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Contextualising the Neolithic Occupation of Southern Vietnam

Contextualising the Neolithic Occupation of Southern Vietnam OPEN ACCESS

Carmen Sarjeant
Series: Terra Australis
Volume: Terra Australis 42
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13wwvfm
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  • Book Info
    Contextualising the Neolithic Occupation of Southern Vietnam
    Book Description:

    Excavated in 2009, An Son, Long An Province, southern Vietnam has been dated to the second millennium BC, with evidence for neolithic occupation and burials. Very little is known about the neolithic period in southern Vietnam, and the routes and chronology for the appearance of cultivation, domestic animals, and ceramic and lithic technologies associated with sedentary settlements in mainland Southeast Asia are still debated.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-75-2
    Subjects: History, Archaeology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Research on the neolithic occupation of Southeast Asia thus far has been predominantly limited to particular regions, especially central and northeast Thailand and northern Vietnam. Multiple excavations in these regions have resulted in a number of significant site reports and comparative publications (e.g. Oxenhamet al.2011; Higham and Kijngam 2009; Nguyễn 2006; Higham and Thosarat 1998a; Ciarla 1992; Rispoli 1992; Higham and Bannanurag 1990). Over the past two decades, research, surveys and excavations have increased in southern Vietnam. This monograph focuses on the ceramics from the neolithic occupation in southern Vietnam, with particular reference to those excavated from the...

  2. This chapter is a literature review aimed at identifying viable comparative areas and sites for An Sơn and contextualising the neolithic of southern Vietnam. The targeted sites are well-documented and mostly excavated in the last thirty years. Sites near to An Sơn, such as the Ðồng Nai Province sites and the Memot sites of Cambodia, for example, reveal interesting parallels with other sites to the north and northwest of the Mekong Delta, and aid in chronological understanding.

    A borderless approach to Southeast Asian prehistory is vital and, unfortunately, archaeological research has been restricted by current political boundaries. Much more detail...

  3. 3 Methodology (pp. 35-54)

    The 2009 excavation at An Sơn consisted of a large assemblage of ceramic sherds in the occupational layers, some complete or reconstructable vessels in burial contexts and the dense pottery scatter of Trench 1. The morphological and decorative attributes of the ceramics were assessed by examining the entire 2009 assemblage. Since no fabric analysis has previously been conducted on the An Sơn ceramic assemblage, a broad approach has been adopted to uncover the variety of ceramic fabrics, inclusive of both rare and more common rare fabrics. The sampling strategy for the fabric analysis has been designed to characterise the ceramic...

  4. A brief introduction to the 2009 excavation, the geography and the environment at An Sơn was provided in Chapter 1. This chapter introduces the previous excavations at An Sơn, and discusses the stratigraphy, chronology, material culture, burials, and floral and faunal remains recovered from the 2009 excavation.

    The 1978 An Sơn trenches were located on top of and east of the mound. The trench on the top of the mound was excavated to a depth of 4.5 m. The subsequent excavation by Nishimura and Nguyễn (2002) in 1997 was located on top of the mound at its eastern end. Like...

  5. This chapter outlines the ceramic assemblage from the 2009 excavation at An Sơn. It describes the ceramic assemblage in all of the trenches excavated in 2009 (Trenches 1, 2 and 3 and the Test Square), as well as the basal layers of the 1997 excavation that presented the earlier part of the sequence, not apparent in 2009. In order to present the sequence of rim forms and surface treatments at An Sơn particular attention was given to squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 of Trench 1, and to the basal layers of the Test Square and of the...

  6. Temper is added to clay in ceramic manufacture to reduce the risk of breakage during drying and firing, as a result of rapid shrinkage and/or expansion by distributing heat evenly. Temper can include a variety of non-plastic materials (Shepard 1965: 24-26). The non-plastic inclusions in the An Sơn ceramics were initially identified as sand, fibre or ‘other’ tempers, using microscopy. The microscopic observations indicated that grains required further analysis with SEM-EDX in order to characterise the tempers in each sample. The method for analysis by SEM-EDX was described in Chapter 3. The temper grains were differentiated from natural non-plastic inclusions...

  7. The level of standardisation within an assemblage of pottery is used as an indirect measure of organisation of production and the skill of potters (Costin 1991). However, the assumption that a higher degree of organisation of craft production and skill may be inferred from a higher level of standardisation in an assemblage is only plausible when the individual pottery forms are intended to be homogeneous. Sometimes uniqueness is required for elite wares, for example, and a measure of group standardisation is not appropriate for such vessels (Costin and Hagstrum 1995). Therefore, while this chapter presents a study of standardisation in...

  8. Early research in southern Vietnam includes investigations by Henri Fontaine, who referred to the area inclusive of the sites Cù Lao Rùa, Ngãi Thắng, Phước Tân, Hội Sơn and Bến Ðò in Đồng Nai Province as the ‘Phước Tân Culture’ (Fontaine 1972, 1971). Since then, more sites with neolithic and metal age remains have been identified and excavated in southern Vietnam, such as Cầu Sắt and Cái Vạn in Đồng Nai Province, and An Sơn and Rạch Núi in Long An Province. These sites are characterised by a shared tradition of shouldered and unshouldered lithic adzes and stone bangles. Differences...

  9. There are few well-documented neolithic sites in Southeast Asia. This has had consequences for understanding the inception of agriculture and related events in the region. At present, there are two main explanations for the origins of the neolithic in Southeast Asia. The first is the ‘Two Layer’ model for demographic transition (Bellwood and Oxenham 2008), which links archaeological and linguistic evidence. It posits that the growth of the population and expansion in the Southeast Asia region can be attributed to the adoption of food production, whereby farmers spread and assimilated indigenous hunter-gatherers. This hypothesis explains the widespread presence of Austroasiatic...

  10. This chapter returns to the original aims of the monograph (Chapter 1) and interprets the results of Chapters 5 to 9 with respect to relevant concepts of identity and craft production. In order to extrapolate social meaning from a ceramic artefact, the ceramic assemblage of An Sơn must be considered with respect to the potters, their identity and role in An Sơn society and with other communities. The behaviours and choices of potters play an integral part in identity. Conservative and innovative behaviours in ceramic manufacture at An Sơn are indicative of factors that contributed to the position of potters...

  11. 11 Conclusions (pp. 413-418)

    This chapter concludes the monograph with a summary of the results and discussion concerning ceramic production at An Sơn, the identity of potters at An Sơn, and the use of ceramics in establishing identity as a result of the introduction and development of neolithic occupation in southern Vietnam.

    This monograph has introduced the site of An Sơn in light of recent excavations and within the context of neolithic Southeast Asia. The analytical components of this monograph involved a categorisation and characterisation of the ceramic assemblage. This was extended in Chapter 5 to a study of form and decoration, in order...