This paper explores the history of ideas of pre-Columbian trans-Pacific contact between Polynesia and the Americas proffered by European scholars during the nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries. It argues that certain foundations for trans-Pacific contact theory were laid during this time. These theories will be addressed from a history of archaeology perspective, thus uncovering connections across time and space. The International Congress of Americanists will be a central point of discussion in this paper. Since its’ inception in 1875, this congress has addressed the possibility of trans-Pacific contact from various perspectives. Its’ distinguished presenters have included Rivet and Heyerdahl, whose presentations have either contributed to the formation of universal notions surrounding trans-Pacific contact between the geographical areas mentioned above, or have been heavily critiqued. This paper will not only consider the role that knowledge production, data and evidence collection, formation of theories and construction of ideas have played in these theories, but will also take into account their socio-political and historical contexts.


Andrea Ballesteros Danel

Andrea is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. Her research project focuses on the history of ideas of trans-Pacific contact between Oceania and the Americas. 'Trans-Pacific Contact: The American Connection' is part of Prof. Matthew Spriggs' ARC Laureate Project 'The Collective Biography of Archaeology in the Pacific: A Hidden History' (CBAP). 


About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.


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