Peopling of the Pacific: A Holistic Anthropological Perspective

Posted: 18 Oct 2010

See all articles by V. Kirch Patrick

V. Kirch Patrick

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: October 2010


The human colonization of the Pacific is an enduring problem in historical anthropology. Recent advances in archaeology, historical linguistics, and bioanthropology have coalesced to form a set of models for population movements and interactions in Oceania, which have been tested on independent data sets. Earliest human movements into Near Oceania began about 40,000 years ago, resulting in great cultural, linguistic, and genetic diversity in this region. About 4000 years ago, the expansion of Austronesian speakers out of Southeast Asia led to the emergence of the Lapita cultural complex in Near Oceania. The Lapita expansion into Remote Oceania, commencing about 1200 BC, led ultimately to the settlement of the vast eastern Pacific, ending with the colonization of New Zealand about AD 1250. Polynesians probably reached the coast of South America, returning with the sweet potato and possibly the bottle gourd. Polynesian influences on New World cultures remain a topic of debate.

Suggested Citation

Patrick, V. Kirch, Peopling of the Pacific: A Holistic Anthropological Perspective (October 2010). Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 39, pp. 131-148, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

V. Kirch Patrick (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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