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Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia Paperback – July 1, 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
Human beings (homo sapiens) have been around for some 100,000 years, give or take. Until about six or seven thousand years ago, after the end of the most recent ice age, humans were a bunch of wandering hunter-gatherers. They made some great cave paintings, but other than that and a few gnawed bones, they made nothing and left nothing behind. Then, when the ice age ended, they spontaneously dropped their fur cloaks, stopped hunting woolly mammoths and invented agriculture, the wheel, cuneiform, beer, and everything else that makes up civilization.
The problem with this picture, of course, is that the ice age didn't cover the entire earth with ice -- just some of the parts we live on now. And because there was so much more ice, there was less water, and sea levels were some 100-odd meters lower than at present.
So all the best land, the fertile, coastal land, during the ice age -- the era immediately preceeding the first great civilizations of the near easy -- is now underwater.
In _Eden in the East_, Oppenheimer focuses on the great Sunda Shelf in southeast Asia, which in the last ice age was a continent-sized land mass (now sometimes called "Sundaland"). His thesis is that the great civilizations of the near east did not spring whole cloth from the soil, but were founded, or informed, or guided, by refugees from the east, refugees fleeing the great destruction of their homeland with the submergence of the Sunda Shelf.
He argues for his thesis on the basis of genetic, linguistic and mythological studies, all appearing to show a diffusion of culture and people from some prehistoric Sundaland home. The arguments are varied and interesting, maybe even compelling.Read more ›
I am not really qualified to argue with Oppenheimer's analyses; then again, the author is himself a pediatrician with no apparent formal training in linguistics, genetics, or anthropology.Read more ›
If you've ever read Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki, he refutes it and suggest the opposite. If you have come to the conclusion that biblical frames of thought, such as Cain and Abel, were unique to the west, think again. If you thought Southeast Asia is and has always been a backwater region, wrong. The latter aspect, that ideas have flowed from east to west and particularly from Southeast Asia, rather than focusing on India or China, is the best part of his message in this book. He really, and I mean really, made me think a lot about what I have learned about the origins of civilization in the past. This book preceded most of the books in recent years that focus on Asia's past greatness so it seems less caught up in all that. Of course, he probably wrote it while Southeast Asia was on its dramatic rise in the mid 1990s, soon to fall precipitously.
He is a doctor so his field studies of sickle cell anemia (known as resistant to malaria) in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in Southeast Asia triggered his ideas. Further his use of archaeological evidence, linguistics and mythical comparison provide provocative, if often difficult to follow, ideas on how the people, technology and ideas of Southeast Asia have fit into the history of Western thought and traditions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The detail and erudition of the research and the exposition of findings are outstanding. The future of continuing research will add to our understanding of our origins.Published on August 24, 2013 by Gary R Noble
I enjoyed reading this book and feel that the author made a good case for his premise if not a compelling one. Read morePublished on September 2, 2010 by Roland A. Boucher
Anyone interested in another theory, though it doesn't refute anything presented in this book, check out this article, see the map of Sundaland at the bottom of the page. Read morePublished on July 15, 2008 by T. Marsh
Interesting premise which is painstakingly researched and documented. Oppenheimer makes a very cogent argument which if true will completely rewrite history!Published on July 28, 2006 by Amazon Customer
Can be heavy going in the detail, but is the product of a 'Good Analytical Mind'. I really enjoyed the introduction to Religious & Folkloric Analysis, and to Linguistics,... Read morePublished on August 14, 2002 by Naoise O'hannain
Mr Oppenheimer's book has some interesting ideas in prehistory of SE Asia and counter againist an entrenched European centric view of civilzation and shows some good evdiance in... Read morePublished on November 23, 2000 by Tristan Jones
I loved this book! It clearly and concisely cites evidence for the origin of civilization in the now flooded lowlands of Southeast Asia under the South China Sea. Read morePublished on August 5, 2000 by Ali John Comegys