“In First Islanders, Peter Bellwood –without doubt the leading authority on the archaeology and prehistory of Island Southeast Asia– offers up an engaging synthesis of the grand sweep of human history in this island world, from the arrival of early hominins one million years ago, through the development of agriculture and the Austronesian expansion, up to the early Metal Age. Bellwood brings the fascinating prehistory of this vast region to life as no other archaeologist can. First Islanders belongs on the bookshelf of every scholar of world prehistory.”
Patrick V. Kirch
University of California Berkeley
In First Islanders, renowned scholar Peter Bellwood incorporates key research findings from the past 20 years to examine the human prehistory of Island Southeast Asia (Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, East Malaysia). This fascinating story is explored from a broad swathe of multidisciplinary perspectives, with special reference to the human migrations that have occurred within the archipelago since the arrival of Homo erectus in Java more than 1 million years ago. The text pays particular attention to several major episodes of migration, including those of ancient hominins (Homo erectus and Homo floresiensis), the subsequent arrival of Homo sapiens over 50,000 years ago, and the eventual spread of Austronesian–speaking agricultural populations from southern China through Taiwan between 5000 and 3000 years ago.
Drawing on research from archaeology, genetics, biological anthropology, and linguistics, Bellwood’s study and exploration of Island Southeast Asia provides illuminating insights into how humans in the deep past dealt with both terrestrial and maritime migration throughout the period dating from 1.5 million years ago to the development of the Indic kingdoms during the first millennium CE.
Alongside Bellwood’s experienced and respected voice, 12 concise and enlightening contributions by leading scholars are introduced throughout to complement and further enrich this important work for scholars, students, and the interested reader.
First Islanders builds on Bellwood’s previous publication Prehistory of the Indo–Malaysian Archipelago (3rd edition, 2007).
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