Tom Koppel


Discovering the Ancient Pacific


  “a man of inquisitive mind and substantial beachcombing and sailing experience.  He tells his stories in an engaging style, be they of gathering clams on tidal flats or harrowing escapes from tidal races.  They are woven into a well-paced and thoughtful narrative…”  










Universityof the South Pacific Press 2012

Mystery Islands

Discovering the Ancient Pacific

Remote and lush, the Pacific islands have been a source of inspiration for artists and philosophers. Their idyllic beauty and, seemingly, uncomplicated, natural culture impressed Herman Melville, Paul Gauguin, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. But these far flung islands of the vast Pacific were located, settled and transformed by daring canoe voyageurs in one of the great unknown dramas of human history.

Tom Koppel, an adventurous traveler and author begins his story with the Lapita people who are the ancestors of today’s Polynesians and Micronesians. At the time Ramses II ruled Egypt 3400 years ago, the Lapita people set out on risky voyages in tiny, primitive craft, employing sophisticated navigation techniques.  They and their descendants discovered nearly every habitable speck of land from New Zealand to Hawaii, and remote Easter Island to the east, populating islands spanning one-third of the globe.

Koppel takes us on an exciting journey of discovery, deploying his own expertise as a mariner and charting the recent breakthroughs in genetics, radiocarbon dating, archaeology, and other sciences that cast new light on this great ocean-spanning civilization.

Tom Koppel is the author of Lost World: Rewriting Prehistory—How New Science is Tracing America’s Ice Age Mariners and Ebb and Flow: Tides and Life on Our Once and Future Planet.  Born and raised in New York, Koppel has a PhD in Political Science. He was assistant professor at Western Illinois University and State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Koppel has won awards from the Canadian Archaeological Association and the Canadian Science Writers’ Association. He has lived on the islands of the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years and has sailed extensively. When not travelling, he is based on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.


For a preview of Tom's adventures in the Pacific, click on this link to his article in the Canadian World Traveller Magazine:


Tom covers Thanksgiving in Hawaii for the LA Times: