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Houses of Power: Community Houses and Specialized Houses as Markers of Social Complexity in the Pre-Contact Society Island Chiefdoms

Author(s): Jennifer Kahn

Year: 2017

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Summary

World-wide, communal houses and specialized houses represent hallmarks of social complexity. In pre-contact Society Island chiefdoms, social complexity was materially marked by architectural differences between elite and commoner residences. Yet perhaps more pronounced are architectural differences and varied spatial patterning between residential houses, communal houses, and specialized houses. This paper provides a spatio-temporal analysis of communal and specialized houses on the Maʻohi landscape. Communal houses, notably fare manahini (elite meeting houses), fare ʻarioi (houses for the fertility sect), and fare ia manaha (houses for storing ritual items) differ from everyday residences in their large size, elaboration, and spatial proximity to ritual sites. Specialized house sites, including those for craft activities and those to house ritual practitioners, sometimes mimic residential houses in their size and architecture, yet have different suites of activities associated with site occupation. Tacking back and forth from the micro-scale to a landscape approach highlights how communal and specialized houses not only materially marked socio-economic rank, but created landscapes of power, or landscapes of inclusion and exclusion based on one’s rank and bounded status. In this way, communal houses and specialized houses serve as important hallmarks of increasing social complexity in the late prehistoric Society Island chiefdoms.


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Houses of Power: Community Houses and Specialized Houses as Markers of Social Complexity in the Pre-Contact Society Island Chiefdoms. Jennifer Kahn. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431625)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15451

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