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Exploring religious practices on the Polynesian atolls: a comprehensive architectural approach towards the marae complex in the Tuamotus

Author(s): Guillaume Molle

Year: 2015

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Summary

The Tuamotu Archipelago consists of one of the largest concentrations of atolls in the world. However, the archaeological history of these islands remains much less documented in comparison with the other high islands of French Polynesia. The harsh environmental conditions of the atolls have not favored the preservation of archaeological structures, with the exception of the coral-built marae. Since the pioneering works of K.P. Emory in the 1930s, around six hundred of these ceremonial sites have been recorded all over the archipelago. The surface inventories have showed that the basic architectural features of the marae were organized according to a large diversity of patterns reflecting the complex histories of local communities. In order to investigate the variability of these monuments, we developed a detailed database that allowed us to build the first wide-scale classification of these marae sites. Relying on archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence in addition to oral traditions, we attempt here to explain the development of these sites with regards to external influences, endemic socio-political process, and adaptations to specific rituals.

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Exploring religious practices on the Polynesian atolls: a comprehensive architectural approach towards the marae complex in the Tuamotus. Guillaume Molle. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396761)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Oceania


Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America