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Profs & Pints DC: The Peopling of Polynesia

Sunday, November 20 @ 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm

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Profs and Pints DC presents: “The Peopling of Polynesia,” a look at how ancient voyagers discovered and settled the islands of the Pacific, with Justin M. Jacobs, professor of history at American University and scholar of the history of archaeology and of the travels of Captain Cook.

As this event is in-person, we require all attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Nearly every inhabitable island throughout the vast Pacific Ocean, from New Zealand to Easter Island to Hawaii, was inhabited centuries before European explorers came along. They’d been settled by intrepid seafarers who had constructed watercraft from island trees and coconut husks, set out across thousands of miles of forbidding seas, and managed to establish new societies on distant shores.

Why risk such long and treacherous journeys? How did anyone ever survive such voyages and the challenges of creating new lives on new lands?

Come hear such questions tackled by Dr. Justin Jacobs, a historian of archaeology who has earned a loyal following among Profs and Pints fans with his talks on ancient China, the Silk Road, and the real-life explorers and plunderers who inspired the Indiana Jones films.

Professor Jacobs will describe how these ancient voyagers developed unprecedented knowledge of ocean swells, currents, cloud formations, astronomy, and migratory bird paths. They also undertook their incredible voyages in surprisingly swift fashion, first colonizing Tonga and Samoa around 1,000 BC and then later, between 700-1250 AD, finding new islands and fostering complex civilizations in Central and Outer Polynesia.

You’ll also learn how societies developed in different ways on different islands and yet retained some commonalities when it came to things like agriculture, burial practices, ancestor worship, tattoo design, and the ingestion of psychoactive substances.

This scholarly journey will take your mind back in time and to such places as Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti. You won’t need to journey any further than the Hill Center, just a block from the Eastern Market metro stop.

The fun will take place on our second-floor Abraham Lincoln Hall, with a bar set up near the entry.

(Advance tickets: $12. Door: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)


Sunday, November 20
3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Advance tickets: $12. Door: $15, or $13 with a student ID
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