Palaeolandscapes, radiocarbon chronologies, and the human settlement of southern lowland and Island Papua New Guinea

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Coastal and lowland landscapes played a pivotal role in the dispersal of our species through Pleistocene New Guinea (northern Sahul) and were the focus of increasingly intensive settlement throughout the Holocene. This chapter assesses the current breadth of archaeological and palaeo-ecological records for the lowlands (≤ 100▒m above sea level) and islands of southern Papua New Guinea to contextualise past human use of these dynamic landscapes. A meta-analysis of available radiocarbon dates (n▒=▒687) suggests fluctuating but generally increasing population densities from the end of the mid-Holocene as people adapted their settlement strategies to stabilising coastlines and expanding maritime trade networks. The earliest cultural records thus far reflect post-glacial behavioural adaptations to altitudinally suppressed lower montane forests from 17,000 years ago when temperatures were lower and coastlines relatively unstable. The limited visibility of cultural sites earlier than 5000 years ago can only partly be explained by post-glacial sea level rise having inundated former coastlines, with the region a potential pathway into the mountainous interior which has been utilised for at least 50,000 years. Targeted research is now needed to identify inland and earlier settlement locales to expand our understanding of how adaptation to lowland ecologies influenced patterns of cultural and linguistic diversity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPalaeolandscapes in Archaeology: Lessons for the Past and Future
    Editors Mike T. Carson
    Place of PublicationAbingdon United Kingdom
    ISBN (Print)9780367689032
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    Dive into the research topics of 'Palaeolandscapes, radiocarbon chronologies, and the human settlement of southern lowland and Island Papua New Guinea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this