and their inconsistencies
Archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence appears to point to the fact that the majority of Polynesians originated from SE Asia about 6000 years ago, yet did not enter Polynesia until about 200BC-300AD. Most scientists agree with this. The problem that has caused so much disagreement is: Where were they living for approximately 4000 years between leaving S.E. Asia and arriving in the isles of Polynesia. Genetic evidence rules out Micronesia and recent genetic evidence indicates a separation from Melanesians 11,500 years ago! Cultural and artifact evidence suggests there have been inputs from areas other than S.E. Asia, in particular North and South America and we will go into this in the following chapters.
Polynesian language, culture and genes do not match up with any particular area on the Pacific Rim except for Canada and Alaska. Their language is Austronesian (a language common to most island cultures of S.E. Asia), unfortunately they are linguistically and genetically distanced from there by about 6,000 years. They also managed to avoid the Bronze age in SE Asia. They do not possess any recent genetic similarities with either Indonesians, Melanesians or Micronesians. They Possess some linguistic, cultural, artifact and mt DNA similarities with a number of cultures on the West coast of the Americas, but their y DNA is different. In particular, they are very similar culturally and genetically to the Coastal people of Canada (Kwakuitl,Tlingit and Haida), but their language is different. If they left SE Asia 6,000 years ago, where did they spend this time?
Polynesian woman from Rurutu, Austral Islands. She has a classic Polynesian rocker jaw. The Polynesian man is
from Tahiti. He has the classic caucasian broad jaw commonly found in the Pacific which has either been inherited from the
Lapita people (they did have jaws like this) or from the red heads of South America. From Vikings of the Sunrise, by Sir Peter Buck, 1938.
Lapita Pottery is still held to be the key to unraveling the Polynesians' origins. Lapita pottery is found amongst Melanesian deposits and is also found on some western Polynesian islands, especially Tonga and Samoa. It is believed that the fairer skinned, straight haired Polynesians moved through Melanesia, living amongst and evolving with the Melanesians, including making pottery with them, slowly progressing eastward into the central Pacific. Genetic evidence, along with archaeological finds have now proved Lapita pottery is almost always associated with Melanesian settlement, with Polynesian artifacts such as fish hooks, harpoons and stone pounders being quite different to either Melanesian or Lapita culture. The theory held by Terrell, that; Polynesians were a Melanesian mutation and evolved via a "genetic bottleneck" was a desperate attempt to cling on to the Lapita/Polynesian connection, despite clear differences in the sociopolitical structure of both societies. Polynesian society could not have evolved from within Melanesia. Geneticist SW Serjeantson has this to say; "It seems quite implausible that a group evolving within Melanesia could have acquired, by chance, so many non-Melanesian genes! Melanesian elements have not been carried into eastern Polynesia." The suggestion that the rich and diverse Polynesian race was created from Melanesian stock via a "Genetic Bottleneck" (genetic mutation) is totally absurd. To say that straight haired, paler skinned Polynesians evolved from frizzy haired dark skinned Melanesians, is like saying Europeans evolved from black Africans in less than 3,000 years!
Susan continues; "Polynesians have had little contact with Micronesians. Despite similarities in physical appearances between Polynesians and Micronesians, there are only a limited number of similarities in the HLA system. It is clear that Micronesia has had an independent source (probably the Philippines) of HLA genes that are not found elsewhere in the Pacific." This basicly rules out both entry points into the Central Pacific from the west.
Mother and children, Namosi, Fiji, 1965. Photo: L Marsh.
Another theory was that the Polynesians used islands such as Rennell Is, Trobriands, Uvea and Rotuma as stepping stones into the central Pacific, thus avoiding the culturally different Melanesians, yet at the same time exploring the surrounding islands, mastering their navigational skills and sharing their pottery skills (which they mysteriously lost once they arrived in Polynesia), without any racial or cultural mixing with the Melanesians - for a period of 4000 years??! Unfortunately oral history by the people of these 'Polynesian outlier islands' tell of their ancestors coming from the central Pacific, either being blown off course in a storm, or escaping from warring tribes, less than 1000 years ago.
On Lapita pottery, Archaeologist Matthew Spriggs states; The earliest Lapita pottery found to date is from Elouae in the St Matthais Group, north of New Ireland with a date of 3900 BP. "The earliest reliable dates for Lapita outside the Bismarks all occur later than 3500 BP, with most Lapita sites in Vanuatu and the Solomons having a date around 2900 BP, "Contemporary with the final phases of Lapita and continuing long afterwards in some areas we find the Melanesian incised and relief pottery or Mangaasi style widespread in Melanesia. In Watom, Mangaasi pottery is found with Lapita pottery, made from the same clay and dating to 2420 BP". "The possibility of cultural continuity between the Lapita potters and Melanesians has not been given the consideration it deserves. In most sites there was an overlap of styles with no stratigraphic separation discernible. Continuity is found in pottery temper, importation of obsidian and in non-ceramic artifacts. With production ceasing around 2000 BP".
This clearly indicates that Lapita had its origins within the heart of Melanesia, was associated with the Melanesian obsidian traders and Lapita was phased out as other designs became more fashionable, ceasing production before Polynesians even entered the Pacific! The Lapita Potters were the Proto Melanesians, they were the Obsidian traders and they were adventurous sailors and they did sail to some Polynesian islands 100's of years prior to the Polynesians arriving. They did not use fish hooks, make stone grinders or Peruvian style stone walls. They were not the Proto-Polynesians, but were a group of oceanic traders that came into Melanesia enhancing Melanesian society with their pottery and seamanship skills.
The most plausible explanation is that the dominant Polynesian genes entered the Pacific via Canada and Hawaii 2,200 years ago, but did not travel into the Southern Pacific until 1,500 years ago, whereapon they met with; remnants of the Lapita culture in Samoa and Tonga; with the red heads from South America in the Marquesas, Rapa nui and Tahiti and finally less than 1,000 years ago; with the Fijians. That is why Polynesians do not have frizzy hair and do not make pottery. The reason why they do not have red hair is because these ancient caucasian genes are recessive to dark straight hair and brown eyes.
In Search of New Answers
There appears to be mounting evidence indicating that a higher Stone Age/maritime culture existed on the islands Stretching from the Phillippines to Japan and centred on Taiwan over 12,000 years ago, which influenced all the cultures in that area.
Traits of this very influential culture include;
Genetic similarities between Tibetans, Thais, some Koreans, some Japanese, Tlingit and Eastern Polynesians (see Genetic Evidence).
Intricate wood and stone carving skills with spirals and tongue motif.
Large single canoes, such as the Maori "war canoe", Hong Kong "dragon boat", Yami Is long boats, Kerala canoe and Kwakuitl "Wave Eater".
The red and yellow robes and crescent crest of Hawaii, also worn by Tibetan priests.
Extended ear lobes, found in Maldive statues, Ibans of Borneo and statues of Rapa Nui.
~10,000 year old Underwater structures at Yonaguni-jima, Japan suggests that the megalithic
civilizations of South America and Easter Island may have ancient East Asian connections.
Photos by Dr Robert M. Schoch, Morien institute.
At Yonaguni there is a natural rock outcrop that has clearly been carved in a semi abstract manner and the debris removed.
The central picture is a structure (Huaca) at Nusta Ispana, Yuruk Rumi in the Vilcabamba Mountains of Peru. It is possibly over 10,000 years old, once again it shows a natural rock outcrop that has been carved in a semi abstract manner. Surely there is a connection - hinting at a period of trans Pacific cultural diffusion over 10,000 years ago..
It appears that this civilization may have suffered a catastrophic event such as a tsunami precipitated by isostatic rebalancing as the final meltdown of the last Ice Age occurred between 10,000 and 5,500 years ago. Pulses of meltwater as ice dams broke and 1-2km thick ice shelves collapsing into the sea would have caused rapid flooding, with the possibility of Tsunamis. Scientists believe that sea levels at this time could have risen 20metres in 100 years, this would certainly have led to the collapse of this great civilization. After this terrible event, many survivors feared the ocean and moved up rivers into central Asia, the highlands of Luzon, Taiwan and New Guinea. The Chinese civilization is a product of this coastal culture travelling up the Hwanghe River and mixing with more northerly, people of inner China, The Tibetans and Thais also moved inland to higher ground. The Polynesians on the other hand according to legend, were swept away on a large tree, to make landfall on the Queen Charlotte islands of Canada.