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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.


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.