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    New evidence of megafaunal bone damage indicates late colonization of Madagascar
    (Public Library of Science, 2018-10-10) Anderson, Atholl ; Clark, Geoffrey ; Haberle, Simon ; Higham, Tom ; Nowak-Kemp, Malgosia ; Prendergast, Amy ; Radimilahy, Chantal ; Rakotozafy, Lucien M ; Ramilisonina ; Schwenninger, Jean-Luc ; Virah-Sawmy, Malika ; Camens, Aaron
    The estimated period in which human colonization of Madagascar began has expanded recently to 5000–1000 y B.P., six times its range in 1990, prompting revised thinking about early migration sources, routes, maritime capability and environmental changes. Cited evidence of colonization age includes anthropogenic palaeoecological data 2500–2000 y B.P., megafaunal butchery marks 4200–1900 y B.P. and OSL dating to 4400 y B.P. of the Lakaton’i Anja occupation site. Using large samples of newly-excavated bone from sites in which megafaunal butchery was earlier dated >2000 y B.P. we find no butchery marks until ~1200 y B.P., with associated sedimentary and palynological data of initial human impact about the same time. Close analysis of the Lakaton’i Anja chronology suggests the site dates <1500 y B.P. Diverse evidence from bone damage, palaeoecology, genomic and linguistic history, archaeology, introduced biota and seafaring capability indicate initial human colonization of Madagascar 1350–1100 y B.P.
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    Life goes on: Archaeobotanical investigations of diet and ritual at Angkor Thom, Cambodia (14th–15th centuries CE)
    (SAGE Publications, 2018-02-02) Castillo, Cristina Cobo ; Polkinghorne, Martin ; Vincent, Brice ; Suy, Tan Boun ; Fuller, Dorian Q
    This is the first time an archaeobotanical analysis based on macroremains, both charred and desiccated, from Cambodia is reported. The archaeobotanical samples are rich and provide evidence of rice processing, consumption of non-indigenous pulses, and the use of economic crops. The evidence is supported by data from inscriptions, texts and historical ethnography. This study demonstrates that the city of Angkor in the 14th and 15th centuries CE, despite its decline, was still occupied. Angkor’s inhabitants continued their everyday lives cultivating and consuming their staple food, rice, with a suite of pulses, and also used the harvests in the performance of rituals.
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    Evidence for the breakdown of an Angkorian hydraulic system, and its historical implications for understanding the Khmer Empire
    (Elsevier, 2017-11-10) Lustig, Terry ; Klassen, Sarah ; Evans, Damian ; French, Robert ; Moffat, Ian Alexander
    This paper examines the construction and design of a 7-km long embankment, probably built for King Jayavarman IV between 928 and 941 CE, as part of a new capital. We calculate that the capacities of the outlets were too small, and conclude that the embankment failed, probably within a decade of construction, so that the benefits of the reservoir stored by the embankment and the access road on top of it were lessened substantially. We explain how the design was sub-optimal for construction, and that while the layout had a high aesthetic impact, the processes for ensuring structural integrity were poor. Simple and inexpensive steps to secure the weir were not undertaken. We speculate that this early failure may have contributed to the decision to return the royal court and the capital of the Khmer Empire to the Angkor region, marking a critically important juncture in regional history.
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    GIS-based evaluation of diagnostic areas in landslide susceptibility analysis of Bahluieț River Basin (Moldavian Plateau, NE Romania). Are Neolithic sites in danger?
    (Elsevier, 2018-04-27) Nicu, Ionut Cristi ; Asăndulesei, Andrei
    The aim of this study is to compare the predictive strenghtness of different diagnostic areas in determining landslide susceptibility using frequency ratio (FR), statistical index (SI), and analytic hierarchy process (AHP) models in a catchment from the northeastern part of Romania. Scarps (point), landslide areas (polygon), and middle of the landslide (point) have been tested and checked in regards to their performance. The three statistical models have been employed to assess the landslide susceptibility using eleven conditioning factors (slope angle, elevation, curvature, lithology, precipitations, land use, topographic wetness index (TWI), landforms, aspect, plan curvature and distance to river). The three models were validated using the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and the seed cell area index (SCAI) methods. The predictive capability of each model was established from the area under the curve (AUC), for FR, SI and AHP; the values are 0.75, 0.81 and 0.78 (using polygon as diagnostic area), respectively. Among the three methods used, SI had a better predictability. When it comes to the predictability values regarding the diagnostic areas, the landslide area (polygon) proves to have the highest values. This results from the entire surface of the landslide being taken into account when validating the data. Approximately 70% of the Neolithic sites are located in areas with high and very high susceptibility to landslides, meaning that they are in danger of being destroyed in the future. The final susceptibility maps are useful in hazard mitigation, risk reduction, a sustainable land use planning, evaluation of cultural heritage integrity, and to highlight the most endangered sites that are likely to be destroyed in the future.
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    3D Mapping of the Submerged Crowie Barge Using Electrical Resistivity Tomography
    (Hindawi, 2018-05-08) Simyrdanis, Kleanthis ; Moffat, Ian Alexander ; Papadopoulos, Nikos ; Kowlessar, Jarrad ; Bailey, Marian
    This study explores the applicability and effectiveness of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) as a tool for the high-resolution mapping of submerged and buried shipwrecks in 3D. This approach was trialled through modelling and field studies of Crowie, a paddle steamer barge which sunk at anchor in the Murray River at Morgan, South Australia, in the late 1950s. The mainly metallic structure of the ship is easily recognisable in the ERT data and was mapped in 3D both subaqueously and beneath the sediment-water interface. The innovative and successful use of ERT in this case study demonstrates that 3D ERT can be used for the detailed mapping of submerged cultural material. It will be particularly useful where other geophysical and diver based mapping techniques may be inappropriate due to shallow water depths, poor visibility, or other constraints.
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    Mapping of bioavailable strontium isotope ratios in France for archaeological provenance studies
    (Elsevier, 2017-12-30) Willmes, Malte ; Bataille, Clement P ; James, Hannah F ; Moffat, Ian Alexander ; McMorrow, Linda ; Kinsley, Leslie ; Eggins, Stephen ; Grun, Rainer
    Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) of archaeological samples (teeth and bones) can be used to track mobility and migration across geologically distinct landscapes. However, traditional interpolation algorithms and classification approaches used to generate Sr isoscapes are often limited in predicting multiscale 87Sr/86Sr patterning. Here we investigate the suitability of plant samples and soil leachates from the IRHUM database (www.irhumdatabase.com) to create a bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr map using a novel geostatistical framework. First, we generated an 87Sr/86Sr map by classifying 87Sr/86Sr values into five geologically-representative isotope groups using cluster analysis. The isotope groups were then used as a covariate in kriging to integrate prior geological knowledge of Sr cycling with the information contained in the bioavailable dataset and enhance 87Sr/86Sr predictions. Our approach couples the strengths of classification and geostatistical methods to generate more accurate 87Sr/86Sr predictions (Root Mean Squared Error = 0.0029) with an estimate of spatial uncertainty based on lithology and sample density. This bioavailable Sr isoscape is applicable for provenance studies in France, and the method is transferable to other areas with high sampling density. While our method is a step forward in generating accurate 87Sr/86Sr isoscapes, the remaining uncertainty also demonstrates that fine-modelling of 87Sr/86Sr variability is challenging and requires more than geological maps for accurately predicting 87Sr/86Sr variations across the landscape. Future efforts should focus on increasing sampling density and developing predictive models to further quantify and predict the processes that lead to 87Sr/86Sr variability.