WASHINGTON - Kennewick Man was laid to rest alongside a river more than 9,000 years ago, buried by other people, a leading forensic scientist said Thursday.
The skeleton, one of the oldest and most complete ever found in North America, has been under close analysis since courts sided with researchers in a legal battle with Indian tribes in the Northwest who wanted the remains found near the Columbia River reburied without study.
Douglas Owsley, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, discussed his findings in remarks prepared for delivery Thursday evening at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Seattle.
'We know very little about this time period,' Owsley said in a telephone interview. 'This is a rare opportunity to try and reconstruct the life story of this man. ... This is his opportunity to tell us what life was like during that time.'
Researchers have disagreed over whether Kennewick Man was buried by other people or swept up in a flood and encased in sediment.
Owsley concluded the man was deliberately buried, between two and three feet deep, his body placed in the grave, head slightly higher than feet, hands placed at his sides.
The location was riverside, with the body parallel to the river and head pointing upstream.
Using an industrial CT scanner, Owsley was able to study the skeleton in fine sections and also get a better look at a spear or dart point imbedded in Kennewick Man's hip.
The point has previously been described as a Cascade point, typical of the region, but Owsley said that is not the case. Cascade points tend to have two pointed ends and are sometimes serrated, he said"