Thursday, May 10, 2012

Polynesian Settlement

The first people to occupy Norfolk Island travelled here by canoe as part of the great Polynesian voyaging. The history of these people can be described as one of the last, great expansions of Homo sapiens as this species left Africa, passed through Asia, down the east coast and divided at what is now Taiwan, one section going through to Australia, the other section through to New Guinea and out into the pacific Ocean. This happened some 30,000 years ago when the migration halted for thousands of years. From there the migration divided into three sections – one northwards, now named Micronesia, one eastward named Melanesia and the last one Polynesia, the largest of the three. This is known as the Polynesian triangle; the most northward corner is Hawaii, the eastern corner Easter Island and the south corner New Zealand.

Unearthing the Marae
 New Zealand is considered to be the last area of the migrations and the date of the first settlements on the South island was about 750AD. The Polynesians were excellent mariners and soon colonised the North island and the outlying ones. From here they still explored the surroundings and ventured in their canoes to see what lay beyond the horizon.

Now the story of Norfolk Island can be told – the small settlement here was discovered and excavated in the late 1990s. Many artefacts had been found on the surface from the date of the first British settlement in 1788 to the present day and it was decided that a team of archaeologists should explore the possibilities of finding a living area. This was done and the artefacts recovered put the date of settlement as between 800AD and 1450AD.
Artefact finds

Some of the most revealing specimens recovered show that the voyagers had possibly been to other places as about 26 small pieces of obsidian (volcanic glass) were recovered in one area near Emily Bay and analysis of these pieces revealed that 25 of them had come from the Kermadec Islands (northeast of New Zealand) and one piece from Mayer island which is on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Itmust be remembered that trading may have taken place and goods swapped so the above cannot be verified.

In 1999 the living area was found and excavated and the artefacts recovered were enough to realise that the Polynesians had been here for many years. It is not known how many lived here, how many trips were made, what caused the Island to become deserted, or if any died here as no burials were found. The Group excavating were restricted as to how many square metres could be explored so, after the major find of a marae (pictured), the excavations had to cease as all available area had been examined”.

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone no WHY there are three sections in polynesia