28 Aug 2004

Archaeologists unearth Pacific's 'oldest burial site'

6:39 am on 28 August 2004

Australian archaeologists says their discovery of headless bodies in Vanuatu could reveal much about the earliest settlers of the region.

Researchers say the burial site contains bodies dating back 3-thousand years, believed to be the oldest human remains yet found in the region.

Archeologists say the discovery will unearth many clues about the appearance and culture of the Lapita people.

The Lapita are believed to be ancestors of the region's Polynesian people.

The lead archaeologist in the joint study by the Australian National University and the Vanuatu National Museum, Matthew Spriggs describes the site as one of the most significant in the Pacific.

Mr Sprigg says the skeletons will show archeologists what Lapita people, thought to have originated in Southeast Asia, would have looked like.

He says the way they were buried likely will shed light on aspects of their culture.