Geoffrey Clark

Geoffrey Clark is an archaeologist who works on islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. His research interests include the timing and impact of inital colonisation, how monumental structures reveal ancient political systems and the impact of climate events on the development of insular societies.


Archaeological Perspectives on Conflict and Warfare in Australia and the Pacific »

Publication date: 2021
When James Boswell famously lamented the irrationality of war in 1777, he noted the universality of conflict across history and across space – even reaching what he described as the gentle and benign southern ocean nations. This volume discusses archaeological evidence of conflict from those southern oceans, from Palau and Guam, to Australia, Vanuatu and Tonga, the Marquesas, Easter Island and New Zealand. The evidence for conflict and warfare encompasses defensive earthworks on Palau, fortifications on Tonga, and intricate pa sites in New Zealand. It reports evidence of reciprocal sacrifice to appease deities in several island nations, and skirmishes and smaller scale conflicts, including in Easter Island. This volume traces aspects of colonial-era conflict in Australia and frontier battles in Vanuatu, and discusses depictions of World War II materiel in the rock art of Arnhem Land. Among the causes and motives discussed in these papers are pressure on resources, the ebb and flow of significant climate events, and the significant association of conflict with culture contact. The volume, necessarily selective, eclectic and wide-ranging, includes an incisive introduction that situates the evidence persuasively in the broader scholarship addressing the history of human warfare.

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Pacific Island Heritage »

Archaeology, Identity & Community

Edited by: Jolie Liston, Geoffrey Clark, Dwight Alexander
Publication date: November 2011
‘This volume emerges from a ground-breaking conference held in the Republic of Palau on cultural heritage in the Pacific. It includes bold investigations of the role of cultural heritage in identity-making, and the ways in which community engagement informs heritage management practices. This is the first broad and detailed investigation of the unique and irreplaceable cultural heritage of the Pacific from a heritage management perspective. It identifies new trends in research and assesses relationships between archaeologists, heritage managers and local communities. The methods which emerge from these relationships will be critical to the effective management of heritage sites in the 21st century. A wonderful book which emerges from an extraordinary conference. Essential reading for cultural heritage managers, archaeologists and others with an interest in caring for the unique cultural heritage of the Pacific Islands.’ — Professor Claire Smith, President World Archaeological Congress

The Early Prehistory of Fiji »

Publication date: December 2009
I enjoyed reading this volume. It is rare to see such a comprehensive report on hard data published these days, especially one so insightfully contextualised by the editors’ introductory and concluding chapters. These scholars and the others involved in the work really know their stuff, and it shows. The editors connect the preoccupations of Pacific archaeologists with those of their colleagues working in other island regions and on “big questions” of colonisation, migration, interaction and patterns and processes of cultural change in hitherto-uninhabited environments. These sorts of outward-looking, big-picture contextual studies are invaluable, but all too often are missing from locally- and regionally-oriented writing, very much to its detriment. In sum, the work strongly advances our understanding of the early prehistory of Fiji through its well-integrated combination of original research and the reinterpretation of existing knowledge in the context of wider theoretical and historical concerns. In doing so The Early Prehistory of Fiji makes a truly substantial contribution to Pacific and archaeological scholarship. Professor Ian Lilley, The University of Queensland

Islands of Inquiry »

Colonisation, seafaring and the archaeology of maritime landscapes

Edited by: Geoffrey Clark, Foss Leach, Sue O'Connor
Publication date: June 2008
This collection makes a substantial contribution to several highly topical areas of archaeological inquiry. Many of the papers present new and innovative research into the processes of maritime colonisation, processes that affect archaeological contexts from islands to continents. Others shift focus from process to the archaeology of maritime places from the Bering to the Torres Straits, providing highly detailed discussions of how living by and with the sea is woven into all elements of human life from subsistence to trade and to ritual. Of equal importance are more abstract discussions of islands as natural places refashioned by human occupation, either through the introduction of new organisms or new systems of production and consumption. These transformation stories gain further texture (and variety) through close examinations of some of the more significant consequences of colonisation and migration, particularly the creation of new cultural identities. A final set of papers explores the ways in which the techniques of archaeological science have provided insights into the fauna of islands and the human history of such places. Islands of Inquiry highlights the importance of an archaeologically informed history of landmasses in the oceans and seas of the world.