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date: 15 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the long-term processes whereby settlers moving into Central Eastern Polynesia (CEP) adapted to new island environments and social landscapes. Over a thousand-year period, CEP societies instigated environmental change and subsistence intensification, in addition to developing localized styles of material culture and affecting great change in their sociopolitical complexity. In comparing the cultural sequences from three CEP archipelagoes (Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, Austral Islands), the chapter demonstrates shared patterns in demographic change and shifts in subsistence and exchange, while at the same time highlighting inter-archipelago variation in terms of pathways to emerging elite power. Trends in CEP regional variation provide broad support for models positing a relationship between the evolution of social complexity in CEP chiefdoms, and the effects of island size/age and the availability of natural resources.

Keywords: Central Eastern Polynesia, chiefdoms, demographic change, elite power, environmental change, exchange, subsistence intensification, social complexity

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