Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian Contacts with the New World

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9780759120044: Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian Contacts with the New World

The possibility that Polynesian seafarers made landfall and interacted with the native people of the New World before Columbus has been the topic of academic discussion for well over a century, although American archaeologists have considered the idea verboten since the 1970s. Fresh discoveries made with the aid of new technologies along with re-evaluation of longstanding but often-ignored evidence provide a stronger case than ever before for multiple prehistoric Polynesian landfalls. This book reviews the debate, evaluates theoretical trends that have discouraged consideration of trans-oceanic contacts, summarizes the historic evidence and supplements it with recent archaeological, linguistic, botanical, and physical anthropological findings.

Written by leading experts in their fields, this is a must-have volume for archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and anyone else interested in the remarkable long-distance voyages made by Polynesians. The combined evidence is used to argue that that Polynesians almost certainly made landfall in southern South America on the coast of Chile, in northern South America in the vicinity of the Gulf of Guayaquil, and on the coast of southern California in North America.

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About the Author:

Terry L. Jones is professor of anthropology and chair of the Social Sciences Department at California Polytechnic State University. Alice A. Storey is lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Paleoanthropology at the University of New England in Australia. Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith is professor of biological anthropology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. José Miguel Ramírez-Aliaga is archaeology director of the Centro de Estudios Rapa Nui at the Universidad de Valparaíso in Chile.

Review:

Polynesia is that part of the central Pacific bounded by New Zealand, Hawai'i, and Easter Island, which is about 2,500 miles west of the Chilean coast. That would seem too far for even experienced Polynesian seafarers to cross open ocean, but this book's premise is that such crossings were not uncommon in pre-Columbian times. The idea dates back nearly 200 years, to the first suggestions of similarity in such features as culture, myth, language, fishhooks, boat design, and foods like sweet potato and chicken between coastal North and South America and parts of Polynesia. Based on a 2010 symposium, the dozen topical chapters review such similarities from archaeological and other data sources. Ranging from DNA studies of excavated chicken bones through statistical analyses of human crania (complementing other DNA work) to simple statements of similarity, the reported evidence supports connections between Polynesia and the Americas that suggest significant pre-Columbian contact. Negative views are not well represented, which violates one of the central principles of science, that hypotheses must survive falsification testing. Nonetheless, as reported in the multiauthored summary, the work presented here indicates that this theory is undergoing a strong revival. Recommended. All levels/libraries. (CHOICE)

These conclusions have been based on fresh discoveries using newest techniques along with re-evaluation of longstanding but often-ignored evidences. This is a definitive and comprehensive publication. (Current Science 2011-09-21)

Polynesians in America, stemming from a symposium held at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archeology in St. Louis in 2010, addresses from fresh perspectives the question of contracts between Polynesia and the New World. The authors bring a range of mostly new archaeological, linguistic, ethnographic, and biological evidence to bear on the topic. (California Archaeology)

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