A tentative prehistory of Tongareva suggests that the atoll was first settled in the thirteenth century or earlier, possibly from Samoa, with later arrivals from Aitutaki and Tahiti (via Rakahanga). Later still, there seems to have been contact with the Line Islands. The first recorded European sighting of the island occurred in 1788, and during the next sixty years traders, whalers, and explorers made at least nine further Contacts. Prior to the wreck of the Chatham in 1853, however, the islanders' (mistaken) reputation as cannibals kept these foreign contacts to a matter of hours. Sadly, within a decade of the Chatham's demise, introduced diseases, labor migration, and the depredations of Peruvian slave ships had reduced the population to about a third of its contact-era level.