Utilization of Fish Resources at the Hopoate Site on Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga


Analysis of archaeological fish remains from the Hopoate site, on Tongatapu in the Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga, identified 18 different families. Significant change in relative abundance was evident in Lethrinidae (emperors) and Acanthuridae (surgeonfish, unicornfish), two families common as food fish in Tonga. Frequencies of the families were compared between the early settlement period (~2850-2900 cal BP) and the subsequent Plainware/Aceramic period. Larger-bodied Lethrinidae, which are common in both periods, show a decline in relative abundance, while smaller-bodied Acanthuridae show a corresponding increase in abundance. Although this pattern might be viewed as evidence for resource depression, potentially linked to intensive fishing of Lethrinidae, bone measurements show no decrease in the size of Lethrinidae over time. A number of factors can account for the change in taxonomic abundance. While the relative abundance patterns may be a result of change in reef productivity caused by increased pressure on Lethrinidae, they could also indicate a shift in fishing techniques, or intensification of fishing involving the addition of a wider range of species to the food inventory.

Cite this Record

Utilization of Fish Resources at the Hopoate Site on Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga. Roxanne Wildenstein, Aubrey Cannon, David Burley. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442988)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: 153.633; min lat: -51.399 ; max long: -107.578; max lat: 24.207 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22379