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Professor Finds Possible ‘Lost Tribe of Israel’ in Papua New Guinea

April 25, 2013 5:17 pm 9 comments

The scholar known internationally as the “British Indiana Jones” has tracked a tribal people identifying itself as a “Lost Tribe of Israel” in a remote corner of Papua New Guinea.

Florida International University religious studies professor Tudor Parfitt recently conducted an expedition to Papua New Guinea, where he studies the Gogodala, a tribe of former cannibals who believe they are one the Lost Tribes, according to a Florida International University press release.

The Gogodala are now hunter-gatherers in western Papua New Guinea with very little connection to the outside world. But from the very first encounters with western explorers in the 17th century, the idea took root that ancient Israelite communities were to be found in the islands of the Pacific. Australian missionaries later went on to further propagate the idea.

A decade ago, at the request of tribe leaders, Parfitt conducted DNA testing on the Gogodala to see if he could establish any link to the Middle East. The tests were inconclusive. Nonetheless, the Gogodala have continued to embrace Judaism. During his most recent visit, Parfitt was surprised to see how the Jewish practice had developed in the tribe.

“The bedrock of the religious identity of the Gogodala remains in some respects, their traditional belief system, upon which has been grafted Christianity, which was introduced to the tribe in the 1950s by missionaries,” Parfitt said. “On top of that has been grafted a kind of Judaism. More and more of the Gogodala wear yarmulkes [kippot] and prayer shawls. They’ve started celebrating Jewish holidays and they are using more Hebrew.”


  • There is a common misunderstanding here. Prof Tudor Parfitt was only carrying out an expedition, to verify whether the claims of the “lost tribe” was genuine. He even went a step further by carrying out DNA tests, to prove if this theory was correct. The results came back: INCONCLUSIVE! Meaning there was no firm conclusion or result. Obviously, more research needs to be carried out. So in the meantime, let him do his job, without our petty squabble online

  • Professor Tudor probably needs to be corrected for the generalised misconception to include the Gogodalas. Gogodalas were never cannibals. They only fought fierce battles with neighboring tribes or ethnic groups for LAND, TO ENTEND BOUNDARIES AND TO PROTECT THEM.

    Ancestral Gogodalas were already practising a form of sabbath observance only to be converted to observing Sunday worship by the early missionaries when they brought the gospel. They gladly received and accepted it although Sunday was not really theirs. They practised how to live by faith and speak words of faith for the unseen to come into existence – for scouting, warfare, invasion, gardening, hunting, fishing, healing from sicknesses and diseases or injuries, to calm the winds and storms, shorten distances, etc.

    Who can explain where they inherited all these from? It’s quite plain that secular studies will only regard this as impossible and nonsense. A good amount of misconception also took root about some of their practises because of the westernised christianity. Many things they will not tell you because they refer to them as their bone – where the white, red, yellow come from.

    Listen closely to the language they speak, local names of people and places, or discover the giant “Bani’s 8m Footprints”, etc, which the professor was not shown. Why did the Gogodalas not show the professor these things? Why would they hold back some of these things?

  • Sosowane Wagumisi

    Professor, has a tribesman concerned,do not agree with your statement, ”Gogodala’s are not cannivals”
    Again would you clarify ‘What do you mean to say on your DNA findings- ‘INCONCLUSIVE’DNA.

  • Profesor, maybe you should spent more time studing the life style of this people. They are uniqie.

  • This article contain significant factual errors. I spent two years living and workin with the gogagala people, 1998 – 2000. Many are christian, an increasing number secular some holding to traditional beliefs and a small group have adopted this lost tribe belief. The gogadala are one of the largest people groups in the western provience. Any generalisation is bound to be wrong. Next time show some interlectual rigor and publish only truth.

  • Esther Margaret Ingram(Nee Teale)

    Dear Professor Parfitt,
    There were no cannibals in the Gogadala Tribe but there was a lot of inter tribal fighting. My parents were there much earlier than the 1950s with the Unevangelised Fields mission who were already there in the early 1930s and there was no resemblence to Judaism in the tribe then, and neither did that Mission Teach Judaism.My parents both learned the Gogadala language and had a great relationship with the Tribe. They stitched up the head wounds and other body wounds after tribal fighting.Missionaries were there in the Western Province a lot earlier in the 1930s.My Father,Ron Teale went up there in 1939.He helped to build a mission house and school in Awaba with Dick Donaldson in early 1940.Outsiders coming into PNG often miss interpret what they see PNG people do and say.The Gogadala people are now a largely educated people,that is not to say not as you depict them Professor. I don’t know where you get your strange information from.They are not they don’t hunt or gather from their gardens or forest, not a lost Tribe, let alone “a lost Tribe of Israel”!!Also other missionaries build a Teachers’College at Awaba which was later moved to Dauli, after which a Nurses College replaced the Teachers College in recent years.
    A number of my Father’s converts and other missionaries converts who embraced a Faith in Jesus Christ went to help our Aussie soldiers on the Kokoda Trail and became
    known as some of the well known “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”.I hope this is an eye opener for you. My father is still alive at 97 years of age now, if anyone wants to come and talk to him about the Gogadala.

    • Sosowane Wagumisi

      Yes I agree with you, Gogodala’s are not cannivals. Professor has to confess to the Gogodala tribesman.

  • Raymond in DC

    Given the Jewish aversion to eating blood – because life is in the blood – and the myriad dietary restrictions, I think the idea that a Jewish remnant would succumb to cannibalism as a norm is simply ludicrous.






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