“A masterful exploration of the archaeological signature of humans on islands and island groups around the world. An essential volume. It will be of interest to island, coastal, and maritime archaeologists and will be useful for those interested in the development of traditional watercraft technologies and what they mean for human exploration.”—Kristina M. Gill, coeditor of An Archaeology of Abundance: Reevaluating the Marginality of California’s Islands

This volume details how new theories and methods have recently advanced the archaeological study of initial human colonization of islands around the world, including in the southwest Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. This global perspective brings into comparison the wide variety of approaches used to study these early migrations and illuminates current debates in island archaeology.

Evidence of island colonization is often difficult to find, especially in areas impacted by sea level rise, and these essays demonstrate how researchers have tackled this and other issues. Contributors show the potential of computer simulations of voyaging in determining the range of timing and origin points that were possible in the past. They discuss how Bayesian modeling helps address uncertainties and controversies surrounding radiocarbon dating. Additionally, advances in biomolecular techniques such as ancient DNA (aDNA), paleoproteomics, analysis of human microbiota, and improved resolution in isotopic analyses are providing more refined information on the homelands of initial settlers, on individual life courses, and on population-level migrations.

Islands offer rich opportunities to examine the exploratory nature of the human species, providing insights into the evolution of watercraft technologies and wayfinding, the impact of humans on their new environments, and the motivations for their journeys. The Archaeology of Island Colonization: Global Approaches to Initial Human Settlement represents the innovative ways today’s archaeologists are reconstructing these unique paleolandscapes.  

Matthew F. Napolitano is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oregon. Jessica H. Stone is an anthropology instructor at the University of Oregon. Robert J. DiNapoli is a postdoctoral research associate in Harpur College at Binghamton University.  

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