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Archaeological and Palaeoenviromental Investigations Near Aitape, Northern Papua New Guinea, 2014

Mark Golitko, Ethan Cochrane, Esther M. Schecter, Jason Kariwiga


The mid-Holocene period (ca. 7000–3000 BP) in the southwestern Pacific witnessed the activation of wide-ranging networks connecting the north coast of New Guinea and off-shore islands, possibly driven by rising population density as favourable coastal environments developed after the mid-Holocene marine highstand. Yet finding actual evidence for human occupation dating to this period in New Guinea has proven extremely challenging. We report on the results of recent fieldwork carried out to examine areas of potential mid-Holocene settlement near the modern town of Aitape. Our survey and excavations provide minor evidence for mid-Holocene settlement, but we find no evidence for obsidian or other long distance imports suggesting connection to other parts of the Pacific during this time. It remains uncertain whether this absence reflects prehistoric reality or the difficulties inherent in finding archaeology of mid-Holocene age on a coastline impacted by significant morphological change during the intervening millennia.

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ISSN (print) 1179 4704; ISSN (online) 1179 4712
Published with the assistance of the Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, University of Otago.
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