5th Marianas History Conference Day 7 - 10

Page 165

Panel: Archaeology Across the Centuries

Origins of the People of the Mariana Islands

Ancient DNA Research and Archaeological Context

By Dr. Rosalind Hunter-Anderson and Joanne Eakin

With contributions by Miguel Vilar, David Reich, and Yue-Chen Liu

Abstract: Our team of archaeologists and geneticists is collaborating on three studies about the origins of the people of the Mariana Islands and their social and biological relationships with other groups across the western Pacific and Island Southeast Asia (ISEA). To date, we have recovered ancient DNA (aDNA) samples from Late Unai and Latte period individuals on Guam and from Latte period individuals on Saipan. The Late Unai samples are from ~2500-year-old burials, the oldest discovered in Micronesia. In this paper we present preliminary results of our research and show how Marianas archaeological context and aDNA results interrelate, challenging a failing narrative of CHamoru population origins in the Philippines c. 3500 before present.

Introduction

Our team of archaeologists and geneticists is collaborating on three studies about Mariana Islands population origins, movements, and past social and biological relationships with other groups across the western Pacific and Island Southeast Asia (ISEA).

Our primary objective for sampling human remains is to add to an accurate characterization of the prehistoric record of the people who began the journey into the Remote Pacific c. 3,500 years ago.

To date, we have recovered ancient DNA (aDNA) samples from 34 Late Unai and 55 Latte period individuals from Guam and from 35 Latte period individuals from Saipan. The Late Unai samples are from the Naton Beach site on Guam. The Late Unai burials are the earliest known burials in the Marianas. Carbon dates of Late Unai bone samples range between 2480 and 2635 +/- 20 years cal BP.

In this paper we present preliminary results of our research from Naton Beach and show how Marianas archaeological context and aDNA results interrelate, and challenge the narrative of CHamoru population origins in the Philippines c. 3500 years BP.