Friday, September 28, 2018

Connecting the Dots in South America – Part II

Continued from the previous post about the connection with South America and the islands of the Pacific.
    In the last post, it was discussed how the archaeologist and explorer, Thor Heyerdahl, discovered the connection between the Easter Island people and South America. However, most researchers dismissed Heyerdahl’s theory of a South American source for Easter Island’s culture, mainly since it countered an age-old belief in the opposite, arguing that not a single South American artifact had ever been found in 50 years of intensive archaeology in Polynesia, and that there was no trace of a sudden influx of new cultural influences at any point in Easter Island’s history. They describe his theory as “a tottering edifice precariously based on preconceptions, extreme subjectivity, distortions and very little hard evidence” (Paul Bahn and John Flenley, Easter Island, Earth Island, Thames and Hudson, London, 1992, p68).
    However, even these hardened critics concede that there must have been at least sporadic contacts between Polynesians and South America, though they think it was probably, in maintaining the old paradigm, the Polynesians who went to South America rather than the other way round.
The Sweet Potato has been found all over Polynesia, though it originated anciently in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian lands

However, that does not explain the appearance of the Sweet Potato throughout Polynesia. In fact, by analyzing the DNA of 1,245 sweet potato varieties (sets of marker chloroplast and nuclear microsatellites) with modern and herbarium samples from Asia and the Americas, researchers have found genetic proof that the root vegetable made it all the way to Polynesia from the Andes (specifically Peru and Ecuador—nearly 400 years before the Spanish conquest of South America (Caroline Roullier, et al, “Historical collections reveal patterns of diffusion of sweet potato in Oceania,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol.110, No.6, February 5, 2013, pp2205-2210). In addition, the lexical similarity between terms for sweet potato in Polynesian languages (“kuumala” and its derivatives) and the terms for this plant (“kumara,” “cumar,” or “cumal”) found among Quechua speakers of northwestern South America supports the view that humans introduced sweet potato from South America into Polynesia (Ibid).
    Die-hard anthropologists who promote so fervently a west to east migration of Polynesia, have been heavily engaged in a controversial debate. Begun because anthropologist and similar scientists, with their pre-conceived viewpoint of west to east development of Polynesia and could not accept that the Sweet Potato was brought by South Americans to Polynesia. In trying to prove their theory, they were hindered in their evaluative proof seeking because modern sweet potatoes are a genetic disorder—a hybrid of different cultivars that Europeans helped spread around the globe—so it was difficult to decipher their origins from their DNA. However, Rouiller and her team got around this problem by turning to dried sweet potato remains kept in a London museum. Capt. James Cook's crew picked up the vegetables in Polynesia back in 1769, before all this interbreeding began. Examining the genetic blueprint of Cook's sweet potatoes allowed Rouiller to trace the root's evolution all the way back to Ecuador and Peru.
    A similar pattern of the gourd has also been found. Thus, such foods would be considered “biofacts” in archaeology, which is a plant, seed or remains of either, which show the foods grown by prehistoric people (John Algeo and Adele Algeo, American Speech, Vol.63, No.4, Duke University Press, 988, pp345-352).
The quipu was a method used by the Incas and other ancient Andean cultures to keep records and communicate information

It might also be noted that the ancient Peruvian quipu, the system of knotted cords, is used on many island in Polynesia and Melanesia, into Indonesia and through China. Thus there seems little doubt that, contrary to what anthropologists and such sciences avidly claim, people from South America either completely, or in part, immigrated to and founded the island populations of Polynesia.
    In addition, in a 2014 study published in Current Biology, that analyzed the genomes of 27 modern Rapanui. Like most people who live on the island today, they have Polynesian, European, and Native American ancestry—with about 8% of their DNA inherited from Native American ancestors, appearing in their genomes in short bursts rather than long stretches. Because the contribution of each group’s DNA becomes more fragmented over time, that’s a strong signal of a long-ago meeting between different populations.
    Based on the length of the Native American DNA sequences, the researchers concluded that the Rapanui’s Polynesian and Native American ancestors must have met at least 19 generations ago, between 1280 AD and 1495 AD—long before Europeans arrived on the island in 1722 AD, and at least 36 years before the Spanish arrived in South America (J. Victor Moreno-Mayar, et al., “Genome-wide Ancestry Patterns in Rapanu9 suggest Pre-European Admixture with Native Americans,” Current Biology, Vol.24, Iss.21, November 2014, pp2518-2525).
Easter Islander writing called Rongorongo that has never been deciphered

In addition, it was found that the Napa Nui, or Easter islanders, had their own writing system, known as Rongorongo, which we have written about extensively in this blog. The scientific orthodox view is that either the islanders invented it after the arrival of the Europeans, or that they brought it with them from another Polynesian island, even though no Polynesian tribe is known to have possessed the art of writing. Thor Heyerdahl points out that a variety of writing systems were in use in pre-Columbian America. It should also be noted, as we have reported before, that when initially questioned about the rongorongo boards on the island, the indigenous Rapa Nui claimed they writing was brought from the east (South America) when their forefathers first settled on the island.
    Yet despite all that Thor Heyerdahl found regarding the Rapa Nui and the Polynesians, there is no question that the U.S. academic world, anthropologists, archaeologists and similar sciences joined in a cabal, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to dismiss Thor Heyerdahl’s findings and claims, banding together to ignore him regardless of what he turned up. They ridiculed his excavations, his research and his exciting evidences with vitriolic responses for years, accused him of being a racial supremacist (on the basis that a man-god Viracocha was reputed to have had pale skin) patronized him as a “swashbuckler” because he actually got out from behind a desk and tested his theories in the field, and classified him as “a nuisance, an obstruction and a pest.”
    As earlier mentioned, some plants on Easter Island clearly came from South America, such as the islanders’ staple food the sweet potato, and also the root vegetable manioc and the bottle gourd. Typically, mainstream researchers prefer to believe that the Polynesians made contact with the South American mainland and returned with the sweet potato, rather than South Americans sailing to Easter Island and bringing the sweet potato and other plants with them.
    These skeptics also point out that the island had no maize, beans, or squash—which are staple resources in South America. Two species of freshwater plants, found in Easter Island’s crater lakes but nowhere else in the Pacific, and both useful to man, come from South America. One of them was the totora reed, which dominated the banks of South America’s Lake Titicaca and was cultivated in vast irrigated fields in the desert valleys on the coast below; it was used for making mats, houses, and boats.
    The other was known to the islanders as tavari, and was used as a medicinal plant. Like the totora, it grew in Lake Titicaca. The most useful wild tree on Easter Island was the toromiro tree, which was used for carving. It is so close to its continental Chilean relative that it could be considered the same species; no other closely related species existed in Polynesia.
    Pollen analysis shows that totora has been present on Easter Island for thousands of years, contradicting native traditions that it was brought by the Polynesian Hotu Matua. Mainstream writers suggest that seeds could have been transported to the island by the wind, ocean, or on birds’ feet. Another possibility is that they were brought by an earlier ‘Hotu Matua’.
LtoR: Tapa mallet; bell-shaped pounder; kava-drinking bowl
On the other hand Heyerdahl pointed out that the cultural elements usually considered indicative of Polynesian culture are the grooved wooden mallet for making bark cloth (tapa), the bell-shaped pounder for making poi (food paste made from the taro root), and the wooden bowl for the kava-drinking ceremonies, but that none of them had found their way to aboriginal Easter Island.
    Most researchers see the total absence of woven textiles and pottery on Easter Island as damning evidence against it having had any significant links with Peru, since these are the two most characteristic and abundant products of Peruvian culture; obviously, since prehistoric pottery has been found in the Marquesas, double standards are at play here. Yet, that does not stop many researchers believing that Easter Island was originally settled from the west.
(See the next post, “Connecting the Dots in South America – Part III,” for a better understanding of how the early cultures of Andean Peru relate to the various islands of the South Pacific)

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