Ancient Hawaiian State


Robert J. Hommon

Hardcover, 322 pps.

The Ancient Hawaiian State is a study of the ancient Hawaiians' transformation of their Polynesian chiefdoms into primary state societies, un-influenced by pre-existing states. The emergence of primary states is one of the most revolutionary transformations in human history, and Hawai'i's metamorphosis was so profound that in some ways the contact-era Hawaiian states bear a closer resemblance to our world than to that of their closely-related Eastern Polynesian contemporaries, 4,000 kilometers to the south. In contrast to the other six regions, in which states emerged in the distant, proto- or pre-literate past, the transformation of Hawaiian states is documented in an extensive body of oral traditions preserved in written form, a rich literature of early post-contact eyewitness accounts by participants and Western visitors, as well as an extensive archaeological record. \n \nIn the book, Hommon describes three competing Hawaiian states existing in 1778-1779 based on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu. He compares these with the Tongan state and the chiefdom societies in the Solomon, Marquesan, and Society archipelagoes. \n \nThis innovative study will advance the analysis of Polynesian political development and shed light on the nature and dynamics of primary state formation worldwide.