Back in 1929, a 6,000-year-old Human Skull was discovered in Papua New Guinea. Research analysts have now revealed that the ancient skull most likely belongs to the oldest tsunami victim in the world.

Professor James Goff, the first author of the study and a UNSW Sydney scientist, says that the site where the Aitape Skull was found was once covered in floods caused by a tsunami 6,000 years ago. The event is similar to a nearby tsunami hit that occurred in 1998, killing 2000 people.

The study, published in the PLOS ONE journal, has led researchers to believe that the Aitape Skull was the world’s oldest known tsunami victim.

The history of the Aitape Skull

Paul Hossfeld, an Australian geologist, unearthed the Aitape Skull about 90 years ago. The partially preserved skull was found at a site on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea, near the Aitape town.

The Aitape skull has become a valued archeological interest according to Dr. Mark Golitko. Its uniqueness is due to it being one of very few early discovered skeletal remains from the area. In 2014, the research team went to the site of the Aitape Skull to collect samples from the same geological deposits. These samples were further analyzed.

According to first author Professor James Goff, the team had properly examined the bones but paid little attention to the soil from which they were gathered.

The discovery was later made after examining sediments from the area with sediments from the 1998 tsunami area.

According to Goff, the similarities found in both samples led the team to believe the coast had been hit by inundations for thousands of years.

Oldest tsunami victim in the world

Researchers analyzed the skull’s geochemical composition and the grain size of the sediment to further understand the tsunami inundation.

The team found microscopic organisms in the sediment, similar to soil organisms from right after the tsunami in 1998.

According to Groff, after debate over numerous possible scenarios, the team believes the evidence suggests the individual was either a victim of a tsunami or had been buried before a tsunami hit the region. These are the possible explanations as to why the 6000-year-old human skull was unearthed alone, with no other bones nearby.

The Pacific research of Professor Goff along with his colleagues and other researchers revealed that, throughout its prehistory and history, the area has frequent tsunamis.