Before Farming

Stone artefacts and recent research in the archaeology of mainland Southeast Asian hunter-gatherers

Before Farming (2008), 2008, (4), 1–19.

Abstract

In recent decades the study of stone artefact technology has made many technical advances and substantial contributions to the archaeology of many regions. Until recently, mainland southeast Asian has benefited little from these advances, in part because of the paucity of evidence and in part because of prevailing conceptual frameworks that were poorly suited to the available evidence. The Middle Pleistocene record has a very sparse lithic record suggestive of little more than the presence of hominins on the landscape. The Late and Terminal Pleistocene is better represented and recent work on stone artefact assemblages has demonstrated that the assemblages document important behavioural variation that challenges previous notions of Pleistocene hunter-gatherers in mainland Southeast Asia. Holocene assemblages, especially from Luang Prabang and the Salween River areas, hold promise for addressing questions about the transition to agriculture, currently a poorly understood process in mainland Southeast Asia.

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Marwick, Ben