Research                                                                                                                                                          Peter V. Lape

My research focuses on understanding social change in Island Southeast Asia over the last 5,000 years. I have been particularly interested in island landscapes and seascapes, cross cultural interactions such as trade and warfare, human-environment interactions and climate change. I also have an interest in archaeology practice, cultural resource management and public archaeology in the Seattle area.

Origins of agriculture and pottery making in Island SE Asia
    Widely-accepted explanations for the spread of Austronesian-speaking people, pottery-making technology and domestic plants and animals into remote Oceania posit that these influences originated in or passed through Island Southeast Asia and near Oceania on their way east. But data on the earliest farming and pottery making within Island Southeast Asia are extremely limited and do not currently support these explanations. I have been working in eastern Indonesia and the southern Philippines to investigate stratified open settlement sites to test new models that seek to explain why people adopted agriculture and pottery at the local level. Recent fieldwork has focused on the Pulau Ay and Pulau Seram in Indonesia and Palawan in the Philippines (2007, 2009, 2010, 2015), with future work planned for Indonesia in 2016-17.

Islamization, trade and European colonialism in eastern Indonesia
    Many Island Southeast Asians began converting to Islam in the 15th century AD, just before the first European visitors arrived. Both arrivals were driven in part by expanding global trade networks, and recent research suggests that there may have been environmental factors involved as well. My work since 1997 has focused on the Banda Islands of eastern Indonesia which were one of the earliest sites of interaction between Asian and European visitors and local people in Island SE Asia. Excavations and documentary analyses have focused on the chronology of Muslim influence on local populations and changes to social and political landscapes. Recent fieldwork included excavation of the BN1 site in Banda Neira in 2009.

Late Holocene climate change, settlement and warfare in the Pacific
    Current data from Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific suggest a chronological link between the development of fortified settlements and increased climate instability and drought beginning 800 years ago. Fortified settlements appear across much of Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific at this time. From 2003-2006, I excavated fortified sites in East Timor to explore spatial and chronological patterns of fortifications and test theories of their appearance. Currently I am focusing on gathering paleoclimate data from East Timor and Indonesia from the late Holocene, especially related to various cycles known to affect rainfall (ENSO, ICTZ, etc.) to further test possible associations and causal links to fort building.

The Waterlines Project

  This project traces the pre-19th century shorelines of the dramatically-altered Seattle waterfront and provides real and virtual exhibits about the changing landscapes of the area, drawing from archaeological, geological and documentary data. Current features include a website and exhibits in Seattle locations including Milepost 31. I have also been involved in the Lake Union Underwater Archaeology Project.
Puget Sound Traditional FoodsSalish
                              Bounty Co-curator Elizabeth Swanaset holds
                              clams collected on a Puget Sound beach
                              last summer. The clams were then smoked
                              and preserved for winter use.
    This 2003 project evaluated diet from archaeological sites in the Puget Sound region as a step toward revitalization of contemporary traditional foodways for Native people suffering from diabetes. Website includes faunal and floral species information. Some of our results are incorporated in the Salish Bounty exhibit, at the Burke Museum January 28 - June 12, 2012 and now touring the US.

Burke Museum
    Check the Burke website for archaeology public events, exhibits and activities, as well as collections research opportunities and cultural resource management services.