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Prehistoric Migration And Colonisation Processes In Oceania: A View From Historical Linguistics And Archaeology

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Chapter Summary

Reconstructions of the prehistoric human settlement of Oceania rest on work in several disciplines, including historical linguistics, archaeology, comparative ethnology, biological anthropology and population genetics, geomorphology and palaeobiology. This chapter is concerned with what the first two of these disciplines tell about migratory and colonising behaviour in this region. Prehistoric archaeology recovers fragments of a culture but can place them precisely in time and space. Linguistic reconstructions can provide information about a much wider range of cultural domains, but the methods of historical linguistics alone cannot give these reconstructions an absolute time or place. The chapter addresses a number of questions, that arise from the historical record, like: how did climatic and geomorphological changes shape population movements into and over this region; and, what factors led to the extraordinarily rapid colonisation of Island Southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific by Austronesian speakers between 4000 and 3000 years ago?.

Keywords: archaeology; colonisation; historical linguistics; Oceania



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