Intrusion, Integration and Innovation on Small and Not-So-Small Islands with Particular Reference to Samoa
Davidson, Janet M., Archaeology in Oceania
Investigations on small Polynesian outliers have illustrated how difficult it can be to identify archaeological evidence of intrusion, or to interpret the effect of any intrusion on the resident populations. In Samoa, the still meagre amount of artefactual and faunal remains from archaeological excavations adds to these problems. A review of the known Samoan archaeological sequence finds little or no evidence of intrusion, apart from a probable post-settlement introduction of pigs and dogs. This need not mean that Samoa was ever isolated from contacts with other islands.
Keywords: Triple-I model, Polynesian outliers, Lapita, subsistence, material culture, monuments
In a recent paper, Addison and Matisoo-Smith (2010) proposed a "Triple-I Model" of intrusion, integration and innovation for the Samoan sequence. They suggested a possible arrival about 1500 BP of new people, who introduced new lineages of rats, dogs and chickens, new plants, new material culture, and new ideas, and tentatively proposed a route from the west through the low islands of Micronesia. Their paper stimulated me to think about the difficulties archaeologists face in identifying and interpreting evidence of intrusion and replacement, a subject that has long concerned me (Davidson 1970, 1974a). The present paper briefly considers problems in interpreting archaeological evidence of intrusion (or lack thereof) in several Polynesian outliers, and then reviews current evidence about aspects of the archaeological sequence in Samoa.
Archaeological research on Polynesian outliers has been driven, not surprisingly, by the fact that these small islands in the geographical regions of Micronesia and Melanesia are today inhabited by people who speak Polynesian languages. Identifying the arrival of Polynesian speakers has been a major objective, which has, however, proved very difficult to achieve, as the following examples show.
Nukuoro is the northernmost of the known Polynesian outliers. It is a small atoll between New Britain and Pohnpei, with only a few hundred inhabitants. In the 1870s, the German ethnographer, Kubary, recorded traditionally remembered canoe arrivals from some 17 different islands stretching from Yap to Rotuma. Some of the arrivals stayed and intermarried, some were killed, some were banished, some introduced new dances; those banished had introduced a new kind of murder (Kubary 1910: 6-8).
Despite these historical accounts, the known archaeological sequence on the atoll, beginning about 1200 years ago (Davidson 1971, 1992) shows no evidence of intrusion or new arrivals apart from the late appearance of the serrated-edged pearl shell coconut grater. This archaeological sequence falls within the timeframe within which linguistic models would expect the present Polynesian language and its immediate ancestor to have been spoken on the atoll. Although Kirch (2000: 179-180) considered that "there is no reason why the Nukuoro sequence should not be regarded as 'Polynesian' from bottom to top", my own conclusion was that if Nukuoro had been uninhabited at the time of European contact it would never have been recognised as a Polynesian outlier.
Leach and Ward (1981) faced a similar situation on the nearby Polynesian outlier of Kapingamarangi. Although Emory (1965: 1-2) considered it exclusively Polynesian, earlier German ethnographers had found what they considered Melanesian and Micronesian as well as Polynesian influences (Eilers 1934: 155). Leach and Ward (1981: 93-97) had difficulty in suggesting a likely origin for the people. They found no evidence of intrusion in the archaeological sequence, although they pointed to ethnographic evidence of a type of food preservation and a method of roof thatching that suggested contacts, perhaps drift voyages, from Kiribati or the Marshalls.
The Polynesian outliers in the Santa Cruz group have much longer archaeological sequences than Nukuoro and Kapingamarangi, all beginning with ceramic occupations early in the first millennium BC. According to orthodox linguistic reconstructions, the present Polynesian languages cannot be descended from those of the original inhabitants, and must be more recent intrusions. The complexities of identifying Polynesian influences in Tikopia were well summarised by Kirch and Yen (1982: 341-342), who were able to identify some specific examples of Polynesian influence during their Tuakamali Phase (AD 1200 to 1800), without excluding possible earlier influences. In Anuta, however, it was still necessary to fall back on linguistics and oral tradition rather than archaeological evidence for Polynesian arrival (Kirch 1982: 251).
In Taumako there is archaeological evidence of contact and intrusion from both east and west at various times-stone adzes from Samoa, obsidian from Vanuatu, the relatively late appearance of terebrid and mitrid adzes, which spread through Micronesia and parts of Melanesia around 1000 years ago (Intoh 1999: 413-415), and other new items whose source is problematic (Leach and Davidson 2008: 320). It is not possible to identify a single point of introduction of Polynesian characteristics. Taumako is well placed to receive drift voyages from West Polynesia and there may have been many such arrivals. Again, if Taumako had been uninhabited at European contact, it would simply be seen as part of the Santa Cruz cultural area and the Samoan stone adzes interpreted as at best a result of trade, or more probably drift voyages. Detailed studies of skeletal remains from a large cemetery dating to the last millennium have struggled to identify the biological affinities of the population (Houghton 2008:351-352).
These Polynesian outliers are all small landmasses with populations numbering in the hundreds, not thousands, and should therefore be susceptible to take-over by relatively small groups of new arrivals. Samoa is a much larger island group, which by 1500 BP should have had a population numbering many thousands. In the historic period, Samoans have been enthusiastic adopters of new plants and animals, new technology, new fashions, new songs and dances. It is not unreasonable to suppose that new introductions of perceived interest or benefit would have been just as enthusiastically adopted whenever they appeared. But is there any evidence for a package of new introductions at a particular point in time?
The Samoan sequence
The success of any intrusion about 1500 BP, as proposed by Addison and Matisoo-Smith, would depend at least partly on their suggestion that Samoa may have been settled somewhat later than Tonga and Fiji and may have experienced slow population growth and even abandonment for a time after initial discovery. I therefore first consider the question of early settlement and population growth before looking for evidence of continuity or change in subsistence, material culture, and ideas. Until human remains from dated archaeological contexts are available for study, little can be said about people themselves.
Apparent disjunctions between the archaeological sequences of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have been a recurring topic of discussion for many years. During the first major archaeological research programme in Samoa in the 1960s, no evidence of Lapita settlement was found, in contrast to Tongatapu (Poulsen 1967, 1987) and Viti Levu (Birks 1973). This failure was to some extent explained by the chance discovery of the site beneath the lagoon at Mulifanua (Green 1974a; Jennings 1974). Green (2002) argued persuasively that there are almost certainly more Lapita sites, submerged or deeply buried, in Samoa. It is also highly likely that, as Clark (1996: 450) has argued, Lapita decoration was abandoned in Samoa sooner than anywhere else. More recently, Rieth and Hunt (2008) also argued for a rapid abandonment of Lapita decoration.
Yet there is still a perceived "weak Lapita signature" in Samoa (Addison and Matisoo-Smith 2010: 8). The chronometric hygiene approach to Samoan radiocarbon dates (Rieth 2007; Rieth et al. 2008) has provided the basis for a view that Lapita settlement of Samoa was minimal, and permanent settlement may not have occurred until c. 2500-2400 BP. However, Clark and Anderson (2009: 414) have presented thoughtful arguments against what they characterise as "Lapita avoidance of Samoa" in the wider context of West Polynesia and Fiji. They point out that there is evidence of continuous occupation of the relatively close smaller islands of Uvea, Futuna and Niuatoputapu from the Lapita era and that Kirch (1988) demonstrated close relationships in design elements and motifs between Mulifanua (Samoa), Sigatoka (Fiji), Uvea and Niuatoputapu. They argue that Samoan plainwares cannot be derived convincingly from any known prehistoric assemblages in the region (or from Vanuatu or New Caledonia) but "are likely to represent a local development, signalling that older ceramic sites are likely to be present in Samoa" (2009: 415).
In the 1960s, Green and his colleagues did not have a clear understanding of Samoa's complex geomorphology. There was no thought of looking for submerged sites in the lagoon on the north coast of Upolu. It was mistakenly assumed that the low coastal flat at Lotofaga on the south coast of Upolu, chosen for a beach midden excavation, would have been there since people had been in Samoa, whereas in fact it was younger and yielded a sequence of only about the last 800 years (Davidson 1969). By 2011, the site and the flat it had occupied had eroded almost entirely away, illustrating yet another aspect of the problem of finding early sites in Upolu.
It was also assumed, probably wrongly, that the Falefa Valley in eastern Upolu was an optimal location for settlement. The central flat grazed by cattle was an optimal location for site surveying, but it is prone to flooding and probably never had the density of occupation of, for example, the northwestern part of Upolu. Yet plain potsherds were found in four of the seven sites excavated in the valley (Green and Davidson 1974: 69, 85, 96, 117-131). One of these, the plain pottery site at Sasoa'a, was initially excavated because it had been a nineteenth century village, listed in a missionary journal. The Falefa Valley investigations suggest a significant population in eastern Upolu by 2000 BP. The scattered but fairly common occurrence of plain pottery sherds in other 'inland' locations, including the vicinity of Pulemelei on Savai'i (Martinsson-Wallin et al. 2007: 51-56), Mt Olo in western Upolu and Moamoa inland from Apia (Green 2002: 137), also suggests a significant population by about 2000 years ago, even if in situ deposits continue to be elusive.
It is difficult to believe that Samoa, once discovered, would not have experienced steady population growth, and inconceivable that it might have been, for a time, abandoned. But even if this were the case and permanent settlement began only about 2500 BP, by 1500 BP there should have a sizeable population.
In his review of settlement patterns in Samoa, Green argued strongly for continuity in Samoan subsistence, as in other aspects of its culture. As he noted, Samoa generally lacks the usual indicators of intensification and "early to mid twentieth century AD Samoan agricultural practices, for the most part, seem to have prevailed throughout the prehistoric sequence" (Green 2002: 147). In the mid twentieth century there were minor improvements towards labour saving, but the actual farming of village land, as described in Fox and Cumberland (1962), continued much as it may have done since the first canoes arrived.
This is of course negative evidence--no intensification--rather than actual positive evidence for any agriculture at all.
Burley (1998: 355) somewhat dismissively described Lapita agricultural activity in Tonga as "possibly limited to a low-energy swidden-type cultivation system" secondary to foraging in relative importance for settlement location, although he has subsequently questioned this assumption (2007: 194). Addison and Matisoo-Smith (2010: 6) cite various sources (including Green 2002) as evidence that "sites dating to after the abandonment of pottery in Samoa show intensive landuse patterns". They also cite a personal communication to them from Burley for "large scale field clearance and agricultural intensification in Ha'apai by 1200 BP (date uncalibrated)". It behoves us to be very clear about what is meant by intensification in Polynesia (Leach 1999). More clearance reflects more people but need not necessarily involve new people, new plants, or new horticultural techniques.
Samoan horticultural practices as described in Fox and Cumberland (1962) and observed by archaeologists working in Upolu and Savai'i in the 1960s did not appear to reflect intensification, but they provided Samoans with ample vegetable foods for subsistence and ceremonial occasions as well as supporting, for a time, a significant banana export industry. Carson (2006) emphasises the lack of intensification in recent Samoan horticultural practice.
Microfossil evidence of aroids, yams and bananas has been reported in Lapita sites in Vanuatu (Horrocks and Bedford 2005, 2010; Horrocks et al. 2009), and taro and lesser yam in the Lapita era in Fiji (Horrocks and Nunn 2007). Fall (2010) has presented evidence for the appearance or increase in pollen of a variety of plants associated with cultivation in Vava'u and Ha'apai during the first millennium BC, including taro. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that plants such as taro, yam and bananas would also have arrived in Samoa with the initial colonists. It is no longer necessary to infer the presence of domestic plants from artefacts assumed to be vegetable peelers, although these were present in the plain pottery deposit at Falemoa on Manono (Janetski 1980: 125-127). Of course there may have been new additions, particularly of new varieties, but new introductions sufficient to cause major change in practice seem unlikely. A low island route through Micronesia is particularly unlikely, as atolls do not generally support the cultivation of plants most important in Samoa apart from breadfruit, which is normally grown in settlements rather than in gardens. Kava and paper mulberry are not normally found on atolls, and are also not grown to any extent in gardens. I think it unlikely that introduction of new plants led to intensification of gardening.
Archaeological evidence about fishing, fowling and the presence of commensal animals is still limited, as Green (2002: 146-147) noted. This is partly because of the poor survival of bone and shell except in sandy coastal sites. Even coastal sites, however, have generally not been very productive of faunal remains. Evidence from To'aga on Ofu in Manu'a does not suggest change (Nagaoka 1993: 207), apart from loss of some wild bird species (Steadman 1993). But as Steadman notes, this was not comparable to the initial impact of humans in other island groups. This in turn suggests that To'aga was not a site of first footfall in Manu'a.
Without studies of plant microfossils and in the absence of field evidence of horticultural systems, pigs were pressed into service as proxies for horticulture in Lapita sites (e.g. Green 1979: 37). But it is perfectly possible to have horticulture without pigs or, indeed, pigs and chickens without horticulture. At present it looks as if chickens may have been the only domesticates present in the earliest part of the Samoan sequence, with pigs and dogs arriving later. The introduction of pigs, in, particular, would have been highly significant, but need not have been part of a package. The known distribution of pigs in Micronesia (Wickler 2004: 32) suggests that they are very unlikely to have arrived in Samoa by a Micronesian route.
At the end of Green's programme in Samoa, he was able to describe Samoan plain pottery in some detail (Green 1974b: 245-253) and put forward a clear account of the development of the Polynesian stone adze kit that was then taken to Eastern Polynesia and further elaborated there (Green 1974b: 253-265). He showed that shell adzes and a few stone adze types were present in Tongan Lapita sites but not in Samoa. Some stone adze types found in the Tongan sites were also present in Samoan plain ware sites, but the Samoan plain ware sites also had a range of new types that were not present in Tonga.
Green could say very little about durable fishing gear or personal ornaments, the other main classes of artefact that have proved useful in Lapita archaeology elsewhere and in East Polynesian archaeology. Bone and shell artefacts do not survive in the volcanic soils in which most of the excavations by Green and his team took place. Since then, there have been several excavations in Samoan coastal sites with reasonable conditions for preservation of artefacts made from shell, bones and teeth, although artefacts have still been sparse. The picture that seems to have emerged, however, is one of loss of durable material culture, rather than intrusion of new items that are archaeologically visible.
Hiroa (1930: 418-523) devoted more than 100 pages to fishing in his detailed work on Samoan material culture. There are 4 pages on the use of the octopus lure, 2 on walled weirs, and about 10 on trolling lures. The rest is about fishing practices, nets, traps, and other perishable items. Simple one-piece shell fishhooks were part (probably a minor part) of the initial Samoan fishing kit and lasted in small numbers for some time, with examples from To'aga in Manu'a (Kirch 1993: 160-162), Lotofaga on Upolu (Davidson 1969: 244, 247) and Potusa and Falemoa on Manono (Janetski 1980), but seem to have disappeared before Hiroa's time. Archaeological evidence of the typical Samoan ethnographic trolling lures, well described by Green (1974b: 271-274) on the basis of nineteenth century collections in the Peabody Museum at Salem and the Smithsonian, is limited to what are quite possibly historic period examples at Potusa (Janetski 1980) and a doubtful fragment from a relatively recent context at Lotofaga (Davidson 1969: 244, 247). At this rate, the only durable item of fishing gear to have survived throughout the Samoan sequence may prove to be the octopus lure, represented archaeologically by the cowrie shell caps, whose identification is often tentative (Kirch 1993: 162; Davidson 1969: 244; Janetski 1976: 71-73, 1980: 124, 125), but not by the characteristic stone sinker of recent times.
Personal ornaments also present a picture of loss as much as gain. Some of the shell ornaments found in Lapita sites elsewhere have been found in plain pottery contexts, notably narrow shell rings, usually interpreted as ann rings, the occasional shell "bead" and two bone or ivory "beads" (Kirch 1993: 162-165; Janetski 1976: 72, 73, 1980). At some point, these all disappeared. For the ethnographic period, Hiroa (1930: 615-634) described an array of items of perishable material--wooden and coconut fibre combs, ornaments of human hair, leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds, and feathers--and only a tiny component of shells for necklaces. Although for the archaeologist this represents loss of potential evidence, Kramer was moved to begin his account of Samoan ornaments as follows: "There is no ornament more beautiful than one fashioned of flowers and leaves, such as probably best developed on the South Sea islands (1995: 329).
The main durable ornaments in the ethnographic record are the palefuiono of nautilus shell units that was part of the tuiga headdress, and for which the shells, according to Kramer (1995: 335), came from Tonga, and the 'ula lei--the whale tooth necklace, for which the teeth often came from Fiji (Kramer 1995: 335). Kramer thought that the pale fuiono was an innovation unique to Samoa. The 'ula lei potentially has wider connections, to East Polynesia as well as elsewhere in the central Pacific. But no evidence of either seems to have been found yet in Samoan archaeological sites.
An important feature of much of the Samoan material culture sequence is that Samoans made very little use of shell for artefacts, apart from so-called scrapers and peelers. It is unclear whether the alleged broken Tridacna shell adze from Potusa (Janetski 1980: 123-124) is actually an adze; the only other reported shell adze is a small example, probably Cassis shell, from To'aga (Kirch 1993: 158). Hiroa (1930: 353-354) reported only two examples in the Bishop Museum collections. There is no sign of the terebrid and mitrid adzes using the aperture end of the shell, which swept through much of Micronesia and parts of Melanesia about 1000 years ago (Intoh 1999: 413-415). Nor are there yet any examples of the terebrid tool with the bevel on the apex end, which flourished in early East Polynesian sites and has a sporadic distribution elsewhere, including in a Lapita site in Ha'apai (Davidson et al. 2011). As noted above, the early shell ornaments seem to have petered out.
In the case of material culture, then, the stone adze sequence can be seen as very strong evidence of continuity, with no reason to suppose that innovations were due to anything other than Samoan craftsmen availing themselves of the abundant supplies of high quality raw material. In other aspects of material culture--ceramics, shell fishhooks, shell ornaments--there is loss (and ethnographic evidence of replacement with perishable materials) but no sign of intrusion. However, the failure to reintroduce shell artefacts of almost any kind is important negative evidence. The Samoan propensity for perishable ornaments might indicate atoll influence, but actually, in the ethnographic period the people of Kiribati, for instance, made greater use of shell for ornaments than Samoans did (Koch 1965: plates 16, 18-20). Shell tools and shell ornaments were also a significant feature of the material culture of the high islands of Kosrae and Pohnpei as well as the atolls of the Caroline and Marshall Islands.
A final example of the frustrating lack of evidence of durable material culture in Samoan archaeological sites concerns tattooing, which the Samoans elevated to such a high art. Tattooing is thought to go back to Lapita times (Green 1979: 40), although the evidence is fairly flimsy. Three bone tattooing chisels from To-1 on Tongatapu are cautiously described by Poulsen (1987 (I): 207) as highly likely to be of an early period. As far as I am aware, no archaeological evidence of tattooing has yet been found in Samoa.
The introduction of new ideas is particularly difficult for archaeologists to document. New ideas about society can be tentatively inferred from monuments, patterning of sites, shapes of houses and so on.
Round or oval houses were and are an important feature of Samoa culture, which had much to do with social ideology, as house architecture so often has. Barnes and Green (2008) have convincingly demonstrated that the fale afolau (a long house with rounded ends) was a nineteenth century introduction from Tonga. It was originally introduced as a Christian chapel design and serves as a good example of introduction (from Tonga), innovation (Samoan modification) and integration (it is now widely thought to be an indigenous Samoan form). On the other hand, the round or oval form is well documented from a variety of late prehistoric sites (Davidson 1974b: 232-236). Green (1974c: 111-113) presented plausible evidence for a small oval house at Sasoa'a, dating to the first century AD. This suggests that oval houses have a very long history in Samoa, extending back to the period of use of plain ware ceramics. This type of house is highly unlikely to have been introduced to Samoa via Micronesia.
The appearance of monumental architecture is surely the outstanding innovation in the Samoan archaeological sequence, and is closely paralleled in Tonga. In both Samoa and Tonga, it takes the form of earthen, stone, or stone-faced mounds, which are sometimes very large, although, as Golson pointed out in 1957: "whereas in Tonga the mound was raised and elaborated in honour of the dead, in Samoa it was pressed into the service of the living" (Golson 1969: 14). Round and square or rectangular mounds are found in both Samoa and Tonga and large ones in both groups sometimes have access ramps, but the so-called star mound appears to be a unique and probably quite late Samoan innovation, highly unlikely to be an introduction from elsewhere.According to Clark et al. (2008: 1007), "the scale and density of monumental works at the chiefly centre of Lapaha [on Tongatapu] is unprecedented in Polynesia". However, it does not necessarily follow that Tonga was where monumental architecture first appeared in West Polynesia.
Monumental architecture, not surprisingly, is not a feature of atoll societies. The appearance of monumental architecture not only in Samoa and Tonga but in other parts of the Pacific including Pohnpei and Kosrae, Fiji and New Caledonia, is a really important topic in Pacific archaeology (Clark and Martinsson-Wallin 2007). On present evidence, however, there is no reason to interpret the Samoan evidence as part of the sort of Triple-I model proposed by Addison and Matisoo-Smith. The appearance of earthwork fortifications in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga is another innovation deserving of more investigation, Again, however, it is likely to have been an innovation within Fiji and Western Polynesia, rather than an introduction from elsewhere.
Examples from several Polynesian outliers show that Pacific island communities have probably always been exposed to new arrivals of people and ideas, most of which are not reflected in the archaeological record. When evidence of intrusion is identifiable, it is not easy to interpret in terms of numbers of people and extent of influence.
The early part of the Samoan archaeological sequence is still poorly known. However, the extent of distribution of plain pottery on Upolu, at least, suggests uninterrupted population growth and spread commensurate with initial Lapita settlement.
There is very little evidence of anything other than continuity in Samoan subsistence practices. Plant fossil evidence of Lapita introductions of major staple crops such as yams, taro, and bananas elsewhere make it likely that these were introduced to Samoa, too, by the initial settlers. Increased clearance of land may simply reflect increasing population and does not necessarily indicate intensification or new crops. Pigs and dogs do, on the present fairly limited evidence, appear to be later introductions, although their date of arrival is not yet determined. Faunal collections of all periods are still fairly limited.
The material culture sequence reflects loss in several categories of durable items, rather than new introductions, while the stone adze sequence provides strong evidence of continuity and local innovation. There is nothing to suggest introductions of new material culture from the west. The pale fuiono shell ornament, one of the very few durable innovations other than adze forms, seems to be of Samoan origin.
There is some evidence to suggest that the Samoan oval house has an antiquity of more than 1500 years, while the fale afolau has been shown to be a nineteenth century Christian introduction from Tonga, providing an excellent example of the intrusion, innovation and integration of a single architectural and religious idea. The appearance of monumental architecture and earthwork fortifications during the last millennium, not only in Samoa but elsewhere in the central Pacific and beyond, were major developments whose origins remain uncertain. Samoan innovation in this field is reflected by the so-called star mounds.
The Triple-I model proposed by Addison and Matisoo-Smith challenges archaeologists working in Samoa to examine their existing evidence carefully and seek new evidence to test the model. The idea of an influential package of introductions, leading to major change, has always appealed to archaeologists. However, a series of incremental small changes from a variety of sources over a longer period of time may be closer to historical reality. Canoes from many different islands have probably arrived frequently in Samoa over the centuries leaving little or no trace in the archaeological record. Pigs, new cultivars of existing crops, new dances, and new styles of perishable textiles and adornments, for example, would be readily adopted, while new lineages of rats could have jumped ashore from wrecked canoes. It is likely that there has been regular swapping of ideas and minor innovations between Tonga, Samoa and eastern Fiji as long as they have been inhabited by people. But evidence of a significant arrival at one point in time of new people, plants, animals, material culture and ideas has yet to be produced.
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JANET M. DAVIDSON
2234 Queen Charlotte Drive, RD 1, Picton 7281, New Zealand. Janet .Davidson@University-of-Ngakuta.ac.nz
DAVID J. ADDISON and LISA MATISOO-SMITH
Samoan Studies Institute, American Samoa Community College; Department of Anatomy and Allan Wilson Centre for Ecology and Evolution, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
It is encouraging to see that the ideas we published in these pages in 2010 have stimulated direct response and discussion of issues we think are important in continuing to develop understandings of the processes involved in the initial settlement and subsequent prehistory of West Polynesia. We commend and respect Davidson for her direct discussion of some of our interpretations and inferences, as well as for her many decades of involvement in the archaeology of the region. We think that this kind of direct approach is exactly the way for understandings of regional prehistory to advance. In this spirit, we are happy that the editors of Archaeology in Oceania have asked us to respond to Janet Davidson's thoughtful paper.
One of the themes of our paper was that, while evidence is still fragmentary and there is much more to know, for several years we have been increasingly unhappy with trying to force new data into a model that seems unable to accommodate them. Surely, there are many ways to interpret the partial record that we have in West Polynesia. We attempted to offer another way of perceiving the available data, a way that we think may better accommodate both the older research findings Davidson cites as well as newer findings archaeological as well as biological/genetic. Below, we will attempt to address the topics Davidson raises in the same order as in her paper.
The Outlier analogy
We find that Davidson's portrayal (which we have no objection to) of the difficulty in identifying "intrusion" highly intriguing. As we understand it, her argument is that the Outlier cases exemplify the difficulty of archaeologically recognizing intrusion, even massive intrusion and culture change (as is hypothesized for the Outliers). This is perhaps where DNA evidence can be most valuable as the sudden appearance of a new lineage or lineages can be indicative of an intrusion or at least new influences from different populations.
Plainware-using population growth rate, size, and density
Davidson states that "Samoa ... by 1500 BP should have had a population numbering many thousands". Perhaps this statement accurately reflects the prehistoric reality of Samoa. However, "many thousands" spread over 9 islands with the second largest land area in Polynesia (NZ excluded) does not necessitate high density in any one place. Smaller islands such as those in the Manu'a Group likely never had huge populations, even when at the limits of their carrying capacity.
Although small islands such as Manono and Apolima may have always had small populations as well, their proximity to 'Upolu/Savai'i suggests that they could call on resources from those islands when needed. It can be inferred that the more remote location of the islands of Manu'a (~100 km from Tutuila, the nearest landmass) necessitated that their population levels be maintained below the islands' maximum carrying capacity without recourse to outside assistance. If it is a question of low overall population being a requisite for significant intrusion, Manu'a seems the most likely place in Samoa. As we suggested in our 2010 paper, is there perhaps not something to the oral traditions from around the region that give primacy to Mann'a as the origin and "birth-place" of Polynesians? Mann'a may have been an ideal setting for an intrusive population to take hold and gain strength before attempting to spread to larger islands.
Davidson asks, "is there any evidence for a package of new introductions at a particular point in time?". We suggested in our 2010 paper, that yes, there is at least sufficient evidence for archaeologists in the region to being considering the possibility that there were, and to actively look for such evidence. The adage "if I didn't believe it, I wouldn't have seen it" pertains here. If we are only looking to confirm what we already know (e.g. the current model), then it is likely that we will find exactly that.
As Davidson's Outlier discussion suggests, archaeological evidence alone may not be enough--incorporating as many lines of evidence as possible (e.g. biology, oral history, etc) will help in refining our understandings of the past. The unquestionable appearance of dog remains in both Near Oceania and Polynesia at some point after 2000 BP is just one. The genetic evidence, while still relatively limited in terms of well-dated material, also suggests that new lineages of chickens and Rattus exulans may have been introduced to the Pacific at some point after Lapita but before expansion into East Polynesia.
What we attempted in the 2010 paper was to give an alternative model that would allow archaeologists in the region to find data to