Introduction of the Lapita online database Project

Since the initial discovery of Lapita pottery made by Father Otto Meyer in 1909 on the Watom Island of New Britain, Bismark archipelago, Papua New Guinea, this particular kind of pottery have been found in numerous islands of the Bismark archipelago, Papua New Guinea, and also in the Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa as well. This particular style of pottery, especially with its dentate-stamped decoration, has become a cultural index for archeologists to estimate the direction and speed of migration, the scale of regional trade, and the development of cultural groups of the Lapita peoples.

 Our Purpose

Funded by the Information Technology Innovation Research Project of Academia Sinica, this Lapita online database project is carried out by Dr. Scarlett Chiu of Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, with collaboration with numerous scholars of the field. Our purpose is to provide a database of Lapita pottery for researchers among different countries to:

  1. perform basic comparison of Lapita sherds from different sites.
  2. generate simple statistic tests online to compare the similarities and dissimilarities among different sites.

 Lapita Pottery Assemblages Included in This Database

Lapita online Database now contains Lapita sherds from the following sites:

 Team and Collaborators

Project Director:

Scarlett Chiu

Project Assistant:

Yu-Yin Su

Part-Time Worker:

Tien-Hui Chen, Nicholas W.S. Hogg, Ting-Yi Li, Liang-Hsuan Ou-Yang


Collaborating Institutes



Institute of Archaeology of New Caledonia and the Pacific, New Caledonia Christophe Sand  
Department of Anthropology University of Auckland Roger Green
School of Culture, History and Language, The Australian National University, Australia Stuart Bedford  
School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, Australia Matthew Spriggs  
Department of Anthropology, Gender and Sociology, University of Otago, New Zealand Glenn Summerhayes  
Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley, United States of America Patrick Kirch  
Research & Collections, Australian Museum, Australia Jim Specht  

Collaborating Institutes ( Support)


Research Center for Information Technology Innovation,Academia Sinica

Site Description Update:   The site of Epakapaka Rockshelter (EKQ) has been updated and now includes a site description. (2014/09/16)   Map information temporarily disabled:   Due to the discontinuation of the Google Maps Flash API, the map-based functions of the database are currently disabled. The database is currently being upgraded to meet the requirements of the new Google Maps Javascript API (v3.), and will be completed in due course. We apologize for any inconvenience caused. (2014/09/5)   Site Description Update:   The sites of Etakosarai (ECB) and Etapakengaroasa (EHB) have been updated and now include a site description. (2014/08/27)   Site Description Update:   The sites of Etakosarai (ECB) and Etapakengaroasa (EHB) have been updated and now include a site description. (2014/08/27)   Lapita Database Downtime !!!   The LPOD database will become temporarily unavailable from Sat. To Sunday (3/8-9), as our host institute is going to repair parts of its electricity system. LPOD will be back on line next Monday 3/10, 9 am Taipei Time.(2014/03/07)   Site Description Update:   The site of Kurin (LPO023) has been updated and now includes a site description. (2014/01/15)   Site Description Update:   The sites of Vao and Goro (SGO015) have been updated and now include a site description. (2014/01/13)   Site Description Update:   The sites of Tamuarawai (EQS) and Teouma have been updated and now include a site description. (2014/01/08)   Database Function Update: We are currently updating the motif section in the database, so it will be temporarily unavailable till the end of December. In the meantime, other functions of the database will remain available. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.(2013/12/19) Site Description Update: The site of Kamgot (ERA) has been updated and now includes a site description. (2013/09/02) Lapita Database Downtime !!! From 5:00pm on the 30th of August through to 9:00am on the 2nd of September (Local time) the Lapita database will be offline due to building maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience caused. (2013/08/30) Site Description Update: The following sites have been updated and now include site descriptions: Site 13A  - Lapita (WKO013A)、Talepakemalai (ECA)、St Maurice-Vatcha (KVO003)、Nenumbo (SE-RF-2)、Nanggu (SE-SZ-8)、Natunuku (VL1/1). We welcome those interested to view the new content and to provide feedback. Site descriptions will be provided for other sites in the database in the near future. If there are any issues with the information provided please don’t hesitate to contact the site manager. (2013/08/30) Web Site Function Update: Lapita Online Database has added a new function on enlarging sherd photos by clicking on the search results’ small pictures. Any photos with different sidings can also be enlarged by clicking on their small pictures from the search results. Also, there is a slight change to the registration as there will be a CAPTCHA, random numbers or words to be inputted to prevent computer generated spam users, and a registration confirmation letter for any newly registered users. All registered users will receive news related to the database in their inbox. Please email to us if you are one of our collaborators so we may change your user access limit so you may search for the newly added but yet to be published data. (2013/05/06) In order to let scholars upload their own ceramic data to the Lapita Online Database, we have already changed all the motifs along with their motif number into a PDF file. We expect to finish the vessel form, element/technique, and a user manual to be completed in late October/early November. At the same time, we will also finish setting up the access limitations so scholars can use their own unpublished ceramic information while still have the access to the published data to carry out further researches. (2012/10/) Others: We are still in process of fixing some minor bugs and finalizing the texts for each part of this web site. Please feel free to test it and let us know what other functions may be needed. Due to the broadband limits, you may experience some delay while loading up various pages. It will perform better if you surf it via IE or Google Chrome. Currently We provide RL2, SZ8, SZ10 and RL6 sherds for beta testing. Some fake data were created to test various functions, please do not treat the current search results as true values. Please read the User Guide first before start using this research tool. You may contact the manager if you have any questions or suggestions about this website. A brief User Guide can be downloaded here: Lapita online database User Guide (PDF) How to use the database (PDF) How to use the database-motif (PDF)  How to change the password (PDF)  Motif comparison table (Excel, read only)