Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Jennifer G. Kahn

Committee Member

Martin Gallivan

Committee Member

Shannon White


This Master’s thesis examines the materialization of ideology and the impacts of sociopolitical transformation on stone monumental architecture in the pre-contact inland ‘Opunohu Valley. The principal unit of analysis in this research project is the secondary center, defined as an elite-ritual and political site aggregate of temples, or marae, in association with shrines, specialized houses, terraces, and other forms of specialized architecture like council meeting platforms and archery platforms. The secondary unit of analysis is the marae, a sacred place of worship to the indigenous Mā‘ohi people and the most frequently occurring archaeological structure in the inland ‘Opunohu Valley. This study employs multiple lines of evidence across multiple scales and performs original GIS methodologies and statistical analyses to broadly understand architectural variation, specifically marae elaboration, and differences in settlement patterns across five secondary centers (ScMo-124/-125, ScMo-129, ScMo-106, ScMo-103, and ScMo-15). Recognizing that ideology and social status are materialized and signaled in diverse ways through space and architecture, this study considers how both the physical and cultural environment shape secondary center formation and define site location and marae elaboration. At the site-specific scale, marae are evaluated on the extent to which they share similar elaboration styles, orientations, visibility affordances, elevations, and aspects. At the broader inter-secondary center level, site-type frequencies, densities, and overall site clustering patterns are examined. These lines of evidence reveal the ways religious ideology, ontology, and sociopolitical elite identity are materialized through space, place, and monumental architecture at each secondary center. While competing Mā‘ohi elites associated with each secondary center all played a part in institutionalizing social hierarchy and transforming ritual practices in the interior ‘Opunohu Valley, they did so in differing ways. Ultimately, this study recognizes how emergent elites forged their own unique social identity and ritual authority through the settlement patterns and architectural elaborations at secondary centers.




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