Archaeological Perspectives on Conflict and Warfare in Australia and the Pacific

Archaeological Perspectives on Conflict and Warfare in Australia and the Pacific

Edited by: Geoffrey Clark orcid, Mirani Litster orcid

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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.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Mar 2022
Terra Australis 54
ANU Press
Terra Australis
Arts & Humanities: Archaeology, History
Australia; Pacific: Micronesia, Tonga, New Zealand, Vanuatu

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  1. Archaeological perspectives on conflict and warfare in Australia and the Pacific (PDF, 0.8MB)Geoffrey Clark and Mirani Litster doi
  2. War is their principal profession: On the frequency and causes of Maori warfare and migration, 1250–1850 CE (PDF, 1.4MB)Atholl Anderson doi
  3. Violence and warfare in Aboriginal Australia (PDF, 0.1MB)Colin Pardoe doi
  4. Warfare in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) (PDF, 0.8MB)Helene Martinsson-Wallin doi
  5. Traditional places in conflict and their historic context: Ritidian, Guam (PDF, 3.8MB)Boyd Dixon, Andrea Jalandoni and Maria Kottermair doi
  6. The ‘enata way of war: An ethnoarchaeological perspective on warfare dynamics in the Marquesas Islands (PDF, 3.3MB)Guillaume Molle and Vincent Marolleau doi
  7. Practical defensive features in Palau’s earthwork landscape (PDF, 3.2MB)Jolie Liston doi
  8. High-resolution lidar analysis of the Fisi Tea defensive earthwork at Lapaha, Kingdom of Tonga (PDF, 2.2MB)Phillip Parton, Geoffrey Clark and Christian Reepmeyer doi
  9. Geospatial analysis of fortification locations on the island of Tongatapu, Tonga (PDF, 5.6MB)Christian Reepmeyer, Geoffrey Clark, Phillip Parton, Malia Melekiola and David Burley doi
  10. The fortified homestead of the Australian frontier (PDF, 1.7MB)Nic Grguric doi
  11. Archives, oral traditions and archaeology: Dissonant narratives concerning punitive expeditions on Malakula Island, Vanuatu (PDF, 2.8MB)Stuart Bedford doi
  12. Invisible women at war in the West: An archaeology of the Australian Women’s Army Service camp, Walliabup (Bibra Lake), Western Australia, c. 1943–1945 (PDF, 9.0MB)Sven Ouzman, Jillian Barteaux, Christine Cooper and the UWA Archaeology Fieldschool Class of 2017 doi
  13. Painting war: The end of contact rock art in Arnhem Land (PDF, 3.5MB)Daryl Wesley and Jessica Viney doi

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