Anthropologist rejects Tonga 'cradle of Polynesia' theory

Anthropologist rejects Tonga 'cradle of Polynesia' theory

Anthropologist rejects Tonga 'cradle of Polynesia' theory

Posted 11 January 2008, 14:47 AEST

A Tongan social anthropologist says the basis on which researchers have named a small Tongan fishing village as the birthplace of Polynesia, is shaky.

Canadian archaeologist Professor David Burley and his team identified Nukuleka, east of the capital Nuku'alofa, as the cradle of Polynesia - after finding Lapita pottery, the oldest yet discovered in Polynesia and dated at 2,900 years old.

But Dr Okusitino Mahina, a Tongan-born Pacific anthropologist based at Auckland University, says the scientists didn't consider oral and linguistic history, or early maps - which describe Polynesia as, literally, many islands.

He says Professor Burley's suggestion that Nukuleka must be the cradle of all Polynesia because of the discovery of the oldest piece of pottery yet found in Tonga, is not sufficient proof.

"He needs to work in cooperation with other people in other areas, social anthropology, linguistic, oral historians, artists - he cannot go it alone," Dr Mahina said.

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