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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Traces of Ancient Tsunami Studied in Southwest Pacific

Thursday, October 26, 2017

tsunami victim skullAITAPE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA—Geologist James Goff of the University of New South Wales and anthropologist John Terrell of the Field Museum in Chicago analyzed sediment samples from the site where a 6,000-year-old skull was discovered embedded in a creek bank some seven miles from the northern coast of Papua New Guinea in 1929. According to a report in The New York Times, the researchers compared features of the sediments to those of some collected after the devastating tsunami that killed more than 2,000 people in Papua New Guinea in 1998. They found microscopic, fossilized deep sea diatoms, which indicate that ocean water had inundated the area, and geochemical signals that matched those recorded after the tsunami of 1998. “Yes, this was a tsunami,” Goff said. “And yes, this is most probably a tsunami victim, and he or she is the oldest one we know.” For more, go to “World Roundup: Papua New Guinea.”

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