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Exploring Prehistoric Technology at the Tràng An Landscape Complex, Ninh Bình Province, Vietnam

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Utting, Benjamin 


This thesis investigates the relationship between environmental change and stone tool technology during the terminal Last Glacial Maximum at six archaeological cave and rockshelter sites throughout the Tràng An Landscape Complex, Ninh Bình Province, northern Vietnam. Historical analyses of stone tool assemblages from Southeast Asia have relied on cultural-typological methods, which are poorly suited for assemblages that comprise tools that are rarely curated and exhibit limited evidence for recurrent imposed morphological design. More recent approaches incorporating technological organization, attribute analysis, and behavioral ecology have proven more profitable for both identifying and interpreting variability in such assemblages and placing tool use in its greater environmental context. Furthermore, stone tool assemblages from this region are generally thought to be comprised of tools made of locally sourced raw materials. This thesis presents the results of a geochemical sourcing analysis that challenges this idea, and in doing so, introduces another way of identifying variability in unretouched, expedient Southeast Asian stone tool assemblages. Furthermore, it is argued that Bayesian statistical methods provide a quantitative framework that can be specifically tailored to address archaeological questions in a more nuanced way than traditional frequentist statistical methods can offer. Therefore, this thesis incorporates geochemical sourcing analysis with a Bayesian attribute analysis to test a human behavioral ecological model of tropical hunter-gatherer behaviors before, during, and after the Last Glacial Maximum.





Key, Alastair


Lithics, Vietnam, Archaeology


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
National Geographic Society, Evans Fellowship, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Xuan Truong Enterprise