Behavior and intra-skeletal remodeling in an adult male from 1720 BP Ebon Atoll, Marshall Islands, eastern Micronesia




Miszkiewicz, Justyna
Matisoo-Smith, Elizabeth
Weisler, Marshall

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Taylor & Francis Group


Bioarchaeological studies of human remains from the Marshall Islands have reported dental, aDNA, and some biological profile data, but no behavioral reconstructions have been conducted. In this case study, histology was examined in a fragmented set of long bone and rib samples to test whether strenuous arm use, linked to traditional Marshallese gardening, food collection, and fishing activities, can be inferred from markers of bone remodeling. Cortical bone samples from the right posterior midshaft femur, left proximal radius, right posterior distal humerus, and an unsided and unnumbered rib shaft were examined in a middle-aged adult male excavated from a village site (MLEb-5) on Ebon Islet, Ebon Atoll. The interment is associated with a 1720 BP date making it the oldest burial in the Marshall Islands. Haversian canal area and density were recorded and compared intra-skeletally. The humerus and radius had denser and smaller canals when compared to the femur. This suggests that the upper limb bones in this individual might have experienced frequent, strain suppressed, remodeling events. Bone adaptation to rigorous arm loading is inferred, demonstrating value in histological sampling of fragmented human remains for lifestyle interpretations in the ancient Pacific.



Pacific, bone, histology, bioarchaeology


Justyna J. Miszkiewicz, Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith & Marshall I. Weisler (2022) Behavior and intra-skeletal remodeling in an adult male from 1720 BP Ebon Atoll, Marshall Islands, eastern Micronesia, The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 17:3, 445-459, DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2020.1837305


Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology


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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License



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