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A New Hypothesis of Austronesian Expansion and Cultural Contact

Map Creator:  Erin A.S. Crabb
Data Sources: 
Bellwood, Peter. 2006. Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. Australian National University E Press. 103-114.

Blench, Roger. 2010. Almost everything you believed about Austronesian isn't true. 13th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists. Powerpoint.

Cribb, Robert. 2010. Austronesian migrations. Digital Atlas of Indonesian History. Nias Press.

Delfin, Frederick, Jazelyn M Salvador, Gayvelline C Calacal, Henry B Perdigon, Kristina A Tabbada, Lilian P Villamor, Saturnina C Halos, Ellen Gunnarsdottir, Sean Myles, David A Hughes, Shuhua Xu, Li Jin, Oscar Lao, Manfred Kayser, Matthew E Hurles, Mark Stoneking and Maria Corazon A De Ungria. 2010. The Y-chromosome landscape of the Philippines: extensive heterogeneity and varying genetic affinities of Negrito and non-Negrito groups. European Journal of Human Genetics. Macmillan Publishers. 1-7.

Gray, Russell D. and Fiona M. Jordan. 2000. Language trees support the express-train sequence of Austronesian expansion. Nature 405. 1052-1055.

Li, Hui, Bo Wen, Shu-Juo Chen, Bing Su, Patcharin Pramoonjago, Yangfan Liu, Shangling Pan, Zhendong Qin, Wenhong Liu, Xu Cheng, Ningning Yang, Xin Li, Dinhbinh Tran, Daru Lu, Mu-Tsu Hsu, Ranjan Deka, Sangkot Marzuki, Chia-Chen Tan and Li Jin. 2008. Paternal genetic affinity between western Austronesians and Daic populations. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8: 146.

The HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium. 2009. Mapping Human Genetic Diversity in Asia. Science 326: 1541-1545.

Date Created:  21 April 2011.

Map Description:
Reflected upon this map is a new hypothesis of Austronesian expansion, based upon research in linguistics, archaeology and human genetics. The majority of current studies agree that Taiwanese peoples are related both genetically and linguistically to Austronesians now living in southeast Asia and the Pacific, and many sources agree that they probably arrived on the island from mainland China around 6000 years ago. From this point, however, linguistic and genetic hypotheses have diverged: historical linguists and archaeologists have so far supported a model in which Austronesians migrated south through the Philippines to what is now Indonesia, spreading east and west from there. Geneticists, however, have found that many Austronesian populations are more closely related to their mainland Asian ancestors than they are to the Taiwanese, in effect making the Taiwan aboriginal peoples and the Austronesians parallel branches from the same tree.

Also included here are several genetic and archaeological hypotheses of cultural contact and migration, including Blench's (2010) proposal of contact with the Indian subcontinent and Delfin et al.'s (2010) genetic relations with several Australian aboriginal groups.

Rather than viewing Austronesian expansion as a series of straightforward migrations, it seems more and more necessary to delve more deeply into the history and culture of the peoples and the area in order to better reconstruct their history. As further research is undertaken, more of these details will come to light, allowing interdisciplinary scholars to continue improving on what seems to be a solid foundational understanding of the region and its linguistic and genetic history.

Related LL-MAP Resources:
Austronesian Migration (Cribb)
Avenues for further Austronesian Expansion Research
Expansions from Daic (Li et al.)
The Express Train Model of Austronesian Expansion (Gray and Jordan)
A Historical Linguistic Hypothesis for Austronesian Expansion
Philippine Settlement, Migrations and Contact
Proposed Migrations based on Genetic Analysis (HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium)