Study: New Guinea art older than thought

Oct 12, 2005

When San Francisco's de Young Museum reopens Saturday, it will debut the world's largest collection of New Guinea art -- some pieces 100 generations old.

Gregory Hodgins and A.J. Timothy Jull of the University of Arizona radiocarbon dated some of the collection that New York-based entrepreneur John Friede and his wife, Marcia, are giving the de Young Museum.

Two years ago, Friede asked UA scientists to date some collection pieces at the university's National Science Foundation-Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility in Tucson.

Results of the dating project are preliminary, but the findings have stunned museum curators and anthropologists.

The scientists' findings challenge previous assumptions that such objects are inherently ephemeral, perhaps surviving only a few generations.

Of the objects dated, 78 contain wood that pre-dates the 18th century and 33 contain wood from before 1670.

"A small percentage of this collection are pieces that are very old -- 600, 700, 800 years and older," Hodgins said.

The oldest mask in the collection is dated at between 660 and 860, implying a few of the objects were in use for more than 50 generations -- and perhaps up to 100 generations.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Researchers discover low-grade nonwoven cotton picks up 50 times own weight of oil

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Calcium makes for an environmentally friendly pickle

Jul 08, 2014

George Washington had a collection of 476 kinds of pickles. To prevent scurvy, Christopher Columbus stocked pickles on the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Julius Caesar, believing pickles to be invigorating, ...

Titan's building blocks might pre-date Saturn

Jun 24, 2014

(Phys.org) —A combined NASA and European Space Agency (ESA)-funded study has found firm evidence that nitrogen in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan originated in conditions similar to the cold birthplace ...

Hidden treasures of ancient Ur uncovered in Bristol

Jun 20, 2014

(Phys.org) —An enigmatic box from a bygone era, filled with pottery, seeds and animal bones, has been discovered in the University of Bristol's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology. The box was found ...

Recommended for you

Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds (w/ Video)

12 hours ago

A new study involving scientists from the University of Southampton has revealed how massive, meat-eating, ground-dwelling dinosaurs evolved into agile flying birds: they just kept shrinking and shrinking, ...

Congressional rift over environment influences public

15 hours ago

American citizens are increasingly divided over the issue of environmental protection and seem to be taking their cue primarily from Congress, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

Rural loss and ruin can be avoided

18 hours ago

An Australian Reconstruction Development Board needs to be established to help avoid more needless forcing of Australian farmers from their land, a QUT economist has said.

User comments : 0