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.


Chapter 15

Discussion and conclusions


The quest for Polynesian origins has generated a huge literature of theory and counter-theory since Polynesians were first brought to the attention of the rest of the world by eighteenth century explorers such as Bougainville after his return from Tahiti in 1769,  and Cook during his circumnavigations of 1768 -1780. A great deal of chaff can be separated from the wheat, such as early notions of Semitic or Aryan origin, and later ones ranging from lost continents to visitors from outer space (not considered in the present book). Shorn of evolutionary implications, and of later attribution to Melanesia alone (Terrell), Darwin's image of an "entangled bank" is apt for the whole of Oceania. Over a period of at least several thousand years, interaction among peoples has been continuous. Islands and island groups have been discovered and re-discovered, settled and re-settled, visited and re-visited, in a vast complex of intercommunication which the tools of scholarship are not always equipped to reveal. If a lesson can be learnt from efforts to date it is that no one theory is likely to be wholly correct, and none should necessarily be treated as superseding the others.

At its most basic, the question posed in this book (Chapter 1) is where did Polynesians come from? The answer lies not with whom they most resemble, whether Malays (Forster), ancient Hebrews (Marsden), Indians (Smith), Peruvians (Heyerdahl) (Chapter 2), or even Indonesians or Filipinos as modern theories may imply (Chapters 4 and 5), but hard evidence of language (relevant to most chapters), canoe types (Chapter 8), ethnography (Chapter 10), and food plants (Chapter 11) etc. which document where they went and  how they got there.   

A point of departure for the book is to test the currently most widely accepted theory of Polynesian origins which has gone almost unchallenged in recent decades and has become so entrenched as to seem unassailable (Chapter 4). According to this theory, Polynesians are descended from Lapita potters who entered Oceania more than 3000 years ago, leaving traces of themselves in the form of characteristically dentate-stamped pottery. These relics have been found in numerous archaeological sites, the oldest of which are in the Bismarck Archipelago, with others occurring throughout Island Melanesia to Fiji, and extending from there as far as Tonga and Samoa in Western Polynesia. From this point onwards, both temporally and geographically, the dentate form of pottery ceases to be found but continuity both with later forms of pottery and with Polynesians  is assumed by the orthodox theory.

After reaching Fiji from the Bismarck Archipelago, a small group of Lapita potters is said to have entered a "bottleneck" somewhere in Western Polynesia, where they remained in relative isolation for a period of about 1000 years, during which they became Polynesian, diverging culturally and in other ways from those who were left behind. This view of Pacific settlement history is challenged on musical and other grounds in the present book. Focus is on distribution of traits within broad geographic areas, with the object of determining migration paths that could have been traversed by pre-Polynesians. This approach has resulted in the re-emergence of Melanesia as a still useful ethnographic unit along with Polynesia and Micronesia, contrary to a now prevalent linguistic perception of Melanesia as a "category error" (AP), after adoption by most scholars of the terms Near and Remote Oceania as a substitute for the older terms. This concept is an outcome of ideas advanced most vigorously  by the archaeologist Roger Green (1991a), and rejection by Green and his colleague Patrick Vinton Kirch of the terms Melanesia and Micronesia as "outdated" and "fatally flawed" (Kirch & Green 2001:63). For present purposes however, the Near and Remote Oceania terms have proved far too broad and imprecise, obscuring both differences and uniformities that are present in the data but are beyond description if the Kirch and Green terms are adopted. It is these terms that could be more profitably abandoned as useful than the still viable ethnographic divisions that distinguish Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia (Chapter 3). 


Problems with the Lapita hypothesis

Two fundamental problems in particular demand attention:



A well-known feature of Lapita expansion, thoroughly documented by Kirch in his two books (Kirch 1997, 2000), is the emergence of stylistic areas of pottery, beginning with a trading network in the Bismarck Archipelago area of origin, and followed by local networks as voyaging proceeded and contact with the home area first diminished and then ceased as distances and sea-gaps became too great for return voyages to be maintained. In the home area, pottery-making continued unabated into historical times, as demonstrated most notably by the well-known trading system of the Vitiaz Straits (Harding 1967). In the far away Fiji-Tonga-Samoa area, during the period of "pause" when Polynesian culture is said to have emerged, pottery-making was maintained longest in Fiji but dwindled in the Polynesian areas and ceased altogether during the first centuries AD. Bellwood (1978a:53) refers to this as "a rather inexplicable circumstance", while Kirch calls it "the most puzzling aspect of Lapita ceramics" and provides comment as follows:

Rather than a gradual improvement and refinement in the ceramic art, Lapita pottery starts out in the earliest sites being the most elaborate and complex, and gradually undergoes local sequences of reduction in the range of vessel forms and simplification in the design system. Finally, after a thousand years or so, production of pottery in many islands settled by Lapita people ceases altogether, as it did in Mussau, the Reef-Santa Cruz Islands, and in Tonga and Samoa.

In other areas such as Vanuatu and New Caledonia, pottery-making continued and arguably developed out of the Lapita traditions (Kirch 1997:160). 

Mussau and Reef-Santa Cruz aside, which are on the northern and southern fringes of the initial Lapita area and could have become disassociated from it after a time, this alone should have set alarm bells ringing about the viability of the hypothesis of Polynesian origins from Lapita potters. It cannot be a coincidence that pottery survived and progressed only in Melanesian areas in contrast most notably with Polynesian ones where it dwindled and declined. The obvious inference to be drawn is that pottery is a Melanesian rather than Polynesian craft; the Lapita potters were Melanesians; and Polynesians were a different people who borrowed pottery-making from their nearest Melanesian neighbours in Fiji. 



A related problem is the physical difference between present-day Melanesians and Polynesians which physical anthropology and genetics (Chapter 7) affirm and the Lapita hypothesis denies.

According to the now standard hypothesis, Polynesian culture, and the Polynesian people themselves, developed within the broad area of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa together with adjacent areas of Uvea, and Niuatoputapu, beginning with initial settlement by Lapita potters, first in Fiji, followed by the Lau Islands and Tonga, then, in quick succession, Samoa, and the other areas (Kirch 2000:210-11). But what did the Lapita potters look like? If the above scenario is to be accepted, they were the lineal ancestors of both present-day Fijians and present-day Polynesians who, as any visitor to Fiji will attest, do not resemble each other. How could this happen?

Kirch's account of the process of becoming Polynesian does not provide a satisfactory answer. Evidently on the basis of settlement dates and site contents, continuous communication is proposed between all the islands within the Fiji-Tonga-Samoa triangle during the period 1200-1000 BC but for unspecified reasons partially broke down thereafter, "first between Fiji and Tonga, and later between Tonga and Samoa." Kirch goes on to say:

Such breaks were not final or absolute, for interaction between the peoples of the Fiji-Tonga-Samoa region continued throughout prehistory. But sufficient isolation developed during the first millennium B.C. that we can detect localized variation, especially in ceramics. Out of such partial isolation, combined with adaptation to new environmental and social conditions, a distinctively Polynesian culture emerged (Kirch 2000:210).

Phenotype is not mentioned, but such a combination of continuing interaction and "sufficient isolation" is a contradiction in terms and plainly inadequate as an explanation for the changes which would need to have taken place.   

Bellwood is up-front in identifying the physical differences as both real and in need of explanation, but does not attempt a solution. On the assumption that the potters were ancestral to Polynesians he begins by surmising that they must have been close to Polynesian in phenotype, but then goes on to observe

This raises the fundamental problem of why the eastern Melanesians and the Polynesians, who together form a linguistic continuum and to a lesser extent a cultural continuum, should be physically so different. It is of course easy to overemphasize the physical differences, but it is impossible to assume that the eastern Melanesians and the Polynesians are both direct and totally isolated descendants of a single founder population. The physical differences are definite and significant . . . 

One may suggest that small founder populations of Indonesian or Philippine origin adopted or borrowed from the languages of neighboring Melanesian groups (and this need only have happened once), but beyond that one is forced to conclude that the original relations between Polynesians and Melanesians are obscure, to say the least (Bellwood 1979:19-20).

There are just two possibilities for a solution to the problem of putatively ancestral Lapita  potters becoming Polynesian. Either the Lapita potters were Melanesian in phenotype to start with and turned  into Polynesians after reaching Fiji, or they were Polynesian in phenotype to begin with as surmised by Bellwood, and turned into Melanesians in all of the areas traversed on their way to Fiji. The first of these alternatives is so manifestly implausible that most writers, if they have considered the problem at all, have opted for the almost equally improbable second of the two alternatives. The proposal  here is that the potters were Polynesian in phenotype when they began their migrations out of New Britain  but those who remained behind in New Britain were absorbed into the more numerous Melanesian population already in the area. Later, by a process of "secondary migration", members of this by now integrated group followed the potters into Island Melanesia and similarly overwhelmed them there (Spriggs 1984:158-9). The demographics of such a situation, let alone repeating it in so many locations and so many islands in each of the archipelagos involved, rules it out. It is feasible that a small founder group of people, as the original intrusive group of potters may have been in New Britain, would be absorbed into the numerically greater population among whom they found themselves. There is also no question that migration out of the Bismarck Archipelago was an ongoing process, as shown by the musical evidence (see map in Chapter 6), and multiple movements of peoples took place. Except for the assumption that Lapita potters were ancestral to Polynesians, there is no reason to suppose, however, that they set off immediately into Island Melanesia and established themselves there before the process of integration with Melanesians had taken place. The greater likelihood is that  they were already Melanesian when they did so. Suppose, however, that the standard scenario is correct. There would need to be hordes of later Melanesian migrants if they were to displace already established populations of Lapita potters who had been in residence for however long it took for secondary migration to begin. By this time it is the potters who would be the dominant population in the new areas, especially in Fiji at the end of the chain, and it would be the latest newcomers who would be the more likely to be absorbed. It makes more sense to accept that all the areas where Melanesians now live, including Fiji, have been Melanesian from the outset, albeit reinforced by secondary migration, and another solution must be sought for the Polynesian phenotype.



The solution to the phenotype problem, offered routinely though usually uncritically, by scholars of all persuasions, is a process known as founder effect or bottlenecking, referred to briefly in the conclusions to Chapter 6,

It is worth considering the nature of the image. It has nothing to do with evolution, which involves selection and an advantage conferred upon the species. The homeland area is likened to a bottle full of people. Only a few can pass through the neck of the bottle into the unconfined space beyond. In practical terms, the person or persons doing so could be spouses moving from one linguistic or cultural area to another, or could be an entire canoe-load of migrants who happened to differ in some significant way from the larger sample of people left behind. As an explanation of differential distribution, bottlenecking makes sense in the context of migration from Western to Eastern Polynesia as boatloads of migrants on this route would not have been large, would not have returned, and their arrival would be followed by rapid population expansion within new and unoccupied territory. It makes much less sense, however, as an explanation for emergence of the Polynesian phenotype  within Western Polynesia before migration to Eastern Polynesia began, as the necessary criteria of isolation after separation are less likely to have been met. As suggested in Chapter 6, because water gaps were less daunting in Western Polynesia than in Melanesia, and opportunities for intercommunication were greater, the necessary isolation is more likely to have taken place before reaching Western Polynesia, as would have been the case if pre-Polynesians had come from Micronesia, where phenotype is similar and incidence of the nine-base-pair deletion or  Polynesian motif is secondary only to Polynesia itself (Chapter 7).   

It need hardly be emphasised  that the problems both of cessation of pottery in Polynesia and the problem of phenotype set out above are a product of the Lapita hypothesis, and disappear if the linguistic conundrum alluded to by Bellwood can be resolved. The solution to this, as explained in Chapter 5 has been revealed by linguists themselves when it is understood that only innovation defined subgroups are identifiable as homelands and, as most of the languages in the group closest to Polynesian are innovation linked, the sole shared ancestor of them all could be Proto Oceanic itself. 

With the albatross around ones neck removed it becomes possible to consider alternatives for Polynesian origins, with Micronesia emerging once again as a candidate. To assist the process, having contributed to the problem in the first place, linguistics now comes to the rescue. 

One of the most powerful techniques for working out past movements of peoples has been the reconstruction of proto terms by linguists, relied upon in the present book especially in the  chapters on music (Chapter 6), Food plants (Chapter 11), Domestic animals (Chapter 12), and distribution of betel, kava, and toddy (Chapter 13), supplementing other approaches such as those of ethnology (Chapter 10)  and providing evidence of possible paths along which cultural items could have been introduced into Polynesia. Combined evidence from these chapters shows all possible paths to have been followed at one time or another with Micronesia as much or more involved as the Melanesian route taken by Lapita potters. 

From Island Melanesia, Fiji is confirmed as  the most likely means of entry into Western Polynesia, but kava was probably introduced from Vanuatu or the Solomon Islands through one or more of the Polynesian Outliers (chapter 13 ). The Outliers are also a possible path from Micronesia for some food plants, but for others the more likely transit point would have been via the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati), possibly through Tuvalu (Chapter 11), albeit, at first, at a time when they were suitable for no more than temporary occupation.

Besides acting as a conduit from Micronesia into Western Polynesia, Tuvalu could also have been a way station to or from Eastern Polynesia, but for the latter possibility, as suggested for ethnographic items isolated by Burrows (Chapter 10), a downwind one-way journey from Hawai'i to Pohnpei is a possibility to be considered. 

In brief, beginning in Chapter 6 with items such as nose flutes, and in chapter after chapter thereafter, Micronesia has proven to be as much or more a donor area for Polynesia than anything that could have been brought by Lapita potters.




Where did the migrations start?

The discovery by geneticists of the nine-base-pair deletion and Polynesian Motif has confirmed a long-standing consensus from archaeologists and linguists pointing to Taiwan as an area of origin for Austronesian speakers, with Indonesia and the Philippines both likely candidates for the next stage of dispersal through various branches of Malayo-Polynesian until reaching New Guinea and the ultimate emergence of an Oceanic subgroup. While sufficient for most purposes, it is a model that neglects other  possible influences on the immediate point of entry into Oceania, and for this, evidence from music needs to be taken into account.


Music systems

Among the many music systems of the world are two of special importance for Oceania, known to ethnomusicologists as Engmelodik and anhemitonic pentatonic respectively, both of worldwide distribution, both transcending national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries, and both essential for a full understanding of music diffusion in Oceania.

The first of these is shown in Chapter 6 as characteristic of Marginal Eastern Polynesia and the Caroline Islands  of Micronesia, and the other as dominant throughout New Guinea and Island Melanesia.    

Nettl (1956:142) identifies them as occupying the second and third of three broad areas of world music of which the first is characterised by the familiar seven note European scale and the others as follows:      

The second area extends in a long strip across North Africa, includes the Islamic world, India and Indonesia, and stretches into Oceania. The use of small intervals in scales, melodies, and polyphony is the outstanding feature of this area.

The third and largest area is that inhabited primarily by Mongoloids; it includes the American Indians, the advanced cultures of the Far East, the peoples of eastern and northern Siberia, and even extends into European Russia with the Finno-Ugric peoples. The main characteristic here is the use of long steps in pentatonic and tetratonic scales.   

Collaer (1968:4) provides the following detail for this area:

The pentatonic scale reigns supreme in Mongolia, Tibet, China, parts of Japan, Indochina, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Malaya, and the Polynesian Islands, and is heard in the music of the American Indians, the Bantus, and those Celts who inhabited the Atlantic coast.

The two systems meet in the region of the Philippines and Indonesia which must be the likely area of origin for both into Oceania. 

Before proceeding further, some explanation may be necessary to avoid misunderstanding. Nettl's reference to Oceania refers to the Caroline Islands of Micronesia for which Herzog's findings were well known to ethnomusicologists at Nettl's time of writing. And references by both authors to North American Indians refers to their transit from Siberia across the Bering Strait to North America which has been dated at perhaps 40,000 years ago, well before anything comparable in Oceania. Finally, Collaer's attribution of pentatonic scales to Polynesia refers to Western but not Eastern Polynesia.

The criteria for Nettl's second group are too broad to apply to most music in Oceania, with the modal systems of the Middle East, Indonesia, and India, for example, wholly out of the running. Engmelodik scales, however, are evidently included in this group and some could be a potential source for Micronesia. An  outstanding example of such a scale, though not a candidate for Micronesia or Polynesia, is the Rig Vedic system of chanting practised by Hindu Brahmin priests of India. There is a scale of just three notes with a range of a minor third. In the middle is an intoning note which also starts and finishes each phrase; below is the second note at the interval of a major second or full tone; and above is the third note at the smaller interval of a minor second or semitone. The texts are recited with meticulous accuracy in the belief that a single error would threaten the stability of the universe, in consequence of which the system has endured for an estimated 3,500 years, qualifying it according to some, as the oldest living music in the world (Bake 1957:199-204), but also, as will be seen, originating at the very time Malao-Polynesians had reached New Guinea on their way to becoming Lapita potters. It seems not impossible to suppose that out of a tribal area somewhere to the East of India, perhaps among the many who must have lived at this time in the Philippines or Indonesia, a group bearing Engmelodic scales and speaking a language not too far removed from Oceanic, could have entered the Carolines.

Some such movement must indeed have taken place, as shown by Herzog's transcriptions and analysis of the 1908-10 cylinder recordings reported upon in Chapter 6. Small range scales were characteristic at this time across the entire stretch of the Caroline Islands, from west to east, including not only Ponape and other islands belonging to the Nuclear Micronesian subgroup, but also Yap and Palau, which are linguistically affiliated with Western Malayo-Polynesian languages of Indonesia or the Philippines. No conclusion, however, can be reached about the point of contact within the Carolines, which could have been anywhere, with small range scales spreading thereafter as a result of later borrowing. 


Where did Island Melanesians come from?

So far, a linguistic sequence has been recounted which has taken pre-Oceanic speakers from Taiwan, through the Philippines and Indonesia to New Guinea. There , the point of arrival has been identified by linguists as the Bird's Head region of present-day West Papua by speakers of Central Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, who have established themselves there in numbers now exceeding those of the earlier-resident Papuans.

 A question now arises as to what happened next. Did these immigrants all simply stay in situ, or, as recently proposed by Pawley (2007:22), did some of them migrate eastwards along the north coast of New Guinea towards the Bismarck Archipelago where, after some centuries in transit, they became originators of the Oceanic linguistic subgroup and the immediate ancestors of the Lapita potters? Pawley can offer no linguistic evidence of their passage beyond "tantalising traces in the form of loanwords to Papuan languages." Nor has evidence such as pottery precursors to Lapita been turned up by archaeologists (Spriggs 2010:45-6). 

Geneticists are more forthcoming with several reports of the nine-base-pair in the mtDNA of north coast residents, with male Y-chromosome markers also originating in the same way. An example is from Herzberg et al. (1989), which found 14% of the nine-base-pair deletion in 28 individuals from Madang in the north coast of Papua New Guinea, seemingly consistent with the idea that Austronesians underwent a period of intermingling and exchange of genes with Papuans during transit along the north coast. Some caution, however, is in order. Most of the reports are limited in their sampling from Papua New Guinea; none seen to date includes samples from West Papua; and Madang is well within range of known linguistic and cultural "backwash" from the Bismarck Archipelago which most probably took place in post-Lapita times. Further sampling, however, particularly closer to the Bird's Head is likely to provide more conclusive evidence. Fortunately, there is no need to wait this long for confirmation. Pawley identifies the area of origin of these speakers to be among dialects on the north side of the Bird's Head, and probably located around Cenderawasih Bay at the neck of the Bird's Head (Pawley 2007:21). By good fortune the Serui-laut people of Cenderawasih Bay are among groups for which some musical evidence is available. The presence in their music system of wide range and anhemitonic scales which define the Core Melanesian complex of musical traits, proves a connection beyond doubt. These traits could not have reached the Bird's Head from the Bismarck Archipelago without leaving a trail of slit gongs beyond the Papua New Guinea slit gong belt, so must have gone the other way. But more conclusive evidence than this is at hand. First, the path taken by the Bird's Head immigrants from Taiwan through the Philippines and Indonesia coincides at every step with Nettl and Collaer's music area of anhemitonic pentatonic scales. Second, it delivered the Bird's Head people into another huge area where the same scale was likewise dominant. Wherever they went, familiar-sounding music would have greeted them, facilitating contact with Papuans, and very likely initiating a system of song and dance exchange which, despite their language differences, remains extant between the two peoples to this very day.

Here, then, is an answer to the question of Melanesian origin, with evidence from linguistics, genetics, music, and ethnography (see Chapter 10) all converging. During their journey from the Bird's Head, mixing with Papuans en route, these migrants would have begun to lose their SE Asian phenotype, while retaining their language and music. Within a few centuries there were now two resulting groups of peoples on the move in the Bismarck Archipelago and northern Island Melanesia: the so-called bush people or Papuans who spoke non-Austronesian languages, and settled in the area perhaps 20,000 or more years ago, and the newly arrived Island Melanesians, who spoke Austronesian languages, and exploited coastal environments. By now Papuans were living in parts of the northern Solomon Islands, but the Austronesian-speaking Melanesians soon followed.

At this point, some attention is needed to problems relating to the spread of polyphony. So far it has been noted that polyphony is prevalent in Island Melanesia except in most of Vanuatu, with the Solomon Islands as a probable centre of diffusion in Near Oceania, and Polynesians gaining polyphony only at a late date from Melanesians. But how did it get to the Solomons, and where did it originate in Melanesia? The answer lies once again with distributional data, this time by examining known incidence throughout all areas of New Guinea.

Musical evidence is sparse for West Papua but in the critical portion of the north coast traversed by the Bird's Head people on their way to the Bismarcks the tribal soundscape is empty of polyphony. Instead, this trait is present only among a large interior group of non-Austronesian speakers, all belonging to the Trans New Guinea phylum of languages, and far enough removed from the north coast to have had no influence on the Bird's Head pre-Melanesians. In map code order they are:

23 Moni NAN, 26 Ndani NAN, 27 Nipsan NAN, 32 Uhuduni NAN, 35 Asmat NAN, 45 Kanum NAN, 90 Waina NAN.  

It needs to be understood that the Trans New Guinea Phylum is not a unified group of languages with shared features like those which are commonly displayed in linguistic trees. Instead they are languages which are so different from each other as to defy subgrouping. As such they are among the oldest languages and made up of many strands.

Next on the north coast transit after West Papua came today's Sepik province of PNG. This time polyphony is present but only among non-Austronesian language groups. In map code order with a variety of subgroups, they are as follows:

091 Amanab             TNGP
092 Yuri                     TNGP
103a Wiaki                TRCP
112 Arapesh              TRCP
132 Kwoma               SERP
133 Manambu          SERP
140 Kapriman          SERP


SERP Sepik- Ramu Phylum    N=3
TRCP Torricelli Phylum   N=2
TNGP Trans -New Guinea Phylum   N=2 

Last on the pre-Lapita trail along the north coast are Madang and Morobe provinces, with Austronesian and non-Austronesian examples now equal as follows, perhaps because of backwash from the Austronesian areas further east.

157 Rao SERP
174 Gedaged AN
244 Tuam AN
252 Sialum TNGP
255 Wantoat TNGP
257 Urii TNGP
269 Buang AN
278 Laukanu AN 

To avoid overloading the book with detail, statistics only will suffice for the remaining mainland areas:

AN: Central 1, Milne Bay Massim 6, Northern 2  N=9  
SERP: Northern 1  N=1
TNGP: Highlands 2, Western 5, Gulf 3, Central 1, Northern 3  N=14     

The Bismarck Archipelago and Island Melanesia have already been reported upon earlier in the book, with polyphony most often associated with the Core Melanesian complex of large range and anhemitonic scales. The latter is shown to have been brought by the Bird's Head people who were ancestral to the Lapita potters, and polyphony is shown by the survey above to have been unequivocally Papuan. It began with some but not all Trans New Guinea Phylum speakers in West Papua, and made little or no impact on Austronesian speakers until after the latter had reached the Bismarck Archipelago. There, some but not all Austonesian speakers acquired it from some but not all Papuans, resulting in the famous Admiralty and Caroline Islands styles of dissonant polyphony when the two systems interacted. The results also provide a solution to the problem of lack of polyphony in Vanuatu which must have come about from occupation by one or more groups of either Papuans or Lapita potters who predated acquisition of polyphony by the others.


The route through Island Melanesia

To account for pre-Polynesians in Micronesia and at the same time satisfy linguistic requirements, it was thought necessary in an earlier version of parts of this book (McLean 2008) to propose a group of migrants to Micronesia who would have entered the area via the Bismarcks, independent of the Bird's Head people. A more feasible alternative has instead been substituted and will be taken up in the next section, with the newly arrived Bird's Head Melanesians now recognised as sole progenitors of the Lapita potters. These  now emerge and begin their celebrated migrations through Island Melanesia, leaving colonies in their wake, and eventually reaching as far south as Fiji, where they become ancestral to present-day Fijians. The long series of journeys required the crossing of two significant water gaps, one of 450 km at the outset and the other of 850 km closest to Fiji, which are believed not to have been traversed until Lapita times (Kirch 2000:95-6). Because of the water gaps, a view sometimes expressed is that the form of transport used by the Lapita people must have been double canoes similar to those used much later by Polynesians. As has been seen, however, this is not supported by Haddon and Hornell's distributional data (Chapter 8), and recent reconstructions by linguists of canoe terms is also contrary to the idea. Although careful to point out that absence of a reconstruction does not necessarily indicate absence of the referent sought, Pawley and Pawley (1998:209) conclude that a term for double canoe can be attributed to Proto Polynesian but not to Proto Oceanic. On the other hand there is not the least doubt about the provenience of sailing outrigger canoes with decks and indirect attachment of the float dating back at least to Proto Oceanic (Pawley and Pawley 1998:193, 209), vindicating Haddon and Hornell's findings. The combined evidence would appear to indicate that the ocean-going double canoe was an innovation not at the Oceanic subgroup level but some time later, with Proto Polynesian as the only so far affirmed subgroup. An assessment by Irwin  of the Lapita canoe form using some of the same sources as those examined in the present study

suggests that a likely Lapita type was a single-outrigger canoe with a hull made from dugout log, and its freeboard raised with lashed-on strakes. The sail was a simple two-spar rig of a kind usually described as an "oceanic spritsail," and the canoe may have changed direction relative to the wind by some mode of tacking rather than shunting (Irwin 2008:15).

Besides providing distributional evidence of canoe type, the trail of the Lapita potters through Island Melanesia is revealing also of the kind of music they probably practised. Foremost for consideration is the extremely widespread presence of canoe-shaped slit gongs as seen in the slit gong belt of northern coastal Papua New Guinea and spreading down the entire Island Melanesian chain as far as Fiji. It would seem reasonable to suppose that it was the Lapita potters who made slit gongs in the shape of their canoes and spread them to these places. Some doubt is cast on the idea, however, by gaps in the distributional data. The sole such gaps or probable gaps are in southern Vanuatu, the Loyalty Islands and New Caledonia, consistent with the known history of Lapita settlement in these areas, but not necessarily of possession of slit gongs by the first settlers. 

In present-day New Caledonia, wooden slit gongs are in widespread use as an accompaniment to dance. They are small, portable instruments, only 40-50 cm long, with no resemblance to the large canoe-shaped slit gongs typical elsewhere in Melanesia. One possibility is that the smaller type of slit gong was brought by Polynesians who migrated to New Caledonia in the eighteenth century. Most current instruments, however, both resemble and are named after the Cook Islands pate, which was brought first to Samoa by Rarotongan teachers of the London Missionary Society for use as a church bell, and put to the same use in New Caledonia by Samoan teachers of the LMS in the early 1840s (Ammann 1997:20-4, 50).

Whether the large canoe shaped form of wooden slit gong was ever present in New Caledonia is an open question. Speiser (1934:129) states categorically that slit drums are not to be found. Sarasin (1929:229-32) at first describes slit drums as absent except as church bells, then seems to contradict this by referring to the accompaniment of dance by the beating of wood on pieces of hollow trees. But the statement is ambiguous, as also is one by the nineteenth century writer Glaumont (1888-9:98), the earliest source so far found, who makes similar reference to a sort of tamtam or hollowed out tree like those of the New Hebrides on which the player beats with a stick. Either statement could refer to a slit gong, but equally to an actual hollow tree, as implied by Glaumont's likening of the instrument to those of the New Hebrides, which he goes on to describe as larger, and more beautiful with faces sculptured upon them. The reference here is evidently to standing slit gongs of central Vanuatu, which are ethnographically well known, and indeed resemble hollow trees. Use of a hollow tree as an idiophone would be unusual and seems unlikely, in which case the possibility exists that large slit gongs were once present but have fallen out of use in favour of the more portable and convenient pate introduced by the LMS. If on the other hand the instrument was genuinely not present then the disparity between New Caledonia and other areas of Melanesia including Fiji lies with the known differing settlement history of the two areas.

Lapita settlement of Fiji is believed to have taken place from either the Santa Cruz or northern Vanuatu islands at about 3100 BP. New Caledonia was meanwhile settled by a different group which moved through the main Vanuatu archipelago to reach La Grande Terre through the Loyalty Islands at about the same time (Kirch 2000:95). The difference in starting point between northern and southern Vanuatu could have been crucial in terms of slit gong diffusion. The island of Efate (where the Teouma Lapita site is coincidentally located) marks the southerly limit of large slit gongs in Vanuatu (Crowe 1995:24 cited by Ammann 1997:23). North of Efate is the area from which Fiji was colonised; and in the south are the islands from which the New Caledonia settlers would have departed.  

There are two possibilities for slit gongs. Either they were brought by the initial Lapita settlers and lost for unknown reasons in southern Vanuatu, or they were brought not by the first settlers but by their immediate successors, who followed their ancestors along the more nnortherly route to Fiji,  but did not reach New Caledonia. 

Besides possible slit gongs, Lapita potters had stamping tubes and drone-based polyphony, and were purveyors also of the common Melanesian tonal system of anhemitonic pentatonic scales.

In the home Lapita area of the Bismarck Archipelago, polyphony co-occurs with the Core Melanesian traits of wide range and anhemitonic scales, but has a more restricted distribution and probably therefore developed later in the region.

Polyphony is present in only about a quarter of the areas in the Bismarck Archipelago for which musical information is available. Specifically, it is reported for Manus (Admiralty Islands); Kove, Bola, Nakanai, Cape Beechey, Uvol, all in New Britain; and on offshore islands of Vitu, Ablingi, Mussau, Baluan and Bipi. All are in the homeland of the Lapita people; offshore islands were favoured Lapita locations; and Manus, Kove, Mussau and Baluan are known Lapita sites (Specht 2007:Table 2). The observed association is remarkable for three reasons: first it demonstrates survival of music traits in the area of Lapita origin for upwards of 3,000 years; second it proves Lapita potters to have been unequivocally Melanesian; and third it is indicative of association with Micronesia. Of special significance is the primary Lapita site of Mussau, together with Manus and Bipi, all with dissonant polyphony as reported in both Fiji and the Caroline Islands of Micronesia. As all of the sites concerned are strung along the northern seaboard of New Britain within easy sailing distance of the Caroline Islands, and the Lapita people living on this coast ultimately reached as far as Fiji, it is inconceivable that they would not also have visited Micronesia.  


The route through Micronesia

The question may now be answered as to how much or how little Micronesians might have contributed to the settlement of Polynesia.

In view of Herzog's discovery of Polynesian music traits in Micronesia (Chapter 6), combined with evidence from both physical anthropology and genetics (Chapter 7) affirming closer connection between these two areas than others, the suggestion by Buck and by Howells of Polynesian settlement through Micronesia is again in contention.

Three  main arguments have been advanced against the idea of a Micronesian path for Polynesians, one relating to radiocarbon dates and the others to food plants and sea levels. The latter two topics have been comprehensively covered in Chapters 11 and 14, leaving only radiocarbon dates to be considered here. 


Radiocarbon dates

When Kirch and Green formulated their Lapita hypothesis, known radiocarbon dates for Micronesia were mostly post-2000 BP (Kirch 2000:74), seemingly ruling out Micronesian involvment with the settlement of Polynesia which, as then accepted, entered into its final East Polynesian phase around this very time, and began upwards of a thousand years earlier with the settlement of Fiji by Lapita potters.

First to be considered are the new dates for Eastern Polynesia proposed by Wilmshurst et al. (2011), alluded to in Chapter 4 under the heading "Duration of the Pause". This is the period of transition between the settlement of Western and Eastern Polynesia respectively during which Polynesians are said to have evolved.

If the new Eastern Polynesian occupation dates are accepted, and Western  Polynesian dates remain the same, the length of the Pause will be extended by another thousand years leaving twice as much time as before for Lapita potters to morph into Polynesians, and/or, if sea levels or radiocarbon dates precluded Micronesian settlement until after 2000 BP, for the same period of a thousand years to be available thereafter for Micronesians to exert influence on Polynesia. But, as seen in Chapter 14, Dickinson has advanced the sea level dates to match the new dates for Eastern Polynesia. Only one small step is required to entirely restore the pre-2011 archaeological status quo. There is no reason to suppose that Eastern Polynesia is different from Western Polynesia  in the nature of its carbon dates. If dates from charcoal and shell are unreliable for the one area they must also be unreliable for the other and it should be safe to elevate the Western dates as well as the Eastern ones, leaving boundaries and the sequence of events the same as before.

On this basis, the fundamental problem posed by lack of conventional early radiocarbon dates for Micronesia remains and will now be considered.

Despite these lack of dates, computer simulations reported by Irwin indicate that the high islands of the Carolines and Marshall Islands were available for contact from the Solomons in Lapita times (Irwin 1992:125-6), and a number of  radiocarbon dates earlier than those given by Kirch have since been published. 

Colonisation of Western Micronesia is now set at  3500-3300 BP for site occupation or 4800-4500 BP on indirect evidence, and Central and Eastern Micronesia have settlement dates of 2200-2000 BP at the same time as the Polynesian Outliers (Anderson et al. 2006:2).

From these results it would seem that Western Micronesia could have received its first settlers a thousand or more years before the Lapita era began in the Bismarck Archipelago but although reaching this area all the way from the Philippines or Indonesia did not venture further. It would be surprising if, in the course of the next two millennia they had not done so, if only as visitors to the adjacent islands of the Eastern Carolines, or been followed by others into the area. Earlier dates for the Eastern Carolines may yet be found; and an existing date for Bikini in the Marshall Islands of no less than 3450 ± 60 BP (Streck 1987) is without current explanation.

If the radiocarbon date for Bikini Atoll is accepted then, despite higher sea levels in the Holocene period, occupation of Micronesian atolls must have been possible earlier than currently supposed, if only, as suggested in chapter 14, as staging posts for further voyaging. As Bikini is located on the far north-east extremity of Micronesia, it also follows that the voyaging distance involved was not beyond the capability of the type of canoe then in use. If Haddon and Hornell's report of early double canoes in Truk is correct, it may be that this was the canoe type used, and could represent an early venture by people who could have been the pre-Polynesians.

Howells proposed that from 2500 BC or after there was a parent colony of Polynesian-like people on one of the high islands of the Carolines. Around 1500 BC some of them, speaking Proto Eastern Oceanic, filtered south through the Gilberts (Kiribati) to Fiji and Tonga, later acquiring pigs, chickens and dogs from their Melanesian neighbours (Howells 1973:255, 260).

Howells's dates now seem too early, but his proposal fits absolutely with the mix of Marginal Eastern and Western Polynesian music traits found by Herzog in the very area proposed by Howells as the Polynesian homeland.

For pre-Polynesians to reach Micronesia, a number of conditions would need to  have been met. First, they would need to be speakers of Oceanic or its immediate predecessor of Malayo-Polynesian; second, they would have brought the small range form of music found by Herzog; and third they would have been physically of Mongoloid phenotype. The second and third of these criteria would be satisfied if they came direct from Nettl's area of small range scales in SE Asia, with Indonesia qualifying specifically. But this would locate them outside the homeland Oceanic language area which linguists have placed in the Bismarck Archipelago. On the other hand, there may be some room for flexibility in this regard, if later incursions from the Oceanic area to the Carolines were to occur and become dominant.

In the first instance, a foundation group of settlers, different from those of the Bismarcks, was most certainly present in the Western and Central Carolines. They are shown by the known early occupation dates of Yap and Palau to have potentially pre-dated the Lapita potters, and by the widespread incidence of small range scales to have ultimately spread these over the whole area. Ponape is a likely early recipient, centrally placed to receive influence from any direction, and poised for occupation at any time as Ponape is a high island without the sea level problems that beset atolls. Moreover, it has a number of river valleys, drowned in their lower reaches by incursion from the sea, so the earliest occupation sites could now be submerged.

Suppose next that a further settlement now occurred, this time from the Bird's Head people in the Bismarcks, soon enough after their arrival there for their Mongoloid phenotype still to be intact. Such a group would most likely have come through the Admiralty Islands, conferring an early form of the Oceanic linguistic subgroup or a predecessor of it on Micronesia. But what about their anhemitonic pentatonic scales? These too are not necessarily a problem. Many of the areas throughout Mainland New Guinea and Island Melanesia with these scales as their tonal system have songs exhibiting the full pentatonic scale alongside others with Engmelodic sections of the same scale. It is not hard to imagine such a group switching exclusively to the latter, especially if they found themselves among another group who already practised them. From this, also, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine eventual integration of semitones (half tones) into the full tone system, resulting in Engmelodik scales of the kind now found in Marginal Polynesia.

Another matter bearing upon entry of peoples from the Bismarcks to Ponape relates to pottery. It can be taken for granted that despite absence in the archaeological record of Bird's Head people in northern New Guinea, it must have been these people who brought the necessary pottery-making technology to the Bismarcks. It follows that if they or their successors also went to Ponape, they would most likely have taken pottery with them, and there is indeed evidence that this was so. Kirch (1997:75) notes presence of plainware pottery in Truk, Pohnpei and Kosrae, which he likens to late Lapita plainware, but also observes (p.77) that as Micronesians moved from the high islands to atolls within the area they were forced to stop making pottery because of lack of clay. All of this is highly relevant to the present topic. If the Ponapeans had pottery later, they may also have had it earlier, and the reference to cessation in the atolls shows why they would have been aceramic if they then moved on to Polynesia.

Some time after the establishment of the initial group in the Carolines, a further significant event would have occurred in the form of visits from Lapita people, again most probably from the Lapita areas of the Admiralty Islands or Mussau, bringing polyphony and the other musical traits reported by Herzog, and perhaps at the same time introducing the late Lapita pottery reported by Kirch. A substantial period of integration would in any case have been required for the original settlers, allowing plenty of time for the new Engmelodik tonal system with its semitones to be firmly bedded in, thereby rendering it incompatible with the full pentatonic scale which otherwise might have been reintroduced by the latest newcomers.

Between the two events, and possibly triggered by the latter one, movement of pre-Polynesians would now have taken place out of Micronesia, taking with it Marginal Polynesian music traits but not polyphony.

Final evidence of Melanesian contact with Ponape comes with the entry of the typical New Guinea hourglass drum to Eastern and Central Micronesia, shown to be a late development by the limitation of its spread in Melanesia to Buka/Bougainville. In Micronesia it is best documented for Ponape and the Marshall Islands. For details of its presence there and elsewhere in the area, including vernacular names, see Fisher (1986:57).

Howells's idea of Polynesian settlement from Micronesia can be accepted, but a more likely point of arrival for the pre-Polynesians would be not Fiji, but Samoa, possibly through Tuvalu. Even without benefit of sophisticated canoes, pre-Polynesians could have reached this far by making use of the return voyaging strategy documented by Irwin (1992), sailing upwind initially, and downwind to return home if land was not found. 

In Samoa, if they came early enough, the new arrivals could have had an entire archipelago to themselves until the arrival of Lapita potters, if indeed potters and not just their pots came this far. Alternatively, they could have reached the Samoan Archipelago at about the same time as the Lapita people or could have post-dated them, but occupied a different part of the archipelago, with the two groups coming together and intermingling only after the lapse of sufficient time for Polynesian culture to develop.

Coming as they did from a predominantly atoll environment in Micronesia where clay is lacking, they would have lost pottery as already suggested, and would have regained it only later from Fijians, accounting  for lack of archaeological sites attesting their presence. Because Samoa has a history of land subsidence, another reason for lack of visibility in the archaeological record may be that, like the Samoan Lapita site found by Green (1979:31), which was under a metre and a half of water, the relevant sites would have been as close as possible to the sea and as suggested for Ponape may now be submerged.

As Micronesians, however, the seafaring  abilities of these migrants would have at least equalled those of the Lapita people, culminating with development of double canoes capable of venturing as far as Eastern Polynesia. First, using possibly less advanced craft then at their disposal, they would have explored every corner of their own archipelago. Next they would have extended their seagoing to embrace Tonga and Fiji, very likely colonising Tonga at about the same time as Lapita potters, but reaching Fiji only to find it fully occupied by Melanesians. The historically attested trade relationship within the Fiji-Tonga-Samoa triangle could have been an early development. But exploration did not end there. Settlement of the Polynesian Outliers along the entire Island Melanesian chain, as far north as their own former home territory of Micronesia, was to follow, as well as the ultimate final push into Eastern Polynesia, shown by the musical evidence as likely to have taken place from Samoa.

Before attempting a chronology of the foregoing events, a final observation needs to be made which bears upon both dating and phenotype. In a paper subtitled "Why the dates keep changing", the archaeologist Matthew Spriggs (2010) has documented a trend towards ever-younger rather than older date estimates in recent years which applies not only to Eastern Polynesia but to the entire spectrum of dates relevant to Lapita. I have adopted his dates in the chronology which follows, but in so doing have created a problem of timing. Under earlier date estimates there was time enough for Austronesian speakers to gain Papuan phenotype by mixing with Papuans before Lapita potters began their journeys out of Near Oceania. Spriggs has them reaching the Bismarcks from the Bird's Head in two centuries at most, and entering Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji all within another 250 years.

Five hundred years may not be considered enough for the potters to have lost their Mongoloid phenotype and become fully Melanesian by the time they left the Bismarcks. But consideration also needs to be given to what happened to them on route, and what kept them on the move. As seafarers they would have had no inclination to abandon coastal resources for inland areas, and could have been regularly displaced by newcomers from the north. If so, it may be appropriate to think of Spriggs's concept of secondary migration rather as one of continuous migration, operating from the very beginning and resulting in continuous reinforcement of phenotype from Papuans who themselves did not move from their own accustomed areas. Meanwhile, in Central Western Polynesia, Mongoloid phenotype would likewise be receiving regular reinforcement from Micronesians, maintaining the distinction between Polynesia and Melanesia that is still in evidence today.



Dates relevant to the present book tend to be on a continuum with linguistic dates sometimes older than the radiocarbon ones for the same events (Pawley 1996:403-4), and genetic dates by and large older still. Radiocarbon dates have generally been preferred in recent years, but are currently subject to radical review. Unless otherwise stated, the dates following are all from Spriggs 2010 which offers a conservative current view.

It should be noted, however, that the date for settlement of Eastern Polynesia,  which for decades has been accepted as 2000 BP, has been advanced to 1500 BP in the chronology but, if recent revisions are confirmed, it may be necessary to extend this date by another 500 years or more, lengthening the period preceding this date during which influence from Micronesia might have taken place. Once again, as well, it needs to be emphasised that dating issues are far from resolved, with no secure dates at any point in the spectrum.

On the understanding therefore that the dates are tentative and subject to further review, the following is offered by way of summary and additional comment:

4000-3800 BP. First movement of speakers of Malayo-Polynesian out of Taiwan into the Philippines.

3500 BP. Settlement of northern Maluku in Eastern Indonesia and the Cenderawasih Bay area of western New Guinea by speakers of Central Eastern Malayo-Polynesian. At about the same time or earlier (Anderson et al. 2006:2), speakers of Malayo-Polynesian occupy Western Micronesia from the Philippines or Indonesia. They are the likely bearers of a music system of small range scales which ultimately diffuse throughout the Caroline Islands, but do not yet possess polyphony.

3300 BP. Migrants from the Bird's Head reach the Bismarck Archipelago, where they become ancestors of present-day Melanesians and the progenitors of the Oceanic subgroup. During their journey along the north coast of New Guinea they have interacted with Papuans and in so doing have begun the process of becoming Melanesian. They bring the Core Melanesian traits of wide range and anhemitonic scales but not polyphony. The Serui-laut people in the home area near the Bird's Head have retained the same traits until the present day.

Not long after the arrival of Melanesians in the Bismarcks, the Lapita potters emerge and begin their migrations through Island Melanesia. Before change of phenotype has gone too far, some of the new arrivals have possibly moved to the Caroline Islands in Micronesia, where they merge with the already resident people, adapting to their small range music system and ultimately becoming ancestral to Polynesians. They have shell trumpets and leaf oboes but not slit gongs, stamping tubes, or polyphony.

Of uncertain date but coincident with the breakup of Proto Oceanic, a group identifiable with the Papuan Tip subgroup moves into southern Papua New Guinea. They have Distribution D instruments and polyphony but not slit gongs.

Another group joins the pre-Polynesians in Micronesia, most likely from the Admiralty Islands or Mussau, bringing polyphony and possibly triggering movement of the pre-Polynesians out of the area to find new territories.

Lapita people or their descendants develop slit gongs in the shape of their canoes and diffuse them throughout Island Melanesia as far as Fiji. 

3000 BP. There are Lapita sites in Fiji and Tonga by this date, and Samoa has perhaps been settled by 2800 BP. Meanwhile, sea levels permitting, pre-Polynesians emigrate from Micronesia, taking distinctive styles of small range to Samoa. They remain relatively isolated there from Melanesians, gaining pottery from Fiji but neither slit gongs nor polyphony until after the colonisation of Eastern Polynesia. Quite possibly some such transfers did not occur until Samoans came more extensively into contact with Melanesians as a result of Samoan settlement of the Polynesian Outliers, which now begins.

1700-1500 BP. Members of the Northern New Guinea subgroup migrate out of the Bismarcks, taking slit gongs in retro movement from east to west along the north coast of New Guinea.  

1500 BP (Allen and Kahn 2010:49). Colonisation begins of Eastern Polynesia from Samoa, and the two areas of Western and Eastern Polynesia subsequently develop in isolation. In Eastern Polynesia, vocal styles of small range and few notes brought by the first settlers are retained in the Marginal Eastern Polynesian areas of Hawai'i, the Marquesas Islands, Mangareva, and New Zealand until modern times.

In Western Polynesia rolled mats as a percussion device come into use and diffuse throughout the area, and Western Polynesians interact increasingly both among themselves and with Melanesians. Tongans, for example, who are closest geographically to Fiji, most probably gain stamping tubes and polyphony as well as the slit gong from the Fijians. Polyphony does not initially reach as far as Samoa, and Samoans do not adopt the slit gong until later, gaining separate forms of it, including the lali from Fiji and the nafa from Tonga, retaining the names of each from the donor areas.

Eastern Micronesians gain hour-glass drums either from the Bismarck Archipelago or from Buka/Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, most probably, as suggested for polyphony, through Ponape.



An essential starting point for the present study is the discovery of marked differentiation between music areas of Western Polynesia and Marginal Eastern Polynesia which emerged after the settlement of Eastern Polynesia around 2000 BP or later, allowing distinctions to be made between Polynesian music systems before and after this date. In Marginal Eastern Polynesia Engmelodik styles taken to the area by the first settlers are still to be found. By contrast in Western Polynesia, post-2000 BP developments were a result both of innovation and of borrowing relationships, and are relevant to Polynesian origins principally for purposes of elimination. Interactions among Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians have been continuous in varying degrees from pre-Lapita through to modern times, posing a problem of disentangling the more recent distributional events from the older ones. The extensive three-way contact between Fijians, Tongans and Samoans in the period immediately prior to European contact, coupled with influence from Micronesia during the same period, is especially worthy of note. Thus, although the Lapita people or their descendants can be identified as  possessors of slit gongs, it was not until the latter part of the eighteenth century AD that slit gongs came to be used in Fijian and Western Polynesian double canoes, where they were coincident with sculling. Associations can also be demonstrated between other elements of music within the area (q.v. McLean 1999) that have contributed to the present mix and overlay relationships that can be counted as ancestral. Sufficient clues remain however, for a satisfactory sequence of events to be proposed which accounts for all of the known facts.

In brief, combined evidence from music, physical anthropology, genetics, canoe types and distribution, food plants, narcotic substances, and ethnology  points overwhelmingly to Micronesia rather than Melanesia as a path for Polynesians, and a dual hypothesis of Polynesian origins can accordingly be proposed:

The Lapita people were Melanesians who settled all of the currently Melanesian areas of both Near and Remote Oceania. After arriving in Fiji, they may indeed have been among Polynesian ancestors, but were not primarily or exclusively so. Instead, Polynesians developed independently within Western Polynesia, most likely in Samoa, after migrating there from Micronesia, and only later began to intersect with descendants of the Lapita potters (McLean 2008:53-4).

This is the conclusion reached by the writer in the first published version of some of the materials used for  the present book. In light of the additional information now brought to bear, and the advent of new radiocarbon dates for Eastern Polynesia, little needs to be added: 

The most direct descendants of Lapita settlers  with whom Polynesians were later to interact would have been Fijians. Some physical admixture and sharing of phenotype would doubtless have taken place, but the primary mechanism of cultural transfer would have been borrowing, as suggested many years ago by Peter Buck, whose only mistake in this regard  was to over-estimate the extent and some of the timing of  the transfer. Some at least would have been at the Proto Polynesian level when contact between the two groups was first established, and the remainder would have gone on piecemeal over succeeding generations. 

Much work now remains for archaeologists, linguists, geneticists and others to reconcile the most recent information now emerging from many disciplines with the findings of the present study. 


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