Creation of a network on the theme “Prehistoric Toolkits and Technologies in the Tropics”

Hermine Xhauflair, Isis Mesfin and Anne Ford, working respectively in Papua New Guinea and Africa, would like to share with the AWRANA members the creation of a network of researchers working on prehistoric toolkits and technologies in the tropics:

The idea is to promote inter-continental dialogue as we are all exploring how prehistoric groups adapted to tropical environments and as we are facing similar field challenges.

1) We have set up a Facebook Group called Prehistoric Toolkits and Technologies in the Tropics:

It is destined to be a platform on which we can inform others of new publications, projects, fieldwork, etc. The goal is for it to be dynamic and interactive. Please feel free to share pictures of your work (e.g. in the field, in the office, studying material, in the lab), articles, ideas, suggestions and so on by directly posting on the Facebook group. We will be happy to help you if you need any assistance to share content.

2) We will be chairing a session at the next UISPP conference called “S9A – Creating in tropical forests: toolkits and technical behaviours of prehistoric hunter-gatherers between 23° North and 23° South.” (abstract is below)

You are warmly invited to participate and to submit abstracts for papersdirectly on the website of the UISPP:

The conference itself will take place in Meknès, Morocco on September 2nd to 7th 2021. The deadline for abstract submission will be in early 2021.

3) Given the uncertainties due to the global pandemic with regards to meetings in the months to come, we have been thinking that it could be interesting to organise a virtual workshop or seminar series on the theme of Toolkits and Technologies in Tropical and Equatorial Regions. It would also be a great opportunity to include those of you who have expressed an interest in the UISPP session but could not go physically due to prior engagements or funding issues. Would you be interested in such a virtual workshop or seminar series?

4) We also have the project of editing a special issue of a journal, such as Quaternary International or Journal of Archaeological Science: Report on the theme of Prehistoric Toolkits and Technologies in the Tropics. This will be a venue for publishing papers of the UISPP session and the virtual workshop/seminar if there is interest for it. It can also be open to authors who wish to submit an article but cannot present an oral paper.

We hope that you can join us to exchange and brainstorm together on the Prehistory of the Tropics!

Abstract of the UISPP session:

Session S9-A – Creating in tropical forests: toolkits and technical behaviours of prehistoric hunter-gatherers between 23º North and 23º South

XIXth World UISPP Meknès 2-7 September 2021

Only a few decades ago, it was vividly debated whether or not humans could have lived in the rainforest during Prehistory. Since then, there has been increasing evidence that our species and very possibly previous ones have not only settled down in tropical forests millennia ago, but also modified the environment by their actions. Moreover, not only humans modified the forest, the tropics also seem to have had an impact on human cultures.

In this session, we would like to address the following questions:

How did humans adapt to the tropics during Prehistory and what was the influence of these lush environments on human material culture and specifically on their toolkits? Are there similarities between Prehistories of the different tropical regions of the globe? Or did human groups respond in different ways to similar external conditions? What was the impact on lithic industries? How did these evolve locally? What was the importance of non-lithic technologies and the role of tools made of other available materials such as shells, bones, plants and others? What are the research practices in the different tropical regions and what are the current scientific approaches of tropical forest toolkits?

Although the tropics are largely associated in people’s minds with the rainforest, this region between 23° N and 23° S encompasses a wide range of forests and vegetation formations. To complexify the picture further, climate variations modified the environment, rainforests contracting during glacial periods and expanding during interglacial periods. That is where local paleoenvironmental analyses play a crucial role in assessing correctly the situation.

In this session, we would like to encourage inter-regional dialogue and to bring together scholars working in different tropical regions of the world to deliver papers about case studies, regional syntheses or cross-regional comparisons.

Organisers: Hermine Xhauflair, Isis Mesfin & Anne Ford