David Burley



  • BA, MA (University of New Brunswick)
  • PhD (Simon Fraser University)


I have been conducting archaeological field research in Tonga since 1989, in Fiji since 1996 and in Jamaica since 2004. In 2020 I received a SSHRC Insight grant to initiate a study of Tongan sia heu lupe, large flat-top mounds for the chiefly sport of pigeon snaring. Fieldwork is presently in limbo given pandemic travel restrictions. With fieldwork impossible during the pandemic, I have begun to focus on book projects to bring some of my earlier research to a close. These include volumes on first settlement and its expansion across Tonga and a synthesis of my 10-year excavation project at the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park in Fiji. Robyn Woodward and I are also planning a jointly authored book on Sevilla la Nueva, the initial Spanish capital (1509-1534 AD) of Jamaica. I began writing a series of popular articles for Matangi Tonga Online News on different aspects of the Tongan past in 2020/2021. These are targeted at a Tongan audience and published in open access format.

Dr. Burley discusses his research in this YouTube video.