Global Patterns in Island Colonization during the Holocene

Leppard, Thomas P., Cochrane, Ethan E., Gaffney, Dylan, Hofman, Corinne L., Laffoon, Jason E., Bunbury, Magdalena M.E., and Broodbank, Cyprian (2022) Global Patterns in Island Colonization during the Holocene. Journal of World Prehistory, 35. pp. 161-232.

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Analysis of the spatial and temporal structure of global island colonization allows us to frame the extent of insular human cultural diversity, model the impact of common environmental factors cross-culturally, and understand the contribution of island maritime societies to big historical processes. No such analysis has, however, been undertaken since the 1980s. In this paper we review and update global patterns in island colonization, synthesizing data from all the major island groups and theaters and undertaking quantitative and qualitative analysis of these data. We demonstrate the continued relevance of certain biogeographic and environmental factors in structuring how humans colonized islands during the Holocene. Our analysis also suggests the importance of other factors, some previously anticipated—such as culturally ingrained seafaring traditions and technological enhancement of dispersal capacity—but some not, such as the relationship between demographic growth and connectivity, differing trophic limitations impinging on colonizing farmers versus hunter-gatherer-foragers, and the constraining effects of latitude. We also connect colonization with continental dynamics: both the horizontal transmission of farming lifestyles earlier in the Holocene, and subsequent centrifugal processes associated with early state formation later in the Holocene.

Item ID: 76250
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-7802
Keywords: Biogeography, Connectivity, Demography, Dispersal, Islands, Migration, Seafaring
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2022 06:26
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430108 Maritime archaeology @ 50%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 50%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130702 Understanding Asia’s past @ 33%
13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130704 Understanding Europe’s past @ 33%
13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130706 Understanding the past of the Americas @ 34%
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