Specialised Production of Early‐Lapita Pottery: A Skill Analysis of Pottery from the Island of Emirau

Archaeology Humanities Arts and Social Science (HASS) Papua New Guinea

This thesis presents the results of a skill analysis augmented by a decorative analysis and temper analysis, conducted upon Lapita pottery from the Early period site of Tamuarawai (EQS), Emirau Island, Papua New Guinea. Lapita pottery is an essential component of the Lapita Cultural Complex and an important source of information through which the lives of the Lapita peoples can be better understood. Research into the production of pottery during the Early-Lapita period (3300-3000/2900 B.P) initially argued for such pottery to be the result of a "specialised production strategy;" of which two "types" were defined "Specialised Regional Production" by Kirch (1988, 1990, 1997) and Hunt (1988, 1989) and "Mobile Specialised Production" by Summerhayes (2000a, 2000c, 2001, 2010). However, later research challenged this interpretation, arguing instead that specialised production was not occurring. This research utilises a skill analysis, a technique which studies the level of skill invested into pottery production, in combination with a decorative analysis and temper analysis, to identify whether a specialised production strategy was employed to produce the Early-Lapita pottery assemblage of EQS and if so, what "type" of specialised production was occurring. It is argued that the results of these analyses indicate that the EQS assemblage was produced via a specialised production strategy and that this indicates that specialised pottery production was occurring during the Early-Lapita period. The "type" of specialised production employed is argued to be similar to that of "Specialised Regional Production", whereby whole vessels or potting materials were being moved to the Island of Emirau. It is further argued that the "type" of specialised production employed to produce the EQS assemblage was specifically designed to function in an island environment with minimal resources for pottery production. Finally, the technique of skill analysis has never been employed upon a Lapita assemblage before and therefore can be considered experimental in nature. Due to this a thorough review and critique was completed in regards to the techniques effectiveness for the identification of specialised production. It is argued that the technique was successful in indentifying specialised production and "types" of specialised production but that it also had a few limitations.

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