3 Jul 2014

Excavations underway at Port Sandwich in Vanuatu

7:59 pm on 3 July 2014

An archaeologist in Vanuatu examining a site once made famous by Captain Cook says his research reveals the dramatic and long-lasting effects of early European contact.

Stuart Bedford, of Australian National University, is studying a small area of Port Sandwich at Lamap in Malakula.

Captain Cook visited the area in 1774 and described it as the best port in the archipelago.

Dr Bedford says the excavation of more than 200 sites so far has revealed the area was once densely populated but fell dramatically once Europeans arrived.

"There's clearly a very very severe impact on populations and the whole social structure of the area and so through archival, archaeological and recording of oral traditions we are looking in some detail, much finer detail, of the impacts of European contact through this period of the 19th century."

Australian National University academic, Stuart Bedford.