The Laurel Wreath for the Colonisation of the Sea | A Story of the Austronesian People

The laurel wreath for the colonisation of the sea belongs to none other than the Austronesian people who are said to hail from pre-Han Taiwan. They were the first pioneers of efficient sailing technologies which allowed them to cross the seas in search of greener; or should we say bluer pastures.

This was a wide dispersal and such a far-reaching and encompassing maritime dispersal remained unparalleled; till the European expansion of the 15th century came along to turn the tide once more. The first naval expansion occurred between 3000 and 1000 BCE; millennia prior to Western European colonisation. The Ancient Austronesians took their sails and spread across Island Southeast Asia and western Melanesia and into the previously uninhabited islands of the Central Pacific.

Unlike other studies which rely on archeology or written records to reach their conclusion; the research that informed the study of this ancient era of colonisation has its roots in linguistics. By studying language patterns that have either evolved or been localised allowed historians and anthropologists to draw significant conclusions regarding the earliest peoples who colonised the sea.

The extensive and wide distribution of the homogeneous cultural heritage of the early Austronesians shows that they possessed exemplary knowledge of outrigger canoes for transportation purposes. This included the movement of: fire, family, pigs, chickens and dogs as well as
dozens of useful plants.

And they did it all by sea.

In addition to the development of technology, these ancient seafarers possessed deep knowledge regarding the gyres: the wind, the tides and the differences in temperature and salinity which drive ocean currents. This knowledge of the circulating ocean currents–particularly those that involved large wind movements–would have enabled them arrive at their destination with as little calamity as possible.

It would have ensured that the environment aided their voyage instead of delaying or thwarting it.

The ships of Visaya

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