Tamuarawai (EQS)

Geographical Information

Geographical Coordinate System
Longitude :  149° 56' 29.60" E
Latitude    :  1° 39' 42.56" S
Height Above Sea Level  :  2.5 – 4.0 m (Summerhayes et al. 2010: Fig. 4)
Map Datum: WGS84
Country Papua New Guinea
Region
Far Western Lapita Province, Bismarck Archipelago, New Ireland Islands, Saint Matthias Group
Brief Description

Tamuarawai (EQS) is located 250 meters south of Hamburg Bay at the narrowest point of Emirau Island, in the Saint Matthias Group. The site is orientated with its longest axis running east to west and lies in between two roads that converge on the eastern site boundary and a swamp 300 meters to the south (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 62,64). It has a slightly undulating surface that varies between approximately 2.5 – 4.0 meters above sea level (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 64).

EQS is situated on disused garden land, which had been largely cleared prior to the arrival of the excavation team, leaving only a scattering of trees remaining. However, the area within which test pit 3 was located fell outside this cleared area and had a dense coverage of undergrowth and trees.

The location of EQS was first discovered when teacher Mr K. Vito and students from Rongol Top Up primary school on Emirau Island found pottery in 2006 (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 62). The site was excavated over three field seasons in 2007, 2008 and 2009 under the direction of G.R. Summerhayes.

Photograph(s) We cannot display this gallery
Floor Plan

 


Stratigraphy


Site Information

Distribution of Remain(s)

Cultural remains are primarily concentrated in the southeastern corner (TP 1 and 3) of the site with artifact densities markedly decreasing towards the northeastern (TP4) and northwestern (TP2) corners (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 68-69, 73).

    The excavation of TP 1 – 4 revealed that artifact concentrations were highest in layers 1,2 and 4, with a smaller amount present in layer 3 (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 64).

    Approximate Size  
    Preservation Condition  
    Culture Type(s) Lapita
    C14Date(s)

    Conventional (uncalibrated) radiocarbon dates and sample provenance information:

    3044±31 BP (WK-21349), Test pit 1, layer 4 – Charocal (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 65-66).

    2917±31 BP (WK-21345), Test pit 2, layer 4 – Charcoal (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 65-66).

    Summary of calibrated radiocarbon dates:

    EQS only had two calibrated dates WK-21349 dating to 3360 – 3160 cal BP at two standard deviations (95.4% probability) and WK-21345 dating to 3210-2960 cal BP (95.4% probability) (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 66).

    Artifact Type(s)

    Pottery, lithics (flakes, cores, oven stones, hammerstone, slingshot, chisel), worked shell artifacts (beads, armband, disk, fishhooks, net sinkers, octopus lures), human bone (tooth crown) and faunal remains (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 67-72).

    Ceramic Type(s)

    Cultural information

    Significance

    The site of Tamuarawai is significant for a number of reasons:

    Firstly, EQS has been designated as an “Early” or “Far-Western” Lapita site and therefore is only one of ten such settlements currently known within the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 62). Due to the rarity of such sites, any new addition is highly significant and has the potential to further expand our knowledge with regards to the beginning of the Lapita cultural complex in Near Oceania (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 62).

      Secondly, the sites location within the Bismarck Archipelago is in itself significant due to its proximity to the Early-Lapita site of Talepakemalai (ECA), located on the Island of Eloaua in the Mussau Islands. The island upon which EQS is located, Emirau, and the Mussau Islands are in fact both part of the larger Saint Matthias Group and are only 25 Km apart (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 62). The presence of these two Early-Lapita sites, in the same island group, necessitates further comparison between the two in the future.

      Brief Research History

      2006– Pottery discovered by a teacher Mr K. Vito and students from Rongol Top Up primary school on the site of EQS. Photographs sent to G.R. Summerhayes identified the finds as being Lapita pottery (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 62).

      2007– First of two field seasons, lead by G.R. Summerhayes, to the site of EQS. Two 1 x 1 meter test pits (TP 1 and 2) and a number of shovel pits were excavated (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 64).

      2008– Second EQS field season. Two test pits, TP 3 and 4, measuring 2 x 2 m and 1 x 1 m, respectively, and a number of shovel pits, were excavated (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 64).

      2009– The site of EQS was revisited by a team lead by G.R. Summerhayes, a number of shovel pits were excavated (Hogg 2011: 24).

      Note
      Reference(s)

      Harlow, G.E., Summerhayes, G.R., Davies, H.L. and L. Matisoo-Smith. 2012. A jade gouge from Emirau Island, Papua New Guinea (Early Lapita context, 3300 BP): a unique jadeitie. European Journal of Mineralogy 24: 391-399.

      Hogg, N.W.S. 2011. Specialised Production of Early-Lapita Pottery: A Skill Analysis of Pottery from the Island of Emirau. Unpublished MA Thesis. Dunedin; New Zealand: Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, The University of Otago.

      Summerhayes, G.R., Matisoo-Smith, E., Mandui, H., Allen, J., Specht, J., Hogg, N. and S. McPherson. 2010. Tamuarawai (EQS): An Early Lapita Site on Emirau, New Ireland, PNG. Journal of Pacific Archaeology 1(1): 62-75.