Technology, adaptation, and mobility in maritime environments in the Philippines from the Late Pleistocene to Early/Mid-Holocene

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Archaeological research in the Philippines has significantly intensified over the past 20 years and is producing useful insights into the Prehistory of this diverse archipelago that is of relevance for entire Island Southeast Asia (ISEA). Variability in landscape formation, sea level and landmass influenced mobility, subsistence strategies and behavioural advancement of past human populations since the Late Pleistocene. The archipelago's proximity to Borneo, Sulawesi and Taiwan provided a favourable position to facilitate movements of people, material culture, technologies and innovations across Mainland and Island Southeast Asia. From this perspective, this paper reviews current research on human adaptation and interaction in the maritime environments of prehistoric Philippines and provides an update on ongoing research particularly on Late Pleistocene and Early/Mid-Holocene sites in Mindoro Island. It discusses the associated technological innovations, the efficient exploitation of a diversity of marine and terrestrial resources, an increase in plant use and processing, open sea faring and the establishment of maritime connections that spanned from the Southeast Asian Mainland across Island Southeast Asia and into Near Oceania. This connectivity between populations enabled the dissemination of information and ideas as evident in the dispersal of obsidian and shell tool technology as well as complex burial rituals. Such a widespread maritime network was established and utilized long before the arrival of early farming populations in the Late Holocene.