Recent Investigations at Western Raiatea

Author(s): John O'Connor

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Rethinking Hinterlands in Polynesia" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The island of Raiatea in the Leeward Society Islands of French Polynesia is viewed as a central place for the initial colonization of East Polynesia and the dispersal of pre-contact voyaging populations to distantly located islands of the Pacific Ocean. This history is embedded in the oral traditions of Pacific Island peoples and supported by archaeological research throughout the region. Archaeological investigation at the megalithic Marae Tainuu on the west coast of Raiatea furthers regional knowledge related to concepts of centrality in settlement patterns and regional networks of human interaction. Subsurface testing at Marae Tainuu has revealed faunal and artifactual evidence of circumscribed behavioral patterns consistent with expectations of hierarchical social structures. The relation of Marae Tainuu to the surrounding anthropological landscape supports the marae as a sociopolitical center for western Raiatea, and the marae still serves in this capacity today. However, the regional prominence of Marae Tainuu may be compared to the political centers at Opoa that held a position of central importance for inter-island political alliances and regional voyaging. Continuing work at Raiatea will contribute to understandings of local human-environmental interactions and the greater role of local cultural trajectories in regional social networks.

Cite this Record

Recent Investigations at Western Raiatea. John O'Connor. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451388)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 117.598; min lat: -29.229 ; max long: -75.41; max lat: 53.12 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23018