Dr Ethan Edward Cochrane

BA (Honours), MA, PhD

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Associate Professor


I completed my PhD at the University of Hawaii in 2004 examining the diversity of ancient ceramics in Fiji. After this, I was a lecturer at University College London for five years before coming to Auckland in 2012. I have also worked in cultural resource management (or Heritage sector) archaeology in Hawaii, Samoa, and Micronesia.

Research | Current

  • Pacific Island archaeology, especially Fiji-West Polynesia
  • Archaeological theory and method
  • Evolutionary theory
  • Archaeologial science
  • Ancient ceramics
  • Archaeology of Samoa: I am currently finishing Faculty of Arts funded research investigating early archaeological deposits around the island of 'Upolu. At the same time I am working with colleagues on my Marsden funded project titled "Land and Agriculture in Ancient Samoa: Uncovering the Origins of the Polynesian Chiefdoms" (2018-2020). This project investigates the development of complex agriculture on 'Upolu and associated changes in chiefly society.
  • Culture history of Fiji and West Polynesia: for the last 20 years I have been conducting archaeological field work in western Fiji and Sāmoa. My work has focused on changes in ceramic technology, ancient diet and subsistence change, and site formation processes.
  • Archaeological Research Blog: Tropical Pacific Archaeology

Teaching | Current

ANTHRO 306 Pacific Archaeology 

ANTHRO 700A/B Method and Theory in Archaeology

Postgraduate supervision

  • Selected Current and Past BA Honours topics supervised: classification analysis of New Zealand pa sites, analysess of Fijian and Samoan artefacts (ceramics, adzes, lithics), analyses of Fijian and Samoan subsistence remains (shellfish), seriation of Polynesian ritual architecture, analysis of Lapita site environments
  • Selected Current and Past MA topics supervised/co-supervised: evolutionary analyses of ancient populatoins in West Asia, Arabia, and the Pacific; GIS and spatial analyses of surface architecture in Fiji and Samoa; linguistics in Oceanic archaeology; classification of Lapita pottery; geometric-morphometric/quantitative analysis of Lapita adzes; ceramic change in Remote Oceania; LiDAR analysis of Samoan monuments; Human Behavioural Ecology of the Tongan Maritime Chiefdom
  • Current PhD students: Karolyn Buhring "The Archaeology of Trans-Pacific interactions: Evaluating cultural transmission between South America and Polynesia" (co-supervised with Prof Peter Sheppard)

I am eager to supervise students interested in: the application of evolutionary theory to human cultural change; the prehistory of Fiji, West Polynesia, and other Pacific regions; or Oceanic ceramics. I believe postgraduate supervision should include shared work between student and teacher to produce a well-trained researcher and high-quality collaborative research.


  • PhD Adviser, Anthropology

Areas of expertise

Pacific Island Archaeology, Fijian, Samoan and Pacific Island Archaeology, Archaeological Theory and Method, Evolutionary Theory, Archaeologial Science, Ancient Ceramics

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Board of Graduate Studies, sub-Professorial member (2019-2021)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Cochrane, E. E., & Mills, J. (2018). LiDAR imagery confirms extensive interior land-use on Tutuila, American Sāmoa. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 9 (1), 70-78.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39908
  • Morrison, A. E., Cochrane, E. E., Rieth, T., & Horrocks, M. (2018). Archaeological and sedimentological data indicate Lapita settlement on a newly formed coastal plain: Tavua Island, Mamanuca Group, Fiji. The Holocene, 28 (1), 44-55. 10.1177/0959683617714599
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/42023
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mark Horrocks
  • Cochrane, E. E., & Hunt, T. L. (2017). The Archaeology of prehistoric Oceania. In E. E. Cochrane, T. L. Hunt (Eds.) The Oxford handbook of prehistoric Oceania (pp. ). New York, USA: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199925070.013.001
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/38957
  • Cochrane, E. E. (2017). Ancient Fiji: Melting pot of the Southwest Pacific. In E. E. Cochrane, T. L. Hunt (Eds.) The Oxford handbook of prehistoric Oceania (pp. ). New York, USA: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199925070.013.016
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/38961
  • Goff, J., Golitko, M., Cochrane, E., Curnoe, D., Williams, S., & Terrell, J. (2017). Reassessing the environmental context of the Aitape Skull – The oldest tsunami victim in the world?. PLoS One, 12 (10)10.1371/journal.pone.0185248
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/44346
  • Cochrane, E. E. (2017). The evolution of migration: The case of Lapita in the Southwest Pacific. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 25 (2), 520-558. 10.1007/s10816-017-9345-z
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40450
  • Kane, H. H., Fletcher, C. H., Cochrane, E. E., Mitrovica, J. X., Habel, S., & Barbee, M. (2017). Coastal plain stratigraphy records tectonic, environmental, and human habitability changes related to sea-level drawdown, ‘Upolu, Sāmoa. Quaternary Research, 87 (2), 246-257. 10.1017/qua.2017.2
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/33686
  • Tennyson, A. D. J., Rieth, T. M., & Cochrane, E. E. (2017). Bird remains from an early archaeological site on Tutuila Island, Sāmoa. Proceedings of the 9th International SAPE Meeting Diamante, Argentina.


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 7, Room 720
New Zealand

Web links