The Austronesian Diaspora: A Synthetic Total Evidence Model


  • Geoffrey K. Chambers School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Hisham A. Edinur Human Identification/DNA Unit, School of Health Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Health Campus


Austronesia, Polynesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, Malaysia


This is an evidence-based account of a remarkable, but perhaps somewhat underestimated, series of human population movements lasting continuously for around 5000 years. Information has been collected from a wide variety of studies across a range of disciplines and subjected to critical examination. The emergent picture is presented as a Synthetic Total Evidence Model which traces the Austronesian Diaspora from Taiwan via a genes, language and culture trail to Island Southeast Asia. From there two distinct branches are shown to lead one across the Pacific and another through Malaysia and Indonesia then on to Madagascar. Along the way there are many confounding episodes of admixture, language shifts and cultural assimilation. The Pacific branch is shown to contain two distinct groups known as Polynesians and Melanesians with similar, but still individually characteristic, genepools. Despite all these complexities, the evidence does build to a single unified multi-dimensional picture.