Reconsidering Lapita Ancestry: Evidence of Material Change and Migration on Tutuila Island, American Samoa



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Recent advances in the archaeology of the Samoan Islands have forced us to reconsider the generally accepted phylogenetic model for the chronology of cultural change in prehistoric Samoa. In this dissertation I use new archaeological evidence from excavations at multi-component sites across the islands of American Samoa to measure the degree to which the archaeological record supports the accepted linguistics-based phylogenetic model for Samoan cultural transformation. Specifically, I focus on multi-component sites to assess the social implications of diachronic change in pottery production, obsidian use and basalt tool manufacture.

To expand our understanding of the chronology for cultural change in the Samoan Archipelago I study the chronology of site use and tool production at Vainu?u, ?Aoa, Aganoa and Matautia on Tutuila Island and offer recalibrated radiocarbon dates from To?aga on Ofu Island. The findings from these multi-component sites show that differences in traditions of stone tool production and raw material provisioning accompany the noted cessation of pottery production ca. 1,500-1,700 B.P. Two identifiable forms of technological organization, attributed to the Ceramic Period and Monument Building Period components, are separated in time by several centuries of reduced population density across the study area. Patterning in the chronology of site use and technological change provides support for a cultural hiatus with demographic decline in the Samoan Islands beginning ca. 1,500 B.P.