States without Archaeological Correlates? A Report from Hawaiʻi


  • James M Bayman University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
  • Thomas S Dye University of HawaiÊ»i
  • Timothy M Rieth International Archaeological Research Institute, Inc.



Two recent archaeological narratives of ancient Hawaiian society apply a neo-evolutionary approach to political development to argue that a primary state evolved prior to contact with Europeans in the late 18th century. Our analysis demonstrates that this finding is based on interpretations of indigenous oral traditions and contact-period historical accounts but lacks archaeological warrant. The Hawaiian archaeological record does not yield the conventional neo-evolutionary correlates of statehood. Moreover, archaeological evidence for the neo-evolutionary model of ladder-like transformation is also lacking.  A chronological analysis of Hawaiian political development inferred from the archaeological record reveals that it was a seamless process, with no evidence of a disjuncture when a statehood event might have occurred. We advocate a historical approach to investigating political development in Hawai‘i that articulates directly with the archaeological record, and is sufficiently developed and general to be applicable elsewhere in the world.



How to Cite

Bayman, J. M., Dye, T. S. and Rieth, T. M. (2021) “States without Archaeological Correlates? A Report from HawaiÊ»i”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 12(1), pp. 47–71. Available at: (Accessed: 1 December 2023).