Monday, January 22, 2018

Did Ancient Pleistocenes Really Sail the Oceans on Rafts? – Part I

There is so much faulty and even downright fallacious ideas that have worked their way into the public conscience over the years because of wild speculative so-called “scientists” pontificating about our humanistic past, that it is hard to overlook. Speculative and unfounded articles and publications keep working their way into the mainstream of public knowledge meant, in many cases, to undermine any logical view of truth as set forth in biblical and time-proven facts—and in many circles, such as academia, science, and the public square, an opposite view is not even allowed.
The problem is, once such ideas get into the public conscience, it is almost impossible to eradicate the falsity of such speculative commentary. Take, as an example the claim that the islands of the South Pacific were populated by maritime Pleistocene humans as much as 800,000 years ago. This so-called Pleistocene Epoch is considered by such scientists to be the “first in which Homo sapiens evolved, and by the end of the epoch humans could be found in nearly every part of the planet.” According to these same “experts,” the Pleistocene was the first epoch in the Quaternary Period and the sixth in the Cenozoic Era, and is followed by the current stage, called the Holocene Epoch, or Age of Man (which began at the end of the last Ice Age around 11,500 years ago).
    It needs to be noted that over the years such unconscionable views have led to a belief shared by most scientists that the South Pacific was populated through west to east migration of early man moving from Asia into what is now known as the Indonesia archipelago. This period is considered to have continued until about the fourth century A.D. when the Kutai people produced the earliest known stone inscriptions in Indonesia found in East Kalimantan on Borneo.
This area of about 17,000 islands straddles the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and links mainland Asia with the Pacific world. It is believed that lands in the west, now largely submerged, once formed a vast continental shelf jutting out from Asia, called Sundaland (Meryanne K. Tumonggor, et al, “The Indonesian archipelago: an ancient genetic highway linking Asia and the Pacific,” Journal of Human Genetics, Vol 58, Yokohama, Japan, 2013, pp 165-173).
    Within this movement from Asia into the archipelago and the western Pacific, modern scientists and nautical archaeologists claim that Australia and the South Pacific islands were settled by Paleolithic humans hundreds of thousands of years ago. According to Robert G. Bednarik, in Sailing a Paleolithic Raft, who claims that using Paleolithic technology, that is stone tools, these early humans built rafts of bamboo and wood and set out to sail distant lands across open seas to unknown destinations that could not be observed.
    Within and according to this movement it is understood that ideas about the cognitive and technological evolution of humans can be affected significantly by the findings of archaeological work in combination with replicative sea journeys. The evidence indicates that seafaring “believed to be” 800,000 years ago. Homo erectus had the ability to reach and colonize several islands of Indonesia.
    Colonization by navigation virtually presupposes purpose-specific communication and symbolling abilities in the population concerned. According to Bednarik, who is the Director of the International Institute of Replicative Archaeology in Australia, and author of An Experiment in Pleistocene Seafaring, “Eventually, the long development of hominid navigational capabilities led to the settlement of distant lands in the Late Pleistocene, including the continent of Australia and numerous islands in the general region. These destinations remained invisible for much of the journeys required to reach them—meaning that the seamen, leaving their island for exploration or settlement could not see the land of their destination, and in all reality (and should not be overlooked), based upon the time frame involved, could not possibly have known whether there was land beyond the horizon or not. However, according to Bednarik, “We have evidence of Pleistocene navigation in two world regions, in the Mediterranean and from east Asia to Australia.”
The Lombok Strait, the ancient access point into the Great Sunda Islands, including Borneo and beyond

Yet, as for the area of Asia to Australia, much is questionable. It should also be noted that between the islands of Bali and Lombok, to the east of Java and West of Sumbawa islands, is the Lombok Strait, an opening 37 miles long and 12 to 24 miles wide between the Indian Ocean to the south and the Java Sea to the north, with plenty of depth for today’s tankers that frequent the Strait. Anciently, this Strait provided direct access into the Greater Sunda Islands, Borneo, the Makassar Strait, and north into the Philippines, or east to the Celebes, Moluccas, the Banda Sea and New Guinea, or west to Java, Sumatra, and Malaysia.
    According to Bednarik’s theory, in ancient history, the peoples of these islands built rafts, called Lombok Rafts, to move between the islands that, for the most part, could be seen along a line of sight. Meaning, that when setting out on the raft, their destination could be seen across the sea nearby or on the horizon.
    It is interesting to know that water transport through this Strait is, according to Craig Brokensha, in “Lombok Waves Visible from Space” (Swellnet Analysis, December 2016), “Water transport through the Strait is seasonal, affected by the difference in atmospheric pressure across the ocean basins, which is driven by the monsoon. During the southeast monsoon (our winter), sea levels are lower on the Indonesian side and the flow is from north to south. This reverses during the northwest (summer) monsoon, but the average flow is to the south.”
    This would have been extremely important to ancient mariners, using either paddles, oars or rudimentary sails on their rafts to cross the straits, or move through them to other islands. This channel is one of the only access points between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, causing the ocean dynamics and currents through Lombok Strait to be some of the most complex and fastest in the world. In fact, the water transport here is between 6.5 to 13 million cubic feet per second, and are known as some of the strongest tidal flows on earth—by way of comparison, water over Niagara Falls flows at 20,052 cubic feet per second.
    This flow is the result of being one of the main Indonesian through-flows between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. This flow, along with the extreme water depths have helped prevent animal species crossing between Asia and Australia, with this fauna boundary known as “The Wallice Line,” which runs right through Lombok Strait.
Lombok Strait running between the islands of Bali to the west and Lombok to the east. Note the currents and waves that are so distinct that they are visible from space in this NASA photo

This flow, with varying water densities and current speeds between the surface water and submerged currents flowing over the sill, creates large internal disturbances, which can actually be seen from space. These internal waves travel both north and south of Lombok Strait depending on the through-flow direction with reports of them breaking and capping at times from people making the crossing to Lombok from Bali, and generate wave lengths up to several miles.
    The point being that ancient people would have had some difficulty moving through and upon, especially against, these high speed waves in just a Lombok raft, made of bamboo logs strapped together with vines.
(See the next post, “Did Ancient Pleistocenes Really Sail the Oceans on Rafts? – Part II,” for more on the possibility of ancient mariners sailing Lombok Rafts across countless miles of open ocean)

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