Fiji Field School
Summer 2012

The 10th SFU South Pacific archaeological field school was held in the Republic of Fiji during the summer semester of 2012. Taught by David Burley, this is a joint undertaking between the Department of Archaeology and SFU International Programs. Fourteen students participated with graduate students Nyra Chalmer, Kathleen LeBlanc and Travis Freeland respectively serving as Laboratory Instructor, Assistant Field Supervisor and Field Laboratory Supervisor. Course offerings included ARCH 332-3 (Fiji Culture, History and Archaeology), ARCH 434-3 (Mapping and Recording) and ARCH 435-6 (Field Work Practicum) with initial lectures spread between SFU Burnaby and the University of South Pacific in Suva. While in Fiji students also spent time at Levuka, the former colonial capital on the island of Ovalau, Waidracia Village in the Natasiri highlands of Viti Levu, Colo i Suva Forest Park on the outskirts of Suva, and Tavuni Hill Fort on the Sigatoka River. The fieldwork practicum was conducted at the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park on the Coral Coast of Viti Levu, the largest island in Fiji.

The Sigatoka Sand Dunes are a parabolic dune field stretching from the mouth of the Sigatoka River westward along the coastal shore for a 5 km distance. As the dunes erode and move inland, archaeological materials are continually being exposed. The practicum course, thus, not only provides training and experience in archaeological field methods to the student group but also documents and undertakes rescue excavations in support of National Park heritage conservation efforts. All work is done in collaboration with the Archaeology Division of the Fiji Museum and the National Trust for Fiji, the latter being the government agency responsible for National Park administration. The principal focus for 2012 was a fifth field season of excavation at a site with superimposed village occupation floors, each characterized by a distinctive assemblage of mid-sequence (1300-1500 BP) Plainware and Navatu phase ceramics. A total area of 36 mwas excavated resulting in the recovery of tens of thousands of ceramic sherds and other materials. Students additionally carried out archaeological survey along the coastal margins and inland dune valleys of the National Park.

David Burley