Marquesas Islands Field School (French Polynesia)

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This listing expired on August 1, 2022. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Marquesas Islands, PF

Season: June 25, 2022 to August 6, 2022

Session Dates: June 25 - August 6, 2022.

Application Deadline: March 31, 2022

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

Andover Foundation for Archaeological Research

Project Director:
Barry Rolett, University of Hawai‘i and Andover Foundation for Archaeological Research

Project Description:

Discover an ancient South Pacific culture. The Marquesas project is a six week archaeological field school experience on Tahuata, a remote Polynesian island with a rich history. Participants are fully immersed in a small community while working with Marquesans and living as the only foreigners on an island with no airport, no hotels, and no restaurants.

Our field site, the Hanamiai dune, lies on the coast of a sheltered, pristine bay. The Hanamiai archaeological deposits reveal a continuous record from the time of initial Polynesian discovery, around 750 years ago, through the European contact period. Current work focuses on a particularly rich part of the site. Our discoveries illuminate the earliest settlement of East Polynesia, a period marked by extraordinary long-distance voyaging and the emergence of Marquesan culture. The project is collaborative and community-based. It offers training in archaeological field techniques, especially excavation. There are also opportunities to get involved with Te Ana Peua (The Tahuata Museum), which conserves and exhibits artifacts from the excavation.

The Hanamiai site is located near Vaitahu Village on Tahuata. It is an easy 20 minute walk from the village to the site. Tahuata is accessible only by a one-hour boat ride from the nearby island of Hiva Oa. We fly to Hiva Oa from Tahiti on Air Tahiti.

Period(s) of Occupation: East Polynesian Archaic through European contact period (ca. AD 1250–1880).

Our recent field schools uncovered a dazzling array of pearl shell fishhooks and other treasures in a 3 m buried Archaic deposit, among the oldest in French Polynesia. The 2022 excavations will expand work in the same area. All artifacts discovered remain on Tahuata, housed and exhibited in the Te Ana Peua Museum.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Negotiable

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None, but French language ability is helpful.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Our headquarters are in the picturesque village of Vaitahu. There is only one local store but it is well stocked with cold drinks, as well as the basic necessities. The field school is small and intellectually engaging. We work closely with our host community. The field team lives in a house just a short walk to the beach, in a rented house with modern kitchen and toilet facilities (no hot water). Marquesan Islanders will also participate in the dig itself, providing additional links to the community. As the only outsiders in the village, participants are immersed in the local lifestyle. Cost: $7000 project fee plus airfare to Marquesas

Contact Information:

Barry Rolett

Dept. of Anthropology, Univ. of Hawai‘i




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