Pre-Columbian Polynesians in Chile

A team headed by Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith of the University of Auckland has analysed the DNA of archaeological chicken bones from Chile and found that the fowl belonged to a Polynesian breed. Now comes the cool bit: the bones date from the 14th century. We've known since the 60s that Scandinavians beat the Spaniards to North America. Now we find that Polynesians beat them to South America. Columbus's travels just mark the start of a continued non-native presence in the Americas.

Via the LA Times. Thanks to Hans Persson of Du är vad du läser for the heads-up. Did you know that his blog's name means "You Are What You Read"?

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Marvelously fascinating and it does look likely that there really needs to be a rethinking of what "Native American" means. Of course the chickens could have rafted ala a sweepstakes route, but if they were food for a voyage, it brings new meaning to cruises and shades of Thor Heyerdah routes. I see a TV series here.

I recall from somewhere deep in my grad school SAm. Archaeology course the Jomo Culture of peru/Chile and the apparent introduction of pottery fro Japan c. 1500 BCE?? Papers by Meggers? Of course Kennewick complicates matters as does the very narrow time frame now for the Clovis culture (maybe 200 years) and the all but certain pre-Clovis south of N. America. That magical Siberian corridor may have been more of a turnstile, opening anc closing repeatedly along with continental shelf routes given a 100 m lower seallevel (now that is climate change!). Bit what of the other coast routes..lower the seas by 100 m, does that get you Solutreans...those blades look so North American.

By Donald Wolberg (not verified) on 05 Jun 2007 #permalink

Knappers tell me the Clovis-Solutrean link is nonsense from a technological viewpoint, though the outline shape of the points is sort of similar. But I'd be quite happy to entertain the possibility of multiple arrivals along the western coasts of the Americas. Once they get some real site protection laws and contract archaeology going, the evidence will pop up.

Some california researchers think they have linguistic and technological evidence of some Hawaii-California voyages; they presented this at last year's Stigler lectures at the U. Arkansas to a skeptical crowd, but it sounded pretty strong to me, given the central pacific gyre would have alerted them to the big timbers washing off NAm.
A previous year's Stigler lecturer, Dennis Stanford (Smithsonian?) described his search for Clovis in Aklaska; can't find any sign of it; and the earliest dates cluster in the East; he also pushes for a Paleolithic (Sp-Fr-Ire)origin because if they had needeles they had boats...My looking thru a Euro prehistory book makes me think Azilian ca. 17000 BP
This weekend's MidSouth Archaeological Conference included a paper by Mike Gramley presenting the evidence for Clovis being significantly younger than Cumberland (oftentimes fluted), which he derives from an 'early lanceolate' tradition cf. El Jobo in Venez.

By m.e.starr (not verified) on 05 Jun 2007 #permalink

"Nonsense" reminds me of the first establishment responses to Dart's ideas about the Taungs child, many of the same folks who loved Piltdown. The distribution of Clovis and later Folsom have always been fascinating as has been the distribution of the contemporaneous fauna. I recakk Alex Krieger's heretical paper more than 40 years ago in Jennings and Norbeck, Prehistoric Man in the New World, in which Krieger even then suspected an older southern or southeast origin of Clovis, not Beringea. Indeed, if they had needles they had boats and perhaps someone should look for needles. Some detailked looks at the movement of fauna and more attention paid by vertebrate paleontologists to possible indications of human associations would be interesting. Was there ever a resoultuion of who killed the Hebior? (Wisconsin?) elephant and when?

By Donald Wolberg (not verified) on 06 Jun 2007 #permalink

Dr. Rundkvist,

Professors Emeritus John L. Sorenson and Carl L. Johannessen have finally published the results of their massive 30+ year research project exploring the possibility of trade and sustained contact between the hemispheres. They carefully studied the literature from many scientific disciplines for articles and books detailing this evidence then they traveled to many site around the world to verify the published research. Their book, World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492, available at,, and, shows definitive evidence of sustained transoceanic contact between tropical cultures in both hemispheres. It shows over 100 species that were definitely present in both hemisphere as far back as 8000 years ago.

This book has the potential to change the way in which we teach and understand the history of the world.