Summary

Part of a collection of pottery sherds originating at the small island of Vuatom (Watom) in Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Bismarck Archipelago. The original object register of the National Museum of Victoria (now known as Museums Victoria) records that the sherds were 'dug up . found at about a depth of 4 feet, about 50 yards from the high water, on one of the very few level patches of Watom'.

The sherds are ornately decorated with motifs created by impressing a comb-like tool or shell, and by making incisions into the vessel surface before firing.

Archaeologists use the term 'Lapita' to refer to this style of pottery, made by First Peoples who were expert seafarers. Similar pottery has been found in other island and coastal locations in north and north-west PNG, as well as on the south coast. Elaborately decorated pottery has also been found at the earliest archaeological sites in the south-east Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The earliest 'Lapita' style pottery found in the Pacific dates to around 3300 years ago, but the Watom Island pottery probably dates to within the period c. 2850-1850 years ago.

Physical Description

Earthenware sherd. The sherd is from a carinated vessel (meaning that the exterior wall of the vessel changes angle relatively sharply). The sherd's exterior surface is decorated. On one side of the carination, the decorations consist of an alternating pattern of parallel indented vertical lines and inicised crosses. One the other side of the carination the sherd is decorated with incised lines arranged into arcs and other geometric shapes. All motifs are arranged into rows which run parallel to the vessel's carination. The indented motifs were probably made by impressing a comb-like tool or part of a shell.

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