On rank and leadership in proto oceanic society

Andrew Pawley*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The initial spread of Oceanic languages beyond the Bismarck Archipelago can be associated with the rapid dispersal of the archaeological culture known as Lapita across the southwest Pacific around 3000 bp. The question arises as to what forms of leadership and social organisation underpinned the Lapita expansion and whether historical linguistics in combination with comparative ethnography can provide clues. The present essay will consider a range of evidence favouring the conclusion that Proto Oceanic society had ranked descent groups headed by hereditary chiefs, termed *ta(u)-lapat, and that rank was based on primogeniture.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)223-238
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal de la Societe des Oceanistes
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2021


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