ABORIGINAL WATERCRAFT ON THE PACIFIC COAST OF SOUTH AMERICA.
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES-NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC FOREIGN FIELD RESEARCH PROGRAM
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Western South America, as a far and late end of human dispersal routes, is a suitable region from which to examine the significance of watercraft to early prehistoric migrations. Since archeological investigation has yielded little direct information on aboriginal vessel types except in Peru, European writings from times of first contact provide the best data. These are used to reconstruct aboriginal designs, methods of construction, uses and distributions. Inferences are drawn from modern observations of types that have persisted, and from records of others that became extinct in recent historical times. In both instances it was necessary to distinguish changes in design resulting from European influence. Historical records and modern observations are also used to demonstrate the nautical capabilities of the native inhabitants of Pacific South America. They possess a familiarity with the ways of the sea which long precedes the foreign influences of the past few centuries. Reconstruction of the aboriginal scene provides a basis for comparing vessel types and their uses with those from other parts of the world. Although worldwide data is insufficient for conclusions about watercraft dispersals, certain similarities suggest that western South American types have counterparts in the Old World with which they may share a common heritage.
- Humanities and History
- Marine Engineering