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Changing Time in the South Pacific

Science  11 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5984, pp. 1346
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5984.1346

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Summary

Most archaeologists agree that Polynesians can trace their origins to the Lapita Culture, a fusion of Melanesian and Austronesian peoples that had spread as far east as Fiji by 1000 B.C.E. But archaeologists are deeply at odds over when Polynesians fanned out across the vast northern, central, and eastern Pacific Ocean. One group favors a slower and earlier settlement that puts them on Hawaii as early as 500 C.E., while another argues that it wasn't until 1200 C.E. that most of the far-flung islands were colonized. For the moment, those who argue for a swift and late settlement seem to have the upper hand.

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