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An exhibition on the Pacific Ocean Lapita culture, whose peoples are thought to have originated from Taiwan or South China has just opened in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, where it will be on display until 9 January.

Wapita pottery, Wikicommons

Oceania’s seafaring ancients make journey to Paris
AFP, via Sin Chew, 10 November 2010

Ancient seafarers who launched one of the world’s swiftest migrations, settling the virgin islands of remote Oceania 3,000 years ago, have brought their story to Paris for an unprecedented new exhibit.

The Lapita, as the ancient Oceanic people are known, were all-but-unheard of just a few decades ago.

But since the mid-1990s the discovery of a body of highly-distinctive potteries, spread across some 250 sites, has shed light on how the Lapita set out over uncharted waters, bringing their language and culture with them.

Now, for two months starting on Tuesday, the Quai Branly museum of tribal arts in Paris is hosting what is being billed as the first ever comprehensive exhibition on the people’s artefacts and history.

“For indigenous people in the region, this is their heritage,” said Stuart Bedford of the Australian National University of Canberra, who has studied the Lapita for the past 15 years and is co-curating the Paris exhibit.

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