Indians and Polynesians

I think we could file this one under “proving the obvious”. Some South American Indians share DNA with some Polynesians. And the connection goes back way before European contact.

I was a fan of Thor Heyrdahl when I was a kid. I must’ve read Kon-Tiki a dozen times. That’s the one where he built a raft and sailed from Peru to Polynesia because he thought the Pacific Islands might have been settled by people from South America.

That was a controversial theory. Not accepted by academics, but still intriguing because it was something that could have happened, even if it didn’t really.

I secretly held onto hope there might be a kernel of truth. Then it turned out in 2013 that sweet potatoes spread from South America to Polynesia in historic times, say about 1000 to 1100 CE. The articles published back then were mostly hellbent on explaining that Heyerdahl was still an idiot and sweet potatoes were probably set adrift after a typhoon. No human intervention needed.

Ja. Maybe so but those sweet potatoes put a big question mark over the orthodox history.

This new DNA evidence can be explained by a single contact. It doesn’t validate Heyerdahl’s theory that Polynesians originated in South America, but it’s a fun and interesting validation of the core idea.

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