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LAPITA MIGRANTS IN THE PACIFIC’S OLDEST CEMETERY:ISOTOPIC ANALYSIS AT TEOUMA, VANUATU

Alexander Bentley, R.; Buckley, Hallie R.; Spriggs, Matthew; Bedford, Stuart; Ottley, Chris J.; Nowell, Geoff M.; Macpherson, Colin G.; Graham Pearson, D.

Authors

R. Alexander Bentley

Hallie R. Buckley

Matthew Spriggs

Stuart Bedford

D. Graham Pearson



Abstract

Teouma, an archaeological site on Efate Island, Vanuatu, features the earliest cemetery yet discovered of the colonizers of Remote Oceania, from the late second millennium B.C. In order to investigate potential migration of seventeen human individuals, we measured isotopes of strontium (87Sr/86Sr), oxygen (d18O), and carbon (d13C), as well as barium (Ba) and strontium (Sr) concentrations, in tooth enamel from skeletons excavated in the first two field seasons. The majority of individuals cluster with similar isotope and Ba/Sr ratios, consistent with a diet of marine resources supplemented with plants grown on the local basaltic soils. Four outliers, with distinctive 87Sr/86Sr and d18O, are probably immigrants, three of which were buried in a distinctive position (supine, with the head to the south) with higher Ba/Sr and d13C, consistent with a terrestrial, nonlocal diet. Among the probable immigrants was a male buried with the crania of three of the locally raised individuals on his chest.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2007
Journal American Antiquity
Print ISSN 0002-7316
Publisher Society for American Archaeology (SAA)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 72
Pages 645-656
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1536550