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Sociopolitical development and a monumental earthwork landscape on Babeldaob Island, Palau

Liston, Jolie

Description

This thesis investigates the mechanisms underlying the early emergence of monumentality on an Oceanic island and the correlation between the development of monumental architecture and the long-term processes of sociopolitical evolution. Babeldaob in the Palau archipelago of western Micronesia was selected for this study due to the nature of its monumental earth architecture. Monumental in both horizontal scale of interconnected complexes and dimensions of individual structures, Babeldaob's...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorListon, Jolie
dc.date.accessioned2019-02-18T23:44:01Z
dc.date.available2019-02-18T23:44:01Z
dc.date.copyright2013
dc.identifier.otherb3482872
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/155835
dc.description.abstractThis thesis investigates the mechanisms underlying the early emergence of monumentality on an Oceanic island and the correlation between the development of monumental architecture and the long-term processes of sociopolitical evolution. Babeldaob in the Palau archipelago of western Micronesia was selected for this study due to the nature of its monumental earth architecture. Monumental in both horizontal scale of interconnected complexes and dimensions of individual structures, Babeldaob's earthworks emerged close to a millennium earlier, and were abandoned several centuries before, the advent of monumentality on other Pacific island groups. Unlike elsewhere in Oceania, Babeldaob's monumental structures form extensive conjoined clusters containing a multitude of morphological forms that served simultaneous practical and symbolic functions. The underlying structure of the investigation is dual-processualism, the co-existing network and corporate political economic orientations chosen by emerging leaders to create and legitimize their power and prestige. These strategies rely on interdependent political, ideological, ritual and economic power sources. Distinguishing between corporate and network modes employed in Palau's Earthwork Era (2400-1100 calBP) is a heuristic tool for assessing the temporal transformations in spatial dimensions, patterning and practical and ideological roles encoded in Babeldaob's earthworks. This research presents a new understanding of the chronological development, construction processes, spatial organization and intertwined tangible and intangible uses of earthworks based on stratigraphic excavations, pedestrian survey, spatial analysis and radiometric dating. These data sources support a new working model of the evolution of Babeldaob's sociopolitical complexity in a dual-processual framework. Babeldaob's sociopolitical organization model posits development from heterarchical kin groups, to competitive chiefdoms and finally to rival decentralized polities. Corporate and network political economic strategies fused to maintain a level playing field driving a volatile sociopolitical period. With a staple economy based on land, labour and the production of surplus, corporate leadership strategies prevailed. However, rival factions and competing polities were extremely dynamic as they manoeuvred for prestige and wealth through network alliances and warfare. By the end of the Earthwork Era, there is a clear expression of economic stratification and personal aggrandizement. The Earthwork Era political economy appears to be based on staple and ritual finance with the most valuable commodity the landesque capital and associated ritual, occupational and defensive earth architecture that further increased the economic value of the built landscape. These structures embodied a complex merger of energy investment, ancestral ties, ritual association, staple wealth and social bonding. Given Babeldaob's high precipitation, sloping land, and the instability and low native fertility of its highly weathered soil, development of step-terraces was an effective strategic choice to prevent land degradation and support a viable agricultural system. The recognition of the complexity and vulnerability of earthwork construction and dryland agriculture in these particular edaphic and climatic conditions led to the development of ritual behaviours associated with both activities. Earth structures dedicated to these performances bind staple finance to the dominant ideology.
dc.format.extent377 leaves.
dc.subject.lcshEarthworks (Archaeology) Palau Babeldaob
dc.subject.lcshLandscape archaeology Palau Babeldaob
dc.subject.lcshPrehistoric peoples Palau Babeldaob
dc.subject.lcshExcavations (Archaeology) Palau Babeldaob
dc.subject.lcshBabeldaob (Palau) Politics and government.
dc.subject.lcshBabeldaob (Palau) Social conditions
dc.titleSociopolitical development and a monumental earthwork landscape on Babeldaob Island, Palau
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.description.notesThesis (Ph.D.)--Australian National University, 2013.
dc.date.issued2013
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University. Dept. of Archaeology and Natural History
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d515151d0b0d
dc.date.updated2019-01-10T02:07:22Z
local.mintdoimint
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