Are the "Ebu Gogo" really Homo Floresiensis?

Homo Floresiensis being the so-called ‘Hobbits’ discovered on Flores, Indonesia; little fellows who we know existed on the island about 13, 000 years ago, which is remarkably recent for another hominid species (if it is indeed a species).

The Nage people of the island have a folk myth of ‘Ebu Gogo’, dwarf-like bipeds fond of stealing stuff (a trait which lead to them being wiped out).

How likely are the two to be connected? Many cultures have a ‘little people’ myth without any actual evidence of an origin. 13, 000 years ago, whilst being very recent in evolutionary terms, is a long time for a mythos to carry on. Are there any actual examples of a ‘folk memory’ turning out to be based on factual events?

Most really old examples are pretty debatable. Noah’s flood may have been an actual event, ditto the Greek Invasion of Troy, but all of these are a) debatable and b) more recent then 13,000 years. I have trouble believing that a Nage myth has survived that long.

That said, the Nage claimed the Ebu Gogo survived till the advent of Europeans on the island, something like 500 years ago. That would certainly be in the range of folk-memory, though its a little hard to believe they were both that recent and haven’t left any more recent remains.

On the other hand, no one had any reason to look until recently, more recent remains might’ve been assumed to be human, and if they adopted the technologies of their more advanced neighbors, it might’ve been difficult to separate a mellenia old Hobbit site from a human one. I don’t think I’d call it likely, but I hope some Archaeologist out there is looking, as it would be interesting as hell to find a second homo species that survived to the historical era.

There are other cases of folk stories that might be real. Plato’s story of Atlantis could possibly be based on real volcanic islands in the Mediterranean, but it’s almost certain that many of the details aren’t accurate. Even that isn’t anywhere near 13,000 years old.

When Europeans arrived in Africa, they discounted fold stories about hairy ape-men and then later found out that gorillas really existed. I’m not sure if that fits the bill for the original question, though, since it wasn’t so much a memory as a story of a currently existing thing.

The real problem I have with the specific case in the OP is that I can’t think of any culture that DIDN’T have mischievous small people of one type or another - elf, brownie, leprechaun, dwarf, orc, goblin all fit that bill (at least they did before Tolkien redefined half of them). They weren’t small, but ogres, trolls, sphinxes and djinni (genies) also fit the archetype pretty well. So the archaeological and fossil evidence for the Hobbit-people needs to be analyzed on its own merits, without using folk stories to back it up. If we find evidence of Hobbit-people, then it might be worth taking a second look at the stories.

I would imagine a far more likely candidate for the origins of ‘little people’ myths is actual medical dwarfism. Apparently they were revered amongst the Egyptian people.

To the OP: No. Absolutely not. Others have given some logical reasons as to why not, but I just thought I’d throw my featherweight behind them (I’m a practicing academic folklorist).

Certainly if the Nage people had seen skeletal remains of the “hobbits,” it would lend credence to the existing beliefs, but between the duendes, luchorpáin, taotaomona, monachielli, brownies, piskies, nuno sa punso, etc., you’d either have to accept that (A) the Flores Island “hobbits” are the origin for all world folklore of little people (unlikely), (B) that there’s some other explanation common to the human experience (psychology, real dwarfism, children are small, etc.), or © that explanation B holds for the rest of humanity but not on Flores Island, where they independently came up with the same legendary creatures but based instead on something that ceased to exist hundreds of generations before they arrived at their current cultural paradigm. I think Choices A and C are vanishingly unlikely.

ETA: I have a quarrel with the “Atlantis is really a memory of volcanoes” too, but I’ve already gone into it on this board. Basically, although folklore can certainly reflect real, scientifically observable / testable things, the simplistic explanations that tie someone else’s cultural idea to a single dramatic historical event are usually either vastly simplified or flat-out wrong.

Before Tolkien, weren’t “orcs” sea-monsters rather than ugly humanoids?

No, ogres or demons. Or simply foreigners.

While not nearly as “cool” as what the OP is wondering about, this in itself would be pretty cool, IMHO. That their little-people legends might have been reinforced by real skeletal remains makes them unusual.

You’re both correct. Latin Orcus was a god of the underworld, depicted as “a hairy, bearded giant” in some Etruscan tombs (Dict. of Roman Religion, ed. Adkins). This passed to Old English orc “demon” (Clark-Hall’s dict.) and to French as ogre, which we also borrowed.

Latin orca is a kind of whale. There may or may not be a relationship between these two words.

Just to confuse the issue, in Irish, orc can mean “whale, sea monster,” an independent semantic development from “pig” (Irish orc is cognate with Latin porcus). Tolkien’s orcs come from #1, while the killer whale is from #2. Tolkien may or may not have known about #3.