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Stone architecture, monumentality and the rise of the early Tongan chiefdom

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2015

Christian Reepmeyer
Archaeology and Natural History, The Australian National University, Fellows Road, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia


Monumental construction is commonly associated with the rise of complex societies and frequently supported the ceremonies and ideologies that were instrumental in the creation of the new social order. Recent fieldwork at Heketa in eastern Tongatapu recorded stone-built platforms for houses and seats, and a three-tiered tomb and trilithon. Tongan tradition and archaeology combine to show that these were the setting for new ceremonies instituted by the emergent Tu’i Tonga lineage in the fourteenth century AD as they laid the foundations of the early Tongan chiefdom. Key to their success were activities that emphasised the sacred origins of the living Tu’i Tonga, including the drinking of kava and the presentation of first fruits to the chiefs.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd. 2014

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