For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, a vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island. Until the arrival of European explorers, they were the only people to have lived there. Both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed people in the world before the era of mass migration, Polynesians can trace their roots to a group of epic voyagers who ventured out into the unknown in their double-hulled canoes in one of the greatest adventures in human history.
How did the earliest Polynesians find these far-flung islands? Where did they come from, and how did a people without writing, charts or metal tools conquer the largest ocean in the world? This conundrum, which came to be known as the Problem of Polynesian Origins, emerged in the eighteenth century as one of the great geographical mysteries of mankind.
For Christina Thompson, author, Harvard University Extension writing teacher, and editor of the literary journal Harvard Review, this mystery is personal: her Maori husband and their sons descend directly from these ancient navigators. In Sea People, Thompson explores the fascinating story of these ancestors by following the trail that so many sailors, linguists, archaeologists, biologists and geographers have puzzled over for three hundred years.
For the quick readers in the group, the November book club selection will be Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes the Past by Sarah Parcak.