Skip to comments.3,000-Year-Old Bodies Studied in Australia
Posted on 08/27/2004 7:27:50 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
3,000-Year-Old Bodies Studied in Australia
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SYDNEY, Australia - Headless bodies buried 3,000 years ago in the oldest cemetery in the Pacific could reveal much about the earliest settlers of Vanuatu, Fiji and Polynesia, Australian archeologists said on Friday.
The burial site which was accidentally uncovered by a bulldozer driver building an embankment for a prawn farm contains the oldest human remains yet found in the region.
Archeologists say the discovery will unearth many clues about the appearance and culture of the Lapita people some of the earliest settlers of the Pacific islands and believed to be ancestors of the region's Polynesian people.
"This is easily one of the most significant sites of the Pacific," Matthew Spriggs, a lead archaeologist in the joint study by the Australian National University and the Vanuatu National Museum, said in a statement.
He said the skeletons would show archeologists what Lapita people, thought to have originated in Southeast Asia, would have looked like, and the way they were buried likely will shed light on aspects of their culture.
All of the adult skeletons at the burial site were missing heads, Spriggs said. Archaeologists working at the site found the heads had been removed from the bodies sometime after burial and were replaced with shell bracelets.
Spriggs' statement did not suggest why the heads were removed from the bodies and he could not immediately be reached for comment.
Spriggs said so few remains of the Lapita people had been discovered at other archaeological sites that researchers had previously thought they must have been buried at sea.
"At this site, everywhere we put a hole we dug up bodies," Spriggs said.
Only primitive and barbaric people cut off heads like that.
accidentally uncovered by a bulldozer driverSounds like we've gotten to the bottom of the headlessness...
27.08.2004 4.25 pm
CANBERRA - Headless bodies buried 3000 years ago at the oldest cemetery found in the Pacific Islands were set to reveal the secrets of the first humans to colonise Vanuatu, Fiji and Polynesia, an Australian research team said.
The Australian National University (ANU) team said today traces of the Lapita people, who are the ancestors of all Pacific Islanders beyond the Solomons, had been found in more than 100 other archaeological digs across the region.
But few human remains had been found until the latest dig in Vanuatu.
The work has been co-ordinated by ANU archaeologist Professor Matthew Spriggs and the Vanuatu National Museum.
"Pottery found at the site dates back to 1200 BC - 200 years earlier than it was previously thought the Lapita people had arrived in Vanuatu, and the discovery of 13 skeletons has suddenly opened a rich vein of information about these ancestors of all Polynesians," Prof Spriggs said in a statement.
"This is easily one of the most significant sites in the Pacific. It is the oldest cemetery and contains the earliest group of human remains ever discovered in the region."
Prof Spriggs said finding remains of Lapita people was rare. In fact, so few remains had been found at other sites that it was thought they must have been buried at sea.
"At this site, everywhere we put a hole we dug up bodies," he said.
"Not only is the discovery significant, because unearthing so many bodies offers the first chance to see what the Lapita people would have looked like, but the cemetery also revealed a great deal about their culture through the way the bodies were buried."
He said all the adult skeletons were missing their heads.
The archaeological team found the heads had been removed some time after the bodies had been first buried, with shell bracelets put in their place.
Prof Spriggs said the site was discovered accidentally by a bulldozer driver building an embankment for a prawn farm.
He said the discovery would not have come to light without an earlier ANU training program he conducted which taught archaeology to field workers and staff from the Vanuatu National Museum.
A field worker from the same village as the driver realised the significance of a piece of pottery he had kept from the site and reported the find.
Thanks for the articles!--most interesting.
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