Insularity and adaptation: investigating the role of exchange and inter-island interaction in the Banda Islands, Indonesia

Peterson, Emily J. Insularity and adaptation: investigating the role of exchange and inter-island interaction in the Banda Islands, Indonesi. Diss. U of Washington, 2015.

Trade and exchange exerted a powerful force in the historic and protohistoric past of Island Southeast Asian communities. Exchange and interaction are also hypothesized to have played an important role in the spread of new technologies and lifestyles throughout the region during the Neolithic period. Although it is clear that interaction has played an important role in shaping Island Southeast Asian cultures on a regional scale, little is known about local histories and trajectories of exchange in much of the region. This dissertation aims to improve our understanding of the adaptive role played by exchange and interaction through an exploration of change over time in the connectedness of island communities in the Banda Islands, eastern Indonesia. Connectedness is examined by measuring source diversity for two different types of archaeological materials. Chemical characterization of pottery using LA-ICP-MS allows the identification of geochemically different paste groups within the earthenware assemblages of two Banda Islands sites. Source diversity measures are employed to identify differences in relative connectedness between these sites and changes over time. Similarly, stable and radiogenic isotope ratios ([delta]¹³C, [delta]¹⁸O, ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr, ²⁰⁶Pb/²⁰⁴Pb, ²⁰⁷Pb/²⁰⁴Pb, ²⁰⁸Pb/²⁰⁴Pb) are used to identify source groups and quantify source diversity for pigs reared in different locations. Increases in connectedness were expected during periods of increased environmental variability around 3000 BP and 2000 BP, although there is considerable disparity in the timing of these climate shifts based on paleoclimate proxy records from the eastern and western Pacific. At Banda Islands site PA1, connectedness was relatively high at initial occupation about 3500 BP and peaked ~500 years later. A correlation with an increase in El Niño frequency around this time is possible but cannot be confirmed without a well-dated local paleoclimate proxy record. A decline in connectedness as measured by earthenware diversity just after 2300 BP may relate to a change in site use away from permanent occupation. This may be linked with a more dramatic increase in frequency and amplitude of El Niño events and attendant variability in rainfall. In addition to variation in connectedness over time within the PA1 sequence, there is variability in the connectedness of the two sites in this study. At BN1 there was higher diversity of Banda Islands clay sources but PA1 had higher diversity of non-Banda sources. Despite close proximity these communities appear to have operated within different social landscapes. This result highlights the potential of this approach to studying exchange and interaction to reveal nuances about the social geographies of the past.

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