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Stone-lined earth ovens in Easter Island

  • Patrick C. McCoy
Extract

Prior to the recent description of stone-lined ovens in Hawaii (Hendren, 1975, 133, 139), such ovens had not been reported elsewhere in Polynesia, and as a result some attention has been placed on the origin of the urnu pae. An undocumented claim has been made for the probable Peruvian source of the Easter Island stone-lined oven (Heyerdahl, 1968, 1g5), but in fact cultural origin is still in question because local innovation by the undeniably Polynesian substratum of the indigenous population has not been ruled out. Regardless of their origin, urnu pae are a class of cultural remains that assume major importance in Easter Island settlement-pattern studies by virtue of their easy identification and common occurrence with other structures on extended family residential sites. The exposed rims of umu pae eliminate the need for excavation to locate cook houses, which means that the layout of habitation sites and relationship of major household activity areas often can be determined on the basis of surface survey alone. Umu pae function independently to fix the location on flat terrain of open-site habitations that may otherwise be hard to see owing to the absence of structural remains or earthen terraces.

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Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
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