Native american burial sites dating back 5 000
For whoever arrived in those first canoes, these empty islands offered a bounty of unfished reefs, unoccupied land and naïve, slow-moving animal prey; for those who now studied those first colonists, their arrival represented an important inflection point in human expansion and development.
And now, the science of “paleogenomics” had coaxed new stories of ancient lives from the Teouma bones.
A meaningful national identity has been constructed from a common appreciation of ceremonial pig-tusk bracelets and the taking of kava, a very mild narcotic root that looks like primordial pea soup and tastes like a fine astringent dirt.
Above all, however, the ni-Vanuatu are bound together by the fact of the country’s nautical isolation: Their nearest neighbors are hundreds of miles in any direction.
PART IA faint aura of destiny seems to hover over Teouma Bay.
It’s not so much the landscape, with its ravishing if boilerplate tropical splendor — banana and mango trees, coconut and pandanus palms, bougainvillea, the apprehensive trill of the gray-eared honeyeater — as it is the shape of the harbor itself, which betrays, in the midst of such organic profusion, an aspect of the unnatural.
From above, it looks as though a safe harbor had been engraved in the shoreline by some celestial engineer.
As we shared the sweating neon flesh of a machete-split papaya, Bedford, now affiliated with the Australian National University, ran through all the reasons that the sheltered cove far below — just then rippling beneath a late-afternoon rainbow — would have made an inviting stage for the encounter of an ancient people with a primeval place.In front of them, across more than 200 miles of empty sea, was the vast aquatic wilderness of Remote Oceania.[5 takeaways from this report on ancient DNA research.]That border marked the absolute limit of human expansion for tens of thousands of years, until at last someone sailed out across the naval event horizon and into the unknown.This first traversal was one of the greatest and most courageous passages in human prehistory.The bay, on the island of Efate in the South Pacific nation Vanuatu, is long, symmetrical and briskly rectangular.In the expected place of wavelets is a blue so calm and unbroken that the sea doesn’t so much crash on the land as neatly abut it.