Location, location, location: A viewshed analysis of heiau spatial and temporal relationships in leeward Kohala, Hawai‘i

  • Natasha Phillips University of Wollongong University of Auckland
  • Thegn N Ladefoged University of Auckland
  • Blair W McPhee University of the Witwatersrand
  • Gregory P Asner Carnegie Institution for Science
Keywords: Hawai‘i, ahupua‘a, heiau, viewshed, GIS, LiDAR

Abstract

Late pre-European contact Hawaiian society was agriculturally based with visible religious structures acting to legitimise and reinforce elite control and management of subsistence and surplus production. The dynamic materialization of elite management of agricultural production has been documented in the leeward Kohala field system (LKFS) by analysing the spatial distribution of agricultural alignments, trails, and the division and realignment of traditional community-based land units (ahupua‘a). Additional studies have documented the spatial expressions and significance of religious structures (heiau) in the area in relation to these land-units.  In this analysis we build on these previous studies to investigate the inter-visibility of heiau. We document shifts in the construction of heiau with decreases in the number of structures through time and concomitant increases in size and total viewshed breadth.  Newly constructed heiau were built to command large viewsheds while taking into account the location and views of pre-existing religious features. These changing patterns reflect ideological shifts and the materialization of production management instrumental in chiefly and religious control.

Author Biographies

Natasha Phillips, University of Wollongong University of Auckland

PhD candidate at the Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong

Thegn N Ladefoged, University of Auckland

Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and Te Pūnaha Matatini, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland

Blair W McPhee, University of the Witwatersrand
PhD candidate, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand
Gregory P Asner, Carnegie Institution for Science
Professor of Environmental Earth System Science, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science
Published
2015-08-07
How to Cite
Phillips, N., Ladefoged, T., McPhee, B. and Asner, G. (2015) “Location, location, location: A viewshed analysis of heiau spatial and temporal relationships in leeward Kohala, Hawai‘i”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 6(2), pp. 21-40. Available at: https://pacificarchaeology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/167 (Accessed: 23July2019).
Section
Articles