7 Apr 2014

Burial site in Vanuatu turns out details of disease 3000 years ago

6:47 am on 7 April 2014

Findings from an ancient cemetery show Polynesians who landed in Vanuatu 3000 years ago suffered from a range of diseases because of an unbalanced diet.

A team of more than 100 people from around the world have been analysing material from the excavation of what is the oldest cemetery ever found in the Pacific.

Professor Mathew Spriggs, Co-Director of the project says the Lapita people of the burial site were the first people to reach the island.

"What it is, is that they turn up in the place and then there's lots of seafood and things like that to eat but they haven't got their crops established. So they had a very unbalanced diet and they suffered from a whole range of problems - Scurvy... and also they suffered probably from Gout and a whole range of diseases. So their health status is very odd"

Professor Mathew Spriggs from the Australian National University.