Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’


Topic: Ancients in New Zealand

A University of Otago-led multidisciplinary team of scientists have shed new light on the diet, lifestyles and movements of the first New Zealanders by analysing isotopes from their bones and teeth.

In research published today in the prestigious international journal PLOS ONE, the team are able to identify what is likely to be the first group of people to colonise Marlborough’s Wairau Bar possibly from Polynesia around 700 years ago. They also present evidence suggesting that individuals from two other groups buried at the site had likely lived in different regions of New Zealand before being buried at Wairau Bar.

The researchers, co-ordinated by the Department of Anatomy’s Associate Professor Hallie Buckley, undertook isotopic analyses of samples recovered from the koiwi tangata (human remains) of the Rangitane iwi tupuna prior to their reburial at Wairau Bar in 2009.

The Wairau Bar Koiwi Project is part of a larger archaeological project being conducted in collaboration with the Rangitane iwi, the Canterbury Museum and the University of Otago. The interpretation of these new data was strengthened by collaboration with colleagues from SPAR, the University of Otago archaeologists who undertook the more recent archaeological excavations at the site.

“By examining ratios of carbon and nitrogen isotopes present in bone collagen we were able to estimate individuals’ broad dietary makeup over a 10-20 year period prior to death. Our analysis of strontium isotopes in teeth allowed us to distinguish between people growing up in geologically different landscapes,” says Dr Rebecca Kinaston, who conducted the isotope analyses on the bones and teeth.

The tupuna were originally buried in three separate groups in a large village at the Wairau site. First excavated over 70 years ago, this ancient settlement is one of the most important archaeological sites in New Zealand because of its age and the range of east Polynesian type artefacts found there.

Previous research found that one of the burial groups displayed distinct cultural differences to the two other burial groups at the site. These included the positions in which they were interred and the presence of more numerous and rich grave offerings, including whale bone ornaments and moa eggs generally not found with the other two groups.

The new isotopic analysis of bone collagen and teeth suggests that members of this first group shared similar diets and childhood origins, while individuals in Groups 2 and 3 displayed highly variable diets and spent their childhood in geologically different areas to Group 1.

“Interestingly, Group 1 individuals showed a dietary trend similar to that identified in prehistoric individuals from a site in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, with both sets of people sharing a low diversity in protein sources,” Dr Kinaston says.

In contrast, dietary patterns in Groups 2 and 3 were found to be in line with individuals who spent most of their lives eating from a wide range of protein sources, such as would be available through New Zealand’s then bountiful seal, moa and other bird populations.

The large range found in Group 2 and 3’s strontium isotope ratios could reflect that they grew up in regions outside of Wairau Bar—but not where Group 1 did—and also that they were hunting and gathering across a wide geographical range, says Associate Professor Hallie Buckley.

“This is consistent with other archaeological evidence that the first settlers in New Zealand were highly mobile. That members of Groups 2 and 3 were still buried back at Wairau suggests that this village may have fulfilled both a ceremonial and home base function.”

If this is the case, this may represent the roots of the tangihanga ritual, in which Maori are buried in their ancestral lands, developing among these first New Zealanders, Associate Professor Buckley says.

Original article:
May 16, 2013

Info on Wairau Bar

This site is known as Wairau Bar, because a bar or bank of gravel has formed where the Wairau River meets the sea. Early Polynesians used the site as a moa-hunting camp, and archaeological excavations have revealed the butchered remains of countless huge birds, together with human skeletons. As the moa is now thought to have become extinct very quickly, possibly within 100–200 years of human settlement, those who hunted it must have been among the first generations of Polynesian arrivals. In addition, the types of cultural objects (artefacts) found with skeletons at Wairau Bar are of a distinct early form that has close affinities with artefacts from the Cook, Society and Marquesas islands in East Polynesia.

Found on:

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Topic:cooking stones

Cooking stones from New Zealand could reveal the magnetic history of the Earth going back hundreds of years, new research suggests.

The stones were used by the Maoris, native New Zealanders, in their cooking ovens, called hangis over the past several hundred years. The stones got so hot that the minerals in them with magnetic properties would have aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field at the time.

BBC News reported the findings, which were presented Friday (Dec. 7) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
“We have very good palaeomagnetic data from across the world recording field strength and direction — especially in the Northern Hemisphere,” one of the study authors, Gillian Turner from Victoria University, in New Zealand, told BBC News. “The southwest Pacific is the gap, and in order to complete global models, we’re rather desperate for good, high-resolved data from our part of the world.”

Earth’s magnetic field changes over time, because molten iron in the planet’s outer core sloshes around.

Turner is trying to create a record of the Earth’s magnetic history over the last 10,000 years. To reconstruct the planet’s historic magnetic field, geologists normally look at pottery shards, which contain minerals that demagnetize at high temperatures and then realign with the Earth’s magnetic field as they cool. The stronger the field, the more magnetic the minerals, Turner told BBC News.

But the Maoris who first settled in New Zealand around 700 or 800 years ago didn’t use pottery. So instead, she decided to look at Maori hangis, which the native islanders have historically used to steam their food.

Legend has it the hangis get white hot, which would mean they reached up to about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 degrees Celsius) – well above the Curie temperature at which minerals demagnetize.

The team experimented with modern-day hangis, heating them and then placing a compassatop them to see how the magnetic field realigned once they cooled. They found the ovens did get hot enough to record the magnetic field.

Now, the researchers are looking for archaeological digs throughout New Zealand that contain traces of old cooking stones.

By testing their magnetic field alignment and using radioactive carbon to date the stones, the team hopes to reconstruct nearly a millennia of the Earth’s historical magnetic field in the Southern Hemipshere, where data is more sparse.

To go further back in time, the team will look at other rock sources, such as volcanic rocks from eruptions and lake sediments.
Original article:
By Tia Ghose,December7, 2012

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Lí­mite Chile/Argentina en el paso del Bermejo...

Lí­mite Chile/Argentina en el paso del Bermejo - paso Iglesia (Photo credit: Flodigrip's world)

I have been so amazed at the views for this blog and the countries that are watching what I post so this morning when I recieved a post from

agroekonomija this morning I decided to do the same so everyone can see who else is taking a look at Ancient Foods.

By the way I love Google translate , it lets me view blogs I wouldn’t see otherwise.

Back to ancientfood on Wednesday



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