Problems of radiocarbon dating

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The research team used computational methods derived from evolutionary biology to analyse historical data from 93 ‘Austronesian’ cultures.

The reason for the killing was, for example, the burial of a leader, the inauguration of a new boat or house or the punishment for the violation of traditions or taboos.Ritual human sacrifice played a central role in helping those at the top of the social hierarchy maintain power over those at the bottom.This is the central finding of a study published today in Nature.The term ‘Austronesian’ refers to a large family of languages, whose country of origin is Taiwan and whose distribution extends over much of the Indian and parts of the Pacific Ocean.Austronesian cultures form a sort of natural laboratory for intercultural studies, since they have a huge range of religions, languages, society sizes and shapes, and are located in different climatic and geographical regions.

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