Development of Bone and Lithic Technologies by Anatomically Modern Humans During the Late Pleistocene to Holocene in Sulawesi and Wallacea

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The site of Goa Topogaro (Topogaro Caves) on Sulawesi Island in Eastern Indonesia yields numerous osseous and lithic artefacts in association with anatomically modern humans (AMH) from the late Pleistocene and Holocene. Sulawesi is the largest island in Wallacea and could have been located along the early AMH migration routes to Sahul that required sea crossings between the past Sunda and Sahul-continents. AMH utilized both osseous and lithic technologies use during the early stage of their migration to South Asia, Island Southeast Asia (ISEA), and Sahul, a more intensive use and wider expansion of bone-based technologies occurred after the end of the Pleistocene in ISEA and Sulawesi. Our study confirms the emergence and wide use of an variety of osseus technologies, specifically bone points that may have been used as drills, engravers, and projectiles, during the early Holocene in Sulawesi. This is in tandem with a significant shift of lithic technologies and the dramatic increase of retouched tools. Use-wear analysis of bone and lithic materials shows that some specific retouched stone tools were likely used for the production of bone implements. We suggest such a combination in the use of bone and lithic technologies for Sulawesi, and widely across ISEA, may indicate early AMH subsistence strategies and adaptations to the changing island and rainforest environments during the transition from the late Pleistocene to the Holocene.