CLOTHING AND FARMING ORIGINS: THE INDO-PACIFIC EVIDENCE
AbstractThe development and dispersal of early farming practices dominates the post-glacial archaeological record in many parts of the world, including the Indo-Pacific region. The Papua New Guinean highlands have recently been added to a growing list of claimed independent centres for the transition to agriculture. In most areas, though, available data favour the diffusion of farming practices from a limited number of centres. Underpinning these debates is continuing uncertainty as to causal factors. Current concepts emphasise the role of environmental fluctuations and risk management strategies. However, problems and anomalies persist, including the failure of farming to appear in some regions, notably in Australia, and the dubious food value of some early domesticated species. A prevailing assumption about the transition is that it was predicated on acquisition of food for human consumption. A new model is outlined, positing a key role for the use of clothing. Evidence for an increasing utilisation of natural fibres to manufacture textiles is especially relevant. This model of early farming addresses outstanding theoretical and substantive issues. It also offers an innovative perspective on the relationship between farming and other post-glacial trends witnessed in many, though not all, human societies.