via Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 07 November 2023: A paper by Leclerc et al. looking at Lapita pottery in Vanuatu, suggesting that the variability observed in raw materials are guided by the same cultural norms and social behaviours that led to the variability in other aspects of the Lapita pottery.
Results from petrographic and chemical analysis of decorated Lapita pottery from Vao, Vanuatu show that the majority was manufactured locally but that several variations of local raw materials were used. This indicates that temper material was collected from a range of settings, most of them accessible locally on Malakula. Two samples have temper corresponding with raw materials expected from the island of Efate in central Vanuatu where other significant Lapita sites are located. This pattern of fabric variability parallels recurrent practices documented at other founder Lapita sites, including Teouma on Efate. We propose that mobility and experimentation are not the only explanations available to justify the greater initial variability in raw materials used for pottery manufacturing at founder Lapita settlements. We argue that the variability of raw material results from a purposeful strategy guided by cultural norms or rules similar to those directing other behaviors associated with decorated Lapita pots, such as decorative motifs, paint application, vessel forms, and deliberate burial.