The Raja Ampat Archaeological Project is an international collaboration between researchers at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia, and Balai Arkeologi Papua. Check out their beautiful project website here!
The Raja Ampat Archaeological Project is starting to test these hypotheses and unlock the dynamics of ancient human migration and behaviour in this remarkable ecological zone. The project is asking questions like ‘what impact did early humans have on these peculiar environments?’ and ‘how did the first Raja Ampat Islanders adapt their social systems, technologies, and subsistence to life in this island world, thick with tropical rainforests and coral reefs?’
There are also hints from historical linguistic reconstructions that later in time, Neolithic settlers moved through the area bringing with them pottery making traditions and the Austronesian languages which are exclusively spoken in the islands today. Descendants of these settlers would later go on to venture out into the remote Pacific islands for the first time after 3000 years ago, settling the largest ocean on earth as far as Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawai’i, and Aotearoa/New Zealand. So how did different populations of Neolithic newcomers interact with established populations in Raja Ampat and reshape the environment and society in their own way?