Bioarchaeology of East Asia: Movement, Contact, Health

Bioarchaeology of East Asia: Movement, Contact, Health

Bioarchaeology of East Asia: Movement, Contact, Health

Bioarchaeology of East Asia: Movement, Contact, Health

Synopsis

Examines current understandings of human population histories, adaptations, dietary changes, and health variations within the geographical context of ancient east Asia.

Excerpt

The overarching theme of this volume is human interaction and its consequences for the human condition across the vast expanse of East Asia during the Holocene, examined through the lens of human remains. the volume is also an exploration of human interaction at an entirely different level, bringing together chapters written by scholars from several distinct academic schools of thought. the contributors stem from a range of culturally mediated scholarly traditions in biological anthropology that were isolated to varying degrees by the tumultuous politics of the twentieth century. Conceptual frameworks, underlying assumptions, goals, and even styles of presentation vary considerably among the chapters, reflecting our goal of creating a forum within which a highly diverse and international group of scholars could engage in their particular approaches to examining human skeletal remains drawn from archaeological contexts.

For a bioarchaeologist, East Asia presents a number of unique opportunities and challenges. First of all, human lives during the East Asian past were defined by complex population movements and contact among a variety of human groups. Starting with the arrival of fully modern Homo sapiens in East Asia and their interactions with older species of humans, these movements shaped morphogenetic variation, the ecology and subsistence networks of early communities, pathogen distribution, patterns of violence, and technological development. Thus, from the beginning of the previous century on, the analysis of skeletal remains from archaeological contexts in East Asia targeted reconstruction of the processes involved in the initial peopling of this part of the world, human expansion onto the Japanese Archipelago and Taiwan, along with later interactions along the northern Chinese frontier, among geographically remote continental groups via the trade routes, as well as between insular and continental communities. Considering the intensity of these migrations and other population exchanges, the large number of prior skeletal studies reconstructing population interaction and the biological roots of ancient peoples based on metric and nonmetric cranial and dental traits is not surprising (e.g., Yan 1962; Zhang et al. 1977; Han and Pan 1979 . . .

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