Accepted paper:

Geoarchaeology in Indonesia: holocene human settlements and their environments in Kota Cina (North Sumatra)


Yohan Chabot (UMR 8591 LGP-CNRS)
Yann Le Drezen (University of Paris1 Pantheon-Sorbonne )
M. Si I Made Geria
Nicole Limondin-Lozouet (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

Our current study of Kota Cina site shows important environmental changes during the last 1000 years resulting from natural dynamics and humans activities. We propose to discuss the issue of regional landscape evolution during the Holocene in relation with Sumatran historic archaeological settlements.

Paper long abstract:

In Indonesia, palaeoenvironmental studies associated with archaeological settlements are still scarce. However geoarchaeological studies can help to understand the stratigraphical and environmental frameworks of human occupations. The study undertaken at the site of Kota Cina is a pioneer work that aims to highlight environmental implications on development, and later on, abandonment and preservation of the site. The first archaeological interpretations allow identifying Kota Cina as a commercial harbour on Malacca Strait, active between the XIth-XIVth centuries. Nowadays the site is located at 7 km inland. The stratigraphic study and archaeological evidence imply a marked evolution of the environment. Boat wrecks and wooden piles were discovered in a sandy unit at the base of the sequence. This deposit is overlain by a clayey unit rich in organic remains. This last contains well-preserved wooden artefacts dated by AMS between the XIIth-XIIIth centuries. This formation, incised by paleochannels, is characteristic of a swampy mangrove environment. Finally, a silty layer rich in organic and archaeological remains constitutes the upper part of the stratigraphy. This last sedimentary filling is related with anthropogenic activities. Preliminary results show that Kota Cina occupations have evolved in a changing landscape, from a marine environment at the beginning of the Xth century, to a swampy mangrove area between the XIIth-XIVth centuries. Kota Cina is now located at the back of the mangrove area. This important environmental change resulted from a regional gradual silting. To which extent natural or anthropogenic factors are responsible of these transformations is a matter of debate.

panel P08
Geoarchaeology in Southeast Asia