A Lost Tribe in Papua New Guinea

The man known as the British Indiana Jones led a team of students on an expedition to Papua New Guinea, to track a potential lost Tribe of Israel.

Professor Tudor Parfitt was working in Australia 10 years ago when a leader of the Gogodala tribe of Papua New Guinea approached him with a theory—that his tribe was linked to the Lemba tribe of southern Africa.

Professor Parfitt had already proven the Lemba to be an ancient Jewish tribe, and the Lemba man wanted the professor to do the same for his people.

Since that time, Parfitt has worked to gather research necessary to substantiate the theory. And this spring, the professor took the mission a step farther, accompanying five students from Florida’s FIU—his current university of employment—on an expedition to Papua New Guinea to further the research themselves.

“The trip was a tremendous success in every way,” Parfitt told the school’s paper, FIU News. “We were shown the greatest possible hospitality and warmth by the Gogodala people.”

Many members of the Gogodala believe themselves to be Jewish already and practice religious rituals to that end. Some are even seeking to make aliyah.

Several of the students on the mission video recorded their experiences, planning to put together a documentary.

“Our students learned a lot about their culture and the trials and tribulations of fieldwork and I was able to push forward my own research into the tribe’s Judaising movement,” Parfitt said. “And we’ll have a remarkable documentary to boot.”

Parfitt has worked previously as professor of Jewish Studies at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

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