Nusantao Maritime Trading and Communication Network

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In a hypothesis developed by Wilhelm Solheim, the Nusantao Maritime Trading and Communication Network (NMTCN) is a trade and communication network that first appeared in the Asia-Pacific region during its Neolithic age, or beginning roughly around 5000 BC. "Nusantao" is an artificial term coined by Solheim, derived from the Austronesian root words nusa "south" and tao "man, people".[1] Solheim's suggestions are in contrast to the more widely accepted Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis (OOT) by Peter Bellwood.[2]

Solheim first suggested the concept in 1964. The NMTCN attempts to explain the diffusion of cultural traits throughout the Asia-Pacific region, a pattern that does not seem to match the projections of cultural spread by simple migration theories. Today, it is one of the dominant theories for the early peopling of the Southeast Asian region.[dubious ]

Solheim suggests that "[if] elements of culture were spread by migrations, then the spread would have been primarily in one direction." He suggests that since the pattern of cultural diffusion in the Asia-Pacific region is spread in all directions, it is likely that the spread of cultural traits happened via some kind of trading network, rather than a series of migrations.

In Solheim's hypothesis, the people who constituted this trading network are referred to as "the Nusantao".

I now define Nusantao as natives of Southeast Asia, and their descendants, with a maritime-oriented culture from their beginnings, these beginnings probably in southeastern Island Southeast Asia around 5000 BC or possibly earlier. Most of the Nusantao probably spoke a related or pre-Austronesian language, but there were likely some who spoke a non-Austronesian language as well... I did not consider non-maritime Austronesian-speakers as Nusantao.[3]


  1. ^ Flessen (2006:6)
  2. ^ Flessen (2006:1). Bellwood, Peter. 1997. Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago (revised edition). Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawai’i Press. Bellwood, Peter. 2005. First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies. U.K.: Blackwell Publishing.
  3. ^ Solheim, Wilhelm G., II (2006). Archaeology and Culture in Southeast Asia: Unraveling the Nusantao. Diliman, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. p. 316. ISBN 971-542-508-9.