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Discovery of Fiji
2013/09/10

Fiji in the Pacific

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Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa

Fijian mountain warrior, 1870s

Pre history to 1820 and recent archeology

Located in the central of chief domPacific Ocean, Fiji's geography has made it both a destination and a crossroads for migrations for many centuries.

Melanesian and Polynesian settlement[edit source. Austronesian peoples are believed to have settled in the Fijian islands some 3,500 years ago, with Melanesians following around a thousand years later. Most authorities agree that they originated in Southeast Asia and came via Indonesia. Archeological evidence shows signs of settlement on Moturiki Island from 600 BC and possibly as far back as 900 BC.

In the 10th century, the Tu'i Tonga Empire was established in Tonga, and Fiji came within its sphere of influence. The Tongan influence was thought to have brought Polynesian influence to customs and some language into Fiji. The empire began to decline in the 13th century.The prince who came from Tonga was Ma'afu

The Fiji Times reported on 3 July 2005 that recent research by the Fiji Museum and the University of the South Pacific (USP) has found that skeletons excavated at Bourewa, near Natadola in Sigatoka, at least 3000 years old, belonged to the first settlers of Fiji, with their origins in South China or Taiwan. The skeletons are to be sent to Japan for assembling and further research.Obsidian, a rare volcanic glass found in Papua New Guinea had been discovered there, according to Dr Patrick D. Nunn, USP Professorof Ocean Science and Geography, who theorized that the people could originally have left southern China or Taiwan some 7000 years ago, settling in Papua New Guinea before drifting on to Fiji and other countries. Lapita pottery found on the surface of the graves was almost 2500 years old, he said. Fiji Museum archaeologist Sepeti Matararaba said that the area beside the sea must have been occupied, because a great deal of pottery, hunting tools, and ancient shell jewellery had been discovered. More than 20 pits had been dug following the discovery of lapita in the area.

On 15 July 2005, it was reported that the same teams had uncovered 16 skeletons at Bourewa, near Natadola. The skeletons were found in a layer of undisturbed soil containing pottery from around 550 BC. Professor Nunn suggests there was abundant evidence that Bourewa could be the first human settlement in the Fiji archipelago, occupied from around 1200 BC onwards. "Lapita people were the first people to come to Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Tonga and Samoa. These people left evidence of their existence by mainly their elaborately decorated and finely fashioned pottery," Nunn said. He pointed to Papua New Guinea or the Solomon Islands as the place from where the earliest Fijians came, as the pottery fragments were typical of the early Lapita period in Papua New Guinea and the Solomons, but not readily found on Lapita pottery in Fiji.

Nunn suspects and announced on 9 November 2005 that a black obsidian rock discovered near Natadola in southwest Viti Levu had originated in the Kutau-Bao obsidian mine onTalasea Peninsula on the island of New Britain, in Papua New Guinea, some 4500 kilometers away. Although carried throughout the Western Pacific by the Lapita people, as it is not often found in Fiji. The obsidian, which showed signs of being "worked", probably arrived soon after the initial Lapita settlement in Bourewa circa 1150 BC, Nunn observed. He theorized that it was kept by the Lapita settlers as a talisman, a reminder of where they had come from.

Fiji Television reported on 20 March 2006 that an ancient Fijian village, believed to have been occupied by chiefs sometime between 1250 and 1560, had been discovered atKuku, in Nausori. Its heavily fortified battle fort contained unique features not seen elsewhere in Fiji. Archeologist Sepeti Matararaba of the Fiji Museum expressed astonishment at some of the discoveries at the site, which included an iron axe used by white traders in exchange for Fijian artifacts. Local villages were reported to be rebuilding the site with a view to opening it up to tourists in July 2006.

According to oral tradition, the indigenous Fijians of today are descendants of the chief Lutunasobasoba and those who arrived with him on the Kaunitoni canoe. Landing at what is now Vuda, the settlers moved inland to the Nakauvadra mountains. Though this oral tradition has not been independently substantiated, the Fijian government officially promotes it, and many tribes today claim to be descended from the children of Lutunasobasoba.

Namata a Fijian publication during the early colony days of Fiji, noted a separate occupation of the Fiji Isles. The publication noted that "Ratu" now believed to have settled in "Vereta" in tailevu, came via the "Rogovoka" settling first in the islands in the East than moved toward Viti-Levu with descendants and journers moving inland and around the north and south-west coast. The early part of the oral history began from Africa, which can further predate the movement suggested by Nunn. Contradiction exist on the route, but one thing can be certain is the source, which fits well with traditional "Oral History" in Africa and Fiji. Preliminary wind and ocean current suggest the validity of oral history depicting their renowned great seafarer-ship. The "Ratu" occupation contradicts the view point by Nunn on the East Asia migration pattern and modern day belief.

Bounty Island, Mamanuca archipelago

Huts in the village of Navala in theNausori Highlands

Coconut palms line, the beaches of Fiji

The Fiji national rugby union team during the 2007 Rugby World Cup playing against Canada

(From Wikipedia)

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