Hominin Dispersal and Cultural Exchange Between Southern China and Southeast Asia from the Late Pleistocene to the Early/Mid-Holocene

Ji Xueping1, Li Yinghua2, Yu Chong3

1Zoological Museum of Natural History, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

2Archaeological Institute for Yangtze Civilization, Wuhan University

3School of Sociology and Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University

Hominin dispersal and cultural exchange between Southern China and Southeast Asia has been a hot topic over the past few decades, highlighted by new archaeological discoveries grounded in multidisciplinary research projects. The new findings show that the region possessed an extremely rich diversity of populations and cultures from the late Pleistocene onwards. For example, the Hoabinhian techno-complexity emerged from southwestern China as early as 43.5 ka, then dispersed into Southeast Asia, possibly lasting until c. 3000 BP. Recent research has demonstrated that within this 'techno-complex', remarkable differences existed not only between the 'cobble-tool industry' of South China and the Hoabinhian of Southeast Asia. Ancient DNA suggests that populations across the late Pleistocene-Holocene transition introgressed in the South China (Guangxi) region, and that the prehistoric communities extending from the lower reaches of Yangtze river valley to southeastern coastal China (in particular Fujian Province) are closely related to the ancestors of the Austronesian populations that migrated from the Mainland to Island Southeast Asia, and on to the Pacific. However, inter-disciplinary archaeological scientific research is yet to identify the exact location of the pre-Austronesian populations, or their dispersal routes from South/Southeastern coastal China into Taiwan and beyond. Our understanding and interpretation of the prehistory of South China and Mainland Southeast Asia has been partly hindered by a lack of regional discourse across contemporary country boundaries.

This session aims to provide an opportunity for scholars working in China and Southeast Asia to present new discoveries from multidisciplinary research on the late Pleistocene to early-middle Holocene prehistory of the region. We welcome contributions on a broad range of topics, including (but not confined to) palaeoanthropology, prehistoric lithic technology, ancient DNA, palaeoenvironmental, zooarchaeological, archaeobotanical, and chronological research.