- Vestiges d’une histoire Marquisienne: Contribution à l’archéologie de Ua Huka by Eric Conte and Guillaume Molle, and: Te Tahata: Etude d’une marae de Topoto (Nord); Archipel des Tuamotu, Polynésie française by Eric Conte and Kenneth J Dennison
Over the last three decades, the islands of Central Eastern Polynesia (cep) have been the focus of renewed archaeological investigation. Given their spatial context, islands in the cep core have long been considered an important gateway for the eventual settlement of the more remote islands of Eastern Polynesia (Easter Island, New Zealand, and Hawai‘i). In the 1960s, Kenneth Emory and Yoshiko Sinoto argued, from the archaeological evidence, that the Marquesas archipelago was the first region settled in cep. This developed into an “orthodox model,” holding that the Marquesas Islands formed a secondary homeland for the development of Eastern Polynesian culture and the eventual settlement of the rest of the region. In turn, a series of archaeological projects were initiated that focused on identifying other early sites in the Marquesas, along with redating sites excavated in the 1950s that had originally been dated using less precise radiocarbon dating techniques than those now used. The result has been three decades of remarkably stimulating archaeological research in cep, whereby old theories have been questioned, a wealth of new data has been published, and a new consensus regarding the settlement of cep and its patterns of social transformation has emerged. Of interest is the indication that the cep region was only settled in the last 1,000 years. This has required social scientists to reformulate ideas concerning the timing and pace of population growth, the elaboration of sociopolitical complexity, and the development of regional diversity such as that exhibited between the northern and southern groups in the Marquesas Islands with respect to language, architecture, and political systems.
Vestiges d’une histoire Marquisienne and Te Tahata exemplify the diversity of methodological and theoretical approaches that enliven cep archaeological research. Both works are published in the Les Cahiers du cirap series, which serves to disseminate principal archaeological data sets that are most often found in [End Page 234] inaccessible “grey literature” (government reports or reports to granting agencies). The International Centre for Polynesian Archaeological Research (cirap) is located at the University of French Polynesia. To archaeological specialists, such data-rich publications are all-important, as the act of excavating archaeological sites destroys the context of our resulting artifactual data sets. For others to be able to use our data sets in the future, this requires full publication of each site’s stratigraphy and contextual information, much of which cannot be included in peer-reviewed journal articles due to length constraints. The production of archaeological monographs is extremely important for the field but often labor intensive for the authors. Thus, cirap should be commended for supporting such a wellproduced monograph series. My goal here is to disseminate the results of these two monographs to the broader Pacific scholarly audience, in part to explicate some of the major issues that Pacific Island archaeologists are grappling with and to demonstrate how their research might be of use to other disciplines such as heritage management and indigenous studies.
Vestiges d’une histoire Marquisienne, is authored by a leading French scholar (Eric Conte) and a younger, emerging scholar (Guillaume Molle). Conte serves as president and professor at the University of French Polynesia and is responsible for teaching Oceanic archaeology at the Sorbonne. Molle recently completed his PhD at the University of French Polynesia and has carried out research in French Polynesia since 2007. Both are members of the International Center for Polynesian Archaeological Research, a consortium of francophone and anglophone...