Event: Friday Seminar: "Island Kingdoms of Ancient Hawai'i"

Date & Time

March 9, 2018 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Contact Information

Matthew Swanson


Fowler A222

Event Type

Friday Seminar

Event Details

Speaker: Dr. Mark McCoy, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University

The archaic form of state society evolved independently at least six times in prehistory – in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, the Indus Valley, Mesoamerica, and coastal Peru – and marks a turning point that was fundamental to the creation of modern society. New research suggests another, much more recent, example of the formation of archaic states occurred in the Hawaiian Islands. Located in the North Pacific, the archipelago of islands that make up the Hawaiian chain are so naturally isolated that they remained undiscovered by people until Polynesian voyagers established a new settlement there around AD 1000. By the time of first contact with Europeans, 800 years later, it was home to hundreds of thousands of people governed by independent kingdoms. How did this occur, and what does it tell us about the moment in history when chiefs became kings? In this lecture, I will draw upon nearly twenty years of field research in Hawai‘i and outline what we currently know about the creation of these island kingdoms through archaeology and local oral histories, with the goal of explaining why society transformed and what these changes tell us about the larger course of human prehistory.