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Petroglyphs on the Rock of Rah, Vanuatu

Paul Haywood

Abstract

This article is for an audience interested in the ancient history of Oceania, in particular an audience who like myself are interested in the art and interpretation of motifs used in art by ancient cultures.  Questions have previously been raised about potential habitation of Melanesia predating the first recorded Lapita inhabitants who came from Asia.  It is my aim to bring to the attention of the reader a potential questioning of the chronology of civilisation in this part of the Pacific.

In July 2019, on the island of Rah, part of the Banks Island group in northern Vanuatu, I have found volcanic rocks containing tool sharpening marks, as well as numerous carvings and iconography that do not conform to the known carvings of the early Lapita inhabitants of the Vanuatu islands.  These carvings are interesting from three points of view; their artistic imagery, their archaeological significance, and their provenance; who put them there, who carved them, and why.

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