The Prehistoric Exploration and Colonisation of the Pacific

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Cambridge University Press, Jun 24, 1994 - History - 240 pages
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The exploration and colonisation of the Pacific is one of the most remarkable episodes of human prehistory. Early sea-going explorers had no prior knowledge of Pacific geography, no documents to record their route, no metal, no instruments for measuring time and none for navigation. Forty years of modern archaeology, experimental voyages in rafts and canoes, computer simulations of voyaging using real data on winds and currents have combined to produce an enormous range of literature on this controversial and mysterious subject. This book represents a major advance in the knowledge of and models for the settlement of the Pacific by suggesting that exploration was rapid and purposeful, undertaken systematically and that navigation methods progressively improved. The prehistoric exploration and colonisation of the Pacific is concerned with two distinct periods of voyaging and colonisation. The first began some 50,000 years ago in the tropical region of Island Southeast Asia, the continent of Australia and its Pleistocene outliers in Melanesia and was the first voyaging of its kind in the world. The second episode began 3500 years ago and witnessed a burst of sophisticated maritime and Neolithic settlement in the vast remote Pacific. This phase virtually completed human settlement of the planet apart from the ice-caps. Using an innovative model to establish a detailed theory of prehistoric navigation, Geoffrey Irwin claims that rather than sailing randomly in search of the unknown, Pacific Islanders expanded settlement by the cautious strategy of exploring first upwind, so as to ease their safe return. The range of strategies increased as geographical knowledge was added to navigational:it became safe to search across and down the wind returning by different routes. The author has tested this hypothesis against the chronological data from archaeological investigation, with a computer simulation of demographic and exploration patterns and by sailing throughout the
  

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User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

Very interesting book about how the pacific islands were colonized by humans. The author uses rudimentary computer models combined with his knowledge of currents, winds and sailing to explain how ... Read full review

Contents

Near Oceanic neighbours
18
Issues in Lapita studies and the background to Oceanic colonisation
31
a case for the systematic
42
The colonisation of Eastern Melanesia West Polynesia and Central
64
The colonisation of Hawaii New Zealand and their neighbours
101
Weather patterns on searoutes to New Zealand
106
Issues in the colonisation of Micronesia
117
Winds of January in Micronesia and Melanesia
119
Simulated voyage success rates from the Tuamotu Islands
159
Simulated voyage success rates to Hawaii
165
Simulated voyages of indirect return from Hawaii
167
Simulated voyages to New Zealand from New Caledonia
169
Simulated voyages from New Zealand to East Polynesia
170
Simulated voyages from New Zealand to the Chatham Islands
171
Voyaging after colonisation and the study of culture change
174
Island accessibility in Fiji and Polynesia
175

Winds of July in Micronesia and Melanesia
120
Simulated voyages from the Solomon Islands to Micronesia
121
Simulated voyages from the Reef Islands to Micronesia
122
Island target angles from Fiji to Micronesia
123
Simulated voyages from Fiji to Tuvalu
124
Simulated voyages to Micronesian high islands and atolls
125
Map of language distributions in Micronesia
129
experiments in the exploration of
133
Simulated voyages by Strategy 1
137
Simulated voyages by Strategy 3
138
Simulated voyages by Strategy 4
139
Simulated voyages by Strategy 4
140
Simulated voyage success rates from the Solomon Islands
143
Simulated destinations from the Solomon Islands by Strategy 2
144
A comparison of survival by strategy from the Solomon Islands
146
Simulated voyage success rates from New Caledonia
150
Simulated voyage success rates from Tonga
154
The location of the Polynesianmysteryislands
178
The location of the Polynesian Outliers
184
Island accessibility of the Solomon Islands and Polynesian Outliers
185
Island accessibility of Vanuatu and Polynesian Outliers
186
Island accessibility of the Caroline Islands and Polynesian Outliers
187
Permanent and intermittently settled islands in the Tuamotu Islands
189
Permanent intermittent and empty islands in East Polynesia
190
Permanent intermittent and empty islands in East Polynesia
192
Groups of Polynesian islands identified by accessibility
193
A standard model of Polynesian language relationships
195
A model of Polynesian biological relationships
196
A cluster analysis of mutual accessibility for Polynesia
198
The rediscovery of Pacific exploration
205
A summary of simulated voyages in Island Melanesia
207
A comparison of simulated voyages by strategy in the Pacific
208
A pattern of real and predicted dates for Pacific colonisation
216
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About the author (1994)

Geoffrey Irwin is a professor of archaeology at the University of Auckland. He is the author of "The Prehistoric Exploration and Colonization of the Pacific" and "The Emergence of Mailu as a Central Place in Papuan Prehistory,"

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