Port Vila, Vanuatu
5- 10 July 2015
Live Streaming Audio
The 8th Interntional Lapita Conference organised by the ANU and the Vanuatu Cultural Centre will be live streaming audio of its sessions on Mon 6th, Tues 7th, Thurs 9th, and Friday 10th July on the internet channel Fm.vu>. The conference starts each day at 8.30am Vanuatu time, currently one hour ahead of AEST time, and runs to about 5pm Vanuatu time each evening, with breaks for lunch and morning and afternoon teas at which time you will just hear nice 'live' Vanuatu reggae and other music taken from past Fest Napuan music festivals. Our channel is already on and will be playing such great music online between now and the conference sessions on 6th July. So Pacific archaeology buffs and lovers of fine Pacific music, check it out!
The Lapita culture is most clearly defined by its generally dentate-stamped decorated pottery and the design system represented on it. It is defined earliest in the Bismarck Archipelago to the east of the large island of New Guinea, at some time in the centuries preceding 1000 BCE. At around that date the Lapita culture spread out from its Bismarck Archipelago 'homeland' to beyond previously inhabited regions of Near Oceania to establish the first human colonies in the western part of Remote Oceania, the present-day SE Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Wallis and Futuna. At about the same time there was a push to the west out from the Bismarcks along the south coast of New Guinea, perhaps even as far as the Torres Straits. The nature of Lapita in Near Oceania is much debated as are its ultimate origins, and the Lapita conference series has sought to address these issues.
The Lapita Conference series began in 1988 with the Lapita Design Workshop held at the ANU as part of the Research School of Pacific Studies' Austronesian Project (Spriggs 1990). The second was held in Noumea, New Caledonia in 1992 (Galipaud 1992). This established the pattern of holding the conferences in countries and territories where the traces of the Lapita culture have been found. The next conference was in Port Vila, Vanuatu in 1996 (Galipaud & Lilley 1999), while the fourth was planned for Fiji in 2000 but had to be shifted to the ANU, Canberra at the last moment because of a military coup in the host nation (Clark, Anderson & Sorovi-Vunidilo 2001). The next was in Nukualofa, Tonga in 2005 (Bedford, Sand & Connaughton 2007). The extended gap was because of the stand-alone 2002 International Conference for the 50th Anniversary of the First Lapita Excavation held in Kone and Noumea (Sand 2003), particularly memorable for the presence of Dick Shutler, one of the original excavators (with E.W. Gifford) of the eponymous site of Lapita in 1952. The sixth of the Lapita Conference series was held in Honiara, Solomon Islands, in 2008 (Sheppard, Thomas & Summerhayes 2009) and the seventh in Apia, Samoa in 2011 (Summerhayes and Buckley 2013).
The decision was made at that conference to return to Port Vila for the Eighth Lapita conference because of the extremely significant findings made during the excavation of the Teouma Lapita Cemetery site on Efate Island, Vanuatu from 2004-2010, allowing the examination 'on site' as it were of the Lapita pottery and associated artefacts held at the Vanuatu National Museum in Port Vila. As part of the Conference there will be a major Lapita exhibition at the National Museum, and a visit to Teouma and other significant archaeological sites and collections on Efate. The ninth conference will be held somewhere in the Lapita culture area in 2019 and offers to host it will be considered by conference participants during the 2015 conference. We are happy to welcome you to Port Vila.
For the Eighth conference we want in the formal sessions to get back to Lapita 'basics' and the original intention of the Lapita conference series to focus on Lapita itself, as well as what came immediately before and immediately after it in the Western Pacific. There are now several conference series which cover Pacific prehistory more generally and specialist conferences have also been held on other related matters such as cultural heritage. We see no reason to replicate these with this series. We appreciate that many Pacific archaeologists who do not themselves work on Lapita-related topics directly will want to attend and so we have for the first time in the Lapita conference series instituted a major poster session that allows for other recent Pacific research to be presented that is not otherwise catered for in the program. We hope that the poster session will become a staple of future Lapita conferences as well, allowing the active participation of the entire Pacific archaeology community.