The Tongan maritime state

Oceanic globalization, polity collapse and chaotic interaction

Authored by: Geoffrey Clark

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415841306
eBook ISBN: 9781315449005
Adobe ISBN:


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The islands of the Pacific Ocean are frequently associated with maritime societies who were equipped with ocean-going canoes and the navigation techniques required to migrate across the vast distances separating island groups. Colonization aside, the development of complex maritime societies is surprisingly rare in Oceania, as many islands were in prehistory beyond the influence of primary and secondary states and the trade networks of empires that were a feature of social development and hierarchy in other parts of the world (Taagepera 1978; Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997). Thus, the human history of the South Pacific Ocean is significantly different from that of the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea where early seafaring was largely economic and strategic, and islands were key locations of early globalization. Powerful socio-political configurations only arose in the Pacific centuries after human colonization predominantly, it is thought, by independent development, and only a small number of societies can be argued to have developed into archaic states in the past 1,000 years.

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