History of Tonga

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The Kingdom of Tonga was first settled ~1500 BC by great seafarers associated with the Lapita diaspora,[1] and served (along with Fiji and Samoa) as a gateway into the rest of the Pacific region known as Polynesia.[2] Ancient Tongan mythologies recorded by early European "visitors" report the islands of 'Ata and Tongatapu as the first islands being hauled to the surface from the deep ocean by Maui,[3] or Tangaloa.[4]

Contents

Earliest Times

The dates of the initial settlement of Tonga are still subject to debate, nonetheless one of the oldest occupied sites is found in the village of Pea on Tongatapu. Based on radiocarbon dating of a shell found at the site dates the occupation at 3180 ± 100 BP (Before Present).[5] Some of the oldest sites pertaining to the first occupants of the Tongan Islands are found on Tongatapu which is also where the first Lapita ceramics were found by WC McKern in 1921.[6] Nonetheless, reaching the Tongan islands (without Western navigational tools and techniques) was a remarkable feat accomplished by the Lapita peoples. Not much is known about Tonga before European contact because of the lack of a writing system during prehistoric times other than the oral history told to the early European explorers. The first time the Tongan people encountered Europeans was in 1616 when the Dutch vessel Eendracht made a short visit to the islands to trade.hola espanol

Early Culture

Centuries before Westerners arrived, Tongans created large monumental stoneworks, most notably, the Haʻamonga ʻa Maui and the Langi (terraced tombs). The Haʻamonga is 5 meters high and made of three coral-lime stones that weigh more than 40 tons each. The Langi are low, very flat, two or three tier pyramids that mark the graves of former kings.

Tongan Maritime empire

By the 12th century, Tongans, and the Tongan kings, the Tu'i Tonga, were known across the Pacific, from Niuē, Samoa to Tikopia they ruled these nations for over 400 years, sparking some historians to refer to a "Tongan Empire," although it was more so a network of interacting navigators, chiefs, and adventurers. It is unclear whether chiefs of the other islands actually came to Tonga regularly to acknowledge their sovereign. Distinctive pottery and Tapa cloth designs also show that the Tongans have travelled from the far reaches of Micronesia, all the way to Fiji and even Hawaii.[citation needed]

European arrival and Christianisation

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