Cranial and Postcranial Skeletal Remains from Easter Island

Cranial and Postcranial Skeletal Remains from Easter Island

RUPERT IVAN MURRILL
Copyright Date: 1968
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 116
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsfjg
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    Cranial and Postcranial Skeletal Remains from Easter Island
    Book Description:

    An archaeological expedition to Easter Island and the East Pacific was organized and financed by Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian anthropologist of Kon-Tiki fame, in 1955-1956. Although Professor Murrill was not a member of the expedition, he was asked to study and analyze, from the standpoint of physical anthropology, the human skeletal material which was found by the expedition in excavations on Easter Island. Professor Murrill conducted a detailed examination of the remains, using such methods as metrical measurements, morphological observations, and analyses of blood group gene frequencies. In this book he presents the factual data resulting from his study, much of it in the form of comprehensive tables, and his conclusions. The findings throw significant light on the question of where the prehistoric Easter Islanders came from. Contrary to theories favored by Mr. Heyerdahl and others that these people and their culture derived from prehistoric settlements on the west coast of South America, Professor Murrill concludes that the Easter Island people were Polynesian in origin and that they may have come from the Marquesas Islands. He finds it unlikely that a Negroid migration (possibly from Melanesia) antedated a Polynesian one to Easter Island and, on the basis of his evaluation of blood group systems, he suggests that the Polynesian and the American Indian types may be derived from the same gene pool in East Asia. The book is illustrated with photographs, drawings, and maps, and there is a substantial bibliography.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6379-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. I INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-6)

    The skeletal material from Easter Island analyzed in this study was collected in excavations directed by Dr. Carlyle S. Smith of the University of Kansas and Dr. William Mulloy of the University of Wyoming during the Norwegian archaeological expedition to Polynesia in 1955-56.

    The work done on Easter Island was noteworthy for two main reasons. First, the excavations were conducted in a first-rate scientific manner and second, carbon-14 dates were obtained for the first time on this island.

    Ami Tepeu (Fig. 1) is situated on the west coast of Easter Island north of the present village of Hangaroa and west...

  5. II METRICAL AND MORPHOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS OF THE CRANIA
    (pp. 7-32)

    Individual measurements and indices, median sagittal craniogram measurements and indices, and angles by sex are shown in Tables 3A to 3D for the Middle period and Tables 4A to 4D for the Late period. I hereby make a plea that other Polynesian researchers publish individual measurements for eventual useful comparisons.

    The ranges and means for the Middle period are shown in Tables 5A to 5D and for the Late period in Tables 6A to 6D. Clearly the number of females is too small to allow significant results; therefore only the males will be used for this purpose. If one compares...

  6. III METRICAL AND MORPHOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS OF THE POSTCRANIA
    (pp. 33-51)

    Publisheddatablepostcranial skeletal material from Polynesia is rare; I therefore again plead that individual postcranial measurements be published for comparative purposes.

    The individual postcranial measurements, indices, and observations by sex are shown in Table 14 for the Middle period and in Table 15 for the Late period. There are more bones from the Late period; however, the total remains are not numerous. The ranges and means for the Middle period are shown in Table 16, for the Late period in Table 17. In general the male remains are more numerous.

    The males were again grouped together for dispersion analysis;...

  7. IV THE ESTIMATION OF STATURE
    (pp. 52-54)

    The whole question of estimating stature must be approached with some caution. As late as 1950, Telkkä (1950, p. 104) stated that “In 1888Rolletpublished his paper ’La Mensuration des os longs des membres,’ which has become classical in this field. The tables compiled later on and based on his measurements are perhaps the ones most frequently used even today.” The tables referred to here are the later work of Manouvrier (1893) and Pearson (1898). In 1950 Telkkä devised regression equations for estimating stature, based on skeletons from the collections of the Department of Anatomy, Helsinki University. In 1951...

  8. V PATHOLOGY
    (pp. 55-56)

    Rogers (1954) has pointed out that dry bone material can yield only limited information about the general health of a population. This is particularly true here because of the small size of the sample and the lack of certain bones — vertebral columns, for example. But there are eight pathological specimens, probably representing eight individuals:

    Adult Male Cranium. Hypertrophic lipping of the left and right processus clinoideus posterior of the dorsum sellae, probably owing to age. About 2.5 cm above the left orbit on the frontal bone is a triangular depression, which is perhaps the result of a depressed fracture,...

  9. VI CLIMATE, WATER, SOIL, AND DIET
    (pp. 57-58)

    The climate of Easter Island is very mild and equable. Skottsberg (1928) gives a mean annual temperature of 67°F (19.7°C) for 1912-13. There are constantly blowing winds and noticeably cold nights. The annual rainfall for the years 1901-05 and 1912-13 averaged 50 inches. Some years are very wet, and some very dry; there are no prolonged droughts, and heavy downpours are by no means rare.

    Métraux (1957, p. 65) states that “Drinking water has always been a difficult problem for the natives. Easter Island has no river . . . the rain quickly soaks into the porous soil and forms...

  10. VII CRANIAL AND POSTCRANIAL COMPARISONS WITH OTHER STUDIES
    (pp. 59-65)

    The main Easter Island samples antedating the present one that have been described are as follows (all numbers include both sexes): De Quatrefages and Hamy (1882), 54, collected by Pinart; Volz (1895), 49, collected by Geiseler; Meyer and Jablonowski (1901), 24, part of Volz’s sample; Von Bonin (1931), 79, collected by Weisser, Routledge, and Lord Crawford; Petri (1936), 16, collected by Weisser; Henckel (1939), 8, collected by Wilhelm; Imbelloni 1951, Chilean sample, 61, collected by various individuals, and also his total sample.

    Only Henckel’s sample includes some postcranial remains. Imbelloni’s total sample includes his Chilean sample of Easter Island crania...

  11. VIII FORMER THEORIES AND A LEGEND
    (pp. 66-72)

    Basing their assertion on cranial, height-length, and height-width indices, De Quatrefages and Hamy (1882) saw Melanesian traits in several Easter Island crania. Volz (1895), using the above indices and mainly such a morphological observation as the size of the supraorbital ridge, concluded that the main components of the Easter Islander were Melanesian, Polynesian, and Australian. Meyer and Jablonowski (1901) did not agree with the idea of a Melanesian element in the Easter Island crania; on the contrary, they believed they were Polynesian. Dixon (1923, p. 380) on the basis of the cranial, length-height and nasal indices, concluded that the Easter...

  12. IX THE VALIDITY OF HEYERDAHL’S THEORY OF THE POPULATING OF POLYNESIA
    (pp. 73-76)

    I gather that Heyerdahl (1952) believes that there were two separate migrations from the American mainland into Polynesia. The first consisted of people from a pre-Inca civilization centered near Lake Titicaca and the Peruvian coast below; these people were apparently Caucasoids, whose original home was possibly northwestern Africa or the Canary Islands! The second consisted of people who left the northwest coast of North America, specifically the Kwakiutl or Nootka area, voyaged to Hawaii, and from there populated the rest of Polynesia. The migration to Hawaii occurred about A.D. 1000. Presumably, then, this second migratory wave of people mixed with...

  13. X ABO BLOOD GROUP GENE FREQUENCIES
    (pp. 77-79)

    Although Smith (1960) is rather optimistic about using paleoserology as a tool for the anthropological study of gene flow in the past, others, such as Thieme and Otten (1957), are somewhat less enthusiastic. In fact the latter have said:

    The accuracy of bone typing is seen to rest upon the amount and chemical integrity of antigenic remains in bone, undestroyed and untransformed by bacterial enzymes, and upon the reliability and specificity of indicator tests. The inhibition test has been seen to offer numerous potentialities for error in unequal or total destruction of test antisera by contaminants present, in unequal non-specific...

  14. XI POLYNESIAN MIGRATIONS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO EASTER ISLAND
    (pp. 80-84)

    I do not intend to cover exhaustively the evidence from the fields of linguistics, ethnology, and archaeology for Polynesian migrations, but only to point out some important conclusions that have been reached in these fields.

    Emory (1959b) has the following to say:

    The Hawaiian language is not only extremely close to the Tahitian, but to all the languages spoken by the native inhabitants of the islands of eastern Polynesia, and only a little less closely related to a western Polynesian group of languages, i.e, those of Samoa, Tonga, and their nearby islands. Possession of characteristics which these related languages of...

  15. Appendices
    (pp. 85-90)
  16. REFERENCES
    (pp. 91-98)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 99-105)