Investigation of the first farming communities of Fiji continued in June of 2015. Returning to the site of Qaraqara, we (Rebecca Hazard, ISU), Sepeti Matararaba (Fiji Museum), and myself, re-excavated our unit from 2014. It was a trick to find it again within the cassava field, but we relocated the northwest corner and then opened up the deepest section of the unit. We excavated down to 250 cm below the surface, and then dug a small ‘window’ down to 3 m. Throughout the excavation we collected soils for microfossil analysis– hopefully we will find evidence for the cultivation of dalo (Colocasia esculenta) from these early deposits, and charcoal for radiocarbon dating. We also recovered ceramics from a depth of 230 cm.
Based upon the analysis of charcoal from the 2014 excavations, wood from native Fijian hardwood trees was present at the site in antiquity. With help from Jennifer Huebert (IARII, Honolulu), the identified species include Erythrina sp. (drala), Intsia bijuga (vesi), Syzygium sp. (yasidravu), and Gynmostoma sp. (velau). A few of the charcoal fragments were vitrified, indicating they were wet when burned.
With future analyses, our goal is to document the age and character of the agricultural deposits at Qaraqara. Check back here for updates!
We also conducted a series of excavations below the cave of Tatuba, located further inland in Viti Levu, in the province of Navosa. Unfortunately much of the deposits below the cave had been destroyed by flooding, so our samples of sediment may be great indicators of Fijian diatoms, but not of agriculture. We also excavated a yavu (housemound) from the old village of Tawaleka, which was historic in age. We will also look at these sediments for the presence of microfossils.