Three reconstructed Lapita plainware pots from Caution Bay, south coast of mainland Papua New Guinea

David, Bruno, McNiven, Ian J., Jones-Amin, Holly, Connaughton, Sean P., Parkinson, Charles, Rowe, Cassandra, Richards, Thomas, Leavesley, Matthew, Barker, Bryce, Mandui, Herman, Campanelli, Gisella, and Flood, Nick (2013) Three reconstructed Lapita plainware pots from Caution Bay, south coast of mainland Papua New Guinea. University of Otago Studies in Archaeology, 25. pp. 157-170.

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[Extract] Lapita ceramics have been found on islands across a vast stretch of the western Pacific Ocean, spanning some 4500 km from the Bismarck Archipelago in the west to Tonga and Samoa in the east, with recent finds (David et al. 2011; McNiven et al. 2011) extending their distribution to the south coast of mainland Papua New Guinea (PNG). While Lapita ceramics have long been recognised by their iconic (comb) dentate-stamped designs that include a range of largely geometric shapes (e.g. linear or curved motifs, including labyrinths), usually in bands or demarcated zones on the upper portions of pots (Kirch 1997: 13), they are also characterised by a broad range of distinctive vessel forms including but not limited to collared and carinated jars and bowls with everted rims (of a range of rim courses) and globular bodies, flat dishes, and rare cylinder stands. While decorated vessels are typically highlighted as characteristic of Lapita in many studies, >90% of sherds in most archaeological assemblages are undecorated (e.g. Burley et al. 2010; Kirch 1997: 146; for exceptions from more westerly assemblages, see Kirch 2000; Sand 2001). Such high proportions of plain sherds are due to a combination of sherds from plainware vessels and from undecorated parts of decorated wares. However, it is not usually possible to determine which of these two options the plain sherds represent (although conjoining of sherds and matching against various characteristics of decorated sherds can in some circumstances shed light on this issue). Plainwares enable us to better understand relationships between vessel form and decoration – and with this the culture of Lapita ceramics generally – by comparing how vessel shape changes with, and without, decoration through time. However, plainwares are rarely reported in any detail, making it difficult to compare the broader distribution of full assemblage characteristics across space and time. Here we report three Lapita pots from Caution Bay, south coast of mainland PNG, recently substantially reconstructed from conjoined sherds during the course of conservation work by the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne. Our aim is, firstly, to document vessel form for one newly revealed Lapita region (Caution Bay, south coast of mainland PNG) through hitherto poorly documented plain body ceramics that require substantial reconstruction to make morphological sense of otherwise relatively small sherds, and, secondly, to discuss how such vessel forms change with the demise of Lapita at Caution Bay after 2600–2500 cal. BP. These pots represent the first substantial excavated Lapita vessels from mainland PNG.

Item ID: 29940
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2324-4348
Keywords: ceramic; pottery; Lapita; Caution Bay; Papua New Guinea; ceramic reconstruction; pottery reconstruction
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), QEII Fellowship, DORA Fellowship
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery grant, QEII Fellowship, DORA Fellowship DP0877782, DORA Fellowship DP130102514
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2013 02:47
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210106 Archaeology of New Guinea and Pacific Islands (excl New Zealand) @ 50%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210102 Archaeological Science @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950599 Understanding Past Societies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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