Archaeologies of Island Melanesia

Archaeologies of Island Melanesia

Current approaches to landscapes, exchange and practice

Edited by: Mathieu Leclerc, James Flexner

Please read Conditions of use before downloading the formats.

Download/view free formats
PDF (12.6MB)PDF chaptersRead online (HTML)EPUB (8.0MB)MOBI (7.2MB)


‘The island world of Melanesia—ranging from New Guinea and the Bismarcks through the Solomons, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia—is characterised more than anything by its boundless diversity in geography, language and culture. The deep historical roots of this diversity are only beginning to be uncovered by archaeological investigations, but as the contributions to this volume demonstrate, the exciting discoveries being made across this region are opening windows to our understanding of the historical processes that contributed to such remarkably varied cultures. Archaeologies of Island Melanesia offers a sampling of some of the recent and ongoing research that spans such topics as landscape, exchange systems, culture contact and archaeological practice, authored by some of the leading scholars in Oceanic archaeology.’
— Professor Patrick Vinton Kirch Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawai‘i

Island Melanesia is a remarkable region in many respects, from its great ecological and linguistic diversity, to the complex histories of settlement and interaction spanning from the Pleistocene to the present. Archaeological research in Island Melanesia is currently going through a vibrant phase of exciting new discoveries and challenging debates about questions that apply far beyond the region. This volume draws together a variety of current perspectives in regional archaeology for Island Melanesia, focusing on Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. It features both high-level theoretical approaches and rigorous data-driven case studies covering recent research in landscape archaeology, exchange and material culture, and cultural practices.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Aug 2019
Terra Australis 51
ANU Press
Terra Australis
Arts & Humanities: Archaeology, History
Pacific: Melanesia, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

PDF Chapters

Archaeologies of Island Melanesia »

Please read Conditions of use before downloading the formats.

If your web browser doesn't automatically open these files, please download a PDF reader application such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

To copy a chapter DOI link, right-click (on a PC) or control+click (on a Mac) and then select ‘Copy link location’.

  1. Complexities and diversity in archaeologies of Island Melanesia (PDF, 0.1MB)James Flexner and Mathieu Leclerc doi

Historical perspective

  1. Towards a history of Melanesian archaeological practices (PDF, 0.2MB)Matthew Spriggs doi

Landscapes and complexities

  1. Saltwater and bush in New Georgia, Solomon Islands: Exchange relations, agricultural intensification and limits to social complexity (PDF, 1.1MB)Tim Bayliss-Smith, Matthew Prebble and Stephen Manebosa doi
  2. From test pits to big-scale archaeology in New Caledonia, southern Melanesia (PDF, 1.3MB)Christophe Sand, David Baret, Jacques Bolé, Stéphanie Domergue, André-John Ouetcho and Jean-Marie Wadrawane doi
  3. The complexity of monumentality in Melanesia: Mixed messages from Vanuatu (PDF, 1.7MB)Stuart Bedford doi
  4. Reconsidering the ‘Neolithic’ at Manim rock shelter, Wurup Valley, Papua New Guinea (PDF, 0.7MB)Tim Denham doi

Exchange and contacts

  1. Axes of entanglement in the New Georgia group, Solomon Islands (PDF, 0.4MB)Tim Thomas doi
  2. Four hundred years of niche construction in the western Solomon Islands (PDF, 1.7MB)Peter Sheppard doi
  3. Sustenance and sustainability: Food remains and contact sites in Vanuatu (PDF, 1.0MB)James Flexner, Edson Willie and Mark Horrocks doi


  1. From gathering to discard and beyond: Ethnoarchaeological studies on shellfishing practices in the Solomon Islands (PDF, 0.6MB)Annette Oertle and Katherine Szabó doi
  2. Mummification of the human body as a vector of social link: The case of Faténaoué (New Caledonia) (PDF, 1.4MB)Frédérique Valentin and Christophe Sand doi
  3. Organic residue analysis and the role of Lapita pottery (PDF, 0.1MB)Mathieu Leclerc, Karine Taché, Stuart Bedford and Matthew Spriggs doi
  4. Technological process in pre-colonial Melanesia (PDF, 2.9MB)Dylan Gaffney doi
  5. A Melanesian view of archaeology in Vanuatu (PDF, 0.1MB)Edson Willie doi


‘Island Melanesia, the geographical focus of this volume, is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse regions on earth. It is therefore no small undertaking to make sense of the equally diverse archaeological record. In this well‐structured edited volume, 13 essays from archaeologists working in Island Melanesia make contributions to our understanding of past Island Melanesian cultural complexity by presenting a “state of play” of their ongoing research.’
—Ben Shaw, Archaeology in Oceania, 2019

Other publications that may interest you