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Title: Summary and Conclusions
Contributor(s): Jones, Terry L (author); Clarke, Andrew C (author); Storey, Alice (author); Weisler, Marshall I (author); Cordero, Maria-Auxiladora (author); Green, Roger C (author); Irwin, Geoffry (author); Klar, Katheryn A (author); Matisoo-Smith, Elizabeth (author); Quiroz, Daniel (author); Ramirez-Aliaga, Jose Miguel (author); Scaglion, Richard (author)
Publication Date: 2010
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Abstract: 'Parsimony: the use of the simplest or most frugal route of explanation available; in science, a preference for the least complex explanation for an observation.' We suggest that the most parsimonious explanation for the material, linguistic, biological, mythological, nautical chronological, and physical anthropological evidence summarized in chapters 1-13 is that Polynesians made pre-Columbian landfalls in the New World. Further, based on this evidence, we identify three likely locations of contact: southern Chile, the Gulf of Guayaquil in South America, and the Santa Barbara Channel in North America. All of these contacts we argue occurred during the late Holocene between approximately cal A.D. 700 and 1350. None of them altered the course of pre-history in these regions in the extreme ways suggested by hyperdiffusionists (i.e., they did not cause the emergence of New World civilizations); nonetheless, local populations in both Polynesia and the Americas were the recipients of new technologies and domesticates that affected their subsistence practices and lives. Cultures changed. This conclusion is not based on any single piece of evidence but rather on the totality. The possibility that Polynesians made such contacts has been discussed and debated for nearly two centuries. Both theoretical resistance to the notion of transoceanic diffusion and lingering ethnocentrism among American scholars have contributed to stubborn dismissal of this idea, especially in the United States. Previously, it was also possible to raise enough doubts about certain empirical patterns that archaeologists had in some cases justification for rejecting transoceanic contacts even in the face of archaeologically, ethnographically, and experimentally demonstrated Polynesian seafaring capabilities. Some of the early counter-arguments, however, were also convoluted and far from parsimonious. Findings from new methods and more rigorous analyses of previously cited and new evidence now make direct cultural contact the simplest possible explanation for the co-occurrence of various cultural and biological traits in Polynesia and the Americas. In our view, convergence, coincidence, and independent adaptive innovation simply do not offer credible alternative explanations for the patterns described in this volume and summarized more briefly below. The archaeological evidence also clearly shows that these patterns are not the result of transference into and through the Pacific by Europeans in postcontact times.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian Contacts with the New World, p. 263-276
Publisher: AltaMira Press
Place of Publication: California, United States of America
ISBN: 9780759120044
Field of Research (FOR): 210106 Archaeology of New Guinea and Pacific Islands (excl New Zealand)
210103 Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas
210107 Archaeology of New Zealand (excl Maori)
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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