Tonga archaeology discovery blow to Samoa's 'cradle' claim

Tonga archaeology discovery blow to Samoa's 'cradle' claim

Tonga archaeology discovery blow to Samoa's 'cradle' claim

Posted 10 January 2008, 12:05 AEST

A Canadian archaeologist has identified a small fishing village in Tonga, established nearly 3,000 years ago, as the birthplace of Polynesia.

Matangi Tonga online reports that Professor David Burley drew his conclusion from his final excavation at Nukuleka, east of the capital Nuku'alofa, six months ago when they found pieces of Lapita pottery.

"The big pieces of pottery are about 2,900 years old," he said.

"Tonga was the first group of islands in Polynesia to be settled by the Lapita People about 3,000 years ago, and Nukuleka was their first settlement in Tonga," professor Burley told Matangi Tonga online.

Professor Burley and his team say they have made their conclusions based on the designs of the pottery and carbon dating of samples.

"What we are trying to prove is that this is the first site in Tonga, and everything that we have found verifies that," he said.

Stuff NZ reports that the discovery is a blow to surrounding Pacific countries, including Samoa and Fiji, which have claimed to be the 'cradle' of Polynesia.

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