Economic Botany

, 51:121 | Cite as

Plant Remains From Waterlogged Sites In The Arawe Islands, West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea: Implications For The History Of Plant Use And Domestication

  • Peter J. Matthews
  • Chris Gosden


Plant remains in the Arawe Islands were found preserved in waterlogged beach sediments. Remnants of edible fruit and wild nuts were found together with Lapita pottery, stone artifacts, and other evidence of human settlement. Previous discoveries of fruit and nut remains in Lapita pottery sites have been interpreted as evidence for an arboricultural complex based on a variety of tree species. Here we report direct evidence for plant use, but are unable to recognise any particular system of plant cultivation or harvest. All the genera and species recognised in the Arawe plant remains are known to enter modern beach drift by natural processes, from wild and cultivated sources. The archaeological assemblages pose intriguing problems for interpreting the history of plant use and domestication.

Key Words

Papua New Guinea aboriculture Canarium Cordia archaeology beach drift taphonomy botany 

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Matthews
    • 1
  • Chris Gosden
    • 2
  1. 1.National Museum of EthnologySenri, Osaka
  2. 2.Pitt Rivers MuseumUniversity of OxfordOxford

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