Both sexes were very expert at swimming, and appeared to be perfectly at ease in the water as on land - the men were admirable divers, if they saw anything at the bottom of the sea which attracted their notice, they would jump overboard instantly and bring it up.
Early Palauans may have come from Australia, Polynesia and Asia. Depending on the thread of the family, Palauans may indeed represent many parts of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. However, it is traditionally considered to be Micronesian. According to geneticists, there are two distinctive strains of Melanesian bloodlines: one is associated with indigenous Australians/Papua New Guineans and the other is known to have originated in Asia. There has not been any link established between the two.
Until recently, Palau was not considered a part of Micronesia. In the European and Australian world Belau/Pelew is better known by the name of "The Black Islands". Vintage maps and village drawings can be found at the Australian library online, as well as photos of the tattooed and pierced Ibedul of Koror and Ludee.
Carbon dating and
recent archaeological discoveries have brought new attention to the archipelago.
Cemeteries uncovered in islands have shown Palau has the oldest burial
ceremony known to Oceania. Prior to this there has been much dispute as
to whether Palau was established during 2500 BC or 1000 BC. New studies
seem to dispute both of these findings. Moreover, Palau's ancient trading
partner, Java, has also come under close scrutiny since Homo floresiensis
Wikinews has related news:
Bones of "small-bodied humans" found in cave
For thousands of years, Palauans have had a well established matrilineal society, believed to have descended from Javanese precedents. Traditionally, land, money, and titles passed through the female line. Clan lands continue to be passed through titled women and first daughters but there is also a modern patrilineal sentiment introduced by imperial Japan. The Japanese government attempted to confiscate and redistribute tribal land into personal ownership during World War II, and there has been little attempt to restore the old order. Legal entanglements continue amongst the various clans.
Historians take much interest in the navigational routes of European explorers. One such mystery has created much speculation as to whether Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos spotted the islands in 1543. No conclusive evidence exists but there are some who think he could have seen the tip of a southernmost island in the group.
Palau was one of the last of the South Sea islands to be discovered—not only due to a lack of navigation skill but because neighboring islands knew nothing about Melanesia. Palau had limited relations—mainly with Yap and Java.
Had it not have been for ship-wrecked islanders who accidentally took refuge in the Philippines, Europeans likely would not have found a route to Palau until much later. English Captain Henry Wilson also shipwrecked off the island of Ulong in 1783. Wilson dubbed Palau the “Pelew Islands”.
An Account of the Pelew Islands
Situated in the Western Part of the Pacific Ocean.
Composed from the Journals and Communications
of Captain Henry Wilson, and some of his officiers,
who, in August 1783, where there shipwrecked
in The Antelope, a packet belonging to
the Honourable East India Company,
G. Nicol, Pall Mall, London May 1st, 1788.