Thursday, June 07, 2007

Polynesian Chickens Beat Columbus

Genetic scientists are patting themselves on the back because of their recent research that suggests Polynesians were in the Americas at least a century before Christopher Columbus (somewhere the Basques, Vikings, Indians, and other groups are shrugging off the news). The proof the study cites is DNA evidence of a few ancient chicken bones found in Chile.

To old-school (Berkley-school cultural geographers) this is no surprise. George Carter wrote an essay entitled "Pre-Columbian Chickens in America" which discussed the similarities between Asian and American cultures dealing with chickens. In a short summary, cultural geographer Charles Gritzner wrote back in 1977 in "Chicken, worms, and a little bull: some animated perspectives on American history":


"Of paramount importance is that Asian chickens lay with brown shells, as did those found among the American Indians at the time of European Contact. Mediterranean chickens (those which could have been transported by Spaniards or Portuguese navigators), on the other hand, lay white-shelled eggs. Both Asian and American Indians used chickens for sacrifice, divination, curing, and other rituals. To eat chickens was an acceptable practice in Europe, whereas poultry flesh was avoided by Asians and Indians alike."


Gritzner went on to support the claim that Jomon people reached America as early as 3,200 BC. He links the pottery of the Valdivia culture of Ecuador to the Jomon culture of Japan.

For more on pre-Columbian Chickens in America scroll down to "Gallus gallus" in Scientific Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Voyages to and from the Americas or check out pages 16 and 17 from the sample of Poultry Breeding and Genetics.

1 comment:

Andy K said...

There is also the distribution of the sweet potato across Polynesia. One date mentioned in http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1984421 is 300 AD, so before the vikings...