In October a major academic paper was published in Nature, which solved many questions of the origins of Pacific peoples. Nature published “Genomic insights into the peopling of the Southwest Pacific”, based on a revolutionary study of ancient DNA from the Lapita skeletons from the Port Vila / Teouma burial site found during the 2004 to 2010 archaeological dig there. There are 31 authors to the paper, led by Pontus Skoglund of Harvard University, and directed by Ron Pinhasi and David Reich.
The foundation population of Vanuatu was probably directly from Taiwan or the northern Philippines and had bypassed New Guinea and the Solomons without initially any mixture with the ‘AustraloPapuans’ already there. All Ni-Vanuatu descend from these first migrants and from their later intermarriage with mixed Asian-Papuan groups who came down from the New Guinea and Solomons area. There are Asian Lapita genes in every Ni-Vanuatu, the mark of their earliest ancestors.
The original archaeological research carried out at Teouma was in response to damage to the site from soil quarrying for the Vanuatu prawn farm. The bulldozers had revealed skeletons and broken Lapita pots dating to almost 3000 years ago. This find was brought to the attention of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre (VKS) early in 2004. A joint project was begun at Teouma with the Australian National University, directed by Professor Matthew Spriggs and Dr Stuart Bedford, honorary curators of archaeology at the VKS. They are two of the 31 authors of the Nature paper and are the lead archaeologists on it.
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