Research ArticleARCHAEOLOGY

Emergence of a Neolithic in highland New Guinea by 5000 to 4000 years ago

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Science Advances  25 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 13, eaay4573
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay4573
  • Fig. 1 New Guinea and the location of Waim relative to other mid-Holocene highland sites.

    (A) Sites mentioned in text and the mid-Holocene extent of the Sepik-Ramu inland sea. 1, Waim; 2, Wanelek; 3, Kuk; 4, Manton; 5, Nombe; 6, Kiowa; 7, Kafiavana; 8, Aibura; 9, NFB, NFX; 10, NGH; 11, Yuku; 12, Manim; 13, Kamapuk; 14, Vilakuav; 15, Joes Garden; 16, Kutau obsidian source. (B) Elevation profile [northeast (NE)–southwest (SW)] of Simbai-Jimi Valleys showing the location of Waim. Inset: Global position of New Guinea. Bolded line is equator. Figure credit: Ben Shaw, University of New South Wales (UNSW).

  • Fig. 2 Chronologies for human settlement in the New Guinea highlands modeled against climate, biomass burning, and relative sea levels.

    (A) Calibrated AMS charcoal dates from Waim, Kuk agricultural phases 1 to 3, and other mid-Holocene highland sites (>1200 m asl) in New Guinea. (B) General trends in New Guinea climate based on paleocore data (6). (C) Regional biomass burning based on cumulative charcoal records from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia (6). Scale is standardized cumulative charcoal divided by the number of sites from 200-year temporal periods based on age-depth 14C curves. (D) Sea levels in the New Guinea region over time (43). Yellow shading in (A), (C), and (D) indicates major phase of cultural deposition at Waim. Archaeological sites with evidence for cultivation but no contemporary evidence for mid-Holocene domestic occupation are underlined. *Rockshelter sites. Figure credit: Ben Shaw, UNSW.

  • Fig. 3 Setting and plan of Waim.

    (A) The spur apex where Waim is located; excavated area is indicated by arrow. (B) Location of excavated squares and features of the modern village. Photo credit: Judith Field, UNSW. Figure credit: Ben Shaw, UNSW.

  • Fig. 4 Formally manufactured stone carvings and pestles from Waim.

    (A) Excavated fragment of carved stone face with image above and three-dimensional (3D) photogrammetry textured model below showing brow ridges and eye socket. Comparative carvings from undated contexts are provided in fig. S5. (B) Complete carved face with bird above the head showing front and top, found during groundworks in the same location where excavations were undertaken. (C) Large excavated pestle base fragment (pestle 1) with natural mineral lens indicated by arrow. (D) Small excavated pestle base fragment (pestle 2). (E) Complete pestle (local surface find) with similar base morphology as the excavated example (D). Photo and figure credits: Ben Shaw, UNSW.

  • Fig. 5 Components of planilateral axe-adze manufacture from Waim excavations.

    (A) Large siliceous argillite preform prepared by grinding all surfaces of a naturally occurring tabular slab, with the distal ends heavily ground to obtain an acute angle. (B) Siliceous argillite with deeply incised cut marks, perhaps delineating the distal end of an axe-adze, demonstrating the use of cutting as a manufacturing technique at Waim. Photo credit: Judith Field, UNSW. Figure credit: Ben Shaw, UNSW.

  • Fig. 6 Ground and cut stone artefacts from Waim excavations.

    (A) Incised volcanic stone with ochre residue, (B) pyroxenite fragment with striations, (C) siliceous argillite lenticular axe-adze, and (D to F) siliceous argillite tool fragments with ground surfaces. Photo and figure credits: Ben Shaw, UNSW.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/6/13/eaay4573/DC1

    Fig. S1. World map showing the centers where domestication of at least one plant species has occurred in the Early and Middle Holocene.

    Fig. S2. Formally manufactured stone tools found on the surface or recovered during groundworks for gardening and house construction on the Waim spur by local residents before the archaeological investigations.

    Fig. S3. Stratigraphic profiles, artefact density, and particle size analysis for the systematically excavated squares at Waim.

    Fig. S4. Regional geology of the Simbai-Kaironk-Jimi Valleys showing the location of Waim and likely origins of excavated stone artefacts.

    Fig. S5. Map of known stone mortar-pestle distribution and core distribution of stone carved bird iconography in Papua New Guinea and the adjacent islands relative to the location of Waim.

    Fig. S6. Structural evidence and artefact distribution at the Waim site.

    Fig. S7. Principal components analysis of Waim obsidian flaked piece and obsidian sources.

    Fig. S8. Grassland mountains and forested Jimi River Valley landscape below Waim, looking south, with the Jimi-Wahgi divide in the background.

    Fig. S9. The Waim site, looking east, situated on a natural hill top within Waim village.

    Fig. S10. Excavation of the test pit showing the gabbro pestle fragment and other lithic artefacts exposed in the front (northern) half of the square.

    Fig. S11. Partially exposed section that had been previously cut back by Waim residents around the northern edge of the hilltop.

    Fig. S12. Square F after excavation showing a possible posthole feature in the lower right hand corner.

    Fig. S13. The Waim site with the locations of the systematically excavated squares shown.

    Fig. S14. Stone carving from square B, layer 2b.

    Fig. S15. Artefact with incised cut/groove marks, from square B, layer 2c.

    Fig. S16. Ground-stone fragments and corresponding microwear from various squares of the Waim excavations.

    Fig. S17. Comparative reference starch used in this study and not shown in fig. S20.

    Fig. S18. Dendrogram for the optimal classifier—a quadratic discriminant—showing the Mahalanobis distance between the means of the species.

    Fig. S19. The confusion matrix for the reference species used in the study.

    Fig. S20. Archaeological starch and their correlating species identification.

    Fig. S21. Phytoliths identified on the Waim pestle and sediment.

    Table S1. Radiocarbon determinations from Waim, mid-Holocene New Guinea highland sites, and the Holocene sequence from Kuk swamp (phases 1 to 3).

    Table S2. Excavated lithic artefact assemblage from Waim, by square, layer, and artefact type.

    Table S3. pXRF elemental concentrations (ppm; Ka1) for the Waim obsidian core and for the obsidian source samples.

    Table S4. Numbers of grains identified of each of the comparative reference species.

    Table S5. Error range of Bruker Tracer III-SD during analysis, using the U.S. Geological Survey BHVO-2 Geological Standard.

    Table S6. Elemental loadings of three components (98% variation) for analyzed obsidian source samples and the Waim obsidian flake.

    Text S1. Archaeological investigations at Waim

    Text S2. Stratigraphic descriptions of sedimentary layers at Waim

    Text S3. Technological and geological characteristics of the Waim lithics

    Text S4. Microwear analysis of carved and modified lithic artefacts

    Text S5. Geometric morphometric analysis of ancient starch from Waim

    Text S6. Phytolith analysis of pestle and sediments from Waim

    Text S7. pXRF reference data and principal components analysis of Waim obsidian

    References (4469)

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • Fig. S1. World map showing the centers where domestication of at least one plant species has occurred in the Early and Middle Holocene.
    • Fig. S2. Formally manufactured stone tools found on the surface or recovered during groundworks for gardening and house construction on the Waim spur by local residents before the archaeological investigations.
    • Fig. S3. Stratigraphic profiles, artefact density, and particle size analysis for the systematically excavated squares at Waim.
    • Fig. S4. Regional geology of the Simbai-Kaironk-Jimi Valleys showing the location of Waim and likely origins of excavated stone artefacts.
    • Fig. S5. Map of known stone mortar-pestle distribution and core distribution of stone carved bird iconography in Papua New Guinea and the adjacent islands relative to the location of Waim.
    • Fig. S6. Structural evidence and artefact distribution at the Waim site.
    • Fig. S7. Principal components analysis of Waim obsidian flaked piece and obsidian sources.
    • Fig. S8. Grassland mountains and forested Jimi River Valley landscape below Waim, looking south, with the Jimi-Wahgi divide in the background.
    • Fig. S9. The Waim site, looking east, situated on a natural hill top within Waim village.
    • Fig. S10. Excavation of the test pit showing the gabbro pestle fragment and other lithic artefacts exposed in the front (northern) half of the square.
    • Fig. S11. Partially exposed section that had been previously cut back by Waim residents around the northern edge of the hilltop.
    • Fig. S12. Square F after excavation showing a possible posthole feature in the lower right hand corner.
    • Fig. S13. The Waim site with the locations of the systematically excavated squares shown.
    • Fig. S14. Stone carving from square B, layer 2b.
    • Fig. S15. Artefact with incised cut/groove marks, from square B, layer 2c.
    • Fig. S16. Ground-stone fragments and corresponding microwear from various squares of the Waim excavations.
    • Fig. S17. Comparative reference starch used in this study and not shown in fig. S20.
    • Fig. S18. Dendrogram for the optimal classifier—a quadratic discriminant—showing the Mahalanobis distance between the means of the species.
    • Fig. S19. The confusion matrix for the reference species used in the study.
    • Fig. S20. Archaeological starch and their correlating species identification.
    • Fig. S21. Phytoliths identified on the Waim pestle and sediment.
    • Table S1. Radiocarbon determinations from Waim, mid-Holocene New Guinea highland sites, and the Holocene sequence from Kuk swamp (phases 1 to 3).
    • Table S2. Excavated lithic artefact assemblage from Waim, by square, layer, and artefact type.
    • Table S3. pXRF elemental concentrations (ppm; Ka1) for the Waim obsidian core and for the obsidian source samples.
    • Table S4. Numbers of grains identified of each of the comparative reference species.
    • Table S5. Error range of Bruker Tracer III-SD during analysis, using the U.S. Geological Survey BHVO-2 Geological Standard.
    • Table S6. Elemental loadings of three components (98% variation) for analyzed obsidian source samples and the Waim obsidian flake.
    • Text S1. Archaeological investigations at Waim
    • Text S2. Stratigraphic descriptions of sedimentary layers at Waim
    • Text S3. Technological and geological characteristics of the Waim lithics
    • Text S4. Microwear analysis of carved and modified lithic artefacts
    • Text S5. Geometric morphometric analysis of ancient starch from Waim
    • Text S6. Phytolith analysis of pestle and sediments from Waim
    • Text S7. pXRF reference data and principal components analysis of Waim obsidian
    • References (4469)

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