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Title: The prehistory of Madagascar : microbotanical and archaeological evidence from coastal and highland sites
Author: Pomerantz, Solomon
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 0229
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Despite nearly one hundred years of archaeological and palaeoecological research in Madagascar, the human colonisation of the island remains poorly understood. Long- standing narratives of this colonisation described the arrival of Austronesian- speaking peoples by AD 400, eventually reaching the Central Highlands by the 12th century. The recent discovery of microlithic tools at the rockshelter of Lakaton'i Anja has radically disrupted conventional narratives for this colonisation by more than doubling the known period of Madagascar's human history, and questioning the presumed Austronesian origins of these first Malagasy peoples. This discovery also challenges existing models for the late Holocene extinction of the island's megafauna. This thesis constitutes the first systematic review in the last thirty years of literature relating to the colonisation of the island, as well as the first to approach this multidisciplinary material in light of new archaeological evidence from Lakaton'i Anja. This study also represents the first comprehensive and comparative phytolith analysis conducted on Madagascar. Despite the wide application of phytolith analysis across regional archaeological and palaeoecological contexts, it has never before been applied here. This thesis explores the botanical impact of these early colonists in and around sites of occupation, as well as tracing the introduction of Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and domesticated bananas (Musa acuminata). New methods of phytolith analysis were developed, adapted, and applied to sediments collected from two seasons of excavations in 2012 and 2013. The sites of Lakaton'i Anja, Mahilaka, and Ankadivory D'Ralambo were re-excavated, as well as the new site of Ampasimahavelona, near Vohémar. This thesis presents and discusses these excavations as well as the earliest evidence for the cultivation of both Musa acuminata and Oryza sativa on Madagascar, and an ultra-high resolution botanical perspective on the last four millennia of Madagascar's prehistory.
Supervisor: Mitchell, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Archaeology ; Palaeoecology ; Madagascar ; Phytoliths ; Archaeological Science