New Discoveries in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology (3-5 PM, April 29, 180 Doe, UC Berkeley)


3:00-3:15: Junko Habu (UC Berkeley): Introduction

KawarataiThe Handbook of East and Southeast Asian Archaeology consists of 42 chapters that reveal the dynamism and vitality of archaeology in East and Southeast Asia. The discipline of archaeology of this large and complex region has traditionally been viewed in the West as derivative; as if eastern Eurasian archaeology consists of little more than descriptive culture histories nominally interpreted by means of too little, too late adoption of Western theoretical paradigms. In fact, the historical lack of easy access to international publication outlets has masked the fact that, in many areas of East and Southeast Asia, the archaeological enterprise has been just as dynamic at the theoretical level as it has been productive in the generation of archaeological data through reconnaissance, survey, excavation, and analysis. Using Japanese archaeology as an example, I argue how alternative theoretical perspectives and practices from Asian archaeology traditions can enrich the discussion of world archaeology.

3:15-3:45:John W. Olsen (University of Arizona): The Initial Peopling of the Tibetan Plateau: An Archaeological Perspective

Although the antiquity of the human habitation of Central Asia, including Tibet, has been the focus of speculation for more than eighty years, until recently archaeologists have contributed little to a coordinated understanding of the demographic and cultural components of this complex process. Archaeological studies undertaken during the last decade in China and Tibet shed light on the earliest prehistoric human occupation of the immense and ecologically varied Tibetan Plateau, north of the Himalayan massif.  Current evidence suggests widespread habitation of this region at least as early as the Last Glacial Maximum (roughly 18-22,000 years ago) with new data indicating a substantially earlier, 30-40,000 year-old, human presence.

3:45-4:15: Peter V. Lape (University of Washington): Neolithic networks and the origins of the spice trade in Island Southeast Asia

Day 8 Watubela 23Demand for spices was a key force in the development of global trade networks, merchant capitalism and European colonialism in the early modern period. Two of these spices, nutmeg and mace, grew on just a few small islands in what is now eastern Indonesia. Research on the origins and development of this trade have been dominated by historians, but the earliest documents related to this history are at most 800-900 years old. Recent archaeological research has helped extend our understanding of the deeper origins of this trade in eastern Indonesia to the early Neolithic period, 3500 years ago. Archaeological data also provides glimpses into pre-Neolithic human seascapes in the region. This lecture will share this new data, including the results of recent fieldwork in the central Maluku province of Indonesia.

4:15-5:00 Discussion (Discussant: Gyoung-Ah Lee, University of Oregon)

Speaker Biographies:

John OlsenJohn W. Olsen  is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Executive Director of the Je Tsongkhapa Endowment for Central and Inner Asian Archaeology at the University of Arizona. He attended Florida State University and received Bachelor of Arts degrees with Honors in Anthropology and Oriental Studies from the University of Arizona. Olsen holds Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. His research focuses on the Pleistocene prehistory of arid lands and high elevations in Central and Inner Asia. Dr. Olsen has conducted archaeological fieldwork recently in the now independent Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, and in Russia, China, East Türkistan, Tibet, and Mongolia. He is currently Co-Director of the Joint Mongolian-Russian-American Archaeological Expeditions and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Zhoukoudian International Paleoanthropological Research Center in Beijing. Olsen retired from teaching in 2016 to devote his energies full-time to research and publication as a Guest Research Fellow of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing (中国科学院古脊椎动物与古人类研究所客座研究员) and as a Leading Scientific Researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch’s Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk (Ведущий научный сотрудник; Институт археологии и этнографии, CO PAH). Olsen is one of only a few foreign scholars to be awarded academic titles by the Mongolian Academy of Humanitarian Sciences (Academician, 1998) and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences (Doctoris Archaeologiae Honoris Causa, 2003).

Peter LapePeter V. Lape is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington and is also the Curator of Archaeology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (Seattle, USA). Born in New Hampshire, Lape received his BA in Physics in 1985 from the University of New Hampshire, MA in Museum Studies in 1994 from San Francisco State University and PhD in Anthropology in 2000 from Brown University. He is an archaeologist specializing in the histories of social change in Island Southeast Asia over the last 4,000 years. His research focuses on island landscapes and seascapes, cross cultural interactions such as trade and warfare, human-environment dynamics and climate change. He has conducted collaborative fieldwork in Indonesia, Timor Leste and the Philippines. He also has an interest in archaeological practice, cultural resource management and public archaeology in the Southeast Asia and the US, and has ongoing collaborations with Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest of the US.


Gyoung-Ah Lee is Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oregon. She received her B.A. in 1992 from Seoul National University, Korea, M.Sc. in Anthropology in 1997 from the University of Toronto, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2003 from the University of Toronto. Lee’s research focus is the origins of agriculture, cultural landscape, and human-environmental interaction in East Asia. She has been conducting interdisciplinary projects in the Yellow River valley of north central China, the border region between China and Korea, and southern Korea. Recently, she started an island archaeology project in Jeju with the National Geographic support to understand peopling and cultural connections over the oceans, island adaptation, and origins of pottery and farming in Asia.

imagesJunko Habu is Professor of the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, and Affiliate Professor of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Japan. She received her BA (1982) and MA (1984) from Keio University and her Ph.D.(1996) from McGill University. Habu has excavated a number of prehistoric Jomon sites and historic Edo period sites in Japan, as well as Thule Inuit sites in the Canadian arctic. Habu’s research focuses on human-environmental interaction and long-term sustainability of human cultures and societies. Her archaeological project in Japan, the Berkeley Sannnai Maruyama Project and the Goshizawa Matsumori Project, uses archaeological data to investigate the mechanisms of long-term culture change among prehistoric Jomon hunter-gatherers of Japan (ca. 14,000–500 BC). In collaboration with the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, From 2011 to 2017, Habu conducted a transdisciplinary project at RIHN titled Long-term Sustainability through Place-Based, Small-scale Economies: Approaches from Historical Ecology.

Event Contact:, 510-642-2809

Back to the Event Page