Petrography of Sand Tempers in Lapita Potsherds from the Rove Peninsula, Viti Levu, Fiji

  • William R. Dickinson University of Arizona
  • Patrick D. Nunn University of New England
Keywords: Bourewa, Fiji, Lapita, Sherd Petrography, Temper Sand, Tuva River, Viti Levu, Wainimala Orogen


Seven Lapita sites on the Rove Peninsula of Viti Levu in Fiji or on islets close offshore include the earliest known Lapita site in Fiji at Bourewa. Petrographic study of 53 Rove sherds shows that 95 per cent contain closely related hybrid temper sands (mixed terrigenous and calcareous grains) collected locally from the shores of the ancestral Tuva River estuary and adjacent Vusama paleoisland. Terrigenous detritus was derived from the Wainimala orogen that forms the bedrock of southwest Viti Levu and is exposed throughout the drainage basin of the Tuva River. Skeletal and pelletal (micritic) calcareous detritus was derived from the broad offshore reef fringing the Rove Peninsula. In most Rove sherds, calcareous temper grains have been largely or entirely removed by dissolution to leave vacuoles of sand size and shape that are visible megascopically as tiny pits on sherd surfaces. Tempers of indigenous Rove wares did not vary substantially from site to site on the peninsula or over time during its Lapita occupation. Three sherds containing non-local volcanic sand as temper reflect ceramic transfer of exotic wares during later phases of Rove prehistory from Lapita settlements elsewhere in Fiji, probably on Kadavu and the north coast of Viti Levu.

Author Biography

William R. Dickinson, University of Arizona
Emeritus Professor, Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona
How to Cite
Dickinson, W. and Nunn, P. (2013) “Petrography of Sand Tempers in Lapita Potsherds from the Rove Peninsula, Viti Levu, Fiji”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 4(1), pp. 15-31. Available at: (Accessed: 3August2020).