Presenter Information

Baer Adela, Oregon State University

Start Date

12-6-2014 2:45 PM

End Date

12-6-2014 4:00 PM

Description

ABSTRACT — People have always used materials that are handy to survive and thrive. There’s no point in hoping to find obsidian arrowheads in Malaya because it doesn’t have this form of glass. What it did have, before deforestation, was an abundance of bamboo, rattan, and other natural resources. The question is not whether these resources were enough to fashion an adequate tool kit 40,000 to 70,000 years ago. The DNA evidence, for one, tells us it was enough since pioneering people and their descendants did survive in Malaya. Rather, the question is how this tool kit was developed to make bows and arrows, snares, housing, hearth fires, backpacks, musical instruments, and all the other paraphernalia of living. A review of what is known from archeological work and from recorded comments on Orang Asli tool kits helps us to understand long-term survival without metal, let alone plastic or microprocessors, but a focus on bamboo technology transcends archeological findings. Since bamboo tools rarely, if ever, survive for millennia, published scenarios of prehistory on the Thai-Malayan Peninsula have largely ignored them, thereby omitting a basic factor in human experience in the region.

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Jun 12th, 2:45 PM Jun 12th, 4:00 PM

Paper, "Bamboo, Rocks, Rattan, and the Orang Asli"

ABSTRACT — People have always used materials that are handy to survive and thrive. There’s no point in hoping to find obsidian arrowheads in Malaya because it doesn’t have this form of glass. What it did have, before deforestation, was an abundance of bamboo, rattan, and other natural resources. The question is not whether these resources were enough to fashion an adequate tool kit 40,000 to 70,000 years ago. The DNA evidence, for one, tells us it was enough since pioneering people and their descendants did survive in Malaya. Rather, the question is how this tool kit was developed to make bows and arrows, snares, housing, hearth fires, backpacks, musical instruments, and all the other paraphernalia of living. A review of what is known from archeological work and from recorded comments on Orang Asli tool kits helps us to understand long-term survival without metal, let alone plastic or microprocessors, but a focus on bamboo technology transcends archeological findings. Since bamboo tools rarely, if ever, survive for millennia, published scenarios of prehistory on the Thai-Malayan Peninsula have largely ignored them, thereby omitting a basic factor in human experience in the region.