Professor Peter Joseph Sheppard

BA (Wat), MA, PhD (Tor)


  • Head of the School of Social Sciences,
  • Professor of Archaeology  

Research | Current

  • Archaeology: Melanesia, Solomon Islands
  • Processes of social transformation
  • Geoarchaeology

My current research focuses on the archaeology of the Solomon Islands where I have worked for the last 25 years. I have worked extensively on establishing the foundation prehistory of the Western Solomons which has included research on all the major islands of the Western Province. This research has been funded by grants from the Marsden Fund and the National Geographic Society. Most recently I have turned my attention to research in the Eastern Solomons which has included work on Santa Ana and in 2012 on Santa Cruz in Temotu Province. On Santa Cruz I have revisited and excavated the early Lapita site of Nanggu which has been considered to be the oldest site of human occupation in Remote Oceania which is the area south and east of the main Solomon Islands.. This new work is revising our understanding of the process of settlement of Remote Oceania.  I have also recently collborated on two Marsden projects with geophysicists at the University of Auckland and Victoria on using dated archaeological samples to improve our understanding of changes in the geomagentic field in the Western Pacific during the Late Holocene.

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise PhD students in the archaeology of Island Melanesia and archaeological science.


Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London

Areas of expertise

Archaeology, Archaeological Science, Western Pacific, Solomon Islands

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Weisler, M. I., Bolhar, R., Ma, J., St Pierre, E., Sheppard, P., Walter, R. K., ... Kirch, P. V. (2016). Cook Island artifact geochemistry demonstrates spatial and temporal extent of pre-European interarchipelago voyaging in East Polynesia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113 (29), 8150-8155. 10.1073/pnas.1608130113
  • Sheppard, P. J. (2016). The Lithic Assemblage. In D. Lubell (Ed.) Holocene Prehistory in the Télidjène Basin, Eastern Algeria: Capsian Occupations at Kef Zoura D and Aïn Misteheyia (pp. 41-94). Oxford: Archaeopress. Related URL.
  • Kononenko, N., Torrence, R., & Sheppard, P. J. (2016). Detecting early tattooing in the Pacific region through experimental usewear and residue analyses of obsidian tools. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 8, 147-163. 10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.05.041
  • Earle, T., & Spriggs, M. (2015). Political Economy in Prehistory. Current Anthropology, 56 (4), 515-544. 10.1086/682284
  • Buhring, K. L., Azémard CS, & Sheppard, P. J. (2015). Geochemical Characterization of Lapita Ceramics From the Western Solomon Islands by Means of Portable X-Ray Fluorescence and Scanning Electron Microscopy. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 10 (1), 111-132. 10.1080/15564894.2014.880759
  • Sheppard, P. J., Chiu, S., & Walter, R. (2015). Re-Dating Lapita Movement into Remote Oceania. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 6 (1), 26-36. Related URL.
  • Sheppard, P. J., Walter, R., Dickinson, W., Felgate, M., Ross-Sheppard, C., & Azemard, C. (2015). A Solomon Sea Interaction Sphere?. In C. Sand, S. Chiu, N. Hogg (Eds.) The Lapita Cultural Complex in time and space: expansion routes, chronologies and typologies (pp. 63-80). Noumea: Institut d'archaeologie de la Novelle-Caledonie et du Pacific.
  • Sheppard, P. J. (2014). Une Archéologie de la Culture Matérielle. In Mélandri M, S. Revolon (Eds.) L'éclat des ombres. L'art noir et blanc des îles Salomon (pp. 20-26). Paris: Somogy Éditions d'art - Musée du quai Branly. Related URL.


Contact details

Primary location

Level 4, Room 403
New Zealand

Web links