Etapakengaroasa (EHB)

Geographical Information

Geographical Coordinate System
Longitude :  149° 35' 29.85" E
Latitude    :  1° 34' 40.67" S
Height Above Sea Level  :  1.1 – 1.35 meters (Kirch 2001a: 140, Figure 4.51)
Map Datum: WGS84
Country Papua New Guinea
Region
Far Western Lapita Province, Bismarck Archipelago, New Ireland Islands, Saint Matthias Group
Brief Description

Etapakengaroasa (EHB) is located on the northeastern side of the upraised limestone Island of Emananus, on the shoreline of the lagoon, a short distance to the east of a small hamlet occupied by Pastor Ororea and his family (Kirch 2001a: 140; Kirch & Catterall 2001: Table 2.1).

The geomorphology of the site consists of a 55-meter wide paleobeach terrace situated at the base of a steep slope that climbs upwards until reaching the limestone plateau of the island. The terrace slopes gently downhill from south to north until rising abruptly to a height of 1.35 meters, due to a berm on the seaward side of the terrace, before dropping off into the lagoon (Kirch 2001a: 140, Figure 4.51; Hunt 1989: 106-107).

Vegetation cover upon the paleobeach recorded during the period of 1985-86 included secondary regrowth vegetation, coconut and a new garden that had been cleared in 1985, located 75 meters to the east of the test pits. Lastly, the shoreline of the lagoon to the north of the site consisted of a mangrove swamp (Kirch 2001a: 140).

Allen et al. (1984: 9-10, cited in Kirch 2001a: 139) first reported the site of Etapakengaroasa in 1984 after they were shown its location by a local resident known as Saupa. Two field seasons were organized in 1985 and 1986, under the direction of P.V. Kirch and T.L. Hunt, respectively (Kirch 2001a: 140).

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Floor Plan

 


Stratigraphy


Site Information

Distribution of Remain(s)

Cultural material is discussed with reference to the work conducted by P.V. Kirch and T.L. Hunt over the period 1985-86 (Kirch 2001a: 139-142; Hunt 1989: 107-110).

    Cultural material including sherds, obsidian flakes and various forms of lithics, was found to be present in abundance across the upper portion of the beach ridge, an area of some 1,150 m2 (Kirch 2001a: 140; Hunt 1989: 106).

    Three transects, composed of multiple 1 x 1 meter test pits spaced at regular intervals were excavated at the site, two running north – south, and one east – west (Kirch 2001a: 140-141; Hunt 1989: 107).

    Stratigraphically the site is composed of three layers that are argued to be fairly uniform across the entire site (Kirch 2001a: 141; Hunt 1989: 108-109). Material culture was present in the first two layers, whilst layer 3 was a sterile basal layer (Hunt 1989: 108, 259).

    Layer 1 consists of a dark grey/brown sandy loam that has been heavily reworked due to gardening activity (Kirch 2001a: 141; Hunt 1989: 108).

    Layer 2 consists of a gray to dark grayish brown calcareous sand containing frequent CaCO3 concretions. Concretions are primarily present in the upper portion of the layer and decrease in frequency with depth. The lower part of the layer largely consists of unconsolidated sediment that is continually moist as a result of being within the “zone of tidal fluctuation of the water table” (Kirch 2001a: 141; Hunt 1989: 108). Cultural material is primarily concentrated in this layer, which unfortunately shows considerable evidence for crab burrowing (Kirch 2001a: 141).

    Layer 3 is a sterile basal deposit composed of white to light-grey unconsolidated sand that is continually wet. The layer contains branch coral fingers, coral pebbles and bivalves (Quidnipagus and Tellina) in death position, indicating that the layer was deposited sub-tidally (Kirch 2001a: 141; Hunt 1989: 108).

    In sum, cultural material is present in layers 1 and 2 but is primarily concentrated in the latter (Kirch 2001a: 141).

    Approximate Size 1,150 m2 (Kirch 2001a: 140)
    Preservation Condition  
    Culture Type(s) Lapita
    C14Date(s)

    Conventional (uncalibrated) radiocarbon dates and sample provenance information:

    3470±90 BP (ANU-5088), 1985 transect Unit 1, Level 9 – Shell (Tridacna gigas) (Kirch 2001b: 231).

    3380±90 BP (ANU-5089), 1985 transect Unit 2, Level 6 – Shell (Hyotissa hyotis) (Kirch 2001b: 232).

    Summary of calibrated radiocarbon dates:

    EHB has two calibrated dates: 1

    ANU-5088 dating to 1880 (1.00) 1650 cal BC2 at one standard deviation (68.2% probability) and 1990 (1.00) 1520 cal BC at two standard deviations (95.4% probability) (Kirch 2001b: 231-232).

    ANU-5089 dating to 1750 (1.00) 1520 cal BC at one standard deviation and 1880 (1.00) 1430 cal BC at two standard deviations (Kirch 2001b: 231-232).

    The two dates above have a summed age range of 1860-1590 cal BC at one standard deviation (Kirch 2001b: 214). Kirch (2001b: 214) argues that whilst the ceramic assemblage from the site (which contains very fine dentate stamping and a large number of pedestaled bowls) is indicative of an early Lapita site, when comparison is made with the earliest radiocarbon dates from the nearby Lapita site of Talepakemalai (ECA) the date range given above appears too old. Therefore, Kirch (2001a: 141) believes that EHB is contemporaneous with the earlier Area B (Zone C) settlement in Talepakemalai and that the true age of the site is approximately 1500 cal BC.

    Artifact Type(s)

    Pottery, lithics (flakes, cores, hammerstone), worked shell artifacts (cap, shell scraper), human bone fragments and teeth, and faunal remains (Kirch 2001a: 142; Hunt 1989: 109-110; Kirch et al. 1989: Table 1).

    Ceramic Type(s)

    Cultural information

    Significance

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

    Firstly, the site is one of a trio of Lapita settlements the other two being Etakosarai (ECB) and Talepakemalai (ECA), located upon the islands of Emananus and Eloaua of the Mussau Islands, that form a unique cluster of settlements which are believed to have been contemporaneously occupied at given points in their history (Kirch 2001a: 68, 2001b: Figure 10.16).

    Secondly, EHB and the sites mentioned above are components of a larger archaeological landscape which contains a number of Lapita sites of varying age and configuration, such as the Lapita rockshelters on the islands of Eloaua and Mussau and the early-Lapita site of Tamuarawai (EQS), located on the nearby island of Emirau, also in the Saint Matthias Group (Summerhayes et al. 2010: 62). 

    Brief Research History

    1984– The site of EHB was first reported by Allen et al. (1984: 9-10, cited in Kirch 2001a: 139), who were shown the location of the site by a local resident, Saupa, after he found a large decorated Lapita rim sherd in the hole of a fallen tree.

    1985– First excavation of the site conducted by P.V. Kirch. Excavations consisted of two 1 x 1 meter test units, located twenty meters apart, along an 85 meter north – south orientated transect (Kirch 2001a: 141; Hunt 1989: 107).

    1986– Second excavation of the site conducted by T.L. Hunt. Excavations consisted of seven 1 x 1 meter test units, four of which were located on a 60 meter north – south transect, with the remaining three located on a 40 meter east – west cross transect (Kirch 2001a: 141; Hunt 1989: 107).

    Notes

    1 – The calibrated dates being quoted here are the OXCAL Calibrated Ages. See Kirch (2001b: 204) for a discussion regarding the differences between the OXCAL Calibrated Age and the CALIB Calibrated Age.

    2 – Respective probabilities in parentheses.

    Reference(s)

    Allen, J., Specht, J., Ambrose, W. and D. Yen. 1984. Lapita Homeland Project: Report of the 1984 Field Season. Piranha Publications No. 2. Canberra; Australia: Australian National University.

    Butler, V.L. 1994. Fish feeding behaviour and fish capture: the case for variation in Lapita fishing strategies. Archaeology in Oceania 29(2): 81-90.

    Hunt, T.L. 1989. Lapita Ceramic Exchange in the Mussau Islands, Papua New Guinea. Unpublished PhD thesis. Seattle; Washington; U.S.A: University of Washington.

    Kirch, P.V. 1986. Archaeological Fieldwork on Eloaua and Emananus Islands, St. Matthias Group, New Ireland Province. In J. Allen (ed.) Lapita Homeland Project: Report of the 1985 Field Season, pp. 14-19. Melbourne; Australia: La Trobe University.

    Kirch, P.V. 1987. Lapita and Oceanic Cultural Origins: Excavations in the Mussau Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, 1985. Journal of Field Archaeology 14(2): 163-180.

    Kirch, P.V. 1990. Specialization and Exchange in the Lapita Complex of Oceania (1600-500 B.C.). Asian Perspectives 29(2): 117-133.

    Kirch, P.V. 1997. The Lapita Peoples: Ancestors of the Oceanic World. Cambridge; U.S.A: Blackwell Publishers Inc.

    Kirch, P.V. 2001a. Three Lapita Villages: Excavations at Talepakemalai (ECA), Etakosarai (ECB), and Etapakengaroasa (EHB), Eloaua and Emananus Islands. In P.V. Kirch (ed.), Lapita and its Transformations in Near Oceania: Archaeological Investigations in the Mussau Islands, Papua New Guinea, 1985-88, volume 1. Introduction, Excavations, Chronology, pp. 68-145. Contribution 59. Berkeley; U.S.A: Archaeological Research Facility, University of California at Berkeley.

    Kirch, P.V. 2001b. A Radiocarbon Chronology for the Mussau Islands. In P.V. Kirch (ed.), Lapita and its Transformations in Near Oceania: Archaeological Investigations in the Mussau Islands, Papua New Guinea, 1985-88, volume 1. Introduction, Excavations, Chronology, pp. 196-236. Contribution 59. Berkeley; U.S.A: Archaeological Research Facility, University of California at Berkeley.

    Kirch P.V. and T. Hunt. 1988. Radiocarbon Dates from the Mussau Islands and the Lapita Colonization of the Southwestern Pacific. Radiocarbon 30(2): 161-169.

    Kirch, P.V., Swindler, D.R. and C.G. Turner II, 1989. Human skeletal and dental remains from the Lapita sites (1600-500 B.C.) in the Mussau Islands, Melanesia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 79: 63-76.

    Kirch, P. V., Hunt, T.L., Weisler, M., Butler, V. and M.S. Allen. 1991. Mussau Islands prehistory: results of the 1985-86 excavations. In J. Allen and C. Gosden (eds.), Report of the Lapita Homeland Project, pp. 144-163. Occasional Papers in Prehistory 20. Canberra; Australia: Department of Prehistory, Australian National University.

    Kirch, P.V. and C. Catterall. 2001. The Mussau Islands: Natural and Cultural Environments. In P.V. Kirch (ed.), Lapita and its Transformations in Near Oceania: Archaeological Investigations in the Mussau Islands, Papua New Guinea, 1985-88, volume 1. Introduction, Excavations, Chronology, pp. 28-56. Contribution 59. Berkeley; U.S.A: Archaeological Research Facility, University of California at Berkeley.

    Summerhayes, G.R. 2007. The rise and transformations of Lapita in the Bismarck Archipelago. In S. Chiu, and C. Sand (eds.), From Southeast Asia to the Pacific: Archaeological perspectives on the Austronesian expansion and the Lapita cultural complex, pp. 141 – 184. Taipei; Taiwan: Center for Archaeological Studies, Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Academica Sinica.

    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.