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 information.
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 ó
artifacts created by a group of Melanesians believed to have been the founders of modern Polynesia.
Measuring 1.9 m, the body is unusually large considering its age and origin. Pictures of its skull 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
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
"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."
Patrick Nunn, the supervisor of the archaeological team analysing the remains at USP would not comment and said on Sunday "we have decided to keep
our find under wraps".