Saturday, November 03, 2007

Strange burial positions reveal infomation about Pacific island life

Analysis of strange burial positions and skeletons’ teeth has given clues about earliest Pacific Island society, according to new research.

The research team, led by Durham University, United Kingdom, analysed skeletons’ teeth from seventeen excavated skeletons who were found in some unusual burial positions at the earliest ancient cemetery in the Pacific. The scientists identified a small group of immigrants, mostly buried with the head to the south, and one with three heads on his chest.

The results from the team’s analysis strongly suggest that some had migrated from distant coastal locations, potentially as far away as Southeast Asia. The new discovery gives further insight into the colonists of the Pacific islands.

The scientists from Durham, Otago and Australian National universities, whose paper is published in American Antiquity, analysed the strontium, carbon and oxygen isotope signatures of the teeth giving the researchers vital information about their geological origin, their diet and likely source of their drinking water.