Wednesday, December 08, 2004


If you're having trouble with any of the terminology here, try the free encyclopedia Wikipedia. If that doesn't work, send me a personal email.

The weather here today in Sacramento is quite stormy which leads well into the topic of this post. Storms, volcanoes, floods and the like were often seen in the Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander worldview as conflicts between dual forces. Duality is integral to the Austronesian psyche. The linguist Robert Blust reconstructed the word *hipaR which can mean either "sibling-in-law" or "across the river" in Proto-Austronesian.

Proto-Austronesian is a proposed reconstruction of a proto-language that gave birth to the present-day Austronesian languages. Other linguists have reconstruced words similar to Blust's *hipaR.

Blust and others have also found this as evidence that Proto-Austronesians had a dual phratry or kinship system based upon residence on either side of a river. Indeed, those familiar with Austronesian studies know that these people had dual classification systems engrained in their ethnos.

Such classification based on dualities such as Sun-Moon, right bank-left bank, upstream-downstream, Heaven-Earth, left hand-right hand, etc., etc. are found throughout the Austronesian regions.

Where I am from the term kaladua refers to one's dual self. Everyone has two "souls" -- one that occupies the body and is active on the conscious level, and the other that exists mostly on the unconcious level. A spiritual master though could control their kaladua and use their other self even while awake. This might give a bit of an idea as to the pervasiveness of dual thought in Austronesian society.

The duality was recursive i.e. it recurred in cycles. Like the cycles of the lunar month -- the waxing and waning Moon.

It was also both oppositional and complimentary. Dual forces like fire and water seemed to oppose each other, but they also complimented each other as in 'opposites attract.'

Now back to the flooding of Sundaland. There were three major rapid rise floods -- the first one about 14,000 years ago, the second 11,500 years ago and the third about 8,500 years ago. Sea levels continued to rise gradually to peak levels about 5,500 years ago. Note that these floods were caused by rising sea levels and were not river or flash flooding caused by rain.

Depending on when one dates the split of the Austronesian language family either the Austronesians or their ancestors would have likely experienced all these floods. The events would have had quite an impact on societies that lived along the coastline -- the prevailing practice in Southeast Asia to this day.

The ancient Austronesians and their ancestors may have seen the rising levels as a struggle between the sea and land with the sea obviously winning.

The first and second of the floods probably had more of an impact on Austric rather than Austronesian speakers. The culture at this time was known as Hoabinhian from the site of Hoa Binh in Vietnam. These people used edge-ground blades which technically are Neolithic although usually classified as either Mesolithic or even Paleolithic.

The term "Neolithic" refers to stone tools that were ground or polished rather than simply crafted through the process called flaking.

The earliest edge-ground tools in the world are from Australia dated to about 20,000 BC and Solheim classifies them as Hoabinhian.

The dispersal of the Austric peoples led to one group, the Austro-Asiatics taking off to the north and to the west at least as far as India. In fact, they may have gone much further than India, but that's a whole different subject.

Now personally I believe that Wilhelm Solheim, the retired anthropology professor from the University of Hawai`i, has a very good chronology for the splitting and dispersal of the Austronesian languages.

Solheim believes that the Proto-Austronesians began to leave the coasts of Vietnam or possibly peninsular Malaysia somewhere between about 9000 and 8000 years ago. These people built shell mounds and we will call them the shell mound culture. They migrated southward through the Philippines into eastern Indonesia.

Possibly somewhere in the northern Philippines or along coastal Vietnam according to this model, Proto-Austronesian split into two branches with one moving northward toward Taiwan and the other southward. Oppenheimer thinks that around 8000-7000 years ago that major dispersions were taking place in insular SE Asia that could have resulted in very long-range migrations extending to Mesopotamia and Europe.

Indeed, around 6,600 BC there is evidence of a new cultural element at Spirit Cave on the Thailand-Burma border, and numerous coastal settlements spring up along mainland Southeast Asia. These would have been probably Proto-Malayo-Polynesian or Proto-Formosan peoples.

In the southern Philippines and eastern Indonesia, the Malayo-Polynesian branch began its own split sometime well before 5000 BC. These people began to make shell tools and used edge-grinding for both shell and stone tools. They began to move northward toward South China. Solheim calls them the Nusantao "the people of the islands."

Some useful abstracts:

Author: Solheim II W.G.1
Source: Journal of East Asian Archaeology, 1 January 2000, vol. 2, no. 1-2, pp. 273-284(12)
Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers

The primary concern of this essay is to present details of the development of the Nusantao Maritime Trading Network between Taiwan, coastal South China and Northern Viet Nam from a bit before 7,000 B.P. until about 2,000 B.P. The Nusantao Maritime Trading Network is seen as a very widespread trading and communication network which came to cover all of the Pacific Ocean, the coastal areas of the China Sea and Japan, the coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean as far as Madagascar, and Island Southeast Asia and the coastal area of Mainland Southeast Asia. Having begun in eastern Island Southeast Asia a few hundred years before 5000 B.C., it expanded from there to the north through the Philippines to Taiwan and coastal South China and then north along the coast of China to western and southern Korea and finally to Kyushu in Japan, starting here just before 3000 B.C., but becoming best developed in Korea and Japan during the first millennium B.C.

Island Networks
Communication, Kinship, and Classification Structures in Oceania
Per Hage, Frank Harary
Published February 1997

Contrary to common perception and belief, most island societies of the Pacific were not isolated, but were connected to other island societies by relations of kinship and marriage, trade and tribute, language and history. Using network models from graph theory, the authors analyse the formation of island empires, the social basis of dialect groups, the emergence of economic and political centers, the evolution and devolution of social stratification and the evolution of kinship terminologies, marriage systems and descent groups from common historical prototypes. The book is at once a unique and important contribution to Oceania studies, anthropology and social network analysis.


1. Island networks and graphs - graph theoretical models - geographical, linguistic and anthropological terms
2. Trees: Basic definitions - a Micronesian prestige good system - ‘Recursive dualism’ in Austronesian classification systems - cognatic kinship networks - cycle rank and network connectedness
3. The minimum spanning tree problem - dialect groups and marriage isolates in the Tuamotus - the evolution of the Lakemban Matanitu - the Renfrew-Sterud method of close proximity analysis - on deconstructing a network
4. Search trees I: Independent discoveries of the conical clan - social stratification in Polynesia - a structural model of the conical clan - Prestige good systems: 5. Search trees II: the Marshallese conical clan - the devolution of social organisation in nuclear Micronesia;6. Centrality: Southern Lau, Fiji: a natural trade area - power centers in the greater Lauan trade network - political and mythological centers in Ralik and Ratak - expeditions in Torres Strait - on the position of Delos in the archaic Aegean network
7. Dominating sets: local domination in the Caroline Islands - alliance structures in the Western Tuamotus - pottery monopolies in Melanesian trade networks
8. Digraphs: Murdock’s maze: the bilateral hypothesis of Austronesian origins - sibling classification and culture history in Island Oceania
9. Conclusion.


Sean Bam. said...

Thank you for comment on my blog's Atlantis article .
No I hadn't known specifically about your blog article (but am checking it out thanks). However , I am familiar with:
(1) A Santos' theory that Indonesia was Atlantis &/or Eden;
(2) Tani Jantsang equates Mu with Indonesia, and mentions connection with sumerian metals/alloys;
(3) HS Lewis mentions monuments of Indonesian forests;
(4) Epigrapic Society publication equates Java with Hawaiki, and Linus Brunner demonstrates anc Greek language connections [cp thale "sea" = Grk thalassa];
(5) Rex Gilroy thinks Homo sapiens or Caucasoids originated from Solo man &/or Australia.

My blog Punt/Ponape article also connects with Indonesia/Micronesia, and some think Tarshish of bible was in direction of east indies.

Perhaps there are also connections with Dongsong culture of ancient Indo-China, and/or Angkor Wat? (and/or Polynesian land Irihia?)