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dc.contributor.advisorMcCoy, Mark
dc.contributor.authorAlderson, Helen Alycia
dc.identifier.citationAlderson, H. A. (2013). The Political Economy of Monumental Architecture at Nan Madol, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (Thesis, Master of Arts). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractNan Madol is a monumental mortuary and administrative site. It was the seat of the island’s rulers, the Saudeleur, between the 12th and 17th centuries A.D. Nan Madol consists of 90+ artificial islets, stretching over 60 ha in the lagoon of Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia. Each islet was built from columnar basalt, boulders, and coral. Indigenous traditions link a dynamic political narrative strongly with the building of Nan Madol that involves the rise and fall of the Saudeleur. Monumental architecture built under the direction of the elite is a form of materialised ideology and can be interpreted to provide an understanding of past political development. As such this thesis asks: how does the investment in building monumental architecture, as tracked by columnar basalt used at Nan Madol, compare with Pohnpeian indigenous political history? Investment expended in building Nan Madol is examined in two ways. Firstly, 222 basalt stones are geochemically identified to source using a portable XRF machine. Secondly, labour estimates are performed on 207 basalt columns. The resulting data is reviewed through a chronology that uses indigenous history, the results of previous archaeology, and a new architectural seriation for the islet Nan Dawas. The source and labour data illustrate a pattern of island-wide involvement in building Nan Madol, resource depletion of a specific source, and what appears to be a peak in labour around the 13th century before a decline. When compared with indigenous traditions, the data adds another layer to our understanding of Pohnpeian political history.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectFederated States of Micronesia
dc.subjectNan Madol
dc.subjectmonumental architecture
dc.subjectPacific archaeology
dc.subjectMicronesian archaeology
dc.subjectartificial islets
dc.subjectcolumnar basalt
dc.subjectPortable XRF
dc.subjectX-ray fluorescence
dc.titleThe Political Economy of Monumental Architecture at Nan Madol, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia
dc.language.rfc3066en and Archaeology of Arts of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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