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Archaeological and sedimentological data indicate Lapita settlement on a newly formed coastal plain: Tavua Island, Mamanuca Group, Fiji

by Mark Horrocks last modified 2018-03-08 08:11 AM

Morrison A, Cochrane E, Rieth T, Horrocks M. 2017. The Holocene 28, 44-55.


The timing and choice of Lapita settlement location is examined on the small island of Tavua in Fiji’s Mamanuca Group. The mid-to-late Holocene sea-level retreat influenced the island’s coastal landforms through the acceleration of coastal progradation and the production of habitable land. Archaeological, sedimentological, and chronological data are integrated to better understand the island’s settlement and geomorphological history. These datasets are then compared with regional and modeled sea-level curves for Fiji in order to constrain the time period for the onset of coastal regression.

The results indicate that Tavua was initially settled around 3000 years ago, within a few centuries of the formation of the coastal plain. Integrating archaeological, sedimentological, and sea-level datasets helps to produce a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between sea-level change and the timing of settlement on small islands in Oceania.


Fiji, geoarchaeology, sea-level change, Lapita, Bayesian models, coastal geomorphology, landscape change, Oceanic Islands.

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