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New precise dates for the ancient and sacred coral pyramidal tombs of Leluh (Kosrae, Micronesia).

Richards ZT, Shen CC, Hobbs JP, Wu CC, Jiang X, Beardsley F - Sci Adv (2015)

Bottom Line: Like other prehistoric tombs, the Leluh tombs were dated by association-from the remnants of the temporarily interred.The results suggest that the tombs were built about 700 years ago during the 14th century, about three centuries earlier than previously reported.The new dates redefine the peak occupation of Leluh and place its ruling paramountcy at the leading edge of the developing trans-oceanic political hierarchies, as well as the social and economic systems that dominated the civilizations in this part of the world.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Aquatic Zoology, Western Australian Museum, Welshpool, Western Australia 6015, Australia.

ABSTRACT
Monumental tombs within ancient civilizations worldwide hold precious clues for deciphering the architectural skill, acumen, and industry of prehistoric cultures. Most tombs were constructed from abiotic materials-stone, soil, and/or clay, predominately-and were built to permanently inter royalty or high-status individuals. On the island of Kosrae in the central Pacific, monumental tombs were constructed with scleractinian coral and were confined to the prehistoric island capital of Leluh, where they served as temporary mortuary processing points. Like other prehistoric tombs, the Leluh tombs were dated by association-from the remnants of the temporarily interred. We present new dates for three sacred tombs using high-precision U-Th dates from 24 corals collected directly from the structural materials. The results suggest that the tombs were built about 700 years ago during the 14th century, about three centuries earlier than previously reported. The new dates redefine the peak occupation of Leluh and place its ruling paramountcy at the leading edge of the developing trans-oceanic political hierarchies, as well as the social and economic systems that dominated the civilizations in this part of the world.

No MeSH data available.


Corals of the Leluh tombs.(A) Six genera of scleractinian corals in situ on the outer wall of tomb Inol-1. (B) Collecting a sample of Porites from inside the crypt of twin tomb 1—Lūrūn. Photographs by Zoe Richards.
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Figure 3: Corals of the Leluh tombs.(A) Six genera of scleractinian corals in situ on the outer wall of tomb Inol-1. (B) Collecting a sample of Porites from inside the crypt of twin tomb 1—Lūrūn. Photographs by Zoe Richards.

Mentions: To estimate the construction ages, 47 coral samples were collected from three saru—Lūrūn, Bat, and Inol-1 (Fig. 3, fig. S2, and table S1). In addition, living corals were collected as control samples. High-precision U-Th dating techniques (15–17) were used on the 24 corals that passed the screening tests for secondary calcite. The determined ages of coral deaths varied from 702.4 ± 6.5 to 1094.8 ± 5.4 years for Inol-1, from 691.1 ± 4.8 to 5717 ± 23 years for twin tomb 1—Lūrūn, and 625.6 ± 6.5 to 1036.8 ± 6.6 years for twin tomb 2—Bat (table S2). The wide age intervals of hundreds to thousands of years indicate that a mixture of live and fossil coral was used to line the crypts (Fig. 4), infill walls, and as facades. The determined minimum coral dates represent the possible oldest ages of saru construction as follows: Inol-1 AD 1310.7 ± 6.5, twin tomb 1—Lūrūn AD 1322.0 ± 4.8, and twin tomb 2—Bat AD 1387.5 ± 6.5 (table S3).


New precise dates for the ancient and sacred coral pyramidal tombs of Leluh (Kosrae, Micronesia).

Richards ZT, Shen CC, Hobbs JP, Wu CC, Jiang X, Beardsley F - Sci Adv (2015)

Corals of the Leluh tombs.(A) Six genera of scleractinian corals in situ on the outer wall of tomb Inol-1. (B) Collecting a sample of Porites from inside the crypt of twin tomb 1—Lūrūn. Photographs by Zoe Richards.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4643814&req=5

Figure 3: Corals of the Leluh tombs.(A) Six genera of scleractinian corals in situ on the outer wall of tomb Inol-1. (B) Collecting a sample of Porites from inside the crypt of twin tomb 1—Lūrūn. Photographs by Zoe Richards.
Mentions: To estimate the construction ages, 47 coral samples were collected from three saru—Lūrūn, Bat, and Inol-1 (Fig. 3, fig. S2, and table S1). In addition, living corals were collected as control samples. High-precision U-Th dating techniques (15–17) were used on the 24 corals that passed the screening tests for secondary calcite. The determined ages of coral deaths varied from 702.4 ± 6.5 to 1094.8 ± 5.4 years for Inol-1, from 691.1 ± 4.8 to 5717 ± 23 years for twin tomb 1—Lūrūn, and 625.6 ± 6.5 to 1036.8 ± 6.6 years for twin tomb 2—Bat (table S2). The wide age intervals of hundreds to thousands of years indicate that a mixture of live and fossil coral was used to line the crypts (Fig. 4), infill walls, and as facades. The determined minimum coral dates represent the possible oldest ages of saru construction as follows: Inol-1 AD 1310.7 ± 6.5, twin tomb 1—Lūrūn AD 1322.0 ± 4.8, and twin tomb 2—Bat AD 1387.5 ± 6.5 (table S3).

Bottom Line: Like other prehistoric tombs, the Leluh tombs were dated by association-from the remnants of the temporarily interred.The results suggest that the tombs were built about 700 years ago during the 14th century, about three centuries earlier than previously reported.The new dates redefine the peak occupation of Leluh and place its ruling paramountcy at the leading edge of the developing trans-oceanic political hierarchies, as well as the social and economic systems that dominated the civilizations in this part of the world.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Aquatic Zoology, Western Australian Museum, Welshpool, Western Australia 6015, Australia.

ABSTRACT
Monumental tombs within ancient civilizations worldwide hold precious clues for deciphering the architectural skill, acumen, and industry of prehistoric cultures. Most tombs were constructed from abiotic materials-stone, soil, and/or clay, predominately-and were built to permanently inter royalty or high-status individuals. On the island of Kosrae in the central Pacific, monumental tombs were constructed with scleractinian coral and were confined to the prehistoric island capital of Leluh, where they served as temporary mortuary processing points. Like other prehistoric tombs, the Leluh tombs were dated by association-from the remnants of the temporarily interred. We present new dates for three sacred tombs using high-precision U-Th dates from 24 corals collected directly from the structural materials. The results suggest that the tombs were built about 700 years ago during the 14th century, about three centuries earlier than previously reported. The new dates redefine the peak occupation of Leluh and place its ruling paramountcy at the leading edge of the developing trans-oceanic political hierarchies, as well as the social and economic systems that dominated the civilizations in this part of the world.

No MeSH data available.