Skip to comments.Archaeology Find Redefines Fijian History Of First Peoples
Posted on 08/25/2002 4:40:43 PM PDT by blam
Mon, Aug 26 2002 8:34 AM AEST
Archaeology find redefines Fijian history of first peoples
The discovery of a skeleton on a Fijian island has fuelled speculation that the first people to inhabit the archipelago arrived 3,000 years ago, 500 years earlier than previously thought.
Prominent South Pacific islands' geoscientist William Dickinson, from the University of Arizona, described the find as "the most important scientific discovery of its kind in Fiji for the past 30 years".
Discovered by 15 University of the South Pacific geography students at Moturiki Island, the two-metre skeleton is believed to be of Solomon Islands origin.
Samples from the skeleton will be sent to New Zealand for radiocarbon dating, with results that could prove the estimated age of the male as 3,000 years are expected by Christmas.
"This discovery is of fundamental importance because it informs Pacific islands people of their true history... where they came from, when this happened and who else in the region they are related to," excavation project leader, Professor Patrick Nunn, said.
Geography student find
First-year Solomon Islands geography student, Chris Suri, stumbled on the skeleton beneath 60 centimetres of undisturbed sand and slit clay.
"I was very excited and finding something is very good, I was at the right place at the right time, that's all," Mr Suri said.
Mr Suri named the skeleton "Mana", meaning "the truth" in his native dialect.
The students also found stone tools, shellfish and pottery shards featuring some of the most intricate designs typical of the Lapita people [the first settlers of the Pacific], around Mana.
"We believe that it represents a burial of Lapita age, between 1,000 BC and 800 BC we estimate," Professor Nunn said.
"If this is correct than it will be only the second Lapita-age skeleton ever discovered in the Pacific Islands," he said.
Lapita site find
The first Lapita site discovery occurred at Natanuku Village in Ra decades ago and established the Lapita people, natural seafarers sailing across uncharted waters in this region for thousands of years, reached the Fiji islands around 2,500 years ago.
From the surroundings and manufacturing stone slabs found at the Mana site, Professor Nunn said the belief was that his people lived at the site for about 400 years surviving on the bountiful untouched lagoon filled with a wide variety of seafood.
"Mana was buried east-west, his head lies in the west, his feet in the east - this is a common burial practice for ancient skeletons in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands," Professor Nunn said.
"His head was raised, resting on the upper part of the torso.
"At first we thought that the head had been detached from the body and placed there.
"Now we think that, like for many ancient burials in the Eastern Solomon Islands, Mana was buried wearing an elaborate headdress which is why his head could not lie flat with the rest of his body," he said.
Professor Nunn estimates the Lapita people who originally lived at Naitabale numbered around 20 to 30 people, which gradually increased to around 50 to 80; their homes between 80 to 100 metres apart.
The occupation of Naitabale by the group ended about 2,000 years ago.
Their descendants continued to make pottery but the designs died out.
Designs on pottery shards mostly depicted faces indicating a probable widespread face-tattooing culture that were transferred to pots as reminders to relatives after death.
"Most designs are parts of faces, it is likely that these faces represented ancestors of the people who made them and that the pots decorated in this way became part of a quasi-religious cult," Professor Nunn said.
"In support of this, we noted that none of the intricately-decorated pottery we found was blackened as it would have been were it used for cooking... intricately-decorated pots were for ceremonial or cultural purposes.
"At the moment, we tentatively conclude that the oldest Lapita pottery found at Naitabale was probably imported from the Santa Cruz-Reef Islands area of eastern Solomon Islands about 1,250-1,000 BC.
"This makes it the oldest Lapita pottery found in Fiji, marking the first footprints in these islands," he said.
Yup. I expect he'd be Ainu/Jomon. (Same stock as Kennewick Man, Spirit Cave Man and Buhl Woman) Just a guess.
Yup. I have or have read most of his books.
Gloria Farley would be interested also.
They did a DNA analysis of Kennewick Man and declared the results inconclusive. (I suspect that they did not fit the expectations of certain groups. BTW, this case is still in court)
That's a new one for me. I printed it out for more careful reading...
Sounds like they have prejudged the results before performing the test. If the DNA fits the A, B, C, or D category, case closed. If it doesn't, then the results are either inconclusive or just plain wrong.
In other words, heads the Indians win, tails European ancestors lose.
Others like Kennewick Man
About seven skeletons the age of Kennewick man have been found in North America. All have proto-Caucasoid features (Caucasoid features so generic that they can not be traced to any definite Caucasian ethhnic group) , in varying degrees. None closely resembles modern Native Americans.
Several possible explanations for these finds have been put forward.
One is that the earliest immigrants to the Americas came from Europe, perhaps by walking from Norway to Newfoundland on the North Atlantic, which was frozen solid 16,000 years ago. Evidence for this theory comes from the Clovis spearpoints made in North America 11,000 years ago, which more closely resemble the stone tools of Europe than Asia.
Another possible explanation, supported by more recent studies, is that 9000 years ago, all Eurasians had some Caucasoid features. Recent examinations of a cast of Kennewick Man's skull point toward Ainu or Polynesian, rather than European, features.
Perhaps. However, I always assumed that they came by way of the Atlantic and then up the Amazon...but, what do I know?