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Late pleistocene to early-Holocene rainforest foraging in Sri Lanka: multidisciplinary analysis at Kitulgala Beli-lena

MPS-Authors
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Wedage,  Oshan
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Roberts,  Patrick
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Faulkner,  Patrick
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Crowther,  Alison
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Douka,  Katerina
FINDER, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Picin,  Andrea
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Boivin,  Nicole
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Petraglia,  Michael
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Amano,  Noel
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Wedage, O., Roberts, P., Faulkner, P., Crowther, A., Douka, K., Picin, A., et al. (2020). Late pleistocene to early-Holocene rainforest foraging in Sri Lanka: multidisciplinary analysis at Kitulgala Beli-lena. Quaternary Science Reviews, 231: 106200. doi:j.quascirev.2020.106200.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-A05E-D
Abstract
Sri Lanka has produced the earliest clear evidence for Homo sapiens fossils in South Asia and research in the region has provided important insights into modern human adaptations and cultural practices during the last ca. 45,000 years. However, in-depth multidisciplinary analyses of Late Pleistocene and Holocene sequences remain limited to just two sites, Fa Hien-lena and Batadomba-lena. Here, we present our findings from the reinvestigation of a third site, Kitulgala Beli-lena. New chronometric dating from the site confirms the presence of humans as early as ca. 45,000 cal. BP. in the island’s Wet Zone rainforest region. Our analyses of macrobotanical, molluscan, and vertebrate remains from the rockshelter show that this early human presence is associated with rainforest foraging. The Late Pleistocene deposits yielded evidence of wild breadfruit and kekuna nut extraction while the Holocene layers reveal a heavy reliance on semi-arboreal and arboreal small mammals as well as freshwater snails as a protein source. The lithic and osseous artefacts demonstrate that populations developed a sophisticated tool kit for the exploitation of their immediate landscapes. We place the rich Kitulgala Beli-lena dataset in its wider Sri Lankan context of Late Pleistocene foraging, as well as in wider discussions of our species’ adaptation to ‘extreme’ environments as it moved throughout Asia.