Nukuleka as a Founder Colony for West Polynesian Settlement: New Insights from Recent Excavations

  • David Burley Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
  • Andrew Barton Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
  • William R. Dickinson Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona
  • Sean P. Connaughton Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
  • Karine Taché Department of Anthropology, Université de Montréal
Keywords: Lapita, ceramics, tan paste, Nukuleka, Tonga, founder colony

Abstract

Previous archaeological studies in the village of Nukuleka, Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga proposed it as a founder colony for Polynesia. Additional excavation and survey were undertaken in 2007 to evaluate this status further and to gain new insight into the nature of the occupation and its role in the subsequent peopling of west Polynesia. A review of this project and its findings are presented. Decorated ceramics of western Lapita style, the presence of tan paste ceramics foreign to Tonga, and new radiocarbon dates support Nukuleka as a site of first landfall in the interval 2850 to 2900 cal BP. The ceramic assemblage is distinct from west and central Fiji, and an independent origin for Fijian and Polynesian colonizers is argued. The settlement quickly expanded on the Nukuleka Peninsula to 20 ha or more in size, forming a central place for the eastern Lapita province in Tonga, Samoa and the Lau islands of Fiji. Nukuleka, we believe, provides insight into the cultural if not biological base from which ancestral Polynesian society emerged.
How to Cite
Burley, D., Barton, A., Dickinson, W., Connaughton, S. and Taché, K. (1) “Nukuleka as a Founder Colony for West Polynesian Settlement: New Insights from Recent Excavations”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 1(2), pp. 128-144. Available at: https://pacificarchaeology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/26 (Accessed: 19November2019).
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Articles