ABC Radio National Interview: Indigenous seagoing trade

Press/Media: Profile/Interview


New archaeological research has unearthed a vibrant seagoing trade in the Gulf of Papua.

Fragments of pottery have been found and as peoples of the Gulf of Papua have no known history of pottery making this means that the pottery is evidence of trade.

As Chris Urwin puts it, 'this means societies with complex seafaring technologies and widespread social connections operated at Australia's doorstep over 2,500 years prior to colonisation. Entrepreneurial traders were traversing the entire south coast of PNG in sailing ships'.

The trade was in this pottery, or more specifically, earthenware pots and in exchange they were given rainforest hardwood logs to make new canoes and sago starch.

Chris explains why this find is so important and how it will help us 'unravel the forgotten shared history of PMG and Indigenous Australia across the Torres Strait'.


Chris Urwin, Researcher, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage

Monash University

Period3 Jun 2019

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