Author(s): Patrick Vinton Kirch
This is the first account of the Lapita peoples, the commonancestor of the Polynesians, Micronesians, andAustronesian-speaking Melanesians who over the last 4000 yearscolonized the islands of the Pacific, including New Zealand andterritories as far afield as Fiji and Hawaii. Its purpose is toprovide answers to some of the most puzzling archaeological andanthropological questions: who were the Lapita peoples? what wastheir history? how were they able to travel such great distances?and why did they do so? Recent discoveries (several by the authorof this book) have begun at last to yield a coherent picture ofthese elusive peoples.Professor Kirch takes the reader back many thousands of years tothe earliest evidence of the Lapita peoples. He describes theresearch itself and conveys the excitement of the first discoveriesof Lapita settlements, tools and pottery. He then traces theremarkable cultural development and spread of the Lapita peoplesacross the unoccupied islands of Eastern Melanesia, Micronesia andWestern Polynesia. He shows how they became the progenitors of thePolynesian and Austronesian-speaking Melanesian peoples.The author describes Lapita sites, communities and landscapes, thedevelopment of their decorated ceramics, and their shell-toolindustry. He reveals the means by which they accomplished suchprodigious voyages and explains why they undertook them. Heillustrates his account with specially drawn maps and with a widerange of photographs, many published for the first time.Drawing on the latest research in archaeology, anthropology, biology and linguistics, and written in clear, non-specializedlanguage, this is an outstanding book of great importance to thehistory of South-East Asia and the Pacific.