There have been various reviews of the radiocarbon dates for early Lapita sites, especially within the Bismarck Archipelago (Kirch and Hunt 1988; Specht and Gosden 1997; Kirch 2001; Summerhayes 2001,2010; Spriggs 2003; Specht 2007).
In this short report, the Bayesian calibration program OxCal v.4.1.5 (2010; Bronk Ramsey 1995, 2009) is used to interrogate claims about, and to generate chronologies for, the appearance of Lapita in the Bismarck Archipelago and its dispersal to Remote Oceania.
This paper demonstrates the potential of two novel sources of data for drawing back Kirch's veil of rime and sheds new light on the social antecedents of Lapita pottery in the Bismarck Archipelago
. Scholars have previously suspected that the spatial distribution of stone mortars and pestles and stemmed obsidian artefacts represent social connections across large areas of Oceania (e.g.
Lapita pottery had appeared in the Bismarck Archipelago
by 3,300 years ago.
Australia had gained control of the Bismarck Archipelago
and other island groups from Germany as a result of the post-WWI Treaty of Versailles.
The amount of obsidian transported out to these first steps into Remote Oceania is considerable (Sheppard 1993; Specht 2002) and has been interpreted as providing evidence of multiple return voyages (Sheppard and Walter 2006) to the Bismarck Archipelago
, which is located over 1800 km to the northwest.
In the early and Late Lapita phases it is the Willaumez Peninsula sources in New Britain that dominate, while in the Middle Lapita phase "assemblages in the eastern Bismarck Archipelago
region are dominated by Admiralties obsidian" (2004:154) with New Britain obsidian only remaining dominant in assemblages close to the sources.
For the first time, biogeographers, archaeologists and conservation workers have a resource which sets out the past and present distribution of birds from the Bismarck Archipelago
to Easter Island.
In an early computer study of Lapita pottery designs, Green (1979: 44) identified a western style from the Bismarck Archipelago
to Vanuatu-New Caledonia, and an eastern style in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
Microfossil evidence of possible food plants associated with Lapita from the Bismarck Archipelago
includes starch grains and raphides of Colocasia esculenta, identified in New Ireland (Crowther 2002).
The geological and archaeological signatures at the site of Kupona na Dari on the Willaumez Peninsula, West New Britain provide important new data about human colonisation of the Bismarck Archipelago
. Analyses of the stratigraphy and weathering of paleosols and manuports, when combined with fission track, radiocarbon, and luminescence dating, indicate that the site was first occupied at about 35-45,000 years ago.
Fourteen papers deal with locally or regionally specific aspects of archaeological data, covering a geographic range from Southeast Asia and New Guinea through the Bismarck Archipelago
, Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia to Fiji.