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Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago

Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago: Revised Edition OPEN ACCESS

Peter Bellwood
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hf81
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    Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago
    Book Description:

    Since its publication in 1985, Peter Bellwood's Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago has been hailed as the sole authoritative work on the subject by the leading expert in the field. Now that work has been fully revised and includes a complete up-to-date summary of the archaeology of the region (and relevant neighboring areas of China and Oceania), as well as a comprehensive discussion of new and important issues (such as the “Eve-Garden of Eden” hypothesis and its relevance to the Indo-Malaysian region) and recent advances in macrofamily linguistic classification. Moving north to south from northern Peninsular Malaysia to Timor and west to east from Sumatra to the Moluccas, Bellwood describes human prehistory from initial hominid settlement more than one million years ago to the eve of historical Hindu-Buddhist and Islamic cultures of the region. The archaeological record provides the central focus, but chapters also incorporate essential information from the paleoenvironmental sciences, biological anthropology, linguistics, and social anthropology. Bellwood approaches questions about past cultural and biological developments in the region from a multidisciplinary perspective. Historical issues given extended treatment include the significance of the Homo erectus populations of Java, the dispersal of the present Austronesian-speaking peoples of the region within the past 4,000 years, and the spread of metallurgy since 500 B.C. Bellwood also discusses relationships between the prehistoric populations of the archipelago and those of neighboring regions such as Australia, New Guinea, and mainland Asia.  

    eISBN: 978-1-921313-12-7
    Subjects: Archaeology, Anthropology
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  1. The Indo-Malaysian Archipelago (Fig. 1.1) demonstrates a certain unity in human terms today, in the sense that all its indigenous populations (with restricted exceptions in the Malay Peninsula and the far east of Indonesia) belong to the same major Austronesian-speaking ethnolinguistic group of mankind. The majority belong also to the Southeast Asian branch of the Mongoloid physical stock of mankind, although as I hope to indicate in the course of this book there is no simple one-to-one correlation between biology and language throughout the region. The reality is much more interesting.

    However the picture of Indo-Malaysian humanity might appear now,...

  2. In 1891, a young Dutchman named Eugene Dubois commenced what has now been over a century of human fossil discovery outside Europe: a century that has witnessed some profound changes in scientific views of human origins. Dubois entered—and changed—the history of anthropology in October 1891, near the village of Trinil in the middle Solo Valley of central Java. His discovery, a skullcap (or calotte) of apparent human form, belonged to an archaic human species that he called Pithecanthropus erectus.

    Since 1891, many more finds have come to light in Java and the rest of the world. In this...

  3. The raw data required for any discussion of origins, distributions, and differentiation amongst recent Indo-Malaysian populations are drawn from two very different and specialized disciplines. These are population genetics, which studies the distributions of the factors that determine heredity, and biological anthropology, which from the point of view of this book is concerned with the analysis of living and skeletal phenotypes (in the latter case, the discipline is better referred to as paleoanthropology). As with the debate over Homo erectus, so too the debate over modern human origins and differentiations is currently quite heated. Answers are not simple, but because...

  4. The modern traveler who has the good fortune to wander at will through the Indo-Malaysian region will quickly observe that there are many traditional varieties of culture and subsistence economy. This remains true even when one considers the tremendous impacts of modern urbanization and industrialization. Furthermore, there are great variations in language, although these are often not noticed by outsiders owing to the increasing strengths of the national languages, Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia (these are actually the same language, originally Malay, with small dialect differences). Linguists in particular have developed precise techniques for drawing inferences about the histories of...

  5. It is not possible to give an exact figure for the number of different ethnic groups in the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago, partly because of problems of definition and boundary recognition very similar to those discussed for languages. Also, the ongoing assimilation of small groups to large majorities and urban lifestyles probably means that the overall number has been continually decreasing this century. The major Human Relations Area Files compilations (Lebar et al. 1964; Lebar 1972) describe about 100 groups for whom there exist good literatures, and Hildred Geertz (1963) has given a total figure of 300 for Indonesia (some of the...

  6. I will now turn to the preceramic archaeological record of the late Pleistocene and early Holocene periods in the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. In this time span there are a number of long-occupied, radiocarbon-dated, and stratified sites (for locations see Chapter 3, Fig. 3.2 and Fig. 6.1), and all associated human remains are of anatomically modern physical type. Prior to the appearance of pottery, most stone industries in the region consisted of flaked rather than polished stone tools, although edge-ground pebble tools do occur in some sites (such as Niah in Sarawak and Kota Tampan in Peninsular Malaysia). Indeed, well verified edge-grinding...

  7. As demonstrated in Chapter 4, the reconstructions of comparative linguists indicate that the earliest identifiable Austronesian communities were located in Taiwan. Prior to the Austronesian colonization of this island, some degree of common linguistic ancestry with mainland Asian populations (especially ancestral Austroasiatic and Tai-Kadai speakers) is evident in macrofamily reconstructions. Beyond Taiwan, early Austronesian colonists later moved southward through the Philippines into Indonesia and Oceania.

    These early Austronesian populations had economies based firmly on agriculture and maritime subsistence, some domesticated animals, and a technology that included canoes, well-constructed wooden houses, and probably pottery. The linguistic evidence can tell a great...

  8. In this chapter we examine the spread of agricultural peoples down the Malay Peninsula from the north. This spread occurred approximately contemporaneously with (beginning perhaps slightly before) the major dispersal of the Austronesians in the second millennium BC, and involved the ancestors of the present Austroasiatic-speaking Senoi populations of southern Thailand and Malaysia. As discussed in Chapters 4 and 5, these populations are now surrounded and impinged upon by Austronesian and Thai speakers, but they still exist today in greatest numbers in the interior of Peninsular Malaysia.

    In order to understand the Peninsular Neolithic it is necessary to commence with...

  9. The early Metal (or Paleometallic) phase correlates with the introduction of new technologies and trade items to the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago from Vietnamese, Indian, and Chinese sources. In addition, it overlaps chronologically with and merges into the period of the developing Indianized states during the first millennium AD. In this sense it seems quite reasonable to regard it as basically protohistoric.

    However, the difficulties attending any attempt to gauge the real significance of this phase are considerable. Most of the older reports contain little more than lists of undated artifacts, and the major cultural changes presumed to have taken place at...

  10. I wish now to reiterate a number of outstanding questions and to review my conclusions on those aspects of the prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago that I regard as having central significance for its overall human story. Few of the major problems will ever be elucidated and explained to the satisfaction of all scholars; hence perhaps the attraction and vitality of the multifaceted discipline of prehistory. Many pieces of the total jigsaw will doubtless be added in the future by devoted analyses of stone tools, words, and skulls, but the whole will probably always remain a sum of more than...