Laos inhabited by H. sapiens since maybe 56,000 years ago?

18 Apr
Just a quick note because I really could not find too much.
I just read at a very succint note at Science Daily that:

Researchers have discovered the oldest known human remains in Southeast Asia, a partial human skull dating to at least 40,000 years ago. Excavations at Tam Pa Ling cave in northern Laos produced a dozen pieces from a Stone Age person’s skull, including a skullcap and a lower jaw, anthropologist Laura Shackelford of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported April 14. Small front teeth, a rounded brain case and other traits identify the reassembled fossil as a modern Homo sapiens, Shackelford said. The find supports proposals that at least some human migrations out of Africa around 100,000 years ago followed a southern route that led to Southeast Asia.

Nothing more of relevance. I could find a paper (ppv) by Dr. Shackleford on Laos but it discusses another cave and much more recent dates (c. 15 Ka ago).
On the other hand I found a paper on another Laotian cave by different authors which mentions undefined human presence c.56 Ka ago:
Valéry Zeitoun et al, Multi-millennial occupation in northwestern Laos: Preliminary results of excavations at the Ngeubhinh Mouxeu rock-shelter. Comptes Rendus Palevol 2011. Pay per view.

With over half a century of political instability, resulting from armed conflicts, decolonisation and the Cold War, archaeological investigations in Laos have been rare, leaving little more than a blank page in the chapter of Southeast Asia’s prehistory. Recent research has shown that Laos holds a rich prehistoric heritage. In conjunction with the research initiated by J. White who conducted the first professional archaeological survey of northern Laos since decades, we have extended the investigations to the Luang Namtha province. This work allowed us to gather important data about Hoabinhian stone tool assemblages and former cultures. In particular, the archaeological remains and dating from the Ngeubhinh Mouxeu rock-shelter indicate that this mountainous region of Laos has been inhabited over a long period of time that possibly spans as far back as 56,000 ± 3000 BP.
While, by the moment, I ignore many details, I believe it is very interesting to mention as the early colonization of SE Asia by our species is still not well understood (and yet may be critical to understand all, or at the very least much, of Eurasian, plus aboriginal Australasian and American origins).
With due caution, I think we can infer from these and other less direct (Indian and Arabian archaeology) or more controversial materials (Liujiang skull, Luzon foot bone, speculations about very early colonization of Australia) that the colonization of SE Asia by our kind can be traced to at least that date of 56 Ka ago, probably even earlier.

Update (Aug 21): see this newer entry.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: