Agriculture
Watching out for vultures
Got Milk? How?
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Amphibians
Toads
Salamanders and Newts
Tree Frogs
Animals
Ants on Stilts
Blotchy Face, Big-Time Wasp
A Spider's Taste for Blood
Behavior
Chimpanzee Hunting Tools
Reading Body Language
Math is a real brain bender
Birds
Kiwis
Dodos
Pigeons
Chemistry and Materials
A Spider's Silky Strength
Moon Crash, Splash
Hair Detectives
Computers
Look into My Eyes
Hubble trouble doubled
Nonstop Robot
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Really Big (but Extinct) Rodent
Early Birds Ready to Rumble
Message in a dinosaur's teeth
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Killer Space Rock Snuffed Out Ancient Life
Explorer of the Extreme Deep
A Volcano's Deadly Ash
Environment
Flu river
Will Climate Change Depose Monarchs?
Antarctica warms, which threatens penguins
Finding the Past
Stonehenge Settlement
Ancient Art on the Rocks
A Volcano's Deadly Ash
Fish
Nurse Sharks
Sharks
Tilapia
Food and Nutrition
Allergies: From Bee Stings to Peanuts
A Taste for Cheese
How Super Are Superfruits?
GSAT English Rules
Adjectives and Adverbs
Whoever vs. Whomever
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
March 21-22, 2013: Over 43,000 students will take the GSAT Exam
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Mathematics
Setting a Prime Number Record
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
Monkeys Count
Human Body
Spitting Up Blobs to Get Around
Smiles Turn Away Colds
Sun Screen
Invertebrates
Arachnids
Sea Urchin
Oysters
Mammals
Foxes
African Hippopotamus
German Shepherds
Parents
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
How children learn
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Physics
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
Road Bumps
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Plants
A Giant Flower's New Family
Making the most of a meal
Tracking the Sun Improves Plant Pollen
Reptiles
Box Turtles
Cobras
Turtles
Space and Astronomy
Asteroid Lost and Found
Chaos Among the Planets
Black Holes That Burp
Technology and Engineering
Beyond Bar Codes
Drawing Energy out of Wastewater
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
Adjectives and Adverbs
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Transportation
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Troubles with Hubble
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Recipe for a Hurricane
Catching Some Rays
Add your Article

A Long Haul

Long before the invention of cars, planes, or motorboats, people were exploring the globe. Some of these travelers undertook trips of thousands of miles across oceans. Starting about 4,000 years ago, for example, courageous mariners settled the islands of East Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean.

A new study emphasizes the impressive skills of those Polynesian seafarers. About 1,000 years ago, the study suggests, explorers traveled by canoe from Hawaii to islands that were more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) south. In their boats, they carried rocks for tool making.

This map shows the Polynesian Islands, with the eastern islands contained in a box. The dotted line traces the 1976 route of a Polynesian-style canoe that made a round trip between Hawaii and Tahiti.

This map shows the Polynesian Islands, with the eastern islands contained in a box. The dotted line traces the 1976 route of a Polynesian-style canoe that made a round trip between Hawaii and Tahiti.

Science

According to legends recounted by today’s Polynesian islanders, their ancient ancestors built canoes with sails in which they sailed south from the Hawaiian islands to Tahiti. From there, the legends continue, the sailors traveled east to the Tuamotu Islands.

To find out whether those legends were true, researchers from the University of Queensland in St. Lucia, Australia, studied 19 stone tools that had been found in the Tuamotu Islands.

The tools that they examined are called adzes. They are made from basalt, a volcanic rock. An adze, like a garden hoe, has a stone blade attached to the end of a long wooden handle. It’s used to cut wood.

Polynesians used adzes such as this one. The tools, which are made of stone and wood, helped scientists track the paths taken by seafarers some 1,000 years ago.

Polynesians used adzes such as this one. The tools, which are made of stone and wood, helped scientists track the paths taken by seafarers some 1,000 years ago.

J. Willcock/Anthropology Museum, University of Queensland

The researchers also studied volcanic rock from 28 sources in Polynesia. The rocks at each site have a unique chemical composition. So, the scientists used chemistry to classify rocks by their origins.

When the Australian scientists compared the Polynesian stone tools with the rocks they had classified, they found that all but one came from nearby island groups. The chemical composition of the remaining tool pointed to an origin in Hawaii.

To sail from Hawaii to Tahiti, the Polynesians probably passed through the Tuamotus, the researchers say. The currents and winds make that a good route. Also, the scientists say, the Tuamotus and the nearby Society Islands “could be approached from all quarters and were thus probably important in Polynesian trade.”

In 1976, archaeologist Ben Finney of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu showed that such a trip was possible. He and his colleagues built a canoe for long-distance traveling in the ancient Polynesian style. It was 19 meters (62 feet) long and had two masts for sails.

It took the scientists 2 months to sail the canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti and back. The modern voyagers passed through the Tuamotus on the way. Their trip, they said, proved that people long ago could have traveled long distances over the open sea to settle Polynesia.

Those ancient canoeists probably passed down their knowledge through the generations until about 550 years ago, the researchers say. That’s when sea travel through East Polynesia seemed to have stopped.

Earlier this year, an analysis of unearthed chicken bones led another group of scientists to conclude that Polynesian sailors reached what is now Chile by about 620 years ago. The discovery of Polynesian basalt adzes in South America would strengthen that argument.—Emily Sohn

A Long Haul
A Long Haul








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™