Pre-Contact Samoan Cultivation Practices in Regional and Theoretical Perspective

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Pre-Contact Samoan Cultivation Practices in Regional and Theoretical Perspective
  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by:  [] Date:  01 March 2017, At: 14:01 The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology ISSN: 1556-4894 (Print) 1556-1828 (Online) Journal homepage: Pre-Contact Samoan Cultivation Practices inRegional and Theoretical Perspective Seth Quintus & Ethan E. Cochrane To cite this article:  Seth Quintus & Ethan E. Cochrane (2017): Pre-Contact Samoan CultivationPractices in Regional and Theoretical Perspective, The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology To link to this article: Published online: 01 Mar 2017.Submit your article to this journal View related articles View Crossmark data  The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology , 0:1–27, 2017Copyright  C   2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1556-4894 print / 1556-1828 onlineDOI: 10.1080/15564894.2017.1285835 Pre-Contact Samoan CultivationPractices in Regional andTheoretical Perspective Seth Quintus 1 and Ethan E. Cochrane 2 1  Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai’i at M¯ anoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA  2  Department of Anthropology, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand  ABSTRACT  Most pre-European Polynesian societies were supported by intensiveand elaborate cultivation systems. These systems were at the core of human adaptation and political maneuvering, being intimately tied to both the physical and cultural environment. However, our under-  standing of the development of and variation within Polynesian cul- tivation systems has been restricted by a lack of knowledge and dis- cussion of key archipelagoes. One such archipelago is Samoa. Recent archaeological evidence, when combined with previous fieldwork, hasresulted in an opportunity to explore questions of agricultural devel- opment in Samoa. We review these data here, and put them into re-  gional and theoretical context. We argue that similar processes areapparent across the archipelago, notably involving risk management technology. Variation, though, is also apparent and it appears that thetempo and scale of intensification was not even. We argue that there isevidence of correlations between agricultural development and politi- cal change, and much of the infrastructural developments relating tocultivation might have played a role in changing socio-political struc- tures. While this review provides new evidence of the complexity of Samoan cultivation practices, additional targeted research is neces-  sary, especially on the island of Savai’i. Keywords  agricultural development, socio-ecology, Samoa, Polynesia INTRODUCTION Early European explorer accounts of Pa-cific Island societies included reference to Received 25 October 2016; accepted 11 January 2017. AddresscorrespondencetoSethQuintus,DepartmentofAnthropology,UniversityofHawai’iatM¯anoa,2424 Maile Way, Saunders Hall 346, Honolulu, HI 96822-2217, USA. E-mail: squintus@hawaii.eduColor versions of one or more of the figures in the article can be found online at elaborate systems of cultivation (e.g., Bea-glehole 1968; Robarts 1974 ), ranging from irrigated pondfields to multi-story orchardgardens and extensive rain-fed systems. 1  Seth Quintus and Ethan E. Cochrane Because of their complexity and co-evolution with socio-political change,archaeologists and prehistorians have longbeen interested in documenting the devel-opmental trajectory of these systems andidentifying the keyshared processes of each sequence across the region (e.g., Kirch 1977, 1982, 1984, 1994; Kirch and Yen 1982; Leach  1979; Riley  1973; Rosendahl 1972 ). Over the last four decades, sub-stantial information about the dispersal,adaptation, expansion, and intensificationof these systems has been documented,notably from Hawai’i, New Zealand, theMarquesas, and the Society Islands (e.g., Addison 2006; Barber  2004; Huebert 2014; LadefogedandGraves2008;Ladefogedetal. 2009; Lepofsky and Kahn 2011; Vitousek  et al. 2004, 2010, 2014 ). Still, knowledge of  agricultural development in some archipela-gos is limited. This has certainly been thecase in Samoa where only recently havearchaeologists begun to explicitly focuson terrestrial subsistence systems (Car-son 2006; Quintus 2012, 2015; Quintus et al. 2016 ). While Samoan agricultural systems were long viewed as non-intensive(Green 2002 ), this recent research calls this description into question.Here, we review the archaeologicalevidence of pre-contact cultivation systemsin the Samoan Archipelago and place thisevidence within a regional and theoreticalcontext. Using these data, we outline agri-cultural variation that is likely importantin an evolutionary and ecological frame- work including that related to labor input,cooperative organization, and capacity togenerate agricultural surplus or buffer en- vironmental variation. Finally, we examinethe correlation between variation in culti- vation systems, socio-political change, andenvironmental characteristics to elucidatekey drivers that contributed to agriculturalsystem variability in the archipelago. CULTIVATION STRATEGIES ANDAGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT INPOLYNESIA Cultivation strategies in Polynesia can bedivided into four general classes: rain-fed,natural wetland, irrigated, and arboricul-ture. Rain-fed systems were the most widely practiced, and varied in intensity. Some sys-tems used classic shifting cultivation tech-niques with few permanent field bound-aries. Other rain-fed systems, notably thosein Hawai’i and New Zealand, made useof terraces and extensive stone walls thatfunctioned as boundaries and windbreaks(Ladefoged et al. 2009; Leach  1976 ), ero- sion control devices (McCoy and Hartshorn2007 ), and planting areas (Allen 2004 ). Wet cultivation strategies took control of either natural or artificial environments. In thecase of the former, producers often took advantage of marshes or estuaries. Addison( 2008 ) has argued that this form of cultiva-tion might have been an essential strategy of high yield shortly after colonizationand before labor could be invested in theconstruction of more substantial infrastruc-ture. Other forms of wetland cultivationinclude the use of raised beds constructedby ditching to drain hydromorphic soilsand sometimes heaping of earth to raisethe planting surface (e.g., Allen 1971 ).Irrigated systems featured infrastructuraldevelopments that created artificially wetenvironments. These systems are knownto have been some of the highest yieldingin the region, and irrigated pondfieldshave been documented from across tropi-cal Polynesia (Addison 2006; Kirch  1994; Lepofsky  1994 ). Irrigation did not alwaysmake use of pondfield technology, though.Instead, some of these systems, especially in Hawai’i and the Society Islands employeda set of walls, ditches, and terraces to takeadvantage of more intermittent stream flow (Clark  1986; Lepofsky  1994; McCoy and Graves 2010 ). Arboricultural systems aretheleastwellknown,leadingKirchtoopinethat arboriculture has “been the most over-looked [form of agricultural intensification]by ethnographers and prehistorians” (Kirch 1994:10). The cultivation and managementof tree crops is now known for severalislands and archipelagos in Polynesia (Allen2004; Kirch  1994; Lincoln and Ladefoged 2014 ), but seem to have reached their pin-nacle in the late pre-contact Marquesas andSociety Islands (Huebert 2014; Lepofsky 1994 ). 2 VOLUME 0 • ISSUE 0 •  2017  Pre-Contact Samoan Cultivation Practices Sequences of agricultural developmentthroughout Polynesia highlight the various ways in which these techniques were com-bined in production systems through spaceand time. Most generally, Kirch ( 1982 )argued that all trajectories of agriculturaldevelopment in Polynesia are characterizedby three processes: adaptation, expansion,and intensification. The process of intensi-fication has received the bulk of attention.Defined as increased labor, capital, andskill input against constant land (Brookfield1972:31), intensification is thought to leadto increased production. Though a processof intensification may have occurred onmost islands (Kirch  2006:210), variation in the trajectory or pathway of intensificationis apparent throughout the region (Kirch 1994 ). The recognition of variation hasled to a renewed interest in describingthe contingent characteristics of particular historical sequences and evaluating mecha-nisms that result in divergent trajectories of development.Since agricultural change is intimately tied to environmental variables, it has longbeen recognized that even subtle differ-ences may result in divergent trajectories.In Polynesia, emphasis has been placed onthe effects of the wet and dry distinctionbetween the windward and leeward sidesof islands and archipelagos (Barrau 1965;Kirch  1994 ). This division creates a du-ality of production systems, with drylandsystems coming to dominate the leewardand irrigation systems dominating the wind- ward.Environmentalvariablescanalsohaveconsiderable influence at more local scales. As recent research in Hawai’i and RapaNui has demonstrated, biogeochemical gra-dients, stemming from the intersection of substrate geology and precipitation, cancreate thresholds on productivity (Vitousek et al. 2014 ). Environmental attributes alsohave a temporal dimension, and changesto the landscape are known to create op-portunities for additional expansion and in-novation. In places, coastal geomorphologi-cal change created additional land area for cultivation (Kirch and Yen 1982; Spriggs 1997 ). Likewise, geomorphological changeis known to replenish soil nutrients through aprocessofcolluvialrejuvenation(Vitousek et al. 2003 ).The degree to which the environ-ment influenced trajectories of agriculturalchange was often a product of popula-tion size. Globally, population size has beenidentified as a potential cause of agricul-tural intensification (Boserup 1965 ), basedon the logical assumption that growingpopulations require increased food pro-duction. Specific links between populationgrowth and agricultural change have beendifficult to draw in Polynesia, but degreeof magnitude population growth played arole (Kirch  1984:193, 1994:310–312). How- ever, researchers have also warned that theentire explanatory burden should not beplaced on demographic processes (Kirch 1994:312; Ladefoged and Graves 2008:784). Food production was a key economicactivity that underpinned Polynesian politi-cal entities (Dye 2014; Earle 1978; Earle and Spriggs 2015; Kirch  1984, 2010 ). Variation in agricultural production was embedded ina ritual environment based on conceptual-izations of   mana  and  tapu  as documentedethnographically. Through the control of re-sources, leaders were able to demonstratetheir efficacy, or   mana . It is this ability to demonstrate  mana  through the ability to provide materially for people that wenthand in hand with the maintenance of so-cial order and position (Shore 1989 ). Thefailure of chiefs to provide for their peo-ple could be met with usurpation (Thomas1994 ).In addition to maintaining the political  status quo , agricultural production alsoprovided opportunities for emergent lead-ership (see Mattison et al. 2016 ). Earle andSpriggs ( 2015 ) have argued that emergentleadership was possible through the con-trol of constriction points or bottlenecks.In production systems, these constric-tion points might be the circumscribednature of productive land or agriculturalinfrastructure that created conditions for management and the extraction of surplus.Through the control of surplus, leaders were able to fund their political ambitionby the construction of monumental archi-tecture and feasting. The desire to control THE JOURNAL OF ISLAND AND COASTAL ARCHAEOLOGY 3  Seth Quintus and Ethan E. Cochrane productive lands also created conditionsfor conflict. Examples from throughoutthe region suggest that the unequal dis-tribution of resources often had politicalimplications wherein those from the lessproductive zones sought control of pro-ductive zones (e.g., Bollt 2012; Kirch  1994, 2010; Ladefoged 1995 ). Such environmental and demographic variation, historically contingent and cul-turally mediated behaviors, and variousevolutionary mechanisms (e.g., adaptation,niche construction) together explain se-quences of agricultural change. These com-ponents of explanation are often generatedat different spatial and chronological scales with variable resolution. They involve as-sessment of proximate causes in particular cultural historical sequences and generalevolutionary processes. We can build ex-planations on a foundation of comparison(Neff and Larson 1997 ) through which important information can be gleaned. We undertake this comparison within theconfines of the Samoan archipelago. SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL SETTING The Samoan archipelago ( Figure 1 ) isseparated into two political units: theindependent nation of Samoa and theUnited States territory of American Samoa.Samoa consists of two volcanic high islands,’Upolu (1125 km 2  ) and Savai’i (1718 km 2  ), with large land areas and some deeply dis-sected drainage systems, as well as thetwo smaller islands of Apolima (1 km 2  )and Manono (3 km 2  ). Tutuila, while partof American Samoa, is environmentally andculturally more similar to the larger islandsand was politically associated with them inprehistory (Meleise¯a 1995 ). Though smaller  at 136.2 km ² , permanent stream flow doesoccur in some of the more deeply dis-sected landscapes on the western end. At the eastern end of the archipelago,the Manu’a group consists of Olosega,Ofu, and Ta’u. All are in proximity, Ofuand Olosega separated by a small channeland Ta’u 10 km to the southeast. Of thegroup, Olosega is the smallest with a landarea of 5.4 km ² , Ofu middle at 7.3 km ² ,and Ta’u, the largest, at 45.5 km ²  (Craig2009 ).Rainfall in the archipelago varies largely by elevation, though a slight windwardand leeward division exists in the larger  western islands. On average, annual pre-cipitation ranges from 3000 to 6000 mm,and most of that precipitation falls be-tween October and May. A dry season is Figure 1.  The Samoan Archipelago (adapted from Clark et al. 2016  ). 4 VOLUME 0 • ISSUE 0 •  2017
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