The emergence of agriculture in Mainland Southeast Asia appears to have resulted in a subsistence shift from hunting terrestrial and arboreal game to a combined hunting/animal management subsistence regime focused on the maintenance of pigs and dogs. These conclusions are currently based on nominal differences in vertebrate taxonomic composition observed at different archaeological sites. In this paper, we take a statistical approach to test whether hunter-gather and early agricultural subsistence economies really can be confidently distinguished based on the relative taxonomic composition of the recovered animal bone assemblages. A regional database of terrestrial and arboreal vertebrate faunas was created for 32 archaeological sites across Southeast Asia from the Terminal Pleistocene to the Late Holocene, and principal component analysis was performed. The resultant data indicates that terrestrial vertebrate taxonomic composition is a relatively strong indicator of the general subsistence base for the various archaeological sites studied and can be used to determine whether the inhabitants subsisted purely from hunting, or from a mixture hunting and animal management.
Bibliographical noteThe authors would like to thank the Archaeological Institute of Hanoi for access to faunal material from CCN and MB. This research was supported in part by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship and the ANU Vice-Chancellor’s HDR Travel Grant (RKJ), and Australian Research Council Grants: DP110101097 and FT 120100299 (MFO), and DP140100384 (PJP). The authors declare no competing interests. The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for contributing to the improvement of this paper. Finally, special thanks to the late and greatly missed Prof. Colin Groves for comments on an early version of this draft, which appeared in RKJ PhD thesis.
- Principal component analysis
- Southeast Asia