Dr Ben Shaw
Ben is an archaeologist with a passion for Pacific cultures and exploration. He has undertaken research throughout Papua New Guinea for 14 years and is a lecturer of archaeology at the Australian National University in Canberra, the premier institute of Pacific history. Ben has a wide range of interests, including the development of traditional maritime trade networks, the influence of agriculture on past societies, and people’s response to rising sea levels since the last ice age. He has documented this research in 30 published articles and book chapters.
Growing up in southern New Zealand, Ben spent much of his time exploring the vast mountainous backcountry – ever curious to see what was over the next ridge. From an early age he developed a keen interest on the origins and development of Maori culture after first hearing ancestral stories of master navigators and long-distance voyages that spanned the Pacific Ocean. An interest which has turned into a lifelong pursuit and has taken Ben through Polynesia to Papua New Guinea, where he is now piecing together evidence of Lapita culture, the people who colonised the remote Pacific islands 3000 years ago.
Ever since Ben’s first trip to Papua New Guinea, he has been enthralled with the hospitality of local communities, the natural beauty of the landscape, and the sheer diversity of cultures and languages. With this enthusiasm, he has undertaken excavations in some of the most remote areas in the country, across many island, coastal and mountain regions spanning 60,000 years of human history. This has included spending 8 months on an isolated island, 4-days boat ride from the mainland, to work alongside local clan groups to record the long-term human history of the island. Most recently, Ben discovered the earliest known village in Papua New Guinea associated with the intensification of agriculture and regional trade.