Defining the extent and consequence of prehistoric interaction in Oceania is an important archaeological problem. The nature of the inter-island contact responsible for the prehistoric record of exotic items is unclear, and methods for evaluating indigenous interaction need to be explored. Here, ethno-historical sources are used to examine protohistoric patterns of interaction in the southeast Solomon Islands. Two French frigates under the command of Comte de La Pérouse, lost on Vanikoro in 1788, formed an artificial 'quarry' of European items used by Pacific Islanders for almost 40 years. The distribution and abundance of La Pérouse items on Vanikoro and neighbouring islands, informed by historical sources, are used to investigate properties of the region's interaction networks. The study has implications for understanding intra-island and inter-island distributions of durable archaeological materials, and why exotic materials extend to some islands but not to others.
|Publication status||Published - 2003|