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PNGians played big role in Ivane discoveries

Summerhayes_Glenn The leader of the research project which discovered evidence of human settlement in the PNG highlands nearly 50,000 years ago, PROF GLENN SUMMERHAYES, responded to reader PETER’s inquiries about the role of Papua New Guineans in the project

AS PART OF my commitment to developing archaeology in PNG through the university and the museum over the past 20 years I have tried to take students into the field as part of their training - where possible and only with permission of the university.

In 2007 and 2008 I took eight archaeology undergraduates of the UPNG into the field in the Ivane Valley (and more accompanied me to Kokoda Valley in 2008 and also with myself and Prof Jim Allen to Yule Island in 2007 as well).

UPNG students have also come with me on fieldwork in the Sepik and New Ireland. Apart from the students mentioned above, Mr Mandui, Chief Archaeologist of the National Museum and Art Gallery of PNG, accompanied me into the field, and indeed he is a co-author of this article (and others I have my name on).

Mr Mandui is completing an Honours degree at UPNG. We are affiliated with the National Museum when we undertake research.

Dr Leavesley, who was my post-doctroal fellow on the Ivane Valley Project, undertook teaching at UPNG and organised the students to participate in these Ivane Valley excavations as part of their studies. They were taught surveying, archaeology, geology, and excavation.

When his postdoctoral fellowship finished, Dr Leavesley continued teaching at UPNG keeping archaeology alive and well. He is also an author on the article (in Science).

I should also point that that we have also taken with us to Kokoda Valley one of Hugh Davies (UPNG Professor of Geology) geology students and indeed have encouraged Prof Davies to send more.

Prior to Dr Leavesley’s participation, I worked closely with Dr Bernard Minol (at UPNG) and, of course, with Dr Pam Swadling (National Museum). I find the participation of students a rewarding experience and would have hoped that this translated into more of them continuing with higher degree studies.

When I was Head of Archaeology and& Natural History at the ANU’s Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, I had two postgraduate students from PNG.

When I arrived in New Zealand in 2005 I had extensive talks with the late Bernard Narakobi (who was the PNG High Commissioner to NZ) about helping to increase scholarships through NZ Aid.

The priorities are determined by NZ AID in consultation with PNG - and believe me, to date, archaeology is unfortunately not a priority. All this takes time.”


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