Tonga's stunning ngatu provide testimony to the considerable antiquity of Tongan artistic designs. Variation of the ngatu patterns, and the way these are organized, had been inscribed on the surfaces of Lapita pottery in Tonga almost 3,000 years ago. By David V. Burley.
You are here
Results for Archaeology
Thursday 19 March 2020
Friday 7 February 2020
People first arrived in Vava‘u between 850 and 810 BC, establishing themselves on the south central islands offshore of ‘Uta Vava’u. The earliest sites at Ofu, Pangaimotu and Otea are all but identical in their age, and they are coincidental with the oldest sites in Ha’apai. Bird remains aside, excavations of other types of food remains at these sites have an unexpected story to tell: one of scarcity. Fish remains were shockingly limited! Shellfish counts and species diversity are similarly impoverished, illustrating limited productivity, or at least limited sustainability, for reef foraging efforts. By David V. Burley.
Wednesday 15 January 2020
We can confidently position first settlement in Ha’apai between 825 and 810 BC, only three generations (75 years) after the first Lapita canoes arrived at Fanga ‘Uta Lagoon on Tongatapu. The dates for individual Lapita sites are informative. They not only answer the question of when, but they reflect upon the process by which the expansion was undertaken. Within Ha‘apai, simultaneous settlement, widely dispersed hamlets on different islands, and small groups of people clearly speak to a planned and organized strategy. In its creation of a settlement network northward from Tongatapu, it brilliantly laid title to these islands. By David Burley.
Thursday 2 January 2020
There are rare moments on an archaeological project which offer extraordinary insight into the past or when the past connects with the present in an utterly astonishing way. Both occurred in late July of 2007, as we were carrying out archaeological excavations in the village of Nukuleka at the northeast entrance to Fanga ‘Uta Lagoon on Tongatapu. This story is about the documentation of a shell game, taupita, but a shell game, as we found out, with an almost 3000-year-old history. It also is a story that binds Tonga’s earliest Lapita ancestors to the people of Nukuleka today. By David Burley and Sean Connaughton.
Monday 16 December 2019
Tongatapu was a far different place 3000 years ago, one few of us can imagine today. The sea was higher, almost 1.4 m higher. Much of the land on which the city of Nuku‘alofa now sits was not land at all. It was about 900 BC when voyaging canoes first arrived from a homeland to the west. These kalia carried a small group of people and all of the necessities they would need to settle new found islands. They were the first Tongans. By David Burley