Searching For Lapita Pottery, and Abandoned on a desert Island.

Friday 10th June

Back in the Islands, we’re anchored in the beautiful bay at Musket Cove, on the island of Manolo, where we were able to meet up with our friends Kristine and Bruce on their yacht, also anchored in the bay. Kristine is the friend who introduced me to Lapita pottery; years ago she found a piece of this ancient pottery washed up on the beach, and has since been on a search for more. Her enthusiasm for these ancient finds was infectious, so Karen and I decided we would go searching for some of this ancient treasure. Kristine explained that when the island (Manolo) was excavated a few years ago to build the resort and marina, many of the pottery relics were unearthed and occasionally pieces still wash up on the beaches, most people don’t recognize the pottery for what it is if they see any pieces of it, and so often ignore it.

A bit about Lapita Pottery:

Lapita pottery is a finely decorated (dentate stamped) coil built, low fired pottery commonly found in the Western Pacific. The earliest Lapita sites are dated at 3,900 years BP. Lapita pottery is commonly found in coastal locations on the Islands of New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomons, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. The Lapita people are believed to have spread eastwards and colonized Fiji, Samoa and Tonga ~3,500 years ago which predates the arrival of the Polynesian people in the Pacific by 1,300 years. It was the Lapita people who used (money) cowrie shells as currency, hence their name ‘Money Cowrie’.

The four of us, Captain Bob, David, Karen and myself all piled into “Whoops-A-Daisy” (our dinghy)  to set off on a search, Bob and David were going to snorkel the reef, while Karen and I planned to comb the beach looking for pottery pieces. Honestly the chances of us finding any were about as remote as discovering diamonds on the beach, but this didn’t deter us.  We found quite a bit of broken glass, clam shells and the occasional hermit crab, but sadly no pottery shards.

The morning sun was blisteringly hot on our parchment white, exposed skin, and I realized I’d left my sun tan lotion in the dinghy, which was nowhere in sight. We were both feeling a little dehydrated but our bottles of water were also in the dinghy. We took cover under the palm trees and waited for our husbands to return, after about an hour with no idea how to get off the little island back to the resort, we started to walk back to a small homestead off the beach where one of the locals had called “Bula” (welcome/hello/greetings) to us as we had passed by earlier.  We picked up a couple of coconuts laying on the ground, with the intention of taking them back to the boat.  We walked back to the friendly local to ask if she knew how we could get back to the resort. This lovely lady welcomed us and said “please sit down you both look so tired and hot”. We didn’t need to be asked twice. Her name was Maria, we watched as she expertly husked our coconuts and opened them for us to drink, we were so thirsty it was nectar. Then we followed her through the bush to the path leading to the resort, we would never have found it without her. Seated at the beachfront bar, sipping our coconut water, who should we see walking up  the beach, but our long lost husbands…

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