ANTH 3151 – Week 3: Colonization of Sahul
Definitions Key Concepts Locations
∙ Northern Papua New Guinea
∙ Among the oldest manifestations of a human presence in the Australia-New Guinea region
Discovery of crude axes (also known as waisted axes) placed them at 40-60 ,000 years old
Note: waisted axes may represent early stages in an evolutionary progression from forest foraging, through intermediate stages of food plant promotion and forest management, leading ultimately to plant domestication and true gardening.
Note: by the Pleistocene era the Australian Plate was in its modern position, separated from the Asian mainland by deep oceanic trenches in the Wallacean region.
∙ Primarily Sulawesi, Ambon, Ceram, Halmahera, and the Lesser Sundas ∙ To the western side is the vast Sunda, to the east is the enlarged "Greater Australian" continent Sahul.
∙ Note: the islands of New Oceania (the Bismarcks and Solomons) were likewise never connected to Sahul by dry land
Deep water trenches also separate these from the Australian Plate This isolation gave rise to marked biogeographic patterns, for the diversity of marsupials, birds, and other life forms drops off rapidly as one leaves New Guinea and moves progressively through the Bismarck and Solomon Archipelagoes If you want to learn more check out What are observable implications?
We also discuss several other topics like What are the disadvantages of cross-sectional studies?
Pleistocene Global Sea Levels
∙ Sea level curves for the past 140,000 years indicates that the periods of greatest fall were about 140,000-80,000 years ago,
Maximal periods of drops over 100 meters
∙ Between these two maximal periods, were less than pronounced cycles with drops of 20-60 meters.
∙ Note: peopling of Sahul did not correlate with one of the maximal periods of sea level lowering and maximal exposure of dry land
Human colonization of this region was most likely effected during the interval between 60-40 kya
The arrival of humans into Sahul necessitated over-water transport (also the case with Near Oceania) --> *archaeologists are most likely dealing with the earliest purposive voyaging in the history of humankind.
Initial Human Arrival in - Sahul and Near Oceania
∙ Surprisingly, early sites are distributed over virtually the entire geographic expanse of Sahul and Near Oceania We also discuss several other topics like What happens if the popliteal artery is blocked?
Homo sapiens populations rapidly spread out over these new lands
Early modern humans were able to move into, exploit, and permanently inhabit a remarkable range of habitats, from the tundra-like high latitudes of Tasmania, through the deserts of Australia, to the humid topical forests of New Guinea and the Bismarcks.
∙ Note: initial entry into Sahul occurred at least 40 kya, and colonization of the entire Sahul - Near Oceanic area from Tasmania to New Ireland was accomplished by 35-36 kya
∙ Fish bones and shellfish remains from the Matenkupkum site of New Ireland are possibly the earliest evidence of marine resource exploitation anywhere in the world.
New Guinea Highlands
∙ People have been present in these intermontane valleys for more than thirty millennia We also discuss several other topics like How do you convert fischer projection to haworth projection?
Don't forget about the age old question of What attaches to lateral border of scapula?
∙ The landscape, with its extensive grasslands, has been radically shaped by the cumulative actions of many human generations
∙ Direct evidence is limited to materials from a handful of excavated and published sites
Material culture found in these sites consists largely of amorphous stone flake and core tools, axes similarly found in Huan
∙ Limited evidence of diet and economy
∙ During the Pleistocene, there were a remarkable range of marsupial megafauna, all becoming extinct by the early Holocene
Seven species of large, herbivorous marsupials have been identified Offered substantial food packages to Highlands hunters
Bismarck Archipelagoes and Solomons
∙ In 1985, the international Lapita Homeland Project (LHP) sent several teams of archaeologists into the field throughout this area
Prior to LHP, relatively little was known of the prehistory of this vast arc of islands
∙ All evidence pertaining to the Bismarck Archipelago sites is still new, and since several sites have not yet been fully analyzed or reported, a detailed understanding of the 25,000 years of Pleistocene history represented in these sites lies in the future. If you want to learn more check out What are the regulatory transcription factors?
We can at least rough out the framework of a prehistoric sequence for the Bismarcks-Solomons region from 35-10 kya
∙ Note: the Bismarcks were the first true Pacific islands to be colonized, beyond the shifting continental margins of Sahul
∙ Faunal evidence from the oldest Pleistocene sites in the Bismarcks suggests that people exploited a wide range of both terrestrial and inshore marine resources.
There is as yet no material evidence for fishhooks or other sophisticated kinds of fishing devices
∙ Two changes have captured the attention of prehistorians:
The appears of bones of the Gray Cuscus, an arboreal marsupial
This species is not indigenous to the Bismarcks, and is likely to have been purposively introduced by humans into the islands from its original habitat on new Guinea
The presence of obsidian, deriving from the Mopir and Talasea sources on New Britain
Indicates that people were no longer simply using local stone resources, but were transporting - directly or through trade or
exchange networks - a valuable lithic material over distances of up to 350 kilometers
Cultural Innovations of the Early Holocene
∙ Archaeological discoveries in Near Oceania over the past two decades have been those supporting this ethnobotanical hypothesis of a Near Oceanic center of early plant domestication and horticultural development.
∙ New Guinea Highlands - first three phases of intensive use of the Wahgi Valley floor at Kuk
Phase 1: consists of a serious of gutters, hollows, pits, and stake holes of obvious human origin sealed beneath a telltale wedge of grey clay that blanketed the entire valley floor
Exact function of these features has been debated, but some kind of simple horticultural function seems most plausible
Phase 2: evidence for active manipulation of the swampy valley floor At least four large channels (up to 2 meters wide and deep) that were cut across the swamp to drain it
Phase 3: raised bed of phase 2 had been replaced by true reticulate drainage systems
∙ New Guinea Lowlands and the Islands
Evidence for horticulture and for advances in material culture, especially shell tool technology
Fairly strong case for indigenous development of a kind of subsistence system known as aboriculture: orchard-based tree cropping.
Evolutionary Trends on Islands
∙ Major trends
Reduced dispersal (large sedentary seeds for plants; flightlessness among birds and insects)
Size changes (larger due to competition, smaller due to limited resources)
∙ Other trends
Less conspicuous flowers (less diversity of specialist pollinators)
∙ Pleistocene: 2.5 mya - 12 kya
∙ Holocene: 12 kya - today
∙ By the mid-Holocene the peoples who occupied this island had developed new subsistence strategies of food production
Edible roots, tubers, fruit, or nuts had been brought under human manipulation and control, domesticated through planting, tending, and selecting.
These changes in subsistence were accompanied by new technologies in the working of shell and stone
∙ Linguistically, this region is one of the most complicated in the world. Encompass at least 12 distinct language families (excluding the Austronesian languages)
The Austronesian language family is the most widely dispersed in the world, ranging from Madagascar to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), but its speakers are concentrated in island Southeast Asia and in the islands of the Pacific
These are loosely grouped under the rubric Non-Austronesian or Papuan languages
∙ Mount Witori eruption (W-K2 eruption) was one of the biggest in the planet's history - since modern humans have existed
Obsidian exchange became substantial (minimal prior) following the W K2 eruption
After this event, a highly decorated style of pottery called Lapita makes its sudden appearance in the Willaumez Peninsula
∙ The progression of ceramic using cultures from Taiwan, through the Philippines, and into the equatorial islands of Southeast Asia represents the expansion of a particular ethnolinguistic group of people: the Austronesian speakers
∙ Note: Austronesian peoples were horticulturists, had domestic animals, knew how to fish the inshore and offshore waters, made red-slipped earthenware pottery, used ground-stone and shell adzes, had a variety of other tools and implements in shell, and were canoe-builders and navigators.
∙ Triple-I Model: intrusion, innovation, and integration
∙ Around 1200 B.C., a phase of long-distance voyaging and colonization commenced, with Lapita groups rapidly breaking through the invisibly boundary of Near Oceania (which for 30,000+ had marked the limits of human existence in the Pacific).
Colonizing populations were small, resulting in "genetic bottleneck" effects that can be detected in modern molecular variation among Polynesians
∙ Lapita Ceramic Series
Dentate-stamped method of decoration is characteristic in Lapita pottery
The earliest dates for site with this distinctive Lapita style range between 1500-1400 B.C.; for the next 2-3 centuries, there was no expansion of Lapita populations beyond the immediate Near Oceania region
Stamps were applied according to a set of artistic rules, constituting a "grammar" of Lapita design.
Note: Oceanic art is of the pervasive type - in which the same motifs and rules are applied to a diversity of artistic media.
Advent of Lapita
∙ Note: several characteristics that marked site wholly different from anything preceding them in Near Oceania (known as rubric Lapita)
1. They were good-sized settlements (up to 80 or more hectares), situated on coastal beach terraces or build out over the shallow lagoons as clusters of stilt-houses.
The beaches and reefs were the favorable location for
2. Occupants made, traded, and used large quantities of earthenware ceramics, of both plain and decorated varieties
3. The economic base had expanded, utilizing all of the tree crops that had been domesticated in this region, also including pigs, dogs, and chickens; fishing strategies were sophisticated, and they employed a variety of fishhooks
-- Lewis,1994, ch3. --
Canoes of Oceania
Generally double canoes
V-shaped and plank-built, not clearly specialized inshore paddling craft with auxiliary sail, and not voyaging canoes at all
Pahi, tongiaki, ndrua
Canoes with an outrigger on one side
∙ Note: canoes with outrigger floats on both sides (double outriggers) were used in Indonesia and the Indian Ocean, but not in the open Pacific
∙ Twin-hulled, two-masted, 50-70 ft. long
∙ Fine coconut fiber between planks, adhesive breadfruit sap being used as pitch
∙ Oceangoing vessel of the Tahitian and Tuamotuan archipelagos ∙ Specialized deep-sea ships, good for long-distance work
Too clumsy for fishing
∙ Canoe used in Tonga
∙ Similar to pahi in size and performance
∙ There is a fire on the deck
Lit on platforms of coral gravel, stone, or clay, often surrounded with wooden railings (the best fuel being dried coconut husks)
∙ Double canoe used in Fiji
The system of changing ends (by shunting) was adopted by the Fijians in their double canoes
∙ Hulls of unequal length, the shorter of which functioned like an outrigger ∙ Being much more maneuverable than pahi and tongiaki
∙ Replaced the older twin-hulled canoes in Western Polynesia (Tonga, Samoa, etc.) about 200 years ago
Tongan version of this canoe was called the kalia
∙ Baurua is really a larger Kiribati fishing canoe
Differed from other Micronesian types mainly in its extreme lightness and flexibility
∙ Carolinian, Marshallese, and Marianas models resembled each other very closely
∙ Ninigo, and to a lesser extent Santa Cruz canoes (te puke), had less in common, though they exhibited so many Micronesian features that they may be considered "para-Micronesian"
∙ The speed of large Micronesian outriggers, when fully loaded, would differ very little from the Polynesian canoes.
∙ Note: Micronesian canoes and their Fijian and Tongan derivatives lay superior in their maneuverability.
Two Contrasting Design Principles
∙ Tacking canoes: have distinctive and permanent bows and sterns like Western craft
Included all of the classical Eastern and Wester Polynesian twin-hulled canoes, as well as those of Hawaii and New Zealand
Sailing outrigger canoes of Tahiti, Samoa, and Tonga (but no Pukapuka) fit in this category
∙ Note: all Micronesian, Outlier Polynesian, and Melanesian canoes had, and still have, identical end
The bow and stern are, therefore, interchangeable and they can sail either end foremost
Outrigger float is always kept to windward, where it acts largely as a balance weight
∙ Shunting: useful term for vessels that work to windward by reversing ends instead of tacking through the eye of the wind
Bows and sterns must be identical and interchangeable, and the steering device transferable from the former stern to the new one Vessel's sides need not be symmetrical
This Fijian type came to replace the more sluggish classical Polynesian double canoes in Tonga, Samoa, Tokelau, Rotuma, the Ellice Islands, and probably in New Caledonia
Not in Tahiti, nor anywhere else in Eastern Polynesia
1 Simple and boomed lateens
2 Apex-down triangular sails (on small canoes)
Set poorly and the spars broke often
3 Claw-shaped sails
Hawaiian, Marquesas, Tahitian
The persistence of the sail at the margins of Polynesian expansion, and its absence anywhere else in the world, lends support for its having been a true Polynesian or East-Austronesian invasion.
∙ Note: Polynesian voyaging canoes could be expected to cover between 100- 150 miles a day on any point of sailing, where they could lay a direct course to their objective without have to tack.
∙ Both outriggers themselves and the method of coming about by changing end originated in the Indonesian region