Seminar by Conor McAdams
Seminar on Wednesday 19 May 2021 at 1pm
Speaker: Conor McAdams (University of Wollongong)
New insights into the Pleistocene archaeology of Vietnam: understanding tropical cave sediments through microstratigraphic investigations and laboratory experiments
This project aimed to understand the formation processes in MSEA’s archaeological caves through a combination of micro-archaeological case studies, and laboratory experiments based on geo-ethnoarchaeological methods. Cúc Phương National Park, in North Vietnam, preserves numerous archaeological cave sites with few chronometric age estimates and complex sedimentary records that have frustrated previous investigative efforts. Our analysis of the sediments at Con Moong Cave (CMC) revealed that human occupation of the site began before 42 ka, and episodes of abandonment correlated with short-lived phases of colder, drier conditions. Uncertainties around sedimentary environments and assemblage taphonomy at CMC persisted, so we reconstructed the depositional environment under laboratory conditions. This work confirmed our interpretations of environmental change and provided much-needed primary data related to post-depositional processes in tropical cave sediments. This project provides a holistic approach to understanding the complex sedimentary records that are typical of tropical archaeological sites. Microstratigraphic studies of archaeological cave sediments can produce high-resolution records of human-environment interactions, even where sediments have been subject to extensive post-depositional change, while laboratory-based experiments can constrain the relationships between micromorphological features, geochemical signals and sedimentary environments.
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First published: 9 May 2021