Margarette Lincoln at Literary Review:
In 2003, archaeologists excavating a cave shelter on the island of Flores, Indonesia, discovered the remains of early humans, remarkably over eighteen thousand years old. Even more surprisingly, the bones showed that these people were only about a metre tall and had brains no larger than a fizzy-drink can. Flores is one of a cluster of small Indonesian islands that may never have been connected by land bridges to nearby continents; it has only a small number of reptiles and animals. Some have conjectured that these people were small because they had no choice but to adapt to the island’s restricted diet. If so, they may have descended from earlier, taller hominids who managed to reach Flores. In any case, the discovery was strong evidence that very early humans crossed the seas. Other archaeological finds show that Australia’s Aborigines arrived there more than sixty thousand years ago; they can only have done so by crossing open water, out of sight of land.
The history of humanity is inextricably bound up with the seas and oceans, which were used for communication and trade but also for war and the determined exploitation of peoples and resources.