Academic journal article Archaeology in Oceania

Mystery Islands. Discovering the Ancient Pacific

Academic journal article Archaeology in Oceania

Mystery Islands. Discovering the Ancient Pacific

Article excerpt

Mystery Islands. Discovering the Ancient Pacific

By Tom Koppel

University of the South Pacific Press, Fiji 2012.

ISBN 978-982-01-0888-2. Pp. xv + 339. $29.95

Ignore the silly title, concentrate on the subtitle: that is what this book is mostly about.

Over the last century there have been many voyages to the Pacific, some scientific, others less so, but all with something interesting to say about its many islands and peoples. Koppel is a popular science writer and inveterate traveller who has now been to most parts of the Pacific. He has also read and understood a good deal of the recent archaeological literature and has a perceptive eye for controversies. So there are good introductions to such matters as 'Express Train' vs. 'Slow Boat', the 'pause' in West Polynesia and the late settlement of East Polynesia and the use of proxy evidence. He is also not afraid to state a viewpoint on these, and they are generally pretty intelligently argued.

The first eleven (of 14) chapters are a clear popular introduction to Pacific archaeology, something you might ask an introductory class to read or give to an inquiring parent or friend. It begins with Out of Asia, then discusses rather briefly the early history of Near Oceania. He moves on to deal with transported landscapes, agriculture, the development of watercraft and traditional navigation and the fact that, at contact, life on many islands was made rather grim for most people by warfare, cannibalism and extreme hierarchy. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.