• Class Number 7112
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Mathieu Leclerc
    • Dr Mathieu Leclerc
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

This course is designed to provide students with a strong background in the archaeological history of Oceania, a region with 50,000 years of human chronology within the classical divisions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. We will discuss the case of Australia only in relation with the Pleistocene settlement of Sahul continent. Likewise, insular Southeast Asia will be considered solely through the Austronesian migrations from which originated the prehistoric Pacific cultures. We will tackle a wide range of anthropological questions with a holistic approach, using concepts from archaeology, linguistics, comparative ethnography, physical anthropology and biology. A significant portion of the course will be dedicated to the examination of the timing and process of prehistoric colonization in Oceanic islands and archipelagoes, using examples
from the Lapita culture in the West Pacific as well as Polynesian cultures in the East. Regional chronocultural sequences will also be analyzed in detail. Finally, we will round out the course by addressing a variety of themes including the evolution of socio-political complexity, religious architecture, funerary practices, settlement patterns, subsistence practices, human-ecosystem interactions within island environments, and material culture and technology. Special topics including traditional oceanic navigation will also be presented throughout the semester. Topics discussed through presentations in tutorials will complete the lecture

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Locate archipelagos, main islands and key sites on a regional map of the Pacific;
  2. Critically discuss archaeological evidence for the ancient settlement of the Pacific region, and subsequent cultural changes that occurred with each major archipelago; and
  3. Critically analyse information of various nature (archaeological, ethnographical, historical) to engage with main themes, issues and debates in Pacific Archaeology.

Required Resources

Kirch P.V. 2017. On the Road of the Winds. An archaeological history of the Pacific Islands before European Contact. Oakland: University of California Press.

This is a comprehensive textbook and the lectures are based around its thematic organization. It is really a must-have for the course. It also has a very useful bibliography of further readings that will help with essay and tutorial assignments.Chapters readings will be assigned every week. Supplementary readings on specific topics will be provided on Wattle.  

As well as high-profile archaeological journals such as Antiquity and World Archaeology, there are some regional journals that you will find particularly helpful in preparing for tutorials, assignments and for further reading. These include Archaeology in New Zealand, Archaeology in Oceania, Asian Perspectives, (occasionally) Australian Archaeology, Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, Journal of the Polynesian Society and New Zealand Journal of Archaeology (now renamed Journal of Pacific Archaeology). The journals Antiquity and Journal of Archaeological Science (among other general archaeological journals) also feature Pacific articles each year. All of these are accessible - many electronically - via the ANU Library catalogue. In addition the first 100 years of the Journal of the Polynesian Society (1892-1991) have recently been put online at: http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/browse.php

The Terra Australis monograph series, published currently by ANU E-Press and with recent issues downloadable for free will also be most helpful as it includes recent Pacific archaeology conference volumes and monographs on Vanuatu and Fiji, etc.

See: http://epress.anu.edu.au/titles/terra_australis.html


Finally, I can provide you with pdfs of less accessible old articles or monographs that I have gathered digitally over the years. Do not hesitate to ask me for a reference you cannot find at first in the libraries or online. 

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1: Introduction to the courseAs an introduction to the archaeology of the Pacific region, we will review basics in geography and history to orient students the general context of this course. Special focus will be on familiarizing students with maps of Oceania
2 Week 2: The Pacific Region: A World of DiversityStudents will continue to familiarize themselves with the Pacific region and its origins, examining the geological formation of Pacific islands, island types, climatology, biogeography and linguistic diversity within the Austronesian family.

Reading: Kirch, 2000: pp.42-62 OR Kirch, 2017: 37-54


Week 3: Prehistory of Sahul and Near Oceania (Pleistocene)

We will begin the discussion of the Pleistocene settlement of the Sahul region (including Australia, Tasmania and Papua-New Guinea) and the subsequent cultural developments.

Reading: Kirch, 2000: 63-84 OR Kirch, 2017: 55-73; Flexner et al. 2019; Stantis et al. 2015


Week 4: The transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene

We will continue our review of the initial settlement of the region, this time by focusing on later Holocene settlements leading up to 3000 BC. 

Reading: Kirch, 2000: 63-84 OR Kirch, 2017: 55-73; Sillar and Tite 2000


Week 5: The Austronesians and the Development of the Lapita Cultural Complex

After examining the emergence of Austronesian culture in Taiwan and Southeast Asia, we will focus on the settlement, material culture, economy, and subsistence practices of the Lapita complex. 

Reading: Kirch, 2000: 85-116 OR Kirch, 2017: 74-106; Swadling and Bence 2016; Weisler et al. 2016

6 Week 6: Lapita: Distribution and SignificationVarious aspects of Lapita populations will be presented this week: social organisation, settlement pattern, subsistence strategies, the significance of dentate-stamped pottery, etc.

Reading: Kirch, 2000: 85-116 OR Kirch, 2017: 74-106; Valentin et al. 2010; Sheppard 2019

7 Week 7: Polynesian Origins & the colonisation of Eastern Polynesia

Students will study the formative periods of Ancestral Polynesian Societies in the Samoa region during the post-Lapita era. The numerous settlement models of the Pacific region emerging since the 1960s (and the theoretical debates associated with them) will be examined. Students will also undertake an extensive review of current chronological data, with a detailed study of a variety of key archaeological sites (including those in Central-East Polynesia, Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand.) 

Reading: Kirch, 2000: 230-245 OR Kirch, 2017: 184-202

8 Week 8: Polynesian Chiefdoms – Guest Lecturer Guillaume MolleStudents will be introduced to the socio-political organization of chiefdoms with a review of traditional statuses and a comparison of various aspects of traditional hierarchy in several island regions. Patterns of change will also be examined, including economic and demographic roots of causation.

Reading: Kirch, 2000: 246-301 OR Kirch, 2017: 213-268; Johns et al. 2014

9 Week 9: The Polynesian Migrations and more

The numerous settlement models of the Pacific region emerging since the 1960s (and the theoretical debates associated with them) will be examined. Students will also undertake an extensive review of current chronological data, with a detailed study of a variety of key archaeological sites (including those in Central-East Polynesia, Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand.) We will also address the question of Polynesian contact with America.

Reading: Kirch, 2000: 230-245 OR Kirch, 2017: 184-202; Clark and Langley 2019; Robitaille 2007

10 Week 10: After Lapita: Traditional Melanesian SocietiesHistorical trajectories of post-Lapita societies in West Pacific will be presented, focusing on the emergence of traditional societies (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu). 

Reading: Kirch, 2000: 135-164 OR Kirch, 2017: 124-149; Gosden and Marshall 1999; McCoy and Codlin 2015

11 Week 10: Micronesia and NavigationWe will review Micronesia’s long-term history, including settlement patterns, adaptation processes within local environments, and case studies of architectural developments linked to the emergence of complex chiefdoms. We will also address some attributes of traditional navigation, including types of canoes, canoe building, and ancient navigation techniques, will be covered. Reading: Kirch, 2000: 165-206 + 207-230 OR Kirch 2017: 150-183 + 203-212; DiNapoli et al. 2018; Burley et al. 2016
12 Week 12: Religion and ceremonial architectureWe will discuss important concepts in Austronesian religions (tapu, mana) and main ritual practices in the region. We will focus our attention on the emergence and development of the “marae complex” in Eastern Polynesia, which is traditionally defined by various forms of ritual architecture (marae in central Polynesia and New Zealand, heiau in Hawaii, ahu and moai in Easter Island). 

Reading: Molle 2015; Stevenson et al. 2015

Tutorial Registration

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value
Map Quiz 10 %
Weekly Questions 20 %
Oral Presentation 10 %
Written summary of oral presentation 20 %
Creative Output –Final Essay 40 %

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 

Map Quiz

A good understanding of the geography of the region is essential to understand the events that will be described throughout the semester. To make sure everybody starts on the right foot, a map quiz will take place on Week 3, during which you will have to identify 20 locations in Oceania (archipelagoes, regions, geographic features, etc.) on blank maps. The 20 locations will be selected from the following list:

Sunda / Sahul

Island Southeast Asia: Taiwan (Formosa) / Philippines / Indonesia / Sulawesi / Wallace’s Line

New Guinea Island and Adjacent Region: Sepik River / Papua / Huon Peninsula / Torres Strait / Massim Region

Western Melanesia (Near Oceania): New Britain / New Ireland / Manus (Admiralty Is.) / Mussau (St. Matthias Is.) / Solomon Is. / New Georgia Is. / Santa Cruz Is.

Eastern Melanesia: Vanikoro / Tikopia / Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides) / Loyalty Islands / New Caledonia (Grande Terre) / Fiji / Viti Levu / Lau Islands

Micronesia: Palau / Yap / Marianas Is. / Guam / Caroline Is. / Pohnpei (Ponape) / Kosrae (Kusaie) / Nukuoro / Kapingamarangi / Marshall Is. / Truk

Polynesia: / Samoa / Tonga / Niuatoputapu (Keppel's Is.) / Futuna (Hoorne Is.) / 'Uvea (Wallis Is.) / Cook Is. / Mangaia / Society Is. (Tahiti) / Tuamotu Is. / Mangareva (Gambier Is.) / Marquesas Is. / Austral Is. / Rapa Nui (Easter Is.) / Hawaiian Is.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 

Weekly Questions

Every week, you have to write a multiple answer question based on your readings (lecture + tutorial + extra). Identify the correct answer and justify why the other options were relevant. Starting on Week 2, questions have to be submitted before the beginning of the tutorial

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 

Oral Presentation

You are required to do one oral presentation about one of the themes we will cover in the tutorials. Examples of topics are given in the table below. These are suggestions but feel free to talk to me if you have a topic in mind and it is not on the list, Presentations should be 15 minutes long. You will be judged on your own independent research, depth of understanding and clarity of expression. Enjoy working on your PowerPoint presentation but find a good balance between text and figures, don’t forget that PPT is a tool in support what you say.

We will also talk about the additional readings each week.

General topics

Week 1: No tutorial this week

Week 2: Discussion about assessments and choices of topics

Week 3: Traditions and food: Kava / Bethel consumption in Oceania / Wedding ceremonies…

Week 4: Tools and technology: Earth ovens / Adzes / Shell technology (fishhooks, etc.) / Pottery / Obsidian…

Week 5: Production and exchange in Oceania: The Kula system / the Sawei / Tapa production / Pitcairn case study / Shell money…

 Week 6: Beyond death: Head hunting expeditions / The treatment of the dead in Polynesia / Decorated skulls / Ancestors shrines in the Solomons / Teouma cemetery…

Teaching break

Week 7:

Week 8: Performances and games: The Arioi sect in Tahiti / Hula dancing / Surfing / Archery / Land diving…

Week 9: Tattooing: meaning and practices in Oceania: Tattooing in Marquesas, NZ / Scarification…

Week 10: Sacred art in the Pacific: Figures of the ancestors in Eastern Polynesia (tiki) / Petroglyphs in Hawaii or New Caledonia / dendroglyphs (Australia and/or Chatham Is.)

Week 11: War and conflicts: The fortified settlements (pa) of New Zealand or Rapa Iti or Fiji…

Week 12: Easter Island archeology: The moai statues / the Birdman Cult / the Rongorongo script…

Assessment Task 4

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 

Written summary of oral presentation

In addition to your oral presentation, you are required to write a 2-page (double spaced, font size 10 to 12) summary of your research. This should include a list of at least 5 academic publications (monographs, journal articles). You are allowed to include 1 figure only, so choose carefully the one that illustrates the best your ideas. This assessment is individual meaning that even if you presented with someone, you must write this summary by yourself.

Your work will be assessed on: Clarity/accuracy of expression, choice of 1 figure, range/comprehensiveness/relevance of literature, structure and presentation, critical interpretation of data.

This summary is due by the Friday following your presentation at 5 pm, and must be uploaded on Wattle.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 

Creative Output –Final Essay

The objective of the Creative Assessment is to produce an output of any format combined with a written essay of approx. 2,000 words (ARCH2005) or 3,000 words (ARCH6005). This is a short essay but it should be written to the highest academic standards with full and complete references (reference lists will not count towards the word count). You are required to carry out independent research and demonstrate that the arguments presented in your output are based on academic scholarship.

It is important that both aspects (creative output & essay) go hand-in-hand. They should provide complementary ideas; the output should offer an original and creative perspective, and the essay should demonstrate that the arguments/information/hypotheses presented in the Output are connected to archaeological research. Try to take advantage of the medium you are using for your Output to illustrate / document / exemplify / emphasise the elements you detail in your essay.

The topic chosen has to be related to archaeology in Oceania (excluding Australia) and/or any cultural manifestations associated with Pasifika cultures. The essays/outputs will be assessed on the following criteria:

•          Depth of understanding

•          Originality     

•          Relevance of critiques to central argument

•          Critical approach to academic sources

•          Use of bibliography

•          Structure and presentation

Marking rubric

The essays/outputs will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Depth of understnading
  • Originality
  • Relevance of critiques to central argument
  • Critical approach to academic sources
  • Use of bibliography
  • Structure and presentations

Argument (25%) – How clearly have you expressed your argument, both in the essay and in the Output? Is it persuasive? Is it insightful? Do you demonstrate critical thinking and independent research in the essay and the Output? What is the connection between the ideas presented in your Output and academic scholarship?

Critical Analysis – Do you critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your sources and the available arguments? Are you able to position your analysis within class discussions and broader theoretical debates? What is the relationship between the medium you selected for your output and your argument? In other words, what is the ‘added value’ of your Output? How does your Essay/Output engage with the content presented in class?

Structure and Organisation of the Essay (25%) – Is your essay clearly structured and presented? Is your evidence used appropriately? Are you within the word limit – not too high above it, and not too far below it?

Sources and Citations (25%) – Have you drawn on a wide enough range of sources? Are the sources you have used reputable and relevant ones? Have you cited all sources appropriately and listed them correctly in the bibliography?

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Mathieu Leclerc

Research Interests

My primary research interests include using archaeological science techniques on artefacts to reconstruct the socio-technological organisation of artefacts production; population movements and exchange networks; and the environmental conditions that affected the raw materials selected. I also have an interest for non-traditional research outputs and I am actively engaged in outreach activities outside academia.

Dr Mathieu Leclerc

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Mathieu Leclerc

Research Interests

Dr Mathieu Leclerc

By Appointment
By Appointment

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