Scholar known as "British Indiana Jones," Florida International University religious studies professor Tudor Parfitt: "The Gogodala wear yarmulkes [kippot] and prayer shawls. They've started celebrating Jewish holidays and they are using more Hebrew."
Israel Hayom Staff
Parfitt conducted DNA testing on the Gogodala to see if he could establish any link to the Middle East. The tests were inconclusive.
Photo credit: YouTube
Florida International University religious studies professor Tudor Parfitt, the "British Indiana Jones."
Photo credit: YouTube
The scholar known internationally as the "British Indiana
Jones" has tracked a tribal people identifying themselves 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
The Gogodala are now hunter-gatherers in western Papua New
Guinea with very little connection to the outside world. However, 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
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."
The idea that the population can trace its roots back to
ancient Israel is shared by other tribes. There are those who believe that the
whole Papuan population has its roots in the Holy Land.
Parfitt has written 25 books and has been studying Judaizing
movements around the world for 30 years. He is best known for his work with the
Lemba tribe of Africa, which was shown to have a historic link to Israel. His
recent book "Black Jews in Africa and the Americas" records the growth of
Israelite movements throughout Africa and elsewhere. His research trip shows
that the Gogodala are part of this growing, global Israelite