Nine Thousand Years of Gardening Kuk and the Archeology of Agriculture in PNG|
Some of the earliest evidence for agriculture in the world is claimed for Kuk, an
archeological site in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Following initial multidisciplinary
fieldwork at the site in the 1970s (directed by Jack Golson), claims were tentatively made for
agriculture dating back to 9000 bp on the basis of the archeological and geomorphological evidence.
More robust evidence of on-site agriculture, grouped into several discrete phases dating from 6000
bp to around 100 bp, was documented in archeological evidence that represented artificial drainage
of the wetland for cultivation. Recent multidisciplinary investigations at the site (directed by Tim
Denham) have yielded evidence to confirm a minimum 9000-year-old antiquity for agriculture.
The characterisation of agricultural activities at Kuk has been undertaken using a range of
multidisciplinary techniques, from archeobotany (diatom, parenchyma, phytolith, pollen, seed, starch
grain and wood analyses), sedimentology (micromorphology, X-radiography, X-ray diffraction), and
radiometric dating (conventional and AMS).
The book has five main parts that:
1. review the site’s importance in global and Pacific contexts;
2. review the archeological evidence and interpretations from Kuk in terms of the prehistory
of New Guinean agriculture;
3. present in detail the prehistory of each phase;
4. summarise the results of the specialist analyses; and
5. sketch the views of the local Kuk community and people of New Guinea on their
Each part is written by experts in the respective fields, and the results are interpreted by the original
fieldworkers and multidisciplinary specialists.
This book was produced to meet growing demands for information on Kuk for scientific,
educational and conservation purposes. It aims to present a clear account of the prehistoric finds
and their interpretations; and seeks to explain the modern Kuk community’s interest in the land, in the
discoveries, and in the site’s proposed World Heritage listing. The book is an invaluable guide to the
prehistory of agriculture in New Guinea. It will be accessible to the general reader, and will form the
core of high-school and undergraduate courses in New Guinea and beyond.
(edited by) Jack Golson, Tim Denham, Pamela Swadli
Numerous full-colour and b+w photographs; maps;illustrations
Portrait; hardcover; c. 400 pages
240 x 214 mm