Dr Ethan Edward Cochrane
BA (Honours), MA, PhD
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
- Fijian, Samoan and Micronesian archaeology
- Archaeological theory and method
- Evolutionary theory
- Archaeologial science
- Ancient ceramics
- Archaeology of the First Samoans: I am currently conducting Faculty of Arts funded research investigating the archaeological deposits of eastern `Upolu Island in Sāmoa. Subsurface prospecting fieldwork began in 2013 has located likely prehistoric cultural deposits within paleobeach sediments. I will return in 2014 for further excavations and analysis of material culture to better understand the process of colonization in Sāmoa.
- Pattern and process of Lapita colonisation: Lapita ceramics were first deposited in the Mussau Islands approximately 1500 BC and within a few hundred years are found throughout the southwest Pacific. These ceramics are intricately decorated and trace the first human colonisation of archipelagos from Vanuatu, to New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, and Sāmoa. One of my current research projects involves the analysis of Lapita ceramic assemblages using quantitative evolutionary methods (e.g., Cochrane & Lipo 2010). Currently I am working on developing better classifications of Lapita decorations and ways to compare these assemblages to understand routes of colonisation, patterns of interaction, and cultural innovation and adaptation.
- Culture history of Fiji and West Polynesia: for the last 15 years I have been conducting archaeological field work in western Fiji and Sāmoa. My work has focused on changes in ceramic technology (Cochrane 2002, 2009), ancient diet and subsistence change (Field et al. 2009, Morrison & Cochrane 2008), and site formation processes. Most recently I have examined ceramics from Tutuila Island in American Sāmoa and proposed a possible discontinuous colonisation of the archipelago.
- Holocene New Guinea: With colleagues at The Field Museum, Chicago, I have just (July 2014) completed archaeological and geological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea focused on Holocene-Pleistocene coastal reconstruction and human occupation along the north coast.
- Archaeological Research Blog: Tropical Pacific Archaeology
- Selected Current and Past BA Honours topics supervised: classification analysis of New Zealand pa sites, analysis of Fijian artefacts (ceramics, adzes), analysis of Fijian 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
- Current PhD students: Joshua Emmitt, “Identifying change in settlement and economy in middle Holocene Egypt through ceramic analysis” (co-supervisor with Simon Holdaway).
I am eager to supervise students interested in: the application of evolutionary theory to human cultural change; the prehistory of Fiji, West Polynesia, and Micronesia; 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
- Coordinator for the BSc Anthropological Sciences degree
Areas of expertise
Pacific Island Archaeology, Fijian, Samoan and Micronesian Archaeology, Archaeological Theory and Method, Evolutionary Theory, Archaeologial Science, Ancient Ceramics
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Cochrane, E. E., & Hunt, T. L. (2018). The Oxford Handbook of Prehistoric Oceania. Oxford University Press. Pages: 528.
- 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.
- Goff, J., Golitko, M., Cochrane, E. 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
- 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
- Quintus, S., & Cochrane, E. E. (2017). Pre-Contact Samoan cultivation practices in regional and theoretical perspective. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology10.1080/15564894.2017.1285835
- Cochrane, E. E. (2017). The Evolution of Migration: the case of Lapita in the southwest Pacific. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory10.1007/s10816-017-9345-z
- Mattison, S. M., Smith, E. A., Shenk, M. K., & Cochrane, E. E. (2016). The evolution of inequality. Evolutionary Anthropology, 25 (4), 184-199. 10.1002/evan.21491
- Cochrane, E. E., & Rieth, T. M. (2016). Sāmoan artefact provenance reveals limited artefact transfer within and beyond the archipelago. Archaeology in Oceania, 51 (2), 150-157. 10.1002/arco.5090