17 June 2019, Galleria 1, 1330-1700 hours

Convener: Nattha Chuenwattana

Since SPAFA's last meeting in 2014, there are significant developments related to archaeobotanical research from a number of archaeobotanical research in Southeast Asia. Most recent progress from archaeobotanical related topics (agricultural technology, crop procession, landscape management, the origin of agriculture, subsistence pattern, etc.) from different geographical areas will be cover in this session. Lastly, this session aims to review the current progress of SEA archaebotanical research, and also evaluate the current status of archaeobotany as a discipline in Southeast Asia.

Block 1: 1330-1500 hours

Conducting Charcoal Analysis in Probing Past Environment: A Case of Catanauan Archaeological Site

John Jhussein Zaldivar

The macrobotanical remains my serve as indicators for the past landscape and ecological relationship, with specific case for a coastal tropical setting. The Catanauan findings will serve as probe into the early setting of an insular vegetation geography and history, in which it may partially represent Insular Southeast Asian Archaeology. Due to the coastal geographical setting of the Archaeological landscape of the site, a concentration will be emphasized on the human and coastal ecological relationship. In principal, human agency is assumed as the primary subject matter in articulating early interaction with the natural resources, specifically botanical materials. In precedence, landscape serves as the integral continuum of human and ecological spatial establishment. It is assumed that the landscape as the primary variable, in which it predetermines the consistencies and peculiarities of human and environmental relationships. This study then aims to provide insight in reflection on how botanical resources being articles of human agency or culture and how landscapes manifest their dynamic formations throughout the time. Hence, charred remains recovered in some field seasons will be the primary objects of the study, due to their numerical prominence among other Archaeobotanical remains yielded.

A first glimpse at the regional maritime spice trade in Southeast Asia? Preliminary archaeobotanical analysis from Phnom Surin Shipwreck, Thailand

Nattha Chuenwattana
Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Preeyanuch Jumprom

Phnom Surin Shipwreck located around 30 kilometers southwest of Bangkok, Thailand. This shipwreck site dated around cal BP 1100 - 1300 (AD 600-800). Archaeobotanical evidence from Phnom Surin represent the crucial period for Southeast Asia when maritime trade was intensified and when early polities in both mainland (Dvaravati) and insular Southeast Asia (Srivijaya) began to emerge. The cargo of Phnom Surin is the earliest, most importantly, the only direct evidence of the early historic maritime trade between these local polities in Southeast Asia, India, China, and possibly Persian Gulf. Torpedo jars with bitumen lining, betel nuts, Indian almonds, wood, resin, rice, Tang jar, Dvaravati earthenware, and spice were found as part of the cargo. Plant assemblage from Phnom Surin also contained high-value spice product, and other perishable goods, and indicated the active regional trade network within Southeast Asia.

Phytolith Analysis of Đa Bút and Phùng Nguyên Cave Sites in Tràng An, Northern Vietnam

Rachael Holmes
Bournemouth University, UK

Emma Jenkins
Bournemouth University, UK

Thorsten Kahlert
Queens University Belfast, UK

Christopher Stimpson
Queens University Belfast, UK

Nguyen Thi Mai Huong
Vietnam, Academy of Social Science, Institute of Archaeology, Vietnam

Shawn O`Donnell
Queens University Belfast, UK

Fiona Coward
Bournemouth University, UK

Ryan Rabett
Queens University, UK

The focus of phytolith research in Vietnam has been orientated towards understanding silica leaching and uptake with regards to modern rice agriculture; phytolith analysis in an archaeological or palaeoenvironmental context is under-researched. Phytoliths are less affected by taphonomic processes such as temperature and humidity than macrofossils and preserve well under varying soil pH levels, making them a valuable resource for investigating vegetation exploitation and the appearance of domesticates in the tropics. Here we present results of phytolith analysis conducted at Hang Moi and Thung Binh 1, within the Tràng An World Heritage Property, Ninh Binh province, northern Vietnam. Middle Holocene deposits associated with Đa Bút and Phùng Nguyên archaeological assemblages where targeted. Evidence from overlying hearth deposits in Hang Moi, confirm the exploitation of wood for fuel and is associated with proportionally high levels of palm phytoliths and low-levels of phytoliths from wetland, evergreen forest and arid tropical/sub-tropical grasslands, attesting to the utilization of a range of habitats by the Đa Bút. At Thung Binh 1, phytolith counts were extremely low, but a small number of phytoliths, indicative of reeds and sedges were recovered, suggesting that the area surrounding the isolated hill in which the cave is situated, may have been open wetland during Phùng Nguyên use of the site. In Vietnam, phytolith analysis has only been conducted at a few sites with little of this work being published. This research identified two main factors to be addressed if the use of phytoliths is to be expanded in Vietnamese archaeology; the amount of sediment sampled needs to be increased to account for the taphonomic degradation associated with highly alkaline environments and a public, regionally specific, modern reference collection is required to facilitate more researchers to conduct analysis and allow the identification of morphotypes to a higher taxonomic affinity.

Archaeological evidence of woody vines at Bubog 2, Ilin Island, Mindoro, Philippines

Jane Carlos
University of the Philippines Archaeological Studies Program (UP-ASP)
carlosjaneb@yahoo.com, abcarlos1@up.edu.ph

V. Paz

R. Escobin

J. Conda

M. Ramos

A. Pawlik

Ethnographic and historical records in the Philippines document the use of vines for cordage, mats, baskets, hats, medicine and furniture. Similar usage has been assumed in the more distant past (i.e., neolithic); however, no material evidence has so far been found probably owing to unfavorable conditions inhibiting preservation of this particular organic material. This paper reports the presence of dried and mineralized fragments of woody vines from the archeological site of Bubog 2 in Ilin Island, Mindoro, Philippines. Identified as coming from the families Annonaceae, Dilleniaceae, and Mimosaceae, this occurrence provides the first archaeobotanical evidence in the Philippines of woody vines in layers dated from 5000 BCE to 1000 CE.

Block 2: 1530-1700 hours

Plant Biomolecules as Archaeobotanical Evidence in Southeast Asia

Michelle S. Eusebio
Science and Society Program, College of Science
Archaeological Studies Program
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Based on the works related to the analyses of archaeological organic residues from the tropical areas, especially in Southeast Asia, it appears that the terpenoids from resinous plants are the most preserved plant biomolecules. However, the results of organic residue analysis conducted on sampled pottery vessels recovered from two Neolithic sites (Rạch Núi and An Sơn) and two Bronze Age sites (Lò Gạch and Gò Ô Chùa) in Long An, Southern Vietnam demonstrate that not only terpenoids but also other classes of biomolecules from plants are preserved on the organic residues from tropical contexts. The detection and identification of these biomolecules provide archaeobotanical evidence at the molecular level of utilization of plants as food, possibly medicine, pottery sealant, and firewood for cooking.

Rice cultivation in the Karama Valley, West Sulawesi during the Prehistoric Period: Is it possible?

Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada

Archaeological assemblages found in two sites in the Karama Valley suggested the establishment of Neolithic settlements c. 3,800 years ago. The existence of rice phytoliths extracted from sediments in those two Neolithic sites and one Early metal Age site along the Karama River has been suggested to indicate the notion of rice cultivation (Anggraeni 2012; Anggraeni et al. 2012). However, the number of rice phytoliths is too small to convince that rice cultivation was actually carried out in the valley (Anggraeni et al. 2014). This situation is contrast to the Early Neolithic sites in other Southeast Asian region and Taiwan, and deserves more attention on archaeobotanical studies. Phytoliths extracted from residue on pottery and stone tools will be used for discussing the possibility of rice cultivation in the Karama Valley.