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)

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