Where did the Ancestors of the Papuan People Come From?

goodmorningpapua.com – Discussing Papua is indeed endless. Starting from its abundant natural wealth, extraordinary biodiversity, to cultural diversity.

Have you ever investigated, where did the ancestors of the Papuan people come from? Based on the excavations or excavations of archaeologists, in the form of human bones at the Yomokho site, Danau Sentani, Papua, it shows that the human bones found are Australomelanesid humans.

Austromelanesids were the first humans to inhabit the island of New Guinea. They arrived on this island about 50,000 years ago, first landing in Huon Bay, north of Papua New Guinea.

“So the humans found at the Yomokho site are Australomelanesid whose ancestors came from the east or Papua New Guinea. This is supported by the folklore of the Sentani ethnic group which mentions that their ancestors came from the east. Austromelanesid humans became the ancestors of today’s Papuans, Papua New Guineans, and Melanesians,” said Hari Suroto, Researcher at the Center for Environmental Archeology Research [BRIN], to goodmorningpapua.com, Saturday [24/09/2022].

In his opinion, Austromelanesid humans who arrived 50 thousand years ago in Huon Bay, Papua New Guinea, moved west and arrived at Lake Sentani about 2500 years ago. Then, these Austromelanesid humans brought valuable knowledge, namely the manufacture of fire. So, it can be said that the Austromelanesid people who first exploited the island of New Guinea were hunters and gatherers of food. “The fauna in New Guinea are completely unfamiliar with humans when they have to deal with hungry humans. Therefore, the extinction of large-bodied marsupials, which are endemic to New Guinea, is due to their actions,” said Hari.

After the extinction of large-bodied mammals, hunting animals were limited to small animals such as moles, cuscus, ground kangaroos, and tree kangaroos.

Austromelanesid humans from Huon Bay moved to the Papua New Guinea highlands at the Kuk Site, Waghi Valley, and developed taro farming 8000 years ago. Then, they moved west and arrived in the Baliem Valley of Papua, developing red fruit farming 7000 years ago.

Austromelanesid humans who move to the highlands have never met Austronesian humans, so that in their culture in the mountains they do not know cooking using clay containers.

While the Australomelanesid humans who lived were hunting and gathering, when they arrived at Yomokho Hill, Sentani, Austronesian humans came who introduced the culture of pottery, tattoos, chewing betel nut, raising pigs, dogs, and chickens. These Austronesian humans arrived on the coast of Papua, 3000 years ago, they lived on the coast and small islands off the coast.

“Austromelanesid humans who move west to Lake Sentani, through the coastal area, have made contact with Austronesian humans, so that in their culture in Sentani they are familiar with cooking using clay containers,” said Hari.

In a scientific publication entitled “Austronesian Culture in the Sentani Lake Area” written by Hari Suroto, one of them reveals the historical relationship between the Vanimo people in Papua New Guinea and the Sentani people in Papua.

This is evidenced not only by the artifacts of glass bracelets and beads, but also the remains of food materials such as marine mollusk shells at archaeological sites in the Lake Sentani area. Also, the presence of mollusk shells as the main ingredient for making powder.

“It is evidence that the Sentani people are in contact with those living near the coast of Papua New Guinea [Vanimo, Aitape, eastern Sepik],” Hari wrote.

For him, the origin of Austronesian culture in the Lake Sentani area is an interesting point to study. Based on linguistic evidence that the Sentani language is non-Austronesian. It is estimated that the Sentani people do not have a direct relationship with Austronesian speakers, but indirectly through the people of Vanimo, Aitape, and East Sepik.

From the results of archaeological and ethno-archeological research, the influences of Austronesian culture in the Lake Sentani area are pottery artifacts, glass bracelets, glass beads, bronze artifacts, pottery-making traditions, tattoo traditions, and the manufacture of alcoholic beverages from coconut trees. As well as, hierarchical leadership systems, and animal husbandry such as pigs, dogs, and chickens.

Regarding the origin of the Papuans, Enos H. Rumansara in the Journal of Bureaucratic Ecology, quoting Teuku Jacob, Professor of Physical Anthropology at Gajah Mada University, explained that in the last Ice Age, approximately 800,000 years ago, when Papua was still integrated with the Australian continent, its inhabitants who are the ancestors of the people of Papua and Melanesia; also the ancestors of indigenous Australians who had Paleo-Melanesoid physical characteristics.

When the Ice Age ended and sea levels rose, Australia was separated from Papua and the islands of the Archipelago. The physical characteristics of the Papuan and Melanesian population developed into the Melanesoid race characteristics that we know today. Meanwhile, the physical characteristics of the Australian population developed into the physical characteristics of the Australoid race.

The ancestors of the two races, Paleo Melanesoid, still had time to migrate to the western archipelago. Its physical characteristics are still visible in the skull of the ancient human Homo Wajakensis found in Wajak, East Java, which according to paleo-anthropologists lived around in East Java approximately four hundred thousand years ago.

Author: Christopel Paino [Gorontalo]

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