2,590-year-old settlement found at Papuan mountain

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A prehistoric settlement discovered two years ago on a Papuan mountainside has been found by an archaeological team to date back as far as 2,590 years.

2,590-year-old settlement found at Papuan mountain
View of Jayapura’s East Sentani district [Credit: Web]

The in-depth study, conducted by the Jayapura Archaeology Center in partnership with the National Atomic Energy Agency, used a dating analysis technique at the hillside to determine the age of the March 2011 Yomokho Mountain discovery.

Hari Suroto, a researcher at JAC and the lead researcher on the 2011 dig, said archaeologists used what is known as a C-14 radiocarbon dating technique.

The team took fireplace charcoal samples from the Yomokho Mountain dig site in Jayapura’s East Sentani district, using them to find the raw radiocarbon age from which a calendar date was calculated.

“Human activities at the Yomokho Site has existed since 2,590 years ago,” Hari said. “The C-14 radiocarbon analysis is a dating method used to discover the absolute age of a relic by calculating the remaining C-14 on organic objects.”

This is why the technique is used in archaeological digs, as the discoveries at sites are usually organic.

At the Yomokho Mountain site, archaeologists in 2011 dug to a depth of 80 centimeters, discovering former fireplace charcoal, pottery, human bones, animal bones, shells of marine molluscs, stone tools and beads — all providing crucial insights into what prehistoric life at the Papuan village must have been like.

Trade would have been taking place with seaside colonies, as indicated by the mollusc shells, while the beads seemed to have been used in burial rituals, Hari said.

The formation of stones found indicated the village had been settled and houses built.

The Yomokho settlers would likely have lived off the environment surrounding the nearby Lake Sentani.

The C-14 technique of carbon dating used by JAC in the dig was presented to the world by Willard Libby in 1949, for which he was later awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The method can date objects as far back as 62,000 years.

Source: Jakarta Globe [June 11, 2013]

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