From 2011 to 2016, the MAFBO (French Archaeological Project in Borneo) project has investigated the chronology of human occupation and its technological development in East Kalimantan since the Late Pleistocene/early Holocene. This project was in strong collaboration with several Indonesian institutions (National Centre for Archaeology, Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology), which led to 28 scientific publications, 49 conferences, and more than 50 events to the general public. During this time the project expanded its initial focus and problematic to exploring the population movements and histories from and to Indonesia across the Indian Ocean and Pacific region.
The new scientific and cooperation developed by MAFBO, led the project and its team to shift its focus to another region nearby: the New Guinea island, and specifically the territory which corresponds to actual Papua New Guinea.
For this reason, our fieldwork research in Borneo stops and new ones started in Papua New Guinea. However, despite this shift toward east, our publication work about Borneo is still ongoing and the publication of this blog will be maintained with a focus on research news on Borneo archaeology.
New investigation in New Guinea: the Papuan Past project
New Guinea territory is at the crossroad between Island Southeast Asia and Oceania, between the Asian and the Melanesian worlds. New Guineans are among the oldest continuous human population found outside Africa. Isolated from the rest of the world for most of the last 50 000 years, they have undergone independent genetic and cultural evolution and diversification, still largely unexplored. Since their arrival in Sahul (ancient landmass composed by Australia and New Guinea), they were shaped by a wide variety of environments (coast, swamp, high altitude), significant geographical barriers (high mountains, isolated valleys), exceptional cultural diversity (about 850 languages), and the independent development of agriculture in the highlands (9000BCE). The biological patrimony of these human groups is inherited from a complex history involving: 1) the initial settlers (50 000 years) 2) admixture with extinct hominins, and 3) with the mid-Holocene Asians (e.g. Austronesian).
With this aim we have developed the “Papuan Past project” to explore the modalities of human population settlement and adaptation – biological, cultural and technical evolution – over the last fifty thousand years in Papua New Guinea. The project combines archaeological and genomic approaches to reach this objective, and is run in close collaboration with the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG).
For more information please visit : https://papuanpast.hypotheses.org