Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian Contacts with the New World

Overview

The possibility that Polynesian seafarers made landfall and interacted with the native people of the New World before Columbus has been the topic of academic discussion for well over a century, although American archaeologists have considered the idea verboten since the 1970s. Fresh discoveries made with the aid of new technologies along with re-evaluation of longstanding but often-ignored evidence provide a stronger case than ever before for multiple prehistoric Polynesian landfalls. This book reviews the ...

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Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian Contacts with the New World

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Overview

The possibility that Polynesian seafarers made landfall and interacted with the native people of the New World before Columbus has been the topic of academic discussion for well over a century, although American archaeologists have considered the idea verboten since the 1970s. Fresh discoveries made with the aid of new technologies along with re-evaluation of longstanding but often-ignored evidence provide a stronger case than ever before for multiple prehistoric Polynesian landfalls. This book reviews the debate, evaluates theoretical trends that have discouraged consideration of trans-oceanic contacts, summarizes the historic evidence and supplements it with recent archaeological, linguistic, botanical, and physical anthropological findings. Written by leading experts in their fields, this is a must-have volume for archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and anyone else interested in the remarkable long-distance voyages made by Polynesians. The combined evidence is used to argue that that Polynesians almost certainly made landfall in southern South America on the coast of Chile, in northern South America in the vicinity of the Gulf of Guayaquil, and on the coast of southern California in North America.

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Editorial Reviews

CHOICE
Polynesia is that part of the central Pacific bounded by New Zealand, Hawai'i, and Easter Island, which is about 2,500 miles west of the Chilean coast. That would seem too far for even experienced Polynesian seafarers to cross open ocean, but this book's premise is that such crossings were not uncommon in pre-Columbian times. The idea dates back nearly 200 years, to the first suggestions of similarity in such features as culture, myth, language, fishhooks, boat design, and foods like sweet potato and chicken between coastal North and South America and parts of Polynesia. Based on a 2010 symposium, the dozen topical chapters review such similarities from archaeological and other data sources. Ranging from DNA studies of excavated chicken bones through statistical analyses of human crania (complementing other DNA work) to simple statements of similarity, the reported evidence supports connections between Polynesia and the Americas that suggest significant pre-Columbian contact. Negative views are not well represented, which violates one of the central principles of science, that hypotheses must survive falsification testing. Nonetheless, as reported in the multiauthored summary, the work presented here indicates that this theory is undergoing a strong revival. Recommended. All levels/libraries.
Current Science
These conclusions have been based on fresh discoveries using newest techniques along with re-evaluation of longstanding but often-ignored evidences. This is a definitive and comprehensive publication.
Choice
Polynesia is that part of the central Pacific bounded by New Zealand, Hawai'i, and Easter Island, which is about 2,500 miles west of the Chilean coast. That would seem too far for even experienced Polynesian seafarers to cross open ocean, but this book's premise is that such crossings were not uncommon in pre-Columbian times. The idea dates back nearly 200 years, to the first suggestions of similarity in such features as culture, myth, language, fishhooks, boat design, and foods like sweet potato and chicken between coastal North and South America and parts of Polynesia. Based on a 2010 symposium, the dozen topical chapters review such similarities from archaeological and other data sources. Ranging from DNA studies of excavated chicken bones through statistical analyses of human crania (complementing other DNA work) to simple statements of similarity, the reported evidence supports connections between Polynesia and the Americas that suggest significant pre-Columbian contact. Negative views are not well represented, which violates one of the central principles of science, that hypotheses must survive falsification testing. Nonetheless, as reported in the multiauthored summary, the work presented here indicates that this theory is undergoing a strong revival. Recommended. All levels/libraries.
California Archaeology
Polynesians in America, stemming from a symposium held at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archeology in St. Louis in 2010, addresses from fresh perspectives the question of contracts between Polynesia and the New World. The authors bring a range of mostly new archaeological, linguistic, ethnographic, and biological evidence to bear on the topic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759120044
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 1/16/2011
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry L. Jones is professor of anthropology and chair of the Social Sciences Department at California Polytechnic State University. Alice A. Storey is lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Paleoanthropology at the University of New England in Australia. Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith is professor of biological anthropology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. José Miguel Ramírez-Aliaga is archaeology director of the Centro de Estudios Rapa Nui at the Universidad de Valparaíso in Chile.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xix

Chapter 1 Re-introducing the Case for Polynesian Contact Terry L. Jones 1

Chapter 2 Diffusionism in Archaeological Theory: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Alice A. Storey Terry L. Jones 7

Chapter 3 Myths and Oral Traditions Terry L. Jones Alice A. Storey 25

Chapter 4 A Long-Standing Debate Terry L. Jones Alice A. Storey 37

Chapter 5 The Artifact Record from North America Terry L. Jones 71

Chapter 6 The Mapuche Connection José Miguel Ramírez-Aliaga 95

Chapter 7 Identifying Contact with the Americas: A Commensal-Based Approach Alice A. Storey Andrew C. Clarke Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith 111

Chapter 8 A Reappraisal of the Evidence for Pre-Columbian Introduction of Chickens to the Americas Alice A. Storey Daniel Quiróz Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith 139

Chapter 9 Did Ancient Polynesians Reach the New World? Evaluating Evidence from the Ecuadorian Gulf of Guayaquil Richard Scaglion María-Auxiliadora Cordero 171

Chapter 10 Words from Furthest Polynesia: North and South American Linguistic Evidence for Prehistoric Contact Kathryn A. Klar 194

Chapter 11 Human Biological Evidence for Polynesian Contacts with the Americas: Finding Maui on Mocha? Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith 208

Chapter 12 Rethinking the Chronology of Colonization of Southeast Polynesia Marshall I. Weisler Roger C. Green 223

Chapter 13 Sailing from Polynesia to the Americas Geoffrey Ir Win 247

Chapter 14 Summary and Conclusions Terry L. Jones Andrew C. Clarke María-Auxiliadora Cordero Roger C. Green Geoffrey Ir Win Kathryn A. Klar Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith Daniel Quiróz José Miguel Ramírez-Aliaga Richard Scaglion Alice A. Storey Marshall I. Weisler 263

References 277

Index 351

About the Contributors 355

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