Petrography of Temper Sands in 112 Reconstructed Lapita Pottery Vessels from Teouma (Efate): Archaeological Implications and Relations to Other Vanuatu Tempers
Keywords:Efate, Lapita, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Teouma, Vanuatu
The remarkable cache of intact and reconstructed Lapita pottery vessels excavated from the Teouma site near the south coast of Efate in Vanuatu has made possible a petrographic temper analysis for which each sherd thin section is known without doubt to derive from a different single pot. Such positive vessel-by-vessel control for the specific provenience of each sherd has not been possible during petrographic study of any other collections of prehistoric potsherds from Pacific Oceania. Our study shows that 100 of 112 Teouma vessels were made using indigenous Efate temper sands of several kinds, but that three of the vessels derive from elsewhere in Vanuatu and nine derive from New Caledonia ~500 km away to the southwest. Petrographic comparison of the Teouma temper sands with tempers in 430 Lapita and post-Lapita sherds from elsewhere in Vanuatu and the geologically related eastern outliers of the Solomon Islands at the northern end of the New Hebrides island arc defines a discrete number of generic temper provinces identified geographically as a guide for future analysis of Vanuatu tempers. Where adequate age control for ceramics is available, no generic distinctions can be drawn between tempers in Lapita and post-Lapita wares from each temper province.