Starch and Ceramics: Dietary Transition and Technology in the Sigatoka Valley, Fiji


Food production and manipulation, as well as associated technologies during Fijian prehistory are understudied archaeologically. Human colonization of Fiji occurred circa 2640 BP. Colonists subsisted on a diet composed of marine resources (fish, shellfish), and terrestrial fauna (bats, birds, tortoises). In contrast, 1,000 years later, most Fijians had transitioned to a fully agricultural diet. The contemporary Fijian diet centers on cultivated starches, imported originally by Fiji's colonists, and is based on low-level food production (small gardens). Starchy foods (i.e., taro, yam, cassava) require intense cultivation to become viable. They also require cooking before becoming edible. Undecorated ceramic fragments recovered from the Sigatoka Valley, Viti Levu, Fiji, were analyzed for presence of adhered starch, either modified or unmodified. Dating to the Post-Lapita period, identification of starch residues provides evidence of rapid subsistence change in Fijian prehistory. Results will reveal technological aspects of this dietary transition, especially the use of pottery as a cooking tool, and will answer methodological questions regarding starch extraction and identification.

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Starch and Ceramics: Dietary Transition and Technology in the Sigatoka Valley, Fiji. Nicole Hernandez, Julie Field, John Dudgeon, Christopher Roos. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398155)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;