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Maritime Adaptation and Material Culture in Maritime Asia-Based on the museum materials from Southeast Asia

Research period : April 2019‒ March 2022 / Project for Database Establishment (project period: max. 4 years)

Coordinator ONO Rintaro

Outline

Objectives

The objective of the project is to create a database of material culture, incorporating a regional and historical perspective, relating to the adaptation of humans to the marine environment in Maritime Asia, and in particular the island regions of Southeast Asia and the surrounding seas. In order to achieve this objective, we will collect basic information about the culture and history of marine adaptation in Maritime Asia and the surrounding area through field work and surveys of the literature. Having done this, we will sort the related materials housed at the National Museum of Ethnology and translate the information into multiple languages. The main object of research will be materials relating to Southeast Asia. However, due to the large amount of migration within Southeast Asia since prehistoric times, it is also necessary to make a connection with materials relating to the surrounding areas. In particular, we anticipate a link with materials from Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands in East Asia, as well as the island regions of Oceania. The database constructed as a result of this project will be used for workshops in the region. This practical application will contribute to the understanding of the region and the relationship between humans’ adaptation to the maritime environment and their material culture.

Description

The primary objective of this project is to investigate the material culture in Maritime Asia from a human history perspective, and to clarify the points of commonality and difference in material culture relating to fishing gear and seafaring; two areas which most exemplify human adaptation to the marine environment in Southeast Asia. After leaving Africa, humans – and in particular Homo sapiens – succeeded in migrating and expanding via the Eurasian continent to Maritime Asia and then the Oceania region. This migration required a high degree of maritime adaptability, including the ability to cross from island to island. In the island regions located in Maritime Asia and the surrounding area, this resulted in the proactive use of marine resources, as exemplified by the fishing methods in the region, and the development of maritime technology, exemplified by long-distance sea travel and maritime trade.

However, Maritime Asia encompasses a wide range of marine environments, from temperate to subtropical, to tropical. Further, the flora, fauna, geological makeup and relative size of the islands dotted around the region vary enormously. Research so far has indicated that the advancement of maritime adaptation in each region by the multiple groups of people, who were living in this varied marine and island environment, resulted in the variation and differences we see in fishing methods and gear, as well as boats and navigation. On the other hand, it is also known that, while different ethnicities were expanding in Maritime Asia, maritime trade based on marine networks, which went beyond ethnicity, was also developing, particularly from the early modern period onwards. As a result of this, there is a great deal of similarity in fishing gear and methods within Maritime Asia, and there are examples where specific items of material culture have become dispersed across a wide area in a relatively short period of time. The overall objective of this project is to examine what kind commonalities and differences were given to material culture by ethnicities founded on this kind of marine and island environment and network society, by researching both the wealth of materials at Minpaku, as well as related ethnography, videos, archaeological documents and historical materials.

In order to achieve these research objectives, this project will focus on materials housed at Minpaku from a wide geographical area, encompassing the Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as the island regions in the surrounding area, including the Ryukyu Islands and Oceania. We will gather comprehensive information on their function, including the materials they are produced from, their application, and the technology behind their manufacture. Keeping both the human history and ecological culture context in mind, we will carry out a reevaluation of the material culture in question, analyzing it from an inter-regional comparative perspective. The materials that will be the main focus of the survey and research are Maritime Southeast Asian fishing gear and materials relating to boats and seafaring. Among these, the materials that we will place particular emphasis on will be the materials from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. In addition to field surveys, we will undertake to work together with domestic and overseas researchers to verify the materials and information. Through this case study, we will examine the efficacy of the project’s method in an attempt to identify an efficient and effective way of conducting the project. Based on this, we will embark on the survey of materials from the Ryukyu Islands and surrounding island regions.

Expected results

We expect to achieve the six following points as a result of this project:
1. We will establish a methodology for comparing regions in relation to the maritime culture of Maritime Asia and the surrounding island regions.
2. We will identify the regionality and commonality of the maritime culture (fishing, boats and seafaring technology) of Maritime Asia and the surrounding island regions.
3. By constructing an integrated, multilingual database of Maritime Asia’s maritime culture, we will be able to provide an online environment to the research community, in which it is possible to search for materials.
4. In order to construct the organizational structure essential to the running of this project, as well as concluding academic exchanges between institutions at home and abroad, we will create a system of cooperation with the materials’ source communities.
5. By becoming one of the core institutions in the research of the material and maritime culture of Maritime Asia, this project will enhance the shared use of Minpaku.
6. Through extensive participation by young researchers and source communities in the course of carrying out the surveys and research for this project, we can widely promote civilian research, and contribute to the cultivation and development of the next generation of researchers.

Outcomes from 2020

1. The state of the implementation of this year’s research

The objective of the project is to create a database of material culture, of Minpaku housed cultural artifacts relating to the adaptation of humans to the marine environment in Maritime Asia, and in particular the island regions of Southeast Asia and the surrounding seas. Further, using the database, together with experts from partner countries, to advance research on maritime culture, and strengthen network cooperation. Within this objective, in this year of the project, after checking Minpaku housed maritime culture related resources (fishing, seafaring, shipping technology, ornamentation, etiquette) from Maritime Asia the surrounding island regions, we created a material register in English and Japanese. As a result, we were able to include in this register approximately 800 artifacts from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and about 800 items of Minpaku’s associated collections from Oceania, Micronesia and Melanesia. We also upgraded the register to include those materials which had a high level of similarity with those mainland Southeast Asia.
However, with the effect of COVID-19, we were unable to look into developing research based on the database with other experts face to face. However, through email and others, we were able to progress the exchange of information with domestic experts of maritime cultures, and strengthen our domestic network of researchers based in the National Museum of Nature and Science, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Oceanic Culture Museum and Planetarium and Nanzan University Museum of Anthropology. In our investigations with international experts, on February 27 2021. We also hosted an online international workshop; and in addition to consulting with experts in maritime culture from Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Indonesia Maritime Museum, Museum Bahari, National Museum of Malaysia, Museum Adat, Universiti Putra Malaysia, and in the Philippines, ational Museum of the Philippines, Philippine National University, and strengthened our connections with each of these institutions. Further, at this workshop we also invited domestic Japanese domestic experts and received their opinions and related information on the production and development of the database in this year of the project.

2. Overview of the research results (achievements of the research objects)

This year, the research results of the project were, 1) almost all of the Southeast Asian island regions and newly added Oceania (Micronesia and Melanesia) maritime related materials (fishing, boats, etiquette, ornamentation) from the National Museum of Ethnology were translated into English, upgrading the web version of the database, 2) Using this updated database for exchange with Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines experts, we held our second international workshop in February 2021. This workshop aimed to progress maritime materials research and was based on actual viewing and examination of the materials. In particular, regarding 1), we were able to newly include Oceania related materials (approx. 800) in the database as scheduled and added information and new categories relating to the approximately 800 Southeast Asian materials recorded in a ledger in the last year of the project.
In this year of the project, we were able to achieve our research goals sufficiently. Further, regarding 2) we were able to continue our international workshops with the second one, even though it was online. In particular, we had a lecture from Dr Christina Juan, the coordinator of SOAS University of London’s Digital Archive Project which is a developing project on Philippines related museum materials. Following this, we were able to consult on future collaboration and connection with such highly similar international projects—giving us some significant, concrete results from our two international workshops advancing our project plan. Next year, in the final year of the project, we plan to put papers in the Minpaku Research Report special edition, and considering presenting our results on southeast Asian and Oceanian maritime culture in papers and books by using the results of these workshops. We are also planning for developing our project on a number of fronts. Further, expanding our target areas to include Oceania and Polynesia, we will complete the database on Minpaku housed related materials and so we can expect further developments and the expansion of the project. As a further supplement, the planning for the exhibit ‘Oceans and Human Culture’, which will reflect the project results and is planned for the year following the completion of the project, is underway.

3. Records disclosing achievements (publications, public symposia, sectional meetings of academic conferences, electronic media, etc.)

・Fuentes, R., Ono, R., Nakajima, N., Siswanto, J., Aziz, N., Sriwigati, Octavianus S., Miranda, T., Pawlik, A, 2020, Stuck within notches: direct evidence of plant processing during the Last Glacial Maximum in North Sulawesi. Journal of Archaeological Science: Report. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102207 (Published by online on April, 2020)
・Ono, R., Fuentes, R., Pawlik, A., Sofian,H.O., Sriwigati, Aziz,N., Alamsyah, N., Yoneda, M., 2020, Island migration and foraging behaviour by anatomically modern humans during the late Pleistocene to Holocene in Wallacea: New evidence from Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Quaternary International 554: 90-106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2020.03.054 (Published on 20th July, 2020)
・Ono, R, R. Fuentes, A. Noel, O. Sofian, Sriwigati, N. Aziz, and A. Pawlik, 2021, Development of bone and lithic technologies by anatomically modern humans during the late Pleistocene to Holocene in Sulawesi and Wallacea. Quaternary International 596: 124-143.〈https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2020.12.045〉(Published on 20th September 2020)
・Katagiri, C, R, Ono, Y.Nakanishi, and H. Miyagi, 2020, Research on the Wreck Sites, Sea Routes and the Ships in the Ryukyu Archipelago. IKUWA6: 19–29. ISBN: 9781784916428. (Published on 1st October, 2020)
・Nakanishi, Y., R. Ono, C. Katagiri, N. Sakagami, and T. Tetsu, 2020, Pursuing Sustainable Preservation and Valorisation of Underwater Cultural Heritage: Okinawa’s Pilot Project for an Underwater Site Museum. IKUWA6: 299–300. ISBN: 9781784916428. (Published on 1st October, 2020)
・Ono, R. 2020 “Human History 1- Maritime Adaptation and Migration by Human in Oceania” in M. Umezaki and K. Kazama (eds.), Oceania de Manabu Jinruigaku, pp. 2-20. Kyoto: Showado Press. ISBN: 978-4812220054 (Published on 15th December, 2020, in Japanese)
・Ono, R. 2020 “Human History from the View of Moving Strategy in Oceania” in R. Otsuka (ed), Seitai-Jinruigaku wa Idomu-Ugoku, Atsumaru, pp. 95-121. Kyoto: Kyoto University Press. ISBN: 978-4814003112 (Published on 22nd December, 2020, in Japanese)
・Ono, R. and A. Pawlik eds., 2020, Pleistocene Archaeology-Migration, Technology, and Adaptation. IntecOpen Publisher. ISBN: 978-1-83880-358-2 (Published as Open Access on 25th December, 2020)
・Ono, R, A. Pawlik, and R. Fuentes, 2020, Island Migration, Resource Use, and Lithic Technology by Anatomically Modern Humans in Wallacea. In Ono, R. and A. Pawlik eds. Pleistocene Archaeology-Migration, Technology, and Adaptation. IntecOpen Publisher. 〈http://www.intechopen.com/books/pleistocene-archaeology-migration-technology-and-adaptation〉ISBN: 978-1-83880-358-2 (Published on 25th December, 2020)
・Pievani, T. and Zeitoun, V. (Supervision by Ono, R) 2020 Le Grand Atlas Homo Sapiens (Jinruishi Map- Sapiens Tanjyo, Kiki, Kakusan no Zenkiroku). Tokyo: National Geographic. (Published on 25th January, 2021, in Japanese)
・Ono Rintaro. “Report of Project Update and Plan 2020-2021” International Online Meeting and Workshop: Fishing and Material Culture in Maritime Asia” Hosted at National Museum of Ethnology (27th February, 2021)
・Ono, R., 2021, Technological and Social Interactions between Hunter-gatherers and New Migrants in the Prehistoric (Neolithic) Islands of Southeast Asia and Oceania. SENRI ETHNOLOGICAL STUDIES 106: 127-148. (Published on 22nd March, 2021)

Outcomes from 2019

1. The state of the implementation of this year’s research

Focusing on the island regions of Southeast Asia, the objective of this project is to create a database of material culture relating to the adaptation of humans to the marine environment and the development of maritime material culture research with experts in the various related countries using the database, strengthening our partner networks. Under this main objective, in this year of the project we firstly, (1) completed a comprehensive check of Minpaku’s holdings of maritime cultural materials (relating to fishing, seafaring, watercraft technique) from maritime Asia and the surrounding island regions and progressed the Japanese and English translation of the material ledger. As a result, over 800 materials collected from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were entered into the ledger. In addition, materials of a high similarity from mainland Southeast Asia were also entered into the ledger.
On the development of research with experts in the field based on the database, firstly in relation to domestic maritime cultural experts, we received valuable advice from experts based at the National Museum of Science and Nature, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, the Okinawa Oceanic Culture Museum, and the Nanzan University Museum of Anthropology, strengthening the domestic network of researchers working on maritime culture.
In addition, from January 2020 we visited and held consultations with the representative experts in maritime culture research from the National Museum of Malaysia, Muzium Adat (Customs Museum), Universiti Putra Malaysia, the National Museum of the Philippines and University of the Philippines Diliman, strengthening our connections with each institution. Further, in February 2020, we hosted an international workshop at Minpaku, inviting maritime culture experts from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japanese domestic experts. Participants were able to experience the Minpaku materials first hand, we were able to exchange opinions directly and receive related information. In addition, we also exchanged opinions and information on examination of the database completed this year and its further development.

2. Overview of the research results (achievements of the research objects)

Research results from this year of the project were, firstly (1) the English translation of most of the maritime cultural materials (relating to fishing, seafaring, watercraft technique) held by Minpaku from the island regions of Southeast Asia, and the creation of a web-based demonstration database. In addition, (2) we held an international workshop in February 2020, which included experts from Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines, and aimed to provide the opportunity for first-hand investigation of the materials and to progress maritime cultural research. This conference, which took the database as its focal point, resulted in the development of both the database and related research. Our aims according to the initial schedule was to complete (1) during this year of the project and having completed (2) also, we have more than achieved our research objectives. With the acceleration in schedule and the first international workshop being held this year, we can expect the further development and expansion of this project. There is certainly enough scope to develop a more multi-perspective investigation and to expand our target region from the island regions of Southeast Asia to include the mainland or to the Oceania region which is closely related in terms of maritime culture.

3. Records disclosing achievements (publications, public symposia, sectional meetings of academic conferences, electronic media, etc.)