Binh Province of northern Vietnam. Based largely on stone tool morphology, Hoabinhian sites are now widely distributed across Southeast Asia and southern China. Only a few excavated sites have been securely dated, and so, relative dating remains the main chronological approach, based on formal typological criteria. A simple definition of the Hoabinhian concept with regard to tool types should be reevaluated. However, new discoveries have suggested a holistic view of Late Pleistocene and Holocene culture as the analytical methods of explaining how cultural systems work within obvious limitations balance the attention focused on technologies.
Matthew Tocheri, E. Grace Veatch, Jatmiko, E. Wahyu Saptomo, and Thomas Sutikna
Homo floresiensis—the holotype of which stood ~106 cm tall, weighed ~27.5 kg, and had a brain ~426 cm3—is the taxonomic name given to hominin remains discovered in Late Pleistocene deposits at Liang Bua, a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. This species, and the skeletal and cultural remains attributed to it, has been the source of considerable scientific and public interest as well as intense debate since its discovery was first announced. A major implication of the discovery of this extinct taxon is that modern humans (Homo sapiens) once shared this planet with Neandertals and Denisovans as well as H. floresiensis, which also walked bipedally and made and used stone tools but had a brain size, body proportions, and other primitive features not seen within the genus Homo for the past ~1.5 million years. Prior to ~50 thousand years ago human biological diversity was significantly greater than it is presently when the only hominins remaining are members of a single species, H. sapiens. This chapter overviews key aspects about what is currently known about this taxon and how this knowledge differs from or extends upon the initial studies of H. floresiensis. It also outlines how new discoveries and further research will continue to improve and reshape our understanding of the biology and culture of this intriguing human species.