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  • Deciphering anthropogenic signals in tropical rainforests during the mid-late Holocene:A multi-proxy investigation from the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

    Jones S.E. & Hunt C.O.

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  • The Cultured Rainforest ProjectProject members: Prof. Graeme Barker, (Principle investigator-McDonald Institute, Cambridge), Dr.Lindsay Lloyd-Smith, Dr Huw Barton, Dr Monica Janowski, Prof. Chris Gosden, Dr Lucy Farr, Dr Samantha Jones, Dr Ian Ewart, Dr Chris Hunt, Dr. Borbala Nyiri, Ipoi Datan,, Dr. Dan Britton, Dr Ben Davenport, Dr. Beth Upex, Henry, Reedy, Dr. Efrosyni Boutsikas, Jeffrey (Tadun Bala), Dr Rose FerrabyAimsTo investigate the long term and present day interactions between people and the rainforest in the interior Highlands of Borneo, with an aim: To better understand past and present agricultural and hunter-gatherer lifestyles and landscapes

    *In 2005, the International Timber Trade Organisation (ITTO) mapped c. 50 archaeological sites around the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, with the purpose of identifying key sites for protection before logging. This coincided with the establishment of an interdisciplinary project in 2007, directed by Professor Graeme Barker from the McDonald Institute at Cambridge University and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project was entitled The Cultured Rainforest Project and combined anthropology, archaeology and palaeoecology to investigate the long term and present day interactions between people and the rainforest in the interior Highlands of Borneo, with an aim of better understanding past and present agricultural and hunter-gatherer lifestyles and landscapes. *Sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project combined anthropology, archaeology and palaeoecology

  • Fig 1: Map of Borneo showing the location of Bario, Pa Dalih and Pa BudaSite Location: Bario, PaDalih and PaBudaFig 2: Bario from the airFig 3: Bario-Core siteFig 4: PaDalih from a hillFig 5: Map of PaDalihFigs 6-7: Prof Graeme Barker & Dr Huw Barton at PaBuda

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  • Present day Cultivation and arboreal PracticesFig 8: Forest clearance in BarioFig 9: Dinner plate leaves, PaDalihFig 11 Ginger in BarioFig 10: Rice and a sago groveFigs 12, 13, 14, &15 : The Kelabit. Photos taken from Monica Janowskis Forest Source of Life of which most of the photos are from Tom Harrisson, taken in the 1950s

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  • Methodologies 1. Anthropology: Methods used included participant observation, and the gathering of oral histories and stories

    2. Archaeological excavations:In 2007 test trenches were set up 2008-2010 a selection of the more promising sites were investigated in more detail.

    3. Palaeoecological analysis:Multi-proxy analysis from 6 sites (Ba, PDH 212, PDH 223, PDH CO1 and BPG). 1) Pollen 2) Phytoliths 3) Lithology 4) LOI 5) Mag Sus 6) C14 & 7) Other Palynomorphs

    *1. Anthropologists gathered information on present-day and past forest life as people remembered or imagined it; on the practical and cosmological aspects of peoples relationship with the natural environment; and on how objects are being used today and were used in everyday life as grave goods in cemeteries in the recent past. Methods used included participant observation, and the gathering of oral histories and stories (Janowski, 2014ab&c; Janowski et al. 2013; Ewart, 2013; Janowski & Barton, 2012; Barker and Janowski, 2011; Janowski and Langub, 2011). 2. Archaeological sites were selected predominantly from the southern Kelabit Highlands within the vicinity of PaDalih and Long Kelit. Archaeological features were investigated from a wide range of topographical locations at 13 sites (Figure 2). Sites included 2 rock shelters; 1 current settlement; 3 old settlements; 3 megalithic sites; 2 dragon jar cemeteries and 2 ditch cuttings). In 2007 test trenches were set up and in 2008-2010 a selection of the more promising sites were investigated in more detail (Lloyd-Smith et al., 2013; 2010; Barker et al., 2008, 2009). 3. Palaeoecological sites were selected from both the northern and southern Kelabit Highlands. Multi-proxy analysis was undertaken on six cores extracted from Bario, PaDalih and PaBuda. Analysis included pollen, phytoliths, lithology, magnetic susceptibility and loss on ignition. Five of the six sites analysed are discussed in this paper (Ba, PDH 212, PDH 223, PDH CO1 and BPG). Methodologies for the palaeoecological investigations can be found in Jones et al. (2014, 2013a & 2013b).

    *This presentation today will focus primarily on the palaeoecological contribution of the CRF project particularly concerning evidence which contributes to current debates on the Cultural antiquity of rainforests.

  • Palaeoecological Results6 Sites analysed: Northern & Southern KH50,000 year environmental record7000-6000 year potential anthropogenic record3000 year record of pronounced anthropogenic signatures

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  • Hiatuss (Ba-1 & PDH 212)Both in the Northern and Southern Kelabit HighlandsFig 16 : Bario Ba-1 hiatusFig 17 : Pa Dalih PDH 212 hiatus

    Unfortunately the sedimentation gaps between the P-H transition make it extremely difficult to analyse potential anthropogenic activity before 3000 cal BP in the KH*

  • Potential Anthropogenic RecordPa Buda: 7000-6000 cal BPHuman Disturbance 6000 cal BP?Major burning & destabilisation of catchment. Rise in palm trees & fruit trees.

    Eugeissona Utilis is not presentThe fruit trees could not be identified to genera/species. Not all produce edible fruit. Only one burning event?

    BUTFig 18: Pollen Summary from PaBuda

    Although evidence is inconclusive these results highlight a potential for future investigations in the Kelabit Highlands*

  • Pronouned Anthropogenic SignalsIn the Northern and Southern KH from 3000 cal BP

  • Anthropogenic disturbance in PaDalihDespite gaps during the Holocene:Sharp increase in open-ground Lower diversity of open groundc. 2800 cal BP spores are also more pronounced. Fig 19: PDH 212 pollen summary Fig 20: PaDalih airfield and buffalo

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  • Arboreal practices (AP) 2800-2300 cal BPAP of Eugeissona:

    2800-2300 cal BP in PaDalih 1300 cal BP in Bario & Palmae phytolithsFig 21: Bario pollen and phytolith resultsFig 23: Eugeissona pollen and Palmae phytolith imagesFig 22: PDH 223 pollen resultsStenochlaena: Stenochlaena Palustris is an edible fern.

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  • Figs 24, 25, 26 & 27: Tr.2 -RM Taa Payo: Stone pounders, iron blade and glass beads. 1700 cal BPPosthole. C14 samples submittedStone pounderIron bladePalm starch recovered from pounder

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  • Rice CultivationExperimental forms of rice cultivation in PaDalih 1800 cal BP1 double peaked glume phytolith 2 Oryza bulliforms

    Oryza similar to morphological features of bulliform types in the top sediments.Fig 28: PDH 223 Phytolith resultsFig 29: Rice bulliform images

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  • Rice cultivationEvidence for rice cultivation, does not become pronounced until: 500-400 cal BP in PaDalih (PDH212 & PDH 223).

    No evidence as yet from Bario Fig 30: PDH 212 Phytolith results

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  • Fig. 31, 32, 33. Menatuh Long Kelit

    Stone jar burialCharred rice in base of foundation fill24040 cal BP (charcoal sample)

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  • Summary: Archaeological and Palaeoecological findings combined from the Kelabit HighlandsPresent Domesticated rice phytoliths 500-400 cal BP Charcoal and domesticated rice phytoliths more pronounced.

    600-200 cal BP Probable increase in Megalithic activity. Re-use of older megalith: Association with rice.

    c.1000 cal BP Earliest megaliths ??

    1400 cal. BP Pre-Megalithic settlement (Long Diit)

    1700 cal BP Riverside settlement, iron, beads, stone (sago?) pounders (Taa Payo)

    1800 cal BP Domesticated rice phytolith identified (Experimental cultivation?)

    2800 cal BP Likely cultivation-manipulation of the sago palm Eugeissona:PaDalih

    3000 cal BP Disturbance in PaDalih. Anthropogenic (likely)

    3000 cal BP ?? Rock shelter occupation ?? (Lepo Batu)

    4000 cal BP Charcoal from river terraces evidence for occupation ?? unlikely

    6000 cal BP Potential Human clearance-arboreal practices of palms-fruit trees??

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  • Thank youFunded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council AHRCLandscapes and Environment Programme:http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/landscape/research/largergrants/theculturedrainforest.aspx

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    *In 2005, the International Timber Trade Organisation (ITTO) mapped c. 50 archaeological sites around the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, with the purpose of identifying key sites for protection before logging. This coincided with the establishment of an interdisciplinary project in 2007, directed by Professor Graeme Barker from the McDonald Institute at Cambridge University and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project was entitled The Cultured Rainforest Project and combined anthropology, archaeology and palaeoecology to investigate the long term and present day interactions between people and the rainforest in the interior Highlands of Borneo, with an aim of better understanding past and present agricultural and hunter-gatherer lifestyles and landscapes. *Sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project combined anthropology, archaeology and palaeoecology *

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    *1. Anthropologists gathered information on present-day and past forest life as people remembered or imagined it; on the practical and cosmological aspects of peoples relation