Title of thesis: Examining migration and agriculture through plant microfossils from human and pig dental calculus from ISEA and southwest Oceania
Establishing the plant component of ancient diets has been more difficult to assess than the protein component due to the scarcity of plant macro remains and the lack of specificity of stable isotopes. One direct way to glean a portion of the plant diet is to look at microfossils trapped within dental calculus. These microfossils are trapped during life and can be identified to specific families, and sometimes species of plants. The scarcity of ancient human skeletal samples is one of the primary barriers to using this method in Oceania and Island South East Asia (ISEA). I will be examining both human and pig dental calculus from multiple archaeological sites to see if a “Sus Surrogacy Approach” might be useful for examining ancient plant diets in Oceania and ISEA. This necessarily involves a close examination of archaeological evidence for pig husbandry and agriculture, allowing us to see if plant food resources changed between sites and through time.