Series of talks by members of the Papuan Past Project

Current Trends in Papuan Linguistics

The Colloquium “Current Trends in Papuan Linguistics”, took place the 10-11 Dec 2019 at the INALCO Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (Paris, France).

Dr Nicolas Brucato on behalf of the Papuan Past Project, gave a presentation entitled “A genetic perspective on the complex settlement of the Melanesian world”.

The exceptional linguistic diversity of Papuan populations is mirrored in their genetic patrimony. A clear example resides on New Guinea Island hosting a genetic diversity equivalent to the entire Indo-European area. From the Papuan genome, inherited from the Out-of-Africa dispersal 60 000 years ago, to the gene flows from Austronesian groups during the Holocene, and even to the high percentage of genetic introgression from an extinct Homo species named Denisova, the biological diversity of New Guineans is unique. While the dynamics of the interaction of Papuan genes and languages remains unsolved, a complex scenario of the genetic dispersal into Melanesia is emerging. Based on genetic data from Island Southeast Asia, New Guinea Island, Remote Oceania and Australia, I will present the most probable model of human migrations that led to the current human genetic landscape of this region. I will focus on three periods: 1/ the first migration from Sunda into Sahul; 2/ the dispersal within the New Guinean territory and towards the Bismarck Archipelago; 3/ the late admixture events and the arrival of the Austronesians.

Maritime Connections

The symposium, “Maritime Connections”, which is the fifth annual symposium of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany was held from the 12th to 14th of December 2019. The symposium focused on the (pre)history of Island Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific.

Dr Francois-Xavier Ricaut on behalf of the Papuan Past Project, gave a presentation entitled “Interaction and isolation in Northern Sahul: a perspective from human genomic”.

I will present some of my recent research project aiming to understand the human migration and adaptation related to the colonization of New Guinea (60kya). To understand the human population history in New Guinea is complex as this population has undergone, isolated cultural and biological evolution over the last 60 thousand years, admixed with homo archaic (Denisova), and settled and adapted to all ecosystems (eg. high altitude, coastal pathogenic region). To complete this challenge we developed “The Papuan Past project” to explore the modalities of human population settlement and adaptation – biological, cultural and technical evolution – over the last 50 thousand years in Papua New Guinea. The project combines archaeological and genomic approaches to reach this objective, and is run in close collaboration with the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). I will present the current state of the genomic component of this project and discuss its future development, to better understand the demographic and adaptive history of New Guineans.

Dr Matthew Leavesley on behalf of the Papuan Past Project, gave a presentation entitled “An archaeological perspective on the peopling of New Guinea

The archaeology of the contemporary state of Papua New Guinea is important to students of human evolution because it can be considered the furthest point reached by modern humans in the first phase of movement out of Africa and also has some of the oldest strains of modern DNA outside of Africa. This paper presents the latest archaeological research into the peopling of New Guinea and the nearby Bismarck Archipelago. It draws on a number of studies undertaken into sites located along the coasts, islands and the higher altitude environs of the New Guinea highlands. It concludes by presenting a series of hypotheses about colonisation that can be deduced from the archaeological record. This paper should betaken in combination with that by Ricaut that is also on New Guinea