© K. Douka,  T. Higham, E. Mastora

Thai sampling

9-Mar-2015

 

PalaeoChron is working in SE Asia, an area of high archaeological interest due to the likely introgression within the region of Denisovan genes into modern humans. Several sites have been excavated which contain Pleistocene deposits and human remains. 

Katerina Douka is working with Rasmi Shoocongdej of Bangkok's Silpakorn University, in attempting to obtain new AMS dates from several Thai sites, including Tham Lod and Moh Khiew, as well as Lang Rongrien rockshelter and several others. Katerina received funding from the University of Cambridge's Evans Fund for some of this work. 

 

We spent 5 days working on material from the sites with Rasmi and her team. Thai bone is notoriously low in collagen, so to try and get around this problem PalaeoChron is sampling petrous bone where available (see picture below). This bone appears to preserve much better, both for collagen and DNA, as shown by our colleague Ron Pinhasi (see Gamba et al., 2014, Nature. Comms.). 

 

 

 

 

Tham Lod is a site in NW Thailand where Rasmi has been undertaking a lot of fieldwork. Hunter gatherers have a long history in this part of the world and the site contains abundant evidence for Hoabinhian type lithics dating as far back at 35000 cal BP. In addition to hunting terrestrial resources, the occupants of the site also subsisted upon freshwater shellfish, which might be a good material for us to date, along with charcoal from hearth features. 

 

Human adaptation to rainforest environments is a key issue in understanding how modern humans, and their Archaic relatives, survived in SE Asia. One key problem in the area is the challenge of obtaining reliable archaeological chronologies. This is where we hope to make a contribution. 

 

 

{Above} Katerina sampling at the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Center in Bangkok. 

 

{Above} Nathamon and Ying helped us enormously in selecting material from the northern Thailand sites, thanks so much!  

 

 

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