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    Re: Polynesian navigation
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Jun 6, 15:39 -0700

    Greg, you wrote:
    "A book titled LATITUDE HOOKS AND AZIMUTH RINGS discusses the Polynesian 
    latitude hook which was made of split bamboo and twine. This is a kamal like 
    device going back to as early as 800 AD if the book has its facts right"
    Thanks for the reference. If you read that section again, the author is saying 
    that the Polynesians were engaged in long ocean voyages from at least 800 AD. 
    Then he describes this "bamboo and twine" device, and we're left to connect 
    the dots. The book itself is not really trying to describe history per se. 
    It's more of a "what if" history. I haven't seen any historical or scholarly 
    references to the bamboo and twine device and it strikes me as the sort of 
    thing a modern enthusiast for Polynesian navigation might dream up if asked 
    how ancient Polynesians *might* have measured the altitudes of stars. It's a 
    fairly silly contraption. It would be no more effective than a simple stick 
    with two notches cut into it, and it would be much less effective than a 
    cross-staff. Then again, silly contraptions are sometimes adopted, so it's 
    not impossible.
    The big problem with modern "what if" speculations on ancient navigation is 
    that we already know all the tricks. Also, inevitably, we approach the 
    subject from the point of view of the "obvious" solution to long-distance 
    navigation, namely navigation by the stars. But I do hold out some hope that 
    there are actual records of early modern Polynesian navigation methods that 
    have not yet been fully researched, perhaps tucked away in the papers of some 
    defunct missionary society.
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