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Head of Zeus
Voyagers: The Settlement of the Pacific by Nicholas Thomas
 The Landmark Library

From an award-winning scholar, the extraordinary sixty-thousand-year history of how the Pacific islands were settled.

A Wall Street Journal Book of the Year

'Highlights a dizzying burst of new research' The Economist

'Takes readers on a narrative odyssey' Wall Street Journal

'I would not be surprised if, after reading this masterpiece, many readers are compelled to take up voyaging themselves' Science Magazine

Thousands of islands, inhabited by a multitude of different peoples, are scattered across the vastness of the Pacific. The first European explorers to visit Oceania, from the sixteenth century on, were astounded and perplexed to find populations thriving so many miles from the nearest continents. Who were these people? Where did they come from? And how were they able to reach islands dispersed over such immense tracts of ocean?

In Voyagers, the distinguished anthropologist Nicholas Thomas charts the course of the seaborne migrations that populated the islands between Asia and the Americas. From the third millennium BC, the Philippines, Indonesia, Micronesia and Melanesia were settled by Austronesian peoples of the western Pacific littoral. Later movements of Polynesian peoples took them even further afield, as far as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, the Marquesas, Easter Island and – eventually – New Zealand, up to AD 1250.

Drawing on the latest research, including insights gained from linguistics, archaeology, and the re-enactment of voyages, Thomas provides a dazzling account of these long-distance migrations, the sea-going technologies that enabled them, and the societies that they left in their wake.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Ancient History
07 Jan 2021 * 228pp * £8.99 * 9781838930493
'Weaving together material culture and personal accounts of the author's own time in some of these islands, the book is an elucidating, accessible, and well-illustrated guide to the long history of Oceanic settlement and connections'
Minerva Magazine
How and why did these explorers cross vast ocean distances to unseen landfalls?... Nicholas Thomas takes readers on a narrative odyssey to match their intrepid journeys'
Wall Street Journal, Books of the Year
'Highlights a dizzying burst of new research that draws on advanced genetics, linguistics and, not least, a revival of voyaging itself by indigenous navigators'
'Thomas should be commended for his engaging writing style, which regularly had me looking forward to turning the page. I would not be surprised if, after reading this masterpiece, many readers are compelled to take up voyaging themselves'
Science Magazine
Blending ethnohistory, archaeology, and linguistics, Thomas asks the big questions about a civilization that has seldom been recognized as such... Brings a welcome world-systems approach to Oceania, an understudied region'
Kirkus Reviews
'With lucid explanations of modern advances in historical anthropology and evocative reflections on the author's own fascination with Oceania, this is an accessible introduction to an astounding chapter in human history'
Publishers Weekly
'Thomas successfully draws readers into this fascinating, often-overlooked history and offers plenty of resources for those looking to read more'
Library Journal
'Written in an engaging style, Thomas points to indigenous technologies and the reactivation of navigational knowledge which perfectly captures the vital and energetic relationship Pacific peoples enjoy today with the ocean that defines their lives'
Maia Nuku, Curator for Oceanic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art
'Voyagers will deeply engage and delight new readers of Pacific histories, while scholars will marvel at the author's elegant, concise chronicle'
Matt Matsuda, Rutgers University
'The peopling of the Pacific is one of humanity's greatest feats of imagination, ingenuity, and courage. Voyagers authoritatively recounts that achievement with both sympathy and wonder'
David Armitage, Harvard University
'Voyagers is a refreshing addition to the canon of literature that contemplates Oceanic navigation... At once global yet intimate, shaped by Thomas's own Pacific journeys, and filled with wonderful images, historical and contemporary, that pay homage to Oceania's profound relationship with the sea'
Noelle Kahanu, University of Hawai'i
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Nicholas Thomas
Nicholas Thomas
Nick Thomas is an Australian anthropologist, who was co-curator of the Royal Academy exhibition Oceania (2018). He is Professor of Historical Anthropology, and Director Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, since 2006, and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, since 2007. He was awarded the 2010 Wolfson History Prize for Islanders: The Pacific in the Age of Empire.
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