If necessity is the mother of invention, why did it take 2,000 years for necessity to give birth?
(p. D2) Archaeological evidence suggests that after setting sail from the Solomon Islands, people crossed more than 2,000 miles of open ocean to colonize islands like Tonga and Samoa. But after 300 years of island hopping, they halted their expansion for 2,000 years more before continuing — a period known as the Long Pause that represents an intriguing puzzle for researchers of the cultures of the South Pacific.
“Why is it that the people stopped for 2,000 years?” said Dr. Montenegro. “Clearly they were interested and capable. Why did they stop after having great success for a great time?”
To answer these questions, Dr. Montenegro and his colleagues ran numerous voyage simulations and concluded that the Long Pause that delayed humans from reaching Hawaii, Tahiti and New Zealand occurred because the early explorers were unable to sail through the strong winds that surround Tonga and Samoa. They reported their results last week in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Our paper supports the idea that what people needed was boating technology or navigation technology that would allow them to move efficiently against the wind,” Dr. Montenegro said.
For the full story, see:
NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR. “Long Layovers: A 2,000-Year Pause in Exploring Oceania.” The New York Times (Sat., November 8, 2016): D2.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 1 [sic], 2016, and has the title “How Ancient Humans Reached Remote South Pacific Islands.” The passages quoted above are from the much-longer online version of the article.)
Montenegro’s academic article, mentioned above, is:
Montenegro, Álvaro, Richard T. Callaghan, and Scott M. Fitzpatrick. “Using Seafaring Simulations and Shortest-Hop Trajectories to Model the Prehistoric Colonization of Remote Oceania.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113, no. 45 (Nov. 8, 2016): 12685-90.