Ben Shaw

Ben Shaw is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Culture, History and Language at The Australian National University.


Forty Years in the South Seas »

Archaeological Perspectives on the Human History of Papua New Guinea and the Western Pacific Region

Publication date: May 2024
“This edited volume of invited chapters honours the four decades of fundamental research by archaeologist Glenn Summerhayes into the human prehistory of the islands of the western Pacific, especially New Guinea and its offshore islands. This area helped to shape and direct many ancient dispersal events associated with Homo sapiens, initially from Africa more than 50,000 years ago, through the lower latitudes of Asia, into Australia, New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and possibly the Solomon Islands. Around 3000 years ago, coastal regions of northern and eastern New Guinea, and the islands of Melanesia beyond, played a major role in the Oceanic migrations of Austronesian-speaking peoples from southern China and Southeast Asia, migrations that have recently attained new levels of genetic complexity through the analysis of ancient DNA from human remains. For the first time, humans of both Southeast Asian and New Guinea/Bismarck genetic origin reached the islands of Remote Oceania, beyond the Solomons. Many of the chapters in this book deal with archaeological aspects of this Austronesian maritime expansion (which never seriously impacted the populations of the New Guinea Highlands), especially as revealed through the analysis of Lapita pottery and associated artefacts. Other chapters offer archaeological perspectives on trade and exchange, and on related topics that extend into the ethnographic era. The research of Glenn Summerhayes stands centrally amongst all these offerings, ranging from the discovery of some of the oldest traces of Pleistocene human settlement in Papua New Guinea to documentation of the remarkable phenomenon of Lapita expansion through Melanesia into western Polynesia around 3000 years ago. This volume is a fitting celebration of a remarkable career in western Pacific archaeology and population history.” ­— Emeritus Professor Peter Bellwood, The Australian National University