Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Settlement of Polynesia

This is a two part essay on human migration in Polynesia. It includes The Settlement of Polynesia, Part 1 and The Settlement of Polynesia, Part 2. It was written by Dennis Kawaharada.

Some of the islands of Oceania were among the last habitable land areas on Earth to acquire a human population. The essay notes the following dates for some migrations:

- Around 1600-1200 B.C., a cultural complex called Lapita spread from New Guinea in Melanesia as far east as Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Polynesian culture developed at the eastern edge of this region (i.e., in Samoa and Tonga).

- Around 300 B.C. or earlier, seafarers from Samoa and Tonga discovered and settled islands to the east of the Cook Islands, Tahiti-nui, Tuamotus, and Hiva (Marquesas Islands).

- Around 300 A.D. or earlier, voyagers from central or eastern Polynesia, possibly from Hiva, discovered and settled Easter Island.

- Around 400 A.D. or earlier, voyagers from the the Cook Islands, Tahiti-nui, and /or Hiva settled Hawai'i.

- Around 1000 A.D. or earlier, voyagers from the Society and/or the Cook Islands settled Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Frankly, I find it amazing that some of these remote islands were settled at all at the times they were. Travel by canoe over the vast Pacific Ocean was a Herculian sized feat and I have nothing but admiration for the colonists who settled in places like Easter Island, Hawaii, and the Cook Islands.

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