Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From Neolithic to Modern Times in Southeast Asia

Giving an overview from a Vietnamese website:

From Neolithic to Modern Times in Southeast Asia

This is a bit technical, and could use a greater understanding of Y-DNA genetic archaeology and as well as archaeology and linquistic archaeology. These are all dealing with different time scales though they sometimes converge or overlap. Forgive the imprecise language, I am not an expert but am simply trying to piece together the most viable coherent story-line from the various sources.

Dawn of Man

In the beginning was climate change. That’s right, climate change may have played a significant role in our early speciation. Indeed, this may be the case with many (most) species. Of course climate change plays a role in many (most) mass extinctions as well. Just to be clear, climate change happens, but also humans are now capable of contributing toward if not outright causing climate change. Enough said.
Homo sapiens sapiens developed around 200,000 years ago with fully modern characteristics about 50,000 years ago. Around that time there was movement of this species out of Africa.

40,000 Years Ago

40,000 years ago the K genetic mutation, which is common ancestor to R and O. This was perhaps in the area of modern day Iran, and Southwest Asia in any case. Here is where present day Southeast Asians and Caucasians diverged. We have common ancestors back at this timescale.
35,000 years ago the O mutation which is the original of Sino, Tibeto-Burman, Tai-Kradai and Austronesian (Malay/Philippino).

Last Glacial Maximum

20,000 years ago or so began the last Glacial Maximum up to around 10,000 years ago.
Between 15,000 and 7,000 years ago there were at least three large flooding periods from the effect of climate change (global warming), which submerged the Sunda Continent aka Sundaland and sent the Austronesian ancestors to places like Taiwan (rather than the reverse migration pattern long believed). Note that some folks believe that Sundaland is the Atlantis that Plato refers to, a submerged continent.[More than likely it would not be "Atlantis" but one of the parralel versioins of the myth from India or local flood myths]
Note how fertile Sundaland is in terms of vegetation support and climactic zones at this time.

10,000 Years Ago, Migration to China Begins

Movement into China is the latest, not the earliest, as diversity in Han population is low, indicating its relative youth. The big expansion into China largely occured with rice cultivation, around 10,000 years ago.
Before and after this magic 10,000 year mark, migration as well as cultural and ethnic differentiation took place at the level in which we find ourselves different from one another in terms of groups of people. Archaeological evidence of the neolithic and copper, bronze and iron age commences.

4,000 Years Ago in Southeast Asia

There is mitochondrial DNA evidence of migration from insular Southeast Asia within the last 10,000 years. For example, in modern day Udon Thai there is evidence of ongoing habitation back 4,000 years in the Ban Chiang archaeological site. That said, the orignal inhabitatants are most likely not related to the current Thai people. If anything, in Southeast Asia there has been successive waves of various populations as well as movement of populations by ruling powers. See more of the Archaeological sites in Thailand.

Vietnamese Neolithic Shellmound burial, individual is of the Melanesian physical type.






Austronesian Languages

The Austronesian languages can be considered the ocean-going, sea-faring people who essentially stayed in Sundaland as it became submerged.

Austro-Asiatic Languages

The Austro-Asiatic are a grouping which are more confined to low-land and coastal areas.

Tai-Kradai Languages

The Tai-Kradai including modern Lao, Thai, Shan (Tai Yai), etc., are in the mountains of modern-day southern China (Guanxi and Yunnan provinces) as well as the Chao Phraya basin. It is thought that this linguistic-ethnic group came from Taiwan, though they could equally have gone to Taiwan. In any case, the record since around 1,000 CE is one where this group displaced the Khmer-Mon populations in modern day Laos and Thailand, and eventually overwhelmed and largely annexed the Khmer empire.

Hmong-Mien Languages

The Hmong-Mien languages and ethnic groups make up a number of the hill tribes in Thailand and Laos, as well as northern Vietnam and southern China.

Tibeto-Burman Languages

The other major language group in the region is Tibeto-Burman. I follow the most recent scholarship which places Chinese under the Tibetan component rather than as a major branch at the top level. As mentioned above, Chinese and the Han people are much younger than previously accorded. Nothing wrong with that. Indeed the vigor of this linguistic and ethnic group is many thousands of years old, the backwardness of their own middle ages notwithstanding. When dealing with a culture we have to thing in terms of thousands of years, not hundreds, to get a sense of what is happening.

Movement of Languages and Peoples

Where we can really talk about history, begins around 1,000 CE. In which we have useful archeological records as well as written records of visitors and trading partners. One thing that becomes clear is that the movement of populations, for various purposes and impetus, is the overriding feature when dealing with the timescale of decades and centuries
  • Migration of Tai into Northern Thailand/Laos from around 900-1100 CE
  • Ayuuthaya and Lanna Kingdoms, the creation of Chiang Mai, it subsequent abandonment and repopulation
  • Laos/Isaan and the displacement of Lao people into the previously forested Khorat plateau (creating Northeast Thailand in the process)
  • Angkor Wat and its sacking, the collapse of the metropolitan area and the area becoming deserted
  • Vientiane itself was depopulated and deserted
All these are simply reference points and converge together the various genetic, archaeological, linquistic and written historical record shows a great diversity of peoples, cultures and the very geography they inhabited. Sundaland and Indochina, what has become insular and mainland Southeast Asia, an area of fantastic variety.

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While we are on the subject of "Movements of Peoples" we are going to own some definite terms on the concept of human races. I shall show a series of maps from different times in recent history-unfortunately no single one of them will show all of the features I want to show all at once.

This map is from Thomas Huxley and begins to show some intergrading between the main races as he supposes them. He indicates these best between Africans and Europeans but there are also similar grades known from Eastern Asia (indicated imprecisely by the addition of black lines for North and South Chinese and Japanese).

This one is amended from Carleton Coon and I have added separations between different general types of American Indians and Pacific Islanders. All of these are morphologically distinguishable from one another but it does start to bring up the question, how many of these so-called races are necessary? There are at least a dozen local races and probably more like two dozen. And the layman just thinks of races in terms so skin colouring: the MAJORITY of human local or geographic races are ALL "Brown" races. Actually the concepts of gene flow and genetic clines are more useful than assuming larger discrete and fixed races.

The reason for saying this is because it has generally somehow come to be assumed that Polynesians are "Only" Asiatic "Mongoloids" that came into the Pacific from Taiwan and  then settled in Melanesia and especially around Fiji to become the Lapita Ware people. This is incorrect: they are not "Mongoloids" and the peoples most strongly associated with the Lapita Ware people were Melanesians instead . The Ancestors of the Polynesians spent the period of Ancient History in and around Fiji, and the period of Classical Greece and Rome in the Marquesas. They began their main period of expansion just about the period of the Fall of The Roman Empire. But the Melanesians had far earlier preceeded them and probably also preceeded them in the building of the earlier Megalithic monuments including dolmens.

Neolithic in Vietnam


I. Environment and personality
Neolithic period falls in the transition stage from Pleistocene to Holocene, in this period there were important changes in the environment and climate. Geo- morphological studies undertaken in the Straits of Malacca and the Southern China sea (Eastern sea in Vietnamese) have revealed a pattern of rapidly rising sea levels. According to the Geologists Geyh, Kudrass and Streif, 10,000 years ago the sea level was between 40-60m below its present level. This would have exposed an immense area of low-lying terrain traversed by the extensions of the Chao Phraya and Mekong rivers. Between 8000-6000 years ago, the sea level rose from –12.8 to +1.2m relative to the present coast, and subsequent raised beaches dating between 5000-4000 years ago reveal a sea level between 2.5 and 5.8m higher than at present. The reduction in sea level to the current situation occurred from 4000 to as recently as 1000 years ago, and was accompanied by numerous minor oscillations. During the period of elevated levels between c. 7000-1000 B.P., areas which now comprise the Chao Phraya, Mekong and Red river lowlands were shallow extensions of the sea. Takaya (1969) has shown that during this period, clay laid down under blackish water attained a depth of up to 14m in the vicinity of Bangkok. Even greater depth of marine clays have been from Northern Vietnam, where Nguyen Duc Tam (1969) has traced the major rice in the post- Pleistocene sea level to a point when, at its maximum extend, the coast was located well to the west of Hanoi (Jamieson 1981).
These drastic changes clearly altered the personality of SE Asia and Vietnam. Ten thousand years ago it comprised extensive mountain chains and a vast region of low-lying marshy land across which snaked several major rivers and numerous tributaries. Five millennia later, the latter had all but disappeared, and with it an entire chapter of SE Asian prehistory. We can pick up the thread of coastal settlement only when the sea level stabilized and then began to fall, revealing once again a low-lying riverine landscape, but, by now, covered by a mantle of marine clay
The three major river valleys we can recognize today as the core areas of modern population density are truncated version of their ancestral channels, but each has built up a substantial delta in the recent past.
The archaeologists have recognized two main landscapes in this period: The mountain- forest (Inland) and the coastal plain.
 II. Archaeological Cultures
The inland area:
 Hoabinhian culture (20,000 to 7,000 years B.P.) with two stages: Early Hoabinhian and Hoabinhian (11,000 to 7,000 years B.P.) [The Hoabinhinan rightly belongs to three stages, Early Middle and Late, each one terminated in one of the recognised Global Superfloods-DD]
 Bacsonian culture (11,000-7,000 years B.P.)
 Hoabinhian culture:
 Hoabinhian culture has been largely distributed in Southeast Asia, at least Southeast Asian Inland. In the sense of term “Hoabinhian Techocomplex”, its distribution is lager. It extends From South China to Eastern Sumatra and in long period of time. And exists from the end of Pleistocene to Middle Holocene, from 30,000 to 4,000 years B.P.
 Hoabinhian culture in Vietnam:
 During the 20th and 30th decencies M.Colani (French geologist and archaeologist) discovered in the province of Hoa Binh (North Vietnam) and many other sites of the stone age, which were regrouped under the name of “Hoabinhian culture”. This concept was accepted by a conference of Far-Eastern Pre-historians held in Hanoi in 1932.
The discoveries of M.Colani were enriched (before 1945) by other friend archaeologists and/or geologists such as : E. Saurin, E.Patte…
Since the 60th the decency Vietnamese archaeologists have continued the same research of M.Colani and have discovered many other Hoabinhian sites from the North West of Vietnam to the Center of Vietnam (Quang Tri, Quang Nam provinces).
 Some characteristics:
 The distribution and the space: Up to date over 100 sites were uncovered. A great number of the sites are located in two provinces: Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa. The southern extreme site is located in Quang Tri.
The main kind of the sites is cave and rock shelter settlements. The open sites on alluvium are rare in number and its cultural deposits are different in compare with those in cave.
According to Vietnamese archaeologists (Tran Quoc Vuong and others) the Hoabinhian cultural space has included the rock shelter and the cave system with its extended valleys. So Hoabinhian culture is not only cave culture and must be defined as cave and valley culture.
Cultural deposits: Most of the sites are   cave site. The cultural layer in these caves and rock shelters are thick. The common depth is about 2m.The survival of organic remains representing food debris such as shells (the biggest percentage), wild animal bones, charcoal, human burials and stone tools.
In some Hoabinhian sites, there was yielded the continuous cultural strata between the late Paleolithic to early Neolithic time. One of these sites is the Con Moong cave.
The stratigraphic and chronological relationships between three cultures Son Vi- Hoa Binh- Bac Son is best demonstrated at the site of Con Moong, located within the Cuc Phuong up-land. The lowest of three levels at Con Moong contains stone tools of Son Vi type. The second level contains typical artifacts of Hoabinhian culture and it is believed that the first level contains the epi-Hoabinhian cultural deposits. There are few caves, such as Con Moong, which reveal the Son Vi industry underlying the next stage,that called Hoabinhian. At Hang Pong 1, located near the headwaters of Ma River, the stone industry characteristic of Son Vi has been found mixed with characteristic early Hoabinhian material. This suggests that the Hoabinhian originated in an earlier Son Vi context. The two available radiocarbon dates from Hang Pong 1, as well as those from Son Vi, suggest that this transition was underway about 11,000-12,000 years ago.    
Stone industry: Raw-material: river cobber with various sorts such as forphyrit, andesit, rhyolit, basalt, in some cases quartzite, quartz, granite, gneiss and schist.
The stone implements: They centre on a tool known as the sumatralith, or unifacial discoid. This was made by removing flakes from one side of a river cobble. Modification of such river pebbles by flaking forms the basis of the Hoabinhian stone-working tradition. The range of tool was not large. Apart from the sumatralith, there is the simple removal of a row of flakes along one edge of a pebble to form a cutting edge. More common are the “short axes”- an artifact modified to form a convex cutting edge at one end. Since the recovery of flakes which were probably removed when sharpening a dull-edged implement is not uncommon, it is considered likely that such short axes reflect either a continuous process of sharpening, or the accidental breaking of a sumatralith. It is also apparent from the bruised surfaces of some pebbles that they were used for crushing or pounding without any prior modification.   
Bone industry: Although the most abundant artifacts found in Hoabinhian phase rock shelter are made of stone, ther was also a vigorous bone industry, as evidenced at the Da Phuc rock shelter. Most of the 105 bone tools found there comprise points or awls.
The characteristic Hoabinhian site is a small rock shelter where access to both the rugged limestone uplands and the resources of tributary stream valleys is possible. Food remains include modern types of shellfish and fish, and small mammals which are still found in the area. Vu The Long’s analysis of the Con Moong fauna, for example, revealed the presence of wild cattle and water-buffalo, rhinoceros, forest bird and both water turtle and land tortoise. Many freshwater bivalve and gastropod shellfish were also recovered.
The Hoabinhian rock shelter rarely yielded human remains and burials. Up to date, there were uncovered the human remains in 33 sites and the burials in 15 sites. A major and important exception is Lang Gao, where Colani (1927) found no fewer than 20 skulls within an area of only an area of only 25m2. They were propped up by stones, with few associated limb bones. No grave goods were identified. It is evident from the layout of this mortuary area that the bodies were buried some time after death within a confined space. If the social group responsible was mobile for at least some of year, then this cave may represent a central focus for burial of the dead whose partial remains were returned there at some interval after death. This particular rite differs from that represented at Hang Dang and Moc Long caves, where the dead were buried in a crouched position, covered in red ochre and associated with stone tools. These human remains contained the features of the Australo-Mongoloid form (Nguyen Lan Cuong and other).[Which I suppose to mean the same as the "Indonesian" as opposed to the "Malay" type-DD]
In some Hoabihian sites there was found the few number of pottery on the surface or in the latest layer, so it is believed that it not belongs to the Hoabinhian culture and must be later in dating.
One of the principal recent advances in our appreciation of the Hoabinhian has been the light thrown on the environment and economy on the basis of pollen and plant remains. Four sites have yielded pollen spectra spanning the late Pleistocene to the Hoabinhian occupation, and the results reveal that, in the latter, a complex of plants including chenopods, legumes, palms and plants of Rubiaceae made their appearance. The last named includes about 400 genera and 7000 species, comprising, in the main, herbs, shrubs and climbers. It has been argued that these plants could indicate not only forest clearance, but also the favoring of food plants. The evidence is insufficient to confirm this interesting possibility. It is nevertheless the case that, to this day, the vegetation in the area incorporating Hoabihian sites includes beans, yams and taro. Excavations at the late Hoabinhian site of Xom Trai have also yielded, for the first time in a Hoabinhian context, the remains of rice. Dao The Tuan (1982) has discerned a distinction between the slender variety in the lower levels, and the presence of both a slender and a rounded grain in the upper ones. He has tentatively proposed that the distinction reflects the process of increased cultivation on this plant. However, caution should be applied because, according to Hoang Xuan Chinh (1984), the site has, like so many others, suffered disturbance in its upper levers.    
 Bacsonian culture:
 During in the ensuing four or five millennia (after 10,000 years B.C.), we can discern two major changes in material culture: the advent of grinding and polishing the working surface of stone tools, and the manufacture of fired pottery vessels. It is important to recognize that, when the initial trends towards polishing stone tools and making pottery occurred, the coast was some distance from the presents shore, and any prehistoric settlements there has been lost trough subsequent inundation. Contacts with coastal group did take place, however, as is evidence from the presence of seashells in inland rock shelters. 
One of the initial foci of research into early hunter and gatherer communities in this area was the mountain channel Bac Son, which extends in some districts of two provinces Lang Son and Thai Nguyen with total area of about 1,500km2.
Early excavations by M.Colani and H.Mansuy (1924) led to the recovery of ground and polished stone implements. These have traditionally been set apart from the flaked stone implements of Hoabinhian, and given the separate name of Bacsonian, after the site where they were first discovered.
Up to date, there were found 54 caves, which contained the traces of Bacsonian culture. Among them 43 sites have been excavated by French scholars. Most of Bacsonian cave-sites are located at the Southern part of Bacson mountain channel. In these caves, the cultural strata is about 1,0-1,5m in thickness and its cultural deposits were lime-clay, shellfish remain, animal bones, charcoal, vestiges of fire, grave, stone tools and few pottery fragments
 Stone and Bone Tools, Bacsonian culture
It is important to recognize that within the hunter-gatherer groups of Inland Bac Bo, first edge-grinding of stone cutting tools and then pottery making adopted.
There is some technological evidence for the succession from flaking to early edge- grinding. Both at Bo Lam and Bo Nam, Ha Van Tan (1976) confirmed earlier findings by Mansuy that polishing was applied to the cutting edges of what are, for all intends and purpose, flaked Hoabinhian sumatraliths. A shell from Bo Nam has been radiocarbon dates to about 6000 B.C., but a specimen from Bo Lam has yielded a radiocarbon date 2000 years earlier (Ha Van Tan 1980). The latter seems extremely early and needs confirmation from further determinations. The same problem applies to dates from a lever at Tham Hai Cave containing evidence for edge- grinding. This again has been dated in the vicinity of 7.500 B.C. Of course, there is no reason why edge- polishing should not belong to this early horizon. Nor is there any interdict on an earlier trend to polishing in one region over another. In terms of stratigraphic succession in a given region, however, we can again turn to Con Moong, where polished implements are found in lever 3, above the layers containing characteristic Hoabinhian flaked tools.   
Stone tool types: (basic on the collection, stored in National Museum of History)
Chopping tools: 402 artifacts - 28,7 %
Edge-grinding axes: 355 artifacts- 25,40 %
Cobber tools: 121 artifacts- 8,64 %
So-called Bacsonian stamp: 448 artifacts- 31,63 %
Flakes: 72 artifacts- 5,51 %.
Bone tools: A few numbers. They are axes, awls, duc ?
Pottery: In 18/ 54 sites there were yielded the pottery. It is believed that the cord-marked pottery was common by this period.
 Coastal area: Epi-Hoabinhian and epi-Bacsonian cultures and sites.
 There were recognized some cultures and groups of sites on the coastal of Northern and Central part in Vietnam.
There is a long tradition of coastal archaeology in Vietnam and currently Vietnamese archaeologists recognize some principal early groupings of sites,which they call “cultures”, “groups” or “sites” such as:
Quynh Van culture, located on the coastal in provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh.
Da But culture,located on the coastal in province of Thanh Hoa.
Soi Nhu group, located on the coastal and Island in province of Quang Ninh.
Cai Beo site,located on the Cat Ba Island in Hai Phong city.
Bau Du site,located on the coastal of Quang Nam province.
Da But culture:
During the 1930s, Patte (1932) excavated the shell-midden of Da But and recovered polished-edged stone adzes markedly similar to those of the inland Bacsonian sites, much pottery and 12 burials inhumed in a flex position. Recent Vietnamese excavations have uncovered some nearby Da But sites contain the common features in stone implements and pottery. It is believes that Da But culture has three developed stages (Da But-Con Co Ngua- Go Trung). The radiocarbon determination of these sites show that Da But culture has existed in period from 6,000to5,500 B.P. Recent excavation at Go Trung yielded the radiocarbon determination of 4,700+50 BP (Bln 2090), due this reason, most of Vietnamese scholars believe that Go Trung must be dated to late Neolithic.
Quynh Van culture:
 Typical vestiges of QV culture were yielded at Kjokkenmodding sites. In the stone tool industry there were conserved some Hoabinhian, Bacsonhian types and technique of making. The rare polishing characterized the stone assemblage of Quynh Van. QV pottery presents the own features in both forms and making technique. The distinguished QV pottery form is the pointed bottomed pot. Both interior and exterior surface were finished by spatula-like tools. The QV burials have bearing the similarities with Da But burials. Thirty-one flexed inhumation burials have been recovered from Quynh Van ( excavations in the 1963rd). Agriculture has been mooted there, but the evidence is based on the presence of pottery rather than any diagnostic plant or animal remains (Ha Van Tan 1980)
More of 10 radiocarbon dates have been yielded from various depths of QV cultural sites. Its dating occurs in period from 6,000 to 3,500 B.P.
Cai Beo site:
 The particular importance of this site is that the sequence starts with a stone tool assemblage with strong Hoabinhian affinities. The layer in question also contains pottery bearing basketry impressions. The second layer includes a shouldered axe of a type found occasionally by Colani in Hoabinhian contexts, as well as incised and cord-marked pottery. The early parts of this assemblage have provided a radiocarbon date of 4545+60 B.P. The final assemblage includes shouldered, polished axes and adzes of a type paralleled in the sites of the Ha Long culture.
Based on the recent discoveries and interpretations it is argues at Cai Beo site, there have been distinguished two cultural stages of development. The lower strata with about 1m in thickness, contains the striking stone tools and coarse, thick pottery. This stage belongs to post Hoabinhian period. The upper belongs to the Ha Long culture. 
 Late Neolithic
Coastal area: The Bau Tro and Ha Long cultures.
The Bau Tro culture 
The individuality of the various groupings of coastal in Vietnam is based on regional distribution and the typology of pottery and stone artifacts. All have in common a marine orientation to the economy, with archaeological layer incorporating the remains of coastal species.
Perhaps the best documented such grouping is the Bau Tro culture, called after the site in province of Quang Binh, first examined by the French archaeologist, Etienne Patte (1923) and second time in 1980 by Vietnamese archaeologists.
Up to now 26 sites of the Bau Tro culture, which has a chronological sequence from the Late Neolithic to Early Metal Age, have been found in three provinces Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh.
The sites are distributed in three main geographical ranges. Coastal plains in Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces; coastal plains in Quang Binh province and piedmont area of the western mountain range in Quang Binh province.
Four types of location features and site structure can be recognized: sand dunes, shell-middens, mound and caves.
Burials: Three styles of burials have been distinguished. The first is the flexed position discovered in Len Hang Tho, the second is the extended position found in Thach Lam (2 burial) and the third is the burials of two pots fitted mouth to mouth, found in Den Doi and Con Nen and children’s bones inside at the latter.
Stone artifacts: Chipped stone tools, shouldered and un-shouldered types axes, adzes and hoes… The shouldered variety dominates. The rejuvenation of adzes is evidenced by the recovery of stone flakes bearing a polished surface.

Artefacts of Bau Tro Culture
Pottery: Three major types can be recognized as the following:
Pointed bottomed pot, which both interior and exterior surfaces have been finished (decorated) by spatula-like tools.
Round bottomed pot with the cord-mark decoration.
Round bottomed pot or footed vessel with incision on. The cord-marked surface in combination of red painted bands.
The evidence from Bau Tro indicates a marine adaptation by a people who probably occupied the area for some successive periods. It is proposed the Bau Tro culture falls into the dating range approximately between 4000 and 3500 B.P, belonging to the late Neolithic to Early Metal Age. It can be recognized that the QV culture is one major origin of the Bau Tro culture, as shown by the Thach Lac variant. And the Bau Tro culture itself, contributed to the pre-Sa Huynh assemblages formation to some extend.
 The Ha Long culture:
The sites of this culture are situated on the islands in the northern sector of Bac Bo Gulf and is seen as derivative from a Cai Beo context. They base this opinion on the similarities in the rectangular and shouldered adzes recovered. Sites of this groups also yield polished stone bracelets, beads and pendants, not dissimilar to Phung Nguyen examples.
Up to date, 27 sites of the Ha Long culture were found. The sites are located on the sand dune, on island beach, in some caves…
It is believed the Ha Long culture belongs to Late Neolithic period with two stages of development  (5,000-4,000 B.P).
Stone implements: Stepped shouldered adzed is most important type in the stone assemblage of this culture.
Pottery: The soft pottery is common in the context of Ha Long culture and according to Vietnamese archaeologists, this kind of pottery shown the strong sea orientation of the Ha Long people.
Island and inland cultures and groups: For the island and inland archaeology of this period, there was a few evidences and materials. Some so-called cultures and groups of sites (see table below) have been recognized, but there were still different point of views and opinions about its dating, origin and characters among the archaeologists.
1 Ha Giang culture (4000-3500 BP)
2 Mai Pha culture (4000-3500 Bp)
3 Son La group     (3500-3000 BP)
4 Quang Binh-Quang Tri; Thanh Hoa –Nghe An groups (4000-3000 BP)
5 Bien Ho group (3500-3000 BP)
6 Kon Tum-Dac Lac-Lam Dong groups (3500-3000 BP)
By Lam Thị My Dzung

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lungshanoid (Glossary)

One major assertion in this work is that a volcanic eruption on Luzon during the 4th millennium BCE caused upheavels resulting in expanded Nusantao migration and trading clan wars.

The dispersion of Lungshanoid culture, where ever it originates, is one signature of the resulting activity in the region.

Hoabinhian background

Understanding the Neolithic situation in Southeast Asia starts with the Mesolithic Hoabinhian culture and also takes into account Wilhelm Solheim's latest theories on the Nusantao.

Solheim now proposes that "Pre-Austronesian" culture begins in the Bismarck Islands off northwestern Papua New Guinea beginning around 13,000 to 10,000 BP. He cites specifically the appearance of arboriculture and shell artifacts at this time.

He proposes that by at least 10,000 BP interaction networks had been established from the Bismarcks to Indochina and South China. Here they came into contact with Hoabinhian culture. Previously, Solheim has suggested that tool edge-grinding in northern Australia radiocarbon dated to about 20,000 BCE was of Hoabinhian provenance.

Carl Sauer and Solheim have suggested that simple agriculture may have begun as early as 15,000 BCE or even 20,000 BCE in mainland Southeast Asia based on Hoabinhian finds. Although the oldest radiocarbon dates for plant remains go back only to 9700 BCE, other evidence is found in successively deeper layers with no radiometric dating. Solheim has suggested a time scenario based on the depth of these layers.

Hoabinhian culture utilized chipped pebble tools, a "pebble" referring to a gravel stone of certain diameter. They appear to have used a simple[partially-ground stone] hoe, one of the oldest known farming artifacts, consisting of a transversly-hafted adze, and to have made cord-marked pottery.

The cords used by the Hoabinhian and the roughly contemporary Jomon to the north provide some of the earliest evidence of hand-spinning in the world. We also find evidence of mat-making from mat impressions in the pottery.

Some early long-range dispersions of the Pre- or Proto-Austronesians appear to have been caused by sea flooding in Southeast Asia, and these could account, for example, in cultural changes seen at places like Spirit Cave in 6600 BCE.

Shell culture

In the region of the Philippines and eastern Indonesia, a culture based on shell tools and shellfish gathering emerged sometime around 7000 BCE.

Wilfredo Ronquillo has documented some early phases of this shell mound culture including stone-flaking and shell-working at Balobok Rockshelter in the southern Philippines starting in the period 6810-6050 BCE. By 5340 BCE, we see shell and stone tools, together with some polished tools and earthenware pottery (still not classified).

A Tridacna shell adze from Palau. Source:

The Southeast Asian and coastal East Asian tradition of polished tools is different from that of areas of inner and northern eastern Asia. In the southern areas, they continued to chip pebbles, only grinding and polishing to finish the product. This practice often continued well into the Neolithic unlike other areas where grinding and pecking displaced the chipping process.

The Insular Southeast Asian and coastal East Asian polished tools also differed from those of mainland Southeast Asia and non-coastal East Asia in that stepped adzes of quadrangular cross-section were mostly used by the former, while the latter mostly used shouldered adzes.

Balobok culture fashioned tools from the giant clam Tridacna giga, and we find this and similiar shell artifacts moving northward during the sixth millennium BCE. Shell tools pop up in Dapenkeng culture in Taiwan and in the Neolithic cultures around Hong Kong around 5000 BCE. It appears that the early shell-working in the Bismarcks was significantly enhanced in the region of the Philippines and eastern Indonesia and then taken northward by the Nusantao.

The stone and shell tool tradition in this area may be related to the earlier edge-grinding tradition in northern Australia. Most of the tools during this early period were still only edge-ground although some others like the rectangular stepped adze, found also at Dapenkeng and in the Hong Kong Neolithic sites, were more fully-polished.

At about his time we also see the appearance of the semilunar stone or shell reaping knife. It is difficult to say where this came from, but it eventually gets strongly associated with rice agriculture and becomes an important marker of Lungshanoid culture.

North-South interaction

After 5000 BCE, trade networks extending as far north as Shandong appear established. A two-way diffusion of culture begins to take place.

The Nusantao cultural kit by this time included items like the stepped adze/axe of rectangular cross-section, the semilunar reaping knife, the spindle whorl probably borrowed from the north, clay/stone net sinkers, perforated discs that may have been indigenous spindle whorls and/or net sinkers, shell tools and beads.

The image shows the process of reducing stone into the semilunar knive of the Korean Neolithic. Source: Pusan National University Museum,

Lungshanoid culture develops with the appearance of rice agriculture and is marked by the mainland tripod and ringfoot pottery tradition, the semilunar knives and the stepped adze. Otherwise the Lungshanoid is typically Nusantao especially in the southern locations of Fujian and Taiwan.

R. Ferrell believes the Yuanshan culture of Taiwan was "Proto-Lungshanoid" while KC Chang thought the culture may have originated in China. Whatever the case, there was a lot of exchange going on.

We also know that the Taiwanese Neolithic cultures were closely related with those in the Philippines. The red-slipped Philippine wares were very closely associated along with other artifacts to the Yuanshan wares and culture. Even the Dapenkeng sees it closest correspondence with Philippine sites. A comparison of the pottery at Balobok with that of Dapenkeng could be very revealing.

In both cases the pottery traditions are probably related to the Hoabinhian methods that filtered into the islands during the early Pre-Austronesian interactions with the Hoabinhian culture, the latter seems to be categorized by Solheim as consisting largely of Proto-Austro-Tai speakers.

Interactions between Taiwan and the Philippines continued through the Lungshanoid as rice agriculture appears to enter the islands at this time by at least 3000 BCE. Lungshanoid tripod and ringfoot pottery may also radiate into Insular Southeast Asia through the Philippines. Examples of such pottery are found at Novaliches in the Philippines and Leang Buidane in Sulawesi.

Tripod and ringfoot pottery together with the practice of jar burial also eventually moves westward into South India during the megalithic period, and apparently creeps northward into eastern India, where we hear of the practice of jar burial in Buddhist literature.

Paul Kekai Manansala


Ronquillo, Wilfredo. "The 1992 Archaeological Reexcavation of the Balobok Rockshelter, Sanga Sanga, Tawi Tawi Province, Philippines: A Preliminary Report. With Mr. Rey A. Santiago, Mr. Shijun Asato and Mr. Kazuhiko Tanaka," Journal of Historiographical Institute, Okinawa Prefectural Library. No. 18, March, 1993. Okinawa, Japan pp. 1-40. 1993.

Solheim, Wilhelm, Archaeology and Culture in Southeast Asia: Unraveling the Nusantao, with contribution from David Bulbeck and Ambika Flavel, University of the Philippines Press, ND.

__, "Origins of the Filipinos and their languages," Paper presented at 9th Philippine Linguistics Congress (25-27 January 2006), University of the Philippines.


  1. did it again, went looking for vietnamese megaliths and wound up here


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