Papua New Guinea highland research redates Neolithic period

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

A new report revealed in Science Developments on the emergence of agriculture in highland Papua New Guinea demonstrates enhancements often linked with a later on Neolithic period of time transpired about one thousand years’ previously than previously assumed.

University of Otago Archaeology Programme Professor and report co-author Glenn Summerhayes states results in Emergence of a Neolithic in highland New Guinea by 5000 to 4000 a long time ago, give insights into when and how the highlands had been initially occupied the role of financial plants in this course of action the progress of trade routes which led to the translocation of plants and systems and an linked report of landscape, ecosystem and local weather transform via time.

The report information the earliest figurative stone carving and formally manufactured pestles in Oceania, dating to 5050 to 4200 a long time ago, which had been observed at a dig web page in Waim. Also observed had been the earliest planilateral axe-adzes uncovered in New Guinea to date, and the initially evidence for fibrecraft and interisland obsidian transfer from neighbouring islands around distances of at minimum 800km.

“The new evidence from Waim fills a essential gap in our understanding of the social alterations and technological improvements that have contributed to the building cultural range in New Guinea,” Professor Summerhayes states.

The blend of symbolic social methods, advanced systems, and highland agricultural intensification supports an unbiased emergence of a Neolithic around one thousand a long time in advance of the arrival of Neolithic migrants, the Lapita, from Southeast Asia. When deemed alongside one another with a increasing corpus of research indicating growth and intensification of agricultural techniques, these merged cultural components characterize the progress of a regionally distinctive Neolithic.

The study establishes dating for other finds at the web page, like a fire lighting device, postholes, and a fibrecraft device with ochre, potentially made use of for colouring string fibre.

The report suggests increased inhabitants strain on the uneven distribution of all-natural means possible drove this course of action, which is even more inferred by language and genetic divergence.

The job arose out of an Australian Research Council Grant awarded to Dr Judith Field (University of New South Wales) and Professor Summerhayes.

“Previous Otago postgraduate college student Dr Ben Shaw was employed as postdoctoral fellow to do the “leg function in the industry” and Dr Anne Ford (Otago Archaeology Programme) contributed to understandings of the stone device systems. As it worked out many of these rich discoveries had been created by Dr Shaw. It was one particular of the best appointments Dr Field and I have at any time created. I am happy of our Otago graduates who are some of the best in the earth.”

Professor Summerhayes and his team experienced previously accomplished a Marsden funded job in the Ivane Valley of Papua, developing the commencing of human profession at 50,000 a long time ago. The results of this function had been revealed in Science in 2010.

“This job is a observe-on the place we wished to build a chronology of human presence in the Simbai/Kaironk Valley of Papua New Guinea by systematic archaeological study with subsequent excavation and investigation of a select variety of web-sites.

“This function tracks very long-expression designs of settlement history, useful resource use and trade, and establishes an environmental context for these developments by compiling vegetation histories, with individual interest paid to fire histories, indicators of landscape disturbance and markers of local weather variability. This will add to understandings of peoples’ influence on the ecosystem.”

Professor Summerhayes obtained a Marsden grant in late 2019 for his job “Crossing the divide from Asia to the Pacific: Comprehending Austronesian colonisation gateways into the Pacific”. This will include function in the Ramu Valley, which was as soon as section of an inland sea, and will tie in the developments of Highland New Guinea, with the movements of Austronesian speakers into the Pacific.


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Professor Glenn Summerhayes

University of Otago, Office of Archaeology


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