Heyerdahl's ideas about Polynesian history
   Author:   Yuri Kuchinsky
   Date: 1998/07/02
   Forums: sci.archaeology, sci.anthropology, rec.arts.books


So many people are rushing to criticize Heyerdahl without actually having
bothered to read him. What did Heyerdahl propose about the original
homeland of the Polynesian-speakers?

What Thor actually proposed was that the Polynesian speakers came from the
American Pacific North-West, i.e. the area around the British Columbia.

Here's a brief summary.

What Heyerdahl has actually been proposing for the last 60 years or so is
that there were two big waves of eastern and central Pacific human
settlement. The first big wave came from S. America, from the area around
Ecuador and Peru. This wave were ocean-raft sailors and also megalithic
builders. They constructed those very sophisticated giant stone
constructions of various types. EI, and other Eastern Polynesian islands
have plenty of such constructions, including pyramids. These were the
"long-ears", i.e. the peoples practicing ear-extension, they were the
stone-masons. They started to expand into the eastern Pacific ca. 400 ad,
and even earlier perhaps. Here's what Heyerdahl writes about the giant
stone statues as found in various places in S. America and eastern

"There is a whole series of strong and compelling reasons for believing
that the statues in eastern Polynesia are the result of foreign
inspiration rather than of local evolution. Firstly, the archaeology of
the islands where they have been raised, like Easter Island, Pitcairn, the
Marquesas, etc., show no local signs of experiment and evolution in method
and skill. The monolithic figures have been carved and erected with a
clear and mature idea in the mind of the sculptor, and certainly by
experienced hands." (AMERICAN INDIANS IN THE PACIFIC, p. 360)

He adds that there have been found no traces of any "evolutionary period"
for such skills. And the same of course applies to the the megalithic
stone walls, and other such artifacts made of giant stone blocks.

The second wave of human settlement, according to Heyerdahl, was that of
the Polynesian-speakers, and they came from the Pacific North-West. First
they settled the Hawaii, going with the currents that naturally prevail in
that area of the Pacific, and later spread around, reaching the New
Zealand last. They were the canoe-sailors and the wood-workers, as opposed
to the stone-masons. These tribes were rather war-like, and they waged
wars of conquest in their highly maneuverable canoes that were far more
suitable for combat than the rather difficult-to-manoeuvre sailing rafts.
Some of their war flotillas included as many 10,000 warriors in canoes
that held up to 150 each.

Polynesian-speakers were conquering and displacing the earlier settlers on
various islands as they moved along around the Pacific. All this started
happening possibly around 600-800 ad, the time when Hawaii, Samoa, and
Tonga were settled by the Polynesians. New Zealand is believed to have
been settled ca. 900 ad. Polynesians apparently arrived in force to EI ca.
1000-1200 ad, possibly from Rarotonga (Cook Islands).

Heyerdahl accumulated great amounts of evidence for these theories, most
of it still unknown to an average academic scholar, including even the
specialists. Witness Greg's sorry attempts to present Heyerdahl's views
here of late...

My main intention in these discussion at this time is to demonstrate EI to
SA links. These links are so obvious and so strong that even someone as
wilfully obtuse and biased as Greg can do absolutely nothing to counter
all this evidence. So far he's only been picking on the sidelines, finding
a little problem here and a little glitch there in what Heyerdahl wrote.

At this point, I don't have either time or the inclination to go any
further in defending these Heyerdahl's more general theories. Perhaps some
other time. But this little bit of general background may be necessary to
understand better all these debates about the early history of the Pacific
that Greg has now touched upon.

I'm aware that there may be many critics of these ideas of Heyerdahl.
These views are not generally accepted. But I plead with the critics that
in their criticisms they do not distort what he actually said.


Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- [20]http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku 

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't there more happy people?

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