University of Oregon

Archaeological Field Study on the Aranui

Program Overview

In this unique study abroad program, students travel to Tahiti/French Polynesia with leading Pacific island archaeology expert Dr. Terry Hunt for a special study abroad course that combines two weeks aboard the ship Aranui V and two weeks of archaeological field research on the island of Ra’iatea. You will spend the first two weeks participating in an intensive course and once-in-a-lifetime adventure onboard the Aranui, a freighter and passenger ship that sails from Pape’ete, Tahiti, to the Marquesas, Tuamotu and Bora Bora islands. Students will learn about the different archaeological, environmental, cultural and historical sites as they visit three very different archipelagos and go ashore on 10 islands and engage in reading, lectures, discussion, and island excursions to learn about the history and culture of these remarkable islands.

After disembarking the Aranui V in Bora Bora you will travel as a group to the island of Ra’iatea where you will engage in two weeks of archaeological field research with Project Director, John O’Connor, archaeologist and Ph.D. candidate working in Polynesia. Led by John, students will participate in mapping and subsurface testing at coastal flats and offshore islets on the west coast of Ra’iatea in the beautiful Tumara’a district. Archaeological research at Tumara’a serves to complement the ongoing work of the Ra’iatea Historical Ecology Project.

In collaboration with local Tahitian archaeologists and community members, students will acquire hands-on experience with the latest archaeological field techniques and gain skills essential to archaeological excavation, data recovery, and laboratory methods. This research will give them an unparalleled glimpse into the history and contemporary life of these remote and spectacular islands.   

Academic Details

You’ll study and research natural, cultural, linguistic, archaeological, and historical aspects of the Pacific, and the islands of French Polynesia specifically. Readings from a variety of sources archaeology, environmental change/climate change, paleoecology, history, and popular literature will be critically discussed.

Prior to departing to Tahiti, students will have three days on the University of Oregon campus for a pre-departure orientation and to start the academic portion of the trip.

Students will enroll in one course for 8 credit hours.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Terry Hunt currently serves as Dean of the Clark Honors College and professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon. He taught for 24 years at University of Hawaii, where he served as the Director of the University of Hawaii Honors Program. Dr. Hunt has conducted archaeological research in the Pacific Islands for more than thirty years, with extensive work in the Hawaiian Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, and Easter Island (Rapa Nui).

Dr. Hunt’s recent book, The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the mystery of Easter Island (Free Press, New York, 2011), co-authored with Carl Lipo, revisits the dramatic story of Rapa Nui’s prehistory. The book won the Society for American Archaeology’s book of the year award (2011) in the public audience category. Dr. Hunt’s research was the focus of a National Geographic Magazine cover story (July 2012) and a full-length Nova-National Geographic TV documentary that aired on PBS in November 2012.

The two-week archaeological field study on the island of Ra’iatea will be led by archaeologist and Ph.D candidate John O’Connor who is currently conducting research in Polynesia. John’s dissertation project, entitled “Historical Ecology and Community Patterning at Raʻiatea, Society Islands, French Polynesia,” explores community patterning among initial colonizing populations and the relationship between social structure and habitat suitability in the unique ecological systems of oceanic islands. John is a NSF Graduate Research Fellow, a Registered Professional Archaeologist, the Anthropological Collections Assistant at the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History, and a professional archaeologist regularly working on heritage management projects throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Housing Description

You will spend two nights in a hotel in Pape’ete, Tahiti, prior to boarding the Aranui V. On board the Aranui V, students will be travelling C class, sleeping in an 8 passenger bunk berth on board. All meals are included on board. On board facilities include public lounge and deck areas, a swimming pool and a dining room where all passengers have their meals together. While in Ra’iatea students will live in a shared house and will cook meals together as a group.

Additional Requirements

Students not enrolled in the Clark Honors College will need prior approval from faculty member Dr. Terry Hunt.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearPriority DeadlineFinal DeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.