CHAT: Con-country Revisited (was: Re: CHAT: Succumbing to the conlang bug
|From:||Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...>|
|Date:||Friday, November 20, 1998, 20:00|
>On Fri, 20 Nov 1998, Kristian Jensen wrote:
>> The idea of a culture more independant of Asia appeals to me
>> because I would be more free to design the this culture. In
>> fact, I have written up chapters on Lumanesian prehistory in
>> the North Pacific. But the idea of geological realism appeals
>> to me too. So I'm at a conflict here. It seems a shame to scrap
>> all that I have written in favor of the other scenario that
>> wouldn't allow me as much freedom simply because its more
>> geologically realistic.
>This is a relatively warm time between glaciations ...
>When the ocean was lower 10,000 years ago, many atolls
>now submerged could have supported life in the N.P.
>As sea level rose inexorably, what would the people do?
>I *DID* think of this, which is why I came up with the idea that
would make Lumanesia in the North Pacific more permanent. I posted
all this *off-topic* issue on Lumanesia's prehistoric history half a
year ago but I'll summerize the North Pacific model below (and I
hope nobody objects). As you'll see, the outlines for lumanesia's
North Pacific existence is still debatable. If anyone would like to
see the Southeast Asian model for Lumanesia's existence, I'll post
Lumanesia, together with what is today the Sunda shelf (Malaya,
Sumatra, Java and Borneo), broke off from what is today Western
Australia in the Middle Jurrasic Period (ca. 180 mill BP). By the
early Cretaceous Period (ca. 130 mill yrs BP), this fragment called
Sundaland was a long snake-like piece of land in the middle of now
extinct Tethys Ocean and in a collision course for the Asian plate.
Putting this into perspective, it was at this time that the Indian
subcontinent was just beginning to become another island in the
Tethys Ocean on a collision course for Asia as well.
In the late Cretaceous (ca. 70 mill BP), while Sundaland assimilated
into the Asian continent to become insular Southeast Asia, the piece
that was to become Lumanesia broke off from Sundaland at this same
time and drifted northeast, bringing along with it a collection of
plants and animals that have survived since the Jurrasic and
Cretaceous periods. As a result, most of the flora and fauna is
primitive and largely endemic to the islands. Very few flowering
trees and plants have found their way to Lumanesia resulting in a
largely gymnospermous rain and monsoon forest vegetation of ferns,
cycads, and coniferous trees. All the indigenous mammals are
monotremes (ie., egg-laying mammals). Truly a bastion of ancient
wildlife. But Lumanesia's isolation was interrupted when the first
Evidence of the first human arrivals would be difficult to find.
What is certain is that during the last ice age sea levels dropped
by more than 100 meters. The archipelago, as it existed then, was
one large island with a chain of islands running north to Japan.
Using these islands as stepping stones, Japan is the most likely
origin of Proto-Lumanesians. When sea levels rose dramatically about
10,000 years ago, these islands and the subsequent first settlements
along the coasts would have been obliterated, while early
settlements along rivers would have long since been eroded away or
smothered in silt as new deltas began to form.
But on one Lumanesian Peninsula, massive geological forces have been
lifting the coast faster than sea levels have been rising. Evidence
of coastal occupation by early settlers has been lifted clear of the
sea and has been preserved. Archaeologists have unearthed stone axes
25,000 years old. At that time sea levels were lower than now and
the gap to the islands of Japan were much shorter. The distance that
Proto-Lumanesians would have had to travel across the sea was still
probably no less than 100 kilometers. That was quite a feat so early
in human prehistory. But a similar feat presented itself for
settlement of the Australasian Continent. In absence of any clues,
most archaeologists assume that these early seafarers must have
traveled on simple rafts. Putting it in perspective, people did not
manage to navigate over shorter stretches of water in the
Mediterranean for another 15,000 years, when many of the Greek
islands were settled.
It remains a mystery as to who exactly these people were. There are
no known cultures to have existed in Japan over 25,000 yrs ago. The
earliest culture known to thrive in Japan was the Jomon culture, and
it existed from 10,000 BC to about 300 BC. Perhaps the ancestors of
the Jomon people drove Proto-Lumanesians south. Perhaps these were
the same people. Perhaps these were ancient Ainus. This is a
mystery not likely to be solved.
10,000 yrs ago, when sea levels began rising again, all human links
between Japan and Lumanesia ceased to exist. Primitive rafts were
no longer suitable for the larger gaps that were created between
Japan and Lumanesia. The Proto-Lumanesians in the islands were truly
stranded and separated from any Proto-Lumanesians left in Japan.
Only about 4,000 yrs ago was this isolation again interrupted when
the first trickle of Austronesians arrived from insular Southeast
Asia. They brought along with them the region's first plants
suitable for agriculture and the first domesticated animals. This
would prove to be a major turning point in the development of the
local culture. From nomadic hunter-gathering society to more
permanent swidden cultures.