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On the Road of the Winds: An Archæological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact Paperback – March 15, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Riveting." - Washington Post "Excellent." - Times Literary Supplement "A grand synthesis. Kirch has done Pacific archaeology proud with this book." - Peter Bellwood, Antiquity "Kirch writes for specialists (he merrily switches, for example, between BC/AD and calibrated and uncalibrated radiocarbon BP dates), but for such a broad range of specialists that the informed lay reader won't miss much - and unwanted detail about excavations and artifacts is easily glanced over. With an effective selection of halftones, figures, and maps complementing clear and incisive prose, in elegant and attractive physical packaging, On the Road of the Winds is an all-round outstanding volume." - dannyreviews.com

From the Inside Flap

"Pat Kirch summarizes the extraordinary explosion of the last two decades in our knowledge of Pacific prehistory, an explosion to which he has contributed more than anyone. His synthesis brings together results from all of the subfields of anthropology--ethnography, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistics.. . . No one knows this material as well or can present it in such an effective manner. This book should stand for a generation as the major synthesis of Oceanic prehistory."—Timothy Earle, author of How Chiefs Come to Power

"After nearly four decades of teaching the culture history of Oceania, I can say this is the only up-to-date work that gives a balanced and detailed account of Polynesia, Micronesia, Island Melanesia, and Papua-New Guinea. Moreover, Kirch is one of the more engaging writers of general books about the Pacific. This is the first book to which scholars and general readers will go to pursue any topic relating to Pacific archaeology."—Roger C. Green, Emeritus Professor, University of Auckland
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 446 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (March 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520234618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520234611
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #600,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am an archaeologist and anthropologist who has researched and studied the ancient cultures and peoples of the Pacific Islands for more than four decades. Born and raised in Hawai'i, I graduated from Punahou School (class of 1968) and then pursued my education at the University of Pennsylvania and at Yale University (PhD 1975). Returning to Hawai'i, I worked for a decade as a member of the research staff of the Bishop Museum. During this time I led archaeological expeditions to the Solomon Islands and Tonga, and also carried out research in Hawai'i. From 1984-89 I was the Director of the Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle. While based at the Burke Museum I made three field trips to the Mussau Islands in Papua New Guinea, discovering the earliest remains of the Lapita Cultural Complex (about 1,500 B.C.). In 1989 I took up a professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, where I established the Oceanic Archaeology Laboratory (OAL). Together with my students, the OAL has carried out archaeological research in Hawai'i (especially Maui and Hawai'i Islands), the Cook Islands (Mangaia), French Polynesia (Mo'orea, Mangareva, Maupiti, and Marquesas Islands), and in New Caledonia. I currently hold the endowed Class of 1954 Professorship in Anthropology and Integrative Biology at Berkeley. I have been elected to the U. S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. I am also a foreign member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Society of Antiquaries of London.

At the present time I am carrying out active field research projects in both Hawai'i and in French Polynesia. Much of this research is focused on the dynamic interactions between Polynesian peoples and their island ecosystems.

Over the years I have published many academic and scholarly books and treatises on Pacific Islands archaeology and anthropology. In recent years, I have begun to write books intended for a general audience, rather than just for specialists. My 2000 book, On the Road of the Winds, published by the University of California Press, is an overview of what archaeologists have learned about the ancient history of the Pacific. The book has been well reviewed and adopted for use in a number of university classes. My most recent book (released July 2012) is titled A Shark Going Inland is my Chief: The Island Civilization of Ancient Hawai'i (Univ. California Press). In this book I combine a personal account of my four decades of arhaeological research into the Hawaiian past with the perspective of traditional Hawaiian oral histories (mo'olelo). The book is intended for anyone who has been curious about the deep history of this unique archipelago.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
Very well written and very readable.
Thomas Hubbard
This is the prehistory of "old" Melanesia and constitutes the first great colonising epoch of the Pacific.
Trevor Coote
This book is great for the interested nonspecialist.
Edwin Kite

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Patrick Vinton Kirch is renowned for his faith in the multidisciplinary approach to understanding Oceanic and Pacific history and culture before European contact. On the Road of the Winds is his great synthesis on the subject to date based on that holistic perspective, drawing together information from the fields of archaeology, historical linguistics, comparative ethnology and biological anthropology, while emphasising that these disciplines are not bound to co-vary. This is largely a scholarly historical archaeological text (but with numerous photographs and tables listing sites with details replacing tedious description) and arises, as the author explains, as a result of the archaeological aspect largely being ignored until after the war. Anthropologists until then had been constrained by preconceived beliefs of Pacific cultures having been fairly recent and unchanging arrivals; nations without history. The emphasis of research had been placed firmly on ethnology using outdated - even racist - typology mingled with some good and some dubious linguistic analysis. Since then a fascinating narrative of rich historical cultures, some containing extraordinarily elaborate constructions and of complex social structures and hierarchies that we are only now beginning to understand, has been uncovered by archaeological excavations.

It is as well for the reader to familiarise his or herself with some basic concepts at the outset and these are largely outlined in an introduction.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hubbard on October 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kirch's book updates his previous "The evolution of the Polynesian chiefdoms" and synthesizes numerous technical publications on the pre-history of the South Pacific. Very well written and very readable. Recommended for anyone interested in the Pacific islands before the explorers and missionaries arrived.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edwin Kite on March 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is great for the interested nonspecialist. It covers a great deal of ground, is honest about the parts of the story where we don't know much, but doesn't obsess over these gaps. It isn't formatted as a coffee-table book - there is a fair bit of scholarly detail - but I dare anyone to read for 20 pages and put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda Ann on July 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A factual glimse into the technologies, capabilities and migrations of the ancient polynesians. Tracking their migrations eastward throughout the pacific. This historically accurate and easily understandable text provided an accurate account of the ancient way finders.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Felicia on December 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. Perfect and exactly what i was looking for for my Arthopology class . THank you! Excellent Used condition. Loved how every now and then it had main points highlighted. Helped alot to explan the overall meaning of the text.
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