Understanding social formations and social interaction of Metal Age societies in Island Southeast Asia through jar burials
Alexandra De Leon
(University of Illinois at Chicago)
Paper short abstract:
This paper presents a proposed research plan to utilize mortuary remains, examine similarities and variation in burial styles, pottery composition, trade goods and mortuary landscape features to investigate social formations and social relations of Metal Age societies in Island Southeast Asia.
Paper long abstract:
The practice of burying the dead in urns is widespread in Island Southeast Asia beginning around the early first millennium BC until the mid- to late-first millennium AD. For example, several jar burial sites are found across the islands of Taiwan, Borneo, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. While there are several site-specific studies of mortuary finds from individual sites, there are very few empirical investigations of the communities that performed these intriguing mortuary practice, their social structures, and the relationships between these prehistoric island communities. This paper presents a proposed multi-scalar research plan to utilize mortuary remains and examine similarities and variation in mortuary styles, pottery composition, trade goods and mortuary landscape features to investigate how Metal Age societies may have structured social relations. It presents preliminary findings of micro-regional analysis of jar burial remains from the Bacong Region of central Philippines that will be expanded to include jar burial sites from the greater Philippine macro-region. The research findings query the notion that late prehistoric island societies were necessarily simplified hierarchical and politically centralizing antecedents to the more complex societies of the Early Historic period.
Ceramics from mainland and island Southeast Asia: understanding ancient communities, cultural interactions, and socio-economic trajectories.