December, 1988 Associated Press
Bikini Excavation Indicates Early Man in Micronesia
By STEWART TAGGART
Associated Press Writer
HONOLULU -- Man may have inliabited the Pacific Islands of Micronesia thousands of years earlier than previously thought, says an archaeologist who has found evidence of man's activities in the area dating as far back as 1960, B.C.
On Bikini Island, bits of charcoal, fish bones, stiells and other artifacts indicating man's use of fire to cook were found buried under about three feet of sand, said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers archaeologist Charles F. Streck, Jr.
Carbon-dating placed the age of the artifacts to somewhere between 1960-1650, B.C., Streck said. Bikini is located about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii.
"It will be very controversial," Streck said of his finding. "It's going to be raising a few hackles in the archaeological community."
Most archaeologists and anthropologists believe Bikini was settled no more than a few hundred years ago, with most estimates ranging from the 1700s and 1800s, Streck said.
Streck said other finds on Bikini and nearby Eneu island were carbon-dated to between 1,000 B.C. and the time of Christ, and others between 400-1,400 A.D.
"I have four or five radiocarbon dates that are hundreds of years too old to fit the prevailing migration and settlement theories for the Micronesian area," said Streck. "The atolls could be more productive for archaeology than we thought."
Streck surveyed parts of Bikini Atoll as part of a resettlement program for displaced islanders.
Current migration theories of how the tiny islands in the region were settled have been based upon limited archaeology and gleaned from oral histories gathered from islanders by anthropoligists, Streck said.
Current archaeological and historical records indicate the high volcanic islands of eastern Micronesia were settled as far back as the time of Christ while smaller islands such as Bikini were not settled until much later.
Streck said many of the dates he recorded overlapped each other, with only a gap between 1,600-1,300 B.C., which is not unusual for such findings.
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