Nav: Home

Prehistoric artifacts suggest a neolithic era independently developed in New Guinea

March 25, 2020

New artifacts uncovered at the Waim archaeological site in the highlands of New Guinea - including a fragment of the earliest symbolic stone carving in Oceania - illustrate a shift in human behavior between 5050 and 4200 years ago in response to the widespread emergence of agriculture, ushering in a regional Neolithic Era similar to the Neolithic in Eurasia. The location and pattern of the artifacts at the site suggest a fixed domestic space and symbolic cultural practices, hinting that the region began to independently develop hallmarks of the Neolithic about 1000 years before Lapita farmers from Southeast Asia arrived in New Guinea. While scientists have known that wetland agriculture originated in the New Guinea highlands between 8000 and 4000 years ago, there has been little evidence for corresponding social changes like those that occurred in other parts of the world. To better understand what life was like in this region as agriculture spread, Ben Shaw et al. excavated and examined a trove of artifacts from the recently identified Waim archaeological site. "What is truly exciting is that this was the first time these artifacts have been found in the ground, which has now allowed us to determine their age with radiocarbon dating," Shaw said. The researchers analyzed a stone carving fragment depicting the brow ridge of a human or animal face, a complete stone carving of a human head with a bird perched on top (recovered by Waim residents), and two ground stone pestle fragments with traces of yam, fruit and nut starches on their surfaces. They also identified an obsidian core that provides the first evidence for long-distance, off-shore obsidian trade, as well as postholes where house posts may have once stood.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Agriculture Articles:

EU agriculture not viable for the future
The current reform proposals of the EU Commission on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are unlikely to improve environmental protection, say researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Göttingen in the journal Science.
Global agriculture: Impending threats to biodiversity
A new study compares the effects of expansion vs. intensification of cropland use on global agricultural markets and biodiversity, and finds that the expansion strategy poses a particularly serious threat to biodiversity in the tropics.
A new vision for genomics in animal agriculture
Iowa State University animal scientists helped to form a blueprint to guide the next decade of animal genomics research.
New pathways for sustainable agriculture
Diversity beats monotony: a colourful patchwork of small, differently used plots can bring advantages to agriculture and nature.
The future of agriculture is computerized
Researchers at the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture Initiative have used computer algorithms to determine the optimal growing conditions to improve basil plants' taste by maximizing the concentration of flavorful molecules known as volatile compounds.
When yesterday's agriculture feeds today's water pollution
Water quality is threatened by a long history of fertilizer use on land, Canadian scientists find.
How does agriculture affect vulnerable insect-eating birds?
Aerial insectivores -- birds that hunt for insect prey on the wing -- are declining across North America as agricultural intensification leads to diminishing insect abundance and diversity in many areas.
Brazil's Forest Code can balance the needs of agriculture and the environment
If fully implemented, Brazil's Forest Code, an environmental law designed to protect the country's native vegetation and regulate land use, will not prevent growth in Brazilian agriculture, according to new IIASA-led research.
On the origins of agriculture, researchers uncover new clues
Researchers have uncovered evidence that underscores one long-debated theory: that agriculture arose out of moments of surplus, when environmental conditions were improving, and populations lived in greater densities.
Wintering warblers choose agriculture over forest
Effective conservation for long-distance migrants requires knowing what's going on with them year-round -- not just when they're in North America during the breeding season.
More Agriculture News and Agriculture Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#555 Coronavirus
It's everywhere, and it felt disingenuous for us here at Science for the People to avoid it, so here is our episode on Coronavirus. It's ok to give this one a skip if this isn't what you want to listen to right now. Check out the links below for other great podcasts mentioned in the intro. Host Rachelle Saunders gets us up to date on what the Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we know and don't know with Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. And...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.