On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact

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University of California Press, May 24, 2000 - Social Science - 446 pages
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The Pacific Ocean covers one-third of the earth's surface and encompasses many thousands of islands, the home to numerous human societies and cultures. Among these indigenous Oceanic cultures are the intrepid Polynesian double-hulled canoe navigators, the atoll dwellers of Micronesia, the statue carvers of remote Easter Island, and the famed traders of Melanesia. Recent archaeological excavations, combined with allied research in historical linguistics, biological anthropology, and comparative ethnography, have begun to reveal much new information about the long-term history of these Pacific Island societies and cultures. On the Road of the Winds synthesizes the grand sweep of human history in the Pacific Islands, beginning with the movement of early people out from Asia more than 40,000 years ago, and tracing the development of myriad indigenous cultures up to the time of European contact in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

Questions that scholars have posed and puzzled over for two centuries or more are illuminated here: Where did the Pacific Islanders come from? How did they discover and settle the thousands of islands? Why did they build great monuments like Nan Madol on Pohnpei Island in Micronesia or the famous Easter Island statues? This book provides an up-to-date synthesis of archaeological and historical anthropological knowledge of these fascinating indigenous cultures.

In particular, Kirch focuses on human ecology and island adaptations, the complexities of island trading and exchange systems, voyaging technology and skills, and the development of intensive economic systems linked to the growth of large populations. He also draws on his own original field research conducted on many islands, ranging from the Solomons to Hawai'i, as he takes us on an intellectual voyage into the Oceanic past.
 

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Contents

Transformations and Legacy
115
The Prehistory of New Melanesia
117
Trading Societies of Papua and the Massim
120
The Late Holocene in Highland New Guinea
124
The Bismarck Archipelago after Lapita
126
The Solomon Islands
130
Vanuatu
135
The Polynesian Outliers in Melanesia
142

The Problem of Polynesian Origins
20
Te Rangi Hiroa and the Micronesian Route to Polynesia
24
The Discovery of Time Depth and Culture Change
27
The Search for Polynesian Sequences
29
Broadening Research Horizons
32
Archaeology in Melanesia and New Guinea
36
Public Archaeology in the Pacific
39
Contemporary Approaches to Pacific Prehistory
40
The Pacific Islands as a Human Environment
42
Origins and Development of Pacific Islands
44
Types of Islands
47
Climatic Factors in the Pacific
50
Island Life Biogeography
53
The Microbiotic World and Human Populations
56
Island Ecosystems
57
Human Impacts on Island Ecosystems
59
Sahul and the Prehistory of Old Melanesia
63
The Pleistocene Geography of Sahul and Near Oceania
65
Initial Human Arrival in Sahul and Near Oceania
67
Pleistocene Voyaging in Near Oceania
68
Near Oceania during the Pleistocene
70
Cultural Innovations of the Early Holocene
78
A Paradox and a Hypothesis
83
Lapita and the Austronesian Expansion
85
The Human Landscape of Near Oceania at 20001500 BC
86
The Advent of Lapita
88
The Austronesian Expansion
91
Lapita Dispersal into Remote Oceania
93
Lapita in Linguistic and Biological Perspective
98
The Lapita Ceramic Series
101
Lapita Sites and Settlements
106
Lapita Subsistence Economies
109
Exchange among Lapita Communities
112
Ancestral Oceanic Societies
114
Ethnogenesis in La Grande Terre
147
An Archipelago in Between
155
Summary
161
Micronesia In the Sea of Little Lands
165
Colonization and Early Settlement in Micronesia
167
Cultural Sequences in Micronesia
175
Tuvalu and the Polynesian Outliers in Micronesia
179
Atoll Adaptations
181
Later Prehistory in Western Micronesia
183
Development of Sociopolitical Complexity in the Caroline High Islands
194
Polynesia Origins and Dispersals
207
Polynesian Origins
208
Polynesia as a Phyletic Unit
211
Ancestral Polynesia
215
Cultural Sequences in Western Polynesia
219
The Settlement of Eastern Polynesia
230
The Polynesian Chiefdoms
246
Ethnographic Background and Anthropological Significance
248
Sociopolitical Transformation in the Open Societies
250
The Emergence of Stratified Chiefdoms
283
Summary
301
Big Structures and Large Processes in Oceanic Prehistory
302
Correlations between Language Biology and Culture
305
The Role of Demographic Change in Oceanic History
307
Oceanic Populations on the Eve of European Contact
311
The Political Economy of Dynamic Landscapes
313
Intensification and Specialization in Island Economies
317
Transformations of Status and Power
321
A Closing Comment
323
Notes
327
References
355
Index
409
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Page 14 - It is extraordinary that the same nation should have spread themselves over all the isles in this vast ocean, from New Zealand to this island, which is almost one-fourth part of the circumference of the globe.
Page 14 - From what continent they originally emigrated, and by what steps they have spread through so vast a space, those who are curious in disquisitions of this nature may perhaps not find it very difficult to conjecture. It has been already observed, that they bear strong marks of affinity to some of the Indian tribes that inhabit the Ladrones and Caroline Islands ; and the same affinity may again be traced amongst the Battas and the Malays.
Page 14 - ... they bear strong marks of affinity to some of the Indian tribes that inhabit the Ladrones and Caroline Islands ; and the same affinity may again be traced amongst the Battas and the Malays. When these events happened is not so easy to ascertain ; it was probably not very lately, as they are extremely populous, and have no tradition of their own origin but what is perfectly fabulous.
Page 17 - SOCIETY was formed in 1892 to promote the study of the Anthropology, Ethnology, Philology, History, and Antiquities of the Polynesians and other related peoples by the publication of an official journal to be called "The Journal of the Polynesian Society", and by the collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, relics, and other illustrations.
Page 18 - ... possibility of following up clues elsewhere in the islands, and that to charter any such vessel as could be obtained on the Pacific coast, for the length of time we required her, would be unsatisfactory, both from the pecuniary standpoint and from that of comfort. It was therefore decided, as Scoresby is a keen yachtsman, that it was worth while to procure in England a little ship of our own, adapted to the purpose, and to sail out in her.
Page 14 - Malays. When these events happened, is not so easy to ascertain ; it was probably not very lately, as they are extremely populous, and have no tradition of their own origin but what is perfectly fabulous ; whilst, on the other hand, the unadulterated state of their general language, and the simplicity which still prevails in their customs and manners, seem to indicate that it could not have been at any very distant period.
Page 14 - That the Polynesians belong to the same race as that which peoples the East Indian Islands is, at present, universally admitted. If any doubt had remained on this point, the labors of Wm. Von Humboldt and Prof.

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About the author (2000)

Patrick Vinton Kirch is Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of seven books including The Evolution of the Polynesian Chiefdoms and Anahulu: The Anthropology of History in the Kingdom of Hawaii (with Marshall Sahlins, 1992).

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