Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Oceania, 1000–1400 A.D.

Polynesia and Micronesia
"X-ray style in Arnhem Land rock art, ca. 2000 b.c.–present
Manga'asi period, Vanuatu (New Hebrides), ca. 600 b.c.–1200 a.d.
Settlement of New Zealand and Rekohu (Chatham Islands), ca. 900–1200


Encompasses present-day Australia, island Southeast Asia, and the islands of the tropical north and south Pacific

While Australian Aboriginal rock art traditions apparently remain little changed from the previous period, the distinctive Manga'asi ceramics of Vanuatu cease to be produced around the end of the twelfth century. Two remarkable megalithic traditions emerge in two different areas of the Pacific. Around 1100, at the eastern edge of Polynesia, the Rapa Nui of Easter Island carve the first of the island's distinctive colossal stone figures, or moai. Depicting ancestral chiefs, nearly 900 moai are created over the next five centuries. Around 1200, on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, work begins on the massive megalithic city of Nan Madol, built on a series of artificial islands around an intricate network of canals.

  • • ca. 800–1100 Polynesians of Necker Island near Hawai'i create distinctive stone images.

  • • ca. 1100 The first colossal stone figures, or moai, are carved on Easter Island.

  • • ca. 1200 Polynesians settle Rekohu (the Chatham Islands) east of New Zealand. The last Pacific archipelago to be populated, Rekohu represents the endpoint of over two millennia of exploration and settlement of the remote islands of the Pacific.

  • • ca. 1200 Construction begins on the megalithic city of Nan Madol on Pohnpei in Micronesia.

  • • ca. 1350 The legendary leader Roy Mata is active in the islands of central Vanuatu. In 1967, his burial is discovered and excavated by Western archaeologists. The shell ornaments and other grave goods found with his body exactly match those described in oral traditions, which had been passed down for over six centuries.