By TONY PALME
KUK Swampland enlisted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unicef) in 2008 as a World Heritage Site because of archaeological evidence pointing to practise of first civilised subsistence agriculture 10,000 years ago could be the Garden of Eden.
International researchers like Dr John Morris from the Institute for Creation Research believed that the huge marshes fed by the Tigris and Euphrates could be clue that they were once the Garden of Eden but Morris further added that there is unlikely any lasting evidence to suggest that the home of Adam and Eve lies beneath the surface as they would have been destroyed in another Biblical story – the Great Flood (Noah’s Era).
Also, Christian archaeologists and experts believe that the Ahwar marshes – one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world – in southeast Iraq, also listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, is where the garden could have stood.
There are also other researches and studies done on the biblical garden in parts of North Africa that also suggest the remains of the garden could be there.
But any likely lasting evidence has yet to be found in those places.
Kuk World Heritage in Mt Hagen could be added to this list of places that purport to have ‘evidence’ that the Garden of Eden existed there.
The bible in, Genesis 2:10-14, explains that a stream flowed through Eden and watered the garden; and beyond Eden it dived into four rivers; Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and Euphrates.
Even though, Kuk is in PNG, one old man from the area is convinced that the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2, could be in PNG.
On Monday, Sept 4, I was convinced that Kuk, in the Waghi Valley of Western Highlands could be in contention for an in-depth research to authenticate if the Garden of Eden was really in PNG.
I left Mt Hagen city around midday that day with the Chairman of the Kuk Kawelka Incorporated Land Group (ILG) Michael Tori and young members of the Kawelka tribe (on whose land the Kuk World Heritage Site stands) as we headed to see an old man named Michael Pagl, who lives at the edge of the land which they released to the State in 1963.
I was told that Pagl is the second generation son of Ongka Kaipa, chief of the Kawelka tribe, who are principal landowners of the Kuk Swampland that has been forfeited to the State.
As well as reporting for The National, I was asked to record footage of what Pagl had to say about some of his strange experiences relating to their land. The old man is going on in years and it was important for them that his story be told.
We arrived at Pagl’s place and he was aided to a chair. A young man helped to interpret my questions into the Melpa language so the old man could understand.
He was from the Gambo clan. He said his father’s (Ongka) clan owns most of the land on which the sacred sites sits where early gardening tools like digging spades and stone axes were found.
“I am the principal landowner and I give my blessings to the ILG to revive this World Heritage Site. Apart from Michael Tori, I do not see anyone else claiming to own this land. That would be a lie,” Pagl asserted.
I was informed by Tori and the young men who accompanied him that Unesco had asked for the true, original landowners be identified in order for Kuk to be developed as a sacred site and potential tourism destination.
Pagl then continued with our discussion with some very intriguing stories. He spoke of a dream he had in 1990. He said the dream was almost like a vision in which God showed him some strange stone objects which had biblical significance.
“In my dream God showed me some stones on our mountain (Mt Ep). After the dream, I went up there and found exactly what I saw in my dream.
“I saw the stone that resembled the camel that Jesus rode on, on His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. I saw a stone resemblance of the tablet that Moses received on Mt Sinai; I saw what looked like the Garden Gethsemane, and then the two stones that portray the wide and narrow gates to hell and heaven.
“They are all there. I have the stones that show footprints of God when he was walking in the Garden of Eden. I believe that God came down on this mountain. That’s why I built four altars and prayed,” the devout Catholic said.
I was taken to the stones he mentioned, and while faded, they showed a striking similarity to what Pagl had explained. I was also taken to the mountain where there was a stone that appeared to resemble the serpent (snake) that tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
His stories became more interesting when he told of how he planted a pine tree of a certain variety, which bore two fruits. For the people in his village and in the areas around it, this was unusual as no-one has seen this specie bear fruit.
Pagl said he believed the fruits were belly buttons, where the human race originated from. I thought that the two fruits resembled the fruit from the tree of life and tree of knowledge of good and bad, which God forbade Adam and Eve NOT to eat.
The old man said he had unsuccessfully tried to track the origin of the name ‘Kuk,’ but said the name could have only come from God, the Creator.
“That name was given by God himself. And I believe all human race were formed out of here,” Pagl added.
We soon ended our conversation and I was taken around to visit the sites he spoke about to take photographs. I later spoke also with the oldest man who was a signatory to the land agreement with the State.
Kont Kint, is one of two men still alive, who signed on the dotted line to hand over the land to become a World Heritage Site in 2008. He is said to be 118yrs old. The other man is Pati Manga.
“We are giving our blessings to Michael Tori, Chairman of the Kuk Kawelka ILG, and the ILG to redevelop this site and bring benefits to us before we die,” Kint said.
The two living signatories, and sons of the five other landowners who also signed the agreement, and have since died, are all in support of reviving the Kuk World Heritage Site.
Evidence of digging tools was unearthed when the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) station was set up at Kuk. DPI left the area in 1989. Much of the 116 hectare land is still intact while the uncovered area is being preserved as a historic site.
Pagl said he had also dug up human remains (skeletons) on his land while making his garden. He described the bones as larger than those we see today, and believes that people who earlier lived there were much bigger and taller.
Maybe it is really the site of the first humans on earth, we don’t know.
The Kuk Early Agricultural Site is located in swampland in the Waghi Valley marshes in Western Highlands, and is 1,500 meters above sea level.
A week after our visit to him, Pagl scared his family members when he fell into a three-hour coma. The old man said God had spoken to him while he was unconscious.
“God asked me to go back and inform my family members and children to repent and so that all of us must make it to heaven,” he added.