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'Ata 'a tonga mo 'ata 'o tonga: Early and later prehistory of the Tongan Islands. (Volumes I and II).

Author: Dirk R Spennemann; Australian National University (Australia)
Dissertation: Ph. D. Australian National University (Australia) 1990
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Microfiche : English
Publication:Dissertation Abstracts International, 53-01A.
Summary:
The transformation of the Lapita Culture on Tongatapu (1000 BC-AD 500) into a highly stratified society described by early Europeans and reflected in oral traditions and slab-faced monuments at Mu'a is the focus of this thesis. In the light of discussions of nature and origins of chiefdoms in Polynesia, the proposition is examined that they arose in the context of increases in populations in circumscribed
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Details

Material Type: Thesis/dissertation
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Dirk R Spennemann; Australian National University (Australia)
OCLC Number: 224273721
Notes: (UnM)AAI9213735.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 53-01, Section: A, page: 0196.
Reproduction Notes: Microfiche. Ann Arbor, Mich : University Microfilms International.
Description: 1985 pages

Abstract:

The transformation of the Lapita Culture on Tongatapu (1000 BC-AD 500) into a highly stratified society described by early Europeans and reflected in oral traditions and slab-faced monuments at Mu'a is the focus of this thesis. In the light of discussions of nature and origins of chiefdoms in Polynesia, the proposition is examined that they arose in the context of increases in populations in circumscribed environments subject to fluctuations in horticultural production, where horticultural surplus could be appropriated, accumulated, stored, and judiciously redistributed. Three research objectives are defined: course and chronology of the settlement of the inland areas and the concomitant growth of a horticulturally based economy; nature of settlement and habitation patterns represented by house and burial mounds of post-Lapita times; and origins and development of slab-built structures as a mark of high status.

Non-nucleated settlement of the inland was accomplished by 500 AD and the economy was horticulturally based. Mound-building (for habitation) proved to be equally old, while comparison of mound numbers against population estimates suggests that not everyone could be accommodated on them, implying some level of social differentiation in their use. Excavations at house mounds adjacent to one of the quarries where the slabs for high-status structures were obtained indicate that this activity also goes back to 500 AD. The further development of these early signs of social differentiation cannot be traced, until the sudden appearance of the monument group at Heketa--an early traditional political centre, representing the establishment of a supreme chieftainship.

Analysis of slab-faced monuments gives insights into nature and development of the ruling dynasty and associated lineages. There is the appearance of a significant overseas involvement, symbolised by the shift of the capital to Mu'a at the lagoon and its equipping with harbour and wharf facilities. There is also evidence of internal tension between the leading lineages, archaeologically best reflected in the isolated slab-faced monument apart from and competitive with Mu'a. The research points to the possibility of bridging the gap between the first archaeological indications of social differentiation (500 AD) and the appearance of supreme chieftainship at Heketa in the 12th century by genealogical reckoning through investigations in the Toloa area of southeastern Tongatapu, where the traditions locate the first, shadowy political centre.

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