My Library

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

I read Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia which explores the mystery (review) of how Polynesia was populated. “It is an old, coral-encrusted question, puzzled over for the last three centuries, and usually posed in three parts. It concerns the inhabitants of the 10-million-square-mile triangle of blue-water Pacific real estate now known as Polynesia, which is bounded by New Zealand, Easter Island and the Hawaiian archipelago. The people who live there, seemingly magically marooned in a tropic Arcadia in the middle of a vast oceanic nowhere: Where did they come from, when did they get there, and how? Christina Thompson, by virtue of being American-Australian and married to a Maori…is perhaps ideally placed to try to answer the question.”

Perhaps what is most interesting to me is our lack of understanding of this ancient culture. Polynesia covers one of the widest geographic expanses. Their navigational methods were ahead of the times – “how they listened to the heartbeat of the sea, how they watched and learned the patterns of the swells, how they read the flights of seabirds, looked for drifting plants and land birds, measured the rise and fall of the daytime sun and at night, how they performed complex mensurations on the geography and geometries of the southern stars.” And yet, to this day, we still don’t know how they navigated such long distances across the Pacific or moved such large statues in Easter Island.

Get it here.