Monday, April 20, 2015

Rise of Civilization in Peru—Sweet Potato – Part II

Continuing from the last post with the question about how the Sweet Potato arrived in South America and Polynesia. 
Today, based on radiocarbon dates, there is no question that the Sweet Potato was domesticated in the highlands of Peru about 8000 years ago, some 3000 years before it was found in Central America. There is also no question today that there was definite contact between South America and Polynesia long before the Europeans arrived in the Western Hemisphere.
    In fact, as stated previously, Andean Peru has more indigenous potato species and varieties than anywhere else on earth, with upwards of 4000 such different tubers. There can be really no question, either from the sheer number of indigenous varieties and the radiocarbon-dating, as well as the DNA sampling, that the potato and the Sweet Potato originated in the Andean highlands.
    This, then, leaves us with the question as to how they arrived in Polynesia. As has been shown here in the past, there are those in archaeology and anthropology who want to insist that man entered South America once the Panama Isthmus rose out of the water to connect with South America—these are the same who claim man entered the Western Hemisphere over a so-called Siberian Land Bridge (see previous posts on this subject).
    The point is, and has been shown in the earlier series on radiocarbon dating and Libby’s Carbon-14 clock, since the atmosphere is not in equilibrium according to every test to which it has been subject, then we need to look elsewhere for how the Western Hemisphere, and specifically South America could have been inhabited within the much shorter time frame involved with an Earth where the atmosphere has not yet reached equilibrium, less than 30,000 years of age.
    The Book of Mormon, of course, answers that question as well as how the tuber got to Polynesia. Lehi settled in Andean South America, the Nephites (and probably the Jaredites before them) domesticated the potato and the Sweet Potato, and Nephites in Hagoth’s ship that sailed westward (or to an unknown destination) carried the potato into the drift currents that took the ship out and down to Polynesia—to have gone in the opposite direction would not have made much sense (See the recent post “Personal Bias Drives Science,” Saturday, February 28, 2015).
While most voyages of antiquity were direct, and followed winds and currents, the Polynesians would have had to sail south from Fiji/Tonga/Samoa area far below New Zealand to pick up the Southern Ocean to take them eastward to South America on the West Wind Drift and the Prevailing Westerlies, then sail up the coast to Peru on the Humboldt Current, pick up the Sweet Potato, then continue on to around Ecuador to pick up the westward flowing currents that would take them back to the Marquesas Islands in Polynesia—an overall voyage of 7100 miles of open ocean and a 10,673 mile to Peru before returning home—another 7000 miles (4100) to land, then across the islands from Marquesas, to Tahiti to Cook and then Tonga, etc.
    To consider that they sailed such a path south to the Southern Ocean, then across to South America, then up the coast to Peru, picked up the Sweet Potato, then sailed out into the current and back down to Polynesia is both unsound, and cannot be verified by any Polynesian artifacts found in South America, though numerous South American artifacts are found throughout Polynesia.
    So how did the Sweet Potato get to Polynesia?
    We have the legendary Norwegian explorer and Anthropologist, Thor Heyerdahl’s drift voyage in Kon-Tiki to thank for the answer to this. On the 28th of April 1947, Heyerdahl left his wife and children behind to cross the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft with five other crew members. His purpose was a simple one, to show that people from Peru sailed to and had contact with Polynesia instead of the then assumed other way around.
    The crew did not pack any modern technology on board of the raft, except for a simple radio, and were accompanied by only each other and a parrot—there were no chase vessels, helicopters, GPS or other assistance. With the world media watching, the crew navigated the Kon-Tiki across the Pacific Ocean using the stars and being driven by the currents and wind.
The Kon-Tiki voyage from Peru to the Raroia Islands in Polynesia—4300 miles in 101 days, sailing with the currents and winds
    The Kon-Tiki expedition was funded by private loans, along with donations of equipment from the U.S. Army. Heyerdahl and his small team went to Peru, where, with the help of dockyard facilities provided by the Peruvian authorities, they constructed the raft out of balsa logs and other native materials in an indigenous style as recorded in illustrations by Spanish conquistadors. The trip began on April 28, 1947.
    While taking on thunderstorms, sharks and the dangers of the wide open sea, these six men were pitted against nature trying to get their raft across to the Polynesian shore. After gambling all he had, including his marriage, Heyerdahl was determined to succeed. Heyerdahl and five companions sailed the raft for 101 days over 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean before reaching a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. The crew made successful landfall and all returned safely.
Crew of the Kon-Tiki posing aboard their raft before leaving Callao, Peru, to sail northward to the Bay of Guayaquil and pick up the westward flowing current out into the Pacific and down to Polynesia
    His documentary of the journey won him an Oscar in 1951 and is the only Norwegian movie to have won an Oscar to date. The book Heyerdahl wrote about the Kon-Tiki expedition was translated into 70 languages and has sold over 50 million copies throughout the entire world. The important point of it all from a scientific viewpoint is that winds and currents move westward across the Pacific from Peru and Ecuador along the South Pacific Gyre and curve down into Polynesia. No currents from Polynesia move eastward toward South America.
    Since there is no question that the Sweet Potato was domesticated in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago, and any coastal voyage from this area would take a vessel directly to Polynesia, one can only wonder why anthropologists ignore this fact and so many insist the Polynesians made contact with South America and returned home to Polynesia with the Sweet Potato. At one time anthropologists tried to claim that the Sweet Potato originated in Polynesia and made its way to South America, but recent DNA tests have been so important, showing without a doubt where the Sweet Potato originated—in Andean South America! From there it traveled westward across the Pacific to Polynesia!

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