Saturday, June 6, 2020

Was Polynesia Settled from South America? – Part V

Continuing from the previous post regarding the settlement of Polynesia, the first five points were covered and we begin this article with #11 below:
11. “The exploration strategy was to search and return. All the occupied island groups acted as broad safety nets for returning canoes.”
Response: If this culture began around 1600 B.C., who else would have been in the South Pacific? 1600 B.C. is only about 700 years after Noah’s Flood. The Jaredites would be in the promised land only about 400 years by this time.
    Even if there were others, generally speaking tribes are not particularly favorable to other tribes, and it is doubtful if a tribe on one island would welcome a stranger from another island since how would he know this would not lead to further encroachment or attack?
12. “The human instinct for survival meant that exploration almost certainly occurred in stages, using different sailing strategies”
Response: Generally speaking, the urge for exploration was based on either a need to escape and find safety elsewhere or the need of economical values of trade or greed, in expanding one’s control and power. Survival was usually seen in the building of walls, forts, and defensive positions.
Island paradise on Samoa, Fiji, and Yasawa Islands

To be realistic, why would someone living in a paradise pack up and move on—to what? Another island paradise? When people are satisfied they do not look for somewhere else to go. The reason behind the Age of Sail was to find a trade route to the Cinnamon Islands, with the Portuguese trying to sail around Africa, and the Spanish sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.
    It was not to explore for exploring sake—that came later when it became known that ships could sail safety across oceans, and was guided in part by the expansion of empires, with a race on between major sea powers to expand their empires and incorporate islands and lands into their circle of power and claim.
More paradisiacal islands that are found throughout the South Pacific: The Papua, Tapuaetal, and Taveuni-Vanua Levu islands

According to archaeologists and anthropologists, about 3,400 years ago, before the Iron Age or the rise of Ancient Greece, people on the Solomon Islands left their white sandy shores for the cerulean seas of the South Pacific. Now we should mention that the Solomon Islands is an archipelago made up of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands, but these same archaeologists and anthropologists give no rational reason why early man would leave their islands and travel out into the unknown.
    Eastward would be into the vast openness of the Pacific Ocean—266 miles from the most eastern island in the Solomons to Latta is 266 miles; 740 miles to Vanuatu, 823 miles to New Caledonia, and 1320 miles to Fiji. In addition, they would have had to sail 400 miles southeast to the Santa Cruz islands, then almost due south to Vanuatu. What would have caused the drastic change in course on an open sea with no knowledge of what lay beyond them?
The openness of the ocean between the Solomon Islands and French Polynesia, then only the Pitcairns and Hanga Roa over the next 5000 miles to the west coast of South America—an empty ocean

It is also claimed that the movement of these people from the Solomon’s brought humanity to the most remote reaches of Oceania, like the tropical islands of Hawaii, Tonga and Fiji. Once again, Fiji is 1320 miles away, Tonga is 2931 miles assay and Hawaii is 3634 miles away—all in a dugout canoe. What would have motivated such journeys?
    According to Alvaro Montenegro, Associate Professor, Director Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and a geographer and climatologist from Ohio State University, “The first ones were traveling into the unknown. They would leave the coast, and it would disappear behind them.”
    Islands, people crossed more than 2,000 miles of open ocean to colonize islands like Tonga and Samoa. But after 300 years of island hopping, they halted their expansion for 2,000 years more before continuing — a period known as the Long Pause that represents an intriguing puzzle for researchers of the cultures of the South Pacific.
    “Why is it that the people stopped for 2,000 years?” Montenegro asks: “Clearly they were interested and capable. Why did they stop after having great success for a great time?”
    What should be asked is why did they set sail into the unknown in the first place and travel thousands of miles just to occupy another island?
    Another point never brought up by the scientists, is that if these early seamen had chosen to go due east, into the rising sun, they would have traveled 1208 miles before coming to Tuvalu and, if they missed that lone island in the midst of thousands of square miles of open ocean, another 660 miles to Tokelau, or 1868 miles overall. And if they chanced to miss both these islands they would have traveled another 6402 miles of open ocean in every direction until they reached the west coast of South America.
    In addition, they would have been traveling against the wind the entire time, which would have required paddling all the way. It is one thing to look at a map and trace a line from island to island, but something entirely different to find those lone islands in a vast open ocean with no instruments, maps, charts, GPS, radio or any other modern means. 
Some of the fruits that grow wild on the islands: LtoR, top to bottom: Mango, Pineapple, Frijoa, Horned Melon, Coconut, and Falsa, all growing wild throughout the South Pacific islands 

In addition to those foods in the image above, other fruit grow wild on the islands, such as Sapodilla, Mangosteen, Pomelo, Durian, Wax Apple Berries, Salak, Fingered Citron, Targo, Carambola, Banana, Lychee, Breadfruit, Casava, Kava, Noni, and numerous others. Then there is the plenteous of all kinds of fish to supplement the diet. The point is, food was available in large quantities that grew wild—even today islanders have plenty of food plants growing wild on the trees and in the bushes.
    These wild plants persist without need of any selection or tending by humans and have genetics that reflect their original co-evolutionary relationships. In many parts of the world, wild relatives of domesticated plants exist side by side, or within short distances of their domesticated kin. There would have been no need to seek better food conditions on other islands to the early settlers in the South Pacific.
    As for why the early settlers left the South American mainland, in the case of the Nephites, we find that because of the continuing wars that at times were extremely threatening, many chose to relocate. While some went into the Land Northward, others sailed northward to a “land which was northward,” and still others went to a location which was unknown to the Nephites (Alma 63:8).
    The Polynesian Islands would have been unknown to both Alma and to Mormon.
(See the next post, “Polynesia Settled from South America – Part VI,” for more on the lack of reasoning behind claiming that early man island-hopped across the Pacific from west to east)

Friday, June 5, 2020

Was Polynesia Settled from South America? – Part IV

Continuing from the previous post regarding the settlement of Polynesia, the first five points were covered and we begin this article with #7 below:
Top: The Coral Triangle and the (Red arrows) showing the major ocean currents through the Triangle; Bottom: The two biological divisions of the Triangle

The 3,728,227 square mile Coral Triangle which encompasses portions of 2 biogeographical regions: the Indonesian-Philippines Region from the Banda Sea to Sumatra, and the Far Southwestern Pacific Region, including Papua and the Arufura Sea to the Solomon Islands.
    To determine who settled in this area, Archeaologists clam that the Lapita vase was found throughout this region, however, similar styles are also present in these islands, suggesting that a single people had various pottery styles, or that many cultural groups settled in this area. It does not singularly suggest that the Lapita people migrated south and east from Taiwan.
Similar style vases found in the Coral Triangle (first four: the Coral Triangle—Lapita Vase, Timor Islands, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea) and the last two on Marajó Island, South America, and Maya Guatemala

7. “All island groups in island Melanesia and West Polynesia that lie in a south-east direction have Lapita settlements. None of these settlements have been found on other islands.”
Response: More correctly, they have Lapita pottery, as though no one else in the world were capable of making or developing that specific pottery. In addition, there is no reason to believe that the development of people went from the west to the east through these islands, but with winds and currents, it is far more liely that people moved through these island from east to west.
8. “At predictable times each year the trade winds would reverse from south-easterly to westerly.
Response: This is not true across the Pacific, only in the western Pacific because of the existence of the Coriolis Effect, and specially in Melanesia and around Australia (The Coriolis Effect is when the surface air that flows from these subtropical high-pressure belts toward the Equator is deflected toward the west in both hemispheres by the Coriolis effect). Much further east and the prevailing winds and currents do not reverse themselves at all.
    In fact, trade winds in the Indian Ocean and through Indonesia blew southwest to northeast for six months and blew from northeast to southwest six months—these did not affect the western Pacific islands. On the other hand, there were winds that swirled among the islands themselves, making it easier to sail from island to island, but not from island group to island group. Too many historians make the mistake of understanding north-south sailing from Polynesia to Hawaii and back and being able to sail against winds and currents, however, sailing across winds and currents is vastly different than sailing against them!
9. “At these times canoes could set off with the wind behind them, and explore to the east.”
Captain Cook and his HMS Endeavor sailing through the islands of the South Pacific

Response: This is simply not true. Even the Polynesians who told Cook about the swirling currents within the island groups did not tell him this.
10. “When the winds reverted to south-easterly, a safe return could be made.”
Response: First, the “trade winds” have nothing to do with ancient trade routes. The word “trade,” originally derives from the early fourteenth century in late Middle English, where the word meant "path" or "track." The Portuguese recognized the importance of the trade winds (then the Volta do mar, meaning in Portuguese "turn of the sea" but also "return from the sea") in navigation in both the north and south Atlantic ocean as early as the 15th century (Hermann R. Muelder, Years of This Land—as Geographical History of the Unites States, 2007, Read Books, 2007, Read Books, p38).
    In fact, Volta do mar was a navigational technique perfected by Portuguese navigators during the Age of Sail in the late fifteenth century in order to return from the Atlantic Islands, where the pilot first had to sail far to the west in order to catch usable following winds, and return to Europe.
    This was a counter-intuitive sailing direction, as it required the pilot to steer in a direction that was perpendicular to the ports of Portugal. Lack of this information may have doomed the thirteenth-century expedition of Vandino and Ugolino Vivaldi, who were headed towards the Canary Islands (then unknown to the Europeans) and were lost; once there, without understanding the Atlantic gyre and the volta do mar, they would have been unable to beat upwind to the Strait of Gibraltar and home. Discovering this technique was crucial for returning from future discoveries—for example Christopher Columbus would never have returned from the Americas without applying the volta do mar by sailing northwards from the Caribbean through the Horse Latitudes to catch the prevailing mid-latitude Westerlies.
    Similarly in the South Atlantic with the exception that the South Atlantic gyre circulates counter-clockwise. As India-bound Portuguese explorers and traders crossed the equator with the intention of passing the entire western coast of Africa, their voyages took them far to the West in the vicinity of Brazil.
    Thus knowing about and using the great permanent wind circle and the North Atlantic Gyre was a major step in the history of navigation, when an understanding of winds in the period was crucial to success—the European sea empires never would have been established had the Europeans not figured out how the trade winds worked (Lewis Dartnell, Origins: How Earth’s History Shaped Human History, Basic Books, (2019), pp218–222).
Dk Blue Arrow: Early sailing from Mexico to the Philippines; Black arrow: Return voyage to Mexico; Red Arrow: North Pacific Gyre (clockwise current); Lt. Blue Arrow: South Pacific Gyre (counter clockwise current); Large Black Dotted Arrow: Lehi’s voyage to the Land of Promise

However the return (Black Arrow) was not discovered until after numerous ships were lost trying to force the headwinds back to Mexico. Not until the circular wind and ocean currents were discovered was that return voyage possible.
    The route of the Manila Galleon from the Philippines to Mexico depended upon successful application of the Atlantic phenomenon to the Pacific Ocean in discovering the North Pacific Gyre captains of returning galleons had to reach the northern latitudes of Japan before they could safely to east and cross the Pacific back to the Americas. The discovery, upon which the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade was based was owing to the Spanish Andrés de Urdaneta, who sailing in convoy under Miguel López de Legazpi, discovered the return route in 1565: the fleet split up, some heading south, but Urdaneta reasoned that the trade winds of the Pacific might move in a gyre as the Atlantic winds did.    If in the Atlantic, ships made the Volta do mar to the west to pick up winds that would bring them back from Madeira, then, he reasoned, by sailing far to the north before heading east, he would pick up trade winds to bring him back to the west coast of North America. Though he sailed to 38º North before turning east, his hunch paid off, and he hit the coast near Cape Mendocino, California then followed the coast south to Acapulco, Mexico. Most of his crew died on the long initial voyage, for which they had not sufficiently provisioned.
    Secondly: There are no gyres within the western South Pacific other than the much larger South Pacific Gyre, and without that, there is no return. Consider Columbus’ voyage to the Americas (Caribbean) where he rode the southern arm of the clockwise northern Atlantic Gyre across, then circled northward and back across on the northern arm of the Gyre—it was not a reversal of currents and winds, but the way in which the current and wind flowed. The Trade Winds are unique winds and should not be mixed up with any old reversal desired—they exist because of the Coriolis Effect of gravity in the two hemispheres (southern and northern) and follow a distinct pattern, which reversal really is found only in the Indian Ocean as we had discussed here many times.
The 4300 miles, 101 day drift voyage of the Kon Tiki from Callao, Peru, to the Masrqueses Islands in Polynesia

Thus, it was the South Pacific Gyre, crossing in front of Peru and Ecuador, than turned east and headed back across the Pacific that Thor Heyerdahl picked up in his raft Kon-Tiki, that peeled off and flowed down into Polynesia, showing that ancients from Peru sailed westward to the islands off the South American coast and, riding the current, continue on from island to island throughout Polynesia.
(See the next post, “Polynesia Settled from South America – Part V,” for more on the lack of reasoning behind claiming that early man island-hopped across the Pacific from west to east)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Was Polynesia Settled from South America? – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding the settlement of Polynesia, the first five points were covered. It might be of interest to know that the interpretation of the three island groups of the western South Pacific are: 1) Micronesia: “Small Islands,” 2) Melanesia: “Black Islands,” and 3) Polynesia: “Many Islands.” Now, beginning with #6 below:
6. “Theorists claim that Lapita navigators explored in only one direction – south-east, against the prevailing trade winds.”
Response: Why did they explore in only one direction? Why not northward toward Micronesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Guam? Why not northeast toward Midway, and Hawaii? Why not westward toward Indonesia, Java, Malaysia or Sumatra? Why not southward, with the currents around Australia and into the Southern Ocean?
    Why did they only east? After all, they did not have maps and know where the islands fell. When starting out from Taiwan, or when starting out from the Philippines, why did they go south to Borneo (today’s Malaysian Sabah and Sarawak, and Indonesian Kalimantands, and Brunei)? They would not have known in what direction lay other lands or islands. And most importantly, how did they sail against the winds and currents
The currents passing by Taiwan to the east and west are moving northward, yet theorists claim the early Lapitas sailing south (against the winds and currents)

One of the simplest answers, and the one archaeologists choose, is that they moved only toward the east and southeast is because that is where they were later found. Melanesia sits along the equator—to the north in any direction would be different winds and currents, and crossing the equator requires crossing the counter-current, also known as the doldrums , which often resulted in long periods of no wind at all. In addition, to the west of Melanesia, or the described original area of the Lapita culture lies the large island of Papua New Guinea, an area 178,704 square miles, blocking the sea routes in that direction, nor would they have sailed south for the same reason.
The currents through Indonesia flow westward, transferring water from the Pacific into the Indian Ocean—these currents are quite strong and circle islands on their path westward

The Indonesian Through Flow is an ocean current with importance for global climate since it provides a low-latitude pathway for a constant supply of warm water to move from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean and this serves as the upper branch of the global heat conveyor belt.  As the earth spins ocean currents bring warm water from the Pacific Ocean into equatorial regions of Asia.  In the Pacific Ocean northeast of the Indonesian archipelago, as water is pushed up against Asia the sea level is twenty centimeters above average. 
    In the Indian Ocean, because of similar forces acting in an opposite direction, the water is sucked away from Indonesia (and pushed up against Africa) therefore the sea level south of Indonesia is ten centimeters below average. This 30cm sea-level height differential causes a northeast-to-southwest current through Indonesia. This water flows westward from the Pacific into the Indian Ocean through an intricate series of channels around the islands. As one of the greatest volume of water flowing on earth passes the channels and restrictions of Indonesia, the earth’s spin is actually slowed down! 
    Finally, through the more than 17,500 islands in Indonesia the Through Flow passes through the Lombok Strait into the Indian Ocean. This suggests that any ancient people in Taiwan could have reached the islands in Indonesia, but not the islands around New Guinea and beyond to the east.
Philippine Islands ocean currents: Red line shows the constant current east and south of Taiwan; Yellow line is the only wind and ocean for sailing from Taiwan; White line shows if an attempt was made to the east it would hit a wall (blue line) of opposite wind and currents

Thus, any ancient people leaving Taiwan by boat to the east or southeast, as archaeologists and anthropologists claim, would have encountered winds and currents against them. Now it should be considered that these early craft were paddled, and any crew could paddle against winds and currents for a short distance.
    It would not have been very likely that early seamen would have set out to paddle from a home island to something they could not see and did not know if anything was ahead of them. Where sailors under sail might do this, people in a small canoe without sail would not, nor have any reason to do so.
    It is easy for scientists to look at a map today and see all these islands in the south Pacific and claim that early man island hopped across the ocean, but the reality of time and means with a total lack of knowledge, works against such outlandish claims.
    It should also be kept in mind that the distances from Taiwan to other lands plays a part in such claimed achievements. That is not to say that early people did not leave Taiwan, after all there are numerous islands around Taiwan to allow for movement across open seas. As an example, Penghu is about 50 miles off the coast to the west, and Yonaguni about 130 miles off the east coast to the east, and about 80 miles beyond that is Irionmote, and twenty miles further is Ishigai. To the southeast if 20 miles off the coast is Green Island and 25 miles off the coast to Orchid Island; and 60 miles to the Batanes. However, it is 100 miles to mainland China, and 300 miles to the northern shore of the Philippines.
    Now who, and why, would early man start off across open waters paddling for some 300 miles without even knowing there was land there? Or anything but open ocean for hundreds of miles.
    Today, of course, scientists look at maps and see the hundreds of islands in what is called the Coral Triangle, an area of shallow ocean running over the world’s largest coral reefs in the world laying between the Philippines and Indonesia and eastward to New Guinea (Papua New Guinea).
Top: Some of the numerous small islands that make up the Coral Triangle to the southeast of Taiwan; Bottom: Some of the hundreds of coral reef fish that make the Triangle waters their home

From volcanic islands with rocky shores to white sand beaches to mangrove forests, the Coral Triangle consists of a wide range of habitats. The Triangle hosts an astonishing amount of marine life. Seventy-five percent of the world’s coral species are found here—nearly 600 different species. Over 2000 different types of reef fish find refuge in these dazzling underwater gardens, and this is an important place for tuna to spawn. Whales, dolphins, porpoises, dugongs and whale sharks feed, breed and migrate in these waters.
And the Coral Triangle is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles.
    Scientists suspect that the diversity of landscapes contributes to the diversity of species in the region because these species have been forced to adapt to the geographically complex reef system.
    Here prevailing easterly currents pour water into the Coral Triangle from the Pacific Ocean, partly through the Indonesia Through Flow as warm ocean waters pass through Indonesia to the colder Indian Ocean.
    Today, Coral Triangle marine resources support the livelihoods of over 120 million people and provide food to local coastal communities and millions more worldwide. The region also holds incredible cultural diversity. There are over 2,000 languages spoken across these waters and cultures share a strong connection to the sea. One can only wonder, with movement between these small islands, and an overabundance of food resources, why early man would want to leave this area and paddle or sail out to sea in search for newer lands. Why would anyone leave paradise in search for—what?
(See the next post, “Polynesia Settled from South America – Part IV,” for more on the lack of reasoning behind claiming that early man island-hopped across the Pacific from west to east)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Was Polynesia Settled from South America? – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the settlement of Polynesia and the Lapita potter. According to archaeologists the Lapita culture evolved around 1600 BC in Near Oceania (Papua New Guinea through the Bismarck archipelago and the Solomon Islands), and then spread rapidly east into Remote Oceania (New Caledonia and Vanuatu). Their characteristic pottery, together with evidence from radiocarbon dating, has enabled anthropologists to trace their migration as far east as Samoa.
    In fact, it is claimed that Lapita pottery is found from 800 BC onward in the Fiji-Samoa-Tonga area. It is believed that from Tonga and Samoa, Polynesian culture spread to Eastern Polynesia areas including the Marquesas and the Society Islands, and then later to Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand. However, and this is a big “however,” the pottery-making did not persist in most of Polynesia, and it is believed that this is because of the lack of suitable clay on small islands. Instead, we find wooden vessels that do not match the Lapita pottery.
    It is interesting that science makes the following five statements regarding this:
1.” Lapita pottery is found in Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and pottery persisted in Fiji, where it disappeared completely in other areas of Melanesia and in Siassi”
Response: First of all, these islands are all within a short distance of Australia, with less open ocean in between them than is found in the eastern South Pacific and specifically in Polynesia. To cover these islands:
The Bismark Archapelago northeast of Papua New Guinea; Red Circle dovers the Vitiaz Strait

Umboi (also named Rooke or Siassi) is a volcanic island of the Bismarck Group or archipelago between the mainland of Papua New Guinea and the island of New Britain. It is separated from New Britain by the Vitiaz Strait and Huon Peninsula. It has an elevation of 5,079 feet. Umboi is a Holocene complex volcano with no historic eruptions. A complex volcano refers to the extensive assemblage of spatially, temporally, and genetically related major and minor volcanic centers with their associated lava and pyroclastic flows.
Map of the islands northeast and east of Australia, including Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and the Coral Sea islands, including Willis Island

Vanuatu. This volcanic island archipelago is located 1090 miles east of northern Australia and is officially the Republic of Vanuatu (French: République de Vanuatu), and 340 miles northeast of New Caledonia.Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian people and the first Europeans to visit the islands were a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Fernandes de Queirós, who arrived on the largest island 1606. As the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies had been unified under the king of Spain in 1580 (following the vacancy of the Portuguese throne, which lasted for sixty years, until 1640, when the Portuguese monarchy was restored), Queirós claimed the archipelago for Spain, as part of the colonial Spanish East Indies, and named it La Austrialia del Espíritu Santo.
    New Caledonia. This island archipelago is part of the Melanesia subregion, and includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, Chesterfield Islands (in the Coral Sea), Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets. Locals refer to Grande Terre as Le Caillou ("the pebble"). New Caledonia has a land area of 7,172 square-miles, and a population of 268,767, consisting of a mix of kanak people—the original inhabitants of New Caledonia, people of European descent, meaning Caledonians and Metropolitan French, Polynesian people (mostly Wallisians), and Southeast Asian people, as well as a few people of Pied-Noir and Maghreban descent.
    Fiji. The island archipelago of more than 330 islands, is 1300 miles northeast of New Zealand, of which 110 islands are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 inlets, amounting to a total land area of about 7,100 square-miles. The farthest island is Ono-i-Lau, and the two major islands are Vita Levu and Vanua Levu, which account for 87% of the population of almost 860,000. The capital, Suva on Viti Levu, serves as Fiji's principal cruise port. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centers like Nadi (tourism) or Lautoka (sugar can industry). Viti Levu's interior is sparsely inhabited due to its terrain.
    Coral Sea Island Territory. This is an external territory of Australia which comprises a group of small and mostly uninhabited tropical islands and reefs in the Coral Sea, northeast of Queensland, Australia. The only inhabited island is Willis Island. The territory covers 301,160 square-miles, most of which is ocean, extending east and south from the outer edge of the Barrier Reef, and includes Heralds Beacon Island, Osprey Reef, the Willis Group, and fifteen other reef/island groups.
Secondly, the claim that this pottery was found in these areas is a little ambiguous since the pottery is the sole distinguishing factor to make a claim that a single people populated the entire Melanesian islands from the west to the east. While some people of a single culture might have ventured elsewhere among the islands, it cannot be said that this culture was the sole and dominant populator of the entire western South Pacific.
2. “The Lapita were expert in seamanship and navigation.
Response: This culture, assuming it is who archaeologists claim it is, is said to have existed 3200 years before modern man discovered their existence, without a written language and without any specific artifacts to tie anything together other than broken pottery sherds. This is a far reach even for archaeologists. 3200 years until they were
discovered by the Europeans and some type of record exists.

Though unknown, it is claimed that the movement to colonize the nearby islands began in Taiwan and spreading in three main stages

3. “They reached out and found islands separated from each other by hundreds of miles of empty ocean.
Response: This is an assumption of huge proportions when we realize that the only reason this is being said, is because archaeologists believed they populated the entire western South Pacific, and in doing so, had to have been awesome sailors to have broached the difficulties and dangers of sailing all those distances in small canoes.
4. “Their descendants, the Polynesians, would populate islands from Hawaii to Easter Island.”
Response: Another fantastic assumption. There is no proof that this culture, or any Melanesian culture was the forerunners or ancestors of the Polynesians. There is absolutely nothing to tie these two locals together by the people found there. Polynesians have almost nothing in common in features or anything else with Melanesians.
5. “The Polynesians possibly even reached the South American continent.” 
Response: Against winds and currents in dugout canoes, they crossed nearly two thousand miles of open ocean to reach South America and then what? Grab a few sweet potatoes and sail back home? Why is it so hard to take the easier reversed step of going with winds and currents in drift voyages (as Thor Heyerdahl proved) and have South American cultures populate Polynesia?
    Consider the following statement from those who insist on Melanesians populating the Pacific islands regarding a people that lived between 3200 and 2100 years before Europeans discovered their existence. Consider what could not possibly be known or even assumed until first this people can be shown to actually have done anything more than make pottery—and even who did that is pure guesswork.
(See the next post, "Was Polynesia Settled from South America-PtIII," for more information regarding the settlement of Polynesia from the east)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Was Polynesia Settled from South America? - Part I

Based upon many years of research into Easter Island, it is no longer a question of whether it was settled, or even now by whom—the only question remaining is the how. In the early years of archaeology and anthropology, when Easter Island was discovered to have once been inhabited, the first settlers had no maps or navigational instruments, which has caused spirited debate among sailors and scholars as to how they settled the region.
Ancient Polynesia Seamen sailing between islands

Early theories ranged from mythical hero navigators who discovered new lands and returned home with sailing directions, to accidental voyagers who drifted away from islands to which they could not return. In addition and complicating the argument, was the “so-called” myth of a South American origin, advocated by some 19th-century scholars and popularized in the 20th century by the archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl.
    Now, however, there is no longer speculation on the matter. As an example, we now know that migrations were deliberate, because they involved taking the people, plants and animals needed to establish sustainable colonies. There have been many experimental voyages in replica canoes and rafts, as well as other ‘computer voyages,’ into the South Pacific, with computer experiments using data for drift voyages using winds and currents show that many modern scientists claim that these major voyages across the Pacific eastward could have occurred by drift, meaning sailing with the winds and currents. 
    However, since the oceans currents in the south Pacific do not flow toward the east from the Philippines, Indonesia, and the hundreds of islands scientists claim were settled in eastward movement, we need go look at who the currents flowed and what their effect on ship movement would have been in the Age of Sail.
    Despite the movement of trade winds that have been in existence since the creation of the earth, the knowledge we now have of the Coriolis Effect, the Sverdrup transport, the clockwise above the equator and counter-clockwise currents below the equator gyres, and the millions of other data that has been compiled, both from experiment as well as computer programing, scientists exhibiting the old paradigm “dig in your heels and give no quarter” who still claim that the south sea islands were occupied by seamen from the west heading east from island to island is out of the question. Modern findings, however, show that movement came from the east moving west across the Pacific.
Red Circle surrounds the small volcanic island of Umboli, once called the Siassi Islands (Araltamu, Tamun, Tambiu and Umboli), in the Bismark Archipelago in the Dampier Strait between the Bismark and Solomon seas—Umboli also called Rooke or Siassi

They know this because of some Lapita culture pottery claimed to have belonged to a prehistoric people living in 1600 BC in the Bismarck Archipelago on a tiny island halfway between New Britain and Papua New Guinea (Kaiser Wilhelmsland), and who completely disappeared by 500 BC from the islands.
    The term “Lapita” was coined by archaeologists after mishearing a word in the local Haveke language, “zapeta’a,” which means “to dig a hole” or “the place where one digs” during a 1952 excavation on the Foué peninsula on Grande Terre, the main island of New Caledonia. The culture received its name after the type site by American archaeologists Edward W. Gifford and Richard Shulter Jr, at 'Site 13'. The settlement and pottery sherds were later dated to 800 BC and proved significant in research on the early peopling of the Pacific Islands.
A look at the currents and winds of the southwest Pacific from the Bismarck Archipelago across Melanesia to Somoa, is based on finding Lapita style pottery in each of these areas at numerous sites
 
Because of similar pottery finds, archaeologists claim that more than two hundred Lapita sites have since been uncovered, ranging about 2500 miles from coastal and island Melanesia—the area between the Bismark archipelago and New Caledonia—and as far east as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Even if this is true, from the map it is easy to see that the currents would allow such movement, and these areas, considering beginning at Bismark (Siassi/Umboi) through the Solomons, Coral Sea islands, Chesterfield islands, etc., into Vanuatu and New Caledonia islands would not be that much of a sail—it is far different to sail from there to French Polynesia, a distance of about 4500 miles, without favorable currents or winds, or close sprinkling of islands.
    Thus, while archaeologists believe that the Lapita is the ancestor of historic cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia. The characteristics of the Lapita culture are the extension of human settlement to previously uninhabited Pacific Islands scattered over a large area, distinctive geometric dentate-stamped pottery, the use and widespread distribution of obsidian, and the spread of Oceanic languages is still based almost solely on the pottery first found and believed first made in the Bismarck archipelago. Yet, being able to sail the huge, open distances from Melanesia to Polynesia, as shown in the map below, is simply out of the question in canoes, against the winds and currents that are very different in the eastern South Pacific than in the western South Pacific.
According to the “pottery” archaeologists, “Classic” Lapita pottery was produced between 1350 and 750 B.C. in the Bismarck Archipelago. Written history of this area did not begin until European navigators first sighted New Guinea in the early part of the 16th century. There is no written history prior to that time—meaning the idea that the islands were settled as early as 1600 BC as archaeologists claim, there would have been 3200 years between these two dates, which is a point that should he thoroughly understood. 3200 years with a single piece of history other than some broken sherds of pottery.
    When the Europeans arrived, the people of the islands still relied on bone, wood, and stone tools. They had developed a productive agricultural system and traded along the coast (mainly in pottery, shell ornaments and foodstuffs) and in the interior (exchanging forest products for shells and other sea products).
    The first known Europeans to sight New Guinea were probably the Portuguese and Spanish navigators sailing in the South Pacific in the early part of the 16th century. In 1526–1527 the Portuguese explorer Jorge de Menezes accidentally came upon the principal island and is credited with naming it "Papua," after a Malay word for the frizzled quality of Melanesian people's hair. The Spaniard Yñigo Ortiz de Retez applied the term "New Guinea" to the island in 1545 because of a perceived resemblance between the islands' inhabitants and those found on the African Guinea coast.
    Although European navigators visited the islands and explored their coastlines thereafter, European researchers knew little of the inhabitants until the 1870s, when Russian anthropologist Nicholai Muklukho-Maklai made a number of expeditions to New Guinea, spending several years living among native tribes, and described their way of life in a comprehensive treatise.
Lapita Pottery has a distinct color, shape and engravings; however, they are not so distinct that they are unlike any pottery anywhere else in the world

Lapita pottery from Vanuatu, Museum in Port Vila. The low-fired earthenware pottery, often tempered with shell or sand, is typically decorated with a dentate (toothed) stamp. It has been theorized that these decorations may have been transferred to or from less hardy mediums such as tapa (bark cloth), mats or tattoos.
    While it is unknown, researchers suppose that the "Lapita people" spoke Proto-Oceanic, a precursor of the Oceanic branch of Austronesian. However, given the difficulty of linking non-literate material culture to languages, this attribution cannot be verified by independent sources, though it is claimed to be one of the tracking devices used to follow the Lapita culture’s expansion into Polynesia.
(See the next post, “Was Polynesia Settled from South America? Part II,” for more information regarding the settlement of Polynesia from the east)

Monday, June 1, 2020

Cheeseman, Artifacts and Andean Peru

Is there a connection between the ancient ruins in Central and South America and the stories told in the Book of Mormon, a volume of scripture sacred to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? A collection now on display at Brigham Young University lets viewers inspect pre-Columbian artifacts while ruminating over that question.
 
Housed in the Reading Room of the Joseph Smith Building on BYU campus, the exhibit features items from the collection of Paul R. Cheesman, an American archeologist and a former professor of religious education at BYU. He was also the president of the Foster Corporation, and heavily involved in Central and South America, where he developed a collection and strong interest in pre-Columbian archaeology, and director of Book of Mormon studies in BYU’s Religious Studies Center. Cheesman was known for research of correlations between the Book of Mormon and pre-Columbian American discoveries (Paul R. Cheesman and C. Wilfred Griggs, eds., Scriptures for the Modern World, Provo, UT, 1984, p.vi; Cheesman, Research and Perspectives: Recent Studies on the Book of Mormon, Ensign, Salt Lake City, LDS Church June 1989). 
    Cheesman, who died in 1991, was renowned for his research of ancient American archaeology and ancient Christian scripture. He was a sought-after Latter-day Saint scholar who taught religious studies at BYU for 23 years.  He spent much of his professional life collecting artifacts from Central and South American countries. He hoped to find evidence that would prove the veracity of the Book of Mormon, which Latter-day Saints believe was translated from ancient records by church.
    Since its publication in 1830, many have tried to discredit the historical accuracy of the Book of Mormon, while others, like Cheesman, have sought to prove the work's truthfulness. Over his lifetime, Cheesman gathered more than 800 artifacts and took thousands of photographic slides. His collection includes manuscripts, gallery prints, transparencies, photos, textiles, audio/visual materials, historical books and personal literary materials and reference files.
One of the gold plates found in Peru by Paul R. Cheesman with writing on it

After his death, Cheesman's widow, Millie, donated his collection of papers and artifacts to BYU's Museum of Peoples and Cultures in 1992. His work and the items do not necessarily prove whether the Book of Mormon is true or not, but according to Paul Stavast, director of the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, the collection's biggest role is to inspire people to learn more about the book of scripture.
    Officials chose a selection of approximately 200 pieces for display in the Reading Room. The artifacts include metal cups and rings, pottery, a Mayan stone and ceramic figurines. An interactive touch screen with headphones is also set up to allow visitors to view three film productions by Cheesman including, "Ancient America Speaks," "So Let it Be Written" and "Before Columbus."
    Also prominently featured in the exhibit is an ancient codex (a hand-written manuscript) acquired from the Vatican in Rome, Italy, which contains drawings and folds out like an accordion, and a replica of an original gold plate that Cheesman secured from the Gold Museum of Peru, unique because of the uncataloged symbols etched on its surface. 
Paul and Millie Cheesman on an archaeological trip in South America 

Millie Cheesman often accompanied her husband on excursions to Central and South America, and remembers the discovery of the gold plate as a highlight in her husband's career. "In his lifetime he had never seen an ancient American gold plate that had writing symbols on it," she said.
    The plate is too valuable to be publicly displayed, so an exact replica was created for the exhibit and formally presented to Alan Parrish, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU, on behalf of the University. He took over some of Cheesman's studies and oversaw the compilation of the current exhibit. His involvement with Cheesman's research and collection has allowed him an inside look at why Cheesman is considered a leader in bringing to public attention the possible connection between pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Americas and the stories told in the Book of Mormon.
    "We consider him a pioneer of popularizing evidences of Book of Mormon story," said Parrish. "He wanted to show that there was a very definite connection of what he found in these countries that supported Christian studies and the Book of Mormon, in particular. "He never claimed to be an archeologist. But he was a very avid Book of Mormon student and he wanted to do anything he could to increase the popularity of the Book of Mormon. He used archeology, geography and artifacts to increase people's interest."
A Sicán inverse-face beaker found on the La Leche River in Peru 

Cheesman's interest in the ancient Americas was first sparked in 1955 while serving as president of the Foster Corporation, a company influential in constructing the Pan-American Highway and widening the Panama Canal. It was on a visit to Costa Rica's rain forests that Cheesman found his first ancient American artifact. In the ensuing years he witnessed excavation destroy many ancient burial mounds and communities, and though much was destroyed, Cheesman did manage to save many important artifacts—some of which are now on display.
    Alan Parrish noted that though the artifacts contained in Cheesman's collection may not confirm the Book of Mormon, they offer the viewer food for thought.
    "I don't know that there's anything that could really prove anything, by way of artifact or writing, to clearly evidence the Book of Mormon," Parrish said. "But it certainly shows a lot of possibilities."
    Several examples of engraved plates have recently been discovered in Central and South America and are under investigation. Two are indicative of the treasures that may yet be discovered in America. According to Cheesman in a 1979 article on the LDS Church website, Ancient Writing on Metal Plates, a gold plate measuring 4 by 8 inches, is said to have been found in a tomb in the Lambayeque area of northern Peru; its eight symbols have not been translated, or even identified, now at the Hugo Cohen collection in Lima, as being similar to writing of ancient Cyprus (Pres. and Fellows of Harvard College 1979).
In his work, Cheesman says he literally saw hundreds of examples of messages engraved on metal. Not all of these messages have been translated; in some cases, the language is so ancient that translations are still uncertain. In other cases, the language can be read but there are simply so many examples of the same kind of writing that no one has gone to the work to make a translation. Most of the examples seem to be of treaties, laws, or religious texts.Akkadian writing around 2400 BC. The languages on metal plates found in the Old World range from Akkadian, dating from about 2450 B.C., to such comparatively “modern” dead languages as Greek and Latin. But in the New World, examples of writing on metal plates are only now beginning to emerge. Part of the reason is that archaeology in America has been important only since the turn of the century. Since less study has been applied, less is known about the languages of the pre-Columbian Indian. Also, fewer artifacts have been unearthed than in the richly storied lands of Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean
    However, as early as 1851, Mariano Eduardo de Rivero, director of Lima’s National Museum, and his associate, Juan Diego de Tschudi, asserted that there were two kinds of ancient Peruvian writing: “The one and surely the most ancient consisted of certain hieroglyphic characters; the other of knots made with strings of various colors. The hieroglyphs, very different from the Mexican ones, were sculpted in stone or engraved in metal.” (Antiquidades Peruanas, Vienna: Imprenta Imperial de la Corte y del Estado, 1851, vol.5, p101).
    The examples of ancient writing give us a glimpse into an ancient world of complex people and purposes. We learn much about a culture when we see writings that were considered so important that the scribes went to the labor of preserving them indefinitely—thus we learn of the ancient world that gave us the Book of Mormon.