Sailing at the Edge of Time: Global Perspectives on Island Colonization

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

The timing and drivers of colonization into previously uninhabited areas is a central theme in archaeological research. Questions of when, who, and from where remain important research topics in many regions as these form a baseline from which we construct explanations of the past. Islands provide a particularly rich setting to study colonization as reaching them often involved unique adaptations, including specialized watercraft, translocated domesticates, and long-distance interaction networks. However, the intricacies of colonization are often contentiously debated, as archaeological, linguistic, paleoenvironmental, and biological perspectives can present substantially different, and sometimes conflicting information, particularly regarding the timing of initial island settlements. This symposium brings together archaeologists from island regions across the globe to discuss current theoretical, substantive, and methodological issues in island colonization research.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-15 of 15)

  • Documents (15)

  • Above and Below the Waves: Advances in the Search for a Late Pleistocene Colonization of California’s Islands (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Amy Gusick. Jillian Maloney. Todd Braje. Jon Erlandson.

    Methodological advances are reshaping our understanding of island colonization. Refinements in dating methods, paleoenvironmental reconstructions, and search techniques have resulted in discoveries that challenge outdated theories of islands as marginal to human migration, settlement, and subsistence. This is particularly true for research related to the initial peopling of the New World via a Pacific Coast route. Once considered irrelevant to the story of New World colonization, California’s...

  • Causes and Consequences of Colonization in the Caribbean: What Is Known and What Is Unknowable (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Neil Duncan. Peter E. Siegel. John G. Jones. Nicholas Dunning. Deborah M. Pearsall.

    One of the defining characteristics of humans is our propensity to migrate. However, the push or pull factors resulting in human migrations may be impossible to know in some cases. Furthermore, our sole reliance on the archaeological record may mislead our understanding of the timing and impact of migrations. Recognizing migrations in the archaeological past is made especially difficult in cases where migrating groups were small, leaving ephemeral traces of their occupations. Paleoenvironmental...

  • Colonization of the Land of Stone Money: Resolving the Unclear Origins of Early Settlements of Yap, Western Caroline Islands (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Napolitano. Scott Fitzpatrick. Geoffrey Clark. Jessica Stone.

    The prehistoric colonization of remote islands in Micronesia represents some of the most significant series of diasporas in human history. While archaeological and genetic research is shedding new light on the origins and timing of what were clearly multiple and chronologically disparate entries into the western and eastern Micronesian archipelagoes, many of these colonizing ventures are poorly understood. This is particularly true of Yap in the Western Caroline Islands. Unlike the Palau and the...

  • The Colonization of the Southern Ryukyu islands, Japan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Hiroto Takamiya.

    The Ryukyu islands are located in the western Pacific between the islands of Kyushu and Taiwan, stretching approximately 1200 km. The focus of this presentation is the Southern Ryukyus islands, which consist of the Miyako and Yaeyama archipelagos. Until recently, the Miyako Island was the only island in this region which yielded fossil human remains dating to the late Pleistocene. Recently, human fossil remains dating to the same period has been unearthed from the Yaeyama islands. During this...

  • Development of Maritime Networks and Human Migration in Wallacea and Oceania during Neolithic to Early Metal ages (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rintaro Ono. Harry Oktavianus Sofian. Adhi Agus Oktaviana. Sri Wigati. Nasullah Aziz.

    The Austronesian expansion both in Island Southeast Asia and Oceania after the Neolithic times is one of the famous cases of human maritime colonization and adaptation in the world. This paper explores the evidence of Neolithic to Early Metal-aged maritime networks and maritime adaptation in East Indonesia or northern part of Wallacea based on our recent excavations in Northern Maluku and Central Sulawesi as well as some other latest archaeological outcomes in Island Southeast Asia. We summarize...

  • Examining the Causes of Migration into East Polynesia: A Bayesian Chronology Perspective on the Ideal-Free Distribution Model (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alex Morrison. Melinda Allen.

    The colonization of the islands of East Polynesia was one of the most rapid and expansive migratory events in human history. While extensive research focuses on determining the chronology of East Polynesia colonization, far less attention has been placed on elucidating the processes that influenced this migration. The Ideal Free Distribution Model of human behavioral ecology has proven useful for exploring a range of issues regarding colonization and mobility in varying ecological contexts...

  • Gone fishing: Evidence for Wide-ranging Marine Exploitation in the Initial Settlement of Island Southeast Asia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sue O'Connor. Julien Louys. Stuart Hawkins. Shimona Kealy. Clara Boulanger.

    "Fishing is much more than fish... It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers" (Herbert Hoover, 1963. Fishing for Fun-and to Wash Your Soul. Random House) In the vast oceans separating continental Sunda and Sahul are more than 17,000 islands that make up the Wallacean Archipelago. Lying to the east of Huxley’s Line, these islands are characterised by unbalanced and depauperate terrestrial faunas but support some of the world’s most bio-diverse marine...

  • Is Mediterranean Island Colonisation Still Interesting? (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cyprian Broodbank.

    Island colonisation took off as a field of comparative archaeological investigation during the 1970s and 1980s, with thought-provoking analyses of regional theatres (primarily Oceanic, Caribbean and Pacific), as well as pioneering efforts to explore wider commonalities and differences between these. In the Mediterranean, the research of John Cherry sought underlying patterns and processes among a mass of empirical data, within which new evidence might find meaning and place. Such evidence has...

  • The Palaeoenvironmental Impacts of Neolithic Colonization: Assessing Recent Palynological Data from the Mediterranean Islands (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alexander Smith. Thomas Leppard.

    The Mediterranean islands were colonized sporadically ~12–4.5 kbp by agropastoralists practicing mixed cereal, pulse, and fruit farming augmented by husbandry of ovicaprids, pig, and cattle. While the timing of these colonization events is relatively well-understood, the palaeonenvironmental impacts of the introduction of this Neolithic package are not, particularly in terms of relative uniformity or variability. Here, we collate the available radiometrically-anchored palynological data for the...

  • Pleistocene Occupation of the Greek Islands: The Perspective from Crete (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Curtis Runnels.

    Palaeolithic stone tools have been identified on a number of Greek islands recently. These include the oceanic island of Crete, where lithic artifacts on the southern coast at Plakias occur in association with raised marine beaches and paleosols in karstic depressions dated to > 130 kyr, and on the northern coast at Mochlos Bay associated with as-yet undated Pleistocene alluvial fans. Other islands, including Ayios Efstratios, Alonissos, Gavdos, Kephalonia, Lesvos, Melos, and Naxos, have also...

  • Quantifying the Number of 14C Determinations Required to Improve Dating Accuracy for Lapita Deposits (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Timothy Rieth. Derek Hamilton.

    The use of radiocarbon dating to calculate the dates of Lapita deposits remains largely a single-step, ad hoc procedure. The accuracy of dating results can be greatly improved through Bayesian modeling. However, this depends on the number and stratigraphic distribution of radiocarbon determinations and the shape of the calibration curve. To evaluate these issues, we used Oxcal 4.2 to simulate, through the process of back-calibration, radiocarbon determinations that we could expect to receive as...

  • Reevaluating the Pre-Columbian Colonization of the Caribbean using Chronometric Hygiene and Bayesian Modeling (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert DiNapoli. Matthew Napolitano. Jessica Stone. Brian Lane. Damion Sailors.

    The timing and pattern of initial human arrival to the Caribbean islands is discontinuous and anomalous, especially considering their proximity to both mainland areas and adjacent islands. With the exception of Trinidad, which was probably colonized ca. 8000 BP—but was connected to mainland South America during the late Pleistocene/early Holocene (and remains close to Venezuela)—some of the Antilles appear to have been colonized quite early ca. 7000-6000 BP, while others were settled centuries...

  • Selection-Driven Range Expansion Explains Lapita Colonisation of Remote Oceania (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ethan Cochrane.

    Archaeological explanations of colonization often focus on presumed human motivations. What drives humans when faced with the potentially risky and rewarding colonization of unoccupied island regions: curiosity, wanderlust, opportunity, escape? At best, human motivation is only a partial explanation for colonization and one that is difficult to evaluate with archaeological data. In contrast, archaeologically visible, population-scale patterns of human colonization are explicable by the natural...

  • Small Island Adaptations in the Initial Colonization of Fiji and Tonga (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Burley.

    Current research into the earliest Lapita occupation of Fiji and Tonga emphasizes the importance of small offshore island settlement choices for founder populations. Associated faunal data typically illustrate reliance on reef and marine resources that, in turn, have resurrected 1960s "strand looper" interpretations for Lapita economy, with little to no reliance on agricultural production. Recent studies at early Lapita sites at Kavewa (northern Fiji) and Nukuleka (southern Tonga) provide an...

  • The Strategic Location of the Maldives in Indian Ocean Maritime Trade and Colonization (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Callaghan.

    The Maldives Islands, situated off the south west coast of India, form a chain trending from north 6.930° to south 0.700° latitude, an extent of approximately 850 km. The chain divides the Indian into east and west as well as marking the divide between the seasonal monsoon weather patterns. Present evidence suggests that the island chain was occupied as early as the 5th or 4th century BC with close ties to India. The islands became strongly culturally and commercially connected to both Asia and...