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Old 31-03-2016, 07:37   #181
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by Polux View Post
Comparing the sea exploration of Europeans with the ones of the Polynesians is just ridiculous.


...



I doubt he had a compass, much less a sextant or astronomical tables

1/ I'm afraid it is not ridiculous at all. Nobody is saying that the European explorations from 1400 onwards are ridiculous either. Indeed they have been the most extensive to date in the history of mankind, true. But the explorations and navigations of Polynesians very much predated this period, and at that time Europeans were incapable of navigating out of sight of land for any extended period of time. The colonisation of Eastern Polynesia seems to have happened between 500 and 1000 AD. Speaking very roughly, that corresponds to the Viking age in Europe, when these daring north men were pretty much the only ones ever venturing offshore. They were also navigating only in a single ocean, and really only the NE part of it, over a much smaller area than the Polynesians. As for the period from 1100 to 1400 AD, at that time European navigation was only coastal in the Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean. On the contrary that was when the Polynesian triangle literally exploded to include Rapa Nui, Hawaii and New Zealand, which were genuinely discovered and populated - meaning Polynesians really were the first men to set eyes and foot on these lands, to build dwellings there and to navigate amd trade back and forth between their cultural centre in Raiatea and these newly colonised places. It is true that the knowledge of long-distance navigation subsequently faded in the later centuries, and that other technologies of the Polynesian culture were not necessarily very advanced. But the navigational skills of Polynesians during these times enabled them to explore, navigate and colonise far greater distances and areas than those Europeans were able to do at that point. Therefore, it would seem "ridiculous" could have been a term somewhat ridiculously chosen ;-)

2/ Interesting story, but since your conclusion is a pure conjecture on your behalf, it does not prove anything. If you offer evidence that he navigated without instruments, it will show that an isolated individual accomplished this feat. But nowhere does it show that the Europeans were able to sail offshore regularly and generally without their newly acquired technology such as compass and sextant.


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Old 31-03-2016, 07:42   #182
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Re: Ancient navigation

"As to the Viking navigators… sure why not? But how is this relevant to the Polynesians? As it happens I have a pair of iceland spar calcite "sunstones" myself, and have practised using them (chiefly in the cloudy waters off Scotland, and Scandinavia), without too much success it has to be said. No ravens as yet, though…" Muckle


Muckle,
It is relevant to the discussion of the Polynesians in regards to your previous statement: "And meanwhile, it is unlikely any of those Europeans of the age of discovery, whom you so vaunt, if stripped of all instruments (compass, choronometer, sextant, and astronomical tables) would have been able to achieve a tiny fragment of the spectacular success of the polynesians in their navigation" Muckle
However,to digress, among educated people in discussions of a serious nature, it is quite common for these conversations to morph into ancillary or divergent areas that are related, even if somewhat loosely, to the topic. I believe this provides for the respondents and readers a richness that would be lost in a strictly closed and confined conversation. This, I believe, is contrary to a free-flowing exchange of ideas.
Finally, for those that are conversant in Dark Age/Viking History, a study I have relished for the last 40 years, the efficacy/usage of the sunstone has not been definitively proved but remains a possibility in the Viking navigators bag of tricks. We do know, however, that based upon the historic voyages of the Northmen, that their excursions into the unknown across the North Atlantic in the first millennia, unaided by reliable forms of navigation, were the equivalent of America's first journeys into space in their courage, vision, and scope. This in no way discounts the early journeys of the Polynesians but is part of the larger story of oceanic navigation and discovery. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 31-03-2016, 08:38   #183
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by rognvald View Post
"As to the Viking navigators… sure why not? But how is this relevant to the Polynesians? As it happens I have a pair of iceland spar calcite "sunstones" myself, and have practised using them (chiefly in the cloudy waters off Scotland, and Scandinavia), without too much success it has to be said. No ravens as yet, though…" Muckle


Muckle,
It is relevant to the discussion of the Polynesians in regards to your previous statement: "And meanwhile, it is unlikely any of those Europeans of the age of discovery, whom you so vaunt, if stripped of all instruments (compass, choronometer, sextant, and astronomical tables) would have been able to achieve a tiny fragment of the spectacular success of the polynesians in their navigation" Muckle
However,to digress, among educated people in discussions of a serious nature, it is quite common for these conversations to morph into ancillary or divergent areas that are related, even if somewhat loosely, to the topic. I believe this provides for the respondents and readers a richness that would be lost in a strictly closed and confined conversation. This, I believe, is contrary to a free-flowing exchange of ideas.
Finally, for those that are conversant in Dark Age/Viking History, a study I have relished for the last 40 years, the efficacy/usage of the sunstone has not been definitively proved but remains a possibility in the Viking navigators bag of tricks. We do know, however, that based upon the historic voyages of the Northmen, that their excursions into the unknown across the North Atlantic in the first millennia, unaided by reliable forms of navigation, were the equivalent of America's first journeys into space in their courage, vision, and scope. This in no way discounts the early journeys of the Polynesians but is part of the larger story of oceanic navigation and discovery. Good luck and safe sailing.
Ok well certainly. I personally buy the sunstones legend. Just because I haven't had a lot of success with them so far doesn't mean it isn't true!

This discovery has also lent a lot of support:

Not just the stuff of legend: Famed Viking 'sunstone' did exist, believe scientists | Archaeology | News | The Independent

But I have no doubt of the Viking ingenuity in this regard, and I think the reasons for their voyaging were indeed comparable to the Polynesians: prestige, opportunity, new territory, for established local leaders with well equipped vessels and some manpower at their disposal. After all why not? Since all the land was tied up to the local Jarls and upwards, what is an enterprising young, spare noble Viking or Polynesian to do? And now they hear that there may be lands "beyond" and many have gone and not returned, but now here one does, and he tells of such and such a place, and gains great favour…

So yes I agree there is likely a cultural crossover in terms of a zeitgeist or coevolutionary development socially speaking. And the sunstone is itself testament to the Vikings ingenuity at overcoming their chief obstacle: the clouds.

If only they had had clear skies always, then latitude navigation at least would be almost trivial, as they would forever have access to the pole star. But in the North… the clouds. So what can they do? Follow the sun… note its position at different times of the year… its azimuth and declination in effect. But still, how to see even the sun when "the lid" is down?

Sunstones seem a reasonable reality.

As do ravens, as it happens.
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Old 31-03-2016, 09:32   #184
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by rognvald View Post
"As to the Viking navigators… sure why not? But how is this relevant to the Polynesians? As it happens I have a pair of iceland spar calcite "sunstones" myself, and have practised using them (chiefly in the cloudy waters off Scotland, and Scandinavia), without too much success it has to be said. No ravens as yet, though…" Muckle


Muckle,
It is relevant to the discussion of the Polynesians in regards to your previous statement: "And meanwhile, it is unlikely any of those Europeans of the age of discovery, whom you so vaunt, if stripped of all instruments (compass, choronometer, sextant, and astronomical tables) would have been able to achieve a tiny fragment of the spectacular success of the polynesians in their navigation" Muckle
However,to digress, among educated people in discussions of a serious nature, it is quite common for these conversations to morph into ancillary or divergent areas that are related, even if somewhat loosely, to the topic. I believe this provides for the respondents and readers a richness that would be lost in a strictly closed and confined conversation. This, I believe, is contrary to a free-flowing exchange of ideas.
Finally, for those that are conversant in Dark Age/Viking History, a study I have relished for the last 40 years, the efficacy/usage of the sunstone has not been definitively proved but remains a possibility in the Viking navigators bag of tricks. We do know, however, that based upon the historic voyages of the Northmen, that their excursions into the unknown across the North Atlantic in the first millennia, unaided by reliable forms of navigation, were the equivalent of America's first journeys into space in their courage, vision, and scope. This in no way discounts the early journeys of the Polynesians but is part of the larger story of oceanic navigation and discovery. Good luck and safe sailing.
Oh I should add the following: Europe and Scandinavia are not homogenous. Indeed Europe was far less so in the "age of exploration" than it even is now. But the Vikings were about as far from the Europeans of the "age of exploration" in terms of their techniques, knowledge, and culture, as the Polynesians were. So I would exactly reiterate my statement which you quote, in despite of the Vikings accomplishments, which do not forget were not only unacknowledged by the Europeans of the Age of Exploration, so called, but indeed completely disdained, until the later 20th century, and for rather similar reasons. They were, by and large, considered to be "mere savages" by the mainstream of European culture until very late on indeed. How much the worse for those of far other ethnic origins… This last fact also brings them rather closer to the Polynesians in this regard, who, as this thread demonstrates, are still being disdained by those who wish to believe the world is Europe.
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Old 31-03-2016, 10:09   #185
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I would think a sliver of lodestone floated on lamp oil would provide an adequate basic compass.. I know they were normally suspended on string and would point to magnetic N which was likely of sufficient information tied into other sources like wave patterns, sun/moon rise/set, stars etc..
They were used by many ancient civilisations so no reason why with the Polynesians the High Priest would not have a jealously guarded secret Taboo device handed down to his successors..
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Old 31-03-2016, 10:44   #186
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Re: Ancient navigation

"Oh I should add the following: Europe and Scandinavia are not homogenous. Indeed Europe was far less so in the "age of exploration" than it even is now. But the Vikings were about as far from the Europeans of the "age of exploration" in terms of their techniques, knowledge, and culture, as the Polynesians were." Muckle

Muckle,
Scandinavians are the earliest Europeans as was recently discovered by sequencing the human genome from a 37,000-year-old human skeleton found in Kostenki, Russia. Here's a fascinating recent article in ScienceNordic magazine. Best, Rognvald
sciencenordic.com/scandinavians-are-earliest-europeans
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Old 31-03-2016, 11:26   #187
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by Muckle Flugga View Post
With all due respect, I deny that Polux has made any serious contributions to this thread. Rather all he has done is to try to deny that there is anything to discuss at all, because the Europeans and their methods are the only ones that matter. Do try to remember that this thread is about POLYNESIAN NAVIGATION. Flatly denying there is any such thing is not only simply wrong, it is the opposite of a useful contribution at all. ...
You should not attribute to me statements I did not made. It is rather low, to say the least and it not fits you well.

Quite contrary I have stated that they were able to navigate between the Islands of the same archipelago and nearby archipelagos and that is a remarkable accomplishment for a stone age culture.

My participation on this thread had not to do directly with the empirical Polynesian navigation skills but to contribute to eradicate misleading and abusive information that had been posted on this thread regarding navigation and explorations in general. Ridiculous misinformation like these:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Island Time O25 View Post
...
And since the Polynesians had started in Taiwan 4,000-6,000 years ago and reached their last destination in Hawaii about 14c CE they were much better explorers and navigators than any Europeans up to that time, or even up to Cook's time.
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Originally Posted by Muckle Flugga View Post
...Europeans were NOT the earliest great explorers of the Oceans, which title likely goes first to the Polynesians
I believe correcting misinformation in any thread is a valid contribute.

As I said previously Polynesians did not navigate Oceans but a single one and taking 5000 years to come from Taiwan to Hawaii being refereed as positive skill in what regards exploration and navigation makes not any sense. After the Portuguese having started the systematic sea exploration it took the Europeans about a 100 years to circumnavigate the globe ( another Portuguese and a Galician at Spain service).

5000 year to explore a small part of the globe versus 100 years to circumnavigate earth? Much better explorers and navigators the Polynesians?

Putting things in perspective regarding the Polynesian navigation, discovery and mapping of the world is also a valid contribution and I will contribute with some more regarding that. Let's look at this map about Polynesian migrations:
Regarding that migration we can see that from Taiwan to New Guinea they took 1500 years, that from there to Melanesia they took more 200 years that from there to Fuji/Samoa they took more 400 years, that to reach Cook Islands/ Tahiti they took more 1500 years that from there to Hawaii and Easter Island they took more 200 years and that to reach New Zealand they took more 300 years.

Looking to some of posts on this thread it seems they, like the Europeans, maintained a global exploration and discovery program and that in 200 years they were sailing all over the place maintaining relations with all those far away places on the Pacific. That is a very wrong notion.

It took more than 5000 years for the Polynesian migration to be concluded and all those Pacific Islands to be inhabited and not discovered, at least some of them that remained isolated. Sure they were a sea people and they could navigate between Islands from the same archipelago or near by archipelagos but extensive navigation between far away Islands was never a reality and not even possible. Many Islands remained isolated after being populated.

Migration was limited by favorable winds and currents and even if it was possible to reach far away Islands on favorable conditions it would be impossible to return against winds and currents. An interesting article on "ABC science" that explains this better and how it was possible for the Polynesians to migrate to Islands that have normally opposed winds:

"Polynesians were able to sail downwind to Easter Island and New Zealand centuries ago, a new analysis of past climate has found.

There were narrow windows of time between 1140 and 1260 AD where the winds allowed this, say researchers in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Archaeological evidence suggests that from around 1000 years AD, Polynesians travelled in their ocean-sailing canoes east from Samoa to what is known as Central East Polynesia (CEP) -- which includes Society, Tuamotu, Marquesas, Gambier, Southern Cook and Austral Islands.

In a short period between 1140 and 1260 AD they then migrated on to New Zealand and Easter Island.

"It's always been quite a mystery as to why there was a concentration of colonisation in a period of a couple of hundred years and why it ceased after that," says Goodwin.

Especially since, according to today's prevailing winds, travelling to these later destinations would have been against the wind for most of the time, he adds.

While some researchers have proposed Polynesians must have had much more complex canoes than have been found to date, Goodwin and colleagues suggest this was not necessary.

They have found that during this short time there were actually a number of 'climate windows', lasting around 20 years each, where the winds were in favour of the long voyages to New Zealand and Easter Island.....

In some of these 'climate windows', the easterly tradewinds strengthened and moved southward, replacing the westerly winds.

This would have supported an easy downwind sail out of Central East Polynesia to New Zealand, says Goodwin.

"Downwind, they could have made these voyages from Central East Polynesia to New Zealand in 10 to 14 days, which is manageable when you consider they had women and kids, food and pigs," he says....

"After 1300 AD, we show that this expansion of the tropics disappears, the westerlies move northwards and then all these windows close," says Goodwin.

He says the dates of the "wind reversals" identified in the study help narrow down when migration occurred within the broad period identified by archaeological data, and support the idea there were multiple waves of migration."


Winds favoured Polynesian migration › News in Science (ABC Science)
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Old 31-03-2016, 11:28   #188
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I would think a sliver of lodestone floated on lamp oil would provide an adequate basic compass.. I know they were normally suspended on string and would point to magnetic N which was likely of sufficient information tied into other sources like wave patterns, sun/moon rise/set, stars etc..
They were used by many ancient civilisations so no reason why with the Polynesians the High Priest would not have a jealously guarded secret Taboo device handed down to his successors..
Why would they need a compass? Polynesia, being on or near the equator, there is a roughly 12 hour day. Sun comes up roughly the same place every day, and goes down the same place every day. You roughly know mid-day and it doesn't take much to estimate time after noon and time before sunset. Given that, you know roughly the direction you're going.

Most of the Pacific can be done in short hops. Vava'u to Niue is 232 NM; at 6 knots it would take 37 hours. That 37 hours could be metered by sun position at rise, noon, set, and a single night following stars. Not particularly difficult.

Remember that Polynesia also had trade. That meant multiple trips back and forth. I don't know about you, but a common trip for me is from home port to my favorite bay, 12nm. On the way back to home port I can't see any distinguishing landmarks near it- but using closer landmarks I can lock the autopilot and come within 300 meters of hitting the home light- all with no calculation, no compass, just based on having done it hundreds of times. No doubt, the Polynesians could do the same, but much more accurately.

I watched a show- NatGeo maybe? that presented as fact the theory on how the Polynesians (who was it, Marquesans?) got to Hawaii. They didn't "discover" Hawaii, the navigated to Hawaii based on bird migration. They knew the birds were going/ coming from somewhere, so would go to sea and meet the birds. Over years- maybe decades- they left earlier and earlier to meet the birds closer to Hawaii, until one time they made it to Hawaii.
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Old 31-03-2016, 11:41   #189
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Re: Ancient navigation

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..If you offer evidence that he navigated without instruments, it will show that an isolated individual accomplished this feat. But nowhere does it show that the Europeans were able to sail offshore regularly and generally without their newly acquired technology such as compass and sextant.
Sorry but you are wrong about this. The sextant was invented around 1730 and it has nothing with the European discovery navigations made more than 200 years earlier.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sextant

The same with the way to be able to determine longitude while navigating happened also only on the XVIII century.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_longitude
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Old 31-03-2016, 12:22   #190
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Re: Ancient navigation

"But nowhere does it show that the Europeans were able to sail offshore regularly and generally without their newly acquired technology such as compass and sextant." BelleIsle


Belle,
With the above statement, you've contradicted your reference to the Vikings. I doubt few on this Forum would deny that a passage from Norway to Iceland, or Greenland to Newfoundland would not be considered an offshore passage. The first is over 800 miles--a 8-10 day journey offshore in a Viking Knarr and the second is about 900 miles--9-11 days offshore with good winds and no adverse weather. When the Vikings sailed for their new settlement at L'Anse Aux Meadows, they were frequently blown off course and many times back to the European mainland. They had no compass or sextant. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 31-03-2016, 15:12   #191
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Re: Ancient navigation

.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polux View Post
Sorry but you are wrong about this. The sextant was invented around 1730 and it has nothing with the European discovery navigations made more than 200 years earlier.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sextant

The same with the way to be able to determine longitude while navigating happened also only on the XVIII century.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_longitude
Sextant or octant or quadrant or azimuth ring or backstaff and else.. the principle is the same just a bit of difference in accuracy.

Polynesians used latitude hooks to determine latitude and the wave patterns to find any known or unknown island quite far from their path. With their "chart"they knew the direction to known islands. I call this navigation..
BR Teddy
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Old 31-03-2016, 16:05   #192
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pirate Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by Tetepare View Post
Why would they need a compass? Polynesia, being on or near the equator, there is a roughly 12 hour day. Sun comes up roughly the same place every day, and goes down the same place every day. You roughly know mid-day and it doesn't take much to estimate time after noon and time before sunset. Given that, you know roughly the direction you're going.

Most of the Pacific can be done in short hops. Vava'u to Niue is 232 NM; at 6 knots it would take 37 hours. That 37 hours could be metered by sun position at rise, noon, set, and a single night following stars. Not particularly difficult.

Remember that Polynesia also had trade. That meant multiple trips back and forth. I don't know about you, but a common trip for me is from home port to my favorite bay, 12nm. On the way back to home port I can't see any distinguishing landmarks near it- but using closer landmarks I can lock the autopilot and come within 300 meters of hitting the home light- all with no calculation, no compass, just based on having done it hundreds of times. No doubt, the Polynesians could do the same, but much more accurately.

I watched a show- NatGeo maybe? that presented as fact the theory on how the Polynesians (who was it, Marquesans?) got to Hawaii. They didn't "discover" Hawaii, the navigated to Hawaii based on bird migration. They knew the birds were going/ coming from somewhere, so would go to sea and meet the birds. Over years- maybe decades- they left earlier and earlier to meet the birds closer to Hawaii, until one time they made it to Hawaii.
Was not aware they had 15-30nm/day currents in Lake Ontario.. and some islands are 1000 miles apart..
I can DR okay in the ocean but I still need a fixed N points to work my angles off and that's my compass.
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Old 31-03-2016, 18:09   #193
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by TeddyDiver View Post
.

Sextant or octant or quadrant or azimuth ring or backstaff and else.. the principle is the same just a bit of difference in accuracy.

Polynesians used latitude hooks to determine latitude and the wave patterns to find any known or unknown island quite far from their path. With their "chart"they knew the direction to known islands. I call this navigation..
BR Teddy
Finding approximately latitude was managed by different ways trough the history. Vikings had their own system but the more precise instrument was an Astrolabe that was invented by the Greeks more than 2000 years ago. Further improvements to make it a more practical navigational instrument were introduced firstly by the Arabs and later by the Portuguese.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrolabe

Finding Longitude was a completely different and more complex problem and that one was only solved on the XVIII century.
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Old 31-03-2016, 18:54   #194
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by Tetepare View Post
Why would they need a compass? Polynesia, being on or near the equator, there is a roughly 12 hour day. Sun comes up roughly the same place every day, and goes down the same place every day. You roughly know mid-day and it doesn't take much to estimate time after noon and time before sunset. Given that, you know roughly the direction you're going.

Most of the Pacific can be done in short hops. Vava'u to Niue is 232 NM; at 6 knots it would take 37 hours. That 37 hours could be metered by sun position at rise, noon, set, and a single night following stars. Not particularly difficult.

Remember that Polynesia also had trade. That meant multiple trips back and forth. I don't know about you, but a common trip for me is from home port to my favorite bay, 12nm. On the way back to home port I can't see any distinguishing landmarks near it- but using closer landmarks I can lock the autopilot and come within 300 meters of hitting the home light- all with no calculation, no compass, just based on having done it hundreds of times. No doubt, the Polynesians could do the same, but much more accurately.

I watched a show- NatGeo maybe? that presented as fact the theory on how the Polynesians (who was it, Marquesans?) got to Hawaii. They didn't "discover" Hawaii, the navigated to Hawaii based on bird migration. They knew the birds were going/ coming from somewhere, so would go to sea and meet the birds. Over years- maybe decades- they left earlier and earlier to meet the birds closer to Hawaii, until one time they made it to Hawaii.
Tetepare, I very much doubt the time frame for the trip from Vava'u to Niue, because it wold be upwind, and there are various current swirlies along the route, as well. From Nuku'alofa or Neiafu to NZ is an off the wind trip.

* * *

rognvald:

Thanks for posting that link about the genome. Here's the last paragraph of the article, relative to the huge pool of possible sexual partners:

"So from a genetic point of view it makes no sense to categorise the Scandinavians as a separate people. "In those days people didn't respect our virtuous, well-ordered ideas of belonging to specific groups," comments Professor of Evolutionary Studies, Peter C. Kjærgaard, from Aarhus University."

Yes, indeed, humanity have been busy wanderers.

Ann
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Old 31-03-2016, 19:00   #195
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pirate Re: Ancient navigation

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Tetepare, I very much doubt the time frame for the trip from Vava'u to Niue, because it wold be upwind, and there are various current swirlies along the route, as well. From Nuku'alofa or Neiafu to NZ is an off the wind trip.

* * *

rognvald:

Thanks for posting that link about the genome. Here's the last paragraph of the article, relative to the huge pool of possible sexual partners:

"So from a genetic point of view it makes no sense to categorise the Scandinavians as a separate people. "In those days people didn't respect our virtuous, well-ordered ideas of belonging to specific groups," comments Professor of Evolutionary Studies, Peter C. Kjærgaard, from Aarhus University."

Yes, indeed, humanity have been busy wanderers.

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