October 25, 2014 by JImbo
It doesn’t sound like much to us now, but 1,000 miles across open ocean in small rafts is quite a voyage! How did they navigate? Didn’t they have to know where they were going?
Well, oddly enough maybe they didn’t need much propulsion. The currents may have done it for them.
They currents go right around the island to South America and then back to Easter Island. So, go due South and you get sucked over to South America in about the same place every time.
(Easter Island is marked on the map.)
I dunno how precise the currents back are. I’m gonna guess that it wasn’t regular “trading” voyages. I am GUESSING here, but since we have no evidence they had any navigational equipment, I’m thinking it was accidents by people trying to go somewhere else. Or just exploring?
It seems a pretty good shot to hit a current from near Lake Titicaca (haha had to say it… LAKE TITICACA… yeah it amused me.) Anyway, you can catch the current there and aim for the huge island chains out in Polynesia. There are islands all over the place, so once there you can figure out what one you’re on. Easter Island they just accidentally went too far south by mistake.
That’s my guess. It’s freely just that. However, I don’t know of any navigational or steerage/propulsion technology that would enable the Polynesians to be that accurate over those long distances.
If the second part is true as well, that means that there may be a migrational “highway” across the Southern Pacific. Instead of the LOOOONG way around from Siberia to Alaska to California to Mexico and down to Peru and Chile… what if the Polynesians in New Zealand or New Guinea just hopped the currents that went East to Chile?
Seems logical. Just as logical than the long, arduous trip down the coast. It would explain a few of the mysteries they’re finding in dating, genetic and cultural artifacts in South America.
Similarly, the “African Connection” is plausible too. There is another huge circular current (or set of currents) moving back and forth between Africa and South America. it’s entirely possible that (unintentionally or intentionally) some ancient mariners discovered that too. There’s less evidence of breeding and cultural contact, but there are items and technologies (tools, weapons, artwork,etc) that could have been exchanged.
It seems the world wasn’t the isolated, lonely place with tiny distinct cultures that we have been led to believe.