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Connections Across the Coral Sea

posted on 2023-03-01, 23:20 authored by Martin PotterMartin Potter
Connections Across the Coral Sea


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Discover a time where humankind knew no borders. A place where objects and ideas were shared harmoniously across cultures. Travel across the iconic Coral Sea and explore the rich relationships of ancient First Nations communities – their trade, customs and connections. Connections across the Coral Sea reveals the latest archaeological research around the earliest movements and trade between the seafaring cultures of Papua New Guinea, Torres Strait and the northeast coast of Queensland. Experience the language, stories and the spiritual connections of voyagers long ago. See real artefacts that endure the customs and talent of the ancient Pacific artisans that created them. Come full circle as you step into the modern day and learn about research and technology used to piece together the puzzle of a thriving cultural movement that existed since time immemorial. A story of movement. A story of life. A story to be told.

Research statement

Background ‘Connections across the Coral Sea’ comprises 3 videos, exhibited at Queensland Museum, exploring emerging connections of Indigenous knowledge and archaeological research on the earliest movements and trade between seafaring cultures of Papua New Guinea, Torres Strait and Far North Queensland. The videos highlight new evidence of expansive voyaging and cultural interactions extending the range of the Coral Sea Cultural Interaction Sphere (McNiven 2004). The project was undertaken in partnership with the Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH), Walmbaar Aboriginal Corporation and Hope Vale Congress Aboriginal Corporation. Contribution Documentation of timing and use of northern Great Barrier Reef offshore islands by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout the Holocene is limited (Ulm, McNiven 2021). These videos explore excavation of a shell midden on Lizard Island in Far North Queensland, showing discovery of Lapita pottery and increase in island use from around 2250 years ago, at a time when a hiatus or reduction in offshore island occupation has been documented for other Great Barrier Reef islands, but concurrent with demographic expansion across Torres Strait to the north. The videos articulate connection of the Coral Sea Cultural Interaction Sphere to Lizard Island. Significance Videos show archaeological evidence from Lizard Island that provides previously undocumented occupation patterns associated with Great Barrier Reef Late Holocene island use. They show international trade and relationships between the ancient seafaring cultures of southern New Guinea, Torres Strait and the northeast coast of Queensland dating back thousands of years, much further than previously thought. These findings underwrites Lizard Island’s place within the Coral Sea Cultural Interaction Sphere, which highlights its significance both locally and regionally across this vast seascape. Impact is evidenced through exhibition of videos at Queensland Museum.


3 x documentary videos


Connections Across the Coral Sea


Queensland Museum

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Queensland Museum

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