November 16, 2012

High precision dating: first Polynesian settlement was in 2838±8 BP

That si Nukuleka, Tonga, and translates as 888±8 BCE (remember that BP means "before 1950").

David Burley et al., High Precision U/Th Dating of First Polynesian Settlement. PLoS ONE 2012. Open access ··> LINK [doi]

Abstract

Previous studies document Nukuleka in the Kingdom of Tonga as a founder colony for first settlement of Polynesia by Lapita peoples. A limited number of radiocarbon dates are one line of evidence supporting this claim, but they cannot precisely establish when this event occurred, nor can they afford a detailed chronology for sequent occupation. High precision U/Th dates of Acropora coral files (abraders) from Nukuleka give unprecedented resolution, identifying the founder event by 2838±8 BP and documenting site development over the ensuing 250 years. The potential for dating error due to post depositional diagenetic alteration of ancient corals at Nukuleka also is addressed through sample preparation protocols and paired dates on spatially separated samples for individual specimens. Acropora coral files are widely distributed in Lapita sites across Oceania. U/Th dating of these artifacts provides unparalleled opportunities for greater precision and insight into the speed and timing of this final chapter in human settlement of the globe.

Very handy after the recent endless circular discussions. Polynesians this? Polynesians that? Polynesians only since 890 BCE, not before! Earlier related cultures of Lapita were not yet Polynesians but generically Oceanic and mostly of Melanesian stock.

Importantly there are good reasons to consider Nukuleka as the founder site of Polynesia:

The status of Nukuleka as a founder colony is verified through four lines of evidence. First, while limited, Nukuleka radiocarbon dates are the earliest for any Lapita site in Polynesia (Table S1). Second, decorated ceramics from Nukuleka incorporate an assemblage of Lapita wares similar to those recovered from earlier Lapita sites in island Melanesia to the west of Tonga. These are markedly different from later Lapita ceramics in West Polynesia, and Nukuleka is the only site in West Polynesia where these early ceramics occur [9]. Third, a subset of the ceramic assemblage with the earliest Lapita designs is foreign to Tonga, based on petrographic analysis of ceramic temper sands and sherd geochemistry [4]. These pots were transported from the ancestral homeland of the Nukuleka colonizers, a homeland that has yet to be identified. And fourth, the settlement at Nukuleka expanded over a 20 ha area on the Nukuleka Peninsula during the 200–250 year period of Lapita occupation [9]. Nukuleka became a central place for Lapita peoples in West Polynesia as well as a gateway community for expanded settlement.

So it is very likely that the somewhat famed founder effects of Polynesians peoples (Y-DNA C2a and O3a2, mtDNA B4a1a1) were dominant already at this site in this date. However I must say that a second founder effect at nearby Samoa (not considered here), which has a much more similar Y-DNA to Eastern Polynesia, can be taken for granted also.

See also:

10 comments:

  1. Quite credible in all respects

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    1. Yeah, nothing new... but extremely precise.

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  2. "first Polynesian settlement was in 2838±8 BP"

    Now, settle down Maju. That is extremely close to the date we agreed upon for the settlement of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

    "Second, decorated ceramics from Nukuleka incorporate an assemblage of Lapita wares similar to those recovered from earlier Lapita sites in island Melanesia to the west of Tonga".

    Note: 'earlier Lapita sites', '. Not 'Late Lapita sites', the style that moved back from Vanuatu and Santa Cruz after the Early Lapita had spread through New Caledonia and Vanuatu. The date in this post shows clearly that the Eastern Lapita, which gave rise to the Polynesians, had nothing to do with the Late Lapita. That is what I've been trying to get through to you for years and years.

    "Earlier related cultures of Lapita were not yet Polynesians but generically Oceanic and mostly of Melanesian stock".

    Have you forgotten already that the Lapita barely touched the Solomons on its way out to Remote Oceania? How can the Lapita cultures that gave rise to the Polynesians be 'mostly of Melanesian stock' when they barely met any islands containing 'Melanesian stock'. And we have the recent paper claiming Hawaiians are only about one third Melanesian, not 'mostly Melanesian'. The Remote Oceanic 'Melanesian' element is obviously the product of later movement from the Northern Solomons.

    "So it is very likely that the somewhat famed founder effects of Polynesians peoples (Y-DNA C2a and O3a2, mtDNA B4a1a1) were dominant already at this site in this date".

    Again, exactly what I've been trying to tell you for years and years. Finally. They were 'dominant' because the Melanesian haplogroups had not yet reached as far as where-ever these Nukuleka had come from. Probably somewhere in Vanuatu of in Fiji itself. Anyway, 'Founder effect' applies when just a sampling of the haplogroups available reach a new region. Can the presence of Y-DNA C2a and O3a2, and mtDNA B4a1a1 in Tonga really be called a 'founder effect' when they were the only haplogroups available at the time to enter Polynesia? The other haplogroups now present in Vanuatu, and even in Fiji, had not yet reached those places.

    "However I must say that a second founder effect at nearby Samoa (not considered here), which has a much more similar Y-DNA to Eastern Polynesia"

    The same haplogroups you suggest were dominant in Tonga simply become even more dominant as you move into Samoa and beyond. Nothing 'founder effect' about it at all.

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    1. Will you for once shut up? I have decided to ignore you because you do not debate in good faith. That's all.

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  3. And you refuse to accept anything that doesn't fit your preconceived beliefs. Just try to accept you could be wrong for once.

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  4. A little more on the subject, for your information. I've returned to this 2009 paper:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982209021204

    This comment is relevant:

    "Archaeological data suggest that the initial occupation of Oceania during the Pleistocene only reached as far as Near Oceania with respective sites from mainland New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago as well as Buka Island of the northern Solomons [4] and [48], but there is no archaeological evidence that any island in Remote Oceania was reached before 3.2 kya [54]. Hence, archaeological evidence shows that the biogeographic boundary separating Near from Remote Oceania seemed to have served also as a border for human migration for many thousands of years, most likely because of large inter-island distances together with the lack of appropriate boat technology at the time".

    But to the main point: you have always claimed that mt-DNA is a better indicator of human history than is Y-DNA. From the mt-DNA map we see immediately that the 'Melanesian' haplogroups are variably distributed through Remote Oceania. We have a complex history of expansion through the region. The Melanesian haplogroups M28, P1 and Q2 are present all through non-Polynesian Remote Oceania from Santa Cruz in the north to New Caledonia in the south to Fiji in the east. M28 looks to have originated in the Bismark Archipelago, but did not reach Polynesia. P1 is basically absent from the Solomon Islands, or even the Admiralties, Bismarks and Bougainville. It is most likely from Mainland New Guinea and not associated with the Early Lapita. It is absent from Polynesia. I'll return to Q soon. Apart from the above haplogroups M27 in Remote Oceania is found in small numbers only in New Caledonia but is common in Bougainville and the Northern Solomons, regions avoided by the early Lapita people. Its expansion is most easily explained as being later than the early Lapita. M29 is, surprisingly, absent from Santa Cruz, a region where Early Lapita is well documented. Again its expansion appears to be unrelated to the early Lapita. M29 is the sister haplogroup to Q. Q3 is found only in New Guinea, so Q as a whole probably originated there and is the mainland version of M29'Q. Although Q1 is widespread through New Guinea and the Northern Solomon Islands, including the Admiralty Islands, and is the only Q haplogroup to make it to Polynesia, it is present in Remote Oceania only in Fiji and Santa Cruz. It must have reached Fiji direct from there. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the migration routes taken by Melanesian haplogroups through non-Polynesian Remote Oceania were complex, and probably multiple. Certainly not related to the early Lapita.

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    1. You're just fighting all the time: looking for how to bend the available data to your model.

      I'm not interested.

      I just wish you'd do that elsewhere.

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  5. "looking for how to bend the available data to your model".

    I have not bent the data in the slightest. I have merely pointed out where the data fails to fit your preferred model, but you made up your mind long ago, like some fundamentalist preacher.

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    1. The way you "debate" we can continue (as we have often done) running in circles forever. I'm not going to play that game anymore.

      Just agree to disagree.

      Delete
  6. "The way you 'debate' we can continue (as we have often done) running in circles forever".

    We run in circles because you seem desperate not to be influenced by any actual evidence. Yet you can write, 'looking for how to bend the available data to your model'. It is you who bends, or more often ignores, the evidence. You have been able to maintain your position only by studiously ignoring vast swathes of evidence that don't fit your belief. For example you have completely ignored the actual distribution of, and distinction between, Early and Late Lapita pottery, yet have pontificated on what the pottery shows. You have carefully avoided any consideration of the actual distribution of the various Melanesian haplogroups, yet have been more than happy to offer suggestions as to what the distribution indicates. And you have totally dismissed 50 years of archeological and genetic research into Polynesian origins, simply because that research fails to fit what you would prefer to believe.

    So, congratulations. As a consequence of all your effort you have managed to emerge with your belief system intact.

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