ANCIENT BONES COULD CAST NEW LIGHT ON FIJI

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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, July 4) – The recorded history of Fiji could change if five 3,000-year-old skeletons recently found at Natadola in Sigatoka are proven to be the first settlers in the country.

The skeletons are to be sent to Japan for assembling and further research.

A group of students from the University of the South Pacific and archaeologists from the Fiji Museum in Suva have been doing excavation work at Bourewa for the last two weeks.

USP professor in oceanic science and geography Patrick Nunn said lapita pottery found on the surface of the graves was almost 2,500 years old.

He said the skeletons were at least 3,000 years old.

Further research is to be done to determine where the people living in the area came from.

Professor Nunn said the people could have originally drifted out from South China or Taiwan and settled in Papua New Guinea before drifting to Fiji and other countries.

He said the findings could change the history of the country.

Fiji Museum archeologist Sepeti Matararaba said the findings were interesting and would give an insight into the first settlers.

He said the area beside the sea was occupied because a lot of pottery, hunting tools and ancient shell jewelry was found.

A postgraduate student for environmental science Ledua Kuilanisautabu said the findings had excited her and other local students.

She said the findings could lead back to the origins of the indigenous Fijians and how they lived in their early days.

Professor Nunn said more than 20 pits were dug after lapita was found in the area.

He said it would take at least a year to reassemble the skeletons, find out about their height and what they ate.

"This would be history in the making if it is proven that the skeletons are those who came to the country first.

"We also found 'obsidian' which is a rare volcanic glass found only in PNG.

"It is possible that the people from PNG carried the glass with them as a good luck charm or for traditional and cultural reasons."

July 5, 2005

Fiji Times: http://www.fijitimes.com/

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