April 15, 2010

"Aunty": 600-year old Maori woman reconstructed


Iwi face to face with "Aunty"
The face of a Maori woman who died on the Wairau bar in Marlborough more than 600 years ago has been revealed using digital technology.

Skulls found on the Wairau Bar in 1939 have been used to help digitally recreate the faces of the people who once lived there.

Local iwi Rangitane have affectionately renamed the woman as "aunty".

Video from above story.

Maori ancestor face mapped
It's not easy to visualise what our ancestors might have looked like, but now digital technology has allowed a group of researchers to reconstruct the face of a Maori woman using her 600 year old skull.

The woman the local iwi Rangitane have come to call "Aunty" lived in New Zealand's Marlborough region. Her skull was recovered several decades ago, but it's taken until now to repatriate the remains and reconstruct her face.

Audio from above story.

17 comments:

onur said...
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onur said...
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onur said...
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onur said...
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onur said...

What is her craniofacial race and subrace?

aargiedude said...

Here's a fascinating 2 minute clip of a recent TV show on National Geographic. I'm speechless. I won't ruin the surprise...

National.Geographic.Stone.Age.Atlantis - 1-27-04 to 1-29-26.avi

terryt said...

She would be Polynesian, a sort of mix of East Asian and Papuan.

onur said...
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onur said...

She would be Polynesian, a sort of mix of East Asian and Papuan.

Papuan or Melanesian? Or is it the case that there isn't any significant genetic difference between Papuans and Melanesians - and even Australian Aborigines (including the natives of the islands of Australia and also the natives of Tasmania) - so you used the word "Papuan" interchangeable with "Melanesian" and even "Australian Aboriginal", right?

onur said...
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terryt said...

"so you used the word 'Papuan' interchangeable with 'Melanesian' and even 'Australian Aboriginal', right?"

Not exactly. 'Papuans' is shorter to write than 'New Guinea natives'. Australian Aborigines and New Guinea natives are fairly different, so I tend to use 'Papuans' just for New Guinea/Northern Melanesians. And the word 'Melanesian' includes a wider group than just the Papuan-type people of Northern Melanesia. Some Melanesians, especially those from the Southern Solomons and beyond, speak Austronesian languages and so are probably at least partly a product of the Austronesian expansion. So I would tend to separate them from 'Papuans' too. So we finish up with a number of different-looking Pacific people: Papuans, Australian Aborigines, Melanesians, Polynesians and Micronesians.

By the way, the name 'Aunty' the Rangitane use for the skull is presumably the Maori word 'whaea' (pronounced much the same as English 'fire'). It really means a female relation of an older generation to the speaker, not necessarily specifically an aunty in the English sense.

aargiedude said...

Here's a transcript of the 2 minute clip I linked above:

Debris left by the Mesolithic people, who once lived on Doggerland. But the finds are not scattered evenly across the North Sea. Most of them have been trolled from one low lying area, known as the Bran [?] Banks (*). It seems very likely that there was a mesolithic settlement within that area. What's particularly interesting are recent finds of Neolithic axes. These axes, from the Neolithic, were made at least 1,000 years after Doggerland had been abandoned. Yet they were found on the same site as the old mesolithic remains where people lived centuries earlier. Several of these have been retrieved and there has to be a suspicion that these weren't simply dropped over the side of a boat by accident. Maybe they've been deliberately put there. Some archeologists believe the axes were being used to mark the location of old settlements, placed in the sea in a ritual act of remembrance. It does suggest that later communities are retaining a memory. They're acknowledging the significance of Doggerland and the communities that had lived there. It's the place where their ancestors had lived, where spirits may have resided, their original homeland. Many things may have been involved, but for certain, even then Doggerland was regarded as significant.

(*) 100 km from the current coastline of England and Netherlands.

onur said...

Maybe they've been deliberately put there. Some archeologists believe the axes were being used to mark the location of old settlements, placed in the sea in a ritual act of remembrance. It does suggest that later communities are retaining a memory. They're acknowledging the significance of Doggerland and the communities that had lived there. It's the place where their ancestors had lived, where spirits may have resided, their original homeland. Many things may have been involved, but for certain, even then Doggerland was regarded as significant.

Unfortunately this hypothesis is too beautiful to be true; it sounds too romantic and Tolkienesque.

terryt said...

"Some archeologists believe the axes were being used to mark the location of old settlements, placed in the sea in a ritual act of remembrance".

Do you think they may have marked the side of their boat so they'd recognise the place when they returned? We know that the sea has been invading the northeast English shoreline for several hundred years so it's reasonable to suppose the process is ancient. I suspect that is the most likely explanation for the Neolithic axes in doggerland.

pconroy said...

I can imagine an alternative explanation, Doggerland had sunk beneath the waves, but a boat loaded with Neolithic people - and their axes - ran aground on the rocks of what had once been a peak, near a settlement.

Assuming that the waves covered the site to a depth of less than 10' or so, this is plausible and would have nothing to do with memories and their associated ceremonies spanning 1,000 years.

grace said...

Wow if I hadn't read the blurb I would never have said this was in any way a Maori face! Looks as European as you can get. Actually looks a lot like my sister, Annie (we're Irish). Especially the nose. I have never seen a Maori with a nose like that. Guess these people must know what they're talking about, right?