Archaeologists working on the Pacific islands of Vanuatu have found the region’s oldest cemetery, and it’s filled with a slew of headless bodies.
The peculiar 3,000-year-old skeletons belong to the Lapita people, the earliest known inhabitants of the Pacific Islands. Their DNA could shed light on how the many remote island specks surrounding Vanuatu were colonized, the researchers say.
"Both Vanuatu and Western Polynesia were first settled by the Lapita culture but their populations are somewhat different genetically and this has not yet been explained," said dig leader Matthew Spriggs, an archaeologist with the Australian National University.
The Vanuatu burials—which include mismatching bodies and heads of individuals from different corners of the Pacific Islands—could help explain how everyone eventually ended up where they did, he said. [continue]