Presentation at the “European Roundtable on Southeast Asian Archaeology”, Paris, 8-9 July 2024

On July, 8, 2024, Sébastien Plutniak gave a presentation at the “European Roundtable on Southeast Asian Archaeology: Current Research and Perspectives”held at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris (France). Based on fieldwork in carried out in the Sepik region in 2018 and 2019, he addressed relations between environmental knowledge and power social structure.

What do locals know, think they know, and what does it teach us? The case of caves-related knowledge in a rural community, northern New Guinea

Since the 19th century and the development of scientific anthropology, rock art has been a continuous source of fascination and rumination about the possible thoughts and cognitive capacities of past humans. Because in some regions of the world people still live around rock art locations—or create rock art—attempts at relating past and current practices and people were continuously reinvented in multiple forms. In this perspective, recent literature published in English called to “bridge the gap” between rock art studies and ethnoarchaeology. I propose a radical answer to this call from the case of a rural community in the Sepik region, northern New Guinea, where multiple caves (adorned or not) exist. This study, focusing on the distribution of knowledge about these caves in the social structure, addresses issues related to the anthropology of archaeological knowledge, of ownership, and to the local consequences of anthropological research.

Archaeological fieldwork at Eripe cave complex (Gulf province, Papua New Guinea)

From the 29th May to the 20th of June 2024, a team of six people carried out the 2nd fieldwork of the Papuan Past Project in the Purari region, following our 2023 survey.

They undertook an archaeological excavation in the Eripe cave complex in the upper Purari region, near Uraru village (Kikori district, Gulf province). The team was composed of two CNRS researchers – French National Centre for Scientific Research (François-Xavier Ricaut, Sébastien Plutniak), one student from the University of Toulouse, France (Martial Seguin), one researcher from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil (Astolfo Araujo), one researcher from the University of Papua New Guinea (Matthew Leavesley), and one cultural heritage officer from TotalEnergies EP PNG Ltd (Avis Babalu) who is also pursuing a Master’s in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Papua New Guinea.

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Presentation at the “School of Humanities and Social Sciences” Weekly Seminar, University of Papua New Guinea

Invited by Prof. Linus Digim’rina, Sébastien Plutniak presents an aspect of the sociological research made in the context of the Papuan Past Project at UPNG “School of Humanities and Social Sciences” Weekly Seminar.

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Martial Seguin

Participation: 2024

Martial Seguin is a master’s student in archaeology at the TRACES laboratory of the University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès (France). He specializes in prehistoric archaeology, with a particular focus on Aurignacian lithic tool analysis. He is joining the project to participate in the archaeological fieldwork in collaboration with the University of PNG and the National Museum and Art Gallery of PNG.

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