Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Pigs, dryland agriculture and social complexity in precontact Hawai'i: Assessing surplus production through landscape geochemistry
by Lockwood, Christopher, Ph.D., University of Washington, 2009, 387; 3393991
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines pre-contact and early post-contact (c. AD 1300-1830) changes in agricultural production of surplus within the 0.6 km2Lapakahi Detailed Study Area of the leeward, dryland Kohala Field System, a historically significant sweet potato cultivation zone, on the Island of Hawai'i. Using a multiple disciplinary approach integrating geochemical, landscape, and historical analyses, I evaluated evidence that West Hawai'i experienced surplus production stress by the later pre-contact period, luring Hawaiian chiefs to adopt conquest warfare as a strategy to maintain access to surplus resources.

Pork was a special or luxury food in traditional Hawaiian culture, used extensively in ritual, and because pig (Sus scrofa) husbandry involved expenditure of labor and resources in animal feeding and management, the presence of pigs in the archaeological record indicates capacity for generating surplus, which was largely controlled and used by elites to sustain and support an elaborate edifice of chiefs, priests, and court functionaries. Research focused on evaluating spatial and temporal changes in the scale of pig husbandry. Lipid biomarker and elemental analyses were used to identify archaeological features used as pens for sequestering pigs. Pens, in turn, were quantified in a manner analogous to a “house-count” to construct a temporally and spatially stratified animal census. Results of the pig census were compared to proxy indicators for changes in the scale of agriculture and human population.

Results indicate that increases in the scale of pig production lagged increases in both agricultural scale and human population over the later pre-contact and early post-contact period. Hawaiian farmers within the study area faced challenges maintaining increases in surplus production, which may have included progressive utilization of agricultural marginal lands and soil nutrient depletion exacerbated by reduction in fallowing periods. Surplus shortage as a driving factor in late pre-contact conquest warfare remains plausible.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stein, Julie K.
School: University of Washington
School Location: United States -- Washington
Source: DAI-A 71/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Agricultural surplus, Geoarchaeology, Hawaii, Landscape geochemistry, Pigs, Social complexity, Surplus production
Publication Number: 3393991
ISBN: 978-1-109-60933-2
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