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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Nov. 4, 1999 – Post-Courier)---Papua New Guinea has played an important role in teaching the world about history, according to American author and lecturer Dr. Jared Diamond.

Dr. Diamond said PNG had played a leading role in world history in the past in the development of modern speech, mastery of the sea, agriculture and the development of sustainable forestry.

Linguistically speaking, Dr. Diamond said modern language was used in "New Guinea" and Australia 65,000 years ago, 10,000 years before the evidence of human behavior in Africa.

He said according to historical events and evidence, modern speaking went from New Guinea to other parts of the world.

Dr. Diamond said one proof of modern speech starting in New Guinea was that the diversity of languages today was much higher on the island of New Guinea than anywhere else in the world.

Dr. Diamond also highlighted the fact that New Guinea mastered controlled sailing 21,000 years before the actual trading of tools by sea by other countries.

He said of the five to nine independent discoveries of agriculture in the world, one was in the highlands of New Guinea.

New Guineans developed agriculture for themselves 8,000 years before other countries.

Two pieces of evidence of this development that were given were the archeological evidence of forest clearing and irrigation, drainage ditches and fields for growing crops in the PNG highlands and evidence of indigenous New Guinean crops still growing today.

Apart from sugar cane being domesticated in the country, other crop species that were on the island then were bananas, taro, yams and other plants, which showed the area’s contribution to the development of world agriculture.

The expansion of farming on the island into Eastern Indonesia and Timor also replaced hunters and gatherers with farmers trading with the Chinese on the Bismarck Sea.

The final contribution of New Guinea to the world highlighted by Dr. Diamond was the development of sustainable forestry.

He said New Guinea had one of the few success stories of sustaining its forests.

An example that was given by Dr. Diamond was the Wahgi Valley’s ability to keep its forests, although now there are dangers.

The Wahgi Valley, in the Western Highlands, has been portrayed as one of the most ancient sites of highly organized farming techniques, with a deep trench system.

Dr. Diamond said from these developments, it could be seen that Papua New Guinea has offered so much to the world and it should be able to move forward in the future.

At the same lecture, he said there was a prospect of 5,800 of the 6,000 global languages becoming extinct in the next 100 years.

He said that only 200 languages would survive the next century, with the thousands of others dying out.

Languages were vanishing because they were being strangled by government mandates, Dr. Diamond told the lecture audience.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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