Polynesian Pathways

By Peter Marsh

Hokulea - discovers Tahiti ('the distant land') from Hawai'i ('the homeland'). Painting by Herb Kane



Ever since I was a child living in the Pacific, the complexities of Pacific history and its people, have always intrigued me. Many commonly held beliefs regarding Polynesian origins did not sit right and I have always wanted to get to the truth of the matter. Some of the things which helped spark my curiosity which has resulted in a lifelong quest for the truth are shown below.

1. My father and I (in the blue) looking at the rain erosion on the Haamonga a Maui, hinting at it's great age. 2. Exploring some of the large circular fortification trenches near Taranaki.

3. My father, sister and myself inspecting a massive stockade on Ouvea where a great war between people once raged. Ouvea is a low coral island unable to support a forest with trees of this size. Tthese trees are believed to have been transported from a distant island.

4. My sister and myself sitting outside traditional round houses in Ouvea. If I had just come from Kuelap in Peru, I would have been astounded at the similarity in house construction.

5. Replica houses of the blond haired Chachapoya Cloud people, Peru. 6. I was always intrigued that King Cakabou was the first Polynesian style king to rule Fiji. Living in Fiji and visiting Tonga, Samoa and Niue helped me understand the profound differences between Fijian and Polynesian society at an early age.

The mysterious origins of the Polynesians, is a subject that has generated a great deal of controversy over the years. The Polynesians live in some of the most isolated communities in the world, yet the people of Polynesia possess a richness of culture, that indicates a great deal of interaction has occurred with other cultures in their formative years. They are a wise, proud, competitive and spiritually aware culture, possessing a complex society with Kings and Queens. Hardly the sort of culture one would expect to be generated amongst a small group of isolated individuals living on coral atolls and small volcanic islands. Despite this, many scientists still believe Polynesian society has emerged from a small group of individuals out of the 'big man' Melanesian society, a society which is structured in a completely different manner to Polynesian society. Melanesians take the richest, most charismatic man as their leader, whereas Polynesians have a complex class society that is based on a hereditary system that goes back 16,000 years to a lady called Lailai. Many scientists still believe Polynesians 'mysteriously' lost their dark skin, frizzy hair, their Melanesian genes and their knowledge of pottery when they arrived in Polynesia - an assumption that has no credible scientific backing. Polynesians worshipped different gods to the Melanesians, they used different sailing craft, different tools and artifacts, including harpoons, lures and two piece fishhooks.

1.Village in the rainforested hills of Fiji. Photo: L Marsh. 2. Atoll lagoon. The classic images of tropical island living. This lush tropical environment is something most Polynesians and Melanesians do have in common.

Many scientists still firmly believe that the Polynesians made Lapita pottery, despite the fact that this pottery is not found in Polynesia. It is only found on Western Pacific Islands amongst Melanesian artifacts. On many Melanesian islands archaeological deposits show there have been few changes in culture right up to the pottery making society that still exists on these islands today. Some scientists also believe that a rat (Rattus Exulans) which emanated from S.E. Asia, and entered the central Pacific via the distinctly Melanesian islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu over 3,000 years ago was brought by the Polynesians with their arrival 2,200 years ago, despite a glaring chronological mismatch. How could Polynesians have sourjourned in these Western Pacific islands with their 'pet' rat for 800 years without being influenced genetically and culturally by the indigenous population of Melanesians? For many years it seemed that the truth about Polynesian origins was going to slip from our grasp forever, but recently, genetics has started to provide us with the answers we have all been looking for. As a result, the understanding of world prehistory and in particular, Pacific prehistory is undergoing some radical new changes. There is mounting genetic and cultural evidence to suggest that ocean currents have played a much bigger part in assisting with man's colonisation of the World than ever expected. Many modern scholars have, grossly underestimated the ability of early man to successfully navigate the oceans. They have assumed the ocean to be a barrier to cultural interaction, but now, genetics is highlighting similar gene pools on opposite sides of the oceans, indicating that ocean currents have acted like rivers distributing man around the planet. Proof that the oceans were seen as highways in ancient times, are 20,000 year old paintings in Borneo and the Kimberley region of Australia showing high prowed ocean going boats with over 30 people in them. Genetics is showing that there has been far more cross-cultural interaction between the “Old World” and the “New World” than ever imagined. For example: 10-13,000 year old Caucasian and African genes have been found in America. 6-8,000 year old Taiwanese genes have been found in America. 3-4,000 year old Mayan genes have even been found in Greece and Greek genes have been found in Peru (James L. Guthrie, 1998). It has now been determined that 6-8,000 year old Southern and

East Asian genes, rather than Siberian genes form the basis of populations in Canada, California, Central America, South America and Polynesia. In fact the Bering land bridge hypothesis appears to have no scientific backing whatsoever. Scientists are beginning to admit there was no ice free corridor during the height of the last Ice Age. The only people to use this route were the Pan Polar cultures, people that were already adapted to living in a cold climate, and chose to stay there. Instead the entry of Asians into America appears to have been by sea, utilizing the Kuroshio current and westerly winds of the North Pacific. Linguists have now shown that the Austronesian language spoken in the Solomon islands is the most ancient form of this language, estimated to be over 15,000 years old. The Polynesian version of Austronesian is from Taiwan only 6,000 years ago, showing a direction of dispersal opposite to what has previously been believed. Furthermore, Austronesian words are common in both Central America (Maya, Lenca) and amongst Quechua tribes along the West Coast of South America, helping to confirm cultural influence from East Asia 6-8,000 years ago. Contrary to popular belief, genetic evidence indicates that Polynesia was not populated via Melanesia, but was populated by people who have ancient connections to the Tibetans and Thais. Specific genetic markers and bottlenecks indicate they left East Asia 6000 years ago, but did not spend any time in Micronesia nor Melanesia, but instead spent ~4,000 years in Alaska and Canada and arrived in Hawaii 2,200 years ago. Many genetic, cultural and artifact similarities with the Haida and Kwakuitl of Canada confirm this connection. Other groups from Central and South America appear to have influenced cultures of the Pacific after this initial period of colonisation. The possibility that America has played a big part in the populating of the Pacific has been a taboo subject for many years, despite the fact that wind and ocean currents prevail from that direction. Fortunately a new generation of free thinking scientists are examining the genetic evidence and are reexamining all the American connections that have for so long been swept under the carpet. As a result, ancient legends that have been ignored and misunderstood, can now be given back their 'mana' and the 'American Isolationists' will soon be seen as branch members of the 'Flat Earth Society'.

This map depicts what recent genetic studies indicate. Global sea trade and sea migrations precipitated by rising sea levels appear to be much more important in the distribution of man than previously believed. Polynesia is bounded by the yellow triangle. Polynesian gene movement is denoted by the orange, showing an arrival in Hawaii 2,200 years ago (period of genetic isolation and rapid population expansion). Micronesian (S.E. Asian sea trade) gene movement is denoted by the pink, Melanesian gene movement by the brown, African gene movement by the dark brown and Caucasian gene movement is denoted by the buff brown. Caucasian gene input into the Gulf of Mexico(Haplotype X) was from Spain,18-12,000 years ago and formed the beginnings of many Amerindian tribes (Clovis hunters). 6,000 years ago, Celts(Ireland and Wales), Armoricans(France), Berbers(Morocco) and Basques(Spain) returned from America as accomplished seafarers, ending their genetic isolation away from Europe. African gene input into Melanesia was 100,000 years ago (period of Pygmy globalisation) and again 10,000 years ago (bringing Malaria direct from Africa). East Asian gene input into America started 8,000 years ago from the megalithic civilization of East Asia, of which remnants are still visible underwater between Taiwan and Japan).

The hypothesis put forward in this website is not a new one, many scholars in the 19th Century, with their intuition and innocence, expressed similar beliefs to what is in this article. Even Captain Cook believed there to be a connection between the Maori and the Kwakuitl (of Vancouver Is). Little did they know that genetics over one hundred years later would prove them to have been much closer to the truth than most modern scientists. More recent scholars/writers such as Thor Heyerdahl, Charles Hapgood, Graham Hancock, Andrew Collins and Barry Fell did not go far

enough in their assertions, as new found genetic evidence, also proves them right in many aspects of their work. When reading the following pages, one must remember that; as there have been repeated genetic inputs into populations around the world far more regularly than previously thought, the face of man has been continually changing through time. It is all too easy and sometimes convenient for one to believe that everything stays the same, but we know that not to be the case. Genetics describes a very different story to what we have been taught in school about the prehistory of man. We need to listen to this new story and stop trying to make it fit into all the old hypotheses by ignoring these new crucial pieces of genetic evidence that connects cultures on opposite sides of ocean. Many of these cultural similarities were put down to 'parallel evolution', but with common ancestry visible in the genes, this whole field needs to be reexamined. It seems that many scientists and authors of articles that disagree with mainstream ideas on prehistory have been repeatedly ridiculed and condemned for their work. Archaeological sites and genetic studies that have had the potential to upend mainstream views have been refused funding repeatedly. Conversely, graduates are given copious amounts of funding for doing research on subjects that stroke the ego of the professor in control of the program, creating an end result that is far from the truth. The longer these professors sit in their ivory towers ignoring the truth the more foolish they will become. Bizarre and obscure theories such as the 'fast train', 'slow train' and 'entangled bank' have confused the issue even more, driving people away from subject in a cloud technical jargon and misinformation. Unfortunately, as time moves on, legends, culture and language is lost and it becomes progressively harder to find the truth and easier for so called authorities on the subject to distort the facts, hide the truth and ignore areas of study which might debunk their own fragile hypothesis. Although this website's main objective is to explore the genetic and geographical origins of the Polynesian people, in so doing, it has led me far back in history, leading me to realise that it is not merely Pacific prehistory that has been misinterpreted. Unexplained parallels between civilized societies around the world have perplexed researchers ever since the study of world cultures began. Supernatural or cosmic intervention has often been the only way such parallels could be explained, but it seems the answer is much simpler - sea trade. Cultural and technological traits common to cultures on opposite sides of the planet are clearly shadows of past maritime civilizations that have been and gone in our distant past. Rising sea levels at the end of the last Ice Age have all but obliterated any solid evidence of these civilizations prior to 6,000 years ago, making it very difficult to piece together the ancient history of man. Slowly, with modern science at our fingertips, and an unbiassed mind, this picture of a much more complex past is beginning to take shape. Genetics is showing quite clearly that the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans were crossed many times in the past, especially from 12,000 years ago through to the Bronze Age. This trans oceanic contact has contributed significantly to the gene pool found in America. New archaeological finds are confirming trans oceanic contact did occur. With this new information, old legends

as well as cultural and technological similarities are finally making sense as these periods of globalization through sea trade are identified. Natural catastrophic events have also heavily influenced the history of man. Geologists have found numerous examples of major catastrophic events, (meteor strikes) that have ended the reign of specific plants and animals in the distant past. Similarly, the history of man has also been punctuated by many lesser catastrophes involving meteor strikes which have caused volcanic eruptions (Ice core samples often show Iridium in volcanic ash layers), earthquakes, tsunamis, earth dimming events, drought and ice ages. These events have been identified in Antarctic and Greenland ice cores as well as in tree ring analysis and appear to coincide with major upheavals in human prehistory seen as genetic bottlenecks and the 'End of Ages' in native folklore. These events have ended periods of globalisation, leaving isolated pockets of people to reinvent society as they see fit. It seems that history does repeat itself, therefore, by looking into our past we have an insight into predicting the future. I trust with the broad coverage of this article, you will see the importance of bringing together such a diverse range of very specialized disciplines which has enabled us to see the big picture of human prehistory. The Polynesians are a product of this ancient and complicated past. May you find the following pages both stimulating and educational. This website was created a few months after the death of Thor Heyerdahl (April 2002) when I realized that despite the truths he spoke, most people had failed to understand the implications of the discoveries he had made during numerous quests of research and discovery. Hopefully in future years with the assistance of this website, people will eventually come to understand Thor Heyerdahl and Pacific prehistory a little better.
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Created: October 2002, Catastrophes and Ancient America pages revised May 2004, Genetics pages revised May 2005 Lapita page revised April 2008 peterpanther08@hotmail.com


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