This website is a free e-resource, from the book entitled 'Music, Lapita, and the Problem of Polynesian Origins' by Mervyn McLean. The complete text may be read either online or in paginated form as a downloadable pdf here.


Appendix 1:

Chronology of scholarly events


Sources for the chronology include Howard (1967) and Sorrenson (1977, 1979). Entries refer successively to explorers and mariners, comparative philologists, evolutionists, missionary ethnographers, physical anthropology, and functionalist anthropology, terminating in the 1970s, followed by events up to 2003.

In New Zealand, the watershed date between what may be called old and new orthodoxies can be set at 1950 with publication of the second edition of Buck's The Coming of the Maori marking a transition point, and excavations by Duff at Wairau Bar the beginning of a new era of professional archaeology. The old orthodoxy lingered for a long time in the education system, and forerunners of the new were at the same time of long-standing so the division is not clear-cut but can nevertheless be accepted as a dividing point for the beginnings of a new paradigm. Like the old, this did not emerge all at once, but at first took the form simply of sidelining the old ideas as no longer relevant, with the new progressively crystallising into a set of assumptions that ceased to be challenged.   







Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland publishes a chronology for bible events beginning with the creation of the world in 4004 BC.


During Cook's first voyage to the South Seas the Tahitian Tupaia is able to converse with New Zealanders. Cook concludes the two are of common origin.


As a result of Cook's second voyage. Tongans, Tahitians and New Zealanders are considered by J. Forster as of possible Malay origin. By 1778, with Hawai'i added to the list of places visited it was apparent to Captain King that all of Polynesia was united by a single language.


J.F. Blumenbach treatise On the Natural Variety of Mankind (1775) classifies the races of man. It is modified at the behest of Banks in its 2nd edition of 1781 to include Malay. Further modified in 3rd edition of 1795 dedicated to Banks and now including: Caucasian, American, Ethiopian, Mongolian. 


Ethnographic divisions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia defined by Dumont D'Urville.


The missionary Samuel Marsden classifies Maori as descended from the biblical sons of Shem and thus of Semitic origin.

1843 & 1859

In his book Travels in New Zealand Dieffenbach draws on the pseudo-science phrenology, and A.S. Thomson in his book The Story of New Zealand on craniometry.


In his book Te Ika a Maui the missionary Richard Taylor sees Maori as a lost tribe of Israel.


Charles Darwin publishes his epoch-making book Origin of Species.


The geologist Julius von Haast introduces modern archaeology to New Zealand as a result of excavation of a moa-hunter site at the Rakaia River in the South Island.


Charles Darwin publishes his book Descent of Man.


L.H. Morgan publishes a book, Ancient Society, in which he attempts to classify the races of man into three divisions, advancing from savagery through barbarism to civilisation. 


Abraham Fornander draws upon Hawai'ian oral tradition in a 2-volume work, An Account of the Polynesian Race.


Edward Tregear publishes his book The Aryan Maori, and A.S. Atkinson publishes a devastating parody of it, The Aryo-Semitic Maori, in the following year. 


Polynesian Society formed by S. Percy Smith and Elsdon Best.


First edition of S. Percy Smith's book Hawaiki.


In his book Maori and Polynesian J. Macmillan Brown supports an Aryan origin for the Maori.


In his book Hawaiki, the Original Home of the Maori

S. Percy Smith claims an origin for the Maori in India.


W.H.R. Rivers distinguishes kava people and betel people in Melanesia.


Otto Dempwolff ushers in a new era of Pacific linguistics with publication of his Oceanic hypothesis.


A.C. Haddon and James Hornell publish a 3-volume treatise on the Canoes of Oceania.


American ethnologist Edwin G. Burrows sets the scene for future comparison with an influential study of cultural differentiation in Eastern and Western Polynesia.


Peter Buck publishes his book Vikings of the Sunrise in which he proposes a Micronesian origin for Polynesians.


Thor Heyerdahl sails his raft Kon Tiki from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotus in an attempt to prove that Polynesia could have been settled from South America. The last surviving member of the expedition, the radio operator, Knut Haugland, dies in Norway in 2009.


First and second editions of Peter Buck's The Coming of the Maori add a seal of approval to S. Percy Smith's fleet chronology. It continues to be taught in schools for many years.


W.F. Libby develops the first form of radiocarbon dating, and refinements of the method become an essential tool for archaeologists.


Publication of Roger Duff's The Moa-Hunter Period of Maori Culture.


Archaeologists Gifford and Shutler excavate a unique form of dentate-stamped pottery at Lapita, New Caledonia. The name of the place is henceforth applied to this form of pottery which is discovered in numerous other sites throughout Island Melanesia and Western Polynesia in coming decades.


Bengt Anell shows fishing hooks and lures are paralleled in Micronesia and Polynesia but not Melanesia.  


Andrew Sharp puts the case for accidental voyaging in his book Ancient Voyagers of the Pacific.


In a second book, Ancient Voyagers in Polynesia Andrew Sharp extends his argument to include deliberate voyages of no return.


At the University of Auckland, Bruce Biggs begins work on a Proto Polynesian Lexicon of reconstructed terms (Pollex).


Beginning in 1966, Ben Finney commissions a number of double canoes based on traditional Polynesian designs, and uses them to determine their sailing capabilities. From May 1 to June 4 1976 a successful voyage is made from Hawai'i to Tahiti using traditional navigational techniques.


In an article, D.R. Simmons debunks Smith's Fleet chronology and follows up with a book The Great New Zealand Myth in 1976.


Douglas Yen provides evidence for introduction of the sweet potato from South America to Eastern Polynesia.


L.M. Groube introduces the idea that Polynesians emerged in a process of "becoming" in Polynesia itself. The idea is embraced by Lapita scholars and becomes a cornerstone of later orthodoxy.


David Lewis publishes a book, We the Navigators, in which he reports the results of practical sailing experiments with Polynesian methods of navigation.


Entangled bank and Fast train hypotheses of Polynesian origins.


In an influential paper Roger Green attempts to disestablish Melanesia as an ethnographic division, and substitutes a now widely accepted alternative grouping called Near and Remote Oceania.


Triple I hypothesis of Polynesian origin is proposed by Roger Green.


Geoffrey Irwin provides evidence for use of a deliberate two-way voyaging strategy by Lapita settlers.


Slow boat hypothesis of Polynesian origins.


Excavation begins of the Teoma Lapita site in Vanuatu. Headless skeletons with complete Lapita pots are found.



>>> Appendix 2. Pollex area codes