Subject:      Re: how did the chicken cross the ocean from Asia?
From:         "Larry J. Elmore" 
Date:         1997/05/15
Message-ID:   <01bc6130$5525db00$846700cf@default>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology,,sci.agriculture


The Spanish were inclined to believe what the natives told them about
navigation as they had encountered Peruvian/Ecuadorian balsas far out at
sea carrying cargo, or on deep-sea fishing expeditions that might stay out
for weeks if necessary. By all contemporary accounts of the balsas, they
caould carry as much cargo as a Spanish caravel and could sail and
maneuver at least as well. In Sarmiento's and others opinions, native
mariners with their balsas were able to venture just as far and as capably
into the unknown as any European vessel. 

Father Joseph de Acosta recorded that the Indians at Ica and also those of
Arica 750 miles further south, told the Spaniards that they used to sail
far out into the South Pacific where they visited some inhabited islands. 
Arica and Ilo, the two main ports below Tiahuanaco, were also specified as
favorable starting points for the inhabited Pacific island described in
Captain de Cadres' recorded interrogation of a wise old Indian named
Chepo, said to be 115-120 years old. After two months journey somewhat
south of westward they would first reach an uninhabited island called
Coatu, in which there were three m ountains and many birds. Keeping this
island to their left, they would then reach the inhabited island of Quen,
that had a chief named Quenteque. Ten days farther west was another and
larger populated island, Acabana. 

To reach Easter Island, one would follow the course given, and would first
encounter the barren bird-island of Sala-y-Gomez, which has three peaks. 
Keeping that on your left (passing north of it) Easter Island is not far
beyond. Chepo's reference to the chief of Quen being Quenteque is quite
interesting when considering that the Easter Island name for "chief" was
teque-teque by the first Spaniards who arrived in 1770. 

Sarmiento figured out what course to steer when sailing from Callao, and
figured the distance as about 600 leagues according to the information he
had been able to gather. Easter Island is in fact about 2,000 miles, or
not much more than 600 leagues. In 1567, two caravels and 150 men set out
to "discover" these islands under the command of Mendana. There was a
dispute about how far out to go on that course, and after much apparent
quarreling, they changed course to due west and passed north of Easter
Island. Then there was more quarreling and the pilot changed course to
northwest, so they ended up sailing between the Marquesas and Tuamoto
groups, and ended up eventually "discovering" the Solomons in Melanesia
after 80 days at sea. 

A good overview of the whole episode is in Thor Heyerdahl's "Early Man and
the Ocean", which is somewhat dated in some ways since it's 22 years old,
but has a lot of good information.

Larry J. Elmore
Bozeman, Montana

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