The Oxford Handbook of Prehistoric Oceania

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Ethan E. Cochrane, Terry L. Hunt
Oxford University Press, 2018 - History - 513 pages
Oceania was the last region on earth to be permanently inhabited, with the final settlers reaching Aotearoa/New Zealand approximately AD 1300. This is about the same time that related Polynesian populations began erecting Easter Island's gigantic statues, farming the valley slopes of Tahiti and similar islands, and moving finely made basalt tools over several thousand kilometers of open ocean between Hawai'i, the Marquesas, the Cook Islands, and archipelagos in between. The remarkable prehistory of Polynesia is one chapter of Oceania's human story. Almost 50,000 years prior, people entered Oceania for the first time, arriving in New Guinea and its northern offshore islands shortly thereafter, a biogeographic region labelled Near Oceania and including parts of Melanesia. Near Oceania saw the independent development of agriculture and has a complex history resulting in the greatest linguistic diversity in the world. Beginning 1000 BC, after millennia of gradually accelerating cultural change in Near Oceania, some groups sailed east from this space of inter-visible islands and entered Remote Oceania, rapidly colonizing the widely separated separated archipelagos from Vanuatu to S?moa with purposeful, return voyages, and carrying an intricately decorated pottery called Lapita. From this common cultural foundation these populations developed separate, but occasionally connected, cultural traditions over the next 3000 years. Western Micronesia, the archipelagos of Palau, Guam and the Marianas, was also colonized around 1500 BC by canoes arriving from the west, beginning equally long sequences of increasingly complex social formations, exchange relationships and monumental constructions. All of these topics and others are presented in The Oxford Handbook of Prehistoric Oceania written by Oceania's leading archaeologists and allied researchers. Chapters describe the cultural sequences of the region's major island groups, provide the most recent explanations for diversity and change in Oceanic prehistory, and lay the foundation for the next generation of research.

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1 The Archaeology of Prehistoric Oceania
2 The Peopling of Sahul and Near Oceania
Steps Toward an Integrated Archaeological Perspective
4 New Guinea
5 Research Issues in the CircumNew Guinea Islands
6 Understanding Lapita as History
7 The Chronology of Colonization in Remote Oceania
3000 Years of History across Islands of Ash and Coral
13 Archaeology of the Eastern Caroline Islands Micronesia
14 Linguistic Evidence as a Window into the Prehistory of Oceania
15 Coastal Landforms on Islands of Pacific Oceania
16 Colonization Settlement and Process in Central Eastern Polynesia
17 The Prehistory of Hawaii
18 The Prehistory of South Polynesia
19 The Archaeology of Rapa Nui Easter Island
Past Projects Current Progress and Future Prospects

The Past of New Caledonia
Melting Pot of the Southwest Pacific
Contemporary Debates and Personal Perspectives
12 The Archaeology of Western Micronesia
Traditionalism and Beyond in Maritime Technology and Migration

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About the author (2018)

Ethan Cochrane Ethan Cochrane has conducted archaeological research in Oceania for the last twenty years including fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, Micronesia, Fiji, and Samoa. He was previously Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. His research focuses on questions of colonization, ancient technology, and cultural evolution.

Terry Hunt: Terry Hunt is an archaeologist whose research and teaching focus on historical environmental change and life on the islands of the Pacific Ocean. He has conducted archaeological research in the Pacific Islands for more than thirty years, including the Hawaiian Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, and Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Over the past sixteen years, his research on Rapa Nui has addressed questions concerning the trajectory of cultural and ecological changes, including the role of the colossal statues and monuments in ancient society.

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