Lapita Culture Colonizes the South Pacific (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: Inhabitants of Southeast Asia migrated by boat to the islands of the Bismark Archipelago, establishing a sophisticated agricultural society amid the hunter-gatherer peoples already established there.
Summary of Event
During the time of the establishment of the Shang Dynasty in China (c. 1500 b.c.e.), the first wave of seafaring colonists left the island of Formosa (now Taiwan) to settle the islands of Southeast Asia. Although they probably bypassed the Philippines initially, they settled large islands such as Papua New Guinea and smaller islands to the southwest such as the Solomons and the Bismarck Achipelago. In many cases, the settlers, a light-skinned people of Mongoloid descent, inhabited the coastal regions of islands already inhabited by dark-skinned Negroid peoples, ancestors of modern Melanesian peoples. These original inhabitants had populated these islands for as long as 30,000 years—most likely arriving on foot during ice-age periods that left land-bridge routes from Southeast Asia into what is modern Indonesia and Australia. However, they developed neither seafaring navigation nor the advanced material culture of the light-skinned newcomers.
The so-called Lapita people are named for the archaeological site in the island of New Caledonia in the Bismarck Archipelago, where their distinctive pottery was first identified. The pottery, the earliest of which dates to 1500 b.c.e.,...
(The entire section is 1033 words.)
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