The original homeland of the Pacific island peoples was South-East Asia. Early people, Homo erectus, reached South-East Asia about two million years ago and modern man, Homo sapien, arrived approximately 60,000 years ago. Although evidence of human settlement in New Guinea dates back at least 25,000 years, the Austronesian migration from South-East Asia to New Guinea 6000 years ago marked a new stage in cultural evolution. Unlike their neolithic forebears, who were hunters and gatherers, the newcomers (who eventually were to populate Fiji) had adopted sail and outrigger canoes, methods of cultivating root crops, and pig farming.
According to archaeological evidence (mostly pottery), Fiji was settled in three different waves. The earliest wave dates from between 1260 and 900 BC. A second group of migrants appear to have arrived between 990 and 720 BC, and a third group after 830 BC.. This is evidenced by a number of birds becoming extinct and changes in the distribution of bird life, indicating a massive environmental impact caused by a large, sophisticated population.
There is, however, new evidence suggesting that Fiji and the South Pacific may have been settled 8000 to 10,000 years ago. In an article published in the Journal of Pacific History (April 1986), Fergus Clunie and the late John Gibbons postulated that the oceans have risen dramatically in the last 4000 to 18,000 years due to the melting of the polar ice caps. If this is true, massive land areas that were once above thesea's surface now may be 130 to 150 meters beneath the sea. Thus, many of the sites that were settled by the first migrants to the South Pacific are inaccessible to archaeologists. Clunie and Gibbons buttress their argument with biological, archaeological and linguistic evidence.
Though scientists may disagree about exactly when the forebears of Fijians first came to roost, they submit that these people came from the New Britain area (now belonging to Papua New Guinea) and were most likely ancestors of present-day Polynesians. They practiced agriculture, raised pigs and poultry, and fished.
Changes in pottery style indicate a probable second wave of migrants to the area between 400 and 100 BC. Scientists use the word 'probable' because they are not sure if the new pottery style was caused by an influx of new people or if it was simply a local development. If migrants caused the changes, the newcomers probably mixed with the indigenous people and perhaps dominated them.
The final settlement of Fiji (1000 to 1800 AD) was a massive movement from Melanesia. This wave of people practiced a sophisticated form of terraced agriculture, which helped support a large population that may have risen to 200,000. People grew yams and taro, raised poultry, fished and evolved a highly developed culture.
For further reading on the early migrations to Fiji there's a great article entitled The Story of Lapital Migraton in Fiji, written by Patrick Nunn, a Professor of Geography at the University of the South Pacific.It examines theories on where the first people in Fiji came from, when they came and where they settled.
Pre-European Contact SocietyAs evidenced by their advanced form of agriculture, the pre-contact Fiji islands were a highly evolved, stratified society, interlocked and interdependent through trade. Different clans were responsible for various crafts or activities such as pottery-making, mat-weaving, canoe-building and salt production. These items were traded throughout the Fiji group of islands and even as far away as Tonga.
Women worked hard and aged early. Men did intermittent hard jobs such as breaking in land for crops. They also performed occasional social duties like warfare, house building and ceremonial lovo cooking in large underground ovens. In other words, the more spectacular activities were usually in the man's domain, whereas the drudgery of weeding, washing and collecting firewood was (and still is) done by women.
Fijian society was dominated by a complicated class system. Chiefs often had tremendous personal power, which was expressed in demands for tribute from conquered tribes and in many bloody human sacrifices. To outsiders, the chiefs seemed to have arbitrary and ruthless power based on 'club law'. Said one early observer:
"No eastern tyrants can rule with more absolute terror than the chiefs do here; and few people are more thoroughly enslaved and trampled than are these islanders."
Each 'tribe' was broken up into several clans, each with its own function in society. There were chiefly clans, priestly clans, artisans, fishingclans and diplomatic clans whose purpose was to act asspokespeople for the chief.
Leadership in the tribal units was strictly hereditary and succession often a subject of debate. Rank was inherited through both parents, and in a polygamous society this could be very confusing. A chief might have five different sons from five different wives, each with a different political status. To complicate matters even more, rank could be inherited from one's mother's brothers, and succession was usually through brothers before it passed on to sons. There might be a number of individuals qualified as chiefly candidates, but those who became chiefs had to stand out from the group.
Because of intermarriage, incredibly complex relationships between tribes throughout Fiji were created. Tribal leaders hoping to gain political power could thus draw support from different clans throughout the islands through their blood ties, and in the process just as easily make enemies. No one chief was dominant in Fiji. The political scene was in a constant flux of changing allegiances brought about by disputes over land, property or women, by quarrels, or by the rulers' petty jealousies.
in #54, Nov/Dec 2005
I was interested to see your article on James
Churchward ("Colonel Churchward's Strange Tale", AR#53)
The article mentioned the presumed "superswell" towards the end; formerly this area had been known as the Darwin Rise. This has been on the books since the
'60's and '70's, but the area was assumed to have collapsed sometime in the late Cretaceous or early Cenozoic. Incidentally, it appears to have been basically held up by a large magma bubble, so that Churchward was not far wrong once you realize that he described all volcanic ejecta as "gas"
The mid-Atlantic ridge shows evidence of a similar collapse, at least to the extent of a downward displacement of 2 to 3 kilometers.
It might interest you to know that the "Troano ms." that Churchward was so fond of quoting as a source clearly expresses one continuous number in Mayan numeration (base-20) only the translator did not recognize the place values. Churchward quotes the figure of "64,000,000" several times (giving it a slightly different reading each time although it is always allegedly the same exact direct quote) without realizing that it is, of course, a place value in base-20, as also is 8000 and so on.
It does not matter if the alleged temple records that Churchward uses as a source actually existed or
not; whatever happened, his "translation" is entirely Churchwards fancy, and even if true consisted entirely of intuitive interpretations of a dead and unknown language, and largely in plain pictures of dubious import. Even if one of the priests aided in such an interpretation, this can in no way be taken as a historical record; it could have been only the priest's delusion that Churchward shared.
The name "Mu" does not exist in the Pacific as the name of a lost continent, the Polynesian equivalent for a sunken land would be "Po". In the Pacific, the name "Mu" denotes an unknown race of black Pygmies. The name "Mu" as referenced to ANY mythical place is used in China as a paradise in the far WEST (hence possibly Atlantis) Ivan Sanderson wrote that Churchward "was undoubtedly a charming man, but quite mad" That is presumably the best way to put the matter. NONE of Churchward's traceable sources meant anything like what he WANTED them to mean.
Incidentally, there actually is some good evidence for a former large island now sunk in the Pacific,
pehaps as large as Borneo at largest and including Fiji, Tonga and possibly Samoa. Velikovsky quotes Samoan tradition on page 143 of Worlds in Collision and dates its submergence to 1500 BC. (Chapter 6, "the Shadow of Death") The Samoan tradition states that the former land
went down and modern islands came up at the time. What is interesting about this is that if the date of 1500 BC is correct (and it is wrong in several other instances Velikovsky cites) it is possibly relatable to the beginnings of the Lapita ware cultures, possibly the earliest forerunners of the Polynesians (and Churchward is also misleading when he calls the Polynesians "whites")
Dale A. Drinnon