There have been numerous attempts to decipher the rongorongo script of Easter Island since its discovery in the late nineteenth century. As with most undeciphered scripts, many of the proposals have been fanciful. Apart from a portion of one tablet which has been shown to deal with a lunar calendar, none [...]
When I asked Joseph what the biggest changes have been in the last 20 years he said “young people playing ukuleles”.
Was this a problem? I asked rather jokingly.
“Well,” he [...]
The pristine island ecosystems of East Polynesia were among the last places on Earth settled by prehistoric people, and their colonization triggered a devastating transformation. Overhunting contributed to widespread faunal extinctions and the [...]
National Geographic has a fantastic special edition on the Lapita culture and the settlement of Polynesia:
Much of the thrill of venturing to the far side of the world rests on the romance of difference. So one feels a certain sympathy for Captain James Cook on the day in 1778 that he “discovered” Hawaii. [...]
There’s a rather fascinating article in Marie Clare (!?) about Kayan refugees in Thailand being forced to show off their native dress in a “human zoo”:
Zember, a quick-witted young woman with a cheerful, oval face, doesn’t want to be a human exhibit. Ever since she was 5, she has worn brass rings [...]
Today’s Nature covers the controversy about the recent paper Small-bodied humans from Palau, Micronesia by Berger et al. Last month, Berger and colleagues claimed that they’d found a collection of small bodied humans dating back between 940 and 2890 years (cal bp) in a burial cave in Palau:
Preliminary sampling of two burial caves [...]
William Thurston on the role of humor in language change in his 1987 book “Processes of Change in the languages of North-Western New Britain”:
Many linguistic innovations arise in the context of humor, a common mechanism for mediating interpersonal relationships. For example, in 1978, during my second trip to work with the Anêm, but Goulden’s [...]
The dispersal of the Austronesian language family from Southeast Asia represents the last major diaspora leading to the peopling of Oceania to the East and the Indian Ocean to the West. Several theories have been proposed to explain the current locations, and the linguistic [...]
Over the past few weeks the science-blog cadre has been squabbling about punctuated equilibrium (PE). Today, in a rather brilliant example of good timing – if I say so myself – some colleagues (Quentin Atkinson, Mark Pagel, Andrew Meade, Chris Venditti) and I have a paper showing that languages evolve in [...]
The always wonderful Fiona has let me know that the Montenegro et al paper simulating the arrival of sweet potato (kumara) in Polynesia has come out. We first mentioned this in may last year.
The sweet potato is a plant native to the Americas, and its pre-historic presence in Polynesia [...]