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    Reconstructing Late Pleistocene climates, landscapes, and human activities in northern Borneo from excavations in the Niah Caves

    Reynolds, Tim and Barker, G. (2014) Reconstructing Late Pleistocene climates, landscapes, and human activities in northern Borneo from excavations in the Niah Caves. In: Kaifu, Y. and Izuho, M. and Goebel, T. and Sato, H. and Ono, A. (eds.) Emergence and Diversity of Modern Human Behavior in Palaeolithic Asia. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 9781623492762.

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    Research on human evolution in tropical Southeast Asia faces many challenges, some logistical, some conceptual. The Niah Caves in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, have been central to the research agenda ever since the major archaeological excavations by Tom and Barbara Harrisson in the 1950s and 1960s. For decades, the anatomically modern “Deep Skull,” found by the Harrissons in 1958 and dated by adjacent charcoal to ca. 40,000 14C BP, was the oldest fossil of an anatomically modern human anywhere in the world and thus was critical to ideas about modern human evolution and dispersal. Several authorities later questioned the provenance and antiquity of the Deep Skull, but renewed investigations of the Harrisson excavations and since 2000 have shown that it can be attributed securely to a specific location in the Pleistocene stratigraphy, with direct U-series dating on a piece of the skull indicating its age as ca. 37.5 ka, and that the first evidence for associated human activity at the site goes back to ca. 50,000 cal BP. The Niah Caves Project (NCP) has involved a wide range of studies in geoarchaeology, paleoecology, bioarchaeology, and artifact analysis. As the project reaches the final publication stage, this paper reflects on the field and laboratory studies employed by the NCP team in reconstructing the landscapes encountered by the first occupants of the caves and the foraging strategies that they used to exploit them and the implications of the Niah work for human evolution studies in Southeast Asia.


    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Tim Reynolds
    Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2017 12:25
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:18


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