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Osteological description of the Lapita-associated human skeleton discovered on Moturiki Island, Fiji

Katayama, K. and Nunn, Patrick D. and Kumar, Roselyn R.D. and Matararaba, S. and Minagawa, M. and Oda, H. (2007) Osteological description of the Lapita-associated human skeleton discovered on Moturiki Island, Fiji. People and Culture in Oceania, 23 . pp. 73-98. ISSN 1349-5380

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Abstract

Very little is known about the nature of the first humans to occupy the western South Pacific islands, the so-called Lapita people. This is a final report on the osteological analysis of the skeleton named Mana, which was excavated at a Lapita Culture Complex site called Naitabale on Moturiki Island in central Fiji in 2002. The Mana skeleton was reasonably well preserved. The skull is without doubt the best preserved of the Lapita-associated human skeletons ever described. Its major parts were nearly intact and reconstructed to an almost complete state. The skeleton proved to be an approximately 40-60 year old female. Radiocarbon dating of the bone from the skeleton, and other archaeological considerations, place the burial around the middle of the first millennium BC (around 700BC). In the present paper, osteological features of the cranium, mandible and infracranial skeleton of Mana are described very precisely for detailed comparative studies in the future. The stature is estimated to be 161-164 cm, being quite tall for a female. Similar values were estimated for other prehistoric female skeletons in South Pacific regions such ad Fiji, Polynesia and Micronesia. There is no doubt that the dental health status of Mana was poor, and she suffered heavily from a range of dental diseases, such as advanced dental caries, extreme tooth wear, periodontal disease and subsequent pre-mortem tooth loss. Her skeleton is robust and suggests she led a very physical life for an aged woman. Several carnial and mandible characteristics indicate some similarity between Mana and prehistoric Polynesian skeletons, but it is premature to discuss affinities with other skeletal series, so at present only very limited comparisons are possible. In any case, this new skeleton is very important to the study of the people who lived during the Lapita period in the South Pacific.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: Office of the PVC (R&I)
Depositing User: Ms Mereoni Camailakeba
Date Deposited: 27 May 2007 16:19
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2012 16:13
URI: http://repository.usp.ac.fj/id/eprint/712
UNSPECIFIED

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