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Radiocarbon dating and Bayesian modelling of one of Remote Oceania's oldest cemeteries at Chelechol ra Orrak, Palau

  • Scott M. Fitzpatrick (a1) (a2) and Nicholas P. Jew (a1)

Research at the Chelechol ra Orrak rockshelter in Palau has revealed an extensive cemetery with at least 50 interred individuals, their graves overlain by later occupational deposits. Previous radiocarbon dating placed this sequence of burial and occupation at c. 3000 cal BP, making it one of the earliest Pacific Island cemetery sites. To provide a more robust chronological framework, Bayesian modelling was applied to construct probability ranges for the date and duration of activity at the site, assisted by a suite of new 14C determinations. The results provide more secure evidence for burial activity dating back to c. 3000 cal BP, thus confirming Chelechol ra Orrak as one of the only cemeteries in Remote Oceania that dates to the earliest, known stages of island colonisation.

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