Atholl Anderson

Atholl Anderson is a pre-historian in the Department of Archaeology and Natural History at ANU, who has undertaken extensive projects extending across the Pacific Ocean from Southeast Asia to South America and from equatorial to sub-polar regions, in addition to a current project on the human settlement of islands in the Indian Ocean. He has excavated numerous sites of early human colonisation and undertaken analyses, especially of radiocarbon chronologies, which demonstrate that patterns of migration and settlement were more episodic, less directed and generally younger than previously thought. This conclusion has led him to propose radically different explanations of Polynesian and other Indo-Pacific voyaging.

Taking the High Ground »

The archaeology of Rapa, a fortified island in remote East Polynesia

Edited by: Atholl Anderson, Douglas J. Kennett
This volume brings the remote and little known island of Rapa firmly to the forefront of Polynesian archaeology. Thirteen authors contribute 14 chapters, covering not only the basic archaeology of coastal sites, rock shelters, and fortifications, but faunal remains, agricultural development, and marine exploitation. The results, presented within a chronology framed by Bayesian analysis, are set against a background of ethnohistory and ethnology. Highly unusual in tropical Polynesian archaeology are descriptions of artefacts of perishable material. Taking the High Ground provides important insights into how a group of Polynesian settlers adapted to an isolated and in some ways restrictive environment.

The Early Prehistory of Fiji »

I enjoyed reading this volume. It is rare to see such a comprehensive report on hard data published these days, especially one so insightfully contextualised by the editors’ introductory and concluding chapters. These scholars and the others involved in the work really know their stuff, and it shows. The editors connect the preoccupations of Pacific archaeologists with those of their colleagues working in other island regions and on “big questions” of colonisation, migration, interaction and patterns and processes of cultural change in hitherto-uninhabited environments. These sorts of outward-looking, big-picture contextual studies are invaluable, but all too often are missing from locally- and regionally-oriented writing, very much to its detriment. In sum, the work strongly advances our understanding of the early prehistory of Fiji through its well-integrated combination of original research and the reinterpretation of existing knowledge in the context of wider theoretical and historical concerns. In doing so The Early Prehistory of Fiji makes a truly substantial contribution to Pacific and archaeological scholarship. Professor Ian Lilley, The University of Queensland