The discovery of pottery from the ancient Lapita culture by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) has shed new light on how Papua New Guinea (PNG) served as a launching pad for the colonization of the Pacific—one of the greatest migrations in human history. The new study makes clear the initial expansion of the Lapita people throughout PNG was far greater than previously thought. The study, published in the Nature Ecology and Evolution journal, is based on the discovery of a distinctive Lapita pottery sherd, a broken piece of pottery with sharp edges, on Brooker Island (200km east of mainland PNG) in 2017 that lead researcher Dr. Ben Shaw said was “like finding a needle in a haystack”. “Lapita cultural groups were the first people to reach the remote Pacific islands such as Vanuatu around 3,000 years ago, but in PNG where people have lived for at least 50,000 years, the timing and extent of Lapita dispersals are poorly understood,” Dr. Shaw said.
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