Lapita and proto-oceanic

Mark Donohue, Tim Denham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Linguistics and archaeology have been, and continue to be, entwined in the discourse on the early human history of the Pacific. It is commonly assumed, explicitly or otherwise, that the bearers of the Lapita culture were speakers of Proto-Oceanic, the ancestor of the Austronesian languages of most of the Pacific. In this discursive piece, the chronological data for the location and timing of the emergence of Lapita pottery are compared with the linguistic data for the source region of Proto-Oceanic. Although both pottery and proto-language may possibly originate in the same location, this is not the most likely scenario if the evidence from the two disciplines is evaluated independently. There is no necessary historical association for the emergence of the Proto-Oceanic language and Lapita pottery. The Proto-Oceanic language and Lapita pottery should not be assumed to represent a single historical vector, as is commonly the case; rather, they should be considered discrete and separate historical phenomena.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)443-457
    JournalJournal of Pacific History
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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