CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An archipelago of 169 islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean (western Polynesia) inhabited at least 3,000 years ago by Austronesian-speaking peoples who made elaborately decorated Lapita pottery similar to that found on Fiji. It was settled, like neighboring Samoa, by Lapita colonists in the late 2nd millennium BC. Tonga maintains a pottery sequence throughout the 1st millennium BC, after which pottery manufacture ceases. After 1000 AD, large monuments appear which are related to the growth of the powerful centralized chiefdoms.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An extensive island group in the central Pacific whose traditions and linguistic patterns indicate that they were initially settled by Polynesians from Tonga and Samoa, some of whom later colonized New Zealand. Remains show a highly organized society by about 1100 AD, though the area was probably settled 1500 years ago. Archaeological excavations have been undertaken on Rarotonga, Aitutaki, and Penrhyn, and many islands of the group have well-preserved examples of Polynesian temples (Marae).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Ha'amonga-a-Maui CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A massive coral trilithon (archway) at Hahake, Tongatapu (Tonga) with a lintel resting in two notched uprights. According to tradition, it was erected around 1200 AD by the Tui Tongadynasty's chief. The monument is unique in the Pacific region.
CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: Large square or rectangular earthen burial mounds on the island of Tonga of the Tui Tongadynasty. They have terraced sides faced with slabs of cut coral limestone. Some contain burial chambers, also built of coral slabs. According to tradition, langi were the burial places of the Tongan ruling aristocracy. Most are associated with the ceremonial center at Mu'a on Tongatapu.
CATEGORY: artifact; culture DEFINITION: A major Oceanic culture complex, named after the type site of Lapita, New Caledonia. It is defined by a distinctive type of pottery with dentate-stamped banded decoration in geometric patterns, appearing c 3500 bp and which appeared throughout much of the western Pacific, including Fiji and Samoa. Most Lapita sites are on offshore islands and assemblages include elaborate shell tools and ornaments, the use of obsidian, and stone adzes. The obsidian and potterystyle suggest long-distance trade. The culture is almost certainly associated with ancestral Polynesians moving eastwards from island Southeast Asia (perhaps from the Philippines), through previously inhabited Melanesia, to the hitherto empty islands of Tonga and Samoa in Western Polynesia. The culture therefore represents the origin of the Polynesians prior to their settlement of geographical Polynesia. It is thought to be associated with the spread of Austronesian speakers into the Western Pacific.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: malae CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: A stonetemple of Eastern Polynesia, comprised of courtyards and stoneplatform or ahu, where ceremonies took place. The court was walled, paved, or terraced. Marae are among the important remains on Easter Island, the Hawaiian Islands (especially Heiau), and the Tuamoto, Society, Cook, Austral, and Marquesas Islands. Ancestral forms probably go back to Early Eastern Polynesian settlement, c 500 AD. Figures of the gods were kept at the marae, often in special wooden containers housed in portable shelters. Large numbers of thin, tall wooden slabs were set up on the marae; they were carved with openwork geometric designs and topped with figures of birds, human beings, or spiked projections. Marae are especially characteristic of 1200-1800 AD. The term 'marae' also refers to an open space within a village in Tonga, Samoa, or New Zealand.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Area on Raratonga, Southern Cook Islands, with a well-preserved Polynesian settlement. The marae and paved house platforms were arranged in four places and dated between c 1600-1823 AD.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: The main ceremonial and residential center of the ruling dynasties of Tongatapu, Tonga, held by tradition to have been in use from the 11th century AD. The site has a corearea of 400 x 500 meters defended by an earthwork, and contains numerous house platforms and tombs (Langi). According to tradition, it became the residence of the Tui Tongadynasty about 1200 AD and the defenses were built about 1400 AD.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A vast region of scattered islands in the central Pacific occupied by closely related ethnic groups, falling mostly within a triangle made up of the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand, and Easter Island. Western Polynesia was settled by Austronesian speakers from Southeast Asia (Lapitaculture) around 1500 BC, and migrations progressed throughout the triangle until New Zealand was reached c 900 AD. The Polynesians are a homogeneous population in terms of language and social organization, which developed into powerful chiefdoms in the larger islands. The Polynesian economy was based on tuber and fruit horticulture. Pottery production ceased in Western Polynesia c 300 AD and was never present in most eastern islands nor in New Zealand. Western Polynesia consists of Tonga, Samoa, and Tuvalu; Eastern Polynesia includes the Society, Cook, Austral, Marquesas, Tuamotu, and Hawaiian Islands, Easter Island, and New Zealand.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: trilith CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: A stonestructure consisting of two standing stones with a third (the lintel) placed across the top of them, forming an arch or doorway, as at Stonehenge. Trilithons appear in megalithic monuments of various types, but the most impressive examples are Stonehenge's five huge ones of sarsen stones, skillfully joined together with mortice and tenon joints. The island of Tonga has a massive coral trilithon of c 1200 AD.