Coastal Connectivity: Long-Term Trading Networks Across the South China Sea

by Kim Dung Nguyen & Peter Bellwood & Mike T. Carson

Publication: Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology, 8:384–404 | Taylor & Francis Group ISSN: 1556-4894 print / 1556-1828 online

Published: 2013

Pages: 21

Language : English

"The archaeological evidence shows us that certain people shared pottery styles, personal jewelry, and jar-burial practices across the South China Sea. Meanwhile, linguistic history shows us that all these regions were settled by Malayo-Polynesian speaking populations, including some who evidently migrated cross-regionally at different times", write the authors of the study.

They add: "The seaborne networks are inferred from on-land discoveries, but what do we know about the boats and crews who transported cargo between distant ports? Both archaeological findings and ancient Chinese documents indicate that people used simple canoes, as well as more complicated boats with mortise-and-tenon jointed technology in Vietnam and southern China by about AD 1. According to historical and ethnographic records, bamboo rafts carried sails for sea-crossing around Taiwan. The technology certainly existed to support intensive trading networks across the South China Sea by 500 BC and perhaps much earlier."

Photo: Pottery with modeled breasts from Hoa Diem, Khanh Province of southern Vietnam (courtesy: Khanh Hoa Museum, Vietnam)

Tags: China, Mon-Khmer, Vietnam, China Sea, Chams, Malayo-Polynesian, prehistory, migration, burial, jars, material culture, maritime routes, boats

About the Authors

Portrait of Kim Dung   Nguyen

Kim Dung Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen Kim Dung is currently Head of the Department of Ecology-Evolutionary Biology at Ho Chi Minh City University of Sciences, Vietnam.

Previously, she led various research projects at the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology in Hanoi.

Portrait of Peter   Bellwood

Peter Bellwood

Peter Stafford Bellwood (1943, Leicester, England) is Emeritus Professor of Archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

His areas of specialization include the prehistory of Southeast Asia and the Pacific from archaeological, linguistic and biological perspectives; the worldwide origins of agriculture and resulting cultural, linguistic and biological developments; and the prehistory of human migration.

He has been working with Philip J. Piper and Lam My Dzung on an archaeological fieldwork project, funded by the Australian Research Council, on Neolithic sites in Vietnam.[2]

Professor Bellwood was the Secretary-General of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (1990 to 2009) and was formerly the editor of the Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (now the Journal of Indo-Pacific Archaeology).

His latest published book is First Islanders: Prehistory and Human Migration in Island Southeast Asia (2017, Wiley-Blackwell).

Portrait of Mike T.  Carson

Mike T. Carson

Mike Carson is an Associate Professor of Archaeologyresearcher at the Micronesian Area Research Center, University of Guam at Mangilao, USA.