Crawford House Publishing
Nine Thousand Years of Gardening Kuk and the Archeology of Agriculture in PNG

Some of the earliest evidence for agriculture in the world is claimed for Kuk, an archeological site in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Following initial multidisciplinary fieldwork at the site in the 1970s (directed by Jack Golson), claims were tentatively made for agriculture dating back to 9000 bp on the basis of the archeological and geomorphological evidence. More robust evidence of on-site agriculture, grouped into several discrete phases dating from 6000 bp to around 100 bp, was documented in archeological evidence that represented artificial drainage of the wetland for cultivation. Recent multidisciplinary investigations at the site (directed by Tim Denham) have yielded evidence to confirm a minimum 9000-year-old antiquity for agriculture. The characterisation of agricultural activities at Kuk has been undertaken using a range of multidisciplinary techniques, from archeobotany (diatom, parenchyma, phytolith, pollen, seed, starch grain and wood analyses), sedimentology (micromorphology, X-radiography, X-ray diffraction), and radiometric dating (conventional and AMS).

The book has five main parts that:

1. review the site’s importance in global and Pacific contexts;
2. review the archeological evidence and interpretations from Kuk in terms of the prehistory of New Guinean agriculture;
3. present in detail the prehistory of each phase;
4. summarise the results of the specialist analyses; and
5. sketch the views of the local Kuk community and people of New Guinea on their own prehistory.

Each part is written by experts in the respective fields, and the results are interpreted by the original fieldworkers and multidisciplinary specialists.

This book was produced to meet growing demands for information on Kuk for scientific, educational and conservation purposes. It aims to present a clear account of the prehistoric finds and their interpretations; and seeks to explain the modern Kuk community’s interest in the land, in the discoveries, and in the site’s proposed World Heritage listing. The book is an invaluable guide to the prehistory of agriculture in New Guinea. It will be accessible to the general reader, and will form the core of high-school and undergraduate courses in New Guinea and beyond.


(edited by) Jack Golson, Tim Denham, Pamela Swadli






Numerous full-colour and b+w photographs; maps;illustrations


Portrait; hardcover; c. 400 pages


240 x 214 mm



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