Bismark Archipelago, Watom Island, PNG
Lapita is a term applied to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture which is believed by many archaeologists to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia. The archaeological culture and its characteristic geometric dentate-stamped pottery are named after the type site where it was first uncovered in the Foué peninsula on Grande Terre, the main island of New Caledonia. The excavation was carried out in 1952 by American archaeologists Edward W. Gifford and Richard Shulter Jr at 'Site 13'.
The settlement and pottery sherds were later dated to 800 BCE and proved significant in research on the early peopling of the Pacific Islands. More than two hundred Lapita sites have since been uncovered, ranging more than 4,000 km from coastal and island Melanesia to Fiji and Tonga with its most eastern limit so far in Samoa.