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 program.
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:
- Locate archipelagos, main islands and key sites on a regional map of the Pacific;
- Discuss archaeological evidence for the ancient settlement of the Pacific region, and subsequent cultural changes that occurred with each major archipelago; and
- Analyse information of various nature (archaeological, ethnographical, historical) to engage with main themes, issues and debates in Pacific Archaeology.
Indicative AssessmentClass participation (10%) [Learning Outcome 2]
Map quiz, 30 minutes (20%) [Learning Outcome 1]
Oral presentation, 15 minutes (10%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 3]
Presentation summary, 2 pages (20%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 3]
Final essay, 2500 words (40%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 3]
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures, 12 hours of seminars; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Kirch, P. On the Road of the Winds: an Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact, University of California Press, 2002
Spriggs, M. The Island Melanesians, Blackwell, 1997.
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