Humans have been living it 'up' for 50,000 years

Archaeologists find evidence for settlements in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, giving us indication that humans were living, rather successfully, in cold and relatively inhospitable conditions for the last 50,000 years.

Papua Peak Gives Picture, Puzzle of Ancient Tribes
AFP, via Jakarta Globe, 01 October 2010

The world’s oldest known high-altitude human settlements, dating back 49,000 years, have been found sealed in volcanic ash in Papua New Guinea mountains, archaeologists said on Friday.

Researchers have unearthed the remains of six camps, including fragments of stone tools and food, in an area near the town of Kokoda, said Andrew Fairbairn, an archaeologist on the team.

“What we’ve got there are basically a series of campsites, that’s what they look like anyway. The remains of fires, stone tools, that kind of thing, on ridgetops.”

Fairbairn said the settlements are at about 2,000 meters and believed to be the oldest evidence of homo sapiens inhabiting a high-altitude environment.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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