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date: 20 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Like the other archipelagos of Remote Oceania, Fiji was colonized by Lapita voyagers approximately 1000 b.c. Over the subsequent three millennia, Fijian populations underwent considerable change, resulting in the unique cultural, biological, and linguistic characteristics that differentiate Fiji from populations in both Polynesia to the east and Melanesia to the west. This essay summarizes the Lapita archaeology of the archipelago and later culture history including change in ceramic horizons, the spatial scale of interaction within the archipelago, and potential migrations into Fiji from other island groups. The rise of Fijian chiefdoms is also examined with these polities closely linked to increasing competition, fortifications, and defendable agricultural resources. Finally, artifactual, linguistic, and biological data characterizing Fijian populations are examined, and it is concluded that the generalization of Fiji as “not quite Melanesian, not quite Polynesian” can best be explained within a cultural transmission framework that separates analogous and homologous similarity.

Keywords: Fiji, Lapita, migration, Melanesia, Polynesia, fortifications, chiefdom, cultural transmission

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