Historicising the present: Late Holocene emergence of a rainforest hunting camp, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea

Ian J. McNiven, Bruno David, Ken Aplin, Max Pivoru, William Pivoru, Alex Sexton, Jonathan Brown, Chris Clarkson, Kate Connell, John Stanisic, Marshall Weisler, Simon Haberle, Andrew Fairbairn, Noel Kemp

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Historicising the emergence of ethnographic activities provides insights into the reliability of ethnographic analogies to aid archaeological understandings of past human societies, as well as allowing us to explore the historical emergence of ethnographically contextualised cultural traits. Epe Amoho is the largest hunting camp rockshelter used by the Himaiyu clan (Rumu people) of the Kikori River region, southern Papua New Guinea. Contemporary ethnographic information indicates dry season site use with subsistence practices directed towards riverine fishing and shellfishing, mammal hunting and gardening in the surrounding rainforest. But how long has the site been used and when in the past did activities start to resemble those known ethnographically? Archaeological excavations revealed three pulses of activity: Recent Phase (0-500 cal BP), Middle Phase (900-1200 cal BP) and Early Phase (2500-2850 cal BP). Pollen data reveal increasing rainforest disturbance by people through time. While the best match between ethnographic and archaeological practices occurs during the Recent Phase, selected aspects of Rumu subsistence extend back to the Early Phase. As the temporal depth of ethnographically-known practices differs between archaeological sites, a complex picture emerges where Rumu cultural practices unfolded at differing points in time and space over a period of at least 3000 years.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-56
    Number of pages16
    JournalAustralian Archaeology
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


    Dive into the research topics of 'Historicising the present: Late Holocene emergence of a rainforest hunting camp, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this