Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Tropical rainforest archaeology

Just a short not to highlight the publication of a special issue of Quaternary International (volume 249) on human occupation of tropical rainforests, on the theme of how rainforests are themselves artefacts, or "cultural landscapes", to quote from the editorial by Barton, Denham, Neumann and Arroyo-Kalin the papers show "several commonalities can be elicited that enabled hunter-foragers to permanently inhabit rainforest landscapes in different parts of the world"-- which bears on the adaptiveness of Early Modern Human, which lead to cultural parallelisms. In many cases Tropical forests adaptation lead on to agriculture of the more mobile/shifting sort. The volume includes several papers on the Neotropics, Africa and Island Southeast Asia and New Guinea, as well as one on India and Sri Lanka (Kingwell-Banham and Fuller). I have a lot of pages to read and digest, but I previously highlighted on of the African papers by Hohn and Neumann as an excellent example of integrating multiple archaeobotanical datasets, and I regard it as one of the highlights of African Archaeobotany of the past year. I have also previously noted Huw Barton's comparison of rice and sago on Borneo. No doubt many of the other papers in this issue, which I have yet to read, will also be gems.

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