Monday, 29 June 2009

Hunter-gatherers, farmers, and monumental storage

Just a quick note of record of a new edited volume Interactions between Hunter-Gatherers and Farmers: from Prehistory to Present, edited by Ikeya, Ogawa and Mitchaell, was recently published in the series Senri Ethnological Studies by the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka [at the time blogging, this was not yet listed on their website]. The book is entirely in English, ands arises from a session at the WAC intercongress held in Japan in 2006. It includes a mix of studies from ethnographic (2 chapters on the Agta of the Philippines, and 2 chapters on Homng farmers and Mlabari (former) hunter-gatherers in northern Thailand) and archaeological (one on Southern African by Peter Mitchell, one on the spread of farming to Guangxi, China by Tracey Lu, and 3 on Japan, and one on the archaeology of Northeastern Luzon, Philippines, exploring the long-term development of a frontier of interaction between farmers and hunter-gatherers.

I certainly haven't read all of it yet, but I would note that the short chapter on Guangxi by Lu provides a useful brief overview of the Chronology of the main excavated Neolithic sites in southwest China, the evidence for rice, millets and foraging. The Chapter by Takahashi on interdependent relationships between late Jomon 'foragers' and Yayoi paddy farmers, provides some useful material including an updated map of some 29 sites with preserved paddyfield systems dating to this period. At the centre of the book is a nearly 100-page chapter by Leo Hosoya on the symbolism of grain stores and the emergence of hierarchy in the Yayoi period, with reference to artistic evidence, settlement plan, and crop-processing (from rice grains and spikelet bases), stone harvest knives, octopus traps, and more. A rich tapestry with much to digest and much that is suggestive of the potential role of monumentalization of storage in creation of a new kind of settled community-- perhaps there are some fruitful comparisons to be made to those first permanent granaries recently found in PPNA Jordan (blogged last week).

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