The Nature of Ceramic Production at Unai Bapot, House of Taga and Ritidian at 3,500 cal BP
This thesis presents the results of a chemical analysis on pottery to investigate the nature of mobility and interaction from three Mariana Islands sites from 3,500 cal BP to 300 cal BP.These sites were: House of Taga on Tinian, Unai Bapot on Saipan, and Ritidian on Guam.Pottery was an important part of the pre-contract period of Chamoru culture and one of the most common types of material culture found in these sites. The study of their pottery helps unravel the past on these peoples to understand the nature of their pottery production and in turn the state of mobility and interaction as a society. This archaeological signature is a technology which can be traced back to Austronesian ancestors and cultural routessomewhere in ISEA and connects them culturally with other island groups in Micronesia and the wider Pacific. This study focused on the pottery production techniques of the potters for each of the three sites to discover how they sourced the materials to make their pots. To aid in this, methodologies developed through the study of Lapita pottery were employed to answer these questions. Summerhayes (2000a) models were applied to the chemical analysis results generated from the scanning electron microscope to understand the pottery production strategies of the potters, but also predict their level of mobility as a society. These factors were observed through their sourcing of clay and sand, and how these changed as a result of greater cultural trends such as the initial settlement of the islands, and the Latte Period. This study was not the first of its kind in this region but was the first to employ the models by Summerhayes (2000a). Through this analysis, it is argued that the pottery production strategies and the state of mobility of each of these three sites in the Mariana Islands mirrored common trends observed in other parts of the Pacific. That with first colonisation of islands, they practiced an exploratory phase of material experimentation to make their pots drawing from many different areas for their clay and sands. This reflects a highly mobile society early on with shared cultural trends across sites. Overtime as the colonisation phase ends and populations grow this exploratory phase ends and the variation of clay and sand samples drops in numbers as potters use favoured local materials for their pots. This reflects a more sedentary society, which still had interaction ties between different islands through shared cultural traditions but becoming regionalised over time. All three sites show these trends with evidence of variation between them.
Advisor: Summerhayes, Glenn
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Archaeology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Pottery, Ceramics, Chemical Analysis, Micronesia, Mariana Islands
Research Type: Thesis