This is an archaeological perspective on the elaborate system of chiefdoms found in the islands of Polynesia. While the growth and development of complex social and political systems in this region have long interested anthropologists and ethnographers, the islands' rich sources of archaeological data have since been exploited. The author combines this fresh archaeological data with comparative ethnographic and linguistic materials to present an innovative and perceptive account of the processes of culture change in the islands over three millennia. Using comparative ethnography, lexical reconstruction and direct archaeological evidence, the author reconstructs the broad outlines of Ancestral Polynesian Society, from which the diverse societies of the Polynesian region descended. Major processes of cultural change are analysed in detail, including colonization, adaptation to changing environments, development of intensive production and social conflict and competition.
Preface; 1. Introduction; Part I. Foundation: 2. Polynesian societies and ecosystems; 3. Ancestral Polynesia; Part II. Process: 4. Dispersal, colonization, and adaptation; 5. The demographic factor; 6. Changing environments; 7. Development and intensification of production; 8. Competition and conflict; Part III. Transformation: 9. Tonga; 10. Hawaii; 11. Easter Island; 12. Epilogue; Glossary of Polynesian terms; References; Index.
'… most comprehensive and analytical review of Polynesian archaeology to appear in the literature so far …'. Archaeology
'A fascinating, authoritative account of the development of pre-European political systems in the central and eastern Pacific … a major achievement.' John Terrell, Reviews in Anthropology
'This is archaeology as it should be.' Man
'This well-illustrated book with its extensive bibliography should continue to be an important book for scholars and students of Polynesia for years to come.' Journal of the Polynesian Society