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Journal of Archaeological Research

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 89–140 | Cite as

Deconstructing the Lapita Cultural Complex in the Bismarck Archipelago

  • Jim Specht
  • Tim Denham
  • James Goff
  • John Edward Terrell
Article

Abstract

Within the Pacific Islands, the archaeological phenomenon called the Lapita Cultural Complex is widely regarded as first appearing in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea and then spreading southward. This complex supposedly represents the sudden arrival of migrants from Island Southeast Asia with new technologies, foreign languages, and a different worldview. We question these interpretations and the assumptions behind them and suggest instead that current evidence supports the introduction of new cultural traits over several centuries, rather than the sudden intrusion of foreign migrants.

Keywords

Island Southeast Asia New Guinea Bismarck Archipelago Lapita Cultural Complex Migration Interaction Geographic mobility 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank David Bulbeck and Mark Golitko for comments on an early draft of the paper, and Carol Lentfer, Katherine Szabó, and Alice Storey for comments on specific sections. We also thank Wallace Ambrose, Stuart Bedford, Peter Bellwood, David Burley, Judith Cameron, Scarlett Chiu, Hung Hsiao-chun, Yoshiyuki Iizuka, Patrick Vinton Kirch, Li Kuang-ti, Rintaro Ono, Christian Reepmeyer, Peter Sheppard, Glenn Summerhayes, Kazuhiko Tanaka, Tsang Cheng-hwa, and Olaf Winter for information and/or access to collections. Peter Bellwood, Hung Hsiao-chun, Patrick Vinton Kirch, Glenn Summerhayes, and Peter White gave permission to reproduce illustrations from their publications, now redrawn along with Figures 1 and 2 by Ming Wei (La Trobe University). We thank four anonymous referees, Peter Sheppard and Katherine Szabó for their insightful and detailed comments, and Gary Feinman and Linda Nicholas for their editorial assistance.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jim Specht
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tim Denham
    • 3
  • James Goff
    • 4
  • John Edward Terrell
    • 5
  1. 1.Australian MuseumSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Philosophical and Historical InquiryUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Archaeology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Social SciencesThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental SciencesUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  5. 5.The Field MuseumChicagoUSA

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