Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Radiocarbon testing challenges understanding of ancient Hawaiian architecture, social complexity

03.08.2006
Changes to temple architecture reveal shift from ancestral to sacrificial worship

The development of monumental architecture and social complexity on the Hawaiian island of Maui occurred over a span of at least 500 years, according to the most detailed study to date on the antiquity of the island's extensive temple system. The findings, in the August issue of Current Anthropology, challenge previous conceptions of ancient Hawaiian civilization by identifying cycles of temple construction that coincide with politically charged periods of warfare and island consolidation.


An aerial view of a large war temple (Loaloa) on Maui. Credit: Courtesy Michael Kolb and Northern Illinois University.

"Because the islands are relatively isolated from the rest of the world, the development of monumental architecture and complex society in Hawaii is of keen interest to archaeologists," writes Michael Kolb (Northern Illinois University), who spent more than a decade locating and excavating temple sites. "In many ways, Maui represents an excellent test case for state development. Its monumental architecture is directly linked to economic, political, and ritual development, not unlike the most famous early civilizations, such as the Maya or ancient Eqyptians."

Kolb conducted radiocarbon-dating analyses on samples from forty ruins on the island of Maui, including several newly discovered temples. The radiocarbon dates indicate the earliest temples were built in the 13th century, with construction continuing into the early 19th century. Prior research had indicated that Maui's temples, known as heiau, were built within a span of decades near the turn of the 17th century.

Kolb's study also identifies an important shift in temple construction from open-air temples used for ancestral worship to enclosed, more elaborate temples used for sacrificial offerings to war gods. Large temples often covered more area than a football field and stood 40 feet in height.

"The Hawaiian civilization lacked ceramics, which is typically why radiocarbon dating is relied upon by scientists," says Kolb. "Before a temple was built, the land would be set ablaze to clear it from vegetation, leaving behind charcoal remains. We also were able to gather samples for dating from the sites of ancient ovens and bonfires."

The ancient people of Maui stacked lava rocks to form the foundation of the platform temples, often built on the faces of cliffs or other high points on the island. The more elaborate, terraced temples were adorned with altars, oracle towers, offering pits, and god or ancestral images carved from wood or stone.

"Oftentimes, in a show of economic might, a conquering chief would remodel, build additions to, and rededicate a rival's temples," explains Kolb. "Many of the early structures were modified or new ones were built with enclosures on top. Access was limited to reward loyal constituents, and sacrificial worship became more of a focus."

Suzanne Wu | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uchicago.edu
http:// www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht Magnetic liquids improve energy efficiency of buildings
16.01.2018 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Insulating bricks with microscopic bubbles
16.01.2018 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>