- SUVA -- Mysterious skeletal
remains of what appears to be a 3,000-year-old giant have been unearthed
on a South Pacific islands, but the bones' discovery has rattled local
archaeologists who say poor treatment of the remains may have lost vital
- Little is known about the highly unusual find, which
includes a skull bearing strange holes drilled into its cheekbones, with
authorities keen to keep the controversial discovery under wraps. According
to sources, the body, found at Lomaiviti, an island to the north of here,
predates European exploration of the Pacific and it is believed the man
was originally from the Solomon Islands.
- The body was discovered last week by a Solomon Islander
from the University of the South Pacific (USP), alongside examples of Lapita
pottery -- artifacts created by a group of Melanesians believed to have
been the founders of modern Polynesia. Measuring 1.9 metres (six foot six),
the body is unusually large considering its age and origin.
- Pictures of its skull seen by AFP show the holed cheekbones,
a feature unseen in previous discoveries, according to Fiji Museum sources.
The head of pre-history archaeology at the museum, Sepeti Matararaba, said
the discovery of the body and pottery was "significant".
- "As for the skeleton remains, I will still have
to see it ... it is a significant find for us. "Studies done there
now would enlighten us more on the early travelling habits in those times.
We have found similar pottery on neighbouring islands of the group. "Once
they are dated, we can know the exact patterns of living and the kind of
activities during those early occupations. It is really very good news."
- But the skeleton has already caused controversy with
experts voicing concern over its treatment at the hands of "cowboy"
archaeologists. One senior Fiji Museum source said a relocation of the
remains may have destroyed vital information and museum experts should
have been consulted earlier.
- "These cowboy archaeologists, a bit like parachute
journalists, are allowed such field trips but by law, if they were find
something as significant as a skeleton, especially of the suspected period
of existence, the Museum must be informed," the senior official said.
- "It is also only logical that our field staff who
are trained for such excavations are informed of such developments considering
their skills and tools, paramount of course is the creation and maintenance
of our historical database."