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The earliest colonisation of oceanic islands by Homo sapiens occurred ~50 000–30 000 years ago in the Western Pacific, yet how this was achieved remains a matter of debate. With a focus on East Asia, the research presented here tests the hypothesis that bamboo rafts were used for these early maritime migrations. The authors review the evidence for Palaeolithic seafaring in East Asia as the context for an experimental archaeology project to build two bamboo watercraft. Sea trials demonstrate the unsuitability of bamboo, at least in East Asia, indicating that more sophisticated and durable vessels would have been required to traverse the Kuroshio Current.
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