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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The more than 1,000-kilometer stretch of eighty-two inhabited islands comprising the Vanuatu archipelago is centrally situated in the southwest Pacific. These islands were first settled in the late Holocene by Lapita colonists as part of a rapid migratory event that travelled as far east as Tonga. Over three millennia Vanuatu has transformed into an extraordinarily diverse country both linguistically and culturally. The challenge to archaeology is to explain how such diversity has arisen. This chapter addresses a range of themes that are central to the definition and understanding of the timing and nature of initial settlement, levels of interconnectedness, cultural transformation and diversification, human impact on pristine environments, and impacts of natural hazards on resident populations. Vanuatu research contributes to regional debates on human colonization, patterns of social interaction, and the drivers of social change in island contexts.

Keywords: Vanuatu, Lapita, cultural transformation, natural hazards, contact and interaction

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