James Garretson Keppeler

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Kentucky, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10694

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Keppeler, James (Kentucky, U. of) "Unearthing Mindanao: Archaeological Insights into Mindanao's Role in Early Philippine Agriculture"

The transition from foraging to agricultural subsistence economies has had widespread effects on human culture and society across the globe. Understanding these transitions’ effect across different geographical areas has thus been a central focus for archaeologists. In Island Southeast Asia (ISEA), a region with a unique maritime geography between Mainland Southeast Asia and Australia, long-held theories on the origin of agriculture are being challenged by more recent inter-disciplinary research. The prevailing Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis postulates a unidirectional north-to-south dispersal of agriculture and Austronesian languages from Taiwan into the Philippines, and therefrom to the rest of ISEA. Conversely, recent work suggests a much more complex dynamic of human movement and cultural exchange in the region, postulating a multidirectional movement of people and their cultural practices and languages. However, the neolithic archaeological record in ISEA remains largely incomplete and competing hypotheses cannot be reconciled without on-the-ground excavation providing this crucial data. This project therefore aims to address the competing hypotheses and expand the body of archaeological research in ISEA by conducting excavations in southern Philippines. Doing so will not only shed light on current debates on early agriculture but also serve to jumpstart archaeological interest in a historically under-researched region of the Philippines.