Communities in Papua New Guinea developed agriculture independently of other cultures about 10,000 to 6,000 years ago, according to new research.
Data from the Kuk Swamp in the highlands of Papua New Guinea presented in this week's journal Science suggests that people there were farming banana and taro (a tuberous root with edible leaves) before outsiders reached New Guinea.
These findings may end a long-standing debate on the origins of New Guinea agriculture. They also suggest that New Guinea — along with Mesopotamia and up to three spots in the New World — may be one of the few places in the world where people clearly developed agriculture.
In a related article, Katharina Neumann of J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, writes, "Only a few regions were geographically suited to become the homelands of full agricultural systems. New Guinea seems to have been one of them."