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Thor Heyerdahl

October 6 is the birth-date of Thor Heyerdahl

October 6 is the birthdate of Thor Heyerdahl (1914 - 2002).  His insights, analysis and expeditions provided some of the most important evidence for what is often called the "diffusionist" theory versus the "isolationist" theory.  

The diffusionist theory argues that ancient peoples had the capability of deliberately and repeatedly crossing the oceans, including the Atlantic and the Pacific, and that they did so as far back as the time of the ancient Egyptians.  It thus stands agains the isolationist theories taught by most conventional academicians today, which categorically rejects any suggestion of the possibility of cultural contact between peoples from different continents in ancient times, despite abundant evidence around the world that seems to suggest such ancient contact.  

Thor Heyerdahl entered into this momentous question by several happy circumstances beginning in his early life, which -- when brought into contact with his boundless curiosity and irrepressible optimism and adventurous spirit -- led to several famous adventures and discoveries of tremendous significance.  

This webpage from the Kon-Tiki museum explains that as a young student at the University of Oslo, Thor Heyerdahl met Bjarne Kroepelien, who had traveled to the South Pacific, a part of the world that had fascinated Heyerdahl since childhood.  Kroepelien assisted the young Thor Heyerdahl when Thor and his new bride Liv decided to try to live on an undeveloped island (Fatu Hiva) in the Marquesas to study the local flora and try to determine the route that had brought the various species to the island.  

It was Kroepelien's letter to the Tahitian Chief Teriieroo which enabled Thor and Liv to spend a month with Teriieroo on Tahiti, for practical training in the traditional methods of living off the land.  They stayed a year but insect-borne disease forced them to seek medical attention on neighboring Hiva Oa.  There, another Norwegian who had permanently settled there on a coconut plantation showed Heyerdahl some stone statues in the jungle, which -- along with his friend's suggestion that similar statues could be seen in Colombia, in South America -- fired Thor Heyerdahl's imagination and started him on the pursuit of theories that went against the settled opinion of the historians and anthropologists of his day, and launched him on the many adventures and investigations that would become his life's work.

Heyerdahl became convinced that the islands of the Pacific had been peopled originally by people from South America, perhaps a people who were the predecessors of the Inca, who had traveled eastward on balsa rafts, and who were later joined by another wave of people from the northwest tribes of North America, who had traveled southeast on double-hulled canoes.  These two peoples later mixed (sometimes peacefully and sometimes violently) on the various islands of the wide Pacific, leaving a distinctive Polynesian culture that stretched all the way from Easter Island (Rapa Nui) to New Zealand (Aotearoa).  

Meeting solid opposition from those who said this theory was impossible, Heyerdahl in 1947 undertook his most famous adventure, the Kon-Tiki expedition, to prove that long-distance travel over the open ocean in balsa rafts was not only possible, but extremely practical.  In his best-selling account of that expedition (still thrilling reading today), he explains the origin of the expedition's now-famous name:
Virakocha is an Inca (Ketchua) name and consequently of fairly recent date.  The original name of the sun-god Virakocha, which seems to have been more used in Peru in old times, was Kon-Tiki or Illa-Tiki, which means Sun-Tiki or Fire-Tiki.  Kon-Tiki was high priest and sun-king of the Incas' legendary 'white men' who had left the enormous ruins on the shores of Lake Titicaca.  The legend runs that the mysterious white men with beards were attacked by a chief named Cari who came from the Coquimbo Valley.  In a battle on an island in Lake Titicaca the fair race was massacred, but Kon-Tiki himself and his closest companions escaped and later came down to the Pacific coast, whence they finally disappeared oversea to the westward. . .  18-19.  
Heyerdahl explains that the existence of strong traditions as far away as the Marquesas of a founding anscestor named Tiki, who had come to the islands "from a mountainous land in the east which was scorched by the sun" (18).  Hence, his voyage and the vessel he and his companions used in order to prove such a direction of travel was possible, even over the vast distances and mighty ocean swells of the broad Pacific, was dubbed the Kon-Tiki.

Later in his life, Heyerdahl undertook similar voyages across the world's largest oceans in ships built of traditional materials and design, including the Ra voyage across the Atlantic and the Tigris voyage across the Indian Ocean.

For previous posts referring to some of Thor Heyerdahl's arguments against the isolationist theories, see also:
For a partial list of some of the overwhelming pile of evidence which supports the "diffusionist" theories and casts serious doubt on the "isolationist" theories, see the links in this previous post entitled "The Calixtlahuaca head."

Also, while October 6 is an important date because of the birthday of Thor Heyerdahl, October 5 (still the date here in California as this is published) is even more important, as it is the birthday of my father -- Happy Birthday!  He taught me to make Norwegian crepes, which I had for breakfast this morning.  He also introduced me to the love of looking at the stars, beginning with the wonderful book Find the Constellations, by H.A. Rey -- and plenty of trips outside together to look up at the night sky and try to find the constellations ourselves.

Happy Thanksgiving -- please pass the kumara!

Thanksgiving in the United States is a beloved and special holiday, on which we pause each year and gather with family and loved ones to consider all the many blessings we should be thankful for in our lives.

The traditional Thanksgiving feast contains elements stretching back to the first Thanksgiving in 1621, in which the Plymouth Bay colonists gave thanks for their first successful harvest, and were joined by Massasoit and members of the Wampanoag people who had taught them how to cultivate beans, squash and corn and who brought two deer and other food for the occasion.

One Thanksgiving staple that is part of nearly everyone's annual feast will be a dish made from the sweet potato, a traditional American cultivar unknown in the Old World prior to contact with the Americas which was known to the native peoples and an important dietary staple.

The sweet potato is also an intriguing clue in the question of whether Polynesia was originally settled from the east (the Americas) or from the west (through Melanesia or Micronesia), and may argue against an eastward expansion into Polynesia and for a westward expansion from the Americas, as Thor Heyerdahl has argued, and which is a theory for which there appears to be abundant evidence, in spite of the disdain with which this suggestion is regarded among conventional scholars today who flatly state that the question has been settled in favor of an eastward expansion from Asia.

In a 1946 essay entitled "How did the Sweet Potato reach Oceania?" anthropologist James Hornell explains the dilemma: "Botanists are agreed that America is the area within which the sweet potato was first brought under cultivation. One consequence arising from this conclusion is that the problem of the means whereby it became diffused throughout the island world of Oceania has given rise to great controversy" (cited in Heyerdahl's American Indians in the Pacific, 428).

Because the Polynesians widely cultivate the sweet potato from Easter Island to Hawaii to New Zealand and all places in between, and because it could not have come from Asia originally, ethnologists have long debated how the sweet potato became such an important part of the Polynesian diet and culture.

At first, many analysts who refused to consider the possibility that Polynesia was settled from the east (from the Americas) speculated that the first European vessels (primarily Spanish) must have brought the sweet potato across the thousands of miles of the Pacific from South America to the islands of Oceania.

The problems with this theory are quite stark. Chief among them is the extensive historical evidence, documented by R. B. Dixon in 1932, that the most remote and long-isolated Polynesian islands had extensive and ancient sweet potato plantations when they were first discovered by European voyagers (in "The Problem of the Sweet Potato in Polynesia," cited in Heyerdahl 430). He also points out that when Jacob Rogoveen became the first modern European to land on Easter Island / Rapa Nui in 1722, he and his men described "the sweet potato as abundant, grown in large plantations, and one of the mainstays of the native food" (ibid). Further, traditional history in both Hawaii and New Zealand point to cultivation in those islands by AD 1250 in Hawaii and AD 1350 in New Zealand, at the latest (Heyerdahl 431).

Another possibility that has been mentioned is the idea that a sweet potato somehow floated on its own from South America across the thousands of miles of ocean to the islands of the Pacific, and then was planted and spread to the rest of Polynesia. This speculative theory is difficult to maintain in light of the fact that the sweet potato propagates from its tubers as opposed to seeds that can be born safely along the ocean currents -- a sweet potato would not survive well on the open sea, especially because of the salt content of the ocean. Further, since the tubers grow underground, they are unlikely to simply fall into the sea like a regular seed might. Because new plants can really only be started from a tuber or a clipping, it is far more likely that sweet potatoes were deliberately carried across the oceans on ships and planted.

Nevertheless, Thor Heyerdahl records the suggestion put forward by some botanists that perhaps "a Peruvian sweet-potato might have been caught in the roots between a falling tree near the Pacific shore, and drifted with the tree" until washing up on a Pacific island thousands of miles away, to be planted in the ground by amazed islanders who had never seen one before but knew to bury it in order to get more.

Heyerdahl, however, points to a problem which puts to rest this wildly speculative, and that is the fact that "the sweet-potato was known as Cumar (Kumar) in the Quechua-dialect of Ecuador, whereas it was known in Polynesia as Kumara, with sundry dialectical variations" (429). Even if a tree managed to fall into the ocean with a sweet potato serendipitously lodged in its roots, this could not explain the fact that when it arrived in Hawaii or other points east, the inhabitants "recognized it by its original South American name" (Heyerdahl 429).

The sweet potato is known as the Cumara, Umar', Kumal, Umala, and Kuala in the Quechua language of the Andes and in variations found in other parts of South and Central America. The fact that the sweet potato is known to this day as the kumara in New Zealand (as well as in Easter Island, the Tuamotus, and Mangareva), and by variations such as Kuma'a in the Marquesas, Umara in Tahiti, Uala in Hawaii, Uara in Mangaia, Kuara in Rarotonga, Kumala in Tonga and Futuna, and 'Umala in Samoa argues strongly for actual ancient contact between the seafarers of Polynesia and the Inca and other people of South America (Heyerdahl 430).

Many today accept that the Polynesians could have journeyed to the Americas and brought the sweet potato back with them, while still originating in Asia. This theory is certainly a possibility, as it is no exaggeration to award the peoples of the Pacific with the title of "the greatest navigators our globe has ever seen."

However, Heyerdahl puts forward some powerful arguments for the alternate possibility, which is that the sweet potato was brought out of the Americas by the original settlers of the islands of the Pacific, who came from the east and sailed to the west (a possibility that in no way diminishes the argument that these seafarers became the greatest navigators our globe has ever seen, although some today seem to believe that a westward migration somehow robs the Polynesians of their seafaring accomplishments for some reason, and who call Heyerdahl's proposition "the ultimate insult" -- see the discussion in this previous post).

For one thing, Heyerdahl points out that the sweet potato's importance and cultivation was greatest in the most remote of the islands of Polynesia -- those on the very "points of the triangle" that define the vast region of the Polynesian culture: Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand (431). Some scholars have concluded from this fact that this is just the sort of distribution that would be most likely if the kumara "had been brought during the initial period of voyaging" that brought the first settlers to the islands (431).

He also points out that there are no Polynesian traditions relating a voyage to the Americas in which the new foodplant was discovered and brought back to Polynesia. In fact, he points out that "there are a vast quantity of traditions to the contrary" (traditions which state that the important food crop came from the ancient ancestral lands -- Heyerdahl 432). Heyerdahl also points out analysis from early records that relate the are over sixty varieties of sweet potato in Hawaii (arguing that it has been grown there for long centuries) and Captain Cook's records of ancient plantations and "vestiges of former plantations on the hills" (citing an account from 1778).

In short, the sweet potato (or kumara) is an important piece of evidence in the examination of the origins of the people of the Pacific islands. Alongside other evidence (such as the items discussed in this previous post), it appears to enhance the possibility that the islands of the Pacific were settled from the Americas and towards the west, rather than from Asia and then towards the east. This possibility may help clear up some of the evidence suggesting a distant connection to some aspects of ancient Egypt in the culture of Polynesia (see for instance this previous post, this previous post, and this previous post).

So, while you are enjoying your sweet potato casserole this year at Thanksgiving, give some thought to the significance of this far-ranging tuber.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Mathisen Corollary readers around the world!

More evidence of ancient transcontinental contact in Central American sculpture

In the previous post, we examined the newly-discovered guardian lion from the citadel at Tell Ta'yinat which shows that as many as 3,000 years ago in Asia Minor, lions were considered guardians of gates and doorways, and noted that this tradition is clearly present in classical China and in the ruins of Central America as well. In fact, we noted that archaeologists have found evidence of maned lions serving in a similar "gate-guardian" function in ancient Maya art and that maned lions (or at least "bearded jaguars") were depicted by ancient Olmecs in pre-Columbian Central America as well.

In that previous post, we argued that the use of maned lions as gate guardians may well have arrived in ancient Central America from another continent, since maned lions did not exist in the Americas. We said that those who deny the possibility of ancient contact across the bluewater oceans must allege that:
those ancient artists just happened to stumble upon a made-up creature that looks startlingly like an animal that they had never seen, but which lives on other continents and just happens to have been commonly depicted guarding gates and doorways on those continents as well. What lucky guessers those ancient pre-Columbian artists were: in addition to somehow dreaming up and carving lions that they had never seen, they also depicted men with features typical of men that they had never seen either, including Europeans, Asians and Africans.
While many readers are familiar with the existence of numerous ancient pre-Columbian sculptures in Central America that appear to accurately depict the distinctive characteristics of Europeans, Asians and Africans, here are a few that illustrate the point.

Above is an image of one of the famous figurines of Jaina Island, a pre-Columbian Maya site containing extensive burial sites and a high number of exquisite ceramic figurines. These figurines exhibit incredible artistic talent and a high degree of individuality, including differences in age, social rank, and even -- apparently -- ethnicity. Some of the figurines appear to depict features common to Native Americans of the area, while others -- such as the one shown above -- have beards and mustaches.

The figure above depicts distinctive facial tattooing or scarification, typical of that found among some tribes of North Africa and among the Maori of New Zealand. The Jaina Island figurine in this image exhibits even more distinctive characteristics not commonly associated with the Indians of the Americas including not only beard and mustaches but also facial structure and appearance. However, their clothing, headgear and jewelry clearly indicate that these are not images depicting Europeans after the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s.

Below: the location of Jaina Island on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

As noted in the previous blog, not only must historians who deny the possibility of ancient trans-oceanic contact assert that Central American artists just happened to guess what Old World lions looked like (and just happened to use lion sculptures to guard gates and doorways in the same way that they were used in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China), and that they just happened to create sculptures that looked like Europeans (although they never actually saw a European), but they must also maintain that the ancient artists of Central America created sculptures that accidentally depicted features common to Africans and Asians as well, without ever seeing men from those continents.

Below is one of the famous Olmec heads, which some observers believe exhibit features more indicative of African warriors than of the Native American Indians of the region.

Other observers believe that these sculptures look more like Polynesian warriors than like African warriors. If so, this may provide additional support for the theory of Thor Heyerdahl that the Polynesians originated in the Americas rather than in Malaysia or Southeast Asia.

Also of interest is the fact that the Olmecs created exquisite artifacts of serpentine greenstone and jade, such as the one shown below.

The similarity to the greenstone carvings of the Maori, discussed in this previous post, is striking, and provides further data in support of the theories of Thor Heyerdahl which suggest that the Polynesians originated in the Americas. Of course, the theory that the voyagers to Polynesia originated in the Americas does not preclude the possibility of previous contact by voyagers from Africa, Asia and Europe with the civilizations of Central America.

Below is another Olmec jade artifact which appears to depict Asian facial features.

The above mask (of jade, which has long been prized by artists in Asia as well as in the Americas and in ancient New Zealand) is featured on a Wikipedia page entitled "Olmec alternative origin speculations," as if the suggestion of contact with Europe, Asia or Africa based on the above archaeological artifacts is "speculative" rather than based upon solid evidence. The discussion on that page states that such suggestions "contradict generally accepted scholarly consensus" and are "not considered credible by the vast majority of Mesoamerican researchers."

The Wikipedia article states that the suggestion of ancient contact with other continents is not only speculative but actually vicious. It declares that "The great majority of scholars" actually "regard the promotion of such unfounded theories as a form of ethnocentric racism at the expense of indigenous Americans." In other words, it is not racist to argue that ancient Asians or Africans lacked the ability to have visited Central America and been the sculptors or at least the subjects of the artifacts depicted above. Or, to put it another way, it is fine to take away from the possible ancient achievements of some races but not of others, according to the arguments of these misguided modern academics (although we do actually not accept the premise that allowing for ancient trans-oceanic contact "takes away" from the accomplishment of anyone).

So, according to the "scholarly consensus," the clear evidence of the above-depicted artifacts (which are not isolated artifacts but are representative of many others like them) must be ignored, and instead we must swallow the theory that the artists who crafted them simply dreamed up facial features that would suggest men from other regions of the world that they had never actually seen. Not only is this position ludicrous, but the reader can judge for himself whether or not it is more demeaning of the artistic abilities of the "indigenous Americans" to assert that they were accurately depicting Africans, Asians and Europeans in their art, or to assert that they were so incompetent that their attempts to depict Native Americans ended up looking like men of other continents whom they never actually met.

While it is (barely) possible to assert that ancient art does not actually indicate ancient contact across the oceans long before Columbus, it is more difficult to make the same arguments about human remains. Mayan and Olmec sculptors could, theoretically, construct sculptures that look like maned lions, or men from other continents whom they had never seen, but it is much more difficult to argue that mummies found in the Americas with distinctly European features did not actually come from Europe. In light of the fact that hundreds of such pre-Columbian mummies have been found, it is astonishing that "the great majority of scholars" apparently regard the possibility of ancient trans-oceanic contact as "unfounded theories" based upon "ethnocentric racism at the expense of indigenous Americans."

The sculptures discussed in this post are extremely convincing evidence of ancient trans-oceanic contact between the continents, but they are by no means the only such evidence. It is high time that open-minded investigators of this evidence ask themselves why the "vast majority of Mesoamerican researchers" refuse to follow the clear implications of this evidence, and what ideologies are coloring their conclusions, even as they label as "ethnocentric" and "racist" anyone who disagrees with their pronouncements.

Magnetic polarity at Avebury Henge

In the previous post, I reported on the work of Walter Cruttenden and the theory that the phenomenon of precession is caused not by a wobble in the earth's axis but rather by the elliptical motion of the earth around another faraway stellar object.

The point of that post was not to suggest that I necessarily subscribe to that particular theory but to point it out as noteworthy -- something that people who are interested in the mystery of mankind's ancient past should be aware of and keep an eye on.

Obviously, Mr. Cruttenden's work involves some common points of interest with the subject matter covered in the Mathisen Corollary, including the phenomenon of precession as well as the thesis that and ancient civilization (or civilizations) achieved levels of advancement far beyond anything currently described in conventional timelines of history.

One other extremely interesting point which Mr. Cruttenden mentioned briefly during his interview on Red Ice Radio (which can also be accessed via podcast by searching iTunes for the phrase "Red Ice Cruttenden") is the work of the late John Burke, author of Seed of Knowledge, Stone of Plenty.

Mr. Burke and his colleagues were involved in measuring the electromagnetic fields found at henges and megalithic sites around the world, and they reportedly found that certain structures appeared to be designed to channel the earth's naturally-occurring telluric energy in some way. The earth's magnetosphere results from its interaction with the ionized solar wind, as explained in this description with diagrams from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and the changes in this magnetic field create very low-frequency underground electric currents which travel over long distances on the earth.

In the interview, Mr. Cruttenden brings up a startling finding reported by John Burke and co-autor Kaj Halberg in their book. They report that measurements of the stones at Avebury Henge in England detected low levels of magnetic polarity in each stone, and the surprising fact that the circle stones appear to have been arranged such that the south pole of one stone faces the north pole of the next, to create a circle of magnetic polarity as well as a physical circle of stone.

On page 130 of their work, Burke and Halberg report:
These big slabs of sandstone, dragged from nearby Marlborough Downs, contain black magnetite, which makes the stones magnetic. Retaining their original polarity from their formation deep underground, each stone acts like a weak but very large magnet. While the magnetism of the standing stones is not strong enough to noticeably deflect a compass needle, the more sensitive magnetometers show that the stones are indeed magnetic, as geological studies have confirmed. We recorded a particularly powerful jump in the magnetometers by holding the probe up to a fist-sized cluster of magnetite crystals, visible in one of the avenue sarsens.

If these stones were strictly for cermonial purposes, the magnetic orientation of the stones would not be of consequence. However, the south pole of each stone faces the next stone in line as you move toward the circle. This arrangement means that the north poles of the stones generally point south, which are opposing the geomagnetic field. Inside the main and the minor stone circles, the south poles of all stones point at the next stone in the circle, in a clockwise direction, with two exceptions. The stones at the two intact causeway entrances have their poles aligned with those of the avenue, rather than with the clockwise pattern of the circle, up to a ninety-degree difference from their companions in the ring. We measured all sixty-seven remaining stones, with an average of sixteen readings per stone. None had a detectable magnetic pole pointing in a direction that would contradict this pattern. 130-131.
Mr. Burke and Mr. Halberg note that the henges (circular ditches with accompanying circular mounds) found throughout western Europe and the British Isles would tend to disrupt the telluric current, but that these ditches almost always feature an intact causeway or bridge (or place where the ditch stops on either side before completing the circle) where the current would tend to be focused more strongly (just as water, flowing through a chokepoint or narrow place, will flow with more velocity, a principle which is incorporated in shower heads or kitchen faucets that produce many tiny jets using very small openings). You can see the very prominent ditch and embankment at Avebury, along with part of the circle of stones, in the image above.

The authors theorize that these constructions might have created beneficial stress upon seeds, inducing them to grow better and produce more food yield. In a 2008 interview between Mr. Cruttenden and Mr. Burke available at the official CPAK online website here, Mr. Burke notes that ancient construction with measurable electromagnetic effects are not confined to the Old World but exist all over North America as well, and points to an early record from a Jesuit missionary who said the Native American tribes in the area of Louisiana would still bring seeds to a certain mystical location in order to receive a sort of blessing upon the seeds prior to planting them.

Whether this is the correct explanation or not for these ancient monuments, it is certainly an interesting area for further research. It may be that there were other original purposes for the constructions, and that they also had beneficial agricultural side effects which were noted by either the original architects or by later peoples.

Whatever one concludes, the bigger point seems to be that if in fact the huge multi-ton stones of Avebury are situated such that their poles align with the circles themselves, this would constitute powerful evidence that the designers possessed far greater levels of technological advancement than conventional historians attribute to them. Images of other magnetometer and caesium gradiometer surveys at other megalithic stone circles and henges done by other researchers appear to confirm the findings of Mr. Burke and Mr. Halberg -- some of them can be found here.

Magnetic anomalies have been recorded at many ancient sites in North America as well. The numerous chambers found in New England often share similar construction techniques and solar orientations to passage mounds found in Ireland and other parts of Europe, a fact I discuss towards the end of the Mathisen Corollary book. This website by Dr. Bruce Cornet notes the location of several dozen such stone constructions in New York state, as well as diagrams of the magnetic anomalies near many of these sites.

The fact that sites in the New World appear to contain evidence of deliberate electromagnetic manipulation or orientation provides yet another clue suggesting ancient contact across the oceans, contrary to what is taught in schools from kindergarten to the university. For other posts discussing other clues that contradict "isolationist" doctrines, see here and here.

This evidence would certainly appear to be a fertile field for future research. While much of it is quite startling and open to many possible interpretations, and while some of the evidence and interpretations offered so far may require more examination, simply rejecting it out of hand is probably not the wisest course of action if we really want to learn more about the real ancient timeline of mankind. Perhaps it is best to close this brief examination by referring back to the quotation by Edgar Smith Craighill Handy, cited approvingly by Thor Heyerdahl in 1953: "There is such a variety of possibilities open in the matter of relationships and derivations that my own feeling is that there is only one sure way of being in the wrong, and that is by asserting dogmatically what is not true" (cited in American Indians in the Pacific 8).

Hawaiki and Hawaii

In the previous post, "Vindication for Thor Heyerdahl," we examined new evidence that appears to support some of Heyerdahl's theories about contact between Easter Island / Rapa Nui and the Americas.

In that post, we noted Heyerdahl's assertion that ancient voyagers who set out into the Pacific from the Americas would likely first encounter either Easter Island or Hawaii, depending on their point of departure and direction of travel. We also noted the fact that the Polynesian historical traditions themselves clearly relate -- "and quite independently on widely separated Polynesian islands -- that the first land discovered and settled by their ancestors in the ocean was an island, or rather a group of islands, referred to in most Polynesian dialects as Hawaiki, in others as Hawai'i" (Heyerdahl, American Indians in the Pacific, 40-41).

Today, despite the extensive evidence Heyerdahl mustered in support of his theory, the idea that Polynesia was originally occupied by a people coming from the east (the Americas) is almost universally rejected, and along with it the idea that Hawaiki could refer to Hawaii itself as the first ancestral homeland in the Pacific, where some remained to settle and from which others spread out across the Pacific to discover and settle new islands.

As mentioned in the post linked above, some modern historians have held that Hawaiki must refer to Java in Indonesia, and that the oral traditions which describe Hawaiki as being located east of other Polynesian lands (such as New Zealand) must be incorrect -- in other words, maintaining that the keepers of these traditions didn't know what they were talking about and that some of the most superb mariners the world has ever known didn't know their east from their west.

Others today argue that Hawaiki may have been Taiwan (a theory we shall look at shortly).

Thor Heyerdahl provides characteristically thorough evidence and analysis in support of his assertion that Hawaiki actually refers to Hawaii. First, he notes that while the oral traditions found on almost every other Polynesian island refer to a migration from Hawaiki, no such oral tradition exists on Hawaii itself. If Hawaiki were actually in Java or Taiwan, such an omission would be unusual, but if Hawaii is the Hawaiki referred to by other islanders, then we would not expect there to be such a legend on Hawaii itself.

Further, Heyerdahl points to texts which historians made in the early 1800s of Maori oral tradition regarding the route of their ancestors from Hawaiki to Aotearoa / New Zealand. He notes that according to Maori tradition, Kupe was the first to reach Aotearoa from Hawaiki, and he later returned to the islands of Hawaiki. Later, according to Maori history, we learn that a progenitor named Whatonga and a number of his firends went on a visit from an island called Ahu to the main island called Hawaiki, to take part in a canoe race (170).

During the race a strong offshore gale carried Whatonga and others out to sea, where they became lost in the fog and eventually ended up in Rangiatea (the Maori pronunciation of Raiatea, in the Society Islands near Tahiti), where they made preparations for their return to Hawaiki and eventually left to successfully return to Hawaiki. However, in the interim, Whatonga's grandfather had set out to search for him, first landing in the Samoan group of islands, then proceeding to Rarotonga, and then to the Chatham Islands and finally to New Zealand in his search.

When Whatonga arrived in New Zealand and heard that Toi had gone to find him and not returned, he set out himself in a new deep-sea canoe named Te Hawai, and after reaching Rarotonga and hearing of his grandfather's earlier visit there, continued to Aotearoa and finally caught up with Toi there. These accounts were "painfully memorized by every generation among the subsequent occupants" of Aotearoa (170). Analysis of the genealogies that were also carefully memorized and passed down indicates that Kupe's visit was probably around AD 950, and that of Toi and Whatonga around AD 1150.

Heyerdahl notes the very clear parallel between the names of the islands Ahu and Hawaiki and the islands of O'ahu and Hawai'i, as well as the fact that historians have recorded that the island of O'ahu was originally called Ahu (170).

Another remarkable tradition preserved by the Maori is the sailing directions from Hawaiki, and particularly the starting point. Tradition states that "the bows of the canoes must be directed straight south from Maui-taha and Maui-pae" (172). These two names denote twin islands within the Hawaiki group, and in fact there are two small islands to the west of Maui (seen in the image above -- Maui is the island just north and west of the Big Island or Hawaii itself, and to the west of it can be seen the islands of Lanai and Kahoolawe, which may correspond to Maui-taha and Maui-pae). Hawaiian tradition also tells us that voyages were to start from this location (172). Is it not remarkable that Maori tradition mentions the names of the islands Maui, Oahu, and Hawaii?

From there, the sailing directions of the Maori oral tradition tell us, the canoes must proceed due south, in order to reach Rarotonga (which was known as the "Road to Hawaiki" among the Maori), after which they were to bear southwest, placing the prow to the left of the setting sun (172). These directions are perfect for reaching New Zealand from Hawaii, but atrocious if one wishes to reach New Zealand from Java or Taiwan.

Heyerdahl also provides quite convincing evidence from the preserved genealogy lists of both the Maori and the Hawaiians, in which some names and generations match (the names of both the husband and the wife, and on more than one occasion) (172-172).

Recently, some historians have argued that Hawaiki must refer to Taiwan, and point to mitochondrial DNA evidence as conclusive proof. This article from the Economist in 2005 makes that case, noting that "In a study involving 640 people from nine Taiwanese tribes, Dr Trejaut and Dr Lin found three mutations shared by Taiwanese, Polynesians and Melanesians (who also speak Austronesian) which are not found in other Asians."

Of course, the presence of unique mitochondrial DNA shared by Taiwanese and Polynesians could indicate the origins of the Polynesians from the islands of Taiwan, but it could just as easily indicate a visit from the opposite direction. This is especially true since the people whose DNA was tested are from an ancestry of a different origin than the majority of Taiwan's inhabitants. The mitochondrial DNA studies are an important clue, but they should be included along with all the other evidence in the search for the truth, rather than being used to force the acceptance of a single theory.

Since the publication of Heyerdahl's book in 1953, successful voyages have been made from Hawaii to Tahiti and other destinations in the Pacific by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, using double-hulled canoes and other technology available during the era before European contact. This map of the first voyage of the Hokule'a in 1976 clearly shows Raiatea, where Maori oral history tells us that Whatonga first landed after he was blown off course and then lost in the fog during his race.

This issue illustrates the fact that even today, the analysis of evidence regarding even the fairly recent past can be disputed by reasonable observers. The issue is also important from many other perspectives. First, it is important to the Polynesians themselves. It is also important because, as we have seen in several previous posts, the mysterious origins of the people of Polynesia appear to hold numerous clues concerning mankind's very ancient past.

Caution: staring too long at the above image of Hawaii may induce an irresistible urge to go surfing.

DMT, Egypt, evolution, and other subjects

Here is an amazing episode of Magical Egypt featuring the work of John Anthony West and other researchers -- his pioneering and penetrating work can be found at his website here. The segments of the video can be found by following the links below, and it is well worth consideration as an introduction to a whole new layer of insight into the civilization of ancient Egypt.

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The incisive analysis of Mr. West illustrates a truth that I have stressed before in previous posts: namely, that just because there are clear astronomical and mathematical truths encoded in ancient myths and texts, this does not take away the many other rich layers of meaning which are also present. In other words, seeing celestial codes in literature does not take away from the deep and powerful illumination of other aspects of the human condition in that literature. It only adds; it does not take away (see for example the discussion in this previous post and this previous post).

The documentary segment above neatly illustrates the way numerous other layers may be going on at the same time that celestial truths are being preserved. For example, the videos begin with an extensive and erudite explanation of the text of "The Book of What is in the Duat" found in the tomb of Tuthmoses III (reigned 1479 BC - 1425 BC) by John Anthony West. This is an extremely important text (also known as the Amduat) and it is well worthwhile to listen to Mr. West's explication of it. Its first complete known appearance is in the very tomb of Tuthmoses III shown in the video. Tuthmoses III was the great-great-great grandfather of Tutankhamun, or the grandfather of the grandfather of Tutankhamun's father Akhenaten.

At approximately 8:40 in the second of the above six videos, Mr. West describes "a familiar figure" which confronts the progress of the solar bark through the twelve hours of the Amduat. This figure, we are told, is the "great serpent, which is being chopped up by knives. This is the serpent Apep, or Apophis, which is a form of Set, the opposition." The point of bringing this up is to show that, while Set plays an incredibly important role in the astronomical knowledge hidden in the Egyptian myths (which surface again and again in mythology around the world), a role which is described in Hamlet's Mill and elaborated upon in greater detail in Jane Sellers' Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt and in the Mathisen Corollary, this celestial role does not mean that Set cannot also stand for several other principles which have less to do with astronomy and more to do with life, death, and the human condition. This is an important point to consider.

Along these lines, the transition of the discussion in the above videos to the work of dimethyltriptamine (DMT) researcher Dr. Rick Strassman follows an extremely interesting analysis of the Amduat text which begins at approximately 3:00 minutes into segment three of six above. There, the assertion is made that the geometry and negative spacing of one drawing of two human figures flanking two intertwined serpents topped by a solar disc suggests a human skull, with the sun disc approximating the location of the pineal gland (and the Uraeus headdress).

From there, the videos explore the rather controversial theory of Dr. Strassman, who believes that the powerful hallucinogenic compound DMT may be naturally produced in certain conditions in the human body, perhaps by the pineal gland, and that this substance is tied to the perception of mystical experiences as well as to visions of the afterlife and the well-known reports of near-death experiences by numerous individuals. Small amounts of naturally-occurring DMT have been found in human tissues, and the theory of some researchers is that certain types of meditation or certain levels of stress could trigger increased production of DMT and possibly the onset of powerful visions and otherworldly experiences.

A brand-new documentary discussing Dr. Strassman's theories, and the implications of DMT in general, based upon and named after Dr. Strassman's book The Spirit Molecule, is currently being released.

The implications of this theory, as well as the very interesting ties to ancient Egypt discussed in the remaining segments of the video above, are fascinating to consider, whether one accepts them or not. Another important theme of this blog and my book is the importance of considering alternative theories and examining all the available evidence for and against them, rather than rejecting them out of hand as is too often the case today. Thor Heyerdahl's approving reference to a quotation by Edgar Smith Craighill Handy is worth repeating in this context: "There is such a variety of possibilities open in the matter of relationships and derivations that my own feeling is that there is only one sure way of being in the wrong, and that is by asserting dogmatically what is not true" (cited in American Indians in the Pacific 8).

If a naturally-occurring chemical compound is in fact responsible for mystic visions and concepts of otherworldly beings and an afterlife, does this mean that critics can dismiss the reality of a soul and a spirit world, mystical revelation, and other related concepts as mere figments of a chemically-induced altered state of consciousness?

One strong argument against Darwinian evolution is the extensive evidence for a spiritual aspect to human existence. Spirits or souls cannot really be explained by Darwinian evolution at all, which is why the existence of such concepts is vehemently rejected by most Darwinian apologists. If any supernatural experiences can be attributed to naturally-occurring hallucinogenic compounds, perhaps produced by the pineal gland, then this would appear to be a powerful new argument in the evolutionists' arsenal.

However, there are several counters to this line of argument as well. First and most obvious among them is the possibility that naturally-occurring DMT is not responsible for visions at all (this hypothesis is still speculative and has not been proven). Another counter is the fact that some DMT users (and near-death experience survivors) appear to have experienced things that they would not be expected to know or that their brains could not be expected to have "dreamed up," whether under the influence of a chemical or not. There are also other evidences of spiritual aspects to the human experience which do not seem to rely upon altered states of reality among those who experience them (for instance, some of the physical feats performed by yogis, fakirs, or advanced martial artists). Finally, there is the entire discussion in the final videos of the series above in which doors and passwords for use in the afterlife are discussed, and the insightful comment of the narrator at the beginning of the discussion that such knowledge, in order to be useful, implies the transmission of data and knowledge from someone or something from the "other side."

Again, to discuss these things is not to imply agreement with or acceptance of everything that is discussed. However, it is a fascinating layer of analysis of a very ancient civilization, and an important line of clues into their "technologies" (technologies not only in the sense in which we commonly use the word, but also in the sense that martial arts and other forms of human achievement and science can be thought of as technology). It is important that researchers and analysts such as John Anthony West, Rick Strassman, and the others involved in the video and in ongoing investigations continue to probe in new and unconventional directions, because one never knows what will be discovered and when a new breakthrough might occur.

We should all be stimulated to apply our own gifts and areas of expertise in the same way to areas of research or analysis to which we are drawn, as the mystery of human existence and mankind's ancient past is too big for any one individual to decode in its entirety.