Early Farmers, Navigators, and the Austronesian Colonization of the Indo

Pacific Region - a Multidisciplinary Synthesis


Peter Bellwood 彼得•贝尔伍德
Australian National University 澳洲国立大学


“There have been remarkable strides in our understanding of the relevant Neolithic archaeological record since I commenced my research 50 years ago into the genesis of the Austronesian-speaking populations. There have also been major advances in comparative and computational linguistics, and in human genetics, the latter with its increasing focus on whole genomic autosomal comparisons and, where available, ancient DNA. One result is that the fundamental roles of southern China, Taiwan and the Philippines as major source regions for early Austronesian migration prior to 4000 years ago have been strengthened, while many opposing theories of origin much further to the south or east have failed to find support.

However, the “reality” of Austronesian dispersal was obviously very complex, and many fine details will never be known to us. Extreme theories, that focus on the one hand only on population replacement of indigenous hunter-gatherer groups by incoming Austronesian speakers, or on the other hand only on cultural diffusion and language shift into unmoving indigenous populations, can no longer be entertained. The situation clearly involved an expanding population that spoke early forms of Austronesian and Malayo-Polynesian languages, with a Taiwan and southern Chinese ultimate source. This was a population that admixed eventually with indigenous populations already present, except in the uninhabited Oceanic islands beyond the Solomons where Austronesians were the first humans to arrive.

We can now understand the Austronesian settlement of the Indo-Pacific region as a gradual process spread across 4000 years of time, focused in Taiwan and onwards between 5000 and 1000 years ago, but also as a process characterised by occasional rapid bursts of migration, especially those that occurred around 3000 (Lapita) and 1000 (eastern Polynesia) years ago. The early migrants were food producers with canoe-construction skills. Their migrations were driven initially by factors that might for ever remain obscure in the absence of any written documentation, but three major ones can be suggested, these being the comparative scarcity of fertile lowland agricultural soils during the high sea level conditions of the mid-Holocene, rapid population growth amongst populations with domesticated rice and millets, and founder rank enhancement in societies that observed genealogical order amongst ancestors. As migrations spread further into Island Southeast Asia and western Oceania, advances in canoe-building and navigational skill added further impetus.The task before us is to understand the many regional variations in what was to become one of the most dramatic population migrations in human history.”


现在我们的理解是,过去4000年之间,印度太平洋地区的南岛语族聚落遗址是逐步扩张发展的,以距今5000到1000年之间的台湾等地为代表;但是同时也伴有偶发的移民热潮等特点,例如距今3000年的拉皮塔和距今1000年的东波利尼西亚。早期移民会生产食物并建造独木舟,由于缺乏文献记载,他们迁徙的原因, 可能永远不得而知,但是有三点可能性,一是随着中全新世海平面升高,富饶的低地农业土壤资源相对匮乏;其次是随着水稻和小米的驯化,人口的迅速膨胀;第三是在存在系谱秩序的祖先社会中,社会奠基者阶层的强化。独木舟制作技术和航海技能在南岛语族向东南亚岛屿地区和大洋洲西部地区移民的过程中居功至伟。当前我们所面临的任务是充分理解人类史上最大规模的移民中所存在的区域差异。

Biographical Sketch

“Peter Bellwood received his PhD in archaeology from Cambridge University (King’s College) in 1980, but had previously emigrated as a Lecturer in Prehistory to Auckland University, New Zealand, in 1967 to undertake research on Polynesian migrations. He moved as a Lecturer to the Australian National University in Canberra in 1973 to research the archaeology of Southeast Asia and to write books on Southeast Asian and Pacific prehistory, as well as on the origins of agricultural societies and human migrations around the world.

During his ANU career, Peter Bellwood has carried out archaeological excavations with colleagues and graduate students in many regions of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Prior to 1973 he also excavated in New Zealand, French Polynesia, and the Cook Islands. He has written several books: Man’s Conquest of the Pacific (1978); The Polynesians (1978 and 1987); Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago (1985, 1997 and 2007); First Farmers: the Origins of Agricultural Societies (2005); First Migrants: Ancient Migration in Global Perspective (2013); and First Islanders: the Prehistory of Island Southeast Asia (2017).

His edited books include The Austronesians (with J. Fox and D. Tryon, 1995), Examining the Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis (with C. Renfrew, 2002), Southeast Asia: from Prehistory to History (with Ian Glover, 2004), and The Global Prehistory of Human Migration (sole editor 2014).

Peter Bellwood is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He retired as an Emeritus Professor in 2013.”


1973年之前贝尔伍德在新西兰、法属波利尼西亚和库克群岛进行过发掘。在澳洲国立大学任教期间,他与同事和研究生一起在印度尼西亚、马来西亚、菲律宾和越南开展考古发掘。他撰写了多部著作,包括《人类征服太平洋》(1978);《波利尼西亚》(1978,1987),《印度-马来群岛的史前时代》(1985,1997,2007);《最早的农民:农业社会的起源》(2005);《最早的移民:全球视野下的古代移民》(2013);《最早的岛屿居民:东南亚岛屿的史前时代》(2017)。他主编的书籍包括:《南岛语族》(与J. Fox 和 D. Tryon共同主编, 1995),《农业/语言扩散假说检讨》(与C. Renfrew合编, 2002),《东南亚:从史前到历史时期》(与Ian Glover合编, 2004),《全球人类迁移史》(主编,2014)。

贝尔伍德是澳大利亚人文科学院院士、英国科学院通讯院士。他于2013年以荣誉退休教授身份退休 。