Searching for the First Malayo-Polynesians: Research on the Taiwan and Philippine Neolithic

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12 October 2006 (Australian National University) – Public lecture at the ANU on Wednesday, 18 October by Dr. Peter Bellwood.

Searching for the First Malayo-Polynesians: Research on the Taiwan and Philippine Neolithic

Linguistic, archaeological and genetic evidence indicate that Taiwan was a major origin region for the Austronesian-speaking peoples. Their major branch, that of the speakers of Malayo-Polynesian languages, has spread more than half way around the world, and today has over 350 million members. The archaeological roots of this dispersal can be traced in Neolithic cultures in Taiwan and the northern Philippines (Batanes Islands and northern Luzon) dating between 5000 and 3000 years ago.

Archaeological excavations in Taiwan and the Batanes Islands by ANU archaeologists (inter alia) will be discussed, as well as new sourcing research by Taiwan geochemists on Taiwan nephrite, a mineral that travelled about 2,000 years ago over huge areas of SE Asia (to Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia).