Fabrice Demeter

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Musee de l'homme

Grant number

Gr. 9329

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Demeter, Dr. Fabrice, Musee de I'Homme, Paris, France - To aid research on 'Early Modern Human Evolution and Dispersal in Mainland Southeast Asia at Tam Pa Ling cave, Laos'

Preliminary abstract: Tam Pa Ling (TPL) is a cave site that has been excavated annually since 2009. During this time we have recovered fossils from at least three early modern humans from a secure stratigraphic context dated to ca. 50 thousand years ago (ka). Given the research potential of northern Laos and the richness of TPL in particular, our research objectives include continued excavation at TPL and large-scale survey of the surrounding limestone karstic system. Further excavation at TPL has two major goals, the first of which is a focus on sediments that are dated between 40-60 ka and that are most likely to yield human material based on the pattern of fossils previously recovered. This optimizes the potential to recover fossils that will help answer questions regarding early migration and habitation in Southeast Asia and begin building a biological profile of the early humans occupying this site. The second goal of these excavations is the continued collection of microfauna and the addition of pollen analyses for reconstructing the environment of the region during the Late Pleistocene. Given the dynamic environmental changes of the late Pleistocene, particularly changes in sea level and land cover with the exposure of the Sunda shelf, understanding the paleoenvironmental history of Southeast Asia is critical to understanding human migration and dispersal in the region. In addition to excavation at TPL, this project also includes large-scale survey of the limestone cave system in the region surrounding the Pa Hang cliff where TPL is located to identify additional sites for future excavations, concentrating on the caves, rockshelters and other fluvial deposits associated with the limestone formations of the Annamite Mountains.