Archaeology of Far-North Sahul: Recent Advances in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and Environmental History of New Guinea

1University of Queensland

2University of Papua New Guinea

New Guinea has long been an enigma to outsiders and scientists alike, a region that has held firmly to its secrets for tens of thousands of years. Yet in recent times, and with renewed interest in the region and advances in scientific discovery, we now see a reawakening of scientific interest in this much misconceived land. This session intends to report on progress in ongoing research aimed at uncovering the prehistory of New Guinea (Papua New Guinea). It seeks to connect different panellists and researchers working in a range of distinct yet complementary disciplines as archaeology, genomics, and biological anthropology, to build and develop a more comprehensive picture of New Guinea’s unrivalled past. The session covers New Guinea’s past, from initial colonisation some 60,000 years ago, to early agriculture in the Highlands, and to modern-day Papuans and their links with archaic human populations. It delves into highland and lowland human adaption, and to the vast trading networks that ruled southern New Guinea prior to European contact less than 200 years ago. Finally, this session also seeks to connect the different researchers currently working in New Guinea to not only share new ideas and promote scientific endeavour, but also to inspire the next generation of Papua New Guinean scholars to undertake for themselves this vital and rewarding journey of science and discovery.