What evidence do we have to support the theory that indigenous peoples of South America and Polynesians interacted in the distant past?
- AndrewLv 74 weeks agoFavorite Answer
When attempting to investigate an instance of possible contact between two peoples who were separated by thousands of miles of uncharted open sea that supposedly took place hundreds of years ago, experts don't have a whole lot to go on, and of what little there is, it's unlikely that there will be any piece of evidence that might be completely definitive.
The first thing experts have attempted to establish is that there's some sort of verifiable physical evidence that the indigenous peoples of South America (or possibly North America), interacted with Polynesians. So what would prove the theory? It's unlikely that any of the objects exchanged would have survived the passage of time. Metal-working was essentially unknown among the Polynesians, so if they made landfall on the American continent, they wouldn't have been able to leave anything behind that wasn't made of wood, stone, or an animal product.
The second thing that experts have attempted to verify is that evidence of the supposed contact can be proven by analysing blood samples of people from both groups. In the past, most of the studies were deemed to be inconclusive, but technological breakthroughs have led to leaps in the quality of the samples gathered and it's now believed that there is ample evidence to support the theory that the two peoples did in fact meet face to face.
Lastly, there are the pieces of evidence that started the whole investigation to begin with: The presence of the sweet potato in Polynesia, and the eerie similarity between vocabulary items in Polynesian languages and words in the languages of South American people. The coconut can float from one island to another, sometimes over vast distances, and take root on an island where it was previously unknown. But the sweet potato cannot do that, so for Polynesians to be growing them and subsisting on them, they must have come from somewhere. They are unknown prior to the Polynesian expansion, and records indicate that they were introduced from the westernmost islands. Why would sweet potatoes be found in the extreme western edge of Polynesia and nowhere else in the Pacific?
And while it's possible that the lexical similarities could be nothing more than coincidental, it's certainly intriguing that these two groups would have so many shared linguistic oddities when Polynesian languages don't share many similarities with any other group - even those that are geographically closer to the heart of Polynesian territory.
It's almost guaranteed that the two peoples met, and it probably happened more than once. Remember that Polynesians supposedly originated in or around Taiwan and spread throughout the Pacific by the year 1200 A.D. or so. Any civilisation capable of that should not be discounted from making it to the Americas.
- Sir CausticLv 64 weeks ago
What evidence?! Seriously? There's tons, mate. The Egyptian pyramids, for a start. Greek and Roman civilization. The Great Wall of China. UFO's, naturally. It's all there, plain as day. Damn.
- NatashaLv 54 weeks ago
Mostly genetic evidence on Easter Island although South American plants have been found on Polynesian islands suggesting that it may have been spread by traders. Whilst it's still speculative at this point I should mention that the possibility is certainly not out of the question. Remember, the Polynesians were tremendously skilled mariners whose voyages spread from Hawaii, New Zealand, Easter Island and everywhere in between. They had the skills and knowledge to reach South America.
- Anonymous4 weeks ago
DNA evidence, contiguous cultural evidence, oral and glyphic history.
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- LudwigLv 64 weeks ago
There are cultural links. The ancient Incas and the Polynesians both made the same type of stone canoes.
- Anonymous4 weeks ago
Whimsy. pseudo-scientists use a log of guessing and supposition, as they need to publish to keep their prestige or gain it.