Evolutionary Medicine in the Asia Pacific Region: How evidence of disease in old bones can address health problems in modern populations

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

The discovery of the Lapita cemetery site in Vanuatu in 2004 was significant for enhancing our understanding of human biosocial adaptation to virgin island environments in the Pacific islands. Over several excavations close to 100 individuals were found at the site, representing the oldest and largest Lapita skeletal sample from Oceania discovered to date. This presentation will provide a synthesis of the bioarchaeological research conducted on health, diet, biological affinities and mortuary practices and discuss the place of these people within the wider Austronesian diaspora of SEAsia and the Pacific.

Professor Buckley’s research interests focus on the effect of different cultural and ecological environments on the health and disease of prehistoric peoples in the Pacific Islands. She uses multi-disciplinary methods to investigate questions of diet and health in the human past. She is an internationally recognised expert on ancient disease in the Asia-Pacific region, and has contributed her expertise to several high profile projects. Having published 3 books, 17 book chapters, 56 peer-reviewed journal articles, Prof Buckley’s research findings have revolutionised our view of the quality of life and diet of these people and how the subsistence changed over time.