A Conversation for Polynesia Before European Contact

Peer Review: A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 1

MotDoc, Temporarily Exiled to Tartu, Estonia

Entry: Prehistoric Polynesia - A1326377
Author: Master of the Dojo of Coolness (MotDoc) - U208372

Here is my second entry. Although it may have less specific interest than the last one, I hope it should still titilate someone out there. Hehe...I said tit.


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 2

Zarquon's Singing Fish!

I'll have a look at this when I get back from work.

smiley - fishsmiley - musicalnote


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 3

frenchbean

Hello Dojo smiley - smiley

Aha! One of my favourite parts of the world smiley - biggrin How good to see something about the history of this area. I'm toying with an entry on the history of Samoa - much more detailed than yours and which will bring it up to the 20th Century as well.

The title of this entry is a bit misleading. Prehistoric refers to (OED).

In Europe, therefore, prehistory refers to anything before the Romans.

You could argue that in Polynesia it was only an oral tradition until Europeans arrived in the 16th Century, but I think that either needs explaining and justifying in the text, or the title needs changing to or some-such.

I think you could go into some more detail about the early stuff. How did the Polynesians get from one remote group of islands to the next? What made them move on - was it because they denuded their current islands of food, or was it because of population pressures - does anybody know?

I'm surprised that you don't mention the great mysterious stone statues in Easter Island (or did I miss it?). Even though this is a broad sweep of history over the south Pacific, that culture stands out - smiley - laugh in more ways than one - as clear evidence of an advanced community living in the middle of the ocean several hundred years ago.

Your assertion that the Polynesians came from Taiwan/China 6000 years ago might need a bit of backing up. What was the source of that? There's been a recent debate raging (well, pootling) in the conversation thread for The Mystery of the Sweet Potato, about the origins of Polynesian culture. I'll go away and get the link and post it in a minute.

If I were a Polynesian, I'd be a tad upset about your comments about extinctions - especially given the history of the European settlers after the 16th Century. They brought rats, cats and other previously unknown predators to the area, which have had a huge impact on the remaining ecology of Polynesia. It's absolutely true that the Polynesians did aid the demise of many species, but it is hard to argue that humans have not done the same thing all over the world, since we began hunter gathering and our populations grew. To single out the Polynesians seems a bit harsh and perhaps you could soften the implication a bit?

You have linked to heaps of entries, but only edited ones are allowed (as I found out when I did the same a few weeks ago) and a lot of these aren't in the EG yet. So some of your links will have to go.


I'll get back to you about that link.

smiley - cheers
F/b


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 4

frenchbean

smiley - doh
The sweet potato was you as well wasn't it?!! I forgot. smiley - blush

F/b


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 5

Gnomon - time to move on

This is a very good entry. It's well written and interesting. smiley - ok The picture will be removed when this is picked, but there's a good chance that a new picture will be provided by the editors when the entry reaches the Front Page.

Here are a few suggested changes:

Polynesians originate in --> Polynesians originated in

Somoa --> Samoa (twice)

All islands but Tonga --> All islands except Tonga

degredation --> degradation

You use Hawaii in some places and Hawai'i in others. You should be consistent.


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 6

MotDoc, Temporarily Exiled to Tartu, Estonia

Gnomon,
Your attention to details and typos continues to help me save face in every circumstance. Cheers.

As for various comments: Prehistory is the period before written records. Because of differences in regional technologies, the period of prehistory varies by region. New Zealand has one of the shortest periods of prehistory, if not the shortest, lasting only from about AD 1100 to the 1700s (I don't remember the date of discovery off the top of my head). Therefore the title is correct, but I will consider clarifying somehow.
I will defenitely put in more details about colonization motivation and process. I deliberately left the entry somewhat loose to allow for more detail in the areas that people thought to be worth more detail.
As for the comment on environment: the Polynesian people accomplished many things unparalleled by other cultures in very limited environments. One of the consequences of this is extreme environmental damage. It is generally agreed that the damage done by Europeans only finished off the longer damage of the Polynesians. However, it is also true that it seems to be human nature to damage the environment, often in unsustainable ways. I will add a comment to this effect. On this same theme, look for an upcoming entry from me about the role of environmental damage in the fall of Rome.
The origin of the Polynesians is, to my mind, undisputed. I realize that others do not share this view. I will add more supporting evidence for my claims.
I would be thrilled to write more about Easter Island. There is already an entry in the Guide about that culture and it does a good job summing it up so it seems redundant for me to write the same things over again.
I believe that covers everything.
-Master of the Dojo


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 7

MotDoc, Temporarily Exiled to Tartu, Estonia

Oh and also, in a display of shameless self-promotion:
If you are interested in this sort of thing and would like to see more, patronize the field of anthropology by joining the Institute for the h2g2 Royal Anthropological Society (IFRAS) at A1975179. Thank you.


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 8

frenchbean

Hi Dojo smiley - smiley

What a thorough response to all those points I made. Good on you! smiley - biggrin

Why did prehistory start in 1100 in NZ? Surely that's only HUMAN prehistory? smiley - erm All the geogolical and evolutionary stuff that happened before 1100 was still prehistoric.

smiley - cheers
F/b


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 9

MotDoc, Temporarily Exiled to Tartu, Estonia

Frenchbean-
Prehistory is the period of human occupation. Anything before that goes under other names such geological history.


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 10

frenchbean

smiley - erm ...so dinosaurs aren't prehistoric?? Ah ha: maybe it's the difference between prehistory and prehistoric?

To go back to the issue about the origins of Polynesians. I was in the National Maritime Museum yesterday and had a look at their bumph on Polynesian migration routes. There was no suggestion that they'd originated in Taiwan. PNG/Borneo was where they think they started from. I guess these days, DNA would nail it, but even just to look at the facial characteristics of Polynesians vs Taiwanese, there doesn't seem to be much similarity; whereas with New Guineans there are more. Do you have a reference for the Taiwan origins?

smiley - cheers
F/b


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 11

Gnomon - time to move on

MotDoc is right about the word 'Prehistory'. Although 'prehistoric' is used for any time before written history started, 'prehistory' is only used for human affairs, so the prehistory starts when humans arrive. Nevertheless, this usage is very strange sounding, so I suggest you rephrase it in some way.


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 12

Woodpigeon

This is one superb article MOTDOC smiley - cheers. I have only one small comment, which is your link to the article on Jared Diamond. As far as I know you can only link to other *edited* guide articles and not unedited articles. I'm sure the sub-eds would pick this up either way.

Terrific.

smiley - peacedoveWoodpigeon


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 13

MotDoc, Temporarily Exiled to Tartu, Estonia

I noticed the unedited entries issue. I was actually thinking about writing my own entry about Jared Diamond and trying to see if I could get it edited. I have a question I've been wondering about and I want to know if anyone can answer it: what happens if an entry relevant to yours gets accepted after your entry is already edited? Is there a way to add new references to edited entries or is it too late?
The main source for the Taiwan theory is linguistic evidence. Austronesian (the main language grouping of which Polynesian is only a small part) has four main divisions, three of which occur only on Taiwan. This indicated that the original source of the language is Taiwan and that only individuals speaking one of the four groups were involved in the colonization process. Genetic evidence is mixed (mostly because the Austronesians mixed with the pre-existing Melanesian populations during the Lapita period) but tends to indicate a Taiwanese origin. The reason the Taiwanese today look less like the Polynesians is the repeated invasions by the Chinese starting around AD 1 (I think). The history of Taiwan is another topic I might write an entry about later. Borneo is only a proximate source, not the original source. In other words the original settlers from Taiwan stayed in the Phillipines-Borneo region for many generations before moving on.
I don't really know what to do about the labeling of the period but I suppose I will change it somehow since it has caused such confusion.
MotDoc (needs to find his own characteristic smiley)


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 14

Woodpigeon

Hi motdoc,

Yes - its possible to do it. Normally you just need to drop a line to the sub-editor, and he or she can do it for you. The Italics could do it for you also if you are nice to them and give them some smiley - choc

smiley - peacedoveWoodpigeon


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 15

Gnomon - time to move on

If this entry becomes Edited first, and then the Jared Diamond one, you can post a message to Feedback / Editorial asking for a link to be put into this pointing to the Diamond entry. It's not a problem.


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 16

frenchbean

Hi Motdoc smiley - smiley

Thank you for clarifying the Taiwanese origins. And thank you for putting up with my smiley - devil pedantism and pickiness smiley - applause

I do think it's a great entry, which may have got lost in my smiley - 2cents

smiley - cheers
F/b


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 17

MotDoc, Temporarily Exiled to Tartu, Estonia

Just as one cannot truly enjoy pleasure without the existence of pain, nor appreciate good without evil, so too is it impossible to truly understand writing without the existence of critics. All this is to say that the nitpicking is as important to the entry as my writing it in the first place.
-MotDoc smiley - martiansmile


A1326377 - Prehistoric Polynesia

Post 18

frenchbean

Oh good!

I knew that, but not everybody who puts stuff into PR is as wise as you and me smiley - winkeyesmiley - laugh

smiley - cheers
Frenchbean


Congratulations - Your Entry has been Picked for the Edited Guide!

Post 19

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Congratulations - Your Entry has been Picked for the Edited Guide!

Post 20

Woodpigeon

Well deserved! smiley - cheerssmiley - bubbly


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