Seafood was the spur for Man's first migration
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
The lure of a seafood diet may explain why the first people left Africa, according to a genetic analysis published today that overturns the conventional picture of the very first migration of modern humans.
The international project shows - contrary to previous thinking - that early modern humans spread across the Red Sea from the Horn of Africa, along the tropical coast of the Indian Ocean towards the Pacific in just a few thousand years.
And it suggests that the first migratory wave probably included fewer than 600 women, the mothers of all non-Africans alive today - including modern Europeans, whose ancestors splintered off from the group of pioneers around the Persian Gulf.
The new insight into the first human migration has emerged from DNA evidence described today in the journal Science by the Leeds biologist Martin Richards, the Glasgow statistician Vincent Macaulay and colleagues.
Early modern humans in East Africa initially survived on an inland diet based on big game but by 70,000 years ago, archaeological finds suggest their diet had changed to a coastal one consisting largely of shellfish.
However, climate change seems likely to have reduced the Red Sea's shellfish stocks, driving them to seek better fishing grounds.
Much of what we know about human migrations comes from studying mitochondrial DNA, that found in the "power packs" of cells, which is inherited maternally, from modern populations.
The amount of variation in mitochondrial DNA sequences among different groups reflects the amount of time since the groups diverged from each other.
The team studied DNA from aboriginal populations of South East Asia, notably the Orang Asli ("original people") of the Malay Peninsula, the direct descendants of the first modern people to settle in South East Asia.
Comparing their DNA with that of other people around the world allowed the team to piece together what happened in those formative years - helping to rewrite the human story.
Dr Macaulay said such studies of genetic diversity will help to reveal the genetic mutations behind many common diseases.
The work is backed by a second study, also in Science, by an Indian team that studied indigenous populations on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which lie between India and Myanmar.
The team from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad identified two relatively old populations of Andaman islanders that probably survived in genetic isolation there since the out-of-Africa migration.
• A French genetics study comparing strains of leprosy-causing bacteria indicate that the disease may have begun in East Africa, not India as previously thought, and then spread to the other continents through European colonialism and the slave trade.
The ability to trace an infection back to a certain region may help health workers to monitor the movement of the disease over time and determine the geographic source of new infections.
Ireland OKs Highway Near Hill of Tara
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer
Wed May 11,11:03 AM ET
DUBLIN, Ireland - Overruling the protests of environmentalists and historians, the government on Wednesday approved construction of a highway that will pass near the Hill of Tara, an ancient site where St. Patrick reportedly confronted and converted pagans.
Opponents had demanded a different route farther from the hill, which was a popular meeting point for Irish kings and chieftains from pre-Christian times until the 11th century.
As a critical step toward building the M3 highway, Environment Minister Dick Roche approved 38 archaeological digs along the proposed route, which will pass about 1 mile east of the hill. The digs must come before the highway is built, and had Roche refused permission, the government's National Roads Authority would have been obliged to explore a different route.
The road project actually will make possible significant archaeological exploration, Roche said, adding that he would revisit the issue if archeologists made important discoveries that couldn't be moved.
He refused to predict when the road might actually open. "There will probably be legal challenges here," he said.
Indeed, campaigners immediately vowed to seek an injunction and predicted that the road could be tied up in the courts for another decade.
Opinion polls indicate strong local support for the highway, which would connect Dublin — home to a third of Ireland's 4 million residents — with the rapidly expanding northwest suburb of Navan. Currently, Navan commuters can spend more than 2 hours along a single-lane road trying to reach Dublin, 30 miles away.
The academic elite of Britain and Ireland led opposition, arguing that the road would cut through a largely unexplored site that extends far beyond the hill itself.
The hill had its heyday two millennia ago, when it was the traditional seat for the so-called "high kings" of Ireland. In the 6th century, St. Patrick allegedly confronted and faced down the local pagan rulers then based on the hill.
Ireland Divided Over Hill of Tara Plan
Thursday May 12, 2005 2:31 AM
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer
HILL OF TARA, Ireland (AP) - This grassy, windswept hill outside Dublin was long the spiritual and political center of Ireland, an earthen fort where Celtic chieftains jockeyed for power and legend says St. Patrick confronted paganism.
Today, the Hill of Tara is at the center of another showdown - over whether Ireland, a rapidly expanding country where construction often uncovers the past, can reconcile its rich heritage with the demands of modern life.
Capping two years of arguments, the government on Wednesday authorized archaeologists to begin excavating 38 sites along the proposed route of a new highway past the hill. Environment Minister Dick Roche and some state archaeologists say the road project will uncover historical material that otherwise would remain buried.
But an alliance of environmentalists, archaeologists and other academics warn that the road will scar Ireland's most significant landscape.
``The Hill of Tara is our ancient, sacred capital. It was the ceremonial center of Ireland for 4,000 years. It was there even when the Celts arrived 2,000 years ago,'' said Muireann ni Bhrolchain, lecturer in medieval Irish studies at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
The plan to route a four-lane tollway within a mile of the hill, she said, ``is like deciding you will preserve St. Peter's Cathedral but drive a motorway through the square.''
A steady stream of tourists comes to the hill, where they wander the gently undulating grass-covered contours of what was once a fort of short earthen, circular walls.
There's not much else left to see. Infamously, a crowd of British zealots tore up the site in 1901-02 in a vain quest for the Ark of the Covenant, causing untold damage that is hidden today by the grass.
Now it's a place primarily for the imagination, reflecting on myth and history from centuries past - when rival chieftains held summits to pick ``high kings'' of Ireland; when St. Patrick, in the 5th century, lit a fire that attracted Tara's druid leaders to hear his sermons on Christianity; when political giant Daniel O'Connell in 1843 led a mass rally to oppose British rule.
The campaign against the road has drawn celebrity backers, including actor Stuart Townsend, the Dublin-born boyfriend of Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron. Townsend has persuaded Theron to sit for a portrait to be auctioned off as a fund-raiser, even though she has yet to visit Tara.
Edel Bhreathnach, a University College Dublin archaeologist who has been studying Tara and the surrounding fields for 15 years, called the site ``a ceremonial landscape of the utmost importance, not just to Ireland but to the world.''
``If another nation was proposing to do this,'' she said of the highway, ``we'd be calling them barbarians and Taliban and the rest of it. Yet that's what's happening here.''
But much of workaday Ireland sounds fed up with such arguments. To them, the Hill of Tara is a church with a St. Patrick's statue next to fields of grazing sheep - and a few miles beyond that, one of the country's worst daily traffic jams.
The new M3 motorway would connect Dublin - home to a third of Ireland's 4 million residents - with the northwest suburb of Navan, County Meath, where housing for 30-somethings is less unaffordable.
Navan commuters now can spend more than two hours trying to reach Dublin, 30 miles away, along a single-lane road that becomes gridlocked in the village of Dunshaughlin. ``Tired of sitting in your car? Support the M3,'' read roadside signs.
A pressure group called ``Meath Citizens for M3'' said it surveyed 318 households near the hill, and found 285 - or 90 percent - wanted the road to go through.
In rush-hour Dunshaughlin - choking with exhaust fumes from a line of crawling cars and trucks - many people were angry at the anti-M3 campaign.
``Sure, hardly a single one of those do-gooders even lives in Meath. If it was up to them, they'd like no buildings or people at all in Meath, just this precious landscape,'' said Eamonn Fitzsimons, 37, a Dubliner forced to relocate to Navan by high real estate prices. ``We have a right to a modern road in the year 2005. I spend more time in my car than with my children.''
The government cautioned that Fitzsimons faces a long wait for a modern road because of the likelihood of lawsuits.
Completing the main M50 road ringing Dublin was delayed for years by the ruins of medieval Carrickmines Castle. A short stretch of road south of Dublin was likewise stymied for years because of a patch of primeval oaks. A highway project to Waterford was rerouted because of a Viking settlement.
Vincent Salafia, the lawyer leading the campaign against the M3, conceded traffic in Meath was ``an absolute nightmare.''
But the proposed M3 route, he said, ``encapsulates everything that's going wrong in this country. Development is brutalizing the countryside.''
He vowed to take the fight to the courts, and said an appeal was possible to European Union authorities. ``The quickest course of action for the government and the National Roads Authority would be to back down and find another route,'' he said.
THURSDAY 12/05/2005 10:53:54
Roche condemned over M3 plans
A cross border heritage and environmental group is the latest to condemn Irish Minister Dick Roche's go-ahead for the controversial M3 project in County Meath.
The Battle for the Boyne Forum claims that allowing the project so close to the historic hill of Tara calls into question the State`s claim to have a credible heritage policy.
It also accuses Meath County Council of hypocrisy for promoting Meath as the `heritage capital of Ireland`, while at the same time supporting projects such as the motorway route, an incinerator close to the Battle of the Boyne site and a new hotel yards from medieval Trim Castle.
Stop this motorway madness
WEDNESDAY last was not only a dark day for Tara, but a dark day for Irish culture.
Ireland’s premier landscape, an icon of our nationhood, is about to suffer an act of vandalism that will see a four-lane motorway, a large intersection and undoubted secondary developments obliterate its landscape. All in the name of progress.
The façade of valuing our heritage has crumbled. The truth is that the decision taken by the Government reveals the mockery of our official portrayal to the world that we pride our culture and heritage dearly.
We do so only when it can be used for economic gain and when it does not get in the way of ‘progress’.
No amount of prevarication by the Government about lack of powers or attempting to ameliorate the impact of the motorway can hide this truth.
This is a shameful decision that will have repercussions far and wide.
Since the earliest recording of historical events in Ireland in the seventh century, every significant event that took place at Tara and in its surrounding landscape has been recorded.
The judgment of history will be harsh on those who advocated and acquiesced to this decision.
Dr Edel Bhreathnach
Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute
Dept of Archaeology
Dept of Archaeology
CHOOSING my words with care and a heavy heart: the decision to let the M3 ravage the Tara/Skryne landscape is nothing short of an act of treachery against the greater Irish nation.
Those who oppose it must organise themselves effectively to resist this act of barbarism by all means within the law.
19 Forge Park
WHEN the world learned of the Wood Quay destruction in the 1970s, the international outcry was so great it was thought that such heritage vandalism would never be allowed to happen again in Ireland.
It just has in 2005, in Tara.
An Iron Age fashion disaster, but worth its weight in gold
Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
Wednesday May 11, 2005, The Guardian
As a fashion statement, frankly it's a disaster - no styling, no detail, not so much as a low wedge heel. The shapeless lump of soggy grot is however true treasure: the oldest shoe in Britain.
Comparison with a modern trainer suggests a chunky size 10 Iron Age foot and a cursing owner who probably lost his shoe in a well in Somerset about 2,500 years ago.
The 30cm (12 inch) piece of leather, still flexible because it has been kept soggy and away from air for thousands of years, has a few stitches, and holes punched for thongs which would have gathered it into shape and tied it on to the foot.
"I was hoping for a gold torc - but this is far rarer and more valuable," the site archaeologist, Stephen Reed, said yesterday. "It is a really exciting discovery. There's nothing comparable in this country, so it's hard to tell much about it yet; there's a lot more work to be done.
"There is some leather from that date in water-logged sites, but mostly in tiny shreds - nothing like this has been found.
"It may have been placed into the well as part of a closing ritual when it fell out of use, or it could just have been lost."
Shoes which may be older but are not dateable have been found in bog sites in Ireland and on the continent. In Britain there are plenty of far better-made Roman shoes, including nifty hob-nailed sandals, some Anglo Saxon exam ples, and Viking shoes from sites such as York. Shoes become common on archaeological sites from medieval times and later, often found buried as good luck charms in foundations.
The Somerset shoe may have resembled the pampooties made and worn until only a few decades ago on the Aran islands in Ireland - a chunk of leather shaped into an oval, without a separate sole, roughly shaped by a few stitches at the heel, and otherwise gathered around the foot with a leather bootlace.
The shoe was found by a team from Exeter Archaeology at Town Farm, Somerset - on an area due to be quarried for gravel - near Wellington and the famous shoemaking town of Street.
The archaeologists were already excited at the discovery of two wells where a spring came to the surface in a clay bank between two gravel ridges. One was lined with reused oak planks, the other with a hollowed out tree trunk.
The well lining was to clear the water, in ground so silty that if the stream was left to form a simple pool it would have been as thick as soup with mud. Although some pottery was found, there was no sign of habitation, and the wells, and nearby older mounds of burned stone, may have been part of an industrial complex for metal smelting or leather tanning.
The trunk was found three weeks ago, lifted out whole and taken to the conservation centre at Salisbury for investigation - which led to the discovery of the shoe.
It has been dated by the tool marks on the wood, which seem to be from a long, flat, early Iron Age adze, suggesting a date of around 2,500 BC. Further work may give more precise dates.
"The shoe has really taken off - I can't get anybody interested in my tree trunk at all," Mr Reed said sadly yesterday.
Last Update: Thursday, May 12, 2005. 11:00am (AEST)
Archaeologists uncover thousands of artefacts
Parks Victoria has just completed the most extensive archaeological survey ever of the Victorian high country.
More than 300 cultural heritage sites and thousands of Aboriginal stone artefacts were uncovered by the 2003 bushfires.
Alps' chief ranger Peter Jacobs says the excavation of shelters shows Aboriginal people occupied the high country all year round.
Mr Jacobs says the surveys show the past highways of Indigenous communities through the alps and give current generations a link to their ancestors.
"They've always recognised a long-term connection with the alpine country," Mr Jacobs said.
"It's been a great opportunity for them of course to be involved in survey work.
"And really find on ground the sorts of values they inherently knew in their hearts were there from stories from past generations and the traditional connects those groups have had for many thousands of years to the alps."
Earliest states possibly in shape 5,000 years ago
www.chinaview.cn 2005-05-11 15:56:15
JINAN, May 11 (Xinhuanet) - Dozens of prehistoric states might have been developing in eastern China as early as 5,000 years ago,thousands of years before the birth of the first textually attested state that existed in Xia Dynasty (2100 B.C.-1600 B.C.), said a Sino-US archaeological research team.
The presumption was based on a decade-long regional survey and excavation in Rizhao, a coastal city in east China's Shandong Province. Archaeologists with the team are almost sure they have identified the ruins of a prehistoric state dating back between 3,000 B.C. and 2,200 B.C.
The population of the state was roughly 63,000, and the size of its capital might have an area as large as one million square meters, said Fang Hui, a member of the team and professor in the archaeology department at the Shandong University based in Jinan, the provincial capital.
Legends put the origin of the Chinese civilization at 5,000 years ago but archaeologists could hitherto only prove the earliest state in China was born in central Henan Province some 3,000 years ago.
"Many writers, from all countries, focus on remains from HenanProvince, where the Xia and Shang dynasties (2100 B.C.-1100 B.C.) developed. But we found that societies with complex social and political organizations also existed in southeastern Shandong," said Dr. Anne Underhill, member of the team and research fellow with the Field Museum in Chicago.
The Sino-US team began the regional survey at Rizhao in 1995. They had found a Neolithic site, the Liangchengzhen site, that could date back to 2,600 B.C. at 30cm below the surface of farmland in the outskirts of Rizhao, covering an area of one million square meters.
But they said pottery sheds were spread around an area of 2.56 million square meters. Fang Hui said the site was believed to be the capital of the ancient state and was secured by three layers of defense walls. The inner wall enclosed an area of more than 200,000 square meters, which scholars believed was a political center at the time.
"Our survey data do show a clear settlement hierarchy. Liangchengzhen is the largest site, and there are many smaller sites clustered near it," Dr. Underhill said.
It is possible that leaders controlled the flow of prestigious pottery vessels in the region."
"Probably most of these vessels were made at Liangchengzhen, since it appears the quality of the clay in the region is better than elsewhere, and the greatest variety of fancy vessels is at this site," she added.
"The society at the time did have a hierarchy with leaders at the top and farmers at the grassroots. It was a big difference from the prehistoric times when people lived equally," said Luan Fengshi, professor with the research institute of archaeology under the Shandong University.
The archaeologists identified the remains of about 40 ancient houses shaped like circles, squares, and rectangles, with remains of stoves and doorsteps inside. They also found over 50 rectangle-shaped tombs, scattered around the formal residential area.
Thousands of excavated pottery sheds are thought to have been parts of cooking or drinking vessels, or sacrificial utensils. Other excavated relics included hunting tools such as stone chisels and arrowheads, spinning tools and medical instruments. Fang Hui said such prehistoric states might also have existed in the eastern Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
Research findings indicated the society in parts of China underwent dramatic changes in the late Neolithic period some 4,000years ago, he said.
However, the research team had to find enough evidence to provethat social hierarchies actually characterized the prehistoric social systems.
"It is very hard for archaeologists in any area of the world tofind material remains to demonstrate that a state existed," said Dr. Underhill. I hope we can find enough evidence some day."
Published: 11th May 2005 11:20 BST+1
Stockholm's Old Town "300 years older"
Many of the buildings in the jewel of Stockholm's historical crown, Gamla stan, or the Old Town, are up to 300 years older than previously thought.
Two researchers working on the 'Gamla stan building-by-building' project say that they have identified 18 properties which have been dated incorrectly. They were thought to have been built in the 17th and 18th centuries, but in fact were constructed in the 15th century.
The findings, which Dagens Nyheter described as "sensational", were the result of five years' work by a group of enthusiasts who have mapped out two of the most important parts of Gamla stan.
"The written sources, not least the magistrates' court's documents from the middle ages, along with detailed inspections of the facades and interiors, have convinced us that the dates were wrong," said architect Marianne Aaro.
Two areas have been investigated so far: the quarter to the west of Storkyrkan (Stockholm's cathedral) and Stortorget, and the buildings around Järntorget. One example is Prästgatan 24, whose three lower floors are now thought to have been built in the middle of the 1400s.
Here, according to DN, "Olof the coppersmith had his workshop, with his forge facing Västerlånggatan" - now the main tourist route of Gamla stan.
But the finance for the project, much of which came from the Riksbank's jubilee fund, only stretched far enough to cover the investigation of 50 of Gamla stan's 370 properties. Now the researchers are calling for the project to be extended to cover the whole area.
"The City Museum ought to have initiated a big Gamla stan project much earlier," Marianne Aaro told DN.
"If you don't know what's there, you don't know what is disappearing. Now we have that knowledge and we want to drive the project forward."
Doc Says Arthritis Killed Columbus
By ALEX DOMINGUEZ, The Associated Press, Friday, May 6, 2005; 5:21 PM
BALTIMORE -- Bad food or a sexually transmitted disease probably crippled Christopher Columbus, a researcher suggested Friday.
The famed explorer was struck with a mysterious illness while returning from his first voyage to the New World, and doctors at the time blamed gout. Although he made four trips to the Americas, the disease progressively became worse and he died a crippled man.
Dr. Frank C. Arnett, a rheumatologist at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, said Columbus more likely was struck with reactive arthritis, caused by a number of bacteria responsible for food poisoning as well as sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia.
"It sounds like it was more likely food poisoning. From the information we have, there was at least one epidemic on the ship in which the whole crew came down with some illness," Arnett said.
Later flare-ups suffered by Columbus were blamed on gout, but "of course, everything was called gout in those days," the doctor said. While attacks of gout usually last a week or 10 days, Columbus suffered for months on several occasions before becoming completely bedridden, Arnett said.
Arnett reviewed Columbus' death for the University of Maryland School of Medicine's annual clinicopathological conference, where doctors propose a theory for the cause of death of a historic figure. The death of Columbus was the 10th to be analyzed at the conference: Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander the Great and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are among the subjects of previous meetings.
While Arnett said he suspects Columbus suffered from reactive arthritis, what ultimately was responsible for the explorer's death is not known.
Princeton University historian John Fleming said all diagnoses of Columbus must be taken with a "healthy slug of port" because too little is known about his death to diagnose its cause with any certainty.
Fleming, who did not participate in the conference, said the gout accounts are responsible for the explorer's later reputation as a lush. He noted that Columbus reputedly sought solace during his troubled later years from sweet Iberian wines such as port and sherry, frequently blamed for causing gout.
"We know absolutely nothing in detail about the death of Columbus, the site of whose very grave has been credibly contested for many generations," Fleming noted.
"Although we are not even sure that pre-modern 'gout' is the same ailment that travels by that name today, it appears to have involved, like numerous forms of arthritis, a painful inflammation of the joints," Fleming said. "Hence we might describe Arnett's diagnosis as a scientific fig leaf nicely covering an historical void."
Arnett noted that descriptions of Columbus as tall, fair-skinned and blue-eyed also suggest he was of northern European ancestry, and 75 percent of those who acquire reactive arthritis have a gene found mostly in northern European countries.
Columbus, who was 41 when he made his first voyage, later suffered from fevers, bleeding from the eyes and prolonged attacks of what was thought to be gout. Columbus eventually died at age 54 in 1506, two years after returning to Spain from his fourth voyage.
Historians Charles Merrill, a language professor at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, and Francesc Albardaner, of the Columbus Study Center of the Omnium Cultural Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, also appeared at the conference to present evidence to support the argument that Columbus was not Italian. The two say growing evidence suggests he was from Catalonia, a Spanish region surrounding Barcelona that was an independent nation in the Middle Ages. It is now partly in Spain and partly in France.
May 13, 2005
Sea hero’s fate revealed after 217 years
By Charles Bremner
Linguists sent to join search for clues to naval mystery
FRENCH scientists and divers in the South Pacific have finally answered the last question asked by Louis XVI as he waited to be guillotined in 1793: “Is there any news of Monsieur de la Pérouse?”
The King fretted until his final minutes about the disappearance of Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de la Pérouse, a brilliant sailor whom he had dispatched with two frigates in 1785 to compete with Captain James Cook’s exploration of the Pacific.
This week the French confirmed that la Pérouse, who was last seen setting sail from Australia in early 1788, almost certainly died when his ship, La Boussole (the Compass), broke up on a reef off the remote island of Vanikoro in the Solomons.
An Irish sea captain learnt in 1826 that La Boussole and L’Astrolabe, the frigate captained by Paul-Antoine Fleuriot de Langle, had probably foundered at Vanikoro, a tiny atoll far from normal shipping routes, and that at least some of the 220 crew had survived. Subsequent expeditions uncovered the remains of two unidentified wrecks, the second in 1964.
The goal of this spring’s state-backed mission of 120 people was to ascertain the fate of the sailors, scientists and artists who vanished in one of the world’s most enduring naval mysteries. Had some of the “white ghosts” managed to leave the island, as local folklore had it? Had some stayed and mixed with the native Melanesians and Polynesians?
The team includes language experts charged with determining whether words in the local dialect could possibly have been handed down by the survivors.
A local bean is called the kasulay. As a native of the southwest, la Pérouse liked to feed his men cassoulet.
A breakthrough came last weekend, when the 2005 expedition discovered an 18th-century brass sextant in 40ft of water off Vanikoro, which had been aboard La Boussole. This identified la Pérouse’s vessel as the one that smashed to pieces on the reef, presumably in a tropical cyclone, leaving no chance of survival. The survivors are assumed to have come from the other wreck, L’Astrolabe, which beached less violently in a coral inlet.
“We are virtually certain that it was La Boussole that broke up on the reef and L’Astrolabe was the one that ran aground,” said Alain Conan, a businessman and president of the Solomon Association, who has spent the past 24 years trying to solve the mystery of la Pérouse.
Much of the enigma remains, M Conan acknowledged, but the fate of la Pérouse, an aristocratic captain who was a hero for winning battles against the British Navy in the Hudson Bay in Canada, now seems to have been established. M Conan said that it was also possible that la Perouse could have died before the ships reached the island because of the diseases that ravaged crews in the equatorial area.
Although France and England were competing for the Pacific, relations between the sailors were friendly. La Pérouse dined with Commodore Arthur Philip in Botany Bay, near what is now Sydney, in January 1788. The French ships had sailed in a few days after the British First Fleet landed to settle what was then New Holland. Philip sent la Pérouse’s logs back to France for him and Sydney named a suburb after the French navigator.
The 2005 expedition, which ends this week, has failed to find la Pérouse’s famed scientific treasures, but it has recovered dozens of artefacts, including a cannon, a wine glass and the foot from a skeleton believed to be that of a young French officer.
Jean-Christophe Galipaud, an archaeologist, reported yesterday that they had “confirmed the shape and dimensions of the French camp”, a site on the Bay of Paou where artefacts from the wrecks had previously been found. “We have managed in particular to pinpoint the village of Pokori, where the last survivor of the expedition is believed to have taken refuge and perhaps died,” he added.
Important findings could come from the work of Alexandre François, a specialist in Pacific languages who is the first researcher to try to learn the four local languages and glean tales of the wrecks without translation. M François said that he is wary of the contradictory legends circulating among the island’s historically feuding villages. According to these, some 50 or so survivors were eaten or died of disease within months, or sailed away in boats fashioned from the wreckage.
Pacific wreck identified as remains of 1788 expedition
Last Updated Tue, 10 May 2005 13:31:35 EDT
SOLOMON ISLANDS - A wreck found off the Solomon Islands has been identified as a ship belonging to French explorer Jean-François de la Pérouse, who disappeared in the Pacific archipelago more than 200 years ago.
In April, the Solomon Islands Association launched an expedition to retrace the path of the explorer's final voyage in 1788.
The association said Tuesday that it has identified the wreck as the remains of La Boussole, one of La Pérouse's two vessels. The other was the Astrolabe.
The frigates were apparently shipwrecked during a storm off the tiny Solomon Island of Vanikoro, northeast of the Australian coast.
La Pérouse was due back in France in 1788, but his expedition was never heard from again.
The explorer had mapped part of the west coast of North America between Alaska and California during a 1786 expedition.
He also visited the Sandwich Islands and Easter Island during his travels on the Pacific Ocean.
In the land that was to become Canada's Far North, three warships under La Pérouse's command took over the Prince of Wales fort that had been under the control of the Hudson's Bay Company during a 1782 foray.
La Pérouse Bay near Churchill, Man., is named after the explorer.