Of the great unsettled problems of archaeology and anthropology perhaps the most hotly debated has been the relative importance of migration, diffusion, and independent invention in the origin of culture elements. The question has obvious importance, both for a proper understanding of man and culture, that ambitiously comprehensive goal of modern anthropology, and for historical reconstruction, the latter a necessary preliminary of the former.

The concern of this thesis is with culture movement in the eastern Pacific Ocean area. The Pacific area as a whole has long been the geographical center of the diffusion problem (if we may so term it). Over the years advocates of the Old World origin of the ancient high cultures of the New World by migration or diffusion have advanced a large number of similarities common to Asia or Oceania, on the one hand, and the Americas, on the other, as evidence in support of their views. So far there has been no comprehensive recapitulation of the evidence. As a result independent-inventionist criticism has limited itself to a correspondingly unconvincing level. As a matter of fact it is not unwarranted to claim that the problem is still virtually unexplored on a systematic basis. It is the purpose of this work to begin such a systematic approach by setting forth a large body of the evidence for culture contacts across the Pacific for critical evaluation by students of culture. The magnitude of the cultural comparisons involved in such a project obviously requires that only certain portions of the general field be examined in this thesis.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Anthropology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Polynesians, Indians, culture