Recent Archaeological Research in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia

By Sand, Christophe | Asian Perspectives: the Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific, Fall 1998 | Go to article overview

Recent Archaeological Research in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia


Sand, Christophe, Asian Perspectives: the Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific


ABSTRACT

Recent archaeological research in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia has added to our understanding of the region's culture history. Excavations at nine primarily rockshelter sites on the islands of Ouvea, Lifou, and Mare suggest that the earliest human occupation of the Loyalty Islands, as with New Caledonia, is attributed to the Lapita complex; there is no preceramic tradition evident at these sites. Along with dentate-stamped pottery, the Lapita age ceramics are associated with other forms of decoration that have not been described previously. The Lapita assemblage and assemblages from subsequent occupations at these sites produced pottery and lithic materials suggestive of continuous but diminishing interaction over time with the main island of New Caledonia. Several sites contain archaeological deposits that record the transition to recent history and the arrival of European voyagers and missionaries in the region. KEYWORDS: Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Lapita, culture history, Melanesian archaeology.

THE PREHISTORIC CULTURE HISTORY of the Loyalty Islands (Fig. 1), located east of Grande Terre (the main island) of New Caledonia, is one of the lesser known among those of the New Caledonian archipelago of southern Melanesia. Indeed, few modern archaeological research programs had been conducted there before 1990. Oral traditions preserve stories about the islands' settlement by different human groups, the subsequent creation of chiefdoms, and the land divisions or places linked to major events (e.g., Dubois 1976; Guiart 1963, 1992; Illouz 1985). Although these stories often have a chronological frame and are intended to justify present-day social positions, they do not allow us to completely reconstruct past history, as has been done elsewhere in the Pacific (e.g., Kirch and Yen 1982). Since 1992, the Loyalty Islands Province, now responsible for its archaeological heritage, has initiated a program of archaeological surveys and excavations, including the first general study of the characteristics of prehistoric occupations. This program, also financed by the French state, has been conducted by the local Department of Archaeology.

[Figure 1 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This paper presents some of the results obtained during these first surveys, especially the results of the first salvage excavations conducted between 1993 and 1995 on the three major islands. One of the characteristics of the studies undertaken by the Department of Archaeology has been to focus on the rockshelters discovered during the surveys in order to identify the remains of early prehistoric occupations at these sites, which have been less disturbed than cultivatable areas or sand dunes. This marks the first attempt to study rockshelters in the Loyalty Islands. The first part of this paper presents details about some of these sites and the discoveries made. The analysis of the materials obtained provides the basis for a first synopsis of the prehistoric chronology of the Loyalty Islands.

BACKGROUND

The Loyalty Islands archipelago consists of the three major islands of Ouvea (132 [km.sup.2]), Lifou (1196 [km.sup.2]), and Mare (642 [km.sup.2]), surrounded by a number of smaller islands of various sizes. Constructed on a basaltic platform, the islands are composed of uplifted coral platforms of varying elevations. Ouvea is an uplifted atoll on its eastern part, with a wide lagoon. Lifou and Mare are completely uplifted coral platforms, with a flattened central area corresponding to the former lagoon and higher cliffs related to the former reef. Some summits on Mare Island are over 140 m high. The shorelines can be divided between low areas, where quartenary sand dunes have sometimes formed, and high coral cliffs, showing the notches of former sea levels. No streams are present in the archipelago. Apart from Mare, which has a small source of easily identifiable basalt in Rawa, the Loyalty Islands are completely formed by coral lithology and no stone sources of sedimentary formation are present. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Recent Archaeological Research in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.