The power of paradigms: examining the evidential basis for early to mid-Holocene pigs and pottery in Melanesia

Sue O'Connor, Anthony Barham, Kenneth Aplin, Keith Dobney, Andrew Fairbairn, Michael Richards

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Abstract

The origin and timing of the introduction of pigs and pottery into New Guinea are contentious topics. Arguments have centred on whether domestic pigs and pottery technology entered New Guinea following the ‘Austronesian expansion’ from Southeast Asia into Island Melanesia, c. 3,300 calBP, or in the early to mid-Holocene. We review the history of the debate and present new dates on pig bone and pottery contexts from archaeological sites, including Taora and Lachitu, on the north coast of mainland Papua New Guinea (PNG), where earlier data supported claims for early pig and pottery. We argue that theoretical positions about ‘Neolithic’ origins in PNG influenced the relative willingness to accept early dates prima facie and conclude that current evidence shows neither pig nor pottery arrived before 3,000 calBP in mainland PNG.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Pacific Archaeology
Volume2
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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Keywords

  • Papua New Guinea archaeology
  • pottery
  • animal domestication
  • Neolithic

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