Do Hiccups Echo? Late Holocene Interaction and Ceramic Production in Southern Papua New Guinea

Date
2016
Authors
Vilgalys, Gabrielius
Summerhayes, Glenn
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Abstract
The last five decades of research into Papua New Guinean archaeology have revealed a variety of rapid late Holocene cultural changes. The Ceramic Hiccup (c. 1200 – 800 years b.p.) is a little understood period of change along the south Papuan coast. It presents itself at the terminus of the Early Papuan Pottery (EPP) tradition as a rapid change in ceramic styles, lithic exchange, and settlement patterns. Previous interpretations have invoked causal factors such as migration, environment, and conflict. This article investigates this period of change by examining exchange and mobility patterns during EPP, through the Ceramic Hiccup, and into the ensuing traditions. Physico-chemical analysis (scanning electron microscopy, SEM) of 39 potsherds was conducted to understand changes in ceramic production during this period at two key sites, Taurama (AGN and AJA) and Eriama 1 (ACV), in the Port Moresby region of the south coast of Papua New Guinea. Although our interpretations are provisional due to a small sample size, it is argued here that, following the highly interactive period of EPP, a migration of ceramic manufacturing groups from the west supplants the local tradition (EPP) during the Ceramic Hiccup. There is a decline in interaction between ceramic communities toward the latter stages of EPP, with increased isolation and standardization of ceramics. This decline of interaction in the region is associated with a decline in chemical variability in ceramic components. The Ceramic Hiccup is representative of introduced ceramics, increased interaction and mobility.
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Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, Early Papuan Pottery, EPP, pottery, culture change, SEM, Taurama, Eriama
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