Characteristics of the Exploitation of Herpetofauna by Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Populations in Continental Southeast Asia

Corentin Bochaton1,2, Sirikanya Chantasri3, Melada Maneechote4, Julien Claude2, Christophe Griggo5, Wilailuck Naksri6, Pauline, Hanot7, Hubert Forestier8, Heng Sophady9, Prasit Auertrakulvit4, Jutinach Bowonsachoti3, Valéry Zeitoun1

1Centre de recherche en Paléontologie- Paris, UMR 7207 CR2P- CNRS/MNHN/Sorbonne Université, France

2Institut des sciences de l’évolution de Montpellier, UMR CNRS/UM/IRD/EPHE, Université de Montpellier, France

312th Regional Office of Fine Arts Department, Thailand

4Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University, Thailand

5Laboratoire Environnements, Dynamiques et Territoires de Montagne, UMR EDYTEM - CNRS/USMB, Université Savoie Mont Blanc, France

6Northeastern Research Institute of Petrified Wood and Mineral Resources, Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, Thailand

7Mécanismes adaptatifs & Évolution, UMR 7179 MECADEV- CNRS/MNHN, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, France

8Institut de paléontologie humaine, UMR 7194 CNRS-MNHN-UPVD, France

9Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia, Cambodia

The zooarchaeological data related to Hoabinhian and subsequent hunter-gatherer populations in continental Southeast Asia still lack detailed analysis for most taxa, especially non-mammal species. These issues currently preclude reaching a global comprehension of the subsistence strategies of prehistoric human groups. Recently, we conducted several zooarchaeological and methodological studies focused on reptile and amphibian bones in order to improve our understanding of past human subsistence strategies and palaeocological conditions in Mainland Southeast Asia. In this presentation we discuss several herpetofaunal assemblages collected in four different hunter-gatherer archaeological sites in Thailand and Cambodia (Doi Pha Kan, Moh Khiew, Khao Ta Phlai, and Laang Spean). The studied reptile and amphibian assemblages include more than 25 000 bone fragments documenting the paleoenvironments of the sites, the local paleo-biodiversity, as well as the choices made by the hunters in the exploitation of available resources. In order to investigate hunting strategies in more detail we focus on two taxa that are most common in all the investigated deposits: monitor lizards (Varanus spp.) and elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata).  As part of the study we developed new methodologies that enabled the body size of the archaeological specimens to be estimated. Our results show some common patterns in the behaviors of hunter-gatherer populations across time and space, but also some differences in the exploitation strategies of herpetofaunal species that we will attempt to explain in this presentation.