New Data from Oposisi: Implications for the Early Papuan Pottery Phase


  • Jim Allen Archaeology Program, La Trobe University
  • Glenn Summerhayes University of Otago
  • Herman Mandui National Museum and Art Gallery, Port Morseby
  • Matthew Leavesley Department of Anthropology, University of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby,


Oposisi, EPP, AMS dating, obsidian transfer


An apparent colonisation of the Papuan south coast by pottery-making villagers about 2000 years ago led in the 1970s to the development of a regional sequence of first millennium AD decorated pottery styles now known as Early Papuan pottery (EPP). Important in defining this style horizon is the Yule Island site of Oposisi first excavated by Ron Vanderwal in 1969. As part of an on-going re-appraisal of pottery production along this coast by two of us (see Summerhayes and Allen 2007) we took advantage of an opportunity to re-sample the site in 2007. A paper proposing a much earlier starting date for EPP based on dates for sherds in Torres Strait (McNiven et al. 2006) meant that we could also take advantage of this visit to acquire further dating samples. A coherent set of seven new AMS dates strongly supports the Oposisi sequence beginning at c. 2000 BP. Beyond this our sample produced much more obsidian, imported from Fergusson Island 600 km to the east, than had previously been recorded for the site. This attests to stronger and more continuous eastern links than had been previously supposed. Lastly the paper reviews EPP in the light of recent pottery finds that suggest pre-EPP pottery will occur on the south Papuan coast.


How to Cite

Allen, J., Summerhayes, G., Mandui, H. and Leavesley, M. (2011) “New Data from Oposisi: Implications for the Early Papuan Pottery Phase”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 2(1), pp. 69–81. Available at: (Accessed: 21 June 2024).




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