Monumental Architecture in Precontact Polynesia

  • Jennifer G. KahnEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_2713-1
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State of Knowledge and Current Debates

The islands of the Eastern Polynesian triangle, bounded by the Hawaiian Archipelago, New Zealand (Aotearoa), and Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and those of Western Polynesia, which includes Tonga and Samoa, were home to diverse indigenous societies. Such groups were organized as chiefdoms and archaic states prior to European contact (Kirch 2017). As with other complex societies worldwide, the power and authority of Polynesian chiefs were materialized in diverse ways, often through the construction of monumental architecture. Before launching into a discussion of historical trends and current research on Polynesian monumental structures, we must first ask: What constitutes monumental architecture in Polynesia?

Historical linguistics document a long history of shared Polynesian terms related to ritual structures, some of which become elaborated as monumental sites in later prehistory. The Proto-Polynesian word ∗malaqeis robustly reconstructed from 25...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anthropology DepartmentCollege of William and MaryWilliamsburgUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ndukukhaye Ndlovu
    • 1
  1. 1.Newcastle UniversityNewcastleUK