Gardens of War – Life and Death in the New Guinea Stone Age


Robert Gardner and Karl G. Heider, introduction by Margaret Mead

“Always the least didactic of sciences, anthropology speaks to the heart as well as to the mind of man. It treads a careful path between those who ridicule it as “unscientific” in its humanism, and those who, mistaking sentiment for truth, reject the methods of science in the their search for the nature of man. The best kind of anthropology, – scholarly, comprehensible and extraordinarily evocative – is to be found in Gardens of War. This superb literary and photographic essay is, in some ways, a monument to the Dani people who are its subject; more than that, however, it captures the eternal poignancy of the human paradox. War in Eden, cruelty and gentleness, love and hate; death and life.”

— Gloria B. Levitas

In a hidden valley of great beauty, beyond the framework of our modern sense of time, lives a people until lately touched by civilization, direct survivors of the Stone Age. Gardens of War is a moving pictorial record of the lives of the Dugum Dani, a tribe of Neolithic warriors, during two seasons of 1961, when they were studied by the Harvard-Peabody Anthropological Expedition to New Guinea. The Expedition’s visit to the Grand Valley of Baliem in the Central Highlands of Western New Guinea offered a unique opportunity, perhaps the last, for a first-hand account of a lost culture in all its pristine simplicity and violence. Sixteen pages of magnificent color photographs and 96 black-and-white illustrations are matched here with a fascinating and superbly readable text to record a primitive world most of us are unlikely to see.

Published by Random House (1969)