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Unformatted text preview: http://www.tuvaluislands.com/history-caves.htm The Fire Caves of Nanumaga The Age (Australia), Monday 13 April 1987. Off the northern shore of Nanumaga island in western Polynesia's Tuvalu island group last year, two scuba divers investigating a local legend of "a large house under the sea" found an underwater cave morethan 40 metres down the wall of a coral cliff. Dark patches on the roof and walls and blackened coral fragments on its floor suggest the use of fire by human occupants. The last time people could possibly have occupied the cave was during a time of low sea level more than 8000 years ago, a date sharply at odds with the view that the Pacific was settled just 6000 years ago. The evidence of fire may be ambiguous, but the durable cultural memory of the cave's existence is not so easily dismissed. Pacific archeologists may have got it very wrong. In focusing on archaeological evidence, they have been blind to a vital piece of climatic evidence - a massive and continuous rise in sea level that began l8,000 years ago and stopped 4000 years ago and probably drowned most of the evidence of much earlier human migrations into the Pacific. In the Journal of Pacific History, Dr. John Gibbons of the University of the South Pacific in Fiji wrote: trying to make sense of Pacific prehistory may have been somewhat akin to the efforts of someone who arrives in time for the second act of a play, and then attempts to work out the plot without even realizing that the first act has already taken place. "Dr Gibbons and his. co-author, Dr. Fergus Clunie, believe the Pacific was colonised by waves of "boat people, driven from their ancestral coastal homelands in Indonesia and South-East Asia by rising oceans. The known world of Pacific archaeology ends abruptly at a temporal horizon 6000 years ago, the earliest date of distinctive shards of Lapita, Pottery. The pottery is found in coastal regions throughout the south-west Pacific, from the Marquesas in the east, to New Caledonia in the south and the Carolines in the north. The Lapita culture has been thought to trace its origins to coast-dwelling fisher-folk from Indonesia and the Philippines, who mastered the art of sailing and spread rapidly into the Pacific from about 4000 years ago. But the archaeology clashes with linguistic evidence that some of the islands of Polynesia, lying at great distance from Asia, had already been settled at least 5000 years ago. Dr. Gibbons and Dr. Clunie have offered a radical theory which suggests skilled mariners were navigating around the Pacific perhaps 10,000 years before the flowering of the great civilisations of Sumeria and Egypt....
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2011 for the course HWST 107 taught by Professor Kaulia during the Spring '11 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.
- Spring '11