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The Khao Wong Prachan Valley of central Thailand is one of four known prehistoric loci of copper mining, smelting and casting in Southeast Asia. Many radiocarbon determinations from bronze-consumption sites in north-east Thailand date the earliest copper-base metallurgy there in the late second millennium BC. By applying kernel density estimation analysis to approximately 100 new AMS radiocarbon dates, the authors conclude that the valley's first Neolithic millet farmers had settled there by c. 2000 BC, and initial copper mining and rudimentary smelting began in the late second millennium BC. This overlaps with the established dates for Southeast Asian metal-consumption sites, and provides an important new insight into the development of metallurgy in central Thailand and beyond.
In prehistoric coastal and western-central Thailand, rice was the dominant cultivar. In eastern-central Thailand, however, the first known farmers cultivated millet. Using one of the largest collections of archaeobotanical material in Southeast Asia, this article examines how cropping systems were adapted as domesticates were introduced into eastern-central Thailand. The authors argue that millet reached the region first, to be progressively replaced by rice, possibly due to climatic pressures. But despite the increasing importance of rice, dryland, rain-fed cultivation persisted throughout ancient central Thailand, a result that contributes to refining understanding of the development of farming in Southeast Asia.
New evidence from archaeological investigations in north-east Thailand shows a transition in rice farming towards wetland cultivation that would have facilitated greater yields and surpluses. This evidence, combined with new dates and palaeoclimatic data, suggests that this transition took place in the Iron Age, at a time of increasingly arid climate, and when a number of broader societal changes become apparent in the archaeological record. For the first time, it is possible to relate changes in subsistence economy to shifts in regional climate and water-management strategies, and to the emergence of state societies in Southeast Asia.
Triangular, concave-base ‘Streletskian points’ are documented in several assemblages from the Kostёnki complex of Upper Palaeolithic sites in south-western Russia. Some of these assemblages have been argued to evidence very early modern human occupation of Eastern Europe. However, Streletskian points are also recorded from younger contexts, notably at Kostёnki 11, where examples are attributed both to Layer V and the stratigraphically higher Layer III. The apparent relatively young age of Layer III has led some to view it as the latest manifestation of the Streletskian, although its assemblage has also been compared to the non-Streletskian Layer I of Kostёnki 8, with the two described together as the Anosovka-Tel’manskaya Culture.
Radiocarbon dates of 24–23,000 bp (c. 28,500–27,000 cal bp) for a wolf burial associated with Layer III of Kostёnki 11 confirm the layer as younger than other Streletskian assemblages at Kostёnki. New radiocarbon dates for Kostёnki 8 Layer I show that the two layers are broadly contemporary, and that both are close in age to assemblages of Kostёnki’s (Late Gravettian) Kostёnki-Avdeevo Culture. In the light of these new radiocarbon dates the context of the Streletskian point from Kostёnki 11 Layer III is considered. Although firm conclusions are not possible, unresolved stratigraphic problems and the lack of technological context for this single artefact at the very least leave a question mark over its association with other material from the layer.
Objects imported over long distances often have rich biographies, not least a collection of bronze objects found in a peat bog in Estonia that included an elaborate lamp of Roman origin. Combining new scientific approaches with earlier observations and traditional archaeological analysis, the authors reconstruct the provenance, possible itinerary and changing use of the lamp over half a millennium, and across thousands of kilometres. They highlight its variable roles, from luxurious illumination to valuable raw material. The results demonstrate the importance of looking beyond the original time and place of manufacture, and beyond the primary function when constructing the biographies of imported objects.
The 14C Quality Assurance Programme coordinated by the IAEA (Rozanski et al. 1992) prepared a set of five new intercomparison materials, including 40–50 ka old subfossil wood excavated from New Zealand peat bogs (IAEA C-4 standard). Statistical analysis of 79 14C measurements made on the wood indicated considerable variation in the results, with a marked skewness toward more modern values. The wide range of results and the possibility of inhomogeneity within the standard prompted the recovery and analysis of replacement material. The new subfossil wood sample is kauri (Agathis australis), at least 50 ka old, excavated from a swamp in Northland. It is in the form of a single plank, 6 m long, weighing 80 kg. It will be forwarded to the IAEA in Vienna for milling and distribution. Subsamples were obtained from both ends of the plank and analyzed by six laboratories. We present here the results of these analyses and compare them with the previous IAEA intercalibration results for the C-4 standard.
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