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Journal Article

Lapita Migrants in the Pacific's Oldest Cemetery: Isotopic Analysis at Teouma, Vanuatu

R. Alexander Bentley, Hallie R. Buckley, Matthew Spriggs, Stuart Bedford, Chris J. Ottley, Geoff M. Nowell, Colin G. Macpherson and D. Graham Pearson
American Antiquity
Vol. 72, No. 4 (Oct., 2007), pp. 645-656
DOI: 10.2307/25470438
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25470438
Page Count: 12

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Topics: Tooth enamel, Isotopes, Polynesian studies, Sea water, Basalt, Limestones, Precipitation, Geology, Diet, Strontium
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Lapita Migrants in the Pacific's Oldest Cemetery: Isotopic Analysis at Teouma, Vanuatu
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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 (δ¹⁸O), and carbon (δ¹³C), 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 δ¹⁸O, are probably immigrants, three of which were buried in a distinctive position (supine, with the head to the south) with higher Ba/Sr and δ¹³C, 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. /// Teouma, sur l'île d'Efate, Vanuatu, est le site du cimetière le plus tôt pourtant découvert des colonisers d'Océanie à distance, tard deuxième millennium avant J.-C. Nous avons mesuré des isotopes de strontium, de carbone, et d'oxygène aussi bien que des oligoéléments (Ba, Sr) dans l'émail des dents des squelettes excavés dans la première et deuxième saisons de champ, pour étudier la migration potentielle de ces individus. Le faisceau de majorité avec l'isotope semblable et les rapports d'oligoélément, conformés à un régime des ressources marines complétées avec des plantes cultivées sur les sols basaltiques locaux. Quatre adultes, avec ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr et δ¹⁸O distinctifs, sont probablement les immigrés, dont trois ont été enterrés dans une position distinctive (en supination, avec la tête aux sud) avec un plus hauts Ba/Sr et δ¹³C, conformés à un régime plus terrestre que la majorité. Parmi ces derniers était un mâle enterré avec le crania de trois des individus local-soulevés sur son coffre.

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