The Chamorro People of Guam and the Marianas

Chamorro people

Chamorro people

It’s interesting that the two main sites for Guam and their first inhabitants, the Chamorro [like tomorrow except chuh instead of of tuh], have rather different dates for their  arrival on the islands.  The amazingly informative Guampedia is quite sure they showed up around 4,000 BC, but Guam-Online (which has a clear pro-American soldier bias) says they didn’t show up until 2,000 BC.

I wonder where they got their dates from?  Could the older set be based on Radiometric Dating?

Anyway, these earliest people have a fascinating history.

We know they were excellent sea-farers:

boat at sunset

for real pictures follow the sea-farers link

A systematic migration to and settlement of the Mariana Islands, about 4,500 years ago, would not have been possible without some degree of sophistication regarding the ancient Chamorro settlers’ construction of seaworthy craft and their ability to navigate such vessels to and from these islands and their place of origin.

In English this means, if they hadn’t been really good at ship-building and sailing, they couldn’t have gotten to the places they did.  But we already knew that!

Wait a minute!  This article tells us they only got to the islands around 2,500 BC.  Someone didn’t give that author the memo!

They had a complex society from early on:

latte stone

latte stone, the symbol of the Chamorro people

In ancient Guam, Chamorro leaders were usually the oldest members of clans and were looked up to for their guidance and wisdom. The male leader of a clan is referred to as the maga’låhi (eldest son) and the female as maga’håga (eldest daughter). These leaders were held in high regard as they governed the clan for the benefit of the whole rather than the individual.

They worked out a good system to keep themselves fed and cared for:

According to archeological investigations at various sites in Guam, ancient Chamorros had good diets and ate nutritional foods. The earliest European visitors to the Marianas described the Chamorro natives as robust, corpulent and strong. Chamorros ate moderately and were, therefore, healthy, strong and lived to an old age. However, some archeological reports also show that islanders had periods of malnutrition and poor health.

Naturally, there were times of famine or disaster, but this sounds like a healthy bunch in general.

The thing that first caught my attention about them was

their pottery record.  Check this out:

pottery midden!

Guam pottery midden! (Photo credit: sandwichgirl)

the early pottery styles of the Pre-Latte Phase were thin, small vessels that were easy to carry and to transport small quantities of food and water from one place to another.  Such portable vessels were ideal for fishing and foraging societies constantly on the move to find food.  By 2000 years ago, changes in pottery forms began to appear, with the production of large, flat-bottomed vessels more suited for grilling or cooking.

That says it beautifully.  The first wave of settlement was prepared to pick up and go.  One thing they don’t seem to have been was stupid.  Have a look at this:

Over time the designs evolved from complex to simple patterns, and by AD 500 the decorated pots entirely drop from the ceramic sequence.

They “evolved” from complex to simple?  There’s something strange about that statement!  I thought things evolved from simple to complex!  Not only that, but the complex style went completely extinct after a while.  That sounds a lot more like devolution and decay to me.

Check out this short page describing the early, decorated form of pottery.  The shards are lovely.

One last quote:


Although we can never know what motivated or drove the people who eventually settled in the Marianas to leave their homelands to claim new lands, archeologists have tried to reconstruct what these early Pacific voyagers might have been like.

We know, we know!  God gave a command to all people to fill the earth and after the tower of Babel was stopped, they obeyed.

God began by making one man, and from him he made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would live.  Acts 17:26 Easy-to-read Version

Ancient Languages Were Related & Complex


Here are some links to get your brain juices flowing:


Study shows ancient relations between language families  This article uses a lot of big words, but the drawing of the language branches shows it all!

Primitive” cultures can still have the Most Complex Language in the World.  The article is only a few paragraphs long, but thinking about such complex communication might make your brain overheat!  Human language is always a complex thing and all people are created in the image of God.

Ancient Chinese writing, which is still plenty complicated today, was even more complex long ago:

“The general principles of construction of the Chinese written language have remained unchanged,” but variations have gone from “complex to simple construction, from irregular to stabilized forms, from formal to free lines, and from slow to rapid execution” (203).

If you look at the way people wrote long ago, they expected their people to be really smart to do the writing or even just to read it.  These writings weren’t hidden where just the fancy people could see them either, they were often on the sides of buildings or even on special pillars so everyone could see them.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them,… Genesis 1:26-28a

Dr. Walt Brown has a short page of quotes on Human Language in his online book In The Beginning.

For more on early language you could read this whole chapter from the book “Time and Eternity” by Arthur C. Custance, PhD:  Part V: The Confusion of Languages

I’ve also written an article called  Human Language for more.

Pyramids of Giza, Wikimedia

Quotes: Atlatl

Carved atlatl at the National Museum of Anthro...

Carved atlatl at the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.

To go with the article Ancient Technology: Atlatl, Super Weapon

Quote from, “The great innovation of Atlatl weights in the evolution of this technology bears the mark of true genius.”

Now that’s the right way to use the word Evolution!  It comes about by the application of intelligence.  In biology, Infinite Genius took no time at all to arrive at the best possible solution to the desired result.

Quote from Ingenium: Atlatl, “It seems that archaeologists had concluded that the atlatl really wasn’t a very good weapon. But when Bob started actually working with them he learned that by using a flexible dart instead of the rigid darts that the professional archaeologists had been using, the atlatl was revealed to be a very efficient weapon indeed.”

Once more we see that Evolutionary, ‘we’re the best there’s ever been,’ thinking turns out to be backwards.  The “primitives” were way smarter than Darwinian archeology gave them credit for.

Quotes from Dons Maps: Atlatl, “It launches projectiles at high speeds, kills at 40 metres and can even be fitted with a silencer. Kurt Kleiner reveals the surprising sophistication of a 25 000 year old weapon.”

Does it surprise you?  It doesn’t surprise me!  Check out what the same article says about modern engineers,

“he is one of a group of people who have been studying the mechanics of this primitive weapon and found it to be surprisingly sophisticated. Using modern engineering concepts and experimental techniques, they are rediscovering ancient construction methods that make subtle but important improvements to the weapon’s performance.”

I suppose this would have to be classified as “Paleo”mimicry?

Again from Dons Maps,

“According to archaeological evidence, the atlatl first made its appearance between 25 000 and 40 000 years ago in the region that today encompasses Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.”

But the World Atlatl site says that there is no proof of Atlatl use in Africa.  And Daryl Hrdlicka of the Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site says,

” While it was used extensively in North and South America, Australia, and Indonesia, the rest of the world seems to have missed it. Except for a few artifacts found in France, it’s not found in Europe; except for some Siberian Aleuts, it’s not found in Asia; and except for some references in Sumerian, it’s not found in Africa. These cultures seemed to go directly from spears to the bow.”

I think I’ll pass this on to my Ice Age collecting colleague, because many sites say the same thing as Dons Maps!

Also from Dons Maps,

“‘The physics and math is all in here,’ Perkins says, weighing an atlatl in his hand at a recent workshop on primitive technology held near Phoenix, Arizona. ‘It really impresses me, the ability of these ancient people to be able to do this. They certainly didn’t have calculus. Wave mechanics, they didn’t know that. But they knew intuitively.'”

Prove they didn’t know it! Which is easier, wave mechanics or earth wobble geometry? They knew how to measure the earth, build ocean going vessels and make accurate world maps, why not wave calculus?

I ran into a technical article on how precise you have to be in the size and length of dart points and shafts to keep your weapon effective.  Here is Bob Perkin’s closing statement, “A complete understanding  of this impressively complex weapon must be achieved before any single component can be properly analyzed. So long as it is thought of and referred  to a “spear thrower” that will never happen.”

This same guy had this to say about these people,

“I’ve made the study of atlatls and the technology they represent my life work.  Every time I think that I have learned or discovered nearly all there is to know about the physics of this most ancient of weapon systems, something new arises and I am humbled again by the obvious sophistication of the ancient mind.  Ancient people were every bit as intelligent as we are today. In fact H we were able to go back in time we would find a species as capable and intelligent as ourselves. Simply because we live in an age of super computers doesn’t mean that we possess the license to label primitive technology as crude or to claim that every idea we come up with today is original.”

Woo hoo! Whose Worldview is being proven accurate this time?

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.  Isaiah 45:9-12