Skip to main content Accessibility help

Contradictions in Lapita pottery, a composite clone

  • W. R. Ambrose (a1)

Like the cultures of Neolithic Europe — ‘Glockenbecherkultur’, ‘Trichterbecherkultur’, ‘Linienbandkeramik’ — the ‘Lapita culture’ of the western Pacific is defined by its distinctive ceramics. What that ‘ceramic culture’ amounts to in human terms has been a key question in the region's archaeology — complete with a quest for a Lapita homeland. This fresh review focuses on the pottery, the defining stuff itself of the affair.

Hide All
Akazawa, T. & Szathmáry, E.J.E. (ed.). 1996. Prehistoric Mongoloid dispersals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Alderton, D. 1988. Turtles and tortoises of the world. New York (NY): Facts on File.
Allen, J. & Gosden, C. (ed.). 1991. Report of the Lapita Homeland Project. Canberra: Prehistory Department, RSPacS, Australian National University. Occasional Papers in Prehistory 20.
Allen, J., Gosden, C. & White, J.P.. 1989. Human Pleistocene adaptations in the tropica] island Pacific: recent evidence from New Ireland, a Greater Australian outlier, Antiquity 63: 548–61.
Allen, J. & White, J.P.. 1989. The Lapita homeland: some data and an interpretation, Journal of the Polynesian Society 98: 129–48.
Ambrose, W.R. 1988. An early bronze artefact from Papua New Guinea, Antiquity 62: 483–91.
Ambrose, W.R. 1991. Lapita or not Lapita: the case of the Manus pots, in Allen, & Gosden, (ed.): 103–12.
Ambrose, W.R. 1993. Pottery raw materials: source recognition in the Manus Islands, in Spriggs, et al. (ed.): 206–17.
Anderson, A.J. 1996. Adaptive voyaging and subsistence strategies in the early settlement of East Polynesia, in Akazawa, & Szathmáry, (ed.): 359–73.
Anson, D. 1986. Lapita pottery of the Bismarck Archipelago and its affinities, Archaeology in Oceania 21: 157—65.
Anson, D. 1990. Aspiring to paradise, in Spriggs, (ed.): 53–8.
Arifin, K. 1991. Social aspects of pottery manufacture in Boera, Papua New Guinea, Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association 11: 372–87.
Baer, A.S. 1995. Human genes and hiocultural history in Southeast Asia, Asian Perspectives 34(1): 2135.
Barton, F.R. 1918. Tattooing in southeastern New Guinea, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 45(33): 2279.
Bellwoop, P. 1978. Man's conquest of the Pacific. Auckland: Collins.
Bellwoop, P. 1985. The prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian archipelago. Sydney: Academic Press
Bellwoop, P. 1993. Crossing the Wallace Line — with style, in Spriggs, et al. (ed.): 152–63.
Bellwoop, P. 1996. Early agriculture and the dispersal of the southern Mongoloids, in Akazawa, & Szathmáry, (ed.): 287302.
Bellwood, P. & Koon, P.. 1989. ‘Lapita colonists leave boats unburned!’: the question of Lapita links with Island Southeast Asia, Antiquity, 63: 613–22.
Bhatia, K., Esteel, S. & Kirk, R.L.. 1995. A study of genetic distance and the Austronesian/Non-Austronesian dichotomy, in Bellwood, P., Fox, J.J. & Tryon, D. (ed.), The Austronesians: historical and comparative perspectives: 181–91. Canberra: Anthropology Department, Australian National University.
Blust, R.T. 1988. The Austronesian homeland: a linguistic perspective, Asian Perspectives 26(1): 4567.
Budak, M.K. 1996. The function of shell temper in pottery, La Tinaja Newsletter of Archaeological Ceramics 9(2): 59.
Bulmer, S. 1985. Papuan pottery — an archaeological consideration, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 6: 123–32.
Bustard, H.R. 1879. Population dynamics of sea turtles, in Harless, M. & Morlock, H. (ed.), Turtles, perspectives and research: 523–40. New York (NY): John Wiley & Sons.
Clough, R. 1992. Firing temperature and the analysis of Oceanic ceramics: a study of Lapita ceramics from Reef/ Santa Cruz, Solomon Islands, in Galipaud, 1992a (ed.): 177–92.
Davidson, J. & Leach, F.. 1991. Bird-man amulets and Tridacna shell discs from Taumako, Solomon Islands, in Pawley, (ed.): 478–83.
Dickinson, W.R. & Shutler, R. JR. 1979. Petrography of sand tempers in Pacific islands potsherds, Geological Society of America Bulletin 2(90): 16441701.
Dickinson, W.R., Shutler, R. JR, Shortland, R., Burley, D.V. & Dye, T.S.. 1996. Sand tempers in indigenous Lapita and lapitoid Polynesian plainware and imported prehistoric Fijian pottery of Ha’apai (Tonga) and the question of Lapita tradeware, Archaeology in Oceania 31: 8798.
Doran, E.W. JR. 1981. Wangka, Austronesian canoe traditions. Austin (TX): A & M University Press.
Dye, T.S. & Dickinson, W.R. 1996. Sources of sand tempers in prehistoric Tongan pottery, Geoarchaeology 11(2): 141–64.
Fredericksen, C. 1997. Changes in Admiralty Islands obsidian source use: the view from Pamwak, Archaeology in Oceania 32(1): 6873.
Fredericksen, C., Spriggs, M. & Ambrose, W.R.. 1993. Pamwak rocksheiter: a Pleistocene site on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, in Smith, M.A., Spriggs, M. & Fankhauser, B. (ed.), Sahul in review: Pleistocene archaeology in Australia, New Guinea and Island Melanesia: 144—52. Canberra: Prehistory Department, RSPacS, Australian National University.
Frimigacci, D. 1980. Localisation éco-géographique et utilisation de l’espace de quelques sites Lapita de Nouvelle Calédonie: essai d’interprétation, Journal de la Société des Océanistes 35(70–71): 511.
Galipaud, J.-C. 1990. The physico-chemical analysis of ancient pottery from New Caledonia, in Spriggs, (ed.): 134–42.
Galipaud, J.-C. (Ed.). 1992a. PoterieLapita et peuplement. Noumea, ORSTOM.
Galipaud, J.-C. 1992b. Un ou plusieurs peuples potiers en Nouvelle-Calédonie?, Journal de la Société des Océanistes 95:185200.
Golson, J. 1959. L'archeologie du Pacific Sud: résultats et perspectives, Journal de la Société des Océanistes 15: 554.
Golson, J. 1991a. Bulmer Phase II: early agriculture in the New Guinea Highlands, in Pawley, (ed.): 484–91.
Golson, J. 1991b. The New Guinea Highlands on the eve of agriculture, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 11: 8291.
Gorecki, P. 1992. A Lapita smoke screen?, in Galipaud, 1992a (ed.): 2747.
Gosden, C. 1991. Towards an understanding of the regional archaeological record from the Arawe Islands, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in Allen, & Gosden, (ed.): 205–16.
Gosden, C. 1995. Arboriculture and agriculture in coastal Papua New Guinea, Antiquity 69: 807–17.
Gosden, C., Allen, J., Ambrose, W., Anson, D., Golson, J., Green, R., Kirch, P., Lilley, I., Specht, J. & Spriggs, M.. 1989. Lapita sites of the Bismarck Archipelago, Antiquity 63: 561–86.
Gosden, C., Webb, J., Marshall, B. & Summerhayes, G.R.. 1994. Lolmo cave: a mid to late Holocene site, the Arawe Islands, West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea, Asian Perspectives 33: 97119.
Green, R.C. 1974. A review of portable artifacts from Western Samoa. Report 40, in Green, R.C. & Davidson, J.M. (ed.), Archaeology in Western Samoa 2: 245–75. Auckland: Auckland Institute and Museum. Bulletin 7.
Green, R.C. 1979a. Early Lapita art from Polynesia and island Melanesia: continuities in ceramic, barkcloth, and tattoo decorations, in Mead, S.M. (ed.), Exploring the visual art of Oceania: 1331. Honolulu (HI): University Press of Hawaii.
Green, R.C. 1979b. Lapita, in Jennings, J.D. (ed.), The prehistory of Polynesia: 2760. Canberra: Australian National University Press.
Green, R.C. 1989. Lapita, pottery and Polynesians, New Zealand Potter 31(3): 46.
Green, R.C. 1990. Lapita design analysis: the Mead system and its use; a potted history, in Spriggs, (ed.): 3352.
Green, R.C. 1991. Near and Remote Oceania — disestablishing ‘Melanesia’ in culture history, in Pawley, (ed.): 491502.
Green, R.C. 1992. Definitions of the Lapita cultural complex and its non-ceramic component, in Galipaud, 1992a (ed.): 720.
Green, R.C. 1996. Pottery, in Turner, J. (ed.), The dictionary of art 23: 726–8. London: Macmillan.
Green, R.C. & Anson, D. 1991. The Reber-Rakival Lapita site on Watom: implications of the 1985 excavations at the SAC and SDI localities, in Allen, & Gosden, (ed.): 170–82.
Haberle, S. 1996. Palaeoenvironmental changes in the eastern highlands of Papua New Guinea, Archaeology in Oceania 31: 111.
Hagelberg, E. & Clegg, J.B.. 1993. Genetic polymorphisms in prehistoric Pacific islanders determined by analysis of ancient bone DNA, Proceedings of the Royal Society London 252: 163–70.
Hedrick, J. 1971. Lapita style pottery from Malo Island, Journal of the Polynesian Society 80(1): 519.
Hill, A.V.S. & Serjeantson, S.W.. 1989. The colonisation of the Pacific: a genetic trail Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Houghton, P. 1991. The early human biology of the Pacific: some considerations, Journal of the Polynesian Society 100: 167–96.
Intoh, M. 1982. The physical analysis of Pacific pottery. Unpublished MA thesis, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Irwin, G.J. 1977. The emergence of Mailu as a central place in the prehistory of Coastal Papua. Unpublished Ph.D thesis, Prehistory Department, RSPacS, Australian National University, Canberra.
Irwin, G.J. 1981. How Lapita lost its pots: the question of continuity in the colonisation of Polynesia, Journal of the Polynesian Society 90: 481–94.
Irwin, G.J. 1989. Against, across and down the wind: a case for the systematic exploration of the remote Pacific islands, Journal of the Polynesian Society 98: 167206.
Irwin, G.J. 1992. The prehistoric exploration and colonisation of the Pacific. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kennedy, J. 1982. Archaeology in the Admiralty Islands, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 3: 2235.
Kirch, P.V. 1990. Specialisation and exchange in the Lapita Complex of Oceania, Asian Perspectives 29(2): 117–33.
Kirch, P.V., Hunt, T.L., Welslek, W. & Butler, V.. 1991. Mussau Islands prehistory: results of the 1985-86 excavations, in Allen, & Gosden, (ed.): 144–63.
Kirch, P.V. & Weisler, M.I.. 1994. Archaeology in the Pacific Islands: an appraisal of recent research, Journal of Archaeological Research 2(4): 285328.
Lauer, P.K. 1974. Pottery traditions in the D'Entrecasteaux Islands of Papua. St Lucia: Anthropology Museum, University of Queensland. Occasional Papers in Anthropology 3.
Lauer, P.K. 1970. Pottery traditions of the D'Entrecasteaux Islands of Papua. Unpublished Ph.D thesis, Prehistory Department, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.
Lepofsky, D. 1988. The environmental context of Lapita settlement locations, in Kirch, P.V. & Hunt, T.L. (ed.), Archaeology of the Lapita cultural complex: a critical review: 3247. Seattle (WA): Burke Museum. Research Reports 5.
Lum, K.J., Rickards, O., Ching, C. & Cann, R.L.. 1994. Polynesian mitochondrial DNAs reveal three deep maternal lineage clusters, Human Biology 66(4): 567–90.
May, P. & Tuckson, M.. 1982. The traditional pottery of Papua New Guinea. Kensington (NSW): Bay Books.
Meacham, W. 1991. Further considerations of the hypothesised Austronesian Neolithic migration from south China to Taiwan und Luzon, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 11: 398407.
Mead, S.M., Birks, L., Birks, H. & Shaw, E.. 1973. The Lapita pottery style of Fiji and its associations, Journal of the Polynesian Society. Supplement. Memoir 38.
Pawley, A. (ed.). 1991. Man and a half. Auckland: Polynesian Society.
Pawley, A. & Green, R.. 1976. Dating the dispersal of Oceanic languages, Oceanic Linguistics 12: 167.
Pawley, A. & Pawley, M.. 1994. Early Austronesian terms for canoe parts and seafaring, in Pawley, A.K. & Ross, M.D. (ed.), Austronesian terminologies: continuity and change: 329–61. Canberra: Linguistics Department, RSPacS, Australian National University.
Ross, M.D. 1988. Proto Oceanic and the Austronesian languages of Western Melanesia. Canberra: Linguistics Department, RSPacS, Australian National University. Pacific Linguistics Series C 98.
Rye, O.S. 1976. Keeping your temper under control: materials and manufacture of Papuan pottery, Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania 11(2): 105–37.
Sand, C. 1992. La différentiation des chronologies céramiques de Polynésia Occidental à partir d’une tradition culturelle commune issue du complexe culturel Lapita, in Galipaud, 1992a (ed.): 207–17.
Sand, C. 1996. Recent developments in the study of New Caledonia’s prehistory, Archaeology in Oceania 31: 4571.
Serjeantson, S.W. & Gao, X.. 1996. The genetic prehistory of Australia and Oceania: new insights from DNA analyses, in Akazawa, & Szathmáry, (ed.): 309–23.
Sharp, N.D. 1991. Lapita as text: the meaning of pottery in Melanesien prehistory, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 11(2): 323–32.
Slorat, J.P. 1990. A technological analysis of Lapita pottery decoration, in Spriggs, (ed.): 5982.
Smith, H.L. 1976. A principal components analysis of Samoan ceramics, in Jennings, J.D., Holmer, R.N., Janetski, J.C. & Smith, H.L. (ed.), Excavations on Upolu Western Samoa: 8395. Honolulu (HI): Bishop Museum. Pacific Anthropological Records 25.
Southern, W. N.d. The vegetation history of Lahakai swamp, Manus Island, Papua New Guinea: a preliminary report. MS.
Specht, J. 1991. Kreslo: a Lapita pottery site in southwest New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in Allen, & Gosden, (ed.): 139204.
Specht, J., Fullagar, R. & Torrence, R.. 1991. What was the significance of Lapita pottery at Talasea?, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 11: 281–94.
Spriggs, M. 1989. The dating of the Island Southeast Asian Neolithic: an attempt at Chronometrie hygiene and linguistic correlation, Antiquity 63: 587613.
Spriggs, M. (Ed.) 1990. Lapita design, form and composition. Canberra: Prehistory Department, RSPacS, Australian National University.
Spriggs, M. 1990. Dating Lapita: another view, in Spriggs, (ed.): 627.
Spriggs, M. 1991a. Considering Meacham's considerations on Southeast Asia, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin, 11:40811.
Spriggs, M. 1991b. Nissan, the island in the middle: summary report on excavations at the north end of Solomons and the south end of the Bismarcks, in Allen, & Gosden, (ed.): 222—43.
Spriggs, M. 1996a. Early agriculture and what went before in island Melanesia: continuity or intrusion, in Harris, D.R. (ed.), The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in Eurasia: 524–37. London: University College London Press.
Spriggs, M. 1996b. What is southeast Asian about Lapita?, in Akazawa, & Szathmáry, (ed.): 324–48.
Spriggs, M. 1996c. Chronology and colonisation in Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific: new data and an evaluation, in Davidson, J.M., Irwin, G., Leach, B.F., Pawley, A. & Brown, D. (ed.), Oceanic culture history: essays in honour of Roger Green: 3350. Dunedin: New Zealand Journal of Archaeology.
Spriggs, M., Yen, D.E., Ambrose, W., Jones, R., Thorne, A. & Andrews, A. (ed.). 1993. A community of culture: the people and prehistory of the Pacific. Canberra: Prehistory Department, RSPacS, Australian National University.
Summerhayes, G. 1996. Interaction in Pacific prehistory: an approach based on the production, distribution and use of pottery. Unpublished Ph.D thesis, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.
Swadling, P., Araho, N. & Ivuyo, B.. 1991. Settlements associated with the inland Sepik-Ramu Sea, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 11: 92112.
Terrell, J.E., Hunt, T.L. & Gosden, C.. 1997. The dimensions of social life in the Pacific, Current Anthropology 38(2): 155–95.
White, J.P. & Downey, J.E.. 1980. Excavations at Lesu, New Ireland, Asian Perspectives 23(2): 193220.
Yen, D.E. 1991. Domestication: the lessons from New Guinea, in Pawley, (ed.): 558–69.
Yen, D.E. 1993. Pacific subsistence systems and aspects of cultural evolution, in Spriggs, et al. (ed.): 8896.
Yen, D.E. 1995. The development of Sahul agriculture with Australia as a bystander, in Allen, J. & O’Connell, J. (ed.), ‘Transitions: Pleistocene to Holocene in Australia and Papua New Guinea’, Antiquity 69: special number 265: 831–47.
Yen, D.E. 1996. Melanesian arboriculture: historical perspectives with emphasis on the genus Canarium, in Stevens, M.L., Bourke, R.M. & Evans, B.R. (ed.), South Pacific indigenous nuts: 3644. Canberra: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed