Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology



Advisor 1

Jennifer Thompson, Committee Chair

First Committee Member

Debra Martin

Second Committee Member

Peter Gray

Graduate Faculty Representative

Megan Litster

Number of Pages



The timing and nature of the migration of the ancestors of the Polynesian people is debated by two competing theories. The "Express Train" and "Slow Boat" theories assert that the migration of the Proto-Polynesian people began around 6,000 years before present (BP) or around 10,000 years BP respectively. Through the use of haplogroups and specific genetic mutations a direct relationship between the Proto-Polynesians and modern Polynesians was attempted to test which of these theories was correct. The ancient skeletal remains from the island of Borneo currently housed at UNLV were used in this study as their dates fall within both theories' geographic and temporal range and so held the potential to provide the genetic material required to test these theories. The aim of this study was to genetically link these ancient skeletal remains to modern Polynesian people. However, the results obtained determined the samples were contaminated with DNA belonging to people outside of the Southeast Asian haplogroup and that any original DNA had become degraded. This meant that no further analysis could take place. These findings lead to the conclusion that collection practices need to be implemented by the excavators and curators of skeletal remains to reduce or eliminate accidental contamination.


DNA collection and preservation; DNA contamination; Excavation procedures; Human migrations; Human remains storage; Polynesia; Polynesians; Proto-Polynesian people


Archaeological Anthropology | Genetics

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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