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Contrary to what many people believe, America might have been discovered by Polynesians long before Christopher Columbus made his voyages to the continent. Researchers have been working on this matter in order to establish the factual information about it. As a result, the topic on discovery of America has turned out controversial on two main areas. First, researchers wanted to find out whether there was a pre- Columbian introduction of chicken to the continent and also, whether the relationship between the Polynesians and South Americans can be established archeologically. This paper seeks out to shed light on this issue by finding out who really discovered America.
Archeologists discovered chicken bones at a certain archeological site in Chile and applied carbon dating as well as DNA methods of analysis to discover their origins (Hirst, 2011, para. 1). Surprisingly, their findings matched with the other ancient information on Polynesian chicken from Hawaii, Tonga and the surrounding areas. This information implied that the chickens were introduced to America a century before Europeans made their visit to the continent. It also brought doubts along with it concerning the widely accepted belief that the birds were introduced into the continent by European voyagers.
There are various theories that try to explain the presence of chicken in America in the pre-Columbian period (Hirst, 2011, para. 1). For instance most scholars believe that they were introduced by Spanish or Portuguese and then they spread through natural dispersal method. Nevertheless, most of these theories have major loop holes which disqualify them. The assumption that the chicken were introduced by from Polynesia is supported by both the carbon dating and DNA test methods. As a result, it is highly possible that this theory holds to be true.
Another strong argument that supports the fact that Polynesians were the first people to discover America is based on the use of canoes and fish hooks. The Chumash people used to make the plank canoes using hand-hewn planks joined and cemented with asphaltum adhesive (Edgar, 2011 para. 2). Their length was 25 feet and they were used for fishing and trading purposes. Chumash formed one of the largest tribes in California. They are believed to have learnt how to make the plank canoes from Polynesians where the practice was widespread (Edgar, 2005 p. 3).
Polynesian canoes were longer, ranging between 36 to 60 feet in length. They sailed in huge double hauled canoes. Use of carbon dating shows the dates of these canoes to range from 800 to 1200 AD, which fall under the pre-Columbian period (Davidson, 2005, para. 2). Therefore, Chumash people must have learnt the practice from Polynesians. Also, use of fish hooks by the Chumash people is believed to have been borrowed from the Polynesians after their contact. The hooks dated around 900 AD, which were many centuries before the arrival of Christopher Columbus (Hirst, 2011, para. 5). There were a lot of similarities especially in the way both cultures referred to the tool by the same name. The tool had also similar design and many other mysterious resemblances indicating a possible link between the two prehistoric communities.
Furthermore, there were evaluations of linguistic evidence that confirmed a believe on pre-historic Polynesian-American contact. There is some consonantal connection between Polynesian and South American languages which further affirms this belief (Klar, 2005 p. 394). Similarities in some consonantal sounds are sure proves that the Polynesians must have visited the continent so that the terminologies could be adopted into the Chumashan culture. The Chumashan name for plank canoe was ‘tomolo’, which is believed to have been borrowed from the Polynesian source. According to linguistics and other researchers, every syllable of the Chumashan relates to another syllable in the Proto-Central Eastern Polynesian based lexical term (Klar, 2005 p. 394). However, this does not imply that the two languages have a general and genetic relationship but instead there is some resemblance in usage of various words.
Besides use of ‘tomolo’, there are other words such as ‘kumara’ for sweet potato, which is a proof of an earlier contact between Polynesians and Americans. Sweet potatoes were mainly grown by the Polynesians. After their remains in Polynesia were investigated, they had quite a lot of similarities with those grown in Ecuador (Ladefoged, 2005 para. 2). The word ‘kumara’ with its varied dialects, means sweet potato in both Polynesian and South American cultures. It is therefore believed that domestication of the crop was a common practice between people in South America and in Polynesia (Ladefoged, 2005 para. 2). Therefore, linguistic evidence provides a sure proof of a direct contact that existed between Polynesians and Americans, long time before Europeans made their visit to the continent (Klar, 2005 p. 394).
The paper has established that besides the voyages made by Christopher Columbus in his exploration to the American continent, there were other pre-Columbian visits made by Polynesians. All the above discussed assumptions point to one major believe: Polynesians discovered America before Europeans made their first voyage to the continent. Some of these theories are still being processed and therefore, there is still more research to be done in the future to ascertain these claims.
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