Exploring Distant Shores: Simulating Dispersal Across Archipelagos

1Paleontology and Quaternary Geology Research Group, Bandung Institute of Technology

2ROCEEH Research Center, Senckenberg Research Institute

The unique island world linking the Asian Continent with New Guinea and Australia represents a challenge for hypotheses and concepts of human dispersal. Although the islands on Sunda and Sahul Shelves are temporarily linked by terrestrial land bridges, when they are exposed during episodes of sea level low stand, islands in the Wallacea are seemingly inaccessible without means of transportation. Nonetheless, hominins conquered islands in the Wallacea earlier than expected following routes which are presently unknown. Discoveries of artefacts and hominin fossils offer only brief and punctual windows into the underlying processes, often being open to diverse interpretations. While Homo erectus seemingly did not cross over the Sundaland, H. sapiens as well as dwarfed H. floresiensis and H. luzonensis were successfully moving across persisting ocean barriers and colonising the Wallacea and regions beyond. In absence of assemblages which are amenable to functional interpretations for Homo erectus and other precursors of modern humans, and likewise patchy knowledge for the expansions of Homo sapiens, the number of hypotheses including intentional sea-crossing is growing. The means for integration of environmental, ecological, and/or behavioural hypotheses are however lacking. In these cases, simulation-based approaches like agent-based modelling offer an alternative.

In this session we will explore ABM applications for sea crossings, examine their conceptual prerequisites and gather potential benefits and limitations. This will include hypotheses for dispersal models proper and potential routes, as well as environmental settings and behavioural specifications among culturally differing groups of hominins.