The Ancient Hawaiian State: Origins of a Political Society

The Ancient Hawaiian State: Origins of a Political Society

by Robert J. Hommon


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The well-known list of "cradles of civilization" primary states from which all modern nation states ultimately derive, has traditionally been limited to Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, China, Mesoamerica, and Andean South America. However, by drawing on archaeological and ethnohistorical sources, Robert J. Hommon demonstrates that Polynesia, with primary states in both Hawaìi and Tonga, should be added to that list. The Ancient Hawaiian State offers a history of the ancient Hawaiians' transformation of their Polynesian chiefdoms into primary state societies. The emergence of primary states is one of the most revolutionary transformations in human history, and Hawaìi's metamorphosis was so profound that in some ways the contact-era Hawaiian states bear a closer resemblance to our world than to that of their closely-related Eastern Polynesian contemporaries. In contrast to the other six regions, in which states emerged in the distant, proto- or pre-literate past, the transformation of Hawaiian states is documented in an extensive body of oral traditions preserved in written form, a rich literature of early post-contact eyewitness accounts by participants and Western visitors, as well as an extensive archaeological record. Tracing the roots and emergence of the Hawaiian states, this innovative study offers a detailed model that will advance the analysis of Polynesian political development and shed light on the nature and dynamics of primary state formation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190499129
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 09/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Robert J. Hommon, (Ph.D., University of Arizona), retired archaeologist and Senior Cultural Resource Scientist for the Pacific Islands Office, National Park Service, has conducted research on seven of the eight major Hawaiian Islands focused on the cultural, social, and economic roots of the Hawaiian kingdoms' emergence.

Table of Contents


PART ONE: Hawai'i in The Early Contact Era
1. The People
2. Government, War, and Refuge
3. Houses and Crafts
4. Farming and Fishing
5. Gods and Temples
6. Makahiki, Trails, and Exchange

PART TWO: State Societies and the Ancient Hawaiian Example
7. State Societies
8. The Ancient Hawaiian State

PART THREE: Polynesian Societies
9. Polynesian Comparisons
10. Tikopia
11. The Marquesas Islands: Nuku Hiva and 'Ua Pou
12. The Society Islands: Tahiti and Porapora
13. The Ancient Tongan State

PART FOUR: The Hawaiian State Emergence Model
14. The Model: Introduction and Chronology Construction
15. The Model of Hawaiian State Emergence
16. Summary and Conclusion

Appendix A. Summary of Ancient Hawaiian Political History
Appendix B. Glossary

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