Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 25–73 | Cite as

An Archaeological Review of Western New Guinea

  • Duncan WrightEmail author
  • Tim DenhamEmail author
  • Denis Shine
  • Mark Donohue


Western New Guinea constitutes a frontier zone physically, politically, culturally and conceptually between Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Despite this pivotal position, archaeological information for the region is scarce due to limited investigations, limited publication and the multilingual nature of publications. Consequently, little archaeological information about western New Guinea has percolated into the mainstream literature. This paper aims to fill this gap and provides a detailed review of archaeological research, including rock art, published in Dutch, English, French, German and Indonesian. The resultant findings are discussed in terms of continuities and discontinuities with Papua New Guinea and Island Southeast Asia.


Archaeology Rock art Western New Guinea (West Papua, Irian Jaya) Melanesia Island Southeast Asia 



The authors would like to thank Pamela Swadling, Michael Cookson, and Chris Ballard (Australian National University) for providing us with translated texts and Christian Döhler (also ANU) for additional translations. Kara Rasmanis assisted with illustrations. The paper was improved by comments from Pamela Swadling and two anonymous referees. The work was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant awarded to Donohue and Denham (DP1093191).


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HumanitiesGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.Historical and European StudiesLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Geography and Environmental ScienceMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Research School of Pacific and Asian StudiesAustralian National UniversityActonAustralia

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