July 8, 2020
We have been looking for proof for a long time. Finally DNA evidence is found.
In the past, suspicions of this admixture were fueled by Polynesians cultivating a South American plant, the sweet potato. Long ago, Rapa Nui (Easter island) has evidence of ancient sweet potato fields, old stonework, and a Birdman cult that could be related to South America. Researchers studied DNA from 17 Pacific Island populations and 15 Native American populations from the Pacific coast of South America. A genome wide analysis of 807 people .was undertaken Several Polynesian populations have evidence of a background signature originating from South America. The Rapa Nui population has admixture from northern coastal people of South America. The same signatures were found in the Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands. The earliest signatures are dated to 1150 in the Marquesas and to Rapa Nui by 1380. The evidence points to Columbia as the place in South America where contact was made to Polynesians. This also suggests South Americans may have made it to some Polynesian islands before the Polynesians arrived.
It is possible Polynesian populations sailed to South America and returned to Polynesia with South Americans aboard or had mixed with South Americans before returning. More genetic studies will be made.
The early sweet potato plants have South American variations. And there may have been many contacts over this early phase.
DNA studies will be necessary to answer some of the remaining questions, and they should analyze living populations not included in the authors’ study, as well as DNA extracted from ancient bones. Nevertheless, Ioannidis and colleagues’ core findings have finally solved the mystery about a possible early Native South American physical presence in eastern Polynesia, and that is a great contribution.
Nature.com has the report here;
ScienceMag adds that the Native American signatures in the Eastern Islands have an identical short period, thus perhaps indicating a one time meeting rather than sustained contact. But Polynesians had the experience of long ocean voyages and could have visited many times to South America,
The NY Times adds that the evidence points to the Zenu people of Columbia was the possible group that made contact in Polynesia. Also Polynesians could have spent more time in coastal islands off of the South American coast. Mocha Island, off of the coast of Chile, has skulls that have been studied that look very Polynesian in shape.
Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Americas News on Word Press