The Haleakalā adze economy : landscape, political economy, and power in ancient Maui

by Melanie Ann Mintmier

Institution: University of Hawaii – Manoa
Year: 2015
Keywords: adze quarry complex; socio-political power; Hawaiian culture; archaeological investigation
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2118345
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/100452


Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014. As Maui's largest known adze quarry complex and source material for a critically important tool, Haleakalā's adze economy was a keystone economy, meaning that it connected and supported an inordinate number of cultural systems and practices. Pertaining to the study of the evolution of ancient property rights, the Haleakalā quarry (in use at least by AD 1300 – 1400, but probably earlier) likely started out as a commonpool resource, but may have had its access restricted by the people of Kula District starting around AD 1300 – 1400. This shift correlates to a change in adze production organization, from a generalized to a specialized system (Costin 1991), at least to some degree. And, in this case, these changes paralleled the development of a political economy centered on increasingly powerful elites, rather than on collective kin groups. The Haleakalā adze economy was inextricably intertwined with this political economy, and Maui's chiefs used this political economy to obtain, maintain, and grow sociopolitical power via 'power projects' (defined here as any undertaking designed by elites to gain/maintain their power). Finally, compared to other large Pacific adze quarries, the Haleakalā quarry production system was moderate in scale. Therefore, it is warranted to slightly re-frame Helen Leach's (1993) classic two-tier model of Pacific adze quarries, which classifies quarries as either small, expedient-use quarries or large, industrial quarries. The Haleakalā quarry, however, is something in between, so the adoption of a continuum model of Pacific quarries, in lieu of the conventional dichotomous model, is justified. Overall, this study broadens our understanding of past Hawaiian culture in several important ways. First, it shows the critical cultural and economic importance of marginal regions, such as the rugged, uninhabitable slopes of Haleakalā Mountain. Second, it illustrates that Pacific adze quarries are potentially more complex than established models have allowed. Finally, it demonstrates the feasibility and value of accessing past socio-political power through archaeological investigation. On the way to accomplishing these main goals, this study also expands upon our knowledge of basalt procurement, adze technology, and stone material distribution on Maui, as well as a glimpse of bird hunting and ritual activity.