New Volume on Pacific Archaeology - 'Spatial Dynamics in Oceania: Discovery, Appropriation and the Emergence of Traditional Societies'

30 January 2017

Proceedings of the Seances de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise, held in Paris in 2014, are now out. The 16 papers both in french and english are available in open-access here.

This volume edited by Dr. Frederique Valentin and Dr. Guillaume Molle is entitled ‘Spatial dynamics in Oceania: Discovery, Appropriation and the Emergence of Traditional Societies’


The Pacific Islands, from the Bismarck to Easter Island, are defined by both marine and terrestrial identities. As such, they form physical, social and cognitive spaces of various and seemingly constraining characteristics. However, human societies succeeded in adapting to these landscapes and in growing large populations which were later discovered by the first European explorers. What were the spatial dynamics developed by the communities? This publication gathers sixteen contributions that tackled this multifaceted issue. Since the first settlement patterns analyses led in Oceania from the 1960s, many works have documented the variability of human occupation on the islands. The authors here renew our perspectives on mapping structures within the landscape and its use for reconstructing historical trajectories; they investigate relationships between ecological constraints and choice of dwelling places, horticultural and procurement areas; they consider the anthropogenic landscape as an indicator of economic, politic, religious, social and familial connections between individuals and groups; they finally demonstrate that the relationships on which the social space is founded operate at different scales, local and regional, exceeding the geographic boundaries of the islands, and leading us to put the idea of isolation into perspective.

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