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Report on Analysis of Polynesian Plain Ware from the Ulu Tree Site, on the Island of Tutuila, American Samoa

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Suzanne L. Eckert’ and Frederic B. Pearl’
Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University
2 Department of General Academics, Texas A&M Galveston

KEYWORDS: Polynesian Plain Ware, Tutuila, Samoa, Oceania, ceramic production.

Polynesian Plain Ware from the Ulu Tree Site (AS-31-127)

The Ulu Tree site is located on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa. It is situated on the Tafuna Plain, a broad flat plain of fresh basaltic tuffs and lavas on the southwest side of the island that are of Holocene age (Stearns 1944). The Ulu Tree site is among a growing number of pottery-bearing sites that have been salvaged due to ongoing construction activities by the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA). Pottery-bearing sites are particularly significant in Samoa for three reasons: 1) The presence of pottery is considered a characteristic feature of “Ancestral Polynesian Society,” the purported ancestors of eastern Polynesians; 2) There is heated controversy over whether ceramic production ceased ca. 1600 BP, or whether it continued into the later prehistoric period; and, 3) ceramics lend themselves to analyses that can answer key questions about prehistoric economies – something about which little is known in Samoa for the period of 3300 to 1600 BP. Items 1 and 2 above are particularly controversial, and continued investigation of well-stratified early Samoan sites is much needed. Because ceramics are central to these key issues in Samoan archaeological studies, it is imperative that every collection of ceramics be fully documented and reported, and thereby available for scholars, who might then approach a more comprehensive understanding of these vital issues. It is with this spirit in mind that we make this report of the Ulu Tree ceramics available. <…>

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