TPO The Origin of the Pacific Island People

The greater Pacific region, traditionally called Oceania, consists of three cultural areas: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Melanesia, in the southwest Pacific, contains the large islands of New Guinea, the Solomons, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. Micronesia, the area north of Melanesia, consists primarily of small scattered islands. Polynesia is the central Pacific area in the great triangle defined by Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand. Before the arrival of Europeans, the islands in the two largest cultural areas, Polynesia and Micronesia, together contained a population estimated at 700,000.

Speculation on the origin of these Pacific islanders began as soon as outsiders encountered them; in the absence of solid linguistic, archaeological, and biological data, many fanciful and mutually exclusive theories were devised. Pacific islanders were variously thought to have come from North America, South America, Egypt, Israel, and India, as well as Southeast Asia. Many older theories implicitly deprecated the navigational abilities and overall cultural creativity of the Pacific islanders. For example, British anthropologists G. Elliot Smith and W. J. Perry assumed that only Egyptians would have been skilled enough to navigate and colonize the Pacific. They inferred that the Egyptians even crossed the Pacific to found the great civilizations of the New World (North and South America). In 1947 Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl drifted on a balsa-log raft westward with the winds and currents across the Pacific from South America to prove his theory that Pacific islanders were Native Americans (also called American Indians). Later Heyerdahl suggested that the Pacific was peopled by three migrations: by Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest of North America drifting to Hawaii, by Peruvians drifting to Easter Island, and by Melanesians. In 1969 he crossed the Atlantic in an Egyptian-style reed boat to prove Egyptian influences in the Americas. Contrary to these theorists, the overwhelming evidence of physical anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology shows that the Pacific islanders came from Southeast Asia and were skilled enough as navigators to sail against the prevailing winds and currents.

The basic cultural requirements for the successful colonization of the Pacific islands include the appropriate boat-building, sailing, and navigation skills to get to the islands in the first place; domesticated plants and gardening skills suited to often marginal conditions; and a varied inventory of fishing implements and techniques. It is now generally believed that these prerequisites originated with peoples speaking Austronesian languages (a group of several hundred related languages) and began to emerge in Southeast Asia by about 5000 B.C.E. The culture of that time, based on archaeology and linguistic reconstruction, is assumed to have had a broad inventory of cultivated plants including taro, yams, banana, sugarcane, breadfruit, coconut, sago, and rice. Just as important, the culture also possessed the basic foundation for an effective maritime adaptation, including outrigger canoes and a variety of fishing techniques that could be effective for overseas voyaging.

Contrary to the arguments of some that much of the Pacific was settled by Polynesians accidentally marooned after being lost and adrift, it seems reasonable that this feat was accomplished by deliberate colonization expeditions that set out fully stocked with food and domesticated plants and animals. Detailed studies of the winds and currents using computer simulations suggest that drifting canoes would have been a most unlikely means of colonizing the Pacific. These expeditions were likely driven by population growth and political dynamics on the home islands, as well as the challenge and excitement of exploring unknown waters.

Because all Polynesians, Micronesians, and many Melanesians speak Austronesian languages and grow crops derived from Southeast Asia, all these peoples most certainly derived from that region and not the New World or elsewhere. The undisputed pre-Columbian presence in Oceania of the sweet potato, which is a New World domesticate, has sometimes been used to support Heyerdahl’s “American Indians in the Pacific” theories. However, this is one plant out of a long list of Southeast Asian domesticates. As Patrick Kirch, an American anthropologist, points out, rather than being brought by rafting South Americans, sweet potatoes might just have easily been brought back by returning Polynesian navigators who could have reached the west coast of South America.


speculation 推测

solid 坚实的

fanciful 空想的

exclusive 排外的,互斥的

devise 创造

implicitly 含蓄的

deprecate 强烈反对,抨击

drift 漂流 adrift 漂泊的

raft 竹筏

overwhelming 压倒性的

prevailing 流行的

marginal 微不足道的

implement 工具,实现

canoe 小舟

maroon 困住

feat 壮举,功绩

expedition 探险

derive 从...起源

undisputed 不可辩驳的




  1. Direction: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage.

Together, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia make up the region described as the Pacific islands, or Oceania.

  • A. The first Europeans to reach the area assumed that the islands’ original inhabitants must have drifted to Oceania, perhaps from Egypt or the Americas.
  • B. It is now believed that the process of colonization required a great deal of skill, determination, and planning and could not have happened by chance.
  • C. Using linguistic and archaeological evidence, anthropologists have determined that the first Pacific islanders were Austronesian people from Southeast Asia.
  • D. New evidence suggests that, rather than being isolated, Pacific islanders engaged in trade and social interaction with peoples living in Southeast Asia.
  • E. Although early colonizers of the islands probably came from agriculture-based societies, they were obliged to adopt an economy based on fishing.
  • F. Computer simulations of the winds and currents in the Pacific have shown that reaching the Pacific islands was probably much easier than previously thought.


从文章题目可知可能是现象解释,对太平洋岛人起源的探究解释。 首段介绍太平洋的地理背景信息,人口数量信息。 二段介绍对岛人起源的早期研究。末句用证据驳斥了这些早期理论。 三段说早期航行来到这里的技术条件,说来自东南亚的A人有这些条件。 四段延续三段说A人的航行动机,现在的研究驳斥早期研究。 引导句是对首段背景信息的概括。正确答案应为以后各段的主旨。 A(the first)选项对应原文第二段的前半部分,正确。 B(it is now)选项对应原文第三段,正确。 C(using)选项对应原文第二段最后一句及三四两段,正确。 D(new)选项不对,原文只是说甜土豆是可能是从南美带来的,而且还提出可能是岛民自己带回来的,不是什么贸易,不选。 E(although)选项原文没说,不选。 F(computer)选项与第四段中的一个细节矛盾,原文说drifting conoes would have been a most unlikely means , 不是更容易,不选。


To baldly -_- go no man has gone before