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       The Pacific Islands:

The Origin of the Pacific Islanders:

The exemplary research by Thor Hyerdahll in the 1970's catapulted the field of prehistoric Polynesian migration into the public eye. His 'maverick' approach to research has earned him a place in the Hall-of-fame of modern explorers, anthropologist's and historians alike. The debate over the origins of the Polynesian Islanders is finally becoming clarified through genetic research, but our understanding of the overall prehistoric Pacific people's way of life, methods of oceanic navigation and cross-cultural exchanges is still far from understood.

Maori history from New Zealand describes their origin was from India, as we see from the following extract from an article recorded from Maori elders by Elsdon Best (1856 -1931 ) ;

'Maori tradition tells us that their ancestors in times long passed away, 161 generations ago - (approximately 1500B.C. - a time of turmoil in India), migrated from a hot country named Irihia (Vrihia is an ancient name for India). The cause of exodus, from this original homeland was a disastrous war with a dark-skinned folk, in which great numbers were slain. The principle food supply on the voyage was the sapless small seed named ari - the Indian word for rice. They crossed the oceans (Indian Ocean and Atlantic), to sojourn in two lands, named Tawhiti-roa (distant long land Central America) and Tawhiti-nui (distant big land - Peru - no voyage between these two lands), after which they entered the isles of Polynesia'.

This unlikely sounding Maori mythology has been recently substantiated through genetic research.

Manfred Kaiser et al. found the male Y chromosome (DYS390.3 deletion on the RPS4Y711T chromosome background) shared by Polynesians and Melanesians, showed a divergence of genes 11,500 years ago, confirming a completely separate evolution of Polynesians and Melanesians since this time. This very early date of separation coincides with the time when rising sea level at the end of the last Ice Age was flooding extensive coastal plains in S.E. Asia. Geneticist Bing Su confirmed a separate evolution since this time of separation. He found the major Melanesian Y-chromosome (haplotype H17, characterized by mutations at M4, M5 and M9) was not found in Polynesia." S.W. Serjeantson also confirmed a separate evolution. She found that; the Human lymphocyte Antigens (HLA B13, B18 and B27) are common amongst Melanesians but are totally absent from Polynesians. A11 and B40 are significantly associated with each other in Melanesia, whereas in Polynesian Populations, A11 is associated with Bw48. A11 is a Caucasian gene and appears to have been brought into the Pacific on two separate occasions. Interestingly the only other place in the world where HLA A11 is also found associated with B40 is in the Indus region, once the home of the Harappa civilization. (1)

 

Article: ScienceDaily Jan. 2009

'Pacific People Spread from Taiwan, Language Evolution, Study Shows'

'New research into language evolution suggests most Pacific populations originated in Taiwan around 5,200 years ago. Scientists at The University of Auckland have used sophisticated computer analyses on vocabulary from 400 Austronesian languages to uncover how the Pacific was settled'.

(Link to Full Article)

 

 

   Featured Locations:

Easter Island: The art of Easter Island has fascinated the world since its discovery in 1772. The cultural and artistic similarities with pre-Columbian Peruvian cultures has led many people to suggest a prehistoric contact between the two ancient cultures.

Easter Island is situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and was one of the primary islands of the Polynesian Island group. It is  best known for its hundreds of stone statues or 'Maoi' lie scattered around the island, and which encircle it on long raised platforms.

The small, isolated nature of the island has led many to suggest that this may have led to an implosion of tribal activity on the island, which culminated only shortly before its discovery by the Dutch.

(More about Easter Island)

 

 

The Yonaguni Nonument - Japan:

Although the recently discovered underwater structures off the island of Taiwan were automatically rejected by scientists as a natural feature, continued research is clearly pointing to a man-made origin.

The foundations of this structure reach down to a depth of 25m, which according to current theories of sea-level rises, suggests an origin date of around 10,000 years ago, coinciding with the end of the last great Ice-age.

The discovery of such an antiquated structure is no longer such an unfeasible proposition following the discovery of the submerged city in the Gulf of Cambay, off the Indian Coast in 2004.

(More about Yonagumi and other Underwater Discoveries)

 

 

Nan Madol (Matol). Ancient city built on a coral reef in the Caroline Islands.

The megalithic stone city of Nan modal was built with approximately 400,000 hexagonal, crystalline, basalt blocks quarried and transported from the north side of the island to the site. The site consists of 90 walled artificial islands, divided by shallow canals. The ruined walls are still more than 125 ft high in places and up to 2,580 ft long. The blocks range from 12 to 27 ft in length, many weighing more than 10 tons. Other buildings can be seen underwater that connect to the island. (12)

Excavations designed to reveal architectural building stages and style changes verify more than 2000 years of occupation and possibly a 1000 year span of major construction activity from A.D. 500 to 1500. 

The highly stratified social system at Nan Madol is the earliest known example of such centralized political power in the western Pacific.

(More about Nan Madol)

 

 

Indonesia: Toraja Island.

The Toraja area, in South Sulawesi, preserves around 100 menhirs, some of which are huge, measuring 8 meters height. The ancient Torajanese erected those stony monuments in front of the burial sites of important people.

The photo above was taken by F. van der Kooi in 1937, showing a stone being dragged through the paddy fields to its resting place.

 

 

Ha'amonga 'a Maui (Burden of Maui) - is a 12-ton stone trilithon located in Tonga, Heketā, near the village of Niutōua, in the north of the island of Tongatapu, in the Pacific ocean.

(More about this Trilithon and Others)

 

   List and Description of Featured Sites:
 
Easter Island.  
The 'Navel of the Earth'.
Nan Madol.   City built on coral reef.
Yonaguni.
  Underwater structures near Taiwan.

(Pre-Columbian Contact Between America and Pacific Cultures)

 

 

References:

1). http://www.users.on.net/~mkfenn/GeneticsrewritesPacificprehistory.htm
12).  The atlas of mysterious places. Guild publishing. 1987
 
 
 
 

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