Diversity in early New Guinea pottery traditions
north coast ceramics from Lachitu, Taora, Watinglo and Paleflatu
The initial appearance of pottery on mainland New Guinea has been an elusive and sometimes controversial topic. A range of factors contribute to this conundrum including landscape transformation and disturbance where relevant archaeology may be undetectable, or misinterpreted, and a lack of sound evidence from various sites that could facilitate comparative analysis. Moreover, the preeminence of the Lapita pottery sequence and its clear dispersal model has set expectations and perceptions concerning the oldest known pottery on New Guinea, which sometimes has resulted in scanty finds being interpreted on a prioriconceptual grounds rather than according to substantive or direct local evidence. Presented here is a catalogue of pottery recovered in 2004-05 from Lachitu, Taora, Watinglo and Paleflatu. These co-located north coast Papua New Guinea (PNG) sites provide material where the issues of chronostratigraphic integrity are directly confronted. Pottery from Lachitu and Taora was previously claimed as among the earliest ceramics on mainland PNG. However, the dating of results presented in this study suggests a more recent context for the introduction and manufacture of pottery, with a variety of diagnostic attributes pointing to a complex involvement of diverse peoples.