When British explorers first arrived in Hawaii in 1778, they inadvertently became witness to a society in the final stages of a transition from chiefdom to archaic state. Under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Kirch, Alexander Baer will examine how this transformation affected communities through both time and space. Utilizing data collected from 2008-2012, this project will track the sociopolitical changes in the district of KaupÃ´, Maui, to understand how this region moved from a marginal hinterland to become the seat of Maui's royal power. Through analyses of archaeological remains, broad spatial surveys, rich oral tradition, and environmental conditions, KaupÃ´'s history offers insights into the processes through which sociopolitical centralization fundamentally alters society from the largest scales of hierarchical organization and landscape modification down to the daily practices of the common people.
At the threshold between chiefdoms and established state societies, archaic states provide a new framework through which to examine the rise of social complexity. Through KaupÃ´, this work will improve understanding of archaic states by examining the sociopolitical influence on a peripheral community as surrounding structures became increasingly complex. While traditionally referred to as a marginal community, the district suddenly came to prominence in the early 18th century as Maui's sixth king, Kekaulike, chose it as his royal seat. With this single move, KaupÃ´ became home to the island's elite, and by European contact was a dominant district featuring an intensified agriculture system, a palace, and two lines of major temples bounding the region. This dichotomy of marginal community to core provides a discrete and narrowly dated cutoff, allowing for the generation of hypotheses surrounding sociopolitical development in the centuries prior to Kekaulike's arrival and the period following.
To understand KaupÃ´'s sociopolitical development, both prior to the arrival of Kekaulike as well as following, a suite of field projects and laboratory analyses have been conducted. Between 2008-2012, intensive survey of >6 km2 has been combined with remote sensing to generate a GIS database of settlement patterns across the landscape. Integrated within this database are the results of excavations at 27 different sites, each chosen for their size, location, and probable function to best represent the range of activities practiced in KaupÃ´. While analyses of the material culture found at these sites are in progress, no direct dating has been done to place these sites and practices within a temporal framework. Through NSF support, this project will conduct extensive radiocarbon dating, allowing for a chronological understanding of KaupÃ´'s sociopolitical development.
Beyond it's impact on scholarly understandings of archaic states and Hawaiian history, this project has, and will continue, to contribute extensively to the communities of KaupÃ´ and greater Maui. Numerous community, business, and school groups have been taken throughout the region to gain a better understanding of past cultural practices, highlighted by an intensive, weeklong field school led Baer aimed at teaching Native Hawaiian high school students both the practice of archaeological excavation as well as the value of historical information. In partnering with local schools, including Kamehameha School and Seabury Academy, this project has established a framework for archaeological education that will continue in future collaborations. Work with local ranches, businesses, and landholders has been similarly productive, resulting in changes to cattle rotation and the removal of invasive plant species to safeguard the remaining cultural heritage. Through future publications and the establishment of KaupÃ´'s unique and critical role in Hawaiian history, this project will continue its collaborations with different groups who similarly understand the importance of this place.
Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant BCS-1314978: "Transition from Chiefdom to Archaic State in Kaup?, Maui, Hawaiian Islands" Principal Investigator: Patrick Kirch Co-Principal Investigator: Alexander Baer Over the past year, National Science Foundation funding has supported the project "Transition from Chiefdom to Archaic State in Kaup?, Maui, Hawaiian Islands" and has enabled the Co-PIs to conduct extensive radiocarbon dating and charcoal identification. By combining these analyses with spatial modeling and data from excavations, we are gaining important insights into how societies may become increasingly complex and the effects this can have on community development. To test our hypotheses, this work has been conducted in a rural district of Maui, Hawai?i, and is demonstrating how communities on the political periphery may not experience the transition towards social complexity at the same rate or with the same influences as communities in sociopolitical cores. Examining this dichotomy between central and marginal communities improves our understanding of developing states and the processes through which social hierarchies may emerge. In using the district of Kaup? as a "model system", we are afforded a unique region that transitioned from peripheral hinterland to sociopolitical center in the early 1700s with the arrival of King Kekaulike and his royal court. This well-dated event provides a discrete temporal break that can be used to assess our archaeological finds. Following extensive site survey and excavation, NSF funding has allowed for the testing of 51 independent radiocarbon dates, creating not only one of the larger sets of localized chronometric data in the islands, but also a framework with which to assess the process of increasing social complexity both prior to, and following, the arrival of King Kekaulike. Utilizing three models to describe potential trajectories for local development, we have examined a suite of variables that will determine whether the rise of sociopolitical centralization was felt concurrently throughout a society, or whether dichotomies existed between developed cores and outlying regions. By incorporating the timing of various constructions, these models can speak not only to distinctions or similarities between contemporary areas, but to communitiesâ€™ willingness or resistance to follow emerging state structures. Additionally, by employing a region ultimately adopted by the king, we can see the direct influence of early royal power, from the landscape down to household levels. In addition to increasing scholarly understanding of social development, this project has contributed extensively to the communities of Kaup? and greater Maui through outreach and public engagement. Numerous community, business, and school groups have been taken throughout the region to gain a better understanding of past cultural practices, highlighted by an intensive, weeklong field school led by the Co-PI aimed at teaching Native Hawaiian high school students both the practice of archaeological excavation as well as the value of historical information. In partnering with local schools, including Kamehameha School and Seabury Academy, we have established a framework for archaeological education that will continue in future collaborations. Our work with local ranches, businesses, and landholders has been similarly productive. By sharing information on individual sites, general types, and distribution we have seen changes in cattle rotation and other practices designed to safeguard the remaining cultural heritage, culminating in our work with Kaup? Ranch to remove invasive plant species threatening both cultural sites as well as pasture lands. Moving forward, this project will continue to incorporate local knowledge for the benefit of not only scholarship, but the community as well. Through publication and the establishment of Kaup?â€™s unique and critical role in Hawaiian history, we will be able to continue our collaborations with different groups who similarly appreciate the importance of this place. NSF funding has allowed this research to happen, contributing to both academic and local understanding.