Settlement of the Pacific

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Map Code: Ax00999

Around 50,000 years ago lower sea levels produced a contiguous landmass in western Indonesia from which early humans island-hopped to the then-fused New Guinea and Australia. The next plunge, into the Pacific, began in around 1500 BCE, possibly linked to the evolution of the twin hulled sailing canoe. Roughly contemporaneous arrivals have been established for the Chamorros culture in the Marianas islands and the Lapita culture, progressively, through southern Micronesia. Fiji was reached in around 1300 BCE, Tonga and then Samoa, several hundred years later. The final, and impressive, feats of navigation would occur from 300–800 CE, when migrants reached, first, the Society Islands, then fanned out to make Hawaii (c. 400 CE), Easter Island (c. 600 CE) and, finally, New Zealand (c. 800 CE). These impressive feats of navigation were achieved using close observation of the sea and skies and a large body of knowledge passed on by oral traditions.

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