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15 August 2011
Early settlers arrived in the Marianas 4000 years ago

The Marianas are among the first Pacific islands inhabited. Archaeologists discovered the Marianas archipelago's first inhabitants arrived around 2000 BCE, or 4000 years ago. In comparison, Hawaii's first inhabitants arrived 800 to 900 CE - 2200 years after the Marianas was inhabited.
     The Marianas' ancestors were in the first of three Pacific migrations. Professor Patrick V. Kirch of the University of California at Berkeley (USA) Archaeology Research Facility notes that humans settled Marianas and Palau no later than 1500 BCE and possibly as early as 2000 BCE.
     In the second of three migrations, Kirch continues, "Beginning 1300 BCE, the Lapita pottery-makers expanded rapidly beyond the Solomon Islands and into the southwestern archipelagoes of remote Oceania: Vanuatu, the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. Numerous radiocarbon-dated archaeological sites document that Lapita sites in all of these archipelagoes no later than 900 BCE."
     "The final stage in the human settlement of the Pacific Islands began after 500 BCE, with the Polynesian dispersals eastward out of Tonga and Samoa. Most agree that the central Eastern Polynesian archipelagoes (such as the Society Islands, Cook Islands, and Marquesas Islands) were settled first, no later than 300 CE and perhaps some centuries earlier. Remote Easter Island was discovered by 800-900 CE, while the Hawaiian Islands were also well settled by this date," Kirch added.
     Legends say the first inhabitants were giants called taotaomonas ('first people'). According to historian Pedro Sanchez, the Chamorros were different "in physical stature and culture, from islanders who populated Melanesia, the Philippines and other Micronesian islands, save perhaps the people of Kapingamarangi and its neighboring islands." Chamorro is classified under Austronesian languages.

Edited from Guampdn.com (13 August 2011)

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