Frontier archaeology: excavating Huli colonization of the Lower Tagali Valley, Papua New Guinea

Jeremy Ash, Timothy Denham, Chris Ballard, John Muke, Joe Crouch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Archaeological investigations have documented an ideological and occupied frontier in the Lower Tagali Valley along the southern margins of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Open-area excavations document two types of house structure associated with Huli occupation of the Lower Tagali Valley landscape, a women's house (wandia) and a lodge and ceremonial complex associated with a bachelor cult (ibagiyaanda). Excavation revealed the complete floor plan of the women's house site and multiple structural elements of the ceremonial complex. Radiocarbon dating provides a chronology for both sites that accords with genealogical histories for the colonization of this landscape by Huli during the early nineteenth century, or approximately eight generations ago. These archaeological findings are consistent with the strategies still employed today by Huli in the initial ideological incorporation of new territory and anchoring of expansionary claims through subsequent settlement and cultivation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

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