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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: September 22, 2021 05:38PM

Easter Island’s famous megaliths have relatives on islands thousands of miles to the north and west, and so did the people who created them, a study has found.

Over a 250-year period separate groups of people set out from tiny islands east of Tahiti to settle Easter Island, the Marquesas and Raivavae – archipelagos that are thousands of miles apart but all home to similar ancient statues.

“These statues are only on those islands that are closely connected genetically,” the study’s lead author, Alexander Ioannidis of Stanford University, told AFP.

Ioannidis and his team were able to map and date the first Polynesians’ path of settlement, which began in Samoa and fanned out across the Pacific between the years 830 and 1360, using cutting-edge analysis of modern DNA.

“This had been an open problem since Captain Cook first noticed that the people on the Polynesian islands were all speaking the same language,” Ioannidis said.

The expansion happened rapidly – over about 17 generations – outpacing major changes in language or culture that could have served as markers, the findings show. The researchers were able to piece together the puzzle of trans-Pacific migration by comparing the genetic material in 430 present-day inhabitants across 21 islands.

The outward expansion from Samoa unfolded westward to Fiji, Tonga in the south, and then east to Rarotonga around the year 830.

A few hundred years later, descendants on Rarotonga travelled to settle present-day Tahiti and the Tuamotu archipelago just beyond. It is from the small, long-overlooked sand-bar islands of Tuamotu that the most ambitious forays set out, Ioannidis said.

Now sparsely populated, thanks in part to their role as nuclear test grounds, the Tuamotus span an area equal to the distance between England and Greece.

The study notes that the low-lying islands most likely emerged from below sea level only a few hundred years before Polynesians spread there.

“They needed to have a maritime culture to get in between these small, ring-like islands,” Ioannidis said. “I think that explains in some part why it is from there that we see the longest-distance voyages going out.”

This became ground zero for the megalith-building peoples who came to inhabit the Marquesas, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Raivavae.

The timing of those expansions fits with earlier DNA-based findings by Ioannidis and his team showing that Native Americans – probably from the north-western coast of South America – and Polynesians mingled around the year 1200.

“The date we found for that contact is very close to the dates we find for these voyages out from the Tuamotus to settle these remote islands,” Ioannidis said.

Today’s Polynesian populations have mixed heritage, with traces of Europe, Africa and other places in their ancestry.

While genetic studies of ancient peoples have tended to focus on ancient DNA samples unearthed from archaeological sites, Ioannidis said his team had been able to home in on telltale sequences buried in modern DNA.

They used a software to analyse samples from 430 inhabitants across 21 different islands to identify recurring gene patterns specific to Polynesians, blocking out DNA sequences associated with European or other ancestry.

Otherwise, “you would just find that the islands with the ‘most Polynesian’ DNA were more related,” Ioannidis said. “That’s not interesting from a historical perspective.”

His team used the genetic clues to draw a kind of family tree east to west across the Pacific.

DNA strands shorten as they are re-combined over generations, therefore the length of shared segments revealed how many generations passed between each settlement.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/22/2021 05:39PM by anybody.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: September 22, 2021 07:05PM

This is always so fascinating. And Polynesians' ancestry started way back in China and the Philippines. Gotta be confusing for Mormons.

I remember how Mormons loved "Kon-Tiki" by Heyerdahl, who claimed he sailed on prevailing currents and winds, which led indigenous Chileans to Easter Island. They forget that, when Cao'n Crunch landed there, his Tahitian crew was able to converse with the islanders, because their Polynesian language and Tahitian were mostly mutually understandable. Also, Heyerdahl had an agenda to prove his point, so that upset the whole premise.

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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: September 22, 2021 07:23PM

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: September 23, 2021 04:25AM

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 22, 2021 07:23PM

You are right.

The Austronesians originated in southern China, then moved across the Strait to Taiwan, then went south to the Philippines and then on to New Guinea and Micronesia. Around Fiji they perfected their sailing technology and their "kit" of chickens and vegetables, which allowed them to colonize the Pacific and as far West as Madagascar.

The Book of Mormon would be more probable if it put Lehi and Nephi in the Bismarck Archipelago and the records in Reformed Malayan.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: September 24, 2021 03:06PM

Yes, and thanks for remembering Madagascar. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. traced one African-American celebrity back to Madagascar and Polynesia. It may have been John Legend, but I forget. I think the Madagascar people are directly linked to migration through what is now Indonesia. (In case anyone doubts the Chinese connection to Polynesians, the Chinese migration was before the influx of Han people (the modern-day bulk of Chinese), and happened when China was populated by indigenous Chinese, who are now found in only in the tiniest of pockets throughout the country, and who have a direct link to Filipino so-called "Negritos." Well,... As I recall.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 24, 2021 05:37PM

Yes, the extent of the migrations are evident in the maps above. Malayan dialects are dominant in today's Indonesia and Malaysia, with large communities as well in the Philippines, southern Thailand, parts of Vietnam, Burma, and India as well as Polynesia and Madagascar. There is also a small population, the Shandiren, in Taiwan although their language represents the earliest form of proto-Austronesian and hence differs quite a bit from the other Malayan-ish tongues.

The Austronesians were not, however, "Negritos." DNA shows that the earliest waves of settlers into southern Asia and Southeast Asia were more closely related to what would become the New Guinean and Australian aborigines. The later waves of migration by other peoples--Thai-kadai, Tibeto-Burmese, Austronesian, Han, Vietnamese--swamped the Negrito groups, who retreated to more marginal areas like mountains, jungles, etc. Thus India, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and other places have small groups that are fairly isolated as well as the more ancient and less disturbed people on the Andaman Islands who, interestingly, never acquired any Denisovan ancestry.

The Austronesians who came from southern China and went first to Taiwan and moved south before spreading out globally looked more like modern Malaysians. They were one of the waves that swamped the earlier populations, like those groups that are now collectively called "Negritos." So those were different migrations although there has naturally been a lot interbreeding over the centuries, which is why the Sentinelese (least disturbed of the Andamanese) stand out physiologically.

I would quibble with your notion of the Han displacing the "indigenous Chinese" since the Han were fully Chinese. There were dozens of related and unrelated ethnic groups in China when the Han moved south and west, interbreeding with and replacing other equally Chinese groups. It was like the Zulu conquest of other African peoples: both winners and losers were fully African, or fully Chinese.

There's still a lot of ethnic diversity in China, from the Uighur Muslims in the Northeast to the ethnically separate Tibetans, who have more genetic ties to the Burmese than to the Han, to a dozen fascinating tribal groups in Yunnan (bat country) and neighboring areas of China, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, and even Bangladesh. Those are peoples who were not completely displaced by the Han. Unfortunately, today's Chinese government is trying to eliminate those minorities--especially the larger and potentially uncooperative peoples like the Uighurs--and transform them into good little honorary Han.

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