A multi-technique look at migration in Ban Non Wat, NE Thailand
(University of Otago)
R. Alexander Bentley (Bristol University)
Una Strand Vidarsdottir (University of Iceland)
Nancy Tayles (University of Otago)
Paper short abstract:
We assess the identification of migrants at prehistoric Ban Non Wat. Using isotopic analyses combined with morphological and non-metric traits we show links between unusual mortuary treatment and external origins, as well as likely long-term gene flow between migrant and local populations.
Paper long abstract:
Migration is widely acknowledged to be an important driver of social and economic change in prehistory. In Southeast Asia, for instance, it has been argued that both rice agriculture and bronze working reflect migration from, or at least contact with southern China. The potential significance of migrant individuals within sites, and implications they have for social development, means their identification is an important focus for bioarchaeological work. Geochemical techniques provide a clear means of identifying some migrant individuals, but are limited to only identifying 'first generation' migrants. Osteological techniques used in combination with isotopic results may allow new insight into morphological affinity of migrants as well as level of admixture with the population. This study uses a combination of isotopic, cranial morphometric and nonmetric results to assess the role of migrants at the site of Ban Non Wat. With an occupation period spanning from the Neolithic (ca. 1750BC) to the Iron Age (ca. 500AD) and over 650 burials excavated this site yields a unique opportunity to test hypotheses about social development. We find that most isotopically identified migrants do not have significantly different morphology or non-metric traits from the rest of the sample, perhaps indicating a level of continuous gene flow between their natal areas and Ban Non Wat. We also find that some individuals displaying unusual mortuary ritual are both isotopic and morphological outliers.
Addressing regional and world-scale archaeological questions through human bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia