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The archaeology of rock art in Fiji: evidence, methods and hypotheses


Correspondence: María Cruz Berrocal, Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany. Email:


We present results from four field seasons in Fiji focused on rock art research. We recorded previously noted sites and surveyed particular areas in search of new ones. The results tend to confirm the scarcity of Fijian rock art, as our research has produced a total of 23 sites. Nonetheless, this fact implies some interesting aspects. First, there are at least two different traditions of rock art in Fiji, which we have broadly defined as a Polynesian-based tradition and a collection of unique cases. In spite of the small size of the sample, the Polynesian-based tradition shares a series of conventions that allow us to detect patterns. The group of unique cases is formed by particular and unique actions, and is likely later in time. Fiji is an exception in the broader Oceanic context in terms of rock art, since it is generally quite abundant in this area. This discontinuity is used to argue that rock art was probably not an inherited cultural practice carried out by people during the colonisation process but, rather, a relevant activity associated with different historical developments in different archipelagos.