Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Nusantao

Think of a people living on boats or on houses built on piles in bays and estuaries. The type of people that still exist today all over Southeast Asia. Some of them like the Badjau, Samal and "Sea Gypsies" are semi-nomadic in lifestyle.

The Nusantao that began migrating north through the Philippines to China sometime before 5000 BC were just such a people. Sometime before the Nusantao, waves of long-range migrations may already have been occuring as per Oppenheimer. What makes the Nusantao important is that with them we see signs of the establishment of a long-distance trade network.

I will show evidence that competition arose in this network, largely clan-based, and this competition also had a spiritual component based on the Austronesian dual system. This resulted in types of global trade wars and global spiritual competition. The latter would not classify as "religious wars" as the "fighting" was mostly on a submerged level, and the belief systems probably were not what we think of as religions today.

In terms of material culture, the Nusantao feasted commonly on fish and shellfish. They discarded the latter into massive heaps known alternatively as shell mounds, shell middens and kitchen middens.

Shell mounds were quite common during the early Paleolithic period around 40,000 to 35,000 years ago when they could be found from Europe to Australia. However it was in Vietnam that these artifices continued into the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age) of around 11,000 years ago.

Eventually, the Nusantao began burying their dead in the shell mounds usually in a seated position with the knees flexed. They also used the mounds as platforms on which to build houses or as religious platforms.

We will continue discussion on the Nusantao in the next post.


PinoyApache said...

These Nusantaos may be related to the Lutao people that live on stilt houses of old Cebu.

Striwicesa said...

Its Nusantara - the way we call ourselves, Indonesian.