Monday, June 8, 2020

Was Polynesia Settled from South America – Part VII

Continuing from the previous post regarding the settlement of Polynesia, the first five points were covered and we begin this article with #13 below:
    As stated earlier, it would not have been realistic for early men to sail against winds and currents across a vast empty ocean in an outrigger—it would have been much too far to paddle, and unrealistic to venture out into an empty ocean with no knowledge of what, if anything, lay beyond their ever increasing vision of the open sea.
Style of outriggers used from earliest times: LtoR, Top to Bottom: paraw, proa (shown with a Tanja sail), lakana, and tepukei—the latter with a crab claw sail, used for travel and trading within the Santa Cruz archipelago

These early outriggers sometimes had sails, with the most common a crab claw sail or, as it is sometimes known, Oceanic lateen or Oceanic sprit sail. It was a triangular sail with spars along upper and lower edges. The crab claw sail was used in many traditional Austronesian cultures, as can be seen by the traditional parw, proa, lakana and tepukei outriggers.
    Austronesians traditionally made their sails, including crab claw sails, from woven mats of the resilient and salt-resistant pandanus leaves. These sails allowed Austronesians to embark on distant voyaging that was limited to within an island group where the distance from one island to another was minimal. In some cases, these were one-way voyages of resettlement.
    The outrigger sail was an outgrowth of the lateen sail know to the Arabs in their trade with Austronesians in the Indian Ocean. But it needs to be kept in mind that while drift voyages along ocean currents, such as that of Thor Heyerdahl in Kon-Tiki, is both understandable and provable, sailing out into an empty sea fighting the winds and currents, seems to make no sense whatsoever. When Capt. James Cook discovered the Polynesian islands and saw the vast number of outrigger canoes, they were involved in performing everyday functions such as fishing, personal transportation, and local trade. Extremely large double canoes were used for war, large scale trade, and to show the prestige of a leader. It should be kept in mind, that these small and large double outrigger canoes, were in the waters off the islands—not out in the open sea. 
    This is borne out by the fact that over 95% of the the Solomons’ population is Melanesian and only 3% Polynesian.
14. “Sailing across the wind – once navigators had found new islands, they could then begin to sail safely across prevailing winds. They would know that on their return they could stop at these islands if they could not make it all the way home.”
Wind Direction: Sailing across the wind is shown with the yellow dots—the three not so dotted cannot be sailed that close to the wind and is called “into the wind,” not “across the wind”

Response: Once again, sailing across the wind is only possible when there is wind behind the sails, such as in close reaching, beam reaching, broad reaching and running. Anciently, sailing beam reach was far more likely to be achieved than close reach. At the same time, there would have been no guarantee that they would “have found new islands,” since Polynesia covers 10 million square miles of water, and only 686,576 square miles of land (not counting New Zealand and Hawaii).
The vast openness of the Southeastern Pacific Ocean

With no prior knowledge where islands were located, or even if there were islands in the direction they sailed, no maps or charts, and no experience sailing great distances, the changes of early man reaching land moving eastward across the Pacific Ocean against wind and currents is very unlikely.
    If these islands were occupied, it is unlikely the inhabitants would have welcomed strangers with open arms. The islands had a reputation of killing those not of their tribe (or island).
15. “Sailing downwind – this happened at a later stage. Sailing downwind usually requires returning by a different route, and it took time for explorers to discover the intermediate islands that made these routes possible. Sailing downwind also indicated that navigators understood how to use the various weather systems.”
Response: As mentioned earlier, this was the prevailing method of sailing known to early man. Once these currents that circulated in constant patters were discovered, then sailing exploration was possible. This is what Thor Heyerdahl learned in just one year on Ftu-Hiva, and its discovery led him to understand how to drift voyage from Peru to Polynesia. He also understood once he learned of the Southern Ocean (at least the current of that ocean), that a return to Peru was possible.
    On the other hand, and taking nothing away from Heyedahls’ great and outstanding achievement, he knew what islands lay where in Polynesia, and understood where those currents would take him and about how long it would take. He also had compasses, GPS, radios, etc., which is all very different from these early voyages claimed for islanders in outrigger canoes against wind and currents.
    As for “and it took time for explorers to discover the intermediate islands that made these routes possible” it should be kept in mind that the ocean of Polynesia is 10 million square miles.
    When Mormon tells us that at least one ship left Hagoth’s shipyard area along the West Sea near the narrow neck of land, we know it could easily have picked up the westward current (as Thor Heyerdahl showed centuries later) and sail/drift down toward Polynesia. While the Lord could have populated the Polynesian islands by another means, this seems one of the most likely of any other. That science cannot find proof of this is understandable—one cannot find something when they doggedly look in the wrong place.
The sweet potato originated in and is indigenous to Andean South America, specifically Peru and Ecuador

On the other hand, if Polynesia (the western most islands, east of Micronesia and Melonesia), were settled anciently by boat, it would have been with the winds and currents moving from east to west out into the Pacific Ocean from South America. And to suggest this is quite obvious when considering the Sweet Potato.
    While pottery for support of movement from island to island, is questionable, the existence of the Sweet Potato in Polynesia is definite proof, since the tuber is indigenous to South America. During the Age of Sail, Columbus and others discovered certain foods in the Andes of South America that they took back to Europe, such as the tomato and chili pepper. At the same time, another indigenous Andean food was the Sweet Potato that showed up across the islands of Polynesia.
    In fact, by analyzing the DNA of 1,245 sweet potato varieties from Asia and the Americas, researchers have found a genetic smoking gun that proves the root vegetable made it all the way to Polynesia from the Andes (Peru and Ecuador) — 400 years or more before Columbus reached the New World.
     According to Caroline Rouiiller, in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “The presence of the Sweet Patoto in precontact archaeological sites scattered throughout Polynesia has long been considered as direct evidence for prehistoric contact between Polynesia and America.”
    Any descent was based on the fact that modern sweet potatoes are a genetic muddle—a hybrid of different cultivars that Europeans helped spread around the globe—so it was hard to decipher their origins from their DNA. However, Rouiller 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 took off. Examining the genetic blueprint of Cook's sweet potatoes allowed Rouiller and her colleagues to trace the root's evolution all the way back to Ecuador and Peru (Caroline Rouiller et al, PNAS, Washisngton DC, February 5, 2013, pp2205-2210).
    Also, the possibility of an early westward dispersal of sweet potato carried by Polynesians to Tonga, Samoa, and eastern Melanesia is confirmed by early historical accounts (Roger Green, The Sweet Potato in Oceania: A Reappraisal, Oceania Publications, Sydney University, Sydney, Australia, 2005, pp4362; also M.G. Allen, pp99-108).
    All of the archaeological along with linguistic evidence shows that the movement of the Sweet Potato was from the Americas out into the south Pacific, not the other way around.
(See the next post, "Was Polynesia Settled from Sough America - Part VIII," for more on the lack of reasoning behind claiming that early man island-hopped across the Pacific from the west to the eat)

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