The Birth of Polynesia: An Archaeological Journey Through the Kingdom of Tonga


David V. Burley


Oceania, Lapita ceramics, Migration, Austronesian expansion, Ancestral Polynesia, Polynesian origins


The “Birth of Polynesia” provides an archaeological narrative of the first people to settle in Polynesia in the Kingdom of Tonga, and the ensuing expansion from the founder settlement on Tongatapu northward through a myriad of islands to Sāmoa and beyond. It presents a comprehensive synthesis of the author’s three-decade-long research program tracking this settlement through a distinctive type of decorated pottery referred to as Lapita. The impact of the first Polynesians on pristine tropical environments, their subsistence practices as inferred through archaeological data, their material culture and art, the chronology and motivations behind the expansion, and the reflections of this past in the Tongan present are addressed in different chapters. Insights into the individuals, events and decisions influencing such a lengthy research endeavour are integrated throughout.


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Author Biography

David V. Burley

David V. Burley is a Professor of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. His research over the last 35 years has been centred on first settlement, culture change and political evolution in the South Pacific archipelagoes of Tonga and Fiji.  In this, he has worked closely with the Tongan Traditions committee and the Fiji Museum. He has authored numerous publications on his research and widely presented results at conferences and in public venues. 

The Birth of Polynesia



April 17, 2023

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