Landscape transformations and human responses c. 11,500-c. 4500 years ago



Publication Details

Rabett, R. J., Barker, G., Barton, H., Hunt, C., Lloyd-Smith, L., Paz, V., Piper, P. J., Premathilake, R., Rushworth, G., Stephens, M. & Szabo, K. (2013). Landscape transformations and human responses c. 11,500-c. 4500 years ago. In G. Barker (Eds.), Rainforest Foraging and Farming in Island Southeast Asia: the Archaeology of the Niah Caves, Sarawak: Volume 1 (pp. 217-253). United Kingdom: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.


This chapter discusses the character of human activity at Niah after the transition to the Holocene, the modern climate era. The beginning of the Holocene was marked by an abrupt warming in the palaeotemperature records of the Greenland ice cap at 11,700 BP (Rasmussen et al. 2006; as in the case of Chapter 5, this is rounded here to 11,500 Br), and the end of the major climate swings which had marked the terminal stages of the Pleistocene (Rasmussen et al. 2008; Svensson et al. 2006). The geography of Southeast Asia had changed markedly in the millennia leading up to the Holocene, as the vast exposed plains of the Pleistocene Sundaland continent were progressively inundated by rising sea levels (Sathiamurthy & Voris 2006). The process continued but with complex and localized dynamics into the Holocene, relative sea levels in some parts of Southeast Asia reaching and briefly surpassing modern values by 3-5 m between about 6000 BP and 4500 BP before gradually stabilizing (Bird et al. 2006; 2010; Hanebuth et al. 2000; Horton et al. 2005; Tanabe et al. 2006; Tjia 1996; Fig. 6.1). The Mid Holocene high sea stand is taken as the approximate boundary between this chapter and the next, though it is not easily visible at Niah.

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