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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Discovery of Tuqan Man Announced

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

California San Miguel IslandSAN MIGUEL ISLAND, CHANNEL ISLANDS—The Ventura County Star reports that the discovery of ancient human remains on San Miguel Island in 2005 has just been announced to the public. Researchers spotted a piece human bone near an eroded ancient Chumash camp site during a survey in Channel Islands National Park. Because the grave was vulnerable to erosion, the National Park Service (NPS) alerted the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, who have ties to the Channel Islands, to the discovery. The Chumash decided to allow the excavation of the site. Dubbed “Tuqan Man,” for the traditional name of the island, the remains were removed from the grave, which had been marked with stones, and taken to the mainland for DNA testing and study. Radiocarbon dating revealed the man died between 9,800 and 10,200 years ago, and was between 40 and 50 years of age at the time of his death. Isotope analysis suggests he lived in the interior of California, not on the islands. Scientists were not able to obtain a DNA sample from the bones, however, so they were not able to find a genetic link to modern Chumash people. That meant the NPS had to publish legal notices in local newspapers before handing the bones over to the Santa Ynez Band for reburial. But no other tribe came forward to claim Tuqan Man’s remains. “We’re very happy that we could lay this man to rest,” said tribal chairman Kenneth Kahn. For more on early Americans, go to “America, in the Beginning.”

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