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Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 311–345 | Cite as

The evolution of sociopolitical complexity in prehistoric Hawaii: An assessment of the archaeological evidence

  • Patrick V. Kirch
Article

Abstract

The sociopolitical system of late prehistoric Hawaii was among the most complex of any Oceanic chiefdom, as indexed by such characteristics as scale, rate of energy extraction, degree of functional specialization, and political hierarchy. Various anthropologists and archaeologists have advanced models of how this complex sociopolitical system developed out of an earlier Ancestral Polynesian society. Recent advances in Hawaiian archaeology have now begun to provide a wealth of data on the course of prehistoric change in the archipelago over some 1500 years and, thus, provide evidence which can be used to test alternative models of the evolution of sociopolitical complexity. This paper reviews the major alternative models that have been put forward and provides a synopsis of the archaeological evidence relevant to their testing.

Key words

Hawaiian Islands Polynesia sociopolitical complexity cultural evolution 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick V. Kirch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley

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