South American Balsas: The Problem of their Origin

By James Hornell, published November 1931


The article describes a ‘balsa’ wood “tied upon the outer side of each gunwale” of dug-out canoes. When and where were they first used; the first double outriggers? 19th-century European accounts exist of logs used in this way, along with the early modern experience of Spanish imperial explorers across the Pacific and from Central to South America. The author notes the spread of Polynesian culture into these areas, as evidenced by these accounts. There is also speculation of African trans-Atlantic origins as well as Asiatic through the Aleutians.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Prehistory | Pacific
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design

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