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SOUTH PACIFIC FIELD SCHOOL, SUMMER 2014
The 2014 South Pacific Archaeology Field School had 19 students who participated in classroom work on the SFU campus and at the University of South Pacific in Suva, Fiji with an excavation practicum in the Kingdom of Tonga. The field school provided students with 12 hours of SFU credit including courses in Culture, History and Heritage in Tonga and Fiji (ARCH 331-3), Archaeological Field Methods (ARCH 434-3) and Archaeological Fieldwork Practicum (ARCH 435-6). The field school was coordinated and offered through SFU International, the Department of Archaeology and the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at USP. While in Fiji, students also took part in a variety of tours and events, including a full day visit to Waidracia Village in the Naitasiri Highlands of Viti Levu. Stemming from their visit to the local high school in Naitisiri, they subsequently fundraised over $3500 at SFU to purchase computers for student use.
The first part of the practicum involved archaeological survey and site recording at the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park in Fiji. This follows up on archaeological surveys by several earlier SFU field schools. The Fiji Museum and National Trust for Fiji use newly recorded and up-dated site data for conservation management along the 5.1 km long National Park coastline. The second practicum component incorporated student excavations at the Nukuleka site on the island of Tongatapu in southern Tonga. Based on radiocarbon and U/Th dates as well as early Lapita phase ceramic data, Nukuleka is identified as the founder settlement for Tonga and the earliest site thus far documented in Polynesia. Students undertook excavations in a section of the site where over 2 m of shell midden deposit and early Lapita ceramics had been recorded previously. The practicum additionally involved their participation in laboratory work for the curation, cataloguing and packing of recovered data. A range of other student practicum projects was carried out, from development of a lesson plan in archaeology for the local elementary school to the identification and mapping of late period burial mounds on the Nukuleka Peninsula as identified by air borne LiDAR imagery. The 2014 fieldwork practicum in both Fiji and Tonga implemented a “paperless archaeology” methodology, with virtually all field data recorded electronically using PC tablets.