FIRST FARMERS IN MAINLAND SOUTHEAST ASIA

Charles Franklin Higham

Abstract


The domestication of rice and millet took in the Yangtze and Yellow River valleys. It is argued that the expansion of farming communities from these two regions reached mainland Southeast Asia from the late third millennium BC. The conjunction of new archaeological and bioanthropogical information, and the re-examination of older reports, is beginning to illuminate the interactions between the incoming farmers and long-established hunter gatherers. It is argued that there were several distinct expansionary routes. One followed the coast of Vietnam, others involved the courses of the Salween and Mekong rivers.

This brought incoming farmers to a wide range of new habitats. Khok Phanom Di is a key site. Formerly located on the estuary of the Bang Pakong River, a new analysis of cranial and dental variables relate the inhabitants to expansionary farmers. Their adaptation to a marine estuarine habitat, however, made rice cultivation marginal at best, and the new settlers turned to hunting and gathering while maintaining a fully Neolithic material culture. 


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7152/jipa.v41i0.15014

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