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Dowling, Nancy Scott Hehm (1987) The jar burial in South East Asia: An alternative hypothesis. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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There is no historical precedent for jar burials in Southeast Asia. The earliest Jar burials first appeared c.700 B.C. as part of a highly complex death cult in Palawan. Therefore, I assume that this burial form represents a cultural intrusion from elsewhere in Asia. Archaeologists contend that a cultural link exists between Southeast Asia and South China, yet my research indicates that there is no virtually no evidence for jar burials in South China. Rather North China exhibits a continuous jar burial tradition reserved almost exclusively for infants and children, and only in rare instances for adults. Furthermore these jar burials represent only a small percentage of total Neolithic burials which suggests that "jar burial deaths" were somehow different from other ones. Though an unusual burial form in North China, jar burials appeared suddenly in great numbers for both adults and children in south Korea-north Kyushu when large scale population movements from North China sought refuge farther east c.300 B.C. Why did the burial tradition change between North China and south Korea-north Kyushu? I contend that the burial traditions of North China required the inhabitants to perform jar burials once they moved away from their ancestral homeland. This explains both the sudden appearance and widespread practice of jar burials in both south Korea- north Kyushu and Palawan. From the Philippines the jar burial tradition spread elsewhere in Southeast Asia. An analysis of three Jar burial sites: Tabon, Sa-huynh and Kalanay indicates that these sites shared a similar funerary tradition while the individual sites exhibit regional specialization of ceramic forms and designs. Though Jar burials represent a short lived tradition in Vietnam, the burial form continued in the Philippines from where it spread north and south among the island cultures which remained outside major cultural changes in mainland Southeast Asia.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:04

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