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    Re: Ancient mariners enjoyed Hawaiian holidays
    From: Wolfgang K�berer
    Date: 2007 Oct 30, 21:23 +0100

    I have not watched the recent series on the History Channel "LIGHT AT THE
    EDGE OF THE WORLD" and I wholeheartedly agree with the ideas that Wade Davis
    apparently seeks to spread, namely a recognition that Western culture is not
    the highest form of humanity, but constantly endangers other ways of living
    in remoter parts of the world.
    
    Still I am surprised that the information about Polynesian (and Micronesian,
    I suppose) navigation is apparently presented as something new. In fact
    navigation of the island populations of the Pacific has been studied since
    the late 19th century. The field has been popularized particularly by David
    Lewis, the British doctor who circumnavigated Antarctica single-handed, in
    his books "We, the Navigators" (1972) and "The Voyaging Stars" (1978) - and
    articles in the JIN, too. The settlement of Polynesia has been the topic of
    quite a few contributions by Andrew Sharp starting with "Ancient Voyagers in
    the Pacific" (1957). And there is a study by Kjell Akerblom "Astronomy and
    navigation in Polynesia and Micronesia : a survey" (1968) that challenges
    some of the theories that Wade Davis seems to adhere to (if the summaries of
    the film can be trusted).
    
    Personally I believe that the idea that
    
        "the "map" of the Pacific was recorded in the mind in the form of all this
    information."
    and
        "They successfully reached their destination with little error"
    
    is about as plausible as Menzies' claim that the Chinese reached America in
    1421. And you don't have to presume such almost supernatural powers to
    explain the achievements of Polynesian and Micronesian navigators. That they
    had ways to record and process information (wave patters, wind patterns,
    cloud formation etc.) useful for successfully shaping a course from one
    island to another that were not in the European program of navigation any
    more is a fact. But the idea that they used the stars in more ways than
    direction finding has never been presented convincingly and in agreement
    with astronomical principles.
    
    -----Urspr�ngliche Nachricht-----
    Von: NavList@fer3.com [mailto:NavList@fer3.com]Im
    Auftrag von Michael Daly
    Gesendet: Dienstag, 30. Oktober 2007 18:27
    An: NavList@fer3.com
    Betreff: [NavList 3711] Re: Ancient mariners enjoyed Hawaiian holidays
    
    
    
    Peter Fogg wrote:
    > By Deborah Smith Science Editor
    > October 30, 2007
    
    > The sailors would have navigated by the stars and had extensive knowledge
    of
    > the weather patterns. They would also have relied on clues such as the
    > driftwood, sea birds and the colour of clouds, he said.
    >
    > "Very sophisticated knowledge was passed down as part of the oral
    tradition
    > of a society."
    
    In one episode of a recent series on the History Channel*, "LIGHT AT THE
    EDGE OF THE WORLD", the host, Wade Davis, travelled to Hawaii and looked
    at the traditions of the native people.  In particular, he concentrated
    on the navigation skills being passed down from an elder to a younger
    man.  They followed this by doing a long voyage (1000s of km) on a
    traditional style sailing boat.  They had no navigation aids like
    sextants or GPS and relied entirely on the young navigator's learned
    skills.  He watched the skies and weather patterns, the stars, the
    currents and the materials floating on the water (indicating land),
    birds etc.  The "map" of the Pacific was recorded in the mind in the
    form of all this information.  They successfully reached their
    destination with little error.
    
    Davis, who tends toward a sort-of spiritual view at times (in spite of
    being a trained anthropologist and ethnobotanist), found this suitably
    remarkable.  While a single voyage is not scientific proof of the
    navigation concepts, it certainly demonstrated that the navigator was
    not lost.  The Pacific is not a giant featureless expanse of water - the
    information on location is there if you've learned to see it.  It adds
    to the evidence that these people certainly knew the ocean well and
    could travel with confidence over long distances.
    
    *(Canadian, not sure if it was shown in the US or other countries)
    
    Mike
    
    
    
    
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