Marquesan Colonisation Chronologies and Postcolonisation Interaction: Implications for Hawaiian origins and the ‘Marquesan Homeland’ hypothesis

  • Melinda S. Allen University of Auckland
Keywords: Marquesas Islands, Hawaiian colonisation, radiocarbon chronologies, stone tool geochemistry, voyaging and interaction, Polynesia

Abstract

The research of Patrick Kirch, within the Hawaiian Islands and beyond, has forged understanding of Hawaiian origins and the chronology of Polynesian island settlement for more than four decades. As he outlines in his recent review of the Hawaiian sequence, improved radiocarbon chronologies, along with new archaeological and palaeoecological evidence, has led to a growing consensus that Hawai‘i was probably settled around the 11th to 13th centuries AD. Historically, archaeologists have considered the Marquesas Islands, some 3,500 km to the southeast, a likely Hawaiian homeland. This issue is revisited here, asking whether recent studies reinforce or undermine the Marquesas Islands as a source area. New sites and new chronometric data show that the Marquesas were settled as early as any other central East Polynesian archipelago (with the possible exception of the Societies) and perhaps early enough to have fostered Hawaiian colonists. Analysis of Marquesan 14C results on short-lived materials (lifespans of ≤10 yr ) unambiguously place Polynesians in the archipelago in the 13th century, while numerous dates on other materials point to the likelihood of colonisation from the 11th to 12th centuries. Less secure results intimate colonization could date from the 10th to 11th centuries AD. Other evidence (ceramics and stone tool geochemistry) indicates multiple and unusually far-ranging regional contacts between roughly the 12th to 15th centuries, a situation which suggests superior and sustained voyaging. The evidence reviewed here is sufficient to continue entertaining the possibility that the Marquesas Islands were a departure point for the Polynesian settlers of Hawai‘i, although many uncertainties remain.
Published
2014-06-22
How to Cite
Allen, M. (2014) “Marquesan Colonisation Chronologies and Postcolonisation Interaction: Implications for Hawaiian origins and the ‘Marquesan Homeland’ hypothesis”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 5(2), pp. 1-17. Available at: https://www.pacificarchaeology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/137 (Accessed: 20June2019).
Section
Articles