Ancient Polynesians were among the most skilled navigators in history

November 14th, 2007 - 8:14 am ICT by admin  
Australian scientists have shown that the stone was carved from a volcanic rock from a Hawaiian island 4000 kilometres to the north.

Marshall Weisler, of the University of Queensland, said his research confirmed that early Polynesians, the settlers who had arrived in Hawaii from the south about 1000 years ago, travelled 2,500 miles by canoe using only the stars, clouds and seabirds as navigational aids.

He said that his study also confirms what Pacific people have long been told through folklore, that their ancestors were among the most skilled navigators in history.

“This 4000-kilometre journey now stands as the longest uninterrupted maritime voyage in human prehistory,” the Telegraph quoted Weisler, as saying.

He added that the Polynesians used signs such as tides, the presence of driftwood and the flight of seabirds, which return to roost on land at night.

They also closely observed the underside of clouds, which reflect whatever lies beneath them - a darker tinge indicates the presence of land, he said.

The woodworking tool, known as an adze, was found in the 1930s by an archaeologist on one of the coral islands of the Tuamotu Archipelago near Tahiti.

By analysing the chemical composition of the stone, Dr Weisler and his colleague, Professor Ken Collerson, identified its source as an island near Hawaii that has traditionally been the last stopping point for sailors before heading south.

This kind of adze was not made in Hawaii, he said.

“The rock may have been taken as a gift or a memento, as is done today by modern traditional voyagers, or used as ballast, and fashioned into adzes in the Tuamotus,” he added.

It is the first Hawaiian object to have been found in east Polynesia, said Dr Weisler, whose study is published in the journal Science.

The researchers also studied 18 other woodworking adzes which showed that marine trade was also widespread throughout east Polynesia. (ANI)

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