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Beyond the Bamboo Hypothesis. A microscopic exploration of plant processing practices in prehistoric Palawan, Philippines, and their relationship to lithic technology.

Objective

The prehistory of SE Asia is very different from the rest of the Old World. The stone tool kit is rudimentary and production techniques lasted unchanged for millennia. Currently, the dominant hypothesis to explain it is the “Bamboo Hypothesis”: prehistoric hunter-gatherers would have adapted to their environment, the tropical forest and manufactured more complex implements in bamboo. The objective of this project is to explore the potential adaptation of Late Pleistocene hunter gatherers to the forest in Palawan, Philippines and its modalities: have stone tools really been used mostly to make bamboo tools? We know, thanks to plant remains discovered in the archaeological record, that several species were known and used. Therefore, we can hypothesise that the simplification of lithic technology could be due to a technological investment focusing on a large spectrum of plants and not only on bamboo. As objects made of plants do not preserve well, I will gather data by an indirect mean: studying use-wear and micro plant residues on stone tools. To increase the possibilities of diagnosis, I will move from classic qualitative use-wear analyses to a quantitative methodology using confocal microscopy. This method proved efficient to distinguish use-wear resulting from processing different plants in the Levant. This research will be conducted at the Institut Mila y Fontanals (CSCI), in Barcelona, where I will receive high level training in quantitative use-wear and at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Jena, Germany) (secondment) where I will be trained in micro plant residue analyses. This project will contribute to our understanding of environmental influence on human development and the adaptability of our species to the rainforest. It will also question the assumption that simple technology is the reflection of simple society as lithic functional analyses may reveal a hidden complexity in plant related practices that may be unique to SE Asia.

Coordinator

AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DEINVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS

Address

Calle Serrano 117
28006 Madrid

Spain

Activity type

Research Organisations

EU Contribution

€ 160 932,48

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 843521

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 May 2019

  • End date

    30 April 2021

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 160 932,48

  • EU contribution

    € 160 932,48

Coordinated by:

AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DEINVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS

Spain