четверг, 26 марта 2020 г.

Prehistoric artefacts suggest a Neolithic era independently developed in New Guinea

New artefacts 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 behaviour 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.

Prehistoric artefacts suggest a Neolithic era independently developed in New Guinea
Excavations at New Guinea’s Waim site began in 2016 after local residents discovered these stone artefacts.
The finds included mortars, pestles, carved faces and club heads [Credit: B. Shaw]

The location and pattern of the artefacts 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, archaeologists excavated and examined a trove of artefacts from the recently identified Waim archaeological site.

"What is truly exciting is that this was the first time these artefacts 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.

The findings are published in Science Advances.

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science [March 25, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

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