August 12, 2020


Aim for Excellence

Papua New Guinea highland research redates Neolithic period

Graphic: College of Otago Professor of Archaeology Professor Glenn Summerhayes with area crew in Papua New...

Graphic: College of Otago Professor of Archaeology Professor Glenn Summerhayes with area crew in Papua New Guinea.
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Credit history: College of Otago

A new report published in Science Developments on the emergence of agriculture in highland Papua New Guinea demonstrates developments normally affiliated with a later on Neolithic time period happened about one thousand years’ previously than previously imagined.

College of Otago Archaeology Programme Professor and report co-author Glenn Summerhayes claims conclusions in Emergence of a Neolithic in highland New Guinea by 5000 to 4000 decades in the past, provide insights into when and how the highlands were very first occupied the role of financial vegetation in this course of action the improvement of trade routes which led to the translocation of vegetation and technologies and an affiliated document of landscape, ecosystem and local climate improve by means of time.

The report facts the earliest figurative stone carving and formally produced pestles in Oceania, relationship to 5050 to 4200 decades in the past, which were located at a dig site in Waim. Also located were the earliest planilateral axe-adzes uncovered in New Guinea to date, and the very first proof for fibrecraft and interisland obsidian transfer from neighbouring islands about distances of at minimum 800km.

“The new proof from Waim fills a critical hole in our being familiar with of the social adjustments and technological improvements that have contributed to the producing cultural range in New Guinea,” Professor Summerhayes claims.

The mixture of symbolic social programs, sophisticated technologies, and highland agricultural intensification supports an independent emergence of a Neolithic all-around one thousand decades right before the arrival of Neolithic migrants, the Lapita, from Southeast Asia. When regarded alongside one another with a developing corpus of experiments indicating expansion and intensification of agricultural procedures, these merged cultural aspects stand for the improvement of a regionally distinct Neolithic.

The investigate establishes relationship for other finds at the site, like a fireplace lighting resource, postholes, and a fibrecraft resource with ochre, possibly made use of for colouring string fibre.

The report indicates elevated inhabitants stress on the uneven distribution of natural assets possible drove this course of action, which is further inferred by language and genetic divergence.

The job arose out of an Australian Investigation Council Grant awarded to Dr Judith Industry (College of New South Wales) and Professor Summerhayes.

“Previous Otago postgraduate student Dr Ben Shaw was employed as postdoctoral fellow to do the “leg do the job in the area” and Dr Anne Ford (Otago Archaeology Programme) contributed to understandings of the stone resource technologies. As it worked out a lot of of these prosperous discoveries were made by Dr Shaw. It was one particular of the finest appointments Dr Industry and I have ever made. I am very pleased of our Otago graduates who are some of the finest in the environment.”

Professor Summerhayes and his group experienced previously finished a Marsden funded job in the Ivane Valley of Papua, developing the starting of human occupation at 50,000 decades in the past. The final results of this do the job were published in Science in 2010.

“This job is a adhere to-on exactly where we preferred to construct a chronology of human existence in the Simbai/Kaironk Valley of Papua New Guinea by systematic archaeological study with subsequent excavation and examination of a decide on quantity of internet sites.

“This do the job tracks very long-term patterns of settlement background, source use and trade, and establishes an environmental context for these developments by compiling vegetation histories, with distinct interest compensated to fireplace histories, indicators of landscape disturbance and markers of local climate variability. This will add to understandings of peoples’ impression on the ecosystem.”

Professor Summerhayes acquired a Marsden grant in late 2019 for his job “Crossing the divide from Asia to the Pacific: Being familiar with Austronesian colonisation gateways into the Pacific”. This will require do the job in the Ramu Valley, which was after aspect of an inland sea, and will tie in the developments of Highland New Guinea, with the actions of Austronesian speakers into the Pacific.


For further info call

Professor Glenn Summerhayes

College of Otago, Office of Archaeology

Electronic mail: [email protected]

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