Easter Island humbugs of Paul Bahn Author: Yuri Kuchinsky Date: 1998/07/29 Forums: sci.archaeology, sci.anthropology, rec.arts.books, soc.culture.native _________________________________________________________________ Paul Bahn and John Flenley, EASTER ISLAND, EARTH ISLAND, Thames and Hudson, NY, 1992. --- I don't know what it is with Dr. Bahn. It may be his ignorance, or it may be just plain dishonesty... and I really don't care... But one thing is perfectly clear. Paul Bahn came up with the most amazing absurdities and misrepresentations in his and Flenley's volume. So here I will document some of the games the archaeologists play when they try to deny science in the service of their Eurocentric dogma. Who is Paul Bahn? He's no newcomer to archaeology, that's for sure. Plenty of professional publications, including these very recent weighty volumes: Bahn, Paul G. Archaeology: a very short introduction. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. 1996. Bahn, Paul G. The Cambridge illustrated history of prehistoric art. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. 1998. The Cambridge illustrated history of archaeology, edited by Paul G. Bahn; Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press. 1996. John Flenley, on the other hand, is merely a specialist in biogeography: Biogeography, edited by J.R. Flenley, et al; New York: Harper & Row. 1986. So probably he should be for the most part absolved of the blame for the blatant stupidities and falsehoods that I will itemise next. So here we go. Next, we will see quite a collection of red herrings and humbugs. Bahn is setting out to disprove the theories of Thor Heyerdahl, but he does this in the most inept, dishonest, and tendentious fashion. ...he has bolstered his claim with selective evidence of the folk memory, botany, material culture, linguistics and physical anthropology of the island, building up a complex picture of the island's history... (p. 42) This is what Bahn says about Heyerdahl. Bahn should look in the mirror. Because it is really he who is guilty of these sins he ascribes so blithely to Heyerdahl. Let's begin with this absurdity: ITEM: What did Heyerdahl actually propose, and when? Bahn writes: [Heyerdahl] had first seen Polynesia as having been colonized from the coasts of both South and Northwest America, but after Kon-Tiki he limited his theory to SA alone. (p. 39) This is a clear falsehood and an obvious absurdity. How could he come up with such a jewel? Heyerdahl certainly DID NOT limit his theory to "SA alone" after Kon-Tiki. Heyerdahl in fact published his AMERICAN INDIANS IN THE PACIFIC, his main work on the subject, where he detailed his complete theory of Polynesian history, _after_ Kon-Tiki. Was Bahn merely ignorant in this case? Was he deliberately deceptive? I don't care. Those interested may wish to try to read his mind... Not me... ITEM: EI Native traditional history. For someone who claims to be respectful of Native Easter Islanders, Bahn misrepresents things here terribly. Native Islanders of course have traditional accounts stating that they originally came from SA. Bahn acknowledges this, but he does this in a very deceptive fashion. He attributes this account to... one individual only, i.e. to Alexander Salmon, who gave his account in "late 19th century" (p. 42). His story was recorded by Thomson in 1886 (p. 51). Next, Bahn says that Mrs. Routledge, who was on the island for some time in 1914, "never encountered this story". Such negative evidence for Bahn is determinative? The implication here, the impression that Bahn wishes to create for the reader is that this story is... dreamed up by Salmon? But this is just plain false. Here's an item that Heyerdahl provides in his book, EASTER ISLAND, 1989: - LEGENDS OF EASTER ISLANDERS Dr. Walter Knoche arrived to the EI in 1911, and he tried his best to collect the ancestral traditions of the Easter Islanders at that time. He ... interviewed the two old men in the presence of sixty or seventy other islanders, all of whom took an interested part in the procedure. As a result, Knoche was able to obtain unanimous agreement from the crowd on a number of tribal memories... (p. 122) These tradition obtained at that time, and at other times previously indicate that, To put it plainly: the Easter Islanders had told us that the first people to settle their own island had come from what we call S. America. There was no other land to the east. So this seems like clear misrepresentation of important evidence on the part of the esteemed Dr. Bahn. ITEM: native navigation in SA. Bahn misrepresents terribly also in this area. For example, on p. 46 he says that "the Spanish introduced the use of sail" to Peru. This is just so ridiculous! Native S. Americans sailed all along the Pacific coast of South and Central America. From the most ancient times, they had extensive trade links, linking places from Chile to Panama, and even into California. To sail along this dangerous coast, where strong winds and currents are abundant, was no mean matter. So why does he misrepresent the facts? Isn't it very obvious that he is very biased against Native Americans? On ancient Native American navigation, see: http://www.trends.ca/~yuku/tran/tnav.htm And on p. 47 Bahn says that ...there's no indication that in the early centuries AD (or indeed later) South American Indians had the capacity to move themselves and their domesticates over such great distances. This is just so ridiculous. Perhaps he's just ignorant, but ignorance is no defence here where he pontificates about such an important subject in the area of Native American history. Further misrepresentation: Most South American sailing took place in the zone of very settled weather... (p. 48) This is just plain absurd. Perhaps it's typical landlubbing ignorance of a sheltered academic who has never ventured outside the comfortable groves of the academe? Yes, this is how it seems to me. So why does he pretend to discourse about these matters as if he knew what's going on with this subject? Yes, dear reader, quite plainly, Paul Bahn seems to be a fraud... Another red herring: There is also the extreme isolation of EI, so remote that it is pretty unlikely that it could be found more than once with any degree of reliability. (p. 48) Again, perhaps the nerdy Dr. Bahn has simply never heard that the Incas gave the Spanish conquistadores exact sailing direction to the EI? (Mendana expedition sailed out into the Pacific based on these directions.) Obviously the Native Americans reached EI more than once, then? ITEM: the botanical evidence. Next in his book, Bahn twists and misrepresents the very important botanical evidence of EI -- SA contact, but this needs to be yet another post, since this is a big subject in its own right. So, let's go on to ITEM: megalithic constructions on EI and in SA This subject has been discussed in some detail recently in sci.arch. The matter is quite simple. Exactly similar unique and very special polygonal constructions are found in SA and on EI. The chronology fits perfectly. So how can the deniers weasel out of this one? To weasel they certainly try, and try again... What they try to do is challenge the chronology, and this both on EI and in SA. For one, they try to make such constructions late in SA. And on EI they try to make such constructions both early and late -- an absurdity, if ever there was one! Such tactics are quite transparent, and quite hopeless. It is plain misrepresentation to try to make SA megalithic constructions late. Tiwanaku civilization that used such constructions certainly goes back to before 800 ad. But Bahn attempts to weasel here by trying to start his countdown in SA from 800 ad, from the Classic Tiwanaku (p. 56). This is just ridiculous obfuscation. He assumes an arbitrary late starting date in SA and hopes to get away with it? Next, the obfuscation about the EI chronology. On the same p. 56, Bahn claims that fitted stone megalithic constructions are both very early and very late on EI. He claims that Vinapu 1 megalithic construction is very late because it "incorporates" a block from a very different previous Middle Period construction. No citation is given for this, a curious oversight. What can I say here? Bahn's claim is of course absurd on the surface of it. It's like claiming, for example, that a very distinctive architectural style from ancient Egypt that was forgotten and unused for many centuries was somehow miraculously brought back into fashion at a much later time? But this is simply incredible... We know that megalithic constructions were very early on EI. There's absolutely no doubt about this any more. So it is Dr. Bahn who is making an extraordinary claim here: that they are _also very late_. It is up to him to provide some very good evidence for this weird theory. He presents none. His claim about a late block being incorporated into Vinapu 1 is not documented in any way in his book. Based on Dr. Bahn's track record so far, I will give next to zero credence to such a claim of his until I see some pretty good evidence. Case closed. But Dr. Bahn doesn't stop here. His misrepresentations in this area continue apace. He next claims that the megalithic constructions on EI and in SA are not similar after all? Will the misrepresentations never stop? This is what he says, As for stone walls, Andean specialists have pointed out that they cannot match the type exactly among classic Inca masonry. Moreover, unlike the solid blocks used in Peru, the EI "walls" are actually a facing of slabs that masks a rubble core, so any resemblance with Cyclopean blocks is equally superficial. (p. 56) How weird can anyone get? What a tissue of deception here... 1. We are not talking about "Inca masonry". Red herring. 2. Which Andean specialists? No names? No citations? 3. Clear misrepresentation about "facing of slabs" being found on EI, but not in SA. This is quite false. In SA there can be found megalithic blocks used exactly in the same way they're used on EI. And typical EI megalithic blocks weigh on average about 7 tons. What kind of a "facing" is this? 4. So the resemblance is certainly not "superficial". It is really quite a pain to try to disentangle truth from fiction in the stories given by this obviously utterly incompetent and biased "specialist". But the job must be done. This man seems to be the main anti-Heyerdahl war-horse of current EI mainstream scholarship, and he's cited approvingly by all his lesser followers, the junior weasels. I have said it before, and will say it again. Mainstream historical scholarship in this area is extremely corrupt, incompetent, and often dishonest. Yes, some mistakes can be found also in Heyerdahl, but most of them are honest mistakes, and he never descends to such depths of absurd misrepresentation. I will later present in detail Dr. Bahn's misrepresentations in the area of the botanical evidence. This evidence indicates EI -- SA links very clearly. His incompetence and deceptions here are egregious. Also, Dr. Bahn's weird confusion about the "chicken houses" on EI will be presented. These are of course no chicken houses at all, but ancient mausoleums that may have been used to house chickens in later times. I will show this in detail. Dr. Bahn is a big joke. None of his evidence should be taken seriously without careful cross-checking. This is my conclusion after perusing his pathetic absurdities about EI history. Regards, Yuri. Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku UPDATED "Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic!" -- Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking Glass" _________________________________________________________________Click here to go one level up in the directory.