New dating of New Guinea artifacts is first hard evidence of 3,000-year-old cultural connection between islanders and seafarers
D. Gaffney 2015
Ceramic shards unearthed in highland New Guinea more than 40 years ago have now been pegged as the oldest known pottery on the island, by a lot. That discovery offers a first glimpse of encounters between island residents and seafarers that influenced the rise of modern South Pacific societies.
Eleven of 20 pottery pieces excavated in 1972 and 1973 at Wañelek, a site in New Guinea’s highlands, date to between about 2,800 and 4,000 years ago. These new radiocarbon dates provide the first solid evidence that pottery-making sea voyagers with Asian roots engaged in a cultural give-and-take with New Guinea natives before colonizing a string of South Pacific islands. Archaeologist Dylan Gaffney of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and colleagues report the findings September 2 in PLOS ONE.
Until now, New Guinea pottery dated to within only the last thousand years.