The evolution of competition and cooperation in Fijian prehistory: Archaeological research in the Sigatoka Valley, Fiji

Field, Julie S.
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
This dissertation explores the emergence and consequences of competitive and cooperative strategies in Fijian prehistory. The Sigatoka Valley, located in southwestern Viti Levu, is the subject of a series of geographical, environmental, and archaeological analyses. Using GIS-based analyses, the effects of environmental fluctuations on agricultural productivity (i.e., the EI Nino Southern Oscillation [ENSO], and also the transition between the Little Climatic Optimum [LCO] and Little Ice Age [LIA]) are reconstructed and used to predict zones of low-yields and episodic shortfalls. These results indicate that the Sigatoka Valley was both spatially and temporally variable in terms of agricultural productivity and predictability. In the context of an evolutionary ecology-based model of competition and cooperation, this environment encouraged the development of conflict and defensive habitation strategies between human groups. The results of environmental analyses are also compared to the archaeological record, and used to determine the presence of three modes of habitation/subsistence: territorial strongholds, remote refuges, and agricultural production sites. Archaeological testing of these classes in tandem with GIS-based environmental research indicate that the Sigatoka Valley was initially occupied between Cal BC 20 - Cal AD 80, in association with dense and predictable resources. Fortifications that utilized natural topography, and also remote refuges, were established ca. AD 700, and remained in use throughout the prehistoric period. Environmental refuges associated with the effects of the LCO/LIA transition were established ca. AD 1300-1500. Constructed fortifications that utilized an annular ditch, and which were located in the valley bottom, appeared ca. AD 1700 - 1850. The chronology of habitation/subsistence strategies is also compared to landtenure and archaeological data (e.g., land-holdings of yavusa, and also evidence for unique artifacts and valley-wide exchange). These data suggest particular historical trajectories in the Sigatoka delta and highlands, and also varying frequencies of competition and cooperation in prehistory. In sum, this dissertation identifies interaction between humans and their environment as the fundamental relationship that conditioned change in prehistoric Fiji.
Cooperation, Prehistory, Archaeological research, Sigatoka Valley, Competition, Fiji, Archaeology, Geography
Field, Julie S. (2003) The evolution of competition and cooperation in Fijian prehistory: Archaeological research in the Sigatoka Valley, Fiji. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawai'i, United States -- Hawaii.
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