Associate Professor 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 populations 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)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Harris, D. N., Kessler, M. D., Shetty, A. C., Weeks, D. E., Minster, R. L., Browning, S., ... Reupena, M. S. (2020). Evolutionary history of modern Samoans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117 (17), 9458-9465. 10.1073/pnas.1913157117
  • Glover, H. J., Ladefoged, T. N., & Cochrane, E. E. (2020). Costly signalling and the distribution of monumental mounds in Savai‘i and ‘Upolu, Samoa. Archaeology in Oceania, online first10.1002/arco.5212
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Thegn Ladefoged
  • Cochrane, E. E., Tautunu, A. A. M. M., & DiNapoli, R. J. (2019). Hypotheses to explain the few early coastal archaeological deposits in Sāmoa: Preliminary evaluations. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 2610.1016/j.jasrep.2019.101931
  • Morrison, A., Rieth, T. M., DiNapoli, R. J., & Cochrane, E. (2018). The Sāmoa Archaeological Geospatial Database: Initial description and application to settlement pattern studies in the Sāmoan Islands. The journal of the Polynesian Society. Polynesian Society (N.Z.), 127 (1), 35-54. 10.15286/jps.127.1.15-34
  • 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. Related URL.
  • 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
    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
  • 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


Contact details

Primary office location

2-6 PARK AVENUE - Bldg 529
Level 1, Room 103A
New Zealand

Web links