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The Enduring Mysteries Of How Polynesia Was Settled12:50
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In this April 29, 2014 file photo, the Hokulea sailing canoe is seen off Honolulu. The Polynesian voyaging canoe is returning to Hawaii after a three-year journey around the world guided only by nature with navigators using no modern navigation to guide Hokulea across 40,000 nautical miles to 19 countries. Thousands are expected to welcome the double-hulled canoe to Oahu, Hawaii, on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Sam Eifling, File)
In this April 29, 2014 file photo, the Hokulea sailing canoe is seen off Honolulu. The Polynesian voyaging canoe is returning to Hawaii after a three-year journey around the world guided only by nature with navigators using no modern navigation to guide Hokulea across 40,000 nautical miles to 19 countries. Thousands are expected to welcome the double-hulled canoe to Oahu, Hawaii, on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Sam Eifling, File)
This article is more than 1 year old.

If you take planet Earth and draw lines on the surface from Hawaii, to New Zealand, to Easter Island, you'd draw the Polynesian triangle.

This scattering of small islands — in 10 million square miles of water — is home to a closely interconnected culture, separated by the sea.

The question of how people first settled the Pacific exploded into Western pop culture long before Moana ... in the 50's, when the Norwegian navigator Thor Heyerdahl released a documentary about his voyage from Peru to Raroia on his raft, the "Kon-Tiki."

Heyerdahl's ideas about people first settling the Pacific islands from South America have been debunked and discredited.

But the big question of exactly how people traveled to these remote and widespread islands thousands of years ago is still hotly debated.

Guest

Christina Thompson, editor of the Harvard Review and author of the new book "Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia." She tweets @cathompsn.

Christina Thompson will speak at the Concord Bookshop on Sunday, April 7, at 3 pm.

This article was originally published on March 29, 2019.

This segment aired on March 29, 2019.

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